What this points to is related to something that has been troubling me: If DO applies to all there are possibly strange consequences (see my other thread on this). I believe that DO only applies to beings, not all things, and that all things are empty in that they all lack a self, and of course that all things but nibbana are impermanent. I think this is supported in the suttas and it seems to me the Theravada system is built around this assumption, however I've been unable to find any direct support for this idea within the Theravada commentary tradition.
This issue presented in the above referenced work seems to support my understanding, however the "Abhidharmikas" is not a term I'm entirely familiar with and I'm not sure if it would include the Theravada or not.
Does anyone have any further information?
7. In "The Instructing of Katyayana" both "it exists" and "it does not exist" are denied by the Blessed One, who clearly perceives the existent and the nonexistent.
The reference is to the Sanskrit parallel of Kaccayanagotta sutta (S II.17, III.134-35). There the Buddha tells Katyayana that his is a middle path between the two extreme views of existence and nonexistence. Abhidharmikas interpret this text as rejecting two views about the person: that there is a self, so that persons exist permanently; and that since there is no self, the person is annihilated or becomes nonexistent after (at the end of a life, or even at the end of the present moment). The middle path is that while there is no self, there is a causal series of skandhas that is conventionally designated as a person.
Nagarjuna holds that while the Abhidharma claim about persons is not incorrect, there is a deeper meaning to the Buddha's teaching in the sutra. This is that there is a middle path between the extremes of holding that there are ultimately existing things and holding that ultimately nothing exists. And as all the commentators make clear, to call the doctrine of emptiness a middle path is to say that one can deny each extreme view without lapsing into the other. How one does this is a matter of some dispute. But Candrakirti quotes the Samadhiraja Sutra:
"It exists" and "it does not exist" are both extremes; "pure" and "impure" are both extremes.
The wise man, avoiding both extremes, likewise does not take a stand in the middle. (LVP p.270)
This suggests that the Madhyamaka middle path is not a "moderate" or compromise position lying on the same continuum as the two extremes. Instead it must inolve rejecting some underlying presuposition that generates the continuum.
This disagreement over the interpretation of the sutra is a variant on the dispute between Abhidharma and Mahayana over emptiness. Is it of all dharmas, or only of persons? The Abhidharmika claims that if all dharmas were empty, then the absurd consequence of nihilism (universal nonexistence would follow. Nagarjuna may be seen as here responding to that charge.
-Mulamadhyamakakarika, Siderits, Mark and Katsura, Shoryu, Wisdom Publications, 2013, pages 159-60