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Nagarjuna! Widely revered, seldom agreed over. The most dangerous thinker India ever produced? The best? Philosopher, or sophist in the worst sense? (Possibly he is a sophist in the best sense.) What are we supposed to do with a razor-sharp dialectician who sits back and calmly invalidates every single concept you offer him?

One of the labels most often associated with Nagarjuna is "skeptic" - someone whose project involves undermining our claims to have a rational grip on what is going on. Skeptics are typically seen as the enemies of established social orders. Occasionally, though, a skeptic will emerge who defends a standing tradition. Nagarjuna's defense of Buddhism not only says a lot about his skepticism, it says a lot about Buddhism as well.

It could be that any sufficiently radical skepticism doesn't take you anywhere - it leaves you exactly where you are. This may be why secularists read Nagarjuna and give a thumbs-down to religion, while advanced Buddhist adepts read him and become even more motivated to save all sentient beings. In both cases, people are shown that there is no reason to try doing anything other than what they're doing, because none of the options really makes sense in the first place.

At this meetup we'll be talking armamentarium. Nagarjuna, when presented with a concept that supposedly works, will retire to his shed and emerge with something horrible that stops your poor concept in its tracks. What does that ghastly shed contain?


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