Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu's Unifying Buddhist Philosophy

Paperback | September 27, 2016

byJonathan Gold

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The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (fourth-fifth century C.E.) is known for his critical contribution to Buddhist Abhidharma thought, his turn to the Mahayana tradition, and his concise, influential Yogacara-Vijñanavada texts. Paving the Great Way reveals another dimension of his legacy: his integration of several seemingly incompatible intellectual and scriptural traditions, with far-ranging consequences for the development of Buddhist epistemology and the theorization of tantra.

Most scholars read Vasubandhu's texts in isolation and separate his intellectual development into distinct phases. Featuring close studies of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasya, Vyakhyayukti, Vimsatika, and Trisvabhavanirdesa, among other works, this book identifies recurrent treatments of causality and scriptural interpretation that unify distinct strands of thought under a single, coherent Buddhist philosophy. In Vasubandhu's hands, the Buddha's rejection of the self as a false construction provides a framework through which to clarify problematic philosophical issues, such as the nature of moral agency and subjectivity under a broadly causal worldview. Recognizing this continuity of purpose across Vasubandhu's diverse corpus recasts the interests of the philosopher and his truly innovative vision, which influenced Buddhist thought for a millennium and continues to resonate with today's philosophical issues. An appendix includes extensive English-language translations of the major texts discussed.

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The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (fourth-fifth century C.E.) is known for his critical contribution to Buddhist Abhidharma thought, his turn to the Mahayana tradition, and his concise, influential Yogacara-Vijñanavada texts. Paving the Great Way reveals another dimension of his legacy: his integration of several seemingly in...

Jonathan Gold is associate professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University and the author of The Dharma's Gatekeepers: Sakya Pandita on Buddhist Scholarship in Tibet (2007).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:September 27, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168276

ISBN - 13:9780231168274

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviations1. Summarizing Vasubandhu: Should a Buddhist Philosopher Have a Philosophy?2. Against the Times: Vasubandhu's Critique of His Main Abhidharma Rivals3. Merely Cause and Result: The Imagined Self and the Literalistic Mind4. Knowledge, Language, and the Interpretation of Scripture: Vasubandhu's Opening to the Mahayana 5. Vasubandhu's Yogacara: Enshrining the Causal Line in the Three Natures6. Agency and the Ethics of Massively Cumulative CausalityConclusion: Buddhist Causal Framing for the Modern WorldAppendix A. Against the Existence of the Three TimesAppendix B. Brief Disproof of the SelfAppendix C. Discussion of "View" (Drsti)Appendix D. Against the Eternality of Atoms (Paramanu)Appendix E. The Proper Mode of Exposition on Conventional and UltimateAppendix F. The Twenty Verses on Appearance and MemoryAppendix G. The Three Natures ExpositionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Beautifully written and cogently argued.... A superb assessment of one of Buddhism's greatest thinkers.