Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness

ISBN : 9780190260514

The Cowherds
288 ページ
158 x 236 mm

The Mahayana tradition in Buddhist philosophy is defined by its ethical orientation-the adoption of bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings. And indeed, this tradition is known for its literature on ethics, particularly such texts as Nagarjuna's Jewel Garland of Advice (Ratnavali), Aryadeva's Four Hundred Verses (Catuhsataka), and especially Santideva's How to Lead an Awakened Life (Bodhicaryavatara) and its commentaries. All of these texts reflect the Madhyamaka tradition of philosophy, and all emphasize both the imperative to cultivate an attitude of universal care (karuna) grounded in the realization of emptiness, impermanence, independence and the absence of any self in persons or other phenomena. This position is morally very attractive, but raises an important problem: if all phenomena, including persons and actions, are only conventionally real, can moral injunctions or principles be binding, or does the conventional status of the reality we inhabit condemn us to an ethical relativism or nihilism? In Moonshadows, the international collective known as the Cowherds addresses an analogous problem in the domain of epistemology and argues that the Madhyamaka tradition has the resources to develop a robust account of truth and knowledge within the context of conventional reality. The essays explore a variety of ways in which to understand important Buddhist texts on ethics and Mahayana moral theory so as to make sense of the genuine force of morality. The volume combines careful textual analysis and doctrinal exposition with philosophical reconstruction and reflection, and considers a variety of ways to understand the structure of Mahayana Buddhist ethics.


Introduction: Why Ask About Madhyamaka and Ethics - Jay L. Garfield and Graham Priest
1. The Many Voices of Buddhist Ethics - Charles Goodman and Sonam Thakchoe
2. Aiming at Happiness, Aiming at Ultimate Truth - In Practice - Amber Carpenter
3. The Dismal Slough - Koji Tanaka
4. The Santideva Passage: Bodhicaryavatara VIII:90-103 - Jay L. Garfield, Stephen Jenkins, and Graham Priest
5. Buddhist Ethics in the Context of Conventional Truth: Path and Transformation - Jay L. Garfield
6. Waking into Compassion: the Alambana of Karuna - Stephen Jenkins
7. Does "Buddhist Ethics" Exist? - Mark Siderits
8. From Madhyamaka to Consequentialism: A Roadmap - Charles Goodman
9. The Prasangika's Ethics of Momentary Disintegration (Vinasa Bhava): Causally Effective Karmic Moments - Sonam Thakchoe
10. How Does Merely Conventional Karma Work? - Guy Newland
11. The Connection between Ontology and Ethics in Madhyamaka Thought - Jan Westerhoff
12. Compassion and the Net of Indra - Graham Priest
Appendix: Bodhicaryavatara-panjika VIII. 90-103 by Prajnakaramati, commenting on Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara - Charles Goodman and Mark Siderits


The Cowherds are an international collective of scholars in Buddhist Studies. They worked together first on Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy, an investigation in Madhyamaka epistemology.