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Emptiness Appraised: A Critical Study of Nagarjuna's Philosophy (Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism) Hardcover – June 22, 1999

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0700710669 ISBN-10: 0700710663 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism
  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (June 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700710663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700710669
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,151,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By "dougyt" on February 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I found this a rather disappointing read as, although the author has a wealth of scholarship, he seems to misconstrue Nagarjuna's basic position. In particular, he equates the conventional (i.e. empirically real) with the absolute (i.e.necessary but not apprehensible) levels of reality, possibly due to the potential linguistic ambiguity in having at least two very distinct senses in which the word "real" is being used.
To do this, though, is to discard one of the fundamental aspects of Nagarjuna's system, namely that there are 2 forms of reality - phenomenal reality against noumenal reality, and that they are not equivalent, but that both are void of self-nature. By equating them and then taking Nagarjuna's view of the lack of self-nature of the empirically real, the author reaches the conclusion that Nagarjuna's philosophy entails absolute nihilism.
Nagarjuna's philosophy does entail a certain amount of idealism in the Kantian sense, in that we can never know the world as it is in itself, but only know it (as an apprehensible object) as it appears to us. The philosophical standpoint of the author appears to be one of philosophical realism based on the Nyaya worldview. The Nyaya system of debating entails advancing a thesis against an opponent's thesis, and so Nagarjuna's approach doesn't fit in with the Nyaya mode of argumentation, as Nagarjuna is quite at pains to avoid presenting ANY metaphysical thesis. I think that the author of this book has misunderstood sunyavada on account of his realist tendencies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. Tanaka on January 31, 2015
Format: Hardcover
The author introduces his book as the outcome of a desire to understand more deeply the spiritual tradition he is committed to (Buddhism), which is certainly a praiseworthy endeavour. But the prospective reader should be aware that this is not a devotional book, but a technical philosophical analysis.

Part I provides a clear exploration into core issues of Nagarjuna's ontology, and is easy to follow. Part II is more complex as it deals with epistemology, and the various arguments posed by other Indian schools of thought, against Nagarjuna, as well as his own defense. The author does a superb job at presenting a complex issue in an organized and clear fashion.
The question of the needed "bridge" between the 'Two Truths' is addressed in Part I, but largely absent from the discussion in Part II is the question of how a mental state can go together with its object, i.e., the needed "epistemic cut" between dhammas. Nevertheless Emptiness Appraised offers a coherent analysis of the complex various issues it does address, and as such is highly recommended.

This reviewer (not a Buddhist) welcomes academic studies in Buddhist philosophy, not just for its own sake as the valid contribution to humanity's repository of philosophical discourse it is -- in this case how to explain reality in atomistic terms (of whatever sort) and eschew form -- but also as an analytical aid to the Western atomistic tradition, which likewise tries to eschew form.
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Emptiness Appraised: A Critical Study of Nagarjuna's Philosophy (Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism)
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