This book investigates the philosophical idea of emptiness (śūnyatā) based on the text Catusstava, written by the noted Buddhist philosopher, Nāgārjuna. Here the author has employed the concept of Philosophical Hermeneutics to explain by varying methods of discourses the unique and controversial idea of śūnyatā. He has earnestly attempted to explain it in contemporary discourses so that it is easy for us to understand the need of a Middle Path approach to the philosophical problems of today. This philosophical-hermeneutical project includes a translation of the text by the author along with an interpretation to create a situation for continued interpretations; wherein the reader may participate in discoursing emptiness (śūnyatā) within his personal, historical, and intellectual situations. The author has tried to mediate the idea of śūnyatā which had existed in classical India and how it developed from various systems of thought into the Buddhist interpretation and then into the thinking of the reader. It is a dialogical journey, which has been important for various thinkers for thousands of years.
The idea of emptiness (śūnyatā) has a strong foundation in Indian philosophy. However, Nāgārjuna cleverly introduced it in his discourses to explain its central philosophy: the philosophy of Middle Path. Through the negative mode of argumentation, he taught how we naturally get trapped into extreme viewpoints and speculate on them. His philosophy of Middle Path (Mādhyamika) explains the progress of human reasoning moving in its natural course avoiding extreme viewpoints for finding harmony and freedom.
Today, we base our views on speculative thoughts and walk on the path of extreme views to achieve prosperity in life. This understanding is the leading method and path on which we base our thinking. In the last few centuries, using the method of scientific reasoning and scientific philosophy, we exploited Nature and natural resources in an alarming mode of extremism, where it was assumed that Nature, being a self-sustained system, would correct all our misdeeds. Based on such a mindset, we set the linguistically conditioned theoretical viewpoints. Now, we are experiencing a reversal of such extreme theories and viewpoints wherever the natural laws are hugely vulnerable and prone to self-destruction so much that the methods of science, technology, and mathematics show inadvertent responses. The chariots we set to move into the expanse of the ‘limitless sky’ are now finding a sky with lots of limits. In such a situation, the philosophy of Middle Path delineated as the structure of emptiness is a revolutionary method to learn about Nature and natural laws.
The application of Gadamer’s perspective of Philosophical Hermeneutics is the highlight of this book.
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