Fallacies in Nagarjuna’s Work
To summarize the findings of the present research: the following are the main fallacies that I have found Nagarjuna committing in his philosophical treatment of “emptiness”.
A. Fallacy of the Tetralemma.
This consists in treating the combinations “both A and non-A” (contradiction) and “neither A nor non-A” (inclusion of the middle) as formal possibilities. But these are in all cases (i.e. whatever “A” stands for) logically forbidden at the outset.
B. Fallacy of the Inconclusive Dilemma.
This consists in making a dilemma appear conclusive, when in fact one (or all) of its horns (major premises) is (or are) problematic rather than assertoric. Dilemmatic argument can be validated only when its major premises are all proper if-then statements, not when any of them is an “if – maybe-then” statement.
C. Fallacy of the Denial of One and All.
This consists in denying one theory about some issue, and making it seem as if one has thus denied all possible theories about it. The denial, to be thorough, must indeed consider all alternative theories before drawing such negative conclusion about the issue.
D. Fallacy of the Ungranted Premise.
This consists in taking for granted a premise which is not generally accepted and which has not been adequately supported, or indeed which is generally unaccepted or which has been convincingly refuted.
E. Fallacy of the Unclear Theory or Term.
This consists in glossing over relevant details or nuances, which make all the difference in the understanding of the term or theory concerned. A term or theory should be defined and made precise so far as possible in the context of knowledge concerned, so that relative propositions can be properly tested.
F. Fallacy of Equivocation.
This consists in using a single term in two (or more) different senses within one’s thesis, so as to make it seem that what has been established in relation to one of the senses has been established in relation to the other(s). This is made possible by fuzziness in definition of terms.
G. Fallacy of the Concept Doubting Percept.
This consists in using a concept to put in doubt the very percept(s) which has (or have) given rise to it in the first place. The order of things, i.e. the genesis of the concept in knowledge, how it arises in relation to certain percepts, must always be acknowledged and respected.
H. Fallacy of the Inappropriate Fixation.
This consists in pretending that a term that has intrinsically variable meaning has fixed meaning. Notably, terms like “this”, “here” or “now” are intrinsically variable, in that the same word is always used, even as the actual object, time or place referred to differs; such terms do not remain stuck to their referents once and for all.
I. Fallacy of the Double Standard.
This consists in being severe towards one’s opponent’s argument while being lenient with regard to one’s own argument, although the two arguments are formally similar or have similar strengths and/or weaknesses.