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Title: The ontology of emptiness : truth and reality in Nāgārjuna
Author: Buxton, Nicholas Alexander
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This study seeks to analyse and comprehend the concept of emptiness (sūnyatā) in the work of the second century CE Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna. Focussing on is primary text, the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, but also making reference to other writings generally agreed to be authentic, it will explore the context, structure, and implications of his thought in detail. Nāgārjuna presents scholars with considerable hermeneutical challenges, so we should hardly be surprised to discover that he has been read in many and diverse ways, from nihilism to absolutism. The first section gives a general overview of the doctrine of emptiness. While broadly concurring with the emerging consensus that sees Nāgārjuna as an anti-realist, it will also be argued that he is less of a philosopher than a ‘theologian’ who uses rational arguments to justify his a priori faith commitment. The middle section presents a detailed analysis of emptiness as the absence of intrinsic being (svabhāva), and as the necessary correlate of dependent origination, which in turn, Nāgārjuna takes as implying mutual dependence. Looking closely at the way these concepts are used, both in Nāgārjuna’s writings and in relation to the wider context of Buddhist thought in general, I try to clarify our understanding of dharma theory, dependent origination, and the precise nuances of Nāgārjuna’s ‘ontology of emptiness’. The final section examines the notion of emptiness as the cessation of views - a view that is no view. I maintain that the traditional notion that liberation arises as the result of seeing things as empty is clearly supported by the textual evidence. This is the point of it all, giving emptiness a measure of coherence as an ontological and semantic critique of both the intrinsic nature and the inherent meaning of things.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available