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  1.  77
    Nāgārjuna's Critique of Language.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2010 - Asian Philosophy 20 (2):159-174.
    This essay attempts to provide a systematic reconstruction of Nāgārjuna's philosophical thought by understanding it as a critique of the attachment to linguistic expressions and their referents. We first present an outline of Nāgārjuna's philosophy, centering on such notions as 'dependent origination', 'emptiness' and 'self-nature'. Then we discuss Nāgārjuna's dismissal of a metaphysical use of language, particularly his contention that language can function well without assuming the reality of its referents. We also consider his statement that he has no assertion (...)
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  2.  69
    The Finger Pointing Toward the Moon: A Philosophical Analysis of the Chinese Buddhist Thought of Reference.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2008 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (1):159-177.
    In this essay I attempt a philosophical analysis of the Chinese Buddhist thought of linguistic reference to shed light on how the Buddhist understands the way language refers to an ineffable reality. For this purpose, the essay proceeds in two directions: an enquiry into the linguistic thoughts of Sengzhao (374-414 CE) and Jizang (549-623 CE), two leading Chinese Madhyamika thinkers, and an analysis of the Buddhist simile of a moon-pointing finger. The two approaches respectively constitute the horizontal and vertical axes (...)
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  3.  94
    Meaning, Understanding, and Knowing-What: An Indian Grammarian Notion of Intuition (Pratibha).Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Philosophy East and West 64 (2):404-424.
    For Bhartrhari, a fifth-century Indian grammarian-philosopher, all conscious beings—beasts, birds and humans—are capable of what he called pratibha, a flash of indescribable intuitive understanding such that one knows what the present object “means” and what to do with it. Such an understanding, if correct, amounts to a mode of knowing that may best be termed knowing-what, to distinguish it from both knowing-that and knowing-how. This paper attempts to expound Bhartrhari’s conception of pratibha in relation to the notions of meaning, understanding, (...)
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  4.  50
    Saying the Unsayable.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2006 - Philosophy East and West 56 (3):409-427.
    A number of traditional philosophers and religious thinkers advocated an ineffability thesis to the effect that the ultimate reality cannot be expressed as it truly is by human concepts and words. However, if X is ineffable, the question arises as to how words can be used to gesture toward it. We can't even say that X is unsayable, because in doing so, we would have made it sayable. In this article, I examine the solution offered by the fifth-century Indian grammarian-philosopher (...)
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  5.  27
    Interdependence and Nonduality: On the Linguistic Strategy of the Platform Sūtra.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2016 - Philosophy East and West 66 (4):1231-1250.
    Although Chan, or Zen, Buddhism traditionally claimed itself as a special transmission outside doctrinal teachings that eschews the written word, it has long been praised for its improvisational, atypical, intriguing, and intricate use of words. Prominent Chan masters are characteristically skillful in employing paradoxical and aporetic phrases, figurative and poetic expressions, negations, questions, repetitions, and so forth, to express their thoughts, indicate their awakened states of mind, cut off the interlocutor’s habitual dualistic thinking, or evoke in him or her an (...)
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  6.  61
    Consciousness and Self-Awareness.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2007 - Asian Philosophy 17 (3):213 – 230.
    In this paper I propose to inquire into the theory of self-awareness propounded by the two Buddhist epistemologists, Dignaga and Dharmakirti. I first give an outline of the Buddhist notion of consciousness, then deal with the notion of objectual appearance, and finally dwell on the theory itself together with certain arguments in its favor. It is shown that the Buddhists subscribed themselves to the following self-awareness thesis: that our waking consciousness is always pre-reflectively and nonconceptually aware of itself. Adopting an (...)
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  7.  41
    One Name, Infinite Meanings: Jizang's Thought on Meaning and Reference.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2012 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39 (3):436-452.
    Jizang sets forth a hermeneutical theory of “one name, infinite meanings” that proposes four types of interpretation of word meaning to the effect that a nominal word X means X, non-X, the negation of X, and all things whatsoever. In this article, I offer an analysis of the theory, with a view to elucidating Jizang's thought on meaning and reference and considering its contemporary significance. The theory, I argue, may best be viewed as an expedient means for telling us how (...)
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  8.  37
    The Nonduality of Speech and Silence: A Comparative Analysis of Jizang’s Thought on Language and Beyond.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):1-19.
    Jizang (549−623 CE), the key philosophical exponent of the Sanlun tradition of Chinese Buddhism, based his philosophy considerably on his reading of the works of Nāgārjuna (c.150−250 CE), the founder of the Indian Madhyamaka school. However, although Jizang sought to follow Nāgārjuna closely, there are salient features in his thought on language that are notably absent from Nāgārjuna’s works. In this paper, I present a philosophical analysis of Jizang’s views of the relationship between speech and silence and compare them with (...)
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  9.  22
    Ontic Indeterminacy and Paradoxical Language: A Philosophical Analysis of Sengzhao's Linguistic Thought.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (4):505-522.
    For Sengzhao 僧肇 (374−414 CE), a leading Sanlun 三論 philosopher of Chinese Buddhism, things in the world are ontologically indeterminate in that they are devoid of any determinate form or nature. In his view, we should understand and use words provisionally, so that they are not taken to connote the determinacy of their referents. To echo the notion of ontic indeterminacy and indicate the provisionality of language, his main work, the Zhaolun 肇論, abounds in paradoxical expressions. In this essay, I (...)
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  10.  22
    How Not to Avoid Speaking.Chien-Hsing Ho - 1996 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 24 (5):541-562.
    Mahayana Buddhist philosophers’ attitude toward language is notoriously negative. The transcendental reality is often said to be ineffable. One’s obsession to apprehend the truth through words is an intellectual disease to be cured Attachment to verbal and conceptual proliferation enslaves oneself in the afflictive circle of life and death. Nevertheless, no Buddhist can afford to overlook the significance of language in preaching Buddhist dharmas as well as in day-to-day transactions. The point is not that of keeping silence. Rather, one should (...)
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  11.  33
    Emptiness as Subject-Object Unity: Sengzhao on the Way Things Truly Are.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Routledge.
    Sengzhao (374?−414 CE), a leading Chinese Mādhyamika philosopher, holds that the myriad things are empty, and that they are, at bottom, the same as emptiness qua the way things truly are. In this paper, I distinguish the level of the myriad things from that of the way things truly are and call them, respectively, the ontic and the ontological levels. For Sengzhao, the myriad things at the ontic level are indeterminate and empty, and he equates the way things truly are (...)
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  12.  17
    Paradoxical Language in Chan Buddhism.Chien-Hsing Ho - forthcoming - Springer.
    Chinese Chan or Zen Buddhism is renowned for its improvisational, atypical, and perplexing use of words. In particular, the tradition’s encounter dialogues, which took place between Chan masters and their interlocutors, abound in puzzling, astonishing, and paradoxical ways of speaking. In this chapter, we are concerned with Chan’s use of paradoxical language. In philosophical parlance, a linguistic paradox comprises the confluence of opposite or incongruent concepts in a way that runs counter to our common sense and ordinary rational thinking. One (...)
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  13.  37
    Resolving the Ineffability Paradox.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2016 - Bloomsbury Academic.
    A number of contemporary philosophers think that the unqualified statement “X is unspeakable” faces the danger of self-referential absurdity: if this statement is true, it must simultaneously be false, given that X is speakable by the predicate word “unspeakable.” This predicament is in this chapter formulated as an argument that I term the “ineffability paradox.” After examining the Buddhist semantic theory of apoha (exclusion) and an apoha solution to the issue, I resort to a few Chinese Buddhist and Hindu philosophical (...)
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  14.  78
    The Nonduality of Motion and Rest: Sengzhao on the Change of Things.Chien-Hsing Ho - forthcoming - Springer.
    In his essay “Things Do Not Move,” Sengzhao (374?−414 CE), a prominent Chinese Buddhist philosopher, argues for the thesis that the myriad things do not move in time. This view is counter-intuitive and seems to run counter to the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of emptiness. In this book chapter, I assess Sengzhao’s arguments for his thesis, elucidate his stance on the change/nonchange of things, and discuss related problems. I argue that although Sengzhao is keen on showing the plausibility of the thesis, (...)
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  15. The Way of Nonacquisition: Jizang's Philosophy of Ontic Indeterminacy.Chien-Hsing Ho - 2014 - Hamburg University Press.
    For Jizang (549−623), a prominent philosophical exponent of Chinese Madhyamaka, all things are empty of determinate form or nature. Given anything X, no linguistic item can truly and conclusively be applied to X in the sense of positing a determinate form or nature therein. This philosophy of ontic indeterminacy is connected closely with his notion of the Way (dao), which seems to indicate a kind of ineffable principle of reality. However, Jizang also equates the Way with nonacquisition as a conscious (...)
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