Jan Westerhoff

Jan 20, 2024

Candrakirti's Introduction to the Middle Way

A Guide

Oxford University Press 2023

A proponent of the Madhyamaka tradition of Mahāyāna Buddhism, Candrakīrti wrote several works, one of which, the Madhamakāvatāra, strongly influenced later Tibetan understandings of Madhyamaka. 

This work is the subject of Jan Westerhoff’s Candrakīrti’s Introduction to the Middle Way: A Guide (Oxford University Press, 2024), part of the Oxford Guides to Philosophy series. His book situates Candarkīrti and his text within Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and helps philosophical readers appreciate the text’s main arguments and ideas. Chief among these is a commitment to the emptiness of all phenomena, especially but not only selves, which is the subject of the lengthy sixth chapter—analyzing what it means for things to lack any substantial existence and criticizing opposing positions. Candrakīrti also takes up topics in metaphilosophy (do critical arguments commit us to positive claims?), philosophy of mind (do enlightened beings have experience at all?), and semantics and logic (what is the difference between conventional and ultimate truth, and can we express the latter in language?). Westerhoff’s guide aims to help readers unfamiliar with Sanskrit or Tibetan navigate these ideas, pointing them to further scholarly and philosophical resources along the way.

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Malcolm Keating

Malcolm Keating is Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy at Smith College. His research focuses on Sanskrit works of philosophy in Indian traditions, in the areas of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras & Stuff.

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