Humanities
The Dispeller of Disputes Nagarjunas Vigrahavyavartani Reflection Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a Philosophy question and need guidance to help me study.

So first please read the "The Madhyamaka Dilemma [1–2, 21–24]" and " The Sound Analogy [3, 25–28]" and "The No-thesis View [4, 29] "(which is page 1 to 21 of the pdf)

Then, make a Question- reflection about it following the guideline.

Tips: 1. the first line of the guideline said that "you are turn in 3 questions- reflections", but we are doing only one of them. not three

2. You need to have a argument

3. read the guideline carefully.

4. Please finish on time.

at least 400 words

Thanks

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Commentary The Dispeller of Disputes: Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani Jan Westerhoff Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780199732692 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732692.001.0001 Commentary Jan Westerhoff (Contributor Webpage) DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732692.003.0003 Abstract and Keywords This chapter presents a commentary on the Vigrahavyāvartanī, which has been divided into 10 sections. These sections are: The Status of the Theory of Emptiness [1-4, 21-29]; Epistemology [5-6, 30-51]; Intrinsically Good Things [7-8, 52-56]; Names without Objects [9, 57-59]; Extrinsic Substances [10, 60]; Negation and Existence [11-12, 61-64]; The Mirage Analogy [13-16, 65-67]; Emptiness and Reasons [17-19, 68]; Negation and Temporal Relations [20, 69]; and Conclusion [70]. Keywords: Vigrahavyāvartanī, translation, philosophical texts Veneration to the Buddha! While the Sanskrit manuscript of the Vigrahavyāvartanī opens with the praise of the Buddha, the Tibetan translation begins with an invocation of Mañjuśrī Kumārabhūta, the customary way of starting a text dealing with material belonging to the genre of the Perfection of Wisdom (prajñāpāramitā). These homages are not part of the text proper, however, but have been added the by the scribes or translators. The Vigrahavyāvartanī begins straightaway with a philosophical argument. Candrakīrti argues that the reason why the Vigrahavyāvartanī, unlike many other works of Nāgārjuna, does not start with a praise of the Buddha is that it is a mere elaboration (’phros pa) of Nāgārjuna’s exposition of Madhyamaka expounded elsewhere and should therefore not be conceived of as an independent treatise in need of such a dedication.1 3.1 The Status of the Theory of Emptiness [1–4, 21–29] Page 1 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary 3.1.1 The Madhyamaka Dilemma [1–2, 21–24] 1. If the substance of all things is not to be found anywhere, your assertion which is devoid of substance is not able to refute substance. (p.44) With his first objection, the opponent raises a point at the very heart of Madhyamaka thinking: the status of the Mādhyamika’s own statement of his theory. The sophistication of this objection underlines the fact that the Vigrahavyāvartanī was not meant to be an expository text and was composed later than Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, his main work outlining the theory of emptiness. The Vigrahavyāvartanī was intended for an audience already familiar with Nāgārjuna’s theses looking for a discussion of potential difficulties and objections. The “assertion” the opponent has in mind is the central Madhyamaka thesis that everything is empty. As a universal claim, it subsumes the statement “everything is empty” under it. The opponent wants to argue that the emptiness of this statement somehow undermines its argumentative force. If the substance of things was not found anywhere, in the causes, in the conditions, or in the combination of the causes and the conditions, and if it is also not separate from these, it is said: “all things are empty.” For the sprout does not exist in the seed which is its cause; it does not exist in each one of earth, water, fire, wind, and so forth, which are agreed to be its conditions; it does not exist in the combinations of conditions, nor in the combination of causes and conditions, and it does also not exist as separate from these, free from causes and conditions. As substance does not exist anywhere here, the sprout is without substance, and since it is without substance it is empty. As this sprout without substance is empty because of its lack of substance, in the same way all things are empty as well because of their lack of substance. Here the opponent outlines one of the standard arguments for the Madhyamaka thesis of universal emptiness based on the notion of causation. This, as well as other causation-based arguments for emptiness are described in chapter 2 of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.2 The example considered here is that of the sprout of some plant, the effect, which is brought about by a cause, the seed. The seed on its own is, of course, unable to bring about a sprout; it has to be assisted by a collection of background conditions or a causal field, comprising among other things soil, water, nutrients, light, and so forth. All of these can be regarded as compounds of the “four great elements,” earth, water, fire, and wind, which according to the Abhidharma constitute the basis of all physical phenomena. Page 2 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary The argument for emptiness under consideration now investigates the relationship between the the effect and the cause and conditions that bring it about. The sprout is not already present in the seed: if we take the seed apart we will (p.45) find no sprout, and the seed on its own, devoid of the causal field; will never bring forth a sprout. Needless to say, we also will not find a sprout in parts of the causal field (the soil, water, and so forth), nor in collections of some of them, nor in a collection of all of them put together. If we add the seed to the causal field, there is still no sprout to be found: the cause and causal field together bring about the effect, but do not contain it tucked away somewhere inside them. Part of what we mean by “a causes b” is that the cause a first exists without b and then, at a subsequent later moment, brings forth the effect. For this reason, b cannot be part of a, since the parts of an object are simultaneous with it. When the argument claims that the effect is not separate from the cause and conditions, this does not deny that the sprout is a thing which we can clearly distinguish from other things, such as the seed, the soil, water, and so forth. It rather makes a claim of existential dependence: if the seed, soil, water, and so forth (the cause and causal field) had not existed, the sprout (the effect) would not have existed, either, in the same way in which I would not have existed if my father had not, or the Koh-i-Noor would not have existed if there had been no carbon in the universe. But if two objects are different substances or composites of different substances, it should be possible to give a clear analysis of their identity or difference: either they are identical, share a part, one is included within the other, or they are distinct. None of these possibilities applies to the seed and the sprout: they are not the same, they do not overlap, the cause does not include the effect as a part, and they are also not different substances, since it is an essential part of the meaning of “substance” that substances do not depend on other things. Having drawn a blank in evaluating all of the theoretical possibilities, the Madhyamaka arrives at the conclusion that there must have been something wrong with our presuppositions. The assumption that cause and effect exist as distinct substances had led to a problem and is therefore given up. Both are empty of substancehood, and since everything depends on causes and conditions, the Madhyamaka infers the general conclusion that everything is empty of substance.3 Here we say: If it is like this, your assertion, which claims that “all things are empty,” is also empty. Why? Because your assertion does not exist in the cause: it does not exist in the great elements collectively or individually. It does also not exist in the conditions which are the action of the chest, the throat, the lips, the tongue, the root of the teeth, the palate, the nose, the head and so forth; it (p.46) does not exist in the combination of the causes and the Page 3 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary conditions; and it also does not exist as separate from this, free from the combination of causes and conditions. Since it does not exist anywhere among these, it is without substance. Since it is without substance, it is empty. For this reason it is impossible that it dispels the substance of all things. The Madhyamaka says all things are empty, and, as the opponent rightly points out, the statement “all things are empty” is a thing itself. Note that the statement is here regarded as a token, not a type. The opponent refers to a timed event, which is the utterance of the statement “all things are empty,” not to what is expressed by different utterances of this statement (the statementtype). Statements as tokens are evidently causally produced in the same way as sprouts, though by different causes and conditions: instead of a seed, soil, water, and so forth, they require the combined action of the various production-places of speech as described in traditional Indian phonetics.4 If sprouts are empty, statements are empty, too, and if all statements are empty, so is each particular one of them. Why is this a problem for the Madhyamaka? Why? This is because a non-existent fire cannot burn, a non-existent knife cannot cut, a non-existent water cannot moisten. In the same way, a non-existent assertion cannot negate the substance of all things. Therefore your statement that the substance of all things has been negated everywhere, that the substance of things has been dispelled everywhere, is not tenable. The opponent here understands Nāgārjuna’s term “empty” to mean “nonexistent.” Rather than taking “x is empty” as “x does not exist substantially,” he understands it as “x does not exist at all.” And of course non-existent things are not causally efficacious: the non-existent ten-pound note in my pocket cannot buy anything. Nāgārjuna’s position is therefore argumentationally impotent: the thesis of universal emptiness cannot refute any philosophical position, since it does not even exist. This understanding also equates Nāgārjuna’s theory with a form of nihilism: if everything is empty and if “empty” means “does not exist,” then nothing whatsoever exists. Not only is the thesis of universal emptiness unable to refute the opponent’s position, there is no position to be refuted, since the opponent’s position also does not exist. Reply 21. If my speech is not in the combination of causes and conditions and also not distinct from them, is it not the case that emptiness is established because of the absence of the substance of things? (p.47) If my speech is not in the cause, not among the great elements, neither in the collection of conditions nor distinct from it, if it is not in the action of the chest, the throat, the lips, the root of the teeth, the palate, the nose, the head, and so forth, if it is not in the combination of those, is not free from the Page 4 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary combination of causes and conditions, not distinct from them—to this extent it is without substance, and because it is without substance it is empty. Thus is it not the case that the emptiness of my speech is established because of its lack of substance? And as the speech of mine is empty because of the lack of substance, so all things are also empty because of the lack of substance. Nāgārjuna agrees with the initial part of the opponent’s objection. The thesis of universal emptiness is indeed so universal that it includes itself. As was indicated by the opponent, the token statement “all things are empty” is a specific sound-event produced in dependence on causes and conditions and therefore empty of substance for the same reason that other things such as the causally produced sprout are empty. In this context, your statement “The emptiness of all things is not established because of the emptiness of your speech” is not tenable. 22. The dependent existence of things is said to be emptiness, for what is dependently existent is lacking substance. You do not understand the meaning of the emptiness of things. Not knowing the meaning of emptiness, you formulate the following criticism: “The negation of the substance of things is not established because of the emptiness of your speech.” In this context, the dependent existence of things is emptiness. Why? Because of insubstantiality. Those things which are dependently arisen are not endowed with substance, because there is no substance. Why? Because of the dependence on causes and conditions. If things existed substantially they would exist without causes and conditions; however, they do not exist in this way. Therefore they are said to be without substance, and because they are without substance, empty. Therefore it follows that in the same way my own speech is without substance, because it is dependently arisen, and because it is without substance it is empty. Where Nāgārjuna disagrees with his opponent is when it comes to the implications of accepting that the thesis of universal emptiness is empty, too. The opponent takes this to mean that the thesis in question does not exist, and is therefore unable to do any work in an argument. This, however, implies a mistaken understanding of Nāgārjuna’s use of the term “empty.” When he says something is “empty of substance,” he does not mean to say that this something does not exist, but that it is dependently arisen, causally produced in dependence on causes and conditions.5 The existence of substances implies that they are at (p.48) the bottom of the chain of dependence relations. Other things can depend on them, but they cannot depend on other things. But a causally produced thing cannot be at the bottom of such a chain, since it in turn depends for its existence on the cause which brought it into being. And since reference to causally produced objects essentially involves reference to Page 5 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary causality, a causally originated object cannot exist substantially if the causal relation is to be understood as conceptually constructed. Given the Buddhist theory of momentariness, according to which objects only exist during a temporally minimal moment, it has to be understood as so constructed. Causality relates cause and effect which exist at different times; we can only squeeze one of these relata into the present moment, so the other must be supplied by our mind, either as a memory or as an expectation. The causal relation must therefore be understood as brought about by the mind, not as something existing mind-independently in the world out there.6 For this reason, causally produced things cannot be substances. “Being empty” and “being dependently arisen” refer to the same property, namely, the absence of substance.7 Nāgārjuna illustrates this by an example: For instance a chariot, pot, cloth, and so forth, which are empty of substance because they are dependently originated, perform in their respective ways by removing wood, grass, earth, by containing honey, water, or milk, and by bringing forth protection against cold, wind, or heat. Similarly my speech, which is also without substance because it is dependently arisen, plays a part in establishing the lack of substance of things. In this context, the statement “Because of the absence of substance there is the emptiness of your statement, and because of the emptiness of that statement it fails to accomplish the negation of the substance of all things” is not tenable. If emptiness does not entail non-existence but refers to the fact that objects stand in existential dependence relations to other objects, it is quite clear that emptiness does not preclude functional efficacy. Even though a chariot is dependently originated, being existentially dependent on its parts, and causally dependent on whatever brought the parts into existence, this does not mean that one cannot use it to transport wood or other goods. In fact, as Nāgārjuna remarks elsewhere, it is the very fact that objects like the chariot are mereologically and causally dependent in this way that allows them to fulfill their specific function.8 The very same is true of Nāgārjuna’s thesis of universal emptiness. Even though it is as empty as everything else, this does not imply that it is not capable of playing a role in arguments. (p.49) 23. Suppose one artificial being were to hinder another artificial being, or an illusory man would hinder one brought about by his own illusionistic power. This negation would be just like that. This point requires some explanation. First, we have to note that the verbal root prati-ṣidh employed here can mean both “to prevent” or “to restrain someone from doing something” as well as “to negate.” In the original text, the parallelism between one man keeping another one from doing something and Page 6 of 96 PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. Subscriber: Loyola University of Chicago; date: 23 March 2020 Commentary one statement keeping another from holding is much more pronounced than in our translation, as there is no English verb covering both meanings. It would be as if an artificial man hindered another artificial man9 engaged in some action or as if an illusory man brought forth by an illusionist would hinder another illusory man engaged in some action who was brought forth by the illusory man’s own illusory power. In this case the artificial man who is hindered is empty, as is the one who hinders him. The illusory man who is hindered is empty, as is the one who hinders him. This is the first of several references to illusionistic performances found in the Vigrahavyāvartanī. It is not easy to determine the nature of the specific example Nāgārjuna had in mind here, although the general idea is clear enough. We cannot be quite sure what exactly the difference between the “artificial man” (nirmitakaḥ) and the “illusory man” (māyā-puruṣaḥ) is supposed to amount to. Perhaps they both name a phantom created by an illusionist, or perhaps an automaton created by non-magical feats of engineering is meant by one or both of the terms.10 For the philosophical point this passage is trying to make, it is not important whether we conceive of the illusory persons as phantoms conjured up by a magician, as automata, or even as characters in a film. It is important, though, to be aware that Nāgārjuna mentions two different examples here. In the first one an artificial creature keeps another one from doing something. The second is somewhat mo ...
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Questions-Reflection

The readings provide fascinating and complex arguments regarding the theory of
emptiness based on Nāgārjuna and opposition interpretations. The argument revolves around
determining the definition of empty, substance, and the cause and effect of emptiness or
substance existence. One area of interest that is hard to understand is the interpretation of the
sound analogy.
The arguments from Nāgārjuna ...

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