“Ratnākaraśānti and Jñānaśrīmitra on Consciousness, Error, and Buddhahood: An Eleventh Century Buddhist Debate”

TAPSA Speaker: David Tomlinson
Ratnākaraśānti (ca.970-1045) and Jñānaśrīmitra (11th century) are two philosophical luminaries of the late period of Indian Buddhist philosophy. Both idealist philosophers at the university of Vikramaśīla, they were nevertheless embittered opponents: Ratnākaraśānti had argued on philosophical and buddhalogical grounds that consciousness must ultimately be contentless (nirākāra), while in his longest, most detailed works, Jñānaśrīmitra takes his colleague to task for thinking contentless consciousness is possible. Instead, Jñānaśrīmitra defends what he calls the Sākāravāda, or the (perhaps orthodox) position that consciousness is by its very definition consciousness of something, and that content is thus real and indubitable. The speaker David Tomlinson will introduce these figures, their respective stances toward the history of Indian Buddhist philosophy, and their central arguments. Tomlinson will also consider the way their respective positions are shaped by very different understandings of Buddhahood.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103