In a previous thread I posted part of a passage from Mipham's commentary on Chandrakirti's Introduction to the Middle Way (Padmakara Group Translation, p. 197). Here is a fuller version:
I read this as saying that conventionally existent objects exist objectively – as part of a web of causes and conditions which includes the mind, of course – but not in direct dependence on the mind. This is what is referred to as having "entity". I would like know whether this is an orthodox Madhyamika view (the response to my earlier, shorter post would suggest not, but the issue was not at the heart of that thread). Any comments about this, or suggestions for further reading?If, despite the fact that they have no "entity" conventionally, phenomena are validly established by the force of mental imputation, it follows that Buddhist and non-Buddhist tenets are on a level in being neither correct or incorrect (since there is, in that case, no objective criterion of truth or falsehood), and all distinctions of virtue and vice, cause and effect, good and bad, and the notion of (rational) moral choices would dissolve into chaos. Therefore, the Prasangika tradition does not say that phenomena are validly established by the force of mental imputation. When, on the conventional level, conceptual imputation corresponds to the object, the phenomenon in question is necessarily regarded as validly established (or established through valid cognition). When the imputation does not correspond with the object, the phenomenon is not validly established. But there is absolutely no way to distinguish between "correspondence" and "noncorrespondence" without reference to the relative thing in itself. Given, therefore, that the subject is regarded as valid or invalid according to whether the way of apprehension corresponds to relative phenomena or otherwise, the object itself must be established as valid, or discounted as invalid, according to whether the consciousness is unmistaken or not. If however, relative phenomena are merely the imputations of thought, they have no "entity". It is therefore worth reflecting: How can you speak of valid or invalid cognition at the same time as entertaining the notion of validly or invalidly established objects?
By contrast, what appears to the undamaged sense powers is regarded as conventional, beyond which it is impossible to assert a further validly established conventional reality. If there is no ground of imputation on the conventional level and if things are no more than conceptual imputations, they are like a rabbit's horns, nonexistent. How, therefore, can they be validly established? On the other hand, if there is a ground or basis of imputation, namely, phenomena arising in interdependence, the latter do exist conventionally; they are not mere imputations. Furthermore, if mere conceptual imputation is made equivalent to conventional existence, it absurdly follows that anything can become anything. Poison could become medicine, virtue could become sin, and fire could become water. Thus valid cognition would be the same as invalid cognition. But this is not the case; therefore, mere imputation and relative phenomena are not equivalents, and it must be asserted that on the conventional level, there are objects that appear to the unimpaired senses.