How to avoid solipsism while remaining an idealist: Lessons from Berkeley and dharmakirti

Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):58-73 (2013)
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Abstract

This essay examines the strategies that Berkeley and Dharmakīrti utilize to deny that idealism entails solipsism. Beginning from similar arguments for the non-existence of matter, the two philosophers employ markedly different strategies for establishing the existence of other minds. This difference stems from their responses to the problem of intersubjective agreement. While Berkeley’s reliance on his Cartesian inheritance does allow him to account for intersubjective agreement without descending into solipsism, it nevertheless prevents him from establishing the existence of other finite minds. I argue that Dharmakīrti, in accounting for intersubjective agreement causally, is able to avoid Berkeley’s shortcoming. I conclude by considering a challenge to Dharmakīrti’s use of inference that Ratnakīrti, a Buddhist successor of Dharmakīrti, advances in his “Disproof of the Existence of Other Minds” and briefly exploring a possible response that someone who wants to advocate an idealist position could give

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