Reductionism and fictionalism comments on Siderits' personal identity and buddhist philosophy


As a critic, I am in the unenviable position of agreeing with nearly all of what Mark does in this lucid, erudite and creative book. My comments will hence not be aimed at showing what he got wrong, as much as an attempt from a Madhyamaka point of view to suggest another way of seeing things, in particular another way of seeing how one might think of how Madhyamaka philosophers, such as Någårjuna and Candrak¥rti, see conventional truth, our engagement with conventional truth, and the status of persons. I suspect that this alternative is also in the minds of earlier Buddhist philosophers, and that Madhyamaka may be more an explicit working out of ideas implicit in the tradition than a radical break. If this suspicion—for which I will not argue here—is correct, this alternative is also available to those to whom Mark refers as “reductionists.” I think that this way of seeing things may put certain ideas in Buddhist philosophy into better focus, and may indeed make them more attractive as well.



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Jay Garfield
Smith College

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