Sara L. McClintock
Sara L. McClintock is an assistant professor of religion at Emory University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Bryn Mawr College, her master’s in world religions from Harvard Divinity School, and her doctorate in religion from Harvard University. She has spent time as a researcher at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath and the University of Lausanne, and has taught at Carleton College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interests include both narrative and philosophical traditions in South Asian Buddhism, with particular focus on issues of metaphysics, hermeneutics, and rhetoric.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Omniscience and the Rhetoric of Reason
The great Buddhist scholars Śāntarakṣita (725–88 CE.) and his disciple Kamalaśīla were among the most influential thinkers in classical India. They debated ideas not only within the Buddhist tradition but also with exegetes of other Indian religions, and they both traveled to Tibet during Buddhism’s infancy there. Their views, however, have been notoriously hard to classify. The present volume examines Śāntarakṣita’s Tattvasaṃgraha and Kamalaśīla’s extensive commentary on it, works that cover all conceivable problems in Buddhist thought and portray Buddhism as a supremely rational faith.
One hotly debated topic of their time was omniscience—whether it is possible and whether a rational person may justifiably claim it as a quality of the Buddha. Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla affirm both claims, but in their argumentation they employ divergent rhetorical strategies in different passages, advancing what appear to be contradictory positions. McClintock’s investigation of the complex strategies these authors use in defense of omniscience sheds light on the rhetorical nature of their enterprise, one that shadows their own personal views as they advance the arguments they deem most effective to convince the audiences at hand.
The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction
Madhyamaka, or “Middle Way,” philosophy came to Tibet from India and became the basis of all of Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetans, however, differentiated two streams of Madhyamaka philosophy—Svātantrika and Prāsaṅgika. In this collection, leading scholars in the field address the distinction on various levels, including the philosophical import for both Indian and Tibetan Madhyamaka and the historical development of the distinction itself.
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