This article takes various expressions using the Chinese term “speak” (shuo) as the basis for its investigation of Nāgārjuna’s linguistic strategy. These include speak, unspeakable, unspoken, and spoken by prajñapti in the Chinese version of the Mūlamadhyamakākarikā. I first point out the two background causes that make the Buddha withdraw from preaching and remain in silence: the profundity of the Dharma and the limits of people’s capacities. In response, the Mūlamadhyamakākarikā seems to reveal a two-sided strategy, i.e., confirmation and negation. On the one hand, it emphasizes the unspeakable to get rid of people’s attachment, until at last all prapañcas have ceased, and one arrives at the unspoken. On the other hand, Mūlamadhyamakākarikā positively approves of the conventional truth and prajñapti to express that conventional linguistic cognition is necessary. The Mūlamadhyamakākarikā’s theory of pratītya-samutpāda and śūnyatā, therefore, reveal double the aspects of negation and confirmation in Buddhist Philosophy and lead people to the way of nirvāṇa.
linguistic strategy; unspeakable; unspoken; spoken by prajñapti; confirmation and negation
A Philosophical Interpretation of Nāgārjuna’s Linguistic Strategy: With Special Focus on the Term “Speak" (shuo) in the Chinese Version of the Mūlamadhyamakākarikā