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Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

James Kreines

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I will explain the core project of ancient Mahayana Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna’s central work, the Mulamadhyamakakarika, or MMK. The MMK is a dense, spiraling text which has confounded scholars since it was written in the 2nd century. It simultaneously argues for the emptiness of conventional concepts, and for the emptiness of emptiness itself. It at once uses logic to break down concepts we typically take for granted, while also seeming to embrace logical contradictions. By investigating two eminent interpretations of the book and one part of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, I will show that Nagarjuna purposefully charts paradoxical ground in the MMK in order to show us our philosophical impotence and lead us to a disposition of transcendent meditative silence.

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