WSTB No. 94

Margherita Serena Saccone “On the Nature of Things” A Buddhist Debate on Cognitions and Their Object. With a Manuscript Description by Paolo Giunta (2018) 377p.



The present work consists of three distinct yet complementary parts: “Introduction”, “Bahirarthaparīkṣā” and “*Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā”. The Introduction contains an analysis of the Buddhist debate on cognitions and their object in the 8th century as portrayed in the Bahirarthaparīkṣā chapter of the Tattvasaṅgraha by Śāntarakṣita and the Tattvasaṅgrahapañjikā by Kamalaśīla. This is followed by a critical edition of that chapter accompanied by an annotated English translation and, finally, four appendices on Śubhagupta and his main work, the *Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā.

The first part of this book, the Introduction, is an investigation into how Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla present this debate by means of a strenuous criticism of the views of Śubhagupta, a contemporary and fellow Buddhist. In the *Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā, Śubhagupta attacks various positions of the great masters of the logico-epistemological tradition, the very tradition which he himself appears to belong to. He specifically criticizes the view of vijñaptimātratā (mere cognition), which posits that external objects do not exist independently of their cognitions. It is precisely to defend (and prove) this view that Śāntarakṣita and especially Kamalaśīla introduce their refutation of Śubhagupta’s several arguments against Vasubandhu, Diṅnāga and Dharmakīrti. They do so in the Bahirarthaparīkṣā chapter, which is largely centered around their polemic against Śubhagupta and his work.

The second part is a new critical edition and English translation of the Bahirarthaparīkṣā chapter. Explanatory notes on the argumentations and the philosophical issues presented have been added in some parts.

The third part is the fruit of further research on Śubhagupta. Specifically, appendix 3 and 4 provide a critical edition of the Tibetan text and English translation of about 60 kārikās of Śubhagupta’s *Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā. A few of them are quoted or referred to in the Tattvasaṅgraha and the Tattvasaṅgrahapañjikā. They are all included in Appendix 1 (and discussed throughout the book). Appendix 2, moreover, offers a survey of the (relatively few) scholars who have devoted their attention to this greatly overlooked philosopher.

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