About the Book:
The following volume constitutes the second in a series devoted to Buddhist philosophy. It takes up more or less where its predecessor, Volume Seven of this Encyclopedia, leaves off, around the beginning of the second century. This is a period still not will understood, with a great deal of scholarly disagreement remaining about many aspects of the history and thought of the period. The editor of the volume has tried to utilize the most up-to-date scholarship known to us.
The Volumes on Buddhist philosophy treat the subject altogether chronologically beginning with the Buddha and ending when Buddhist thought leaves India around 14th century. The purpose behind this approach is to avoid imposing more divisions into Buddhism than are historically apparent. The scope of these volumes is limited to summaries of the texts that are of philosophical interest throughout theoretical rather than practical in their intended function, and polemical or at least expository in a context where defence of one view among alternatives is appropriate. These criteria have been interpreted here broadly and loosely. In these volumes dealing with Buddhism the original Sutras, the earliest literature regularly ascribed to the Buddha or his immediate disciples, is not summarized.
The entire Encyclopedia has been planned to present as consistent an account as possible of the history of Indian philosophical thought, citing experts on the points that seem debatable.
About the Editor:
He is professor of Philosophy and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, and is General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies.
The following Volume constitute the second in a series devoted to Buddhist philosophy. It takes up more or less where its predecessor, Volume Seven of this Encyclopedia leaves off around the beginning of the second century A.D. This is a period still not well understood with a good deal of scholarly disagreement remaining about many aspects of the history and thought of the period. As merely one example it remains a debated point whether there were on or two Vasubandhus, with respected scholars taking both sides of the issue. The Editor of the present Volume makes no claim to expertise on such issues. Where reputable scholars disagree it is difficult to know which way to turn when attempting to summarize the history and beliefs of the period. We have tried to utilize the most up-to-date scholarship known to us at the time of writing with full realization that tomorrow new evidence or better arguments may settle such issues definitively in the minds of scholars. When this happens the treatment here will evidently become out of date. Since given the plan of the entire Encyclopedia we are more or less committed to presenting as consistent an account as possible of the history of Indian philosophical thought, citing experts known to us on points that seem debatable.
It will be evident to the readers of what follows that there remains a good deals to be done in bringing to light the thought of the Buddhists of the present period. A Large number of texts are essentially unexplored by the scholarship in the Western world at least. The Editor of the present Volume being unable to read the languages of much excellent scholarship Chinese, Japanese and Russian and whose facility in European languages in halting has been forced to reply on publications in English for ht most part although he has tried to become acquainted with some of the material available in French and German. Furthermore he is not conversant with Tibetan the language in which quite a bit of Buddhist literature is primarily and in some cases solely available. Fortunately others have conveyed to the English-reading public some of the most important findings of those writing in other languages. Nevertheless these failings underline the point that our attempt here to deal with the scholarship on Indian philosophy has serious limitations and that improvements on it by those whose linguistic abilities are greater or who number more than the single person who has tried to put the present account together, are clearly called for.
Thanks are due to various sources of funding that helped make the present volume possible; in particular grants from the Smithsonian Institution the American Institute of Indian studies and the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed to the overall effort. We owe our gratitude to those scholars living and dead, whose understanding of the contents of the works summarized here is utilized. In particular I wish to thank Stefan Anacker and Christian Lindtner for their generous assistance and for helpful comments on sections of the manuscript, though they are in no way responsible for the mistakes that have inevitably crept into the results.
- KARL H. POTTER
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