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Nagarjuna's MadhyamakaA Philosophical Introduction$
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Jan Westerhoff

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195375213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375213.001.0001

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The Catuṣkoṭi or Tetralemma

The Catuṣkoṭi or Tetralemma

(p.67) 4 The Catuṣkoṭi or Tetralemma
Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka

Jan Westerhoff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The tetralemma or catuṣkoṭi constitutes a form of argument frequently encountered in Nāgārjuna’s works. It usually consists of the rejection of all of the following: a thesis, its negation, the conjunction of the thesis and the negation, the disjunction of the thesis and its negation. The chapter discusses two forms of the tetralemma, a restricted one in which only two alternatives are rejected, and a full form in which all four are rejected. The remainder of the chapter discusses two crucial problem arising in connection with the tetralemma: the problem of the distinctness of the four alternatives and the problem of the status of the third ‘contradictory’ alternative. The chapter also considers the positive variant of the tetralemma; in this all four alternatives are affirmed rather than rejected.

Keywords:   catuṣkoṭi, tetralemma, logic, four alternatives, law of the excluded middle, negation

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