Changing Frames in Buddhist Thought: The Concept of Ākāra in Abhidharma and in Buddhist Epistemological Analysis [Book Review]

Journal of Indian Philosophy 42 (2-3):275-295 (2014)
It has been argued that the use of the concept of ākāra—a mental “form,” “appearance” or “aspect”—in Buddhist epistemological analysis or pramāṇa exhibits continuities with earlier Buddhist thinking about mental processes, in particular in Abhidharma. A detailed inquiry into uses of the term ākāra in pertinent contexts in Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośabhāṣya brings to light different semantic nuances and functions of this term. The characteristic use of ākāra in Buddhist epistemological discourse turns out to be continuous with only some of the nuances it has in Abhidharma. Moreover, ākāra becomes associated with novel explanatory functions in Buddhist pramāṇa. These discoveries underscore the need to pay closer attention to the reuse of terms and concepts, ideas and arguments in Buddhist philosophy, and to the often subtle adaptations and transformations that formed an integral part of its history
Keywords ākāra  Abhidharma  Buddhist epistemology  Buddhist philosophy of mind
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-013-9190-7
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