“'Spiritual Exercise' and the Interpretation of
Buddhist Philosophy in India and Tibet"
Throughout much of a millennium, from the fifth century until the decline of Indian Buddhism in the twelfth, one of the primary subjects in the curricula of the monastic universities was pramāṇaśāstra, the “science of the measure of knowledge,” or “criteriology,” to borrow the expression of Cardinal Mercier, a domain corresponding roughly to logic and epistemology taken together and treating topics such as universals and particulars, the logic of relations, and the theory of meaning. The first great synthesis of learning in this field in contemporary scholarship, Theodore Stcherbatsky’s monumental Buddhist Logic, already posed the problem with which we are here concerned, for Stcherbatsky already introduced a certain tension between a description of “Buddhist logic” as a system that “had apparently no special connection with Buddhism as a religion” and one that is nevertheless “faithful to the ideas with which Buddhism started.” It is important to note that, though it is true that Stcherbatsky was eager to present Buddhist logic as broadly consistent with a early 20th century Western vision of philosophical research as critical reason unbridled by the presuppositions of religion, this was not the chief source of the tension we find in his words. For it is already intimated in the Indian sources themselves, and made fully explicit in Tibetan scholastic traditions that were among the main inheritors of Indian Buddhist philosophical learning. In this presentation, we shall examine some of the ways in which the late Pierre Hadot’s conception of “spiritual exercise” might contribute to our understanding of “Buddhist logic” in its relation to “Buddhism as a religion.”
Wednesday - October 5, 2011
The Faculty House