In this paper, I explore the connections between meta-ontological and meta-philosophical issues in two of Nāgārjuna’s primary works, the Mūlamadhyamakārikā and the Vigrahavyāvartanī. I argue for an interpretative framework that places Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka as a meta- and ultimately non-philosophical evaluation of philosophy. The paper’s primary argument is that an interpretative framework which makes explicit the meta-ontological and meta-philosophical links in Nāgārjuna’s thought is both viable and informative. Following Nāgārjuna, I start my analysis by looking at the positions that exist within the ontological debate and show that the Mādhyamika should be understood as an ontological deflationist who aims to discredit ontological questions altogether. I argue, however, that the Mādhyamika does not wish to engage in meta-ontological debates either and that Nāgārjuna’s ontological deflationist arguments necessarily lead to a position of philosophical deflationism: the rejection of all philosophical and meta-philosophical debates. Further on, I provide a sketch of denegation, the language operator in Madhyamaka that allows Nāgārjuna to make seemingly philosophical claims while not having the commitments that traditional philosophical claims do. I conclude with a defense of my interpretation of Madhyamaka as weak philosophical deflationism compared to other deflationist construals, an explicit discussion of the ways in which my understanding differs from contemporary western interpretations that prima facie resemble weak philosophical deflationism, and an identification of weak philosophical deflationism with dequitism, a variant of quetism.
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Translations of Nāgārjuna’s Work
Garfield, J. (Trans.) (1995). Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakārikā. New York: OUP.
Siderits, M., & Katsura, S. (Trans.) (2013). Nāgārjuna’s Middle Way: Mūlamadhyamakārikā. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Westerhoff, J. (Trans.) (2010). The dispeller of disputes: Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī. New York: OUP.
Primary Canonical Texts
Candrakīrti. (1979). Prasnapada (Lucid exposition of the middle way). In M. Sprung & T. R. V. Murti (Trans.), Lucid exposition of the middle way. Boulder: Prajna Press.
Tsong Khapa. (2006). Tsa she tig chen rigs pa’i rgya mtsho. In N. Samten & J. L. Garfield (Trans.), Ocean of reasoning: A great commentary on Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. New York: OUP.
Contemporary Scholarship on Madhaymaka
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Siderits, M. (1980). The Mādhyamika ciritique of Epistemology. I. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 8, 307–335.
Siderits, M. (1981). The Mādhyamika ciritique of epistemology. II. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 9, 121–160.
Siderits, M. (1989). Nāgārjuna as an anti-realist. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 16, 311–325.
Siderits, M. (1991). Indian Philosophy of Language. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Siderits, M. (2003). On the soteriological significance of emptiness. Contemporary Buddhism, 4(1), 9–23.
Siderits, M. (2007). Buddhism as philosophy, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
Siderits, M. (2013). Does a table have Buddha nature? Philosophy East and West, 63(3), 373–386.
Sprung, M. (1973). The problem of two truth in Buddhism and Vedanta. Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing.
The Cowherds. (2011). Moonshadows: Conventional truth in Buddhist philosophy. New York: OUP.
Tillemeans, T. J. F. (1999). Scripture, logic, language: Essays on Dharmakīrti and his Tibetan successors. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
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On Western Philosophy
Chalmers, David J. et al. Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Web.
Lazerowitz, Morris.“A Note on Metaphilosophy.” Metaphilosophy (1970) 1.1: 91. Web
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Gandolfo, S. The Positionless Middle Way: Weak Philosophical Deflationism in Madhyamaka. J Indian Philos 44, 207–228 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-014-9259-y