Overview

Nagarjuna

(c. 150—250)


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(fl. 2nd c. ad)

One of the principal philosophers of Buddhism, and founder of the Madhyamika school. Little is known of his life, although his name derives from naga, a serpent, symbol of occult knowledge. Nagarjuna holds that the multiple world of appearances depends upon the existence of oppositions. But oppositions arise from futile and false discriminations. They are relative, and hence unreal. The rejection of all oppositions (the middle way, or madhyamika) leaves real truth lying only in emptiness, or in a world characterized entirely negatively. The eight negations are: no elimination, no production, no destruction, no eternity, no unity, no multiplicity, no arriving, no departing. Nagarjuna's teaching resembles that of monists in the western tradition, such as Parmenides and Bradley.

Subjects: religion.


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