Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) is by any measure the single most influential philosopher in Tibetan history. His articulation of Prasangika Madhyamaka, and his interpretation of the 7th Century Indian philosopher Candrakirti's interpretation of Madhyamaka is the foundation for the understanding of that philosophical system in the Geluk school in Tibet. Tsongkhapa argues that Candrakirti shows that we can integrate the Madhyamaka doctrine of the two truths, and of the ultimate emptiness of all phenomena with a robust epistemology that explains how we can know both conventional and ultimate truth and distinguish truth from falsity within the conventional world.
The Sakya scholar Taktsang Lotsawa (born 1405) published the first systematic critique of Tsongkhapa's system. In the fifth chapter of his Freedom from Extremes Accomplished through Comprehensive Knowledge of Philosophy, Taktsang attacks Tsongkhapa's understanding of Candrakirti and the cogency of integrating Prasangika Madhyamaka with any epistemology. This attack launches a debate between Geluk scholars on the one hand and Sakya and Kagyu scholars on the other regarding the proper understanding of this philosophical school and the place of epistemology in the Madhyamaka program. This debate raged with great ferocity from the 15th through the 18th centuries, and continues still today.
The two volumes of Knowing Illusion study that debate and present translations of the most important texts produced in that context. Volume I: A Philosophical History of the Debate provides historical and philosophical background for this dispute and elucidates the philosophical issues at stake in the debate, exploring the principal arguments advanced by the principals on both sides, and setting them in historical context. This volume examines the ways in which the debate raises issues that are relevant to contemporary debates in epistemology, and concludes with two contributions by contemporary Tibetan scholars, one on each side of the debate.
Knowing Illusion: Bringing a Tibetan Debate into Contemporary Discourse--Volume I: A Philosophical History of the Debate, The Yakherds, Oxford University Press, Paperback, 384 pp, $45.00
is a collective of scholars in Philosophy and Buddhist Studies based in the USA, India, Australia, Nepal, and Germany, and comprises both Western and Tibetan scholars. Between them, they have translated, edited, and written over 70 books and several hundred articles and reviews, including numerous important translations of Tibetan philosophical texts and books on Buddhist philosophy.
- Jose Ignacio Cabezon, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Ryan Conlon, doctoral student in Classical Indology at the University of Hamburg
- Thomas Doctor, Associate Professor, Rangjung Yeshe Institute
- Douglas Duckworth, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Religion, Temple University
- Jed Forman, doctoral candidate in Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Buddhist Studies and Director of the Buddhist Studies and Logic programs, Smith College
- John Powers, Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University
- Sonam Thakchoe, Senior Philosophy Lecturer, University of Tasmania
- Tashi Tsering, Professor and Dean of Sakya Studies, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
- Yeshes Thabkhas, Professor Emeritus of Indian Buddhist Philosophy, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
CONTENTS: Knowing Illusion--Volume I
||Truths and Polemics: Taktsang's Presentation of Madhyamaka and Tibetan Responses
||The Philosophical Issues at Stake
||Khedrupje on Madhyamaka Epistemology
||The Gelukpas and Their Opponents
||Tsongkhapa, Buddhahood, and Epistemic Authority: An Initial Reply to Taktsang's Charge
||Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen's Response
||Tenets Anyone? Jamyang Shepa's Polemic Response
||From Three Contexts to None: A Radical Reading of Taktsang Lotsawa and the Middle Way
||Unforgotten Dreams: Purchok's Rebuttal of Taktsang
||How to Think Philosophically about the Status of Conventional Epistemic Warrants (Geshe Yeshes Thabkhas)
||Investigation into the Authenticity of Conventional Phenomena (Tashi Tsering)
|Glossary of English Terms
|Glossary of Tibetan Place Names and Tibetan Orders
|Glossary of Tibetan Terms