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The Proof of Emptiness – Bhāviveka’s Jewel in the Hand

FONG, LAI,YAN (2015) The Proof of Emptiness – Bhāviveka’s Jewel in the Hand. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study seeks to examine the Svātantrika-Madhyamaka proof of emptiness in Bhāviveka’s Jewel in the Hand (*Karatalaratna, KR). The proof comprises two inferences, the first of which is to the ultimate emptiness of conditioned things and the other to the ultimate unreality of unconditioned things. However, emptiness and logical reasoning are seemingly mutually-exclusive, in that emptiness is non-conceptual and ineffable while logical reasoning is conceptual and verbal. How can Bhāviveka prove emptiness by logical reasoning? The thesis addresses this theoretical tension in two parts: Part I – an introduction to the proof, and Part II – a commentary with the translation of the objections raised by the opponents and Bhāviveka’s responses related to the first inference.

Chapter 1 in Part I explains the formation of the two inferences. Chapter 2 clarifies Bhāviveka’s notions of the two truths in relation to the proof. The theoretical tension is solvable as the ultimate emptiness is understood as the expressible (paryāya) ultimate truth, which is conceptual. The proof is further considered as the true (tathya) conventional truth, through which the realisation of the inexpressible (aparyāya) ultimate truth is facilitated. Chapter 3 examines the two inferences in terms of inferences for others. Although they are considered the summary of the conclusions of all individual inferences regarding the ultimate emptiness of different things, they are unestablished as standalone inferences because their reasons (hetu) are fallacious. Thus, they fail to prove the expressible ultimate truth. Chapter 4 suggests that the proof might be defensible referring to later developments in Buddhist logic.

Part II analyses the objections to Bhāviveka’s first inference and his notion of self-emptiness and Bhāviveka’s defences, based on the translation of the relevant part in KR. These objections are refuted by logical reasoning, although not obviously with satisfactory results.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Bhāviveka; the two truths; emptiness; inference; *Karatalaratna
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Nov 2015 09:46

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