The merely conventional existence of the world

In Georges Dreyfus, Bronwyn Finnigan, Jay Garfield, Guy Newland, Graham Priest, Mark Siderits, Koji Tanaka, Sonam Thakchoe, Tom Tillemans & Jan Westerhoff (eds.), Moonshadows. Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy. Oxford University Press (2011)

Jan Westerhoff
Oxford University
A platitude questioned by many Buddhist thinkers in India and Tibet is the existence of the world. We might be tempted to insert some modifier here, such as “substantial,” “self-existent,” or “intrinsically existent,” for, one might argue, these thinkers did not want to question the existence of the world tout court but only that of a substantial, self-existent, or otherwise suitably qualified world. But perhaps these modifiers are not as important as is generally thought, for the understanding of the world questioned is very much the understanding of the world everybody has. It is the understanding that there is a world out there —independent of our minds — and that when we speak and think about this world we mostly get it right. But the Madhyamaka thinkers under discussion here deny that there is a world out there and claim that our opinions about it are to the greatest part fundamentally and dangerously wrong.
Keywords Madhyamaka  Conventions  Conventional truth  Buddhist philosophy  Game theory  David Lewis
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