chapter  4
Dialectic of construction and de-construction in the Vijñānavāda system: The Same in Paramārtha's Shèlùn system
Pages 28

This chapter deals with a problem that arises from my earlier effort to collate Kumarajlva and Paramartha. In order to reconstruct the principle of coherence that informs the 18-point list in the Dazhidu Lun (T1509), I referred to Paramartha’s self-contained Treatise on the Eighteen Points about Emptiness (T1616). The latter text, although attributed to Nagarjuna in the Taisho Tripitaka, is a Vijnanavada work as it makes explicit reference to the Vijnanavada doctrine of three categories of being (-=.'14, trisvabhava). In modern Buddhist studies, many scholars argue that this Vijnanavada doctrine marks a significant departure from the Madhyamaka philosophy of emptiness. Some scholars claim that this Vijnanavada conception introduces a realist element into the Buddhist conception of nirvana.1 Others suspect that the Vijnanavada interpretation of the notion of the two levels of Buddhist truth in terms of the three categories of being is just as inadequate as the Sarvastivada distinction between prajnaptisat and dravyasat.1 There are also scholars who have iden­ tified a Fregean/Austinean philosophy of language in Paramartha’s Treatise on the Three Categories o f Absence-of-being (T1616).3 Thus, a question arises: to what extent can Paramartha’s text be counted upon as a reliable reference point for a study of the Madhyamaka commentary on the list?