Sophia 57 (2):313-335 (2018)

Catherine (Cat) Prueitt
University of British Columbia
Dharmakīrti’s apoha theory of concept formation aims to provide an account of intersubjectivity without relying on the existence of real universals. He uses the pan-Yogācāra theory of karmic imprints to claim that sentient beings form concepts by treating unique particulars as if a certain subset of them had the same effects. Since this judgment of sameness depends on an individual's habits, desires, and sensory capacities, and these in turn depend on the karmic imprints developed over countless lifetimes and continuously reshaped by ongoing actions, the extent to which individuals experience themselves as acting within a shared world depends on these imprints. However, a number of critics—traditional and contemporary—have expressed compelling doubts about whether or not apoha can be successful given Dharmakīrti's ontology which, in addition to denying universals, eventually denies the reality of even the most basic structure of conventional experience: subject/object duality. In line with the tradition he inherits, Dharmakīrti considers even the mere division of a moment of awareness into defined structures of subject and object to be a distortion shaped by beginningless karmic imprints. While this initial moment of awareness is nonconceptual, the experience of a certain world is always already shaped by the previous actions of sentient beings trapped within the web of saṃsāra, in a process driven by ignorance. Dharmakīrti’s reliance on karmic imprints on two distinct levels—one within the conventional world, and one which constitutes the conventional world—may thereby provide a compelling account of intersubjectivity without relying on universals.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11841-017-0618-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,319
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 23 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Dharmakirti, Davidson, and Knowing Reality.Lajos Brons - 2013 - Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):30-57.
On the Relative Chronology of Dharmakīrti and Samantabhadra.Piotr Balcerowicz - 2016 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 44 (3):437-483.
Is Buddhist Karmic Theory False?: J. E. WHITE.J. E. White - 1983 - Religious Studies 19 (2):223-228.
Dharmakirti's Concept of the 'Svalaksana'.Christine Mullikin Keyt - 1980 - Dissertation, University of Washington
An Exclusive Volume on Exclusion.Pradeep P. Gokhale - 2013 - Philosophy East and West 63 (4):605-616.
A "Restricted" Interpretation of Dharmakīrti's Philosophy. [REVIEW]Christian Coseru - 2006 - H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Added to PP index

Total views
24 ( #453,937 of 2,448,697 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #301,447 of 2,448,697 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes