Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Douglas Duckworth

Thesis Professor Department

Philosophy and Humanities

Thesis Reader(s)

William Burgess, Keith Green


This paper addresses the Madhyamaka philosophy of emptiness as interpreted by the fourteenth-century Tibetan Tsongkhapa. Tsongkhapa’s emptiness maintains that all phenomena are “empty” of intrinsic existence, an idea which starkly contrasts common Western worldviews that rely of belief in self-enclosed identities or souls. Here I analyze Tsongkhapa’s arguments for emptiness and relate them to the reader using examples easily understood by Western undergraduate students. I also provide several critiques of Tsongkhapa’s position and attempt to answer them according to his philosophy. This paper is aimed to be a simple, yet thorough introduction to Tsongkhapa’s philosophy of emptiness.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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