Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy

Oxford University Press (2012)

Abstract

What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects? Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel? How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses? Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind, but also by drawing on the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Coseru offers a sustained argument that Buddhist philosophers, in particular those who follow the tradition of inquiry initiated by Dign?ga and Dharmak?rti, have much to offer when it comes to explaining why epistemological disputes about the evidential role of perceptual experience cannot satisfactorily be resolved without taking into account the structure of our cognitive awareness. Perceiving Reality examines the function of perception and its relation to attention, language, and discursive thought, and provides new ways of conceptualizing the Buddhist defense of the reflexivity thesis of consciousness-namely, that each cognitive event is to be understood as involving a pre-reflective implicit awareness of its own occurrence. Coseru advances an innovative approach to Buddhist philosophy of mind in the form of phenomenological naturalism, and moves beyond comparative approaches to philosophy by emphasizing the continuity of concerns between Buddhist and Western philosophical accounts of the nature of perceptual content and the character of perceptual consciousness.

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Author's Profile

Christian Coseru
College of Charleston

Chapters

Naturalizing Buddhist Epistemology

This chapter examines the main presuppositions that are implicit in any scholarly endeavour concerned with the analysis and interpretation of non-Western philosophical traditions: the method and style of argumentation, the theoretical intuitions that inform our argumentative strategies, an... see more

In Defense of Epistemological Optimism

This chapter offers a justification for taking Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla as representative figures of the Buddhist epistemological project, and raises certain questions about methodology in the study of Non-Western philosophical traditions. One of the key issues addressed is whether ther... see more

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Citations of this work

Buddhist Idealism.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - In Tyron Goldschmidt & Kenneth Pearce (eds.), Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 178-199.
Mental Time Travel and Attention.Jonardon Ganeri - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (4):353-373.
Buddhism and Animal Ethics.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):1-12.

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