Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 73–98 | Cite as

Realistic-Antimetaphysical Reading Vs Any Nihilistic Interpretation of Madhyamaka



This paper supports the thesis that nihilistic interpretations (such as the ‘qualified’ one Westerhoff presents in a recent contribution) of Madhyamaka philosophy derive from generally antirealistic and/or metaphysical approaches to Nāgārjuna’s thought. However, the arguments and many images by way of which the author of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (MMK) and his Indian commentators defend themselves from the charge of nihilism show limits in these approaches, and rather confirm that Nāgārjuna’s philosophy should be read as a theoretical proposal that is at once realistic and antimetaphysical. The epistemology inherent to the soteriological dimension of the Buddha’s teaching, of which Nāgārjuna presents himself as a faithful continuer, assesses on the one hand the accomplishment of a ‘cognitive revolution’ consisting in the achievement of a new (and ultimate) vision of reality and on the other the avoidance of any metaphysical description of the same vision. Comprehension of the Madhyamaka philosophical enterprise through a realistic-antimetaphysical lens seems to hinder and prevent the possibility of any nihilistic interpretation of Nāgārjuna.


Madhyamaka Nihilism Realism Antimetaphysics 











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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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