INDIAN BUDDHIST THEORIES OF PERSONS
In this book, Vasubandhus classic work Refutation of the Theory of aSelf is translated and provided with an introduction and commentary. Thetranslation, the first into a modern Western language from the Sanskrittext, is intended for use by those who wish to begin a careful philo-sophical study of Indian Buddhist theories of persons. Special features of the introduction and commentary are their extensive explanations of the arguments for the theories of persons of Vasubandhu and thePudgalavdins, the Buddhist philosophers whose theory is the central targetof Vasubandhus refutation of the theory of a self.
James Duerlinger has taught in the Philosophy Department at the Univer-sity of Iowa since 1971. He has published on topics in Greek philosophy,philosophy of religion, and Buddhist philosophy, which are also his currentteaching and research interests.
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INDIAN BUDDHIST THEORIES OF PERSONS
INDIAN BUDDHISTTHEORIES OF
Vasubandhus Refutation of the Theory of a Self
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2003 James Duerlinger
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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataDuerlinger, James.
Indian Buddhist theories of persons/James Duerlinger.p. cm. (RoutledgeCurzon critical studies in Buddhism)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
3. Man (Buddhism) I. Title. II. SeriesBQ2682.E5D84 2003
1. Vasubandhu. Abhidharmakoabhya. atmavadapratioeda.2. Anatman.
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Preface viiAcknowledgments xi
1 Introduction to the Translation 1
2 Translation of Vasubandhus Refutation of the Theory of a Self 71
Section 1: Vasubandhus theory of persons 71
Section 2: Vasubandhus objections to the Pudgalavdins theory of persons 73
Section 3: Vasubandhus replies to the objections of the Pudgalavdins 86
Section 4: Vasubandhus replies to the objections of theTrthikas and objections to their arguments 96
Section 5: Concluding verses 111
3 Commentary on Section 1: Vasubandhus theory of persons 122
4 Commentary on Section 2: Vasubandhus objections to the Pudgalavdins theory of persons 131
5 Commentary on Section 3: Vasubandhus replies to objections by the Pudgalavdins 206
6 Commentary on Section 4: Vasubandhus replies to the objections of the Trthikas 238
Bibliography 299Index 303
C O N T E N T S
The Refutation of the Theory of a Self is an Indian treatise (fourth orfifth century CE) on the selflessness of persons that was composed by aBuddhist philosopher known as Vasubandhu. The Refutation, as I willcall it, is basically an attempt to refute the view that persons are selves. In this book I offer a Translation of the Refutation, along with anIntroduction and Commentary, for the use of readers who wish to begindetailed research on Indian Buddhist theories of persons by making acareful philosophical study of this classic of Indian Buddhist philosophy.The Translation is the first into a modern Western language to be madefrom the Sanskrit text and avoids errors I believe to be contained in earliertranslations, which were based on a Sanskrit commentary (sixth centuryCE) by Yaomitra, and either the Tibetan translation by Jinamitra and dPalbrtsegs (twelfth century CE) or the Chinese translations by Paramrtha(sixth century), and by Xanzng (seventh century CE).
In the Introduction I provide readers with information and explanationsthat will introduce them to the main three kinds of Indian Buddhist theoriesof persons and enable them to do a careful philosophical study of theRefutation. In the Translation an attempt is made both to translate termsin a way that will promote a better understanding of the theses and argu-ments it contains and to help readers through its more difficult passagesby indicating in brackets key unexpressed parts of the theses and argu-ments it contains. The notes to the Translation explain the translation andcall attention to problems I believe to exist with previous modern transla-tions. In the Commentary, the theses and arguments contained in theRefutation are explained and assessed.
In the Refutation Vasubandhu first argues that we are not selves, whichare persons who can be identified without reference to the collections ofaggregates that comprise their bodies and minds, and that, nonetheless, wedo ultimately exist, since we are the same in existence as the collections ofthese aggregates. Then he presents a series of objections to the theory of the Pudgalavdins, who belong to the Indian Buddhist schools in whichit is claimed that, even though we are not independently identifiable, we
ultimately exist without being the same in existence as collections of suchaggregates. Then Vasubandhu replies to their objections to his own theoryof persons. Finally, he replies to objections raised by the Nyya-Vaieikas,non-Buddhist Indian philosophers who claim that we are selves in the sense that we are substances that exist independently of our bodies andmomentary mental states.
Vasubandhu not only discusses and rejects the theories of persons putforward by the Pudgalavdins and Nyya-Vaieikas, but also dismisses, ina single sentence, the thesis of Ngrjuna, the founder of the Mdhyamikaschool of Indian Buddhism, that no phenomena ultimately exist, as anadequate basis for a theory of persons. In Ngrjunas extant works (secondcentury CE) a Buddhist theory of persons is not presented in any greatdetail. But in the seventh century CE Candrakrti worked out the implica-tions of Ngrjunas thesis for the interpretation of the Buddhas theory of persons. This interpretation became the basis of t