No Unity, No Problem: Madhyamaka Metaphysical Indefinitism

Philosophers' Imprint 21 (31):1–24 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

According to Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophers, everything depends for its existence on something else. But what would a world devoid of fundamentalia look like? In this paper, I argue that the anti-foundationalist “neither-one-nor-many argument” of the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta commits him to a position I call “metaphysical indefinitism.” I demonstrate how this view follows from Śrīgupta’s rejection of mereological simples and ontologically independent being, when understood in light of his account of conventional reality. Contra recent claims in the secondary literature, I clarify how the Madhyamaka metaphysical dependence structure is not a straightforward infinitism since it does not honor strict asymmetry or transitivity. Instead, its dependence relations are irreflexive and extendable, admitting of dependence chains of indefinite (though not actually infinite) length and dependence loops of non-zero length. Yet, the flexible ontology of Śrīgupta's Madhyamaka can accommodate a contextualist account of asymmetry and support a revisable theory of conventional truth, delivering significant payoffs for the view, including the capacity to accommodate developments in scientific explanation.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Introduction to Reality: Śrīgupta’s Tattvāvatāravṛtti.Allison Aitken - forthcoming - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard Oriental Series, Harvard University Press.
Madhyamaka Ethics.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2018 - In Daniel Cozort & James Mark Shields (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 162-183.
Symmetric Dependence.Elizabeth Barnes - 2018 - In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 50-69.
Śāntarakṣita: Climbing the Ladder to the Ultimate Truth.Allison Aitken - 2023 - In Sara L. McClintock, William Edelglass & Pierre-Julien Harter (eds.), The Routledge handbook of Indian Buddhist philosophy. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 463–379.

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-01-12

Downloads
774 (#22,285)

6 months
261 (#11,086)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Allison Aitken
Columbia University

Citations of this work

Add more citations

References found in this work

Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical grounding: understanding the structure of reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: metaphysics, logic, and epistemology. qnew York: Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Metaphysical grounding.Ricki Bliss & Kelly Trogdon - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 43 references / Add more references