In your example, the firebrand is appearing but unreal, but it appears to a valid mind, free from causes of error. The circle is simply non existent, the mind to which it appears is a wrong awareness. You are equivocating sir.
If you assert that the mind apprehending the firebrand is valid, you must also have a valid object of cognition. This requires the prameya, the object of a valid cognition, which bear intrinsic characteristics from its own side; it must be a valid object prior to its apprehension.
This is an unfortunate tack to take. You are presenting valid cognition from the point of view of the Suatrantikas, "dancing on books" as it were. I am using the terms as used by Prasangikas. As a result, this
Namdrol wrote:If a valid cognition is valid, it must be valid intrinsically, in which case it needs not depend on a valid object of cognition.
is an image of you savaging a straw man. Prasnagikas never refute valid cognition, although they do strongly and continuously refute intrinsic existence.
Namdrol wrote:You may say, for example, that "the cognition of the firebrand as unreal is a valid cognition".
This is one type of valid cognition
Namdrol wrote:This only works if you admit that all phenomena which are apprehensible by a valid cognition are unreal as well. In this case you are forced to define a valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena.
This is sloppy reasoning. In this case we may define one type of valid cognition as the cognition of the unreality of phenomena. There may be other valid cognitions that apprehend conventions whose ultimate nature is unreality.
Namdrol wrote:For that reason then, there is no good reason to make a distinction between phenomena such as fire circles, apparent, yet unreal; and fire brands, equally apparent, yet unreal.
Since the reason is a miss, we can conclude that the conclusion is also wide of the mark, despite the approbation of DN.
Namdrol wrote:Hence we can state without error that all phenomena are completley equivalent with illusions, as it is proved eloquently by Rongzom Chökyi Pandita.
Rongdom got it rong. Present his case and we'll pull that apart also. I've read the Koppl book, and found at least her description of Rogzom's presentation unimpressive. Apparently, he argued that conventionally produced phenomena cannot function even relatively. This is claimed to be becasue when you analyze phenomena, the lose any appearance of functionality, even on the relative level. Of course by analyzing, you have already left the conventional, but this error is either not perceived or not perceived as problematic to Mr Pandita. It is suggested that perhaps RP was not aware of Chandrakirti, as he apparently fails to understand that conventionalities depend on awareness, but are no objectively considered functional.
In any case it may be unfair to hold Rongzom to the standard of Ms Koppl's scholarship, perhaps others can clarify his views beyond what is presented here.
Namdrol wrote:This may be frigtening to those who cling to notions of relative and ultimate truth.
I do find your reasoning frightening, but not becasue I cling to any such notions, though I do uphold them, as did all the great Madhyamikas, esp Buddha Shakyamuni. The really frightening bit is where you abandon the Madhayamaka by abandoning the two truths. Or do you? Perhaps you accept the two truths in a way that is free from clinging?