[INDOLOGY] New book: The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy

Jan Westerhoff westerhoff at cantab.net
Fri Jun 8 14:29:58 UTC 2018

Dear Colleagues,
some of you may be interested in this book, which has just come out:

Jan Westerhoff: The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (The Oxford
History of Philosophy), Oxford University Press, 352 pages, 978-0198732662


Here is a short description, followed by the table of contents:

Jan Westerhoff unfolds the story of one of the richest episodes in the
history of Indian thought, the development of Buddhist philosophy in the
first millennium CE. He starts from the composition of the Abhidharma
works before the beginning of the common era and continues up to the time
of Dharmakirti in the sixth century. This period was characterized by the
development of a variety of philosophical schools and approaches that have
shaped Buddhist thought up to the present day: the scholasticism of the
Abhidharma, the Madhyamaka's theory of emptiness, Yogacara idealism, and
the logical and epistemological works of Dinnaga and Dharmakirti. The book
attempts to describe the historical development of these schools in their
intellectual and cultural context, with particular emphasis on three
factors that shaped the development of Buddhist philosophical thought: the
need to spell out the contents of canonical texts, the discourses of the
historical Buddha and the Mahayana sutras; the desire to defend their
positions by sophisticated arguments against criticisms from fellow
Buddhists and from non-Buddhist thinkers of classical Indian philosophy;
and the need to account for insights gained through the application of
specific meditative techniques. While the main focus is the period up to
the sixth century CE, Westerhoff also discusses some important thinkers
who influenced Buddhist thought between this time and the decline of
Buddhist scholastic philosophy in India at the beginning of the thirteenth
century. His aim is that the historical presentation will also allow the
reader to get a better systematic grasp of key Buddhist concepts such as
non-self, suffering, reincarnation, karma, and nirvana.

Table of contents
0. Introduction

1. Buddhist philosophy in India: a wheel ever turning

2. Philosophy as a game

3. Factors determining the game
a. Arguments
b. Sacred texts
c. Meditative practice

4. Narrating the game: how to structure the material

5. The sources of the game
a. The bases of Buddhist philosophy
b. Debates
c. Commentaries
d. Doxographies

6. The game’s view of the game

1. Abhidharma

1. Introducing the Abhidharma

a. Matrices
b. Question-and-answer format
c. Providing a comprehensive theory

2. The question of authenticity

3. The Abhidharma schools

a. Mahāsaṃghika
b. Sthaviranikāya
c. Pudgalavāda
d. Sarvāstivāda
e. Sautrāntika

2. Madhyamaka

1. The rise of Mahāyāna and its relation to Buddhist philosophy

2. The Madhyamaka school

3. The teachings of the Perfection of Wisdom

a. Criticism of the Abhidharma project
b. The doctrine of illusionism
c. An explicit acceptance of contradictions

4. Key themes of Nāgārjuna’s thought

a. Nāgārjuna and the criticism of the Abhidharma project
b. Illusionism in Nāgārjuna’s thought
c. Contradictions and Nāgārjuna’s thought

5. The commentators

a. Buddhapālita
b. Bhāvaviveka
c. Candrakīrti

6. The great synthesizers: Śāntarakṣita and

7. Madhyamaka and Nyāya

3. Yogācāra
1. Five Stages of Yogācāra’s development

a. The early Yogācāra sūtras
b. Stages 2 and 3: Maitreya and Asaṅga
c. Stage 4: Vasubandhu
d. Stage 5: Later Yogācāra

2. Proofs of Buddhist doctrines

a. Rebirth
b. Other minds
c. Momentariness

3. Key Yogācāra concepts

a. Cittamātra
b. Ālayavijñāna and the eight types of consciousness
c. Trisvabhāva
d. Svasaṃvedana
e. Three turnings
f. Tathāgatagarbha and Yogācāra

4. Factors that shaped Yogācāra philosophy

a. argumentative factors
b. textual factors
c. meditative factors

5. Yogācāra and other schools of Buddhist philosophy

6. Yogācāra and Vedānta

4. The school of Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti

1. The lives of Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti

2. Epistemology

3. Inference

4. Metaphysics

5. Language

6. Scriptural authority and yogic perception

a. Scriptural authority
b. Yogic perception

7. How to classify Diṅnāga’s and Dharmakīrti’s philosophy

8. The school of Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti and its relation
to Mīmāṃsā

a. Mīmāṃsā epistemology
b. Mīmāṣā philosophy of language
c. Mīmāṃsā and historiography

9. The end of Buddhist philosophy in India

a. Śāntideva
b. Atiśa Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna


Very best wishes

Jan Westerhoff

JC Westerhoff
Lady Margaret Hall
University of Oxford
Norham Gardens
Oxford OX2 6QA
United Kingdom

jan.westerhoff at lmh.ox.ac.uk

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