Can One Prove that Something Exists Beyond Consciousness? A Śaiva Criticism of the Sautrāntika Inference of External Objects
Journal of Indian Philosophy 39 (4-5):479-501 (2011)
|Abstract||This article examines how the Kashmiri non-dualistic Śaiva philosophers Utpaladeva (tenth century) and Abhinavagupta (10th–11th centuries) present and criticize a theory expounded by certain Buddhist philosophers, identified by the two Śaiva authors as Sautrāntikas. According to this theory, no entity external to consciousness can ever be perceived since perceived objects are nothing but internal aspects (ākāra) of consciousness. Nonetheless we must infer the existence of external entities so as to account for the fact that consciousness is aware of a variety of objects: just as a mirror takes on a variegated appearance only by reflecting a multiplicity of objects that remain external to it, in the same way, phenomenal variety can be explained only by assuming the existence of various objects external to consciousness. In Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikās I, 5, 8–9 and their commentaries, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta endeavour to criticize this theory, which challenges their own idealistic principles: according to them, the Sautrāntikas’ inference is neither legitimate nor even possible. The passage is particularly telling as regards the strategy developed by Pratyabhijñā philosophers with respect to their Buddhist opponents: they make use of certain arguments propounded by Dharmakīrti in defense of Vijñānavāda in order to criticize the Sautrāntikas’ inference, but they also exploit this discussion to underline the superiority of their idealism over that of the Vijñānavādins|
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