SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Jan Christoph Westerhoff

BA (Trinity College,Cambridge) Mphil, PhD (Faculty of Philiosophy,Cambridge), PhD (SOAS)
  • Overview
  • Research

Overview

Research

My work on Indian philosophy concentrates on the Madhyamaka school. I wrote a survey of the philosophical works of the school's founder, the second-century Buddhist thinker Nagarjuna. His writings contain a variety of highly original discussions of questions from ontology, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Nagarjuna's influence on the philosophy of Asia (in particular on the Indo-Tibetan tradition) is hard to overestimate. His works have also attracted a considerable amount of attention from Indologists and philologists, but have rarely been the object of close philosophical investigation. One of my aims is to show that Nagarjuna's works are not only important for an understanding of the history of philosophy, but also contain a comprehensive metaphysical and epistemological theory which is of considerable systematic interest.

More recently I completed a translation of and commentary on one of Nagarjuna's shorter works, the Vigrahavyavartani. A more popular treatment of certain themes in Madhyamaka and Yogacara thought that attempts to link them to contemporary debates in philosophy and cognitive science has been published by Oxford University Press in 2010.

I am also presently subject editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, looking after the section "Philosophy of India and Tibet".