Comparative Philosophy 9 (1) (2018)

Matthew MacKenzie
Colorado State University
According to Vasubandhu’s Trisvabhāvanirdeśa or Treatise on the Three Natures, experiential phenomena can be understood in terms of three natures: the constructed, the dependent, and the consummate. This paper will examine internalist and anti-internalist or non-dualist interpretations of the Yogācāra theory of the three natures of experience. The internalist interpretation is based on representationalist theory of experience wherein the contents of experience are logically independent of their cause and various interconnected cognitive processes continually create an integrated internal world-model that is transparent to the cognitive system that creates and uses it. In contrast, the anti-internalist interpretation begins, not from the constructed nature of experiential objects, but from the perfected nature of mind-world non-duality. This interpretation treats the distinctions between inside and outside, subject and object, mind and world as distinctions drawn within experience rather than between experience and something else. And experience here refers to the continuous dynamic interplay of factors constituting our sentient embodied existence. Having examined each interpretation, the paper will suggest some reasons to favor the non-dualist view.
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