Journal of Indian Philosophy 45 (1):99-120 (2017)

Can the early Yogācāra be said to present a systematic theory of meaning? The paper argues that Sthiramati’s bhāṣya on Vasubandhu’s Triṃśikā, in which he argues that all language-use is metaphorical, indeed amounts to such a theory, both because of the text’s engagement with the wider Indian philosophical conversation about reference and meaning and by virtue of the questions it addresses and its motivations. Through a translation and analysis of key sections of Sthiramati’s commentary I present the main features of this theory of meaning and discuss the ways in which it is distinct from Vasubandhu’s ideas. I demonstrate how this theory of meaning enabled Sthiramati to present a unique understanding of discourse that distinguishes between varying levels of truth within the conventional realm. This understanding sat well with the Yogācāra soteriological and theoretical needs, and most importantly, enabled him to establish the meaningfulness of the school’s own metaphysical discourse. Securing this meaningfulness was especially important to Sthiramati in meeting the challenge posed by the radical conventionalism of the Madhyamaka, and his response as I interpret it suggests that one of the main disputes between the early Yogācāra with the Mādhyamika, at least as reflected in the Triṃśikā-bhāṣya, in fact turns on linguistic rather than ontological issues.
Keywords Buddhism  Yogācāra  Metaphor  Vasubandhu  Upacāra  Language
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-016-9300-4
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References found in this work BETA

Hilary Putnam.Yemima Ben-Menahem - 2017 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 24:99-106.
Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1985 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.

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