nl en

Introduction to the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy



This course, which is financed by the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies Fonds, will be offered in the Spring semester of 2017 and is open to all interested in the field of Buddhist Studies. Students who want to get credits for the course, should register for the course as for regular courses and will have to write the paper. Others do not have to register and can just attend the lectures. For more information, please contact prof. dr. J.A. Silk.

Classes are on Mondays from 19:00 to 21:00 in Lipsius 2.35b. Classes start on February 20.

Admission requirements



After a general introduction to basic philosophical ideas and concepts (doctrine of 2 truths/ realities, emptiness, dependent origination, argumentative methods) of the Madhyamaka school and to the life and works of Tsong kha Blo bzang grags pa (1357-1419), the following passages from Tsong kha pa's works will be read in Tibetan and English:

rTsa she ṭik chen Rigs pa'i rgya mtsho: Commentary to the introducory verse of Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, and, if time allows,
Lam rim chen mo: some parts of the chapter on the object of Negation (dgag bya).

Course objectives

Students will gain a basic knowledge of Madhyamaka philosophy, especially as developed in Tibet.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Class meetings 2 hr x 13 weeks = 26 hrs
Individual presentation: 10 hrs
Readings: 70hrs
Paper: 34hrs
TOTAL 140 hrs

For students who wish 10 EC, a much longer and more detailed paper will be required.

Assessment method

  • Paper 60%, participation in class 40%

Reading list

rJe Tsong khapa, Ocean of reasoning. A Great Commentary on the Mūlamadhyamaka¬kārikā. Transl. by Geshe Ngawang Samten and Jay L. Garfield. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. pp. 21-43.
Tsong-kha-pa, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Transl. by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Vol. 3. Ithaca (NY): Snow Lion Publications, 2002.
pp. 203ff.
Selections from:
Bhattacharya, Kamaleswar, The dialectical method of Nāgārjuna. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1971, Repr. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass 1978
Brunnhölzl, Karl, Prajñāpāramitā, Indian “gzhan stong pas”, and the Beginning of Tibetan gzhan stong. Wien 2011
Dreyfus, Georges B.J. & McClintock, Sara (eds.), The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅika Distinction. Boston: Wisdom Publ., 2003
Hopkins, Jeffrey, Meditation on Emptiness. London: Wisdom Publications, 1983
Nagao, Gadjin M., Mādhyamika and Yogācāra. Albany: State University of N.Y., 1991
Napper, Elizabeth, Dependent Arising and Emptiness. Boston [et al.]: Wisdom Publ. 1989
Seyfort Ruegg, David,
The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981
Studies in Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka Thought. 2 vols. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 2000 und 2002
The Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle. Essays on Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka. Boston: Wisdom Publ. 2010
Tauscher, Helmut, Die Lehre von den zwei Wirklichkeiten in Tsong kha pas Madhyamaka-Werken. Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, 1995
Westerhoff, Jan, Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka. A Philosophical Introduction. Oxford 2009
Williams, Paul, Mahāyāna Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations. London [u.a.]: Routledge, 2009


General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Choose from the options below:
Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Helmut Tauscher