Writing from the vantage points of history, philosophy, and cognitive science, the contributors to this volume clarify the nominalist apoha theory and explore the relationship between apoha and the scientific study of human cognition.
This article looks at the Indian canonical sources for Mādhyamika Buddhist refusals to personally endorse truth claims, even about customary matters. These sources, on a natural reading, seem to suggest that customary truth is only widespread error and that the Buddhist should do little more than duplicate, or acquiesce in, what the common man recognizes about it. The combination of those Indian canonical themes probably contributed to frequent Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka positions on truth, i.e., that the customary is no more than (...) surface level truth, mere consensus amongst the mistaken, or, similarly, that there can be no right answers or truth claims to endorse about customary matters, as there are no sources of knowledge that have them as objects. Tsong kha pa and the dGe lugs pa, by contrast, adopted what I consider to be a philosophically more promising stance, one that recognized the need for a robust normativity: things customary are not just reduced to accepted errors; there are right answers about them that should be endorsed and may well defy current consensus of opinion. Not surprisingly, however, they needed a quite different and even strained exegesis of that same Indian textual legacy. (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)
In an article published in 2009 titled "How Do Mādhyamikas Think?" I tried to go some distance with Yasuo Deguchi, Jay Garfield, and Graham Priest (henceforth "DGP") in reading certain Buddhist texts as dialetheist.1 The dialetheism that I saw as plausible for the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtras and Nāgārjuna was not the full-blown robust variety of DGP (i.e., acceptance of the truth of some statement of the form p & ¬p) but a non-adjunctive variety, acceptance of p and acceptance of ¬p. In short, (...) the adjunctive move to p & ¬p is blocked.In the article, I focused on texts like the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra ("Diamond Cutter Suūtra") with its famous "signature formulae" along the lines of "x does not exist / x is not .. (shrink)
Let it be granted that Buddhism has, e.g., in its logical literature, detailed canons and explicit rules of right reason that, amongst other things, ban inconsistency as irrational. This is the normative dimension of how people should think according to many major Buddhist authors. But do important Buddhist writers ever recognize any interesting or substantive role for inconsistency and forms of irrationality in their account of how people actually do think and act? The article takes as its point of departure (...) a recurring theme in the writings of the 8th Century Indian Buddhist thinker, Śāntideva, who subjects his own behaviour and thought to minute scrutiny in argumentation with himself, only to be puzzled at his own seemingly irrational persistence in ways of thinking that he knows to be wrong and actions that he knows to be worse courses. The Buddhist’s situation is profitably comparable to issues of akrasia, weakness of the will, that are taken up by Plato, Aristotle and many modern philosophers, including notably Donald Davidson and David Wiggins. (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)