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This dissertation examines scripture as a concept and the various roles that authoritative Buddhist texts play as such in the intellectual history of Buddhism. While it considers what Buddhist auth...
This dissertation examines scripture as a concept and the various roles that authoritative Buddhist texts play as such in the intellectual history of Buddhism. While it considers what Buddhist authors explicitly speak about scripture, the project brings into focus the recorded uses of authoritative texts, with an interest in discovering intellectual practices and learning about the management and transmission of knowledge. The main source materials of this study consist of instances of scriptural references found in the scholastic and commentarial works of several influential Indian and Tibetan authors, all of whom are connected with the pivotal figure of Candrakīrti (ca. 570-640), whose major writings lie at the center of the investigation. The deployment of scripture rests upon a commentary-scripture dichotomy between scholastic literature and the texts that it accepts as authoritative. However, a close examination also reveals the complexity of the relationship, illustrated by the changing scope of scripture, the authority that commentary enjoys in the matter of interpretation, and the creation of practical canons of scriptures and passages through the scholastic traditions' selective usage of the scriptural sources that they regard as most relevant. Emphasizing the acts of using scripture, the dissertation argues that hermeneutics occupies a central place in Buddhist scholastic practices. In so doing, it explores two specific aspects of engagement with scripture: scriptural citation, a particularly visible albeit largely neglected feature of Buddhist scholastic texts, and the element of exegesis that is incorporated into the development of new philosophical systems. In the latter case, the embedding of literary patterns of scripture in the design of epistemological categories and metaphysical arguments demonstrate that the exegetical mode of thinking plays a significant role in the moments of innovation and ingenuity as well. Buddhist authors themselves indeed acknowledge both scripture and reason as the basic tools of their scholastic enterprise. Highlighting a keen awareness of the problem of reifying reason displayed by certain Buddhist writers from the Madhyamaka School of thought, the dissertation argues more specifically that the Buddhist scholastic tradition is cognizant of the hermeneutical condition of understanding and of reason's contingency upon language, context, and tradition.