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MC13.2 Reasoning in South Asian and Tibetan Buddhism

Reasoning in South Asian and Tibetan Buddhism

Koordination: Birgit Kellner

Zusammenfassung

Independent of European influence, sophisticated theories of logic and dialectical argumentation in debate were developed in South Asia, with significant contributions by Buddhist thinkers. With the spread of Buddhism, these were creatively as well as selectively appropriated in China and Tibet. On the backdrop of the migration and transformation of such theories and their core concepts, this project focuses especially on their relationship to practices and strategies of argumentation primarily in particular schools and fields of Buddhist philosophy. Considering the importance of debate practice and a dialogical style of argumentation in Classical South Asian philosophy, we also attempted to explore novel ways to model historical forms of argumentation in close collaboration with experts in dynamic and dialogical logic.
The specific research foci in this subproject were designed and pursued in an integrated process together with the other two subprojects of research group MC 13.

 

Focus 1: Modeling argumentation and its strategies in South Asian Buddhist philosophy.

Together with subproject MC 13.3, “Models of Argumentation”, new approaches to dialogical forms of reasoning were explored in studies focussed on works from different periods of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia so as to cover a significant range. A little understood and obscure pattern of argumentation in Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī (2nd century CE) was found to exhibit a form of dialectical self-refutation that has so far not been considered in pertinent theoretical work (Kellner and Uckelman 2015). A new reading of Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā Vijñaptimātratāsiddhiḥ (4th/5th century CE) was proposed by considering this often-studied work in its entirety, and as as pursuing a certain strategy of argumentation, while earlier studies tended to concentrate only on a few isolated key passages. Kellner and Taber 2014 concluded that if this approach is taken, Vasubandhu emerges as articulating a special type of argument against the existence of mind-independent external objects, one that is scarcely (if at all) found in Western philosophy. This also calls for a reexamination of later Buddhist approaches to refuting external objects, such as those by the logician Dharmakīrti (Kellner 2015). More fine-grained and experimental ways to apply contemporary tools of dialogical and dynamic reasoning were explored in two international workshops with participation of Sanskritists and logicians, one in Heidelberg (2012), one in Procida (2013). Here the object of analysis was Ratnakīrti’s 11th century Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇa, a treatise that refutes the existence of an omniscient, permanent god that created the universe. The project’s goal of recalibrating the study of Buddhist logic towards a greater focus on practices of argumentation also shaped research within the associated DFG-funded project “Buddhist philosophical arguments for the position that there are only two types of objects to be known, the particular and the universal – the subject of the closely collaborating “Systems of Epistemology in Classical Indian Philosophy” (directed by Birgit Kellner, main project researcher Patrick McAllister).Together with subproject MC 13.3, “Models of Argumentation”, new approaches to dialogical forms of reasoning were explored in studies focussed on works from different periods of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia so as to cover a significant range. A little understood and obscure pattern of argumentation in Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī (2nd century CE) was found to exhibit a form of dialectical self-refutation that has so far not been considered in pertinent theoretical work (Kellner and Uckelman 2015). A new reading of Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā Vijñaptimātratāsiddhiḥ (4th/5th century CE) was proposed by considering this often-studied work in its entirety, and as as pursuing a certain strategy of argumentation, while earlier studies tended to concentrate only on a few isolated key passages. Kellner and Taber 2014 concluded that if this approach is taken, Vasubandhu emerges as articulating a special type of argument against the existence of mind-independent external objects, one that is scarcely (if at all) found in Western philosophy. This also calls for a reexamination of later Buddhist approaches to refuting external objects, such as those by the logician Dharmakīrti (Kellner 2015). More fine-grained and experimental ways to apply contemporary tools of dialogical and dynamic reasoning were explored in two international workshops with participation of Sanskritists and logicians, one in Heidelberg (2012), one in Procida (2013). Here the object of analysis was Ratnakīrti’s 11th century Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇa, a treatise that refutes the existence of an omniscient, permanent god that created the universe. The project’s goal of recalibrating the study of Buddhist logic towards a greater focus on practices of argumentation also shaped research within the associated DFG-funded project “Buddhist philosophical arguments for the position that there are only two types of objects to be known, the particular and the universal – the subject of the closely collaborating “Systems of Epistemology in Classical Indian Philosophy” (directed by Birgit Kellner, main project researcher Patrick McAllister).Together with subproject MC 13.3, “Models of Argumentation”, new approaches to dialogical forms of reasoning were explored in studies focussed on works from different periods of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia so as to cover a significant range. A little understood and obscure pattern of argumentation in Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī (2nd century CE) was found to exhibit a form of dialectical self-refutation that has so far not been considered in pertinent theoretical work (Kellner and Uckelman 2015). A new reading of Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā Vijñaptimātratāsiddhiḥ (4th/5th century CE) was proposed by considering this often-studied work in its entirety, and as as pursuing a certain strategy of argumentation, while earlier studies tended to concentrate only on a few isolated key passages. Kellner and Taber 2014 concluded that if this approach is taken, Vasubandhu emerges as articulating a special type of argument against the existence of mind-independent external objects, one that is scarcely (if at all) found in Western philosophy. This also calls for a reexamination of later Buddhist approaches to refuting external objects, such as those by the logician Dharmakīrti (Kellner 2015). More fine-grained and experimental ways to apply contemporary tools of dialogical and dynamic reasoning were explored in two international workshops with participation of Sanskritists and logicians, one in Heidelberg (2012), one in Procida (2013). Here the object of analysis was Ratnakīrti’s 11th century Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇa, a treatise that refutes the existence of an omniscient, permanent god that created the universe. The project’s goal of recalibrating the study of Buddhist logic towards a greater focus on practices of argumentation also shaped research within the associated DFG-funded project “Buddhist philosophical arguments for the position that there are only two types of objects to be known, the particular and the universal – the subject of the closely collaborating “Systems of Epistemology in Classical Indian Philosophy” (directed by Birgit Kellner, main project researcher Patrick McAllister). 

Focus 2: Kuiji’s commentary on the Nyāyapraveśakasūtra.

In coordination with the China-focussed subproject MC 13.1, “Standards of Validity”, Kuiji’s 7th century commentary on (Xuanzang’s translation of) the Sanskrit Nyāyapraveśakasūtra – a voluminous and historically influential text on logic that has never been translated into a Western language – was made the focus of a dissertation (CHEN Shuai) that examines how Kuiji integrates different bodies of knowledge on reasoning adapted from South Asian Buddhism.

 

Special dissemination strategies:

The organization of the 5th International Dharmakīrti Conference in Heidelberg (46 speakers, 20 from Japan) provided a welcome opportunity to introduce the project’s distinctive focus on practices of argumentation to a broader international research community. Premised on the principle of research-based teaching, several seminars at the University of Heidelberg were held, including an interdisciplinary introductory seminar to Buddhist logic with project MC 13.3 that combined theoretical avenues to dialogical logic with a historically grounded introduction to Dignāga and Dharmakīrti (Kellner/Uckelman), as well as a seminar on Ratnakīrti’s Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇa (Kellner/McAllister).The organization of the 5th International Dharmakīrti Conference in Heidelberg (46 speakers, 20 from Japan) provided a welcome opportunity to introduce the project’s distinctive focus on practices of argumentation to a broader international research community. Premised on the principle of research-based teaching, several seminars at the University of Heidelberg were held, including an interdisciplinary introductory seminar to Buddhist logic with project MC 13.3 that combined theoretical avenues to dialogical logic with a historically grounded introduction to Dignāga and Dharmakīrti (Kellner/Uckelman), as well as a seminar on Ratnakīrti’s Īśvarasādhanadūṣaṇa (Kellner/McAllister).

In collaboration with the Heidelberg Research Area (HRA), the project also fed into two digital resources that were developed within the DFG/NEH-funded project SARIT (Search and Retrieval of Indian Texts), by producing TEI-based editions of its main source texts for the resource http://sarit.indology.info/, and by contributing bio-bibliographical data to the database EAST.

Project publications:
 

  • Birgit Kellner: "Proving Idealism: Vasubandhu and Dharmakīrti." In: Jonardon Ganeri (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy (2015). DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199314621.013.18.
  • Birgit Kellner and Sara Uckelman: "Dialectical Self-Refutation and Nāgārjuna’s Discussion in Six Points (ṣaṭkoṭiko vādaḥ)." In: Gregor Paul (ed.), Logic in Buddhist Scholasticism. From Philosophical, Historico-Philological and Comparative Perspectives. (LIRI Seminar Proceedings Series 7) Lumbini 2015: Lumbini International Research Institute, 101-133.
  • Birgit Kellner and John Taber: "Studies in Yogācāra-Vijñānavāda idealism I: The interpretation of Vasubandhu's Viṃśikā." Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques 68/3 (2014) 709-756.
  • Birgit Kellner: "Changing Frames in Buddhist Thought: The Concept of ākāra in Abhidharma and in Buddhist Epistemological Analysis". In: Birgit Kellner, Sara McClintock (ed.): ākāra in Buddhist Philosophical and Soteriological Analysis. Journal of Indian Philosophy 42/2-3 (2014) 275-295.

Workshops and international conferences organized: 

  • When Buddhists Argue Against a Hindu God: New Approaches to Dialogical Logic in Interdisciplinary Perspective. Workshop, organized by MC13.2 and 13.3 together with the Università degli studi di Napoli "l'Orientale", September 2-7, 2013.
  • Fifth International Dharmakīrti Conference August 20-26, 2014, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Heidelberg (46 international participants, 20 from Japan).
  • Workshop "Buddhist Logic (hetuvidyā/yinming/inmyō) and its Applications in East Asia", Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia, Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna, 27-28 June 2016), convened together with Professor Chen-Kuo LIN (National Chengchi University, Taiwan). www.ikga.oeaw.ac.at/Events/Logic_Workshop
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Koordination

Birgit Kellner

Mitglieder

Shuai Chen