In _Buddhism As Philosophy_, Mark Siderits makes the Buddhist philosophical tradition accessible to a Western audience. Offering generous selections from the canonical Buddhist texts and providing an engaging, analytical introduction to the fundamental tenets of Buddhist thought, this revised, expanded, and updated edition builds on the success of the first edition in clarifying the basic concepts and arguments of the Buddhist philosophers.
In this clear, concise account, Siderits makes the Buddhist tradition accessible to a Western audience, offering generous selections from the canonical Buddhist texts and providing an engaging, analytical introduction to the basic tenets of Buddhist thought.
"This work is designed to introduce some of the more important fruits of Indian Buddhist metaphysical theorizing to philosophers with little or no prior knowledge of classical Indian philosophy. It is widely known among non-specialists that Buddhists deny the existence of a self. Less widely appreciated among philosophers currently working in metaphysics is the fact that the Indian Buddhist tradition contains a wealth of material on a broad assortment of other issues that have also been foci of recent debate. Indian (...) Buddhist philosophers have argued for a variety of interesting claims about the nature of the causal relation, about persistence, about abstract objects, about the consequences of presentism, about the prospects for a viable ontological emergentism. They engaged in a spirited debate over illusionism in the philosophy of consciousness. Some espoused global anti-realism while others called its coherence into question. And so on. This work is meant to introduce the views of such major Buddhist philosophers as Vasubandhu, Dharmakīrti and Nāgārjuna on these and other issues. And it presents their arguments and analyses in a manner meant to make them accessible to students of philosophy who lack specialist knowledge of the Indian tradition. Analytic metaphysicians who are interested in moving beyond the common strategy of appealing to the intuitions of "the folk" should find much of interest here"--. (shrink)
Writing from the vantage points of history, philosophy, and cognitive science, the contributors to this volume clarify the nominalist apoha theory and explore the relationship between apoha and the scientific study of human cognition.
This systematic introduction to Buddhist ethics is aimed at anyone interested in Buddhism, including students, scholars and general readers. Peter Harvey is the author of the acclaimed Introduction to Buddhism, and his new book is written in a clear style, assuming no prior knowledge. At the same time it develops a careful, probing analysis of the nature and practical dynamics of Buddhist ethics in both its unifying themes and in the particularities of different Buddhist traditions. The book applies Buddhist ethics (...) to a range of issues of contemporary concern: humanity's relationship with the rest of nature; economics; war and peace; euthanasia; abortion; the status of women; and homosexuality. Professor Harvey draws on texts of the main Buddhist traditions, and on historical and contemporary accounts of the behaviour of Buddhists, to describe existing Buddhist ethics, to assess different views within it, and to extend its application into new areas. (shrink)
Paleo-compatibilism is the view that the freedom required for moral responsibility is not incompatible with determinism about the factors relevant to moral assessment, since the claim that we are free and the claim that the psychophysical elements are causally determined are true in distinct and incommensurable ways. This is to be accounted for by appealing to the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth developed by Buddhist Reductionists. Paleo-compatibilists hold that the illusion of incompatibilism only arises when we illegitimately mix (...) two distinct vocabularies, one concerned with persons, the other concerned with the parts to which persons are reducible. I explore the view, its roots in Buddhist Reductionism, and its prospects. (shrink)
While Derek Parfit is aware that his reductionism about persons is anticipated in early Buddhism and Abhidharma, he has not explored that tradition for any clues it might yield concerning the consequences of adopting the position. In this essay, the tradition is used to construct a taxonomy of possible views about persons, and then examine the meta-physical commitments that Buddhist reductionists claim are entailed by their view. While these turn out to be significant, it is argued here that this is (...) a price a reductionist should be prepared to pay. (shrink)
This volume brings together nineteen of Mark Siderits's most important essays on Buddhist philosophy. Together they cover a wide range of topics, from metaphysics, logic, philosophy of language, epistemology, and ethics, to the specific discussions of the interaction between Buddhist and classical Indian philosophy. Each of the essays is followed by a postscript written by Mark Siderits specifically for this volume, which connect the essays with each other, show thematic interrelations, and bring the discussion up to date by addressing developments (...) in the field since the publication of the essays. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Giuseppe Ferraro mounted a sustained attack on the semantic interpretation of the Madhyamaka doctrine of emptiness, an interpretation that has been championed by the authors. The present paper is their reply to that attack.
In this short reply to Levine's critique, I defend the enterprise of 'fusion philosophy.' I agree that the sort of careful scholarly examination of Asian philosophical traditions that is often done under the banner of 'comparative philosophy' is of great importance. But it is a separate question whether those traditions have resources that would help us solve philosophical problems of current interest. This is the question fusion philosophy tries to answer.
The doctrine of the two truths - a conventional truth and an ultimate truth - is central to Buddhist metaphysics and epistemology. The two truths (or two realities), the distinction between them, and the relation between them is understood variously in different Buddhist schools; it is of special importance to the Madhyamaka school. One theory is articulated with particular force by Nagarjuna (2nd ct CE) who famously claims that the two truths are identical to one another and yet distinct. One (...) of the most influential interpretations of Nagarjuna's difficult doctrine derives from the commentary of Candrakirti (6th ct CE). In view of its special soteriological role, much attention has been devoted to explaining the nature of the ultimate truth; less, however, has been paid to understanding the nature of conventional truth, which is often described as "deceptive," "illusion," or "truth for fools." But because of the close relation between the two truths in Madhyamaka, conventional truth also demands analysis. Moonshadows, the product of years of collaboration by ten cowherds engaged in Philosophy and Buddhist Studies, provides this analysis. The book asks, "what is true about conventional truth?" and "what are the implications of an understanding of conventional truth for our lives?" Moonshadows begins with a philosophical exploration of classical Indian and Tibetan texts articulating Candrakati's view, and uses this textual exploration as a basis for a more systematic philosophical consideration of the issues raised by his account. (shrink)
One strategy Mādhyamikas use to support their claim that nothing has intrinsic nature (svabhāva) is to argue that things with intrinsic nature could not enter into causal relations. But it is not clear that there is a good Madhyamaka argument against ultimate causation that understands causation in ‘Humean’ terms and understands dharmas as tropes. After exploring the rationale behind the intrinsic-nature criterion of dharma-hood, I survey the arguments Mādhyamikas actually give for their claim that anything dependently originated must be devoid (...) of intrinsic nature, and suggest that none actually succeeds in ruling out this hypothesis about how ultimate causation might work. (shrink)
Certain Buddhist texts contain statements that are prima facie contradictions. The scholarly consensus has been that such statements are meant to serve a rhetorical function that depends on the apparent contradictions being resolvable. But recently it has been claimed that such statements are meant to be taken literally: their authors assert as true statements that are of the form ‘p and not p’. This claim has ramifications for our understanding of the role played by the principle of non-contradiction in Buddhist (...) argumentation. I argue that these make the claim less plausible. (shrink)
Madhyamaka claims that while everything is in fact empty, the use of concepts invariably leads to the error known as prapañca or hypostatisation, in the form of the supposition that there are things with intrinsic nature. This may be put as the claim that all conceptualisation falsifies. But this claim is paradoxical in that its truth would entail its falsity. While Mādhyamikas have not directly addressed this problem, a solution might be found utilizing the resources of contextualist semantics. This paper (...) explores the origins of the paradox by tracing the history of the notion of prapañca, and then examines how a contextualist approach might resolve the difficulty. (shrink)
Recent developments in technology and material culture suggest that physicalism may come to be accepted as the commonsense view of the constitution of persons. Like many other spiritual practices, Buddhism has traditionally relied on a dualist understanding of human nature, according to which persons are made up of both physical and nonphysical entities and events. Would anything central to the Buddhist project be lost if that were replaced by physicalism? Clearly the Yogācāra doctrine of consciousness-only would be undermined. But it (...) is claimed that apart from this there is little that is crucial to Buddhism that would be threatened by the development of a thoroughly physicalist culture. (shrink)
Buddhism is sometimes said to hold a pragmatic conception of truth, according to which a statement is true just in case it leads to the attainment of one’s goals. Since a true utterance would then be one that is likely to lead to the attainment of the interlocutor’s goals, this would show that the Buddha was not inconsistent when he said seemingly incompatible things on different occasions: to assess the truth of an utterance one must consider the context, which includes (...) the goals and the capacities and dispositions of one’s interlocutor. Today, there is widespread skepticism about the possibility of consensus concerning the nature of the good life; the liberal state is widely seen as the ideal political formation precisely because it leaves room for individual variation in conceptions of the good. In such a context, adopting a pragmatic conception of truth would have the result that truth was whatever worked for the individual given the goals they happen to hold. Presumably, a Buddhist would reject this idea of true belief as belief that leads to individual gratification. In order to support this rejection, they would need to claim that certain goals are intrinsically more worthy of attainment than others. The question could then be raised whether such a claim is compatible with a pragmatic conception of truth. Various possible responses to this question are explored, the aim being not only to determine what a Buddhist ought to say about truth, but also to find out something about the nature of truth as a value. (shrink)
I must begin by expressing my deep appreciation to Nilanjan Das and P. K. Sen for the care they have clearly taken in their thorough examinations of Empty Persons.1 There is quite a lot going on in the work, and even after the revisions made in preparing the second edition, what I wish to say is not always as clear as it might be. The penetrating questions raised in Das’s and Sen’s reviews are just the sort that any author of (...) a philosophical work would welcome.Before coming to these questions, though, I should say a word about my stance toward the matters I discuss in the book. The work divides roughly into two parts. Chapters 1–5 discuss the reductionist view of persons that I think can be developed out of debates... (shrink)
Ever since Dignāga drew his bright line between conceptually mediated inference and concept-free perception, there have been efforts to erase it and make cross-border traffic in concepts perfectly legitimate.1 If we understand conceptualization as a mental operation of abstraction that yields knowledge of general, repeatable features or commonalities and facilitates such cognitive operations as categorization, inference, and analogical thought, then we can add Kant to the list of prominent critics of Dignāga's border wall. Here I shall first describe how this (...) wall was built, then present some of the cracks that soon appeared. I then explore some ways of resolving the tension between... (shrink)
This work is a translation of selected sutras of the Nyāya-sūtra, together with relevant extracts from three commentaries: Nyāya-sūtra-bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana; Nyāya-vārttika of Uddyotakara; and Nyāya-vārttika-tātparya-ṭīkā of Vācaspatimiśra. The translators' introduction gives a general overview of the Nyāya school, its overall aims, and its place within classical Indian philosophy. Each of the nine chapters covers a particular topic in the Nyāya scheme: knowledge sources, philosophical method, the Nyāya defense of metaphysical realism, the self, substance and causation, God, theory of meaning, (...) value theory, and debate. For a given topic there will be sūtras... (shrink)