Buddhist phenomenology and the problem of essence

Comparative Philosophy 7 (1):59-89 (2016)
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Abstract

In this paper, I intend to make a case for Buddhist phenomenology. By Buddhist phenomenology, I mean a phenomenological interpretation of Yogācāra’s doctrine of consciousness. Yet, this interpretation will be vulnerable if I do not justify the way in which the anti-essentialistic Buddhist philosophy can countenance the Husserlian essence. I dub this problem of compatibility between Buddhist and phenomenology the ‘problem of essence’. Nevertheless, I argue that this problem will not jeopardize Buddhist phenomenology because: 1) Yogācārins, especially late Yogācārins represented by Xuanzang do not articulate emptiness as a negation but as an affirmation of the existent; 2) Husserl’s phenomenological essence is not a substance that Yogācārins reject but the ideal sense that Yogācārins also stress. After resolving the problem of essence, I formulate Buddhist phenomenology as follows: on the epistemological level, it describes intentional acts of consciousness; on the meta-epistemological level, it entails transcendental idealism.

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Jingjing Li
Leiden University

Citations of this work

A Neuro-Yogācāra Manifesto.Bryce Huebner - 2023 - Res Philosophica 100 (1):63-91.

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