"No Unity, No Problem: Madhyamaka Metaphysical Indefinitism” Philosophers' Imprint,forthcoming According to Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophers, everything is ontologically dependent on something else. But what would a world devoid of fundamentalia look like? In this paper, I argue that the anti-foundationalist “neither-one-nor-many argument” of the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta (c. seventh/eighth century) commits him to a position I call “metaphysical indefinitism.” I demonstrate how this view follows from Śrīgupta’s rejection of mereological simples and ontologically independent being (svabhāva), when understood in light of his account of conventional reality (saṃvṛtisatya). I clarify how—contra recent claims in the secondary literature—the Madhyamaka metaphysical dependence structure is not a straightforward infinitism since it does not honor strict asymmetry or transitivity. Instead, Madhyamaka metaphysical dependence relations are irreflexive and extendable, admitting of dependence chains of indefinite (though not actually infinite) length and dependence loops of non-zero length. Yet, the flexible ontology of Śrīgupta's Madhyamaka can accommodate a contextualist account of asymmetry and support a revisable theory of conventional truth, delivering significant payoffs for the view, including the capacity to accommodate developments in scientific explanation.
"The Truth about Śrīgupta’s Two Truths: Longchenpa’s 'Lower Svātantrikas' and the Making of a New Philosophical School" Journal of South Asian Intellectual History, forthcoming Longchen Rabjampa (1308–64), scholar of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma tradition, presents a novel doxographical taxonomy of the so-called Svātantrika branch of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy, designating the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta as the exemplar of a Svātantrika sub-school which maintains that appearance and emptiness are metaphysically distinct. This paper compares Longchenpa’s characterization of this “distinct-appearance-and-emptiness” view with Śrīgupta’s own account of the two truths. I expose a significant disconnect between Longchenpa’s Śrīgupta and Śrīgupta himself and argue that the impetus for Longchenpa’s doxographical innovation originates not in Buddhist India, but within his own Tibetan intellectual milieu, tracing back to his twelfth-century Sangpu Monastery predecessors, Gyamarwa and Chapa.
"Somethings and Nothings: Śrīgupta and Leibniz on Being and Unity" with Jeffrey K. McDonough Philosophy East and West 70, vol. 4 (2020): 1022-1046 This paper argues that Śrīgupta and Leibniz accept similar metaphysical principles concerning unity, aggregates, and being. It then shows how, from those shared principles, Śrīgupta and Leibniz arrive at similar conclusions concerning the reality of ordinary bodies and radically different conclusions about fundamental ontology. Penultimate Draft
Introduction to Reality: A Tibetan Critical Edition, Annotated English Translation, and Philosophical Introduction to Śrīgupta's Tattvāvatāravṛtti Under contract with the Harvard Oriental Series, Harvard University Press This monograph includes an analysis of the Commentary on the Introduction to Reality (Tattvāvatāravṛtti) by the Indian Madhyamaka Buddhist philosopher, Śrīgupta, together with a Tibetan critical edition and annotated translation of this text, which has never before been available in English. In this work, Śrīgupta advances the “neither-one-nor-many argument,” which sets out to prove that all things lack ontological independence, and by implication, that everything depends for its existence on something else. I present a detailed reconstruction and analysis of the argument, showing how Śrīgupta rejects the possibility of ontological independence by way of rejecting the possibility of mereological simples, both material and immaterial. Śrīgupta's other important philosophical contributions are brought to light, including his influential threefold criterion for conventional reality (saṃvṛtisatya) and his argument for the possibility of conceptual enlightened cognition (vikalpajñāna), which is standardly supposed to be non-conceptual.