Religious Background and Philosophy of the Buddhist Epistemological School

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Since Stcherbatsky's lifetime, the research on the epistemological school of Buddhism was mostly limited to purely logical and epistemological aspects, as if this late-Buddhist philosophical trend were the equivalent of an Indian variant of Kantianism or of analytic philosophy. But as a preliminary genealogical study already showed, this school developed a methodology from the very beginning which not only aimed at disproving opponents of Buddhism better, but also offered an apologetical justification of the Buddhist doctrines and proved the possibility of salvation.

In a first step, this study will focus on the intellectual genealogy of the school up until Dharmakīrti (600–660?) (the idealist understanding of "logic", Buddhist vāda handbooks, Dignāga's contribution, etc.). Then it will discuss the historical and institutional factors involved in the development of this school (the decline of the Gupta Empire, the corroboration of the orthodox animosity toward Buddhism, the end of the "systematic period" of Buddhism, the development of monastic "universities", etc.). Lastly, it will thematize the most important religio-philosophical topics of Dharmakīrti in particular (ignorance, the structure of the path, compassion, Yogic enlightenment, the elimination of defilement, the ontological and gnoseological turning point toward Buddhahood, Buddhology, etc.).

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