on January 2, 2000
This books is an excellent treatise on Buddhist philosophy, in particular I found it provided a description of the differences in interpretation between different schools of thought as they evolved over time. It also points out many similiarities and differences between the Eastern and Western philosophical traditions. By focusing on a few critical philosophical topics, such as realism, it provides a more accessible detail view of later Buddhist philosophy than many other works. Clear and engaging writing.
on August 17, 2009
While we were attending His holiness's teachings on The Great Treatise, Geshe Thubten Soepa recommended that I read this book. He had been a fellow student of Georges Dreyfus and knew of his brilliance. I had listened to recordings of Emily Hsu's classes on Mind and Mental Factors, where we ran through debates exposing the difficulties in trying to systematically pin down reality. I had attended His Holiness's teachings on Tenets and also listened to Geshe Tsulga's classes on Tenets. I'd read Lamrim Chenmo the year before His Holiness's teachings. I say all this to lay out what the background was for a nagging confusion I felt and for which I took full responsibility. I was sure I must be confused because I was failing to understand. My teacher, Gareth Sparham briefly introduced me to Georges Dreyfus at the venue in Pennsylvania, whom I thanked in advance for writing the book I was about to begin. He jokingly assured me that I would not be thanking him once I'd finished it. Well, a year later I still say, thank you. This book thoroughly explains exactly what is confusing about the subject of valid cognition. I appreciate how well it is written for non-specialists like me. I feel much better educated (prepared to continue studying) with this soaring historical and technical overview of the various interpretations of Dharmakirti's work than I did having run through the narrowly Geluk simplified academic courses. I keep recalling Gareth saying at one point, on another topic, "It's all hermeneutics. All of it!" Now I get what he meant.
on January 25, 2001
This guy has done his homework. In a few languages! The book is less about buddhist "philosophy" as a whole, as much as about epistimology, the shared view of which any two buddhist debators would need as a starting point. The various trends that developed to "cope" with Dharmakirti's somewhat slippery model is what forms much of the book. The western idea of "universal" is the equivalent to the concept Dreyfus puts under the microscope for us. I found this book both challenging and rewarding, though it did take me quite a while to read~!
on April 3, 1999
This is one of the best books available on those aspects of Indian and Tibetan philosophy that have the most in common with Western analytic philosophy. (Another is Matilal's book _Perception_.) I'm very sorry to see that it's out of print, and I hope that changes soon. It concerns the development of a certain tradition of Buddhism (originating with Dharmakirti) that began as a version of antirealism (opposed to the realism of the Nyaya school of Hinduism) but gradually found itself compelled by its own intellectual commitments to evolve into a version of realism. So it has a happy ending!