Chengchi Buddhist Philosophy Forum政大佛教哲學論壇

Knowledge of Other Minds in the Cheng weishi lun《成唯識論》

  • Date: 10:00 – 12:00am, Jun 25, 2015
  • Venue:Library Room (R330222), Department of Philosophy, Chengchi University
  • Author:CBSF Admin
  • Tag:Events

Speaker: Ernest Billings (Billy) Brewster (Harvard University)

Discussant: HU Chih-chiang (Chengchi University)


Sect. 1 lays out Xuanzang's 玄奘 (602–664) argument for valid cognition of others' mental states. The prior history of the argument is also recounted, based on the target passages in Xuanzang's Demonstration of Consciousness Only (hereafter, CWSL), and their parallels in existing primary source material. In Sect. 2, the heavy role played in this argument by commonly-experienced seeds 共種 as the basis for the similar percepts (ālambana) of different sentient beings, is analyzed, just on the basis of CWSL and its primary canonical source material. With this fuller context of primary source material on the table, in Sect. 3, I address the question : exactly how innovative is Xuanzang's argument for knowledge of other minds ? Three separate restrictions of the doctrine of knowledge of other's mental states constituted in common seeds, are discerned. This paper concludes with brief remarks on a second-order matter of scholarly dispute, over Xuanzang's place in a taxonomy of positions on ``the problem of other minds.'' I will argue that what Xuanzang is contributing to these debates, especially in the epistemological controversies of how we actually can know other's mental states, is the view that knowledge of other humans' mental states, takes the form of perception (pratyakṣa) of actions (karma) done in common by humans, lit., ``seeds of common character'' 共種相. This view is in contrast to that of Dharmakīrti and later Buddhist philosophers, who believe that knowledge of other minds, is achieved only by appeal to analogical inference (anumāṇa). 

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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/27/2015 05:30PM by CBSF Admin.
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