omniscience and the rhetoric of reason

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“Sara McClintock breaks new ground in the much-discussed relationship between rationality and religion. The study is an excellent example of critical philology combined with a stunning capacity of answering in clear and philosophically informed ways the question of what does it all mean?”—Ernst Steinkellner, University of Vienna


Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla on Rationality, Argumentation, and Religious Authority

Sara L. McClintock

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.

book information
  • Paperback
  • 440 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
  • $36.95
  • ISBN 9780861716616
  • ebook
  • 440 pages
  • $26.99
  • ISBN 9780861719310
about the author
Omniscience and the Rhetoric of Reason

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.

Other books by Sara L. McClintock:
The Svātantrika-Prāsaṅgika Distinction

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