Rafal K. Stepien, 2024
Buddhism Between Religion and Philosophy : Nāgārjuna and the Ethics of Emptiness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2024. (xiv + 400 p.) (order online)

Nāgārjuna (c. 150-250), founder of the Madhyamaka or Middle Way school of Buddhist philosophy and the most influential of all Buddhist thinkers aside from the Buddha himself, concludes his masterpiece, Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, with these baffling verses: 

For the abandonment of all views
He taught the true teaching
By means of compassion
I salute him, Gautama

But how could anyone possibly abandon all views? In Buddhism between Religion and Philosophy, Rafal K. Stepien shows not only how Nāgārjuna’s radical teaching of no-view or “abelief” makes sense within his Buddhist philosophy, but also how it stands at the summit of his religious mission to care for all living beings. Rather than treating any one aspect of Nāgārjuna’s ideas in isolation, here his metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics emerge as a single coherent and convincing philosophical-religious system of thought and practice.

Grounded in meticulous study of original texts from classical India and China but innovating on the theories and methods underpinning contemporary scholarship East and West, this study shows how profoundly important voices from the diverse religious and philosophical traditions of the world have until now been diminished, distorted, and silenced. In opening up truly global horizons of existing and co-existing in the world, this work challenges the very ways in which we think about religion and philosophy.