This two-volume study on Sa skya Paṇḍita’s (1182-1251) Treasure of Reasoning (Tshad ma rigs pa’i gter) focuses on two topics addressed in this famous work on epistemology (tshad ma): the distinction between two operating modes of cognition, appearance and exclusion, and the rules that support correct inferences.
As Sa skya Paṇḍita introduces his work by stating his critical intentions, namely, the rectification of the numerous and widespread erroneous Tibetan interpretations of Dharmakīrti’s thought, the present study pays particular attention to the various controversies involved. Thanks to the recent re-surfacing of several works by Sa skya Paṇḍita’s predecessors, it has become possible to identify the opponents targeted in the Treasure of Reasoning and to examine their views on the basis of first-hand material. In addition to throwing light on the often complex discussions found in the Treasure of Reasoning, the study of these texts has also allowed for a more precise evaluation of the developments of epistemology in 11th to 13th century Tibet, as well as for a reconsideration of Sa skya Paṇḍita’s place therein.
The first part of volume 1 focuses on the intellectual context of this period, presenting Sa skya Paṇḍita and the key figures who preceded him (rNgog Blo ldan shes rab, Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge, gTsang nag pa brTson ‘grus seng ge, mTshur ston gZhon nu seng ge), giving also an overview of the texts that have now become available. Several “myths” pertaining to Phya pa are re-evaluated, as are the continuity within the gSang phu tradition of interpretation and Sa skya Paṇḍita’s break therefrom.
The second part of volume 1 provides a detailed analysis of several major issues pertaining to the two above-mentioned topics: the typology of objects and cognitions, the strict divide between the operating modes of conceptual and non conceptual cognition, the process of concept formation within the framework of the apoha theory (Tib. gzhan sel), and, turning to inference, the nature of the logical reason’s triple characteristic (trairūpya,Tib. tshul gsum) and of the elements involved in it, as well as gTsang nag pa’s idiosyncratic theory of the modes of inference.
The second volume contains an edition and translation into French, with explanatory notes, of the fourth chapter and a portion of the tenth chapter of the Treasure of Reasoning, in which Sa skya Paṇḍita expounds on these themes. The appendices to this volume include the passages relevant to the understanding of the views of Sa skya Paṇḍita’s opponents on these topics, a Tibetan-Sanskrit-French lexicon of technical terms, as well as several indices.