DVPR605 50200:

Buddhist Epistemology:
The Philosophy of Dharmakīrti

Spring term, 2006
Martin Marty Center Library
Fridays, 9:00-11:50
Instructor: Dan Arnold
Office hours: Swift 401A, Mondays and Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 (or by arrangement);
for appointments during regular office hours, contact instructor’s secretary, Susie McGee (Swift 201)
Office phone: 702-8276

Objectives of the Course
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the philosophy (and particularly the epistemology) of the Buddhist Dharmakirti (600-660), one of the most influential thinkers in the history of Indian philosophy. Our point of access will be Dharmakīrti's brief Nyāyabindu ("Essence of Philosophy"), with the commentary of Dharmottara (fl. c.770). While not as definitive as Dharmakīrti's magnum opus, the Pramāṇavārttika, the Nyāyabindu has several advantages: It is available in the dated and eccentric (but nonetheless useful) English translation of Th. Stcherbatsky; it is brief enough to be read fairly closely in its entirety in the course of a single term; and (more to the point) the commentary of Dharmottara not only advances a philosophically significant and interesting revision of central parts of Dharmakīrti's epistemology, but does so in an exemplary form of śāstric Sanskrit, making it nicely representative of the whole discursive style of the mature period of Indian philosophy. Along with this text, we will be reading John Dunne's recent Foundations of Dharmakīrti's Philosophy, which figures to be the standard work on Dharmakīrti's thought. Additional sessions will be devoted to reading portions of the text in Sanskrit (in the edition of Dalsukbhai Malvania).

Required readings:

John Dunne's Foundations of Dharmakīrti's Philosophy is available at the Seminary Coop Bookstore, and on reserve at Regenstein Library. (Also recommended, and generally readily available: Georges Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality.)

Additional readings are available for download from electronic reserve.

Course requirements:

In addition to exemplifying regular attendance and spirited participation in discussion, students will be required to submit, at the end of the term, either a philosophical paper of moderate length (15-25 pages), or an annotated bibliography of works related to some aspect of the philosophy of Dharmakīrti. Papers will be due on June 9, and will not be accepted late without prior arrangement.


Schedule of Class Topics, Readings

WEEK 1 (Friday, March 31): Introduction.

WEEK 2 (Friday, April 7):

Tue., 9/3: Dharmakīrti’s epistemology, and Dharmottara’s revision thereof: Nyāyabindu, chapter 1. Reading: Th. Stcherbatsky, trans., Nyāyabindu, chapter 1 (in Buddhist Logic, vol. 2, pp.1-46); Dan Arnold, trans., Nyāyabindu, chapter 1 (hand-out); Dunne, Foundations, pp.1-52. Recommended: Georges Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, pp.15-21 ("Dharmakīrti's Tradition in India and Tibet"), 47-72 ("Ontology and Categories," "Dharmakīrti's Ontology").

WEEK 3: (Friday, April 14):

Nyāyabindu, chapter 1, continued. Reading: Stcherbatsky, Arnold translations, continued; Dunne, Foundations, pp.53-113. Recommended: Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, 83-105, 299-315 ("Was Dharmakīrti a Pragmatist?"), 331-364, 400-404 ("Perception and Apperception").

WEEK 4: (Friday, April 21):

Nyāyabindu, chapter 2. Reading: Stcherbatsky, trans., Nyāyabindu, chapter 2 (Buddhist Logic, vol. 2, pp.47-108); if available, Arnold, trans., idem.; Dunne, Foundations, pp.145-222; Jonardon Ganeri, "Indian Logic and the Colonization of Reason."

WEEK 5: (Friday, April 28):

Nyāyabindu, chapters 2-3. Reading: Finish Nyāyabindu; Dunne, Foundations, pp.223-252; Mark Siderits, "Inductive, Deductive, Both, or Neither."

WEEK 6 (Friday, May 5):

NO CLASS. (The possibility of a make-up session will be discussed.)

WEEK 7 (Friday, May 12):

Nyāyabindu, concluded. Reading: Dunne, Foundations, pp.252-330.

WEEK 8: (Friday, May 19):

Dharmakīrti on apoha. Reading: Dunne, Foundations, pp.113-144, 339-360. Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, pp.205-280 (comprising the following chapters: "Introduction to Apoha," "Dharmakīrti on Concept Formation," "The Concept of Negation and the Evolution of the Apoha Theory," "Object Universal and Concept Formation," "Philosophy of Language").

WEEK 9: (Friday, May 26):

Dharmakīrti’s defense of a complete Buddhist world-view: The Pramāṇasiddhi chapter of the Pramāṇavārttika. Reading: Richard Hayes, trans., Pramāṇasiddhi, verses 1-59; Eli Franco, Dharmakīrti on Compassion and Rebirth (selections: "Towards a reconstruction of Dharmakīrti's doctrine of rebirth and its metaphysical presuppositions"; "Critique on the Materialist Position"); John Taber, "Dharmakīrti against Physicalism"; Richard Hayes, "Dharmakīrti on Rebirth." Recommended:Roger Jackson, Is Enlightenment Possible?, (selections)

WEEK 10: (Friday, June 2):

The Pramāṇasiddhi chapter, continued.

Final papers due Friday, June 9