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The Central Philosophy of Buddhism (A Study of Madhyamika System)

The Central Philosophy of Buddhism (A Study of Madhyamika System)
Item Code: IDD906
Author: T.R.V. Murti
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 8121510805
Pages: 385
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5" X 5.5"
About the Book

There is a class of scholars who are of the opinion that Buddhism in general, and Madhyamaka of Nagarjuna in particular, is not only deconstructionistic in orientation, but also nihilistic in content. How far this assertion is tenable or valid depends from what perspective we look at the middle way philosophy of Nagarjuna. While analyzing the general orientation of Buddhist thought, Prof. Murti shows that Nagarjuna's philosophy, although deconstructionistic in its approach, is not at all nihilistic in orientation. The dialectical methods of the reductio ad absurdum, which Nagarjuna employee as a basic tool of critique, is meant to show that reason cannot reach or comprehend that which is a priori of the Beyond, or what we call Transcendent. It is through the method of negation that Nagarjuna, on the one hand, affirms the Buddha's noble silence concerning that which is inexpressible, and confirms, on the other hand, that the Absolute as Emptiness can be intuited only through the silence of negation. The Emptiness of the Madhyamaka, thus, must not be seen as a philosophy of nihilism; rather it must be viewed as pointing out the limitations of Reason, or what we call conceptual knowledge, in the context of that which is beyond reason, and therefore transcendent to thought and language.

The emergence of the Madhyamaka Philosophy was a radical turning point in the evolution of Buddhist thought in term of which the untenability of realism of early Buddhism is established. Simultaneously the Madhyamaka hastened the emergence of idealism in the form of Yogacara-vijnanavada school. Both the Madhyamaka and Yogacara-vijnanavada schools of thought of Mahayana Buddhism gave a new direction to Indian philosophy as such, and found its ultimate expression in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta of Samkara. While delineating the various aspects of Madhyamaka thought in relation to Abhidharmic realism and Brahmanical idealism, Prof. Murti at the same time has analysed the close resemblance that occurs between the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, on the one hand, and Nagarjuna, on the other. Thus the book is a veritable treasure of information concerning the evolution of human thought in the East and West. This book is a must for much seekers of truth who would like plunge to the depths of knowledge.




  1. The Two Traditions in Indian Philosophy
    The Madhyamika System, its Role and Significance -The Two Traditions in Indian Philosophy, their general nature-Upanisads and Buddism - was there a primitive Buddhism affirming the Atman? - Some Objections against the Nairatmya interpretation of Buddhism considered.
  1. The 'Silence' of the Buddha and the Beginnings of the Dialetic
    Some Interpretations - the Antinomical character -The Real is Transcendent to Thought - The true nature of Buddha's Silence - Anticipations of the Madhyamika
  1. Development of the Two Traditions and the Emergence of the Madhyamika System
    General Outline of the Development - Development in the Atma-Tradition - The Abhidarmika System -Tradition to the Madhyamika - Prajnaparamitas and the Formulation of the Madhyamika System - The Madhyamika Schools and Literature.
  1. The Influence of the Madhyamika Dialectic
    Influence of the Madhyamika on Vijnanavada - Relation between the Madhyamika and the Vedanta.


  1. The Structure of the Madhyamika Dialectic
    Origin and place of the Dialectic - The 'Copernican' Revolution in Indian Philosophy -Dialectic, the Conflict of Reason - Dialectic as Resolution of the Conflict - The Four Alternatives in every problem - Dialectic is Rejection of Views by reductio ad absurdum - Causality dialectically analysed - Every Thesis is self-convicted, not counterbalanced - Principle of the Dialectic-Moments of the Dialectic.
  1. Some Objection against the Dialectic Considered
    Is Criticism possible without holding a Position? - Criticism is self-criticism - Dialectic and the Law of Excluded Middle - Is Criticism possible without the acceptance of Pramanas? - Dialectic and Significant Negation - is Sunyata a Theory?
  1. Application of the Dialectic
    1. Critique of Causality
      Satkaryavada dialectically analysed - Criticism of Asatkaryavada.
    2. Motion and Rest
    3. Examination of the Abhidharmika Categories Ayatanas - Skandha Classification examined -Examination of the Dhatus - Criticism of the Samskrta and the Pratitya-Samutpada.
    4. TheAtma Doctrine Examined
  1. The Madhyamika Conception of Philosophy as Prajna-Paramita
    Criticism or Dialectic itself is Philosophy - Philosophical knowledge is Prajna, non-dual Intuition - Distinction between Advaya and Advaits - The Nature of the Madhyamika Intuition (Pranjna) - Pranjna as Freedom - Pranjna-Paramita as Tathagata.
  1. Absolute and Phenomena
    The Absolute is Sunya, Transcendent - Consideration of some misconceptions about Sunyata (the Absolute) - Difference between the Madhyamika and Vedanta Absolutism-Avidya - Two Truths and "The Degrees of Reality."
  1. Dialectic and Freedom
    The Concept of Freedom - Freedom is Spiritual - Spiritual Awakening - The Parmita Discipline - Sunyata is the sole means to Nirvana - The Conception of Nirvana
  1. Absolute and Tathagata
    Tathagata necessary as the mediator between Absolute and Phenomena - Conception of Godhead -The Trikaya of Buddha - Isvara and Buddha.


  1. The Madhyamika and Some Western Dialectical Systems
    1. Kant and the Madhyamika
    2. The Hegelian and the Madhyamika Dialectic.
    3. Bradley and the Madhyamika
  1. The Madhyamika, Vijnanavada and Vedanta Absolutism
    The Problem of the different Absolutes in the Indian system - The Standpoint of Vedanta distinguished from others - The Madhyamika and Vijnanavada Standpoint - The Common form of all Absolutisms - The different modes of the Absolutes and their implications.
  1. The Madhyamika System -An Estimate
    Sunyata is Absolutism, not Nihilism or Positivism - Some Unique features of the Madhyamika System - Value as basis for World-Culture.
Glossary of Sanskrt Terms

Appendix (A Note on Sunyata)



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