Welcomes ALEX WATSON (Harvard University)
With comments by MARK SIDERITS (Seoul National University)
Please join us on September 27, 2013 at 5:30pm for his lecture entitled
The Self as a Process: Middle Ground Between a Naiyāyika Eternal Ātman and a Buddhist Stream of Consciousness-Moments.
ABSTRACT: This paper gives an account of Rāmakaṇṭha’s contribution to the Buddhist-Brāhmaṇical debate about the existence or non-existence of a self, by demonstrating how he carves out a middle ground between the two protagonists in that debate. First, three points of divergance between the Naiyāyika and the Buddhist conceptions of subjectivity are identified. These take the form of Buddhist denials of, or re-explanations of: (1) the self as the unitary essence of the individual; (2) the self as the substance to which mental properties belong; and (3) the self as the agent of both physical actions and cognitions. The difference of Rāmakaṇṭha’s position from both Nyāya and Buddhism is then elaborated.
The existence of a view between the Naiyāyika’s and the Buddhist’s is used to demonstrate that the latter two are not mutually exhaustive (the falsity of one does not entail the truth of the other) and that they are unnecessarily polarized, occupying extreme limits. Rāmakaṇṭha’s view arguably provides better opposition to Buddhism, since it achieves what the Naiyāyika wants to achieve while making less extravagant metaphysical claims. At the end I ask which is to be preferred, Rāmakaṇṭha’s view or the Buddhist’s. I argue that these two views are also unnecessarily polarized, and I outline a different philosophical position, which rejects both the contention that we have an unchanging essence, and the contention that we are momentary. It is this view, and not Rāmakaṇṭha’s, which properly deserves the title of ‘the self as a process’."
Friday - September 27, 2013