Wednesday, May 4, 2022


NAGARJUNA (Indian Buddhist, c. 150-250 CE)

An Indian Mahayana Buddhist scholar, he is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers. He is credited as founding the Madhyamaka or "Middle Way" School. To "prove" that all existence is "empty" (that is, devoid of self-existence, or that all things are dependent on all others) he employed what has been called the tetralemma (like a dilemma, but with four choices):

  1. A is A. [affirmation]
  2. A is not A. [negation]
  3. A is both A and not A. [double affirmation]
  4. A is not A nor not not A. [double negation]
    [Therefore, all is empty]

An oversimplified, homely example:

  1. A rose is a rose.
  2. A rose is not a rose (e.g. it is made up of constituent parts).
  3. A rose is both a rose and not a rose (1 & 2).
  4. A rose is not a rose nor not not a rose (2 & 1).
    [Therefore, all is empty]


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