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.
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)
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)
Finnigan, in the course of a careful and astute discussion of the difficulties facing a Buddhist account of the moral agency of a buddha, develops a challenging critique of a proposal I made in Garfield. Much of what she says is dead on target, and I have learned much from her paper. But I have serious reservations about the central thrust both of her critique of my own thought and about her proposal for a positive account of a buddha’s (...) enlightened action. Curiously, in another fine paper, Finnigan and her co-author have anticipated much of what I will say in reply. I will rely in part on that second paper in my reply to the essay that appears in this volume. (shrink)
In the course of a careful and astute discussion of the difficulties facing a Buddhist account of the moral agency of a buddha, Bronwyn Finnigan develops a challenging critique of a proposal I made in a recent article (Garfield 2006). Much of what she says is dead on target, and I have learned much from her comment. But I have serious reservations about both the central thrust of her critique of my own thought and her proposal for a positive (...) account of a buddha’s enlightened action. Curiously, in another fine essay (Finnigan andTanaka forthcoming), Finnigan and her co-author have anticipated much of what I will say in reply. I will rely in part on that second essay in my reply to the critique that appears in this .. (shrink)
De Villiers and de Villiers (2000) propose that the acquisition of the syntactic device of sentential complementation is a necessary condition for the acquisition of theory of mind (ToM). It might be argued that ToM mastery is simply a consequence of grammatical development. On the other hand, there is also good evidence (Garfield, Peterson & Perry 2001) that social learning is involved in ToM acquisition. We investigate the connection between linguistic and social-cognitive development, arguing that pretence is crucially involved (...) in the acquisition of ToM. We demonstrate that successful understanding of pretence discourse, including the syntactic and semantic properties of sentential complements in the context of verbs of pretence, develops well before ToM as measured by standard tests of false belief understanding. We argue that pretence plays a crucial role in cognitive development, allowing children to gain familiarity with mental representations that fail to accord with reality, and allowing them to learn the syntax and semantics of verbs taking sentential complements, thus enabling conversational exchange involving embedded complement clauses and the acquisition of ToM. We also demonstrate that the developmental track of pretence and ToM allows us to see how social, conceptual and linguistic development work together to scaffold the development of the understanding of mind. We conclude that children’s early involvement in pretend play and conversation paves the way both for their subsequent development of a ToM-based understanding of the mind as a guiding network of propositional attitudes, and for their further development of syntactic competence with complementation for doxastic and epistemic verbs. (shrink)
Daya Krishna(Photo courtesy of Jay Garfield)Govind Chandra Pande(Photo courtesy of his daughter amita sharma)Daya Krishna was the public face of Indian philosophy in the first half-century after Indian independence. Nobody on the Indian scene in that period came close to him in influence or in contribution to the profession. Nobody else in the world thought as hard or as fruitfully about the relation of Indian philosophy to that of the rest of the world, and nobody else dared to think (...) as creatively and even as heretically about the history of Indian philosophy itself. To be sure, the Indian philosophical scene during this period was always a vibrant and creative matrix of thought, and many contributed to that .. (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)
: 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)
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)
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)
The naturalization of intentionality requires explaining the supervenience of the normative upon the descriptive. Proper function theory provides an account of the semantics of natural representations, but not of that of signs that require the observance of norms. I therefore distinguish two senses of "meaning" and two correlative senses of "representation" and explain their relationship to one another. I distinguish between indicative signs and semiotic devices. The former are indicators of the presence of some phenomenon. The latter are rule-governed devices (...) whose content derives from a set of recognized conventions for their use in the context of a system of other such signs. Each of these kinds of signs has its own kind of meaning, and each of these senses of meaning and representation has an important place in cognitive science. The indicative sign is fundamental and grounds the intentionality of semiotic devices. But the theory of indicative signs is insufficient for a general theory of intentionality and representation. Cognitive science must therefore comprise both a biological program aimed at understanding representation in the indicative sense and a social/ecological/linguistic program aimed at understanding the relational phenomena that allow semiotic meaning. (shrink)
: In this essay, I examine the arguments against physician - assisted suicide Susan Wolf offers in her essay, "Gender, Feminism, and Death : Physician - Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia." I argue that Wolf's analysis of PAS, while timely and instructive in many ways, does not require that feminists reject policy approaches that might permit PAS. The essay concludes with reflections on the relationship between feminism and questions of agency, especially women's agency.
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)
This question—why did Bodhidharma come from the West?— is ubiquitous in Chinese Ch’an Buddhist literature. Though some see it as an arbitrary question intended merely as an opener to obscure puzzles, I think it represents a genuine intellectual puzzle: Why did Bodhidharma come from theWest—that is, fromIndia? Why couldn’tChina with its rich literary and philosophical tradition have given rise to Buddhism? We will approach that question, but I prefer to do so backwards. I want to ask instead, “why was it (...) so fortuitous for the development of Buddhist philosophy that Bodhidharma wentEast? I will argue that by doing so he gave a trajectory to Buddhist thought about the mind and knowledge that allows certain issues that are obscure in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, despite their centrality to the Buddhist critique of Indian orthodoxy, to come into sharper relief, and hence to complete a project begun, but not completable, in that Indo-European context. (shrink)
In conversation, in the lecture hall, in the Dharma centre and in the public teaching, Buddhists and students of Buddhism worry about authenticity. Is the doctrine defended in a particular text or is a particular textual interpretation authentic? Is a particular teacher authentic? Is a particular practice authentic? Is a phenomenon under examination in a scholarly research project authentically Buddhist? If the doctrine, teacher, practice or phenomenon is not authentically Buddhist, we worry that it is a fraud, that our scholarship, (...) teaching or religious life is vacuous, or at least that it is not really Buddhist studies or Buddhist practice. It is hard for me to remember a conversation of any length with a Western or Tibetan colleague, or with a serious advanced student in which the term “authenticity” or a cognate did not arise, and in which that term did not function as a term of approbation. (shrink)
In this paper I demonstrate that the "pain problem" Dartnall claims to have discovered is in fact no problem at all. Dartnall's construction of the apparent problem, I argue, relies on an erroneous assumption of the unity of consciousness, an erroneous assumption of the simplicity of pain as a phenomenon ignoring crucial neurophysiological and neuroanatomical information, a mistaken account of introspective knowledge according to which introspection gives us inner episodes veridically and in their totality and a model of consciousness that (...) depicts the mind as an attic of inner objects towards which attention might or might not be directed. Once these errors are dispelled, no problem remains. None the less, given the seductiveness of these errors, and the havoc they wreak in cognitive science, dispelling them is a worthwhile exercise. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper was to determine if quantitative rankings of highly cited research authors confirm Nobel prize awards. Six studies covering different time periods and author sample sizes were reviewed. The number of Nobel laureates at the time each study was published was tabulated, as was the number of high impact authors who later became laureates. The Nobelists and laureates-to-be were also compared with non-Nobelists to see if they differed in terms of impact and productivity. The results indicate (...) that high rankings by citation frequency identify researchersof Nobel class — that is, a small set of authors that includes a high proportion of actual Nobelists and laureates-to-be. Also, the average impact (citations per author) of Nobelists and laureates-to-be is sufficiently high to distinguish them from non-Nobelists in these rankings. In conclusion, a simple, quantitative, and objective algorithm based on citation data can effectively corroborate —and even forecast — a complex, qualitative, and subjective selection process based on human judgement. (shrink)
Language has often served both as a metaphor for thought. It is highly plausible that language serves as an epistemic entre into thought and that language structures adult human thought to a considerable degree. The language metaphor is, however, uncritically extended as a literal model of thought.This paper criticizes this extension, arguing that thought is not literally implemented in language and distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate uses of language as a device for understanding thought.
Can political theory be action-guiding without relying on pre-political normative commitments? I answer that question affirmatively by unpacking two related tenets of Raymond Geuss’ political realism: the view that political philosophy should not be a branch of ethics, and the ensuing empirically-informed conception of legitimacy. I argue that the former idea can be made sense of by reference to Hobbes’ account of authorization, and that realist legitimacy can be normatively salient in so far as it stands in the correct (...) relation to a theory of justice and problematizes its sources of value through what Geuss terms ‘political imagination’. (shrink)
This is a critical notice/review essay on *L'embryogenèse du monde et le Dieu silencieux*, a manuscript completed by Raymond Ruyer in the early 1980s. It came out as a monograph in November 2013, with the Éditions Klincksieck in Paris. It offers a presentation in an organized fashion of many aspects of his thought. Ruyer considered that a book about God could only be churned into a series of chapters on the unachievable character of our knowledge in different domains of (...) human inquiry. The nature of this final solution on God's relationship to the world and to natural forms is here assessed critically. (shrink)
This paper proposes a critical analysis of that interpretation of the Nāgārjunian doctrine of the two truths as summarized—by both Mark Siderits and Jay L. Garfield—in the formula: “the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth”. This ‘semantic reading’ of Nāgārjuna’s theory, despite its importance as a criticism of the ‘metaphysical interpretations’, would in itself be defective and improbable. Indeed, firstly, semantic interpretation presents a formal defect: it fails to clearly and explicitly express that which it contains (...) logically; the previously mentioned formula must necessarily be completed by: “the conventional truth is that nothing is conventional truth”. Secondly, after having recognized what Siderits’ and Garfield’s analyses contain implicitly, other logical and philological defects in their position emerge: the existence of the ‘conventional’ would appear—despite the efforts of semantic interpreters to demonstrate quite the contrary—definitively inconceivable without the presupposition of something ‘real’; moreover, the number of verses in Nāgārjuna that are in opposition to the semantic interpretation (even if we grant semantic interpreters that these verses do not justify a metaphysical reconstruction of Nagarjuna’s doctrine) would seem too great and significant to be ignored. (shrink)
There is an analogy between a scientific approach to medicine in which the patient ultimately becomes an object of study rather than a whole person, and a post/modern aesthetic in literature in which the subject has little or no agency in a chaotic linguistic universe. Raymond Carver died of cancer in 1988, and in both his pre- and post-diagnostic poetry there is humanistic lyricism that contributes to re-establishing empathic bonds between readers and characters, and to re-humanizing the patient as (...) a whole person in the context of contemporary health institutions. Close readings of poems with descriptions of the autopsy room and of patient-doctor relations bring out the medical humanism in Carver's verse. (shrink)
This is the outline: Introduction : le praticien d’une science-philosophie; Épiphénoménisme retourné et subjectivité délocalisée; Dieu est-il jamais inféré par la science ?; La question du panthéisme; Le pilotage axiologique et la parabole mécaniste; L'unité domaniale comme ce qui reste en dehors de la science.
In this review I try and show the ways in which Geuss’ new work may advance the (radical) realist programme. The main contribution in the new essays, as I see it, is the emphasis on the counterintuitively transformative potential of a realist approach, as opposed to the false promise of highly moralised approaches. I also highlight some open questions about Geuss’ realism, primarily to do with his contextualism and with the role of feasibility constraints.
This is the outline: Introduction — La question de la cybernétique et de l'information — Une « pensée du milieu » — Cybernétique et homologie — Une théorie de l'apprentissage — L'information vue de l'autre côté — Champ et domaine unitaire — La thèse des « autres-je » — Le passage par l'axiologie — La rétroaction vraie — L'ontologie de Ruyer — Le bruissement de l'être même.