Paving the Great Way - Vasubandhu`s Unifying Buddhist Philosophy


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Abbreviations 1. Summarizing Vasubandhu: Should a Buddhist Philosopher Have a Philosophy? 2. Against the Times: Vasubandhu's Critique of His Main Abhidharma Rivals 3. Merely Cause and Result: The Imagined Self and the Literalistic Mind 4. Knowledge, Language, and the Interpretation of Scripture: Vasubandhu's Opening to the Mahayana 5. Vasubandhu's Yogacara: Enshrining the Causal Line in the Three Natures 6. Agency and the Ethics of Massively Cumulative Causality Conclusion: Buddhist Causal Framing for the Modern World Appendix A. Against the Existence of the Three Times Appendix B. Brief Disproof of the Self Appendix C. Discussion of "View" (Drsti) Appendix D. Against the Eternality of Atoms (Paramanu) Appendix E. The Proper Mode of Exposition on Conventional and Ultimate Appendix F. The Twenty Verses on Appearance and Memory Appendix G. The Three Natures Exposition Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

The Indian monk Vasubandhu (fourth-fifth century C.E.) is one of Buddhism's most celebrated philosophers. Paving the Great Way draws together the key ideas from across his diverse writings. Vasubandhu unified seemingly incompatible intellectual and scriptural traditions and provided a crucial foundation for the development of Buddhist epistemology and the theorization of tantra. In Vasubandhu, the book reveals a surprisingly relevant philosophical position: a distinctive, Buddhist approach to knowledge, moral agency, and subjectivity, under a causal worldview in which the "self" is understood to be an illusion.

About the Author

Jonathan Gold is associate professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University and the author of The Dharma's Gatekeepers: Sakya Pandita on Buddhist Scholarship in Tibet (2007).


Vasubandhu, one of the greatest minds in the history of Buddhism, is brought to life in these pages. Jonathan Gold's synthetic treatment of his most important ideas is a model for how to treat the work of a classical Buddhist thinker. Written in clear and lively prose, Paving the Great Way will be the definitive work on this great Buddhist philosopher for many years to come. Essential reading for anyone interested in classical Buddhist thought. -- Jose Ignacio Cabezon, University of California, Santa Barbara Gold has done something extraordinary: he has pulled together the key philosophical strands running through Vasubandhu's works, thereby demonstrating far greater continuity than might have been suspected, and he has given us a much deeper and more compelling author as a result. This book will forever change the way we read Vasubandhu. -- Mark Siderits, Seoul National University A rare example of a sustained and subtle engagement with the whole career of one of history's greatest Buddhist philosophers, Paving the Great Way makes an important and eminently readable case for thinking that the works of the prolific Buddhist thinker Vasubandhu represent the development of a unified philosophical project. -- Dan Arnold, University of Chicago Paving the Great Way is a masterpiece of philosophical exposition, synthesis, and creative commentary. Gold addresses every facet of Vasubandhu's considerable and varied corpus and integrates them in his articulation of Vasubandhu's original synthesis of Buddhist ideas. Gold brings to this project great philological erudition, deep philosophical insight, scrupulous commentarial skills, and a marvelous lucidity in exposition. This book is a major contribution not only to Vasubandhu scholarship but also to Yogacara studies, the history of Indian philosophy, the history of world philosophy, and the engagement between Western and Buddhist philosophical scholarship. -- Jay L. Garfield, Yale-NUS College This book makes a major contribution not only to Vasubandhu scholarship but also to Yogacara scholarship as well as to the history of Indian Buddhist philosophy and contemporary engagement between Western and Asian Buddhist philosophical scholarship... Highly recommended. Choice Beautifully written and cogently argued... A superb assessment of one of Buddhism's greatest thinkers. Buddhadharma An erudite, informative, impressively organized and presented study, Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu's Unifying Buddhist Philosophy is a model of insightful scholarship. Midwest Book Review I am sure that students of Buddhism will use Gold's extraordinary book for a long time to come. Journal of Religion

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