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 - Svatantrika and Prasangika. 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.
Due largely to contact with the living Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it has become commonplace to distinguish two branches of Buddhist Madhyamaka philosophy: Svatantrika and Prasangika. Nowadays one finds references to 'Prasangika philosophy' and 'Svatantrika philosophy' as if these were self-evident and unproblematic categories on a par with other doxographical distinctions.
The present volume scrutinizes this distinction more critically, clarifying and highlighting its problematic nature as well as suggesting arguments that may support it. Each contributor focuses on particular texts and figures involved in the evolution of the distinction, in both India and Tibet.
Although all the essays deal with the same questions, they often come to startlingly different conclusions. This disagreement reflects the individual perspectives of the authors, but also signals the highly contested nature of the Svatantrika-Prasangika distinction itself, making for a fascinating exploration of the intellectual heritage of modern Tibetan Buddhism.
— From the cover