Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yogācāra Idealism

Yogācāra Idealism:

The key terms that express Yogācāra Idealism are “mind only or mere mind” (cittamātra: sems tsam) and even more precisely “mere act of making conscious” (vijñaptimātra: rnam par rig pa tsam). The Abhidharmasamuccaya does not express or presuppose the Yogācāra theory of the non-existence of external objects! The concept of śūnyatā (i.e. yad yatra nāsti…) found in the Abhidharmasamuccaya and Bodhisattvabhūmi (also in other early Yogācāra works) stems from the Sanskrit version of the asuññatasutta but interpretations undeniably differ considerably. In the Abhidharmasamuccayaskandhas, āyatanas, and dhātus (i.e. dharmas) are śūnya in so far as there does not exist, in or among them, a permanent, unchangeable Self (ātman) or Mine (ātmīya). Dignāga and Dharmakīrti did not fix an apodictic total Idealism (LS Lecture: 69). The Yogācāra does not reject object in favor of subject (as claimed by Potter) but puts cognition (Erkenntnis) as a concrete unity of subject and object. What the Yogācāra does reject is “thing-in-itself” (Ding-an-sich) as well as “I-in-itself” (Ich-an-sich) (LS Potter review: 272). Yogācāra-Idealism (LS Spirituelle: 163) is also described as “an idealistic-spiritual philosophy” (LS Spirituelle: 164; LS Lecture: 59); special form of Mahāyāna Illusionism (LS Lecture: 59) found, for example, in the Buddhasamukhāvasthitasamādhisūtra (LS Lecture: 70). 

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered why some or more scholars took apparently too literal the yogacara explanations of cognitive processes..., and criticize Yogacara as Idealists; even in occidental philosophy we have subtle problems to define the word "Idealist" as non-existence of external objects - for this we must be conscious about the epistemological multiple facets of cognitive processes and their tentative descriptions...; The term "illusionism" even seen as a good pedagogical intoductory call to stimulate self-reflexion is at the same time a delicate expression which could, if not carefully regarded, provoke misunderstandings and corresponding behaviour; but as always philosophical terminology involves various opinions...;
    the third chapter of Dharmakirti´s Pramanavarttika would be an excellent example how cognition could be described as a concrete unity of subject and object but occidental philosophers will still wait (without avail ? ) of a translation of this masterwork; mikael