Scripture, Logic, Language - Preface

Essays on Dharmakīrti and His Tibetan Successors

Series Editor’s Preface

Scripture, Logic, Language launches Wisdom’s scholarly series, Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. This series was conceived to provide a forum for publishing outstanding new contributions to scholarship and also to make accessible seminal research not widely known outside a narrow specialist audience. Wisdom also intends to include in the series appropriate monographs and collected articles translated from other languages.

Much of the new scholarly research in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice is worthy of wider circulation among an intelligent readership. Several outstanding dissertations are produced each year at academic institutions throughout the world. Such significant contributions are normally accessible only through University Microfilms or through research journals that are scattered across the academic landscape.

It is heartening to the editors at Wisdom to see how much of the scholarship being produced today is the result of collaboration with scholars belonging to the indigenous traditions of Tibet and the Indian subcontinent. Wisdom Publications is certain that this approach has the greatest possibilities for enriching both academic scholarship and Buddhist practice. Increasingly, researchers must be able to work in a bewildering variety of languages and disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. What a visionary like the late Richard H. Robinson hoped to produce in his Wisconsin curriculum were scholars able to work with living exponents of the Asian traditions in their own languages. He also dreamt of researchers who would be able to keep abreast of the advances in Western thought. A scholar like Tillemans is a realization of Robinson’s dreams.

Tom Tillemans, the author whose work is presented here, is a scholar’s scholar. He is able to work in a vast variety of languages: all major Western languages and Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese. He is trained in modern Western philosophy and can see how the traditions of East and West interact.

The eleven essays presented here were published over the period 1986–99. They appeared in a number of journals or as contributions to Festschriften. Tillemans has now arranged these essays into a unified and compelling structure. One can now see clearly the underlying structure and understand the significance of Tillemans’ contributions to Buddhist logic, language, and epistemology.

Tillemans’ scholastic ancestry is rooted in the great names of European scholarship, such as F. I. Stcherbatsky, Eugene Obermiller, and Erich Frauwallner. Tillemans brings a sophisticated understanding of developments in Western logic and epistemology to the traditional scholarship of Indian and Tibetan thinkers. He presents in these carefully crafted pieces a clear delineation of the varying approaches of the Indic masters and their Tibetan interpreters.

This is a fascinating work with which to begin the new series.

E. Gene Smith
August 1999