My favorite books on Indian Buddhist philosophy

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying philosophy, both western and Asian, as a college freshman, and I never stopped. Much of my career in philosophy was devoted to building bridges between western and Buddhist traditions. The best philosophers try to make their ideas as clear as possible. But standards of clarity can differ across traditions, and this sometimes makes it difficult to present the theories and arguments of one philosophical tradition to those who think in terms of another. I have struggled with this in my own efforts at bridge-building, and I am always appreciative when I see other scholars of Buddhism achieve the sort of clarity I aim for.


I wrote...

Buddhism as Philosophy

By Mark Siderits,

Book cover of Buddhism as Philosophy

What is my book about?

In Buddhism as Philosophy, Mark Siderits makes the Buddhist philosophical tradition accessible to a Western audience. Offering generous selections from the canonical Buddhist texts and providing an engaging, analytical introduction to the fundamental tenets of Buddhist thought, this revised, expanded, and updated edition builds on the success of the first edition in clarifying the basic concepts and arguments of the Buddhist philosophers.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy

Mark Siderits Why did I love this book?

This is simply the best available study of the Indian Buddhist philosophical tradition as a whole. It starts with the thought of the Buddha and ends with some 12th-century Buddhist thinkers who tried to synthesize the different strands that Buddhist philosophers had developed in the intervening 16 centuries. Westerhoff does a fine job of laying out all the major figures and schools in a way that makes clear how they supported their different views. His interpretations of the figures he discusses are fair and well supported. 

By Jan Westerhoff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jan Westerhoff unfolds the story of one of the richest episodes in the history of Indian thought, the development of Buddhist philosophy in the first millennium CE. He starts from the composition of the Abhidharma works before the beginning of the common era and continues up to the time of Dharmakirti in the sixth century. This period was characterized by the development of a variety of philosophical schools and approaches that have shaped Buddhist thought up to the
present day: the scholasticism of the Abhidharma, the Madhyamaka's theory of emptiness, Yogacara idealism, and the logical and epistemological works of Dinnaga…


Book cover of Self, No-Self, and Salvation: Dharmakirti's Critique of the Notions of Self and Person

Mark Siderits Why did I love this book?

Dharmakīrti is among the most important of the Indian Buddhist philosophers, but he is also one of the most challenging. These two eminent scholars of his tradition bring their expertise to bear in making a central aspect of his thought accessible to non-experts. The Buddhist quest for enlightenment is organized around the task of overcoming the sense of self, the sense of a ‘me’ that is the owner of this life. Eltschinger and Ratié clearly and carefully explain how Dharmakīrti uses philosophical rationality to help us in the task of dissolving that sense.

By Vincent Eltschinger, Isabelle Ratie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Self, No-Self, and Salvation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From very early times, Buddhist intellectuals have made the notion of a self-existing over and above the bodily and mental
constituent’s one of their main targets. Their critique first culminates in Vasubandhu’s treatise against the Buddhist personalists
(5th century CE).The eighth-century philosophers Santaraksita and Kamalasila provide another milestone in the
history of the mainstream Buddhists’ critique of the self and the person: their Tattvasangraha (pañjika) contains the most learned and elaborate treatment of the subject. But how have Dignaga and Dharmakirti contributed to this debate? The present study attempts to answer at least in part this question by offering an…


Book cover of Buddhist Moral Philosophy: An Introduction

Mark Siderits Why did I love this book?

Buddhist philosophers had much to say about how we should live our lives and how we should treat others. Modern scholars of Buddhist moral thinking have presented these ideas in a number of different ways. Gowans’ book is a fair and balanced discussion of what Indian Buddhist moral philosophers had to say about ethics and the different ways in which recent scholars have interpreted their claims.

By Christopher W. Gowans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buddhist Moral Philosophy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book of its kind, Buddhist Moral Philosophy: An Introduction introduces the reader to contemporary philosophical interpretations and analyses of Buddhist ethics. It begins with a survey of traditional Buddhist ethical thought and practice, mainly in the Pali Canon and early Mahayana schools, and an account of the emergence of Buddhist moral philosophy as a distinct discipline in the modern world. It then examines recent debates about karma, rebirth and nirvana, well-being, normative ethics, moral objectivity, moral psychology, and the issue of freedom, responsibility and determinism. The book also introduces the reader to philosophical discussions of topics in socially…


Book cover of Illuminating the Mind: An Introduction to Buddhist Epistemology

Mark Siderits Why did I love this book?

Buddhist philosophers try to construct rational defenses of those claims about the nature of ourselves and the world that are central to the Buddhist project. So clarity about how we obtain knowledge is important to Buddhist thinkers. In this book Stoltz presents some of the fruits of their efforts, the epistemological theories of the tradition. What I most like about this book is the clarity with which Stoltz connects Buddhist theorizing about knowledge with trends in more recent western epistemology, bringing out both important overlaps and significant discontinuities. 

By Jonathan Stoltz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Illuminating the Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illuminating the Mind puts the field of Buddhist epistemology in conversation with contemporary debates in philosophy. Jonathan Stoltz provides readers with an introduction to epistemology within the Buddhist intellectual tradition in a manner that is accessible to those whose primary background is in the "Western" tradition of philosophy. The book examines many of the most important topics in the field of epistemology, topics that are central
both to contemporary discussions of epistemology and to the classical Buddhist tradition of epistemology in India and Tibet. Among the topics discussed are Buddhist accounts of the nature of knowledge episodes, the defining conditions…


Book cover of Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will: Agentless Agency?

Mark Siderits Why did I love this book?

A key claim of Buddhist philosophy is that all the facts about persons are causally determined. This claim leads people to wonder where Buddhists stand on the so-called ‘free will’ problem: can someone whose actions are determined by earlier events be held responsible for what they do? This question never arose in Indian Buddhist philosophy, but modern scholars have had much to say about whether Buddhism’s causal determinism is compatible with the practice of praising or blaming people for what they do. This book collects some of the best attempts to answer the question.

By Rick Repetti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout the history of Buddhism, little has been said prior to the Twentieth Century that explicitly raises the question whether we have free will, though the Buddha rejected fatalism and some Buddhists have addressed whether karma is fatalistic. Recently, however, Buddhist and Western philosophers have begun to explicitly discuss Buddhism and free will.

This book incorporates Buddhist philosophy more explicitly into the Western analytic philosophical discussion of free will, both in order to render more perspicuous Buddhist ideas that might shed light on the Western philosophical debate, and in order to render more perspicuous the many possible positions on the…


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American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

Book cover of American Flygirl

Susan Tate Ankeny Author Of The Girl and the Bombardier: A True Story of Resistance and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied France

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Susan Tate Ankeny left a career in teaching to write the story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied France. In 2011, after being led on his path through France by the same Resistance fighters who guided him in 1944, she felt inspired to tell the story of these brave French patriots, especially the 17-year-old- girl who risked her own life to save her father’s. Susan is a member of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, and the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés. 

Susan's book list on women during WW2

What is my book about?

The first and only full-length biography of Hazel Ying Lee, an unrecognized pioneer and unsung World War II hero who fought for a country that actively discriminated against her gender, race, and ambition.

This unique hidden figure defied countless stereotypes to become the first Asian American woman in United States history to earn a pilot's license, and the first female Asian American pilot to fly for the military.

Her achievements, passionate drive, and resistance in the face of oppression as a daughter of Chinese immigrants and a female aviator changed the course of history. Now the remarkable story of a fearless underdog finally surfaces to inspire anyone to reach toward the sky.

American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

What is this book about?

One of WWII’s most uniquely hidden figures, Hazel Ying Lee was the first Asian American woman to earn a pilot’s license, join the WASPs, and fly for the United States military amid widespread anti-Asian sentiment and policies.

Her singular story of patriotism, barrier breaking, and fearless sacrifice is told for the first time in full for readers of The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck, A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, The Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia, Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown and all Asian American, women’s and WWII history books.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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