Christopher Rahlwes: “Nāgārjuna’s Negation”

Check out graduate student Christopher Rahlwes’ recent article in The Journal of Indian Philosophy, “Nāgārjuna’s Negation.”


The logical analysis of Nāgārjuna’s (c. 200 CE) catuṣkoṭi (tetralemma or four-corners) has remained a heated topic for logicians in Western academia for nearly a century. At the heart of the catuṣkoṭi, the four corners’ formalization typically appears as: A, Not A (¬A), Both (A &¬A), and Neither (¬[A∨¬A]). The pulse of the controversy is the repetition of negations (¬) in the catuṣkoṭi. Westerhoff argues that Nāgārjuna in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā uses two different negations: paryudāsa (nominal or implicative negation) and prasajya-pratiṣedha (verbal or non-implicative negation). This paper builds off Westerhoff’s account and presents some subtleties of Nāgārjuna’s use of these negations regarding their scope. This is achieved through an analysis of the Sanskrit and Tibetan Madhyamaka commentarial tradition and through a grammatical analysis of Nāgārjuna’s use of na (not) and a(n)- (non-) within a diverse variety of the catuṣkoṭi within the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.

Rahlwes, Christopher. Nāgārjuna’s Negation. J Indian Philos (2022).