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Queerly enough, I might have discovered that Nagarjuna, the founder of Madhyamika Buddhist philosophy, struck upon that same reality underlying and expressed-as the "four causes" of Aristotelian and Thomist philosophy. The Mulamadhyamikakarika contains references to "four conditions" (efficient, percept-object, immediate, and dominant) which, on first glance, map fairly well to Aristotle's "four causes" (efficient, formal, material, final); the only possible wrinkle being the degree of compatibility between the "percept-object condition" and the "formal cause".

An odd find, which I'm not quite sure what to do with.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
The difference has to do with the "participatory" nature of the reality Nagarjuna was mapping as opposed to the "objective" nature Aristotle was describing (nominalism, which moved closer to Nagarjuna while introducing its own distortions, was centuries in the future).

Just a thought...
Jan. 8th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
You could very well be right. It's certainly obvious that, if they were hitting upon the same thing, they interpreted its significance much differently. To my knowledge, Aristotle did not have much interest in anything resembling "dependent arising" or "emptiness", and Nagarjuna seems to have had minimal interest in matters of teleology... Which is one reason why it's surprising to see the two expressing something similar; they weren't exactly beginning from similar premises, and so one wouldn't necessarily expect any sort of coincidence of thought.

I'll likely do some background research over the Summer, just out of an interest to understand the physical system NJ was working with -- I've gathered that he was influenced by the early, non-Theravada, Abhidharma schools, specifically the Sarvastivadans, who seem to have had some very odd ideas about how time works.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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