The Dispeller of Disputes: Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani
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Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani is an essential work of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophical literature. Written in an accessible question-and-answer style, it contains Nagarjuna's replies to criticisms of his philosophy of the "Middle Way." The Vigrahavyavartani has been widely cited both in canonical literature and in recent scholarship; it has remained a central text in India, Tibet, China, and Japan, and has attracted the interest of greater and greater numbers of Western readers.
In The Dispeller of Disputes, Jan Westerhoff offers a clear new translation of the Vigrahavyavartani, taking current philological research and all available editions into account, and adding his own insightful philosophical commentary on the text. Crucial manuscript material has been discovered since the earlier translations were written, and Westerhoff draws on this material to produce a study reflecting the most up-to-date research on this text. In his nuanced and incisive commentary, he explains Nagarjuna's arguments, grounds them in historical and textual scholarship, and explicitly connects them to contemporary philosophical concerns.
this extent, this is a criticism of a non-thesis. The emptiness of all things was presented here in detail by our earlier remarks. The emptiness of the name has been asserted above, as well. Having adopted the non-emptiness of things, you replied to this “if the substance of things did not exist there would be no name ‘non-substance.’” So far your criticism amounts to a criticism of a non-thesis, because we do not say that there is a referring name. Concerning what you said earlier, “10. Rather,
the Buddha himself. It is therefore hard to see how the opponent who takes his premisses from a Buddhist background can accept both the idea of dependent origination and the view that certain key items of the Buddhist worldview are not so originated. On the other hand, one might argue for the same conclusion by saying that the denial of dependent origination entails the denial of the origin of suffering, as dependent origination is the origin of suffering. Because the origin of suffering is
made in verse 57. As N¯ag¯arjuna asserts a thesis of universal emptiness, it should be clear that the constituents of language are subsumed under this as well. It would indeed be problematic to combine N¯ag¯arjuna’s theory with a Ny¯aya-style realist semantics. But as N¯ag¯arjuna does not want to do this, the difﬁculty described in verse 9 does not present a problem for him. 3.5. Extrinsic Substances [10, 60] 10. Rather, substance exists, yet the substance of things does not exist. It has to be
“pot” to something out there is then guaranteed by some other substance located elsewhere, it turns out that we are systematically deceived about what our language refers to. As N¯ag¯arjuna has not really given us any details on how this supposed ﬁx is to work, it cannot be regarded as a satisfactory reply to the problem raised in verse 9. REPLY 60. “Substance exists and it is not a substance of things”—the worry expressed there is no worry. This is because we do not negate the substance of
about its cessation. 123. sarvam . ca yujyate tasya ´su¯ nyat¯a yasya yujyate / sarvam . na yujyate tasya ´su¯ nyam . yasya na yujyate 124. La Vall´ee Poussin (1903–1913:500–501), May (1959:234–236). 125. vi´ses.adhigama. See Edgerton (1953) s.v., May (1959:235, 828). COMMENTARY 131 Were suffering to exist substantially and thereby independent of causes and conditions, no sort of practice, Buddhist or otherwise, could affect it and lead to its ending.126 Far from annihilating the crucial