Empty Subject Terms in Buddhist Logic: DignAga and his Chinese Commentators
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AbstractThe problem of empty terms is one of the focal issues in analytic philosophy. Russell's theory of descriptions, a proposal attempting to solve this problem, attracted much attention and is considered a hallmark of the analytic tradition. Scholars of Indian and Buddhist philosophy, e.g., McDermott, Matilal, Shaw and Perszyk, have studied discussions of empty terms in Indian and Buddhist philosophy. But most of these studies rely heavily on the NyAya or Navya-NyAya sources, in which Buddhists are portrayed as opponents to be defeated, and thus do not truly reflect Buddhist views on this issue. The present paper will explore how DignAga, the founder of Buddhist logic, deals with the issue of empty subject terms. His approach is subtle and complicated. On the one hand, he proposes a method of paraphrase that resembles Russell's theory of descriptions. On the other, by relying on his philosophy of language-the apoha theory, he tends to fall into a panfictionalism. Through the efforts of his follower DharmakA << rti, the latter approach would become more acceptable among Indian and Tibetan Buddhists. DignAga's Chinese commentators, who were free from the influence of DharmakA << rti, dealt with the empty term issue in three ways: (1) by adhering to DignAga's method of paraphrase; (2) by allowing exceptions for non-implicative negation; and (3) by indicating the propositional attitude of a given proposition. Among these, the third proved most popular.
All Author(s) ListYao ZH
Journal nameJournal of Indian Philosophy
Year2009
Month8
Day1
Volume Number37
Issue Number4
PublisherSpringer Verlag (Germany)
Pages383 - 398
ISSN0022-1791
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsConceptual subjects; Dignaga; Empty terms; Negation; Paraphrase; Propositional attitude
Web of Science Subject CategoriesAsian Studies; Philosophy

Last updated on 2020-27-03 at 02:52