The Doctrine of ‘Taintless Consciousness’ (*amalavijñāna, 阿摩羅識) in Transcultural Perspective

Date:Dec 6, 2023
Venue:國立政治大學哲學系圖書室(百年樓330222, Bainian Building, NCCU)
Speaker:Prof. Michael Radich (University of Heidelberg)

The Doctrine of ‘Taintless Consciousness’ (*amalavijñāna, 阿摩羅識) in Transcultural Perspective

Date: December 6th, 1610-1800
Venue: 國立政治大學哲學系圖書室(百年樓330222, Bainian Building, NCCU)
Speaker: Prof. Michael Radich (University of Heidelberg)

Over the years, I have published serially, in several different venues, several studies on the formation and intellectual-historical significance of the outlier concept of “taintless consciousness” (*amalavijñāna, 阿摩羅識). In this talk, I will give a synthetic, retrospective overview of this work. My aim is to revisit this problematic in light of the paradigm of transculturation on the “Heidelberg model”. This emergent model is still a work in progress, but it offers a new ontology of cultures and the processes entailed in their formation and transformation. The new monograph of my colleague Monica Juneja, Can Art History Be Made Global, which really is hot off the press (2023), further furnishes a powerful and concrete model of ways that we can proceed in investigating the dynamics of transculturation at work in the emergence and development of significant cultural formations. I will suggest that the concept of amalavijñāna is a textbook instance of elements in East Asian Buddhism that have been or can be analysed in terms of superannuated narratives about “sinification”, and the problems occasioned by the essentialising and anachronistically nationalist stereotypes that often implicitly fund such narratives. Against this foil, I will sketch a Junejan-styled analysis of the formation of amalavijñāna as a product of complex transculturation dynamics, and suggest that this analysis might offer a model of more productive ways of tackling the still live questions surrounding differences between East Asian Buddhist ideas and their counterparts elsewhere in Buddhist history.

Center for Buddhist Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, National Chengchi
Department of Philosophy, National Taiwan University
Center for Buddhist Studies of National Taiwan University

Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai
National Science and Technology Council