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Recognizing Reality (Dharmakirti's Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations)

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Item Code: NAS285
Author: Georges B. J. Dreyfus
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Language: English
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8170305616
Pages: 644
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 790 gm
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Book Description
About the Author

Georges B. J. Dreyfus is Assistant Professor of Religion at Williams College. He studied Buddhist philosophy in Tibetan monasteries in India for fifteen years where he completed the-degree of Ge-shay, traditionally the highest degree awarded by Tibetan Buddhist monastic universities.


This work began more than twenty-five years ago, in 1970, when I first studied Buddhist philosophy with Tibetan teachers in India. For the next fifteen years, I followed the traditional Tibetan curriculum for Buddhist monks, learning a great deal from many Tibetan teachers. I have thus been able to benefit from the unfortunate situation of this exiled community. I became interested in the study of philosophical topics pertaining to logic, epistemology, and philosophy of language. This interest developed over the years during which I had the privilege to study these topics with some of the most knowledgeable Tibetan scholars. Although I cannot mention them all by name, I am deeply grateful to each one. In particular I would like to mention Ge-shay Rabten, who set me on the path that includes this present work; Ge-shay Lati Rimbochay, who supported my efforts consistently; and Gen Lo-sang-gya-tso, Principal of the Tibetan Institute of Dialectics, where I spent many of my most formative years. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to his Holiness the Dalai Lama, who helped and guided me throughout my years spent in the Tibetan community. Finally, in Ge- shay Nyi-ma-gyel-tsen I encountered an incomparable mind. Through contact with him I learned a great deal, given my personal limitations.

This work does not, however, just report on the training I underwent during these very formative years. In the process of inquiring into the diversity of Buddhist logico-epistemological traditions, I gained some valuable insight into materials with which I have been familiar for quite some time, but that in some ways eluded me: This work is an attempt to bring together the varied aspects of my philosophical education. One of the questions central for the integrated under- standing I seek is the problem of universals. This current work explores this topic in the context of Buddhist tradition. I can only hope that I have been able to communicate part of the enthusiasm this work has evinced in me.

By entering Western academia in 1985, after completing my Ge-shay degree, I have been able to learn about Western philosophy. This has allowed me to find the vocabulary with which to explicate Buddhist philosophical concepts that would otherwise have remained buried under the weight of exegetical details. Several people have contributed to my ongoing process of philosophical translation. I want to acknowledge Dr. Joshua Tonkel, who helped me to understand the aspects of Anglo-Saxon analytical philosophy especially relevant to this work. I also learned a great deal from Professors Cora Diamond, James Cargile, Robert Schlarleman, Jamie Ferreira, and other philosophical minds from the University of Virginia. I also want to thank Matthew Kapstein, professor at Columbia University, for his insightful philosophical remarks and helpful comments. Last, but not least, I would like to acknowledge Jay Garfield, professor at Hampshire College. A great deal of the clarity and philosophical accuracy of this book is due to his help.

My academic training has also familiarized me with modern philological and historical methods and exposed me to Sanskrit literature. These tools have been of great use to me in successfully completing my Ph.D. dissertation ("Ontology, Philosophy of Language and Epistemology in Buddhist Tradition," University of Virginia, 1991), on which this book is based. I would like to thank the people who have supported my inquiry into the Buddhist logico-epistemological tradition with their knowledge. In particular, I owe-a great deal to Tom Tillemans, professor at the University of Lausanne. Our prolonged discussions over the course of several years have been a great source of insight for me, and his help with Sanskrit sources, invaluable. I would also like to mention Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, my advisor, who guided my work with great patience and competence, as well as Professors Karen Lang, Paul Groner, and so many others who helped me to deepen my grasp of the material. I thank Professors Ernst Steinkellner from the University of Vienna, Richard Hayes from McGill University, and Leonard Van der Kuijp from Harvard University for their help in my endeavor, as well as Helmut Krasser from the University of Vienna and John Dunne from Harvard University. I thank Professor Katsura from Hiroshima University for helping me with some particularly difficult passages as well as Professor Mikogami for sharing with me his views on some aspects of the later aspects of Indian tradition. Thanks also to the late Richard Martin, South Asia bibliographer at the University of Virginia, for his tremendous patience and helpfulness in providing support for this lengthy project. Finally, thanks to Dr. Gareth Sparham from the University of British Columbia for procurring for me a copy of a rare text and to the monastery of La-brang Dra-shi- kyil (bla ’brang bkra shis ’khyil) in the Amdo province of eastern Tibet for giving it.

I would like to acknowledge the support of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship that enabled me to study more deeply Indian and Tibetan sources in India. My stay at the Sa skya College in Rajpur was decisive in broadening my understanding of the variety of Tibetan traditions. The kindness and competence of Gen Migmar Tsering, head of the Sa skya College, was crucial to the success of my project. I learned a great deal from him as well as other Sa-gya scholars such as Ken-po Abe and Ken-po Gya-tso, whose help was invaluable. I am also grateful to His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sa-gya order, for encouraging my research. I would like also to thank Dr. K. K. Mittal of Delhi University.

Finally, I would like to thank all those who at various stages of this project provided much needed help in many forms, such as editing, proofreading, and moral support: Katherine Rogers, Darcy Philips, Katherine Pfaff, Bill Magee, and John Powers. I also want to acknowledge Paul Hackett from the University ‘of Virginia, whose careful reading has greatly improved the quality of this work. Finally, I want to express my deep gratitude to ma compagne Natasha Judson, who has helped me enormously to make this work understandable to a broader audience. Her patience and support are largely responsible for successfully concluding this enterprise.

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