This is a book for scholars of Western philosophy who wish to engage with Buddhist philosophy, or who simply want to extend their philosophical horizons. It is also a book for scholars of Buddhist studies who want to see how Buddhist theory articulates with contemporary philosophy. Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy articulates the basic metaphysical framework common to Buddhist traditions. It then explores questions in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, phenomenology, epistemology, the philosophy of language and ethics as (...) they are raised and addressed in a variety of Asian Buddhist traditions. In each case the focus is on philosophical problems; in each case the connections between Buddhist and contemporary Western debates are addressed, as are the distinctive contributions that the Buddhist tradition can make to Western discussions. Engaging Buddhism is not an introduction to Buddhist philosophy, but an engagement with it, and an argument for the importance of that engagement. It does not pretend to comprehensiveness, but it does address a wide range of Buddhist traditions, emphasizing the heterogeneity and the richness of those traditions. The book concludes with methodological reflections on how to prosecute dialogue between Buddhist and Western traditions. (shrink)
Belief in Psychology tackles the knotty problem of how to treat the propositional attitudes states such as beliefs, desires, hopes and fears within cognitive science. Jay Garfield asserts that the propositional attitudes can and must play useful theoretical roles in the science of the mind and stresses the importance of their social context in this sophisticated and original argument.Garfield proposes his own alternative to the apparent dilemma of either scrapping the propositional attitudes or of making room for them within a (...) dimly foreseen, futuristic cognitive science. He provides a characterization of the nature of propositional attitudes conceived as psychological states, and of their role in cognitive science. They must, he argues, be understood as relations between their bearers and their environments, including, in the case of persons, their social and linguistic environments. Understanding them in this way is consonant with current practice in empirical cognitive science and provides a philosophically useful analysis of mental representation.Along the way, Garfield discusses the relationship between the enterprise of science and our commonsense conception of ourselves and the world, and the ways in which this relation constrains our understanding of the propositional attitudes, and illuminates a realistic interpretation of a psychology of representational states and processes. Belief in Psychology is the only book that adopts such a view, and it is unique in providing a sustained critique of eliminativism, instrumentalism, and computational individualism - the main competing proposals within philosophy of cognitive science for eliminating or reconciling propositional attitudes.Jay Garfield is Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of Communications and Cognitive Science at Hampshire College and a co-director of the University of Massachusetts Cognitive Science Institute. He is a co-author of Cognitive Science: An Introduction and editor of Modularity in Knowledge Representation and Natural Language Understanding, both Bradford books. A Bradford Book. (shrink)
For nearly two thousand years Buddhism has mystified and captivated both lay people and scholars alike. Seen alternately as a path to spiritual enlightenment, an system of ethical and moral rubrics, a cultural tradition, or simply a graceful philosophy of life, Buddhism has produced impassioned followers the world over. The Buddhist saint Nagarjuna, who lived in South India in approximately the first century CE, is undoubtedly the most important, influential, and widely studied Mahayana Buddhist philosopher. His many works include texts (...) addressed to lay audiences, letters of advice to kings, and a set of penetrating metaphysical and epistemological treatises. His greatest philosophical work, the Mulamadhyamikakarika--read and studied by philosophers in all major Buddhist schools of Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea--is one of the most influential works in the history of Indian philosophy. Now, in The Foundations of the Philosophy of the Middle Way, Jay L. Garfield provides a clear and and eminently readable translation of Nagarjuna's seminal work, offering those with little of no prior knowledge of Buddhist philosophy a view into the profound logic of the Mulamadhyamikakarika. Translated from the Tibetan, the tradition through which Nagarjuna's philosophical influence has largely been transmitted, Garfield presents a superb translation of Mulamadhyamikakarika in its entirety. Illuminating the systematic character of Nagarjuna's reasoning, as well as the works profundity, Garfield shows how Nagarjuna develops his doctrine that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence and essenceless. But, he argues, phenomena nonetheless exist conventionaly, and that indeed conventional existence and ultimate emptiness are in fact the same thing. This represents the radical understanding of the Buddhist doctrine of the two truths, or two levels of reality. Nagarjuna reinterprets all of Buddhist metaphysics and epistemology through this analytical framework--"a systematic and beautifully elegant philosophical dissection of reality." In turn, Garfield goes on to offer the only verse-by-verse commentary based upon the Indo-Tibetan Prasangika-Madhyamika reading of Nagarjuna, the school most influential in the development of Mahayana philosophy in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. Written specifically for the Western reader, the commentary explains Nagarjuna's positions and arguments in the language of Western metaphysics and epistemology, and connects Nagarjuna's concerns tho those of Western philosophers such as Sextus, Hume, and Wittgenstein. A fascinating and accessible translation of the foundational text for all Mahayana Buddhism text, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way will enlighten all those in search of the essence of reality. (shrink)
This volume collects Jay Garfield 's essays on Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Buddhist ethics and cross-cultural hermeneutics. The first part addresses Madhyamaka, supplementing Garfield 's translation of Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, a foundational philosophical text by the Buddhist saint Nagarjuna. Garfield then considers the work of philosophical rivals, and sheds important light on the relation of Nagarjuna's views to other Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical positions.
Why you don’t have a self—and why that’s a good thing In Losing Ourselves, Jay Garfield, a leading expert on Buddhist philosophy, offers a brief and radically clear account of an idea that at first might seem frightening but that promises to liberate us and improve our lives, our relationships, and the world. Drawing on Indian and East Asian Buddhism, Daoism, Western philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience, Garfield shows why it is perfectly natural to think you have a self—and why it (...) actually makes no sense at all and is even dangerous. Most importantly, he explains why shedding the illusion that you have a self can make you a better person. Examining a wide range of arguments for and against the existence of the self, Losing Ourselves makes the case that there are not only good philosophical and scientific reasons to deny the reality of the self, but that we can lead healthier social and moral lives if we understand that we are selfless persons. The book describes why the Buddhist idea of no-self is so powerful and why it has immense practical benefits, helping us to abandon egoism, act more morally and ethically, be more spontaneous, perform more expertly, and navigate ordinary life more skillfully. Getting over the self-illusion also means escaping the isolation of self-identity and becoming a person who participates with others in the shared enterprise of life. The result is a transformative book about why we have nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by losing our selves. (shrink)
The notion of modularity, introduced by Noam Chomsky and developed with special emphasis on perceptual and linguistic processes by Jerry Fodor in his important book The Modularity of Mind, has provided a significant stimulus to research in cognitive science. This book presents essays in which a diverse group of philosophers, linguists, psycholinguists, and neuroscientists - including both proponents and critics of the modularity hypothesis - address general questions and specific problems related to modularity. Jay L. Garfield is Associate Professor of (...) Philosophy in the School of Communications and Cognitive Science at Hampshire College. (shrink)
Minds Without Fear is an intellectual and cultural history of India during the period of British occupation. It demonstrates that this was a period of renaissance in India in which philosophy--both in the public sphere and in the Indian universities--played a central role in the emergence of a distinctively Indian modernity. The book is also a history of Indian philosophy. It demonstrates how the development of a secular philosophical voice facilitated the construction of modern Indian society and the consolidation of (...) the nationalist movement. (shrink)
The argument from fine tuning is supposed to establish the existence of God from the fact that the evolution of carbon-based life requires the laws of physics and the boundary conditions of the universe to be more or less as they are. We demonstrate that this argument fails. In particular, we focus on problems associated with the role probabilities play in the argument. We show that, even granting the fine tuning of the universe, it does not follow that the universe (...) is improbable, thus no explanation of the fine tuning, theistic or otherwise, is required. (shrink)
: Nagarjuna seems willing to embrace contradictions while at the same time making use of classic reductio arguments. He asserts that he rejects all philosophical views including his own-that he asserts nothing-and appears to mean it. It is argued here that he, like many philosophers in the West and, indeed, like many of his Buddhist colleagues, discovers and explores true contradictions arising at the limits of thought. For those who share a dialetheist's comfort with the possibility of true contradictions commanding (...) rational assent, for Nagarjuna to endorse such contradictions would not undermine but instead confirm the impression that he is indeed a highly rational thinker. It is argued that the contradictions he discovers are structurally analogous to many discovered by Western philosophers and mathematicians. (shrink)
It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self. This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations. Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower fear (...) of death and greater generosity toward others. To our surprise, we found the opposite. Monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group. The monastics were also less generous than any other group about the prospect of giving up a slightly longer life in order to extend the life of another. (shrink)
The Buddhist philosophical tradition is vast, internally diverse, and comprises texts written in a variety of canonical languages. It is hence often difficult for those with training in Western philosophy who wish to approach this tradition for the first time to know where to start, and difficult for those who wish to introduce and teach courses in Buddhist philosophy to find suitable textbooks that adequately represent the diversity of the tradition, expose students to important primary texts in reliable translations, that (...) contextualize those texts, and that foreground specifically philosophical issues. Buddhist Philosophy fills that lacuna. It collects important philosophical texts from each major Buddhist tradition. Each text is translated and introduced by a recognized authority in Buddhist studies. Each introduction sets the text in context and introduces the philosophical issues it addresses and arguments it presents, providing a useful and authoritative guide to reading and to teaching the text. The volume is organized into topical sections that reflect the way that Western philosophers think about the structure of the discipline, and each section is introduced by an essay explaining Buddhist approaches to that subject matter, and the place of the texts collected in that section in the enterprise. This volume is an ideal single text for an intermediate or advanced course in Buddhist philosophy, and makes this tradition immediately accessible to the philosopher or student versed in Western philosophy coming to Buddhism for the first time. It is also ideal for the scholar or student of Buddhist studies who is interested specifically in the philosophical dimensions of the Buddhist tradition. (shrink)
This book publishes, for the first time in decades, and in many cases, for the first time in a readily accessible edition, English language philosophical literature written in India during the period of British rule.
We discuss the structure of Buddhist theory, showing that it is a kind of moral phenomenology directed to the elimination of egoism through the elimination of a sense of self. We then ask whether being raised in a Buddhist culture in which the values of selflessness and the sense of non-self are so deeply embedded transforms one’s sense of who one is, one’s ethical attitudes and one’s attitude towards death, and in particular whether those transformations are consistent with the predictions (...) that Buddhist texts themselves make. We discover that the effects are often significant, but not always expected. (shrink)
In his article in this issue, " 'How do Mādhyamikas Think?' Revisited," Tom Tillemans reflects on his earlier article "How do Mādhyamikas Think?" (2009), itself a response to earlier work of ours (Deguchi et al. 2008; Garfield and Priest 2003). There is much we agree with in these non-dogmatic and open-minded essays. Still, we have some disagreements. We begin with a response to Tillemans' first thoughts, and then turn to his second thoughts.Tillemans (2009) maintains that it is wrong to attribute (...) to Nāgārjuna or to his Mādhyamika followers a strong dialetheism, according to which some contradictions of the form p ∧ ¬p are to be accepted. He argues that, nonetheless, a weak dialetheism may be implicit in the .. (shrink)
‘Ju Mipham Rinpoche, (1846-1912) an important figure in the _Ris med_, or non- sectarian movement influential in Tibet in the late 19<sup>th</sup> and early 20<sup>th</sup> Centuries, was an unusual scholar in that he was a prominent _Nying ma_ scholar and _rDzog_ _chen_ practitioner with a solid dGe lugs education. He took dGe lugs scholars like Tsong khapa and his followers seriously, appreciated their arguments and positions, but also sometimes took issue with them directly. In his commentary to Candrak¥rti’s _Madhyamakåvatåra, _Mi (...) pham argues that Tsong khapa is wrong to take Candrak¥rti’s rejection of the reflexive character of consciousness to be a rejection of the _conventional _existence of reflexive awareness. Instead, he argues, Candrak¥rti only intends to reject the reflexivity of awareness _ultimately_, and, indeed, Mipham argues, it is simply _obvious _that conventionally, consciousness is reflexive. (shrink)
Bodhicaryåvatåra was composed by the Buddhist monk scholar Íåntideva at Nalandå University in India sometime during the 8th Century CE. It stands as one the great classics of world philosophy and of Buddhist literature, and is enormously influential in Tibet, where it is regarded as the principal source for the ethical thought of Mahåyåna Buddhism. The title is variously translated, most often as A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life or Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds, translations that follow the (...) canonical Tibetan translation of the title of the book (Byang chub sems pa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa) and the commentarial tradition of Tibet. But that translation itself is a bit of a gloss on the original Sanskrit, and I think that a more natural English rendering of the Sanskrit title is simply How to Lead an Awakened Life, and that indeed describes the content of the text admirably. Taking this as the title of the text might also issue in a kind of gestalt shift in our view of the text, allowing us to see it not so much as a characterization of the extraordinary moral life of a saint, but as a guide to moral development open to any of us. So, let’s take that as the English title for now. (shrink)
Investigation of the Percept is a short work that focuses on issues of perception and epistemology. Its author, Dignaga, was one of the most influential figures in the Indian Buddhist epistemological tradition, and his ideas had a profound and wide-ranging impact in India, Tibet, and China. The work inspired more than twenty commentaries throughout East Asia and three in Tibet, the most recent in 2014.This book is the first of its kind in Buddhist studies: a comprehensive history of a text (...) and its commentarial tradition. The volume editors translate the root text and commentary, along with Indian and Tibetan commentaries, providing detailed analyses of the commentarial innovations of each author, as well as critically edited versions of all texts and extant Sanskrit fragments of passages. The team-based approach made it possible to study and translate a corpus of treatises in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese and to employ the methods of critical philology and cross-cultural philosophy to provide readers with a rich collection of studies and translations, along with detailed philosophical analyses that open up the intriguing implications of Dignaga's thought and demonstrate the diversity of commentarial approaches to his text.This rich text has inspired some of the greatest minds in India and Tibet. It explores some of the key issues of Buddhist epistemology: the relationship between minds and their percepts, the problems of idealism and realism, and error and misperception. (shrink)
This volume collects essays by philosophers and scholars working at the interface of Western philosophy and Buddhist Studies. Many have distinguished scholarly records in Western philosophy, with expertise in analytic philosophy and logic, as well as deep interest in Buddhist philosophy. Others have distinguished scholarly records in Buddhist Studies with strong interests in analytic philosophy and logic. All are committed to the enterprise of cross-cultural philosophy and to bringing the insights and techniques of each tradition to bear in order to (...) illuminate problems and ideas of the other. These essays address a broad range of topics in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, logic, epistemology, and metaphysics, and demonstrate the fecundity of the interaction between the Buddhist and Western philosophical and logical traditions. (shrink)
In a recent issue of Philosophy East and West Douglas Berger defends a new reading of Mūlamadhyamakakārikā XXIV : 18, arguing that most contemporary translators mistranslate the important term prajñaptir upādāya, misreading it as a compound indicating "dependent designation" or something of the sort, instead of taking it simply to mean "this notion, once acquired." He attributes this alleged error, pervasive in modern scholarship, to Candrakīrti, who, Berger correctly notes, argues for the interpretation he rejects.Berger's analysis, and the reading of (...) the text he suggests is grounded on that analysis, is insightful and fascinating, and certainly generates an understanding of Nāgārjuna's enterprise that is welcome .. (shrink)
Huntington ; argues that recent commentators err in attributing to Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti a commitment to rationality and to the use of argument, and that these commentators do violence to the Madhyamaka project by using rational reconstruction in their interpretation of Nāgārjuna’s and Candrakīrti’s texts. Huntington argues instead that mādhyamikas reject reasoning, distrust logic and do not offer arguments. He also argues that interpreters ought to recuse themselves from argument in order to be faithful to these texts. I demonstrate that (...) he is wrong in all respects: Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti deploy arguments, take themselves to do so, and even if they did not, we would be wise to do so in commenting on their texts. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Giuseppe Ferraro mounted a sustained attack on the semantic interpretation of the Madhyamaka doctrine of emptiness, an interpretation that has been championed by the authors. The present paper is their reply to that attack.
Jay L. Garfield defends two exegetical theses regarding Hume's Treatise on Human Nature. The first is that Book II is the theoretical foundation of the Treatise. Second, Garfield argues that we cannot understand Hume's project without an appreciation of his own understanding of custom, and in particular, without an appreciation of the grounding of his thought about custom in the legal theory and debates of his time.
Presents David Foster Wallace critiques philosopher Richard Taylor's work implying that humans have no control over the future and includes essays linking Wallace's critique with his later works of fiction.
Most discussion of Sellars’ deployment of the distinct images of “man-in-the-world” in "Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man" focus entirely on the manifest and the scientific images. But the original image is important as well. In this essay I explore the importance of the original image to the Sellarsian project of naturalizing epistemology, connecting Sellars’ insights regarding this image to recent work in cognitive development.
Nāgārjuna argues for the fundamental importance of causality, and dependence more generally, to our understanding of reality and of human life: his account of these matters is generally correct. First, his account of interdependence shows how we can clearly understand the nature of scientific explanation, the relationship between distinct levels of theoretical analysis in the sciences (with particular attention to cognitive science), and how we can sidestep difficulties in understanding the relations between apparently competing ontologies induced by levels of description (...) or explanation supervening on one another. Then rGyal tshab's exposition of Dharmakīrti's account, in the pramānasiddhi chapter of the "Pramāṇavarttika", of the necessity of a belief in rebirth for the cultivation of bodhicitta is examined. This account is accepted in the dGe lugs tradition both as an accurate representation of Dharmakīrti's views and as authoritative regarding bodhicitta and the mahākarunā that is its necessary condition. But Dharmakīrti, rGyal tshab, and their followers, by virtue of accepting this argument, neglect Nāgārjuna's account of dependent arising and in consequence are implicated in what might be seen from a proper Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka point of view as the very subtlest form of self-grasping. (shrink)
Mädhyamika philosophers in India and Tibet distinguish between two truths: the conventional and the ultimate. It is difficult, however, to say in what sense conventional truth is indeed a truth, as opposed to falsehood. Indeed, many passages in prominent texts suggest that it is entirely false. It is explained here in the sense in which, for Candrakïrti and Tsong khapa, conventional truth is truth.
Philosophers and Cognitive Scientists have become accustomed to distinguishing the first person perspective from the third person perspective on reality or experience. This is sometimes meant to mark the distinction between the “objective” or “intersubjective” attitude towards things and the “subjective” or “personal” attitude. Sometimes, it is meant to mark the distinction between knowledge and mere opinion. Sometimes it is meant to mark the distinction between an essentially private and privileged access to an inner world and a merely inferential or (...) speculative access to that world. No doubt there are other uses as well. But I don't care about this dichotomy here, or indeed any of these putative distinctions it is alleged to mark. Instead, I want to call attention to the central role of the less often acknowledged grammatical and phenomenological category, that of the second person. This category is essential not only for understanding the development of self-understanding, but also for the development of the moral sense that allows us to participate in the societies that constitute us as persons. The task of moral education is the cultivation of care for second persons. But we do so by extending not self-regard, but by extending the spontaneous caring response we have for those with whom we immediately interact—second persons. Our moral lives, I will argue, like our cognitive lives, cannot be understood without understanding the special nature of second person relationships. In short, I will argue that the second person perspective is in fact essential to the constitution of human subjectivity, and that it permeates all forms of interpersonal consciousness and even self-consciousness. (shrink)
There are two temptations to be resisted when approaching Buddhist moral theory. The first is to assimilate Buddhist ethics to some system of Western ethics, usually either some form of Utilitarianism or some form of virtue ethics. The second is to portray Buddhist ethical thought as constituting some grand system resembling those that populate Western metaethics. The first temptation, of course, can be avoided simply by avoiding the second. In Buddhist philosophical and religious literature we find many texts that address (...) moral topics, and a great deal of attention devoted to accounts of virtuous and vicious actions, virtuous and vicious states of character and of virtuous and vicious lives. However, we find very little direct attention to the articulation of sets of principles that determine which actions, states of character or motives are virtuous or vicious, and no articulation of sets of obligations or rights. (shrink)
The doctrine of the two truths - a conventional truth and an ultimate truth - is central to Buddhist metaphysics and epistemology. The two truths (or two realities), the distinction between them, and the relation between them is understood variously in different Buddhist schools; it is of special importance to the Madhyamaka school. One theory is articulated with particular force by Nagarjuna (2nd ct CE) who famously claims that the two truths are identical to one another and yet distinct. One (...) of the most influential interpretations of Nagarjuna's difficult doctrine derives from the commentary of Candrakirti (6th ct CE). In view of its special soteriological role, much attention has been devoted to explaining the nature of the ultimate truth; less, however, has been paid to understanding the nature of conventional truth, which is often described as "deceptive," "illusion," or "truth for fools." But because of the close relation between the two truths in Madhyamaka, conventional truth also demands analysis. Moonshadows, the product of years of collaboration by ten cowherds engaged in Philosophy and Buddhist Studies, provides this analysis. The book asks, "what is true about conventional truth?" and "what are the implications of an understanding of conventional truth for our lives?" Moonshadows begins with a philosophical exploration of classical Indian and Tibetan texts articulating Candrakati's view, and uses this textual exploration as a basis for a more systematic philosophical consideration of the issues raised by his account. (shrink)
Classical computational modellers of mind urge that the mind is something like a von Neumann computer operating over a system of symbols constituting a language of thought. Such an architecture, they argue, presents us with the best explanation of the compositionality, systematicity and productivity of thought. The language of thought hypothesis is supported by additional independent arguments made popular by Jerry Fodor. Paul Smolensky has developed a connectionist architecture he claims adequately explains compositionality, systematicity and productivity without positing any language (...) of thought, and without positing any operations over a set of symbols. This architecture encodes the information represented in linguistic trees without explicitly representing those trees or their constituents, and indeed without employing any representational vehicles with constituent structure. In a recent article, Fodor (1997; Connectionism and systematicity, Cognition , 62, 109-119) argues that Smolensky's proposal does not work. I defend Smolensky against Fodor's attack, and use this interchange as a vehicle for exploring and criticising the “Language of Thought” hypothesis more generally and the arguments Fodor adduces on its behalf. (shrink)