Textual Pragmatics in Early Chinese Madhyamaka
Abstract

Abstract:

Academic studies of Chinese Buddhist views of language generally focus on issues such as paradox, contradiction, and the limits of expression and thought. However, such studies seldom seem to focus on the fact that many Buddhist texts deliberately use an ambiguous mode of linguistic expression, one that actually constitutes their compositional patterns and is designed to enhance and promote the Mahāyāna Buddhist soteriological goal, namely liberation from suffering via detachment from falseness. In fact, many of the treatises and exegetical commentaries of the Chinese masters develop a textual pragmatics rooted in the ambiguous and paradoxical rhetoric of early Madhyamaka scriptures translated by Kumārajīva (344–413). This essay discusses the philosophical and soteriological significance of such a linguistic-textual pragmatics as we find it in the early Chinese Madhyamaka scriptures.