Kyoto International Consortium for Asian Studies京都亞洲研究國際聯盟

Two Images of the World

Hi Tanaka-san, thank you for posting your presentation. I could not attend the workshop so I am glad to be able to take a look.

I have always been puzzled about the Madhyamaka rejection of intrinsic nature, particularly their argument from dependency (Slide 17). Does the fact that everything arises dependently show that nothing can have intrinsic nature? I also wonder if any Abhidharma-oriented Buddhists really believed that dharmas were independent in the way MAdhyamikas think they did. After all, Abhidharmikas were Buddhists too, and believed in dependent origination. So they would (in fact they do) say that things with intrinsic natures arise from preceding causes and conditions, and indeed come to possess those intrinsic natures dependently on them.

Still, I do think that the argument from conceptual dependency works.

Anyway, my question is: Do you agree that causal dependency and intrinsic nature are mutually exclusive?

Two Images of the World

Hi Itsuki-san, Thank you for your comments and question.

As you have pointed out, I think the answer to your question depends on how to understand the notion of “intrinsic nature.” Abhidharmikas are Buddhists, and dependent origination is one of Buddhists’ central claims, so their conception of “intrinsic nature” might be nothing like Madhyamikas were thinking of. That is all I can say for now, since I haven’t read Buddhists literatures enough to answer this.

But, in Sellarsian framework, I might have something more to say (I don’t know whether there is something parallel to this in Buddhist philosophy). Sellars takes roughly a “Kantian” attitude toward the notion of causation; he thinks that causality is dependent upon our use of concepts (or words). 

(P1) If causality is understood in this way, causal dependency implies conceptual dependency.

(P2) If something is conceptually dependent on others (namely, epistemic subjects), it seems that it cannot be said to have an intrinsic nature.

(C) SO, causal dependency and intrinsic nature are mutually exclusive.

I am not sure P2 is really true. Anyway, let me continue on another occasion if anyone is interested.