De-Naturalizing Buddhism


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Asian Languages and Cultures


My dissertation offers a Buddhist philosophical critique of attempts to naturalize Buddhism. These attempts are motivated by the belief that our understanding of the world accurately represents the way things are—a view that many Buddhists saw as the main obstacle to Awakening. Drawing on Dharmakirti’s argument against natural kinds and Candrakirti’s critique of svabhava, I argue that Buddhist naturalists fail to see how the most radical insights of Buddhist philosophy undermine their naturalistic premises. Since these two streams of argumentation only come together in Tibet, I focus on their synthesis in the work of the Tibetan philosopher Gorampa (1429-1489). I aim to show that naturalism is only an option if one accepts precisely the premises that these thinkers sought to undermine.