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On the Distinction Between Epistemic and Metaphysical Buddhist Idealisms: A Śaiva Perspective

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Isabelle Ratié

I. Ratié(&) Institut fu ¨r Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften, Leipzig, Germany e-mail:


Modern scholarship has often wondered whether Indian Buddhist idealism is primarily epistemic or metaphysical: does this idealism amount to a kind of transcendental scepticism according to which we cannot decide whether objects exist or not outside of consciousness because we can have no epistemic access whatsoever to these objects? Or is it rather ontologically committed, i.e., does it consist in denying the very existence of the external world? One could deem the question anachronistic and suspect that with such an inquiry we project onto Ancient and Medieval India a distinction that remains profoundly alien to it, were it not for a few preserved texts where Indian authors themselves distinguish between two such kinds of idealism within the Buddhist philosophical tradition. As already pointed out by Dan Arnold, this is the case in the commentary by Manorathanandin on Dharmakı¯rti’s Pramāṇavārttika; but the difference between two varieties of Buddhist idealism is also alluded to in Hindu sources, both Mı¯ma¯m ˙ saka and Śaiva. The present article offers a new analysis of Manorathanandin’s short and somewhat ambiguous distinction, and it examines in this connection some important remarks found in the works of the Śaiva nondualists Utpaladeva (c. 925–975) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975–1025). It shows that according to these authors, in fact the epistemic version of the Buddhist argument in favour of idealism is already metaphysical insofar as it necessarily involves a denial of the existence of the external world, and it attempts to assess the faithfulness of this Śaiva interpretation to its Buddhist sources.

Keywords Idealism · Buddhism · Manorathanandin · Utpaladeva · Abhinavagupta

The Buddhist Sākāra-/Nirākāra-vāda Debate and the Distinction Between Epistemic and Metaphysical Idealisms

Idealism—or rather, some form of idealism—certainly constitutes one of the most important philosophical stakes in the Buddhist debate between the sākāravādins, i.e. the “proponents of the thesis that consciousness bears aspects (ākāra)”, who consider that consciousness becomes aware of the various objects of the world by taking on their form or appearance, and the nirākāravādins, i.e. the “proponents of the thesis that consciousness bears no aspect”, who hold that consciousness apprehends its objects without any change in its intrinsic form.1 For if consciousness can only apprehend its objects by taking on their form, what we perceive is not an external reality, but only internal forms of consciousness, and our conviction that external objects exist around us is bound to fall from the status of an indubitable intuition to that of a questionable belief. Admittedly, the Sautra¯ntikas,2 while conceding that objects of perceptual consciousness can only be internal aspects taken on by consciousness,3 have nonetheless claimed that the existence of an external reality can be inferred as the cause of phenomenal variety; but as shown by Dharmakı¯rti, such a relation of cause and effect between imperceptible external objects and the objects of which we are aware cannot be established, for the simple reason that relations of cause and effect can only be determined on the basis of previous perceptions of both the cause and the effect—but we can never perceive an external object by nature inaccessible to consciousness. The aim of the famous Dharmakı¯rtian sahopalambhaniyama argument (or the argument of “the necessity [for the object] to be perceived along with [[[cognition]]]”)4 therefore seems to be, rather than an attempt at

demonstrating the nonexistence of the external object, a mere endeavour to show that there can be no epistemic access whatsoever (i.e. neither perceptual nor inferential) to any external entity, since this external entity cannot even be determined to be the cause of the various aspects taken on by consciousness.5 But what exactly is the goal of Dharmakı¯rti and of the Buddhist authors belonging to Dharmakı¯rti’s tradition when they set out to show that the only objects grasped by consciousness are internal aspects of consciousness? What does the demonstration that there can be no epistemic access to external objects entail for them? Is their aim simply to establish some sort of transcendental scepticism by pointing out that we have no way of asserting or denying the existence of external

1 On this debate see e.g. Kajiyama (1965), Mimaki (1976, pp. 38–40, 71–78 and en. 329), Dhammajoti (2007) and Moriyama (2008). 2 On my use of this term see Ratie ´ (2010a, fn. 16, p. 442). 3 On the fact that Sautra¯ntikas are presented as sākāravādins in Buddhist as well as non-Buddhist literature see e.g. Hattori (1968, p. 98) and Mimaki (1976, p. 37 and en. 142). 4 The argument is formulated in PVin, Pratyakṣapariccheda 54ab (see below, fn. 38). 5 This is at least how many non-Buddhist sources have interpreted the sahopalambhaniyama argument (see e.g. Ratie ´ 2010a, fn. 23, pp. 444–445; 2011b, pp. 484–486). For a similar conclusion drawn from Buddhist sources see e.g. Matsumoto (1980). On post-Dharmakı¯rtian Buddhist debates over the meaning and import of this argument, see Iwata (1991).

objects? Or do they aspire to establish a stronger statement thanks to this demonstration—namely, that external objects simply do not exist? This distinction between an ontologically committed or “metaphysicalidealism (one that asserts that nothing exists apart from consciousness) and a purely epistemic kind of idealism (one that merely states that we can have no epistemic access whatsoever to any external reality, regardless of its existence or nonexistence) is at the heart of several recent debates in the field of Buddhist studies, and modern scholars have been engaged in (sometimes heated) discussions as to whether Vasubandhu, Digna¯ga or Dharmakı¯rti for instance propounded an epistemic or a metaphysical variety of idealism. In the cases of Vasubandhu6 and Digna¯ga,7 one cannot help but suspect with Lambert Schmithausen that the modern attempts to

present these authors as mere phenomenologists completely unconcerned with the ontological status of external reality are to some extent driven by a contemporary fashion and often remain blind to what the texts themselves have to say.8 The case of Dharmakı¯rti is more delicate, however—thus Matthew Kapstein considers that Dharmakı¯rti found the old mereological arguments of Vasubandhu to be “at best a supplement to profounder epistemological arguments for idealism”,9 but he does not specify in what way the former are deemed at best supplementary, and the latter, profounder (nor if the epistemological arguments for idealism are ontologically committed for Dharmakı¯rti). On the other hand, the now famous interpretation of Dharmakı¯rti’s works by George Dreyfus and John Dunne as involving a “sliding scale of analysis”10 tends to present the Dharmakı¯rtian

epistemological arguments in favour of idealism as some sort of preliminary stage leading to an ultimate (and ontologically committed) idealistic argument. Thus according to George Dreyfus, the demonstration that objects of consciousness are mere internal forms of consciousness only shows the “plausibility” of the Yoga¯ca¯ra view that 6 Thus according to Oetke (1992), while the author of the Viṃśikā was probably unaware of the distinction between the two types of argument (see below, fn. 16), the treatise only establishes a kind of epistemic idealism; and Lusthaus (2002) argues that Vasubandhu’s goal was solely to establish some kind of epistemic or phenomenological idealism without committing as to the ontological status of the external object. Schmithausen (2005) offers a convincing response to Lusthaus (2002) and concludes (pp. 51 ff) to an

ontological denial of external reality in the Yoga¯ca¯ra tradition based on the Viṃśikā and Triṃśikā (see also Mayer 2009). 7 As regards the nature of Digna¯ga’s idealism (at least according to Jinendrabuddhi), see e.g. Chu (2006, p. 227), which presents it as ontologically uncommitted and considers that Jinendrabuddhi uses the term antarjñeyavāda “only in an epistemological sense”; I am not convinced, however, that this is the case (see Ratie ´ 2011a, pp. 307–308, fn. 3). 8 See Schmithausen (2005, p. 49): “The result of my investigation […] may not be welcomed by the critics of the traditional interpretation of Yoga¯ca¯ra thought. But I have to admit my amazement at the emotional vehemence of their criticism. Is it merely because Yoga¯ca¯ra thought as traditionally understood seems so counter-intuitive to modern Western common-sense that some scholars think they

must ‘defend’ the Yoga¯ca¯ras against such an understanding? But isn’t this the same mode of procedure that scholars who worked when idealism was the dominant strand in Western philosophy are criticized for, viz. reading the presuppositions of one’s own time and milieu into the old texts?” 9 Kapstein (2001, p. 196) (according to en. 20, p. 203, this judgement is based on a reading of PV, Pratyakṣapariccheda 360). 10 See Dreyfus (1997) and Dunne (2004). On this “sliding scale of analysis” in the works of S ´a¯ntaraks ˙ ita and Kamalas ´ı¯la, see McClintock (2003, pp. 139–142; 2010, pp. 85–91).

consciousness does not need external objects to perceive, whereas the “denial of the reality of external objects” comes as the only solution to another problem, namely “the dilemma created by an impression of a solid extended object produced by atoms, which do not have extension by themselves”.11 Similarly, according to John Dunne, the ultimate level of analysis of Dharmakı¯rti’s works involves not only the idea that there can be no epistemic access to external objects but also the denial of their existence, and it is “the inability to specify whether the image in perception is singular or multiple that is the primary argument against the existence of extramental objects”.12 Dan Arnold’s interpretation, although it involves a somewhat different understanding of the expression “epistemic idealism” used by John Dunne,13 conforms on the whole to the latter’s

understanding of Dharmakı¯rti’s idealism insofar as Arnold contends that Dharmakı¯rti’s epistemic arguments for idealism (those that rest on the analysis of ākāras and on the sahopalambhaniyama) are only aimed at showing that the Sautra¯ntikas basically share the same epistemological principles with the Vijn ˜a¯nava¯dins. These epistemic arguments should therefore be considered as mere prolegomena to another, metaphysical type of idealistic argument, the paradigm of which would be found in Vasubandhu’s mereological criticism of external objects, and which supposedly constitutes (at least in Manorathanandin’s eyes) the crucial step establishing the nonexistence of external objects.14 However, the contention that this Dharmakı¯rtian sliding scale of analysis necessarily culminates in an ontologically committed form of idealism (as well as the very legitimacy of the “sliding scale” metaphor) has been challenged, and Birgit Kellner has recently pointed out that the arguments presented by John Dunne as involving an ontological denial of external reality are purely epistemic in content.15 But however interesting these contemporary debates are, they often remain silent on one crucial issue: were the Buddhist philosophers themselves aware of this distinction between the epistemic and metaphysical varieties of idealism that we keep applying to their works16—and if so, how exactly did they understand it? In this respect, Arnold’s contribution to this discussion is of particular interest insofar as it points out that at least some Buddhist thinkers seem to have been aware of this crucial difference between two kinds of idealism. There is, however, another source worthy of being considered in this regard: the same distinction is found in the works of non-Buddhist authors who were heavily influenced by Dharmakı¯rti’s tradition,

11 Dreyfus (1997, p. 103). 12 Dunne (2004, p. 63). 13 See Arnold (2008, p. 6, fn. 8). 14 See Arnold (2008). 15 See Kellner (2011). 16 Some modern scholars have openly expressed their doubts in this regard; see e.g. Oetke (1992, p. 222), which considers that “it might be more realistic to assume” that the author of the Viṃśikā was not “fully aware of the difference” between the two kinds of arguments, and adds that he might have confused the two issues to the point that he considered epistemic arguments as capable of proving a metaphysical type of idealism (see ibid.: “it is even conceivable that the writer of the treatise would have been prone to regard the proof regarding our experiences as an adequate means for establishing the thesis that no world of mind-independent things exists at all”).

and the following pages are an attempt to examine how two S ´aiva philosophers, Utpaladeva (c. 925–975) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975–1025), have distinguished and understood two kinds of Buddhist idealism that we might call respectively “epistemic” and “metaphysical”.

Utpaladeva’s Pratyabhijñā System, or the Śaiva Art of Recycling Buddhist Ideas

But why choose some non-Buddhist sources to try and understand a Buddhist distinction? The most obvious answer to this question is that very few preserved Buddhist texts written in India explicitly mention it—in fact Arnold only adduces one short passage in Manorathanandin’s commentary of Dharmakı¯rti’s Pramāṇavārttika (PV) in favour of his twofold interpretation of Buddhism idealism. And indeed, this passage is crucial; but as can be seen below, it is far from being unambiguous. On the other hand, S ´aiva texts from the tenth and eleventh centuries constitute an important source for our knowledge of Buddhist philosophy (particularly that of Dharmakı¯rti’s tradition), because while fighting with the Buddhist rivals with whom they were competing in the kingdom of Kashmir, these authors acquired a precise and extensive knowledge of their adversaries’

conceptual weapons, and they also borrowed many Buddhist ideas so as to suit their own metaphysical principles.17 Of course, this integration of Buddhist elements into a nondualistic S ´aiva metaphysical background did not go without some profound changes in the original meaning of Buddhist concepts: according to Utpaladeva’s “Pratyabhijn ˜a¯” (“Recognition”) system, the individual can only obtain liberation by recognizing himself as S ´iva, understood as a single, all-encompassing consciousness playfully manifesting the universe by merely taking on countless aspects or appearances (ākāra, ābhāsa). The S ´aiva nondualistic system is therefore an idealism, but one that accepts the existence of a single, enduring subject—which is of course perfectly contradictory with the Buddhist theory of selflessness (nairātmyavāda), so that the nondualist S ´aivas often

radically transformed the purport of the Buddhist notions that they had borrowed. Nonetheless, the works of Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta remain an extremely precious source for our knowledge of Indian Buddhism, not only because they often give quotations of Buddhist works (including some that have not been preserved in their original Sanskrit),18 but also because while transforming the meaning of the Buddhist notions that they integrate to their system, they remain aware of their original aim, and because they themselves often (although alas not always) insist on the distance between their own interpretation and the Buddhist position. 17 See Torella (1992). 18 See e.g. the first Sanskrit verse of Dharmakı¯rti’s Santānāntarasiddhi, quoted by Abhinavagupta in I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 110 (see Ratie ´ 2007, p. 323, fn. 20; 2011a, p. 591), or the many fragments of S ´an ˙karanandana’s works quoted in the same text (see Bu ¨hnemann 1980).

Manorathanandin’s Distinction Between Two Kinds of Arguments in Favour of Idealism

The PVV passage which, as pointed out by Arnold, formulates a distinction between epistemic and metaphysical idealisms occurs as Manorathanandin is explaining why, according to Dharmakı¯rti, the fact that we only perceive objects that are internal aspects of consciousness shows that the cause of phenomenal variety cannot be found in any external reality but only within an internal mechanism of latent traces or imprints (vāsanā) left by previous experiences.19 Manorathanandin has just explained that this is the case because we can experience the causal efficacy of latent traces (in dreams for instance) whereas we cannot determine any causal relationship between the external objects and

ākāras, since external objects remain forever imperceptible.20 To this a Sautra¯ntika opponent replies that Dharmakı¯rti has only shown that there is no sādhaka, no argument proving the existence of the external object; but he has not proved that the external object does not exist—he has not presented any bādhaka, any argument refuting its existence: If [the Sautra¯ntika opponent] were to [[[object]]:] “No: even so, [i.e.] even if there is no argument proving (sādhaka) [the existence of] an imperceptible external [[[object]], nonetheless, you] have not demonstrated the nonexistence (abhāva) [of this external object]”, [we would answer the following.] Because [we] demonstrate [our] opinion through this only and nothing else (tāvataiva):

19 PV, Pratyakṣapariccheda 334–336: yadi buddhis tadākārā sāsty ākāraviśeṣiṇī /s ā bāhyād anyato veti vicāram idam arhati // darśanopādhirahitasyāgrahāt tadgrahe grahāt / darśanaṃ nīlanirbhāsaṃ nārtho bāhyo’sti kevalaḥ** // kasyacit kiṃcid evāntarvāsanāyāḥ prabodhakam / tato dhiyāṃ viniyamo na bāhyārthavyapekṣayā // [*ākāraviśeṣiṇī PVS: ākāraniveśinī PVM. ** kevalaḥ PVM: kevalam PVS] “If the cognition has the aspect of the [[[object]]], it is particularized by this aspect. [Now,] this deserves examination: is it [thus particularized] because of an external [[[entity]],] or because of [something] else? Because there is no apprehension of an [[[object]] that would be] devoid of the particularity that is perception, and because there is an apprehension [of an object] when there is an apprehension of its [[[perception]], one must conclude that] it is perception that bears the aspect ‘blue’; there is no external object that would be independent [of cognition]. It is only a certain [[[cognition]]] that awakens an imprint of a certain [earlier

cognition] inside [the cognitive series]; there is a restriction of cognitions [to their particular respective objects] thanks to this, and not with respect to any external object.” On this passage see Vetter (1964, pp. 80–81) and Taber (2010, p. 291). As regards PVS, note should be made that the PV stanzas were not contained in the manuscript used by Ra¯hula Sa¯n ˙kr ˚ tya¯yana for his edition of the PVV, and that he inserted them on the basis of his own earlier edition of the PV while taking into consideration Manorathanandin’s commentary (on the available sources regarding the text of Dharmakı¯rti’s PV see Kellner (2010)). Birgit Kellner was kind enough to let me know (personal

communication; see Kellner (2010) for the sigla used in the following) that the reading ākāraviśeṣiṇī is confirmed by Devendrabuddhi and Ravigupta (Tib. khyad par can), MA, PVZh and PrB, while PrA′ reads ākāraniveśinī, and PVt has rjes zhugs can (which might translate something like –ānuvartinī/-ānugāminī?). As for the reading kevalaṃ, although Manorathanandin’s commentary supports it, all the other extant sources (PrA′, Pr B) have kevalaḥ (the Tibetan translations, which have yan gar, are inconclusive here). 20 PVV, p. 220: ko hi viśeṣob āhyo vā niyāmakaḥ pratibhāsasya prabuddhavāsanāviśeṣaḥ samanantarapratyayo vā. tatra vāsanāyāḥ sāmarthyaṃ svapnādāv upalabdhaṃ na tu bāhyasya,

nityaparokṣatvāt. “For what is it that determines the appearance [of cognition]: a particular external [[[entity]]], or rather, a particular imprint (vāsanā) that has [just] been awakened [and functions as a] condition as an immediate and similar antecedent (samanantarapratyaya)? Among these two [candidates, we] see that the imprint has this capacity in a dream for instance, but [we do] not [see] that an external [[[entity]] may have this capacity,] since it is forever imperceptible.”

cognition is manifest, whereas an external [[[entity]]] is not manifest at all”,21 we have not taken the trouble of refuting the external object which behaves like a demon (piśācāyamāna) [and] which is devoid of any argument proving [its existence] (sādhaka).22 Nonetheless, if the [opponent’s] obstinacy (nirbandha) in [demanding] the refutation of this [[[external object]]] is very heavy, one must make [him] examine the master’s refutation of atoms according to whether one supposes that [the external object] has parts or not.23

My understanding of this passage is quite different from Arnold’s, but what matters for our current inquiry is that according to Manorathanandin, once one has proved that there is no positive argument (sādhaka) in favour of the external object because the external object is absolutely unmanifest, there is no more need to demonstrate that it does not exist, or one does not have to take the trouble of such a refutation. If, nonetheless, the opponent heavily insists on getting such a refutation, he should be led to examine

Vasubandhu’s mereological arguments. Arnold points out that the passage clearly distinguishes between epistemic and metaphysical proofs,24 and he considers that according to Manorathanandin at least, the second set of arguments only (i.e., the set of “metaphysical”, mereological arguments propounded by Vasubandhu) is decisive as regards the very existence of the external object, whereas the first point only shows that we can have no epistemic access whatsoever to the object, without telling us anything regarding the actual existence of the object.25

21 Here my understanding of the passage differs from Arnold’s (see Arnold (2008, p. 16): “A cognition is appearing; but it does not appear as external”). 22 Here too, my understanding of the passage differs from Arnold’s (see ibid.: “Our effort (which is dedicated to negating a fiendish external object which is without a pramāṇa that is probative of the desired conclusion) is only to that extent”), not only as regards the general structure of the sentence (this difference is in part due to my conjecture -niṣedhe nāsmākam ādaraḥ, as I do not see how the Sanskrit sentence can be construed otherwise), but also as regards the meaning of the word piśācāyamāna, which Arnold

translates as “fiendish” and regards as “an unusual rhetorical flourish for Manorathanandin” (ibid., fn. 39): it seems to me that here Manorathanandin is simply alluding to the classical example of an entity by nature imperceptible, i.e., a demon (piśāca), and that he is making the point that the external object behaves like/is similar to a piśāca (piśācāyamāna being the middle present participle of a denominative verb formed on piśāca) insofar as it is imperceptible. 23 PVV ad PV, Pratyakṣapariccheda 336, p. 220: na, tathāpi parokṣasya bāhyasya sādhakasyābhāve’pi nābhāvasthitir iti cet, pratibhāsamānaṃ jñānaṃ bāhyaṃ tu na pratibhāsata eveti tāvataivābhimatasiddheḥ,s

ādhakapramāṇarahitapiśācāyamānabahirarthaniṣedhe nāsmākam* ādaraḥ. yadi tu tanni ṣedhanirbandho garīyāns āṃśatvānaṃśatvakalpanayā paramāṇupratiṣedha** ācāryīyaḥ paryeṣitavyaḥ. [*-niṣedhe nāsmākam conj.: -niṣedhenāsmākam Ed. **paramāṇupratiṣedha corr.: paramāṇupratiṣedhe Ed.] 24 See Arnold (2008, p. 16): “This revealing exchange is remarkable for its expression of a point that is too often missed in discussions of Yoga¯ca¯ra: the difference between epistemic arguments for idealism (arguments based on the claim that all we immediately know is things that are themselves mental), and metaphysical arguments for the claim that only mental things exist.” 25 See ibid.: “Dharmakı¯rti’s Yoga¯ca¯ra […] emphasizes that all he claims to have shown […] is that whatever the content of a cognition seems to be, its seeming so is not itself external […]. Cognition’s seeming some way, however, is all that is ever really known for sure. If one wanted, additionally, to argue that only such ‘seemings’ themselves exist—if, as Manorathanandin here puts it, one’s intention to refute external objects was ‘weightier’—it would be necessary to advert to a fundamentally different kind of argument. It would, in particular, be necessary to offer a metaphysical argument of the kind paradigmatically examplified by the Viṃśatikā of Vasubandhu […].”

But is Manorathanandin’s intention only to point out that there are two steps in the demonstration of idealism, and that here Dharmakı¯rti’s reasoning only goes halfway sotospeak,i.e.,thatDharmakı¯rticontentshimselfwithanargumentthatcanonlylead tosomesortofscepticismregardingtheexternalobject,whereasotherargumentssuch as Vasubandhu’s constitute one possible further step insofar as they clearly deny the existenceoftheexternalobject?26 Onewonderswhetherhere,Manorathanandinisnot rather explaining that the ontological question regarding the external object becomes simplyirrelevantas soon as the epistemic argument is formulated: since the argument just put forward by Dharmakı¯rti demonstrates that there is strictly no way of proving the existence of the object, refuting its existence becomes pointless. In support of this understanding of the passage, one might adduce Manorathanandin’s allusion to the demon (piśāca):27 mentions of such imperceptible entities are recurrent in Dharmakı¯rtian and post-Dharmakı¯rtian discussions on the anupalabdhi theory, as an example of entity whose existence cannot be ascertained or denied due to its imperceptibility.28

Manorathanandin’scomparisonoftheexternalobjectwithapiśāca thus seems to imply that the endeavour to prove or refute the existence of the external object is as hopeless as an attempt to determine whether a particular place is occupied by some imperceptible demon; and his adding that there is no sādhaka whatsoever in favouroftheexternalobjectalsoseemstoemphasizethatthereisnothingtobegained, fromaphilosophicalpointofview,fromanontologicalinquiryregardinganentitythat cannot be determined to exist anyway. Besides, Manorathanandin explains that the second set of arguments should be used in case the interlocutor has a heavier/very heavy nirbandha for the refutation of the external object. Arnold understands the term nirbandha as some sort of neutraldesire”, but the word rather denotes an obstinacy, a stubborn insistence, and

Manorathanandin might rather mean that if one is faced with a particularly stubborn opponent who goes on demanding a refutation of the external object in spite of what has already been shown (i.e., that seeking proofs of the external object is useless since anyway this external object is completely out of reach), then one may have recourse to Vasubandhu’s argument. So to sum up, Manorathanandin clearly distinguishes two kinds of arguments for idealism, the first of which can be termed “epistemic” inasmuch as it shows that there is no way to prove the existence of an object by nature imperceptible, whereas the second rests on a mereological analysis of the type put forward in Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā.29 However, I am not entirely sure whether Arnold is right in considering

26 According to Arnold, this is the case because Dharmakı¯rti is only concerned with showing that the Sautra¯ntikas’ epistemology is in fact the same as that of the Vijn ˜a¯nava¯dins. See Arnold (2008, p. 17): “Dharmakı¯rti does not claim to have shown that only mental events can exist—only that, whatever the case in that regard, we are only immediately aware of mental events. But Dharmakı¯rti can […] here readily allow that this is all he has shown, since that already gets him all he needs epistemologically. Insofar, that is, as Dharmakı¯rti’s concerns are only epistemological […] there is nothing to be added to the ‘Sautra¯ntika’ case in order for Dharmakı¯rti’s to be the epistemology of a finally idealist position.” 27 See above, fn. 22. 28 See e.g. Kellner (1997, p. 105). 29 On the high probability that the original title of Vasubandhu’s text was not (contrary to Sylvain Le ´vi’s assumption) Viṃśatikā but Viṃśikā, see Kano (2008, p. 345).

that here Manorathanandin asserts that only Vasubandhu’s arguments are decisive for metaphysical idealism, or that they constitute one further step in the demonstration of idealism. It seems to me that Manorathanandin might very well contend the epistemic argument to be of much more importance than the “metaphysical” arguments insofar as it puts into question the very relevance of such arguments. Or to put it in a simpler way: according to Manorathanandin, rather than being ontologically neutral, the epistemic argument neutralizes all ontological questions: it does not merely state that external objects can exist or not, it shows that wondering whether the external objects exist or not is pointless. It should be noted, however, that such an interpretation does not necessarily mean that the epistemic argument put forward by Dharmakı¯rti leads to a mere scepticism regarding the ontological status of the external object. Thus as Kellner has pointed out,30 in Dharmakı¯rti’s anupalabdhi theory, the existence of objects that are not

perceived remains doubtful only insofar as these objects, although they are sometimes perceived, are not necessarily and immediately perceived when they do exist: we cannot ascertain the fact that there is no piśāca here and now from the mere fact that we do not perceive it, because piśācas are supposed to be imperceptible for human beings, but as Kellner puts it, “a piśāca can be perceived by another piśāca”, as well as by a yogin.31 In other words, whereas the piśāca is not absolutely imperceptible, but only imperceptible for some subjects in some circumstances, the sahopalambhaniyama argument shows that the external object is never perceptible in any circumstance (na pratibhāsata eva, says Manorathanandin). And this might make quite a difference: we can entertain doubts regarding the existence of an entity that is imperceptible to us and in some given circumstances, but is this attitude still an option when it comes to an entity that is by nature absolutely and always unmanifest? And particularly in Dharmakı¯rti’s system, which grants so much importance to the notion of causal efficacy (arthakriyā) and which, in fact, simply equates it with reality, what kind of reality could a completely unmanifest object still be credited with if it is incapable of the minimal efficacy consisting in causing some kind of perception of itself? From this point of view, Manorathanandin’s formulation of the distinction between the two kinds of arguments might seem slightly ambiguous: when he states that Dharmakı¯rti has not taken the trouble of refuting the external object because he demonstrates his opinion merely by showing that the external object is absolutely unmanifest, we can understand that Dharmakı¯rti rejects (here at least) an ontologically committed form of idealism in the name of an epistemic idealism that eliminates the question of the ontological status of the object as a purely irrelevant matter, but we could also interpret the sentence as meaning that the epistemic argument, inasmuch as it shows the absolute imperceptibility of the object, is in fact already ontologically committed (and therefore renders any further refutation redundant), the implicit reason for this being that an absolutely imperceptible object can only be nonexistent. And whether this ambiguity was intended or not by Manorathanandin, 30 See Kellner (1999). 31 Kellner (1999, p. 196) (see also ibid., fn. 5, p. 195).

interestingly enough, the S ´aivas (who were aware of a similar distinction between two kinds of Buddhist idealism) seem to have exploited such an ambiguity. The Śaivas’ Interpretation of this Distinction: The Epistemic Argument as the Argument Par Excellence for Metaphysical Idealism Thus Abhinavagupta too distinguishes two kinds of idealistic arguments—one based on the absence of manifestation of the external object, and one based on the absurdity of the very nature of the external object. In the I ¯PV, he explains: And as regards this [[[external object]],] there is no argument proving [its e

xistence] (sādhaka), and the main (mukhya) argument refuting [its existence] (bādhaka) amounts to this only: the absence of [its] manifestation (prakāśana) even as an object of inference if [this object] is distinct from the manifesting consciousness (prakāśa). As for the additional arguments refuting [the existence of the external object] (abhyuccayabādhaka), they are: the impossibility of the existence of a whole (avayavin); the fact that the inherence (samavāya) [of the whole in its parts] is not established; the fact that the [[[external object]] must] possess some contradictory properties, such as movement and the absence of movement, being covered and being uncovered, being colored and being colourless, a difference between parts according to [the six] directions (digbhāgabheda), etc.32

The “additional” arguments to which Abhinavagupta is alluding here are obviously taken from Buddhist sources, as is confirmed by Abhinavagupta’s own I ¯PVV, which mentions that Utpaladeva attributed them to some “Vijn ˜a¯nava¯dins” in his lost Vivr̥ ti on the passage, and which explicitly refers to Vasubandhu’s Vijñaptimātratāsiddhiḥ, Digna¯ga’s Ālambanaparīkṣā and S ´an ˙karanandana’s Prajñālaṃkāra (the latter probably contained a synthesis of the two former texts, as well as of PV, Pramāṇasiddhipariccheda 86–87).33 Examining these arguments in detail is beyond the scope of this paper,34 but what matters here is that they are all devoted to showing that however we may try to understand the nature of the external object (i.e. as endowed with parts or not), we cannot give any satisfactory account of it from a rational point of view—in other words, these bādhakas are more or less refined versions of Vasubandhu’s mereological arguments. As for the first kind of argument mentioned by Abhinavagupta, namely, the absence of manifestation (prakāśana) of the external object, it is ascribed by the S ´aivas themselves to Dharmakı¯rti. Thus Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta side with

32 I ¯PV, vol. I, p. 178: …yatra sādhakaṃ ca nāsti pramāṇaṃ bādhakaṃ ca prakāśād bhede’numeyatayāpi prakāśanābhāva iti tāvan mukhyam. abhyuccayabādhakās tv avayavino vr̥ ttyanupapattiḥ samavāyāsiddhiḥ kampākampāvaraṇānāvaraṇaraktāraktadigbhāgabhedādiviruddhadharmayogaḥ… 33 See I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 144 (see also I ¯PV, vol. I, p. 181 for another allusion to S ´an ˙karanandana), quoted and translated in Ratie ´ (2010a, pp. 446–447). See also Krasser (2001, p. 503) and Eltschinger (2010, p. 108) on this passage. 34 On the content of these arguments see Ratie ´ (2010a, pp. 447–452), and for a more comprehensive account, Ratie ´ (2011a, pp. 390–403).

Dharmakı¯rti in the sākāra/nirākāra debate: they too argue that if consciousness remained a perfectly undifferentiated manifesting entity (prakāśamātra), it simply could not manifest the differences between its various objects, so that there could be no such thing as an awareness of phenomenal variety;35 Abhinavagupta specifies that the argument belongs to Dharmakı¯rti.36 The S ´aiva nondualists also refute the Sautra¯ntika’s contention that the external objects must be inferred as the cause of the various ākāras that consciousness takes on by having recourse to the Dharmakı¯rtian sahopalambhaniyama. According to the S ´aiva interpretation of this argument, the very fact that we cannot

experience the object without its cognition means that we cannot infer the existence of an object external to consciousness as the cause of the various aspects taken on by consciousness, because a causal relationship presupposes the invariable co-presence (anvaya) and co-absence (vyatireka) of the two related entities; but in the case at hand, we cannot ascertain that whenever there is an external object, there is a cognition bearing a particular objective aspect, and that whenever there is no external object, there is no such cognition, because we cannot experience these two entities separately.37 And here too, Abhinavagupta specifies that the S ´aiva position is simply that of Dharmakı¯rti:38 even though the S ´aivas claim that their argument ultimately surpasses Dharmakı¯rti’s inasmuch as it involves the very impossibility of even conceptualizing the external object (since according to the S ´aiva nondualists, even concepts involve some kind of immediate manifestation of their object),39 they repeatedly acknowledge their

35 See Ratie ´ (2010a, pp. 439–445). 36 I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 79: tataś ca sākāratākr̥ ta eva niyamaḥ. yathāha: tatrānubhavamātreṇa jñ ānasya sadr̥ śātmanaḥ / bh āvyaṃ tenātmanā yena pratikarma vibhajyate // iti; tasmānn īlākāro’pr̥ thagbhūto bodhāt. “And as a consequence, the restriction (niyama) [of a cognition to a particular object which is distinct from the other objects] must be due to the fact that [the cognition] takes on the aspect [of this object] (sākāratā). As [[[Dharmakı¯rti]]] has said: ‘Because [otherwise], the nature of cognition would remain the same with respect to any [[[object]]], since it would be a pure [undifferentiated] experience (anubhavamātra), it must be [[[cognition]]] itself

thanks to which [the cognition] is differentiated according to each object.’ Therefore the aspect (ākāra) ‘blue’ is not distinct from the cognition (bodha).” The quotation is borrowed from PV, Pratyakṣapariccheda, 302. Cf. PVV: anyathānubhavamātratayā sarvatra viṣaye sadr̥ śaṃ jñānaṃ prativiṣayaṃ kathaṃ bhedena vyavasthāpayituṃ śakyeta? “If it were not the case, the cognition would be similar with respect to any object, because it would consist of nothing but [undifferentiated] experience, [so] how could it be made to be different according to each object?” 37 See Ratie ´ (2011b, pp. 484–486). 38 I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 78: etad dhi sahopalambhaniyamād abhedo nīlataddhiyor iti vijñānākāramātraṃ nīlādi prasādhayituṃ nirūpitam. “For all of this has been explained [by Utpaladeva] in order to make it clear that [the various objects] such as blue are nothing but aspects (ākāra) of consciousness, according to [the principle stated by Dharmakı¯rti]: ‘Because of the necessity [for blue and the cognition of blue] to be perceived together

(sahopalambhaniyama), there is no difference between blue and the cognition of blue’.” The quotation is borrowed from PVin, Pratyakṣapariccheda 54ab. 39 See Ratie ´ (2011b, pp. 493–499): admittedly, the Sautra¯ntika talks about an external object, so he does form some kind of concept of it. And he forms it by relying on the notion of externality (bāhyatā/ bāhyatva), which he draws from ordinary experience (we can all see that a pot can be external to a house, that a house can be external to a village, etc.). However, Utpaladeva points out that the Sautra¯ntika can talk about an external object only thanks to the ambiguity of the word “externality”: when we talk about the externality of the pot with respect to the house, by “externality” we only mean a spatial relationship of proximity; but consciousness, which is not spatially determined, cannot stand in a relationship of proximity with anything else. So in fact when the Sautra¯ntika talks about an external object, he can only mean an object that is perfectly alien to the very nature of consciousness—and such an object is precisely

debt towards the great Buddhist philosopher as regards the argument of the external object being absolutely unmanifest. Now, Abhinavagupta’s distinction of the two kinds of arguments is remarkable in several respects. First of all, his distinction is quite similar to Manorathanandin’s insofar as Abhinavagupta too distinguishes an argument merely based on the absence of manifestation of the external object (which he ascribes to Dharmakı¯rti, even though he considers that Utpaladeva has come up with a fuller version of it) from arguments based on the impossibility of accounting for the nature (whether endowed with parts or not) of this object—and Abhinavagupta too mentions Vasubandhu as a source of this latter type of argument. Second, Abhinavagupta notes, just as Manorathanandin, that there is no proving argument (sādhaka) regarding the external object; but—and this is a crucial point—he immediately adds that the very fact that the external object is absolutely unmanifest actually constitutes an argument against its existence:

according to Abhinavagupta, the fact that the external object is absolutely unmanifest means not only that it is “not proven by any means of knowledge” (niṣpramāṇaka) but also that it is “rejected thanks to a means of knowledge refuting [its existence]” (bādhakapramāṇanirasta).40 Thus for the S ´aivas, the epistemic argument is not confined to a demonstration that there is no argument proving the existence of the external object; or rather, the very demonstration that there is no sādhaka whatsoever in favour of the external object constitutes a bādhaka, an argument refuting its existence. Third, Abhinavagupta does not seem to believe that the arguments based on the nature of the object (the “metaphysical” arguments according to Arnold’s

Footnote 39 continued something that we are incapable of conceptualizing, because as soon as we try to think about it, we are already transforming it into an object of consciousness. The principle on which this argument rests is that consciousness remains a manifesting entity (prakāśa) whether it is perceptual or conceptual, so that in our concepts as well as in our perceptions, the object of consciousness must be somehow manifest: according to Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta, even concepts must somehow involve some kind of aspect (ākāra) of their object that consists in a variety of manifestation (ābhāsa), but there can be no such aspect of that which is by nature absolutely unmanifest, so that the external object cannot be conceptualized anymore than it can be perceived. The S ´aivas themselves emphasize their disagreement in this regard with the

Dharmakı¯rtian epistemologists: see e.g. I ¯PV, vol. I, pp. 190–191 (translated in Ratie ´ 2011b, pp. 496–497), where Abhinavagupta alludes to “those who consider that no real entity (vastu) is manifest in a concept” (ye vikalpe vastu nābhātīti manyante) and adds that “as for us, we have [already] demonstrated that even determination (adhyavasāya) has an object that is being manifest” (asmābhis tūpapāditam adhyavasāyasyāpy ābhāsamānaviṣayatvam). He alludes to I ¯PK 1.3.5 (on which see Ratie ´ 2011a, pp. 139–142, and Kawajiri 2011) before explaining that an object devoid of manifestation cannot be conceptualized at all, whereas a conceptualized object cannot be, by definition, an object external to the manifesting consciousness. 40 See I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 130: iti teṣu samāpte vyavahāre ’nyena prakāśātiriktena tata evāprakāśatvān niṣpramāṇakena

bādhakapramāṇanirastena ca bāhyārthavargeṇa kim adhikenānviṣṭena. “Since mundane practice is entirely accounted for if these [[[manifestations]] alone exist], what is the point of all these external objects that [you] are looking for [as something existing] over and above [[[phenomena]], whereas these external objects are] other [than the manifesting consciousness, i.e.] distinct from the manifesting consciousness? Since for this very reason [they] do not consist in the manifesting consciousness (aprakāśatva), they are both not proven by any means of knowledge and rejected thanks to a means of knowledge refuting [their existence].”

distinction) are more decisive as regards the refutation of the external object’s existence than the first type of argument. On the contrary, according to him, the first type of argument is the “main” or “fundamental” (mukhya) argument against the external objects, while the others are merely “additional” (abhyuccaya). Abhinavagupta further explains the distinction between the two kinds of arguments by saying that the “additional” ones target this or that specific property of the external object (such as having parts),

whereas the “main” one, which rests on the mere fact that the external object is absolutely unmanifest, functions through some kind of global refutation, or more literally, by “entirely devouring” (sarvagrāsa) the external object (just as S ´iva’s terrible form, Bhairava, devours the universe, or just as a total eclipse makes the sun disappear): And [[[Utpaladeva]] explains in his Vivr̥ ti that against the thesis of the existence of the external object,] there is not only this [aforementioned] refuting argument

(bādhaka)whichfunctionsthroughthemeansofknowledge(pramāṇa)[lacking in the case of the external object]; [there is] also [a refuting argument which functions] “through itself”, that is to say, through the [external object’s] own [[[nature]]], [or more precisely,] through the awareness arising from the examination of the [very] nature of the object of knowledge. In other words, the very nature of the object of knowledge eradicates the external [[[object]]] insofar as it makes obvious that [this object can]not exist. For the first refuting argument functions while completely disregarding the nature of the object of knowledge [i.e. it works] whether [we] accept that it has parts [or that it] is devoid of parts, [andwhetherweacceptthat] itiscontradicted[bythisorthatparticularproperty orthat]itisnot—rather,[itfunctions]byentirelydevouring[theexternalobject] in this way: “[whatever is] distinct from the manifesting consciousness (prakāśa) is not manifest (na prakāśate).”41

The commentator Bha¯skarakan ˙

for his part, explains the I ¯PV distinction between the “main” and the “additional” arguments by pointing out that the first one is the “essential” (pradhāna) one because it proceeds by refuting “directly” or “immediately” (sākṣāt) the external object,42 whereas the additional arguments are only of a secondary importance (anvācaya) and are subordinated (gauṇa) to the first one because they only refute “indirectly” or “aporetically” (prasaṅgena).43 So for the S ´aiva nondualists, the Buddhist mereological type of argument is not the decisive step enabling the idealist to leave the plane of a mere scepticism regarding the existence of the external object. On the contrary, this set of arguments is presented as some sort of metaphysical cherry on the cake, whereas the first

41 I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 138: na ca kevalam idam eva bādhakaṃ yat pramāṇamukhena pravr̥ ttaṃ yāvat svato ’pīti svamukhena prameyasvarūpanirūpaṇapravr̥ ttapratītidvāreṇāpi pravr̥ ttam, prameyasvarūpam evāsattvāviṣkaraṇenonmūlayaty* eva bāhyam iti yāvat. pūrvakaṃ hi bādhakaṃ prameyasvarūpam anapekṣyaiva sāṃśam anaṃśaṃ viruddham aviruddhaṃ yad bhavatu tad bhavatu, prakāśād bhinnaṃ na prakāśata iti tu sarvagrāsena pravr̥ ttam. [*evāsattvāviṣkaraṇenonmūlayaty conj. (see Ratie ´ forthcoming, fn. 24): eva sattvāviṣkaraṇenonmūlayaty Ed.] 42 Bhāskarī, vol. I, p. 222: mukhyaṃ bhavati – pradhānaṃ bhavati sākṣādbādhakatvāt. 43 Bhāskarī, vol. I, p. 223: abhyuccayena – anvācayena, prasaṅgeneti yāvad bādhakāḥ. ata eva gauṇatvam eṣām, pūrvaṃ sākṣādb āhyabādhakam, ete prasaṅgenaiva bādhakā iti.

argument can indeed be termed epistemic insofar as it rests on the total impossibility of an epistemic access to the external object, but the S ´aivas consider it as being already fully committed from an ontological point of view. Thus they agree with Manorathanandin insofar as they too admit that once the external object is established to be absolutely unmanifest, one does not have to take the trouble of any further refutation. But whereas Manorathanandin only states that there is no need to take the trouble of refuting the existence of the external object “because [we] demonstrate [our] opinion through this only, and nothing else (tāvataiva)”,44 i.e., through the total absence of manifestation of the external object, Abhinavagupta clearly states that “this only” (tāvat), i.e. the total absence of manifestation of the external object, constitutes the

main argument refuting its existence.45 So why do the S ´aiva nondualists consider that the epistemic argument proves that the external object does not exist? One could suspect that they manage to make this leap between the epistemic and the metaphysical aspects of the problem simply by inferring the nonexistence of the external object from the fact that it is not perceptible. As a matter of fact, they repeatedly equate existence with manifestation46 and they call their own system (as well as the Vijn ˜a¯nava¯da) a “theory of manifestation” (ābhāsavāda),47 i.e. a “theory according to which reality belongs [only] to manifestations (ābhāsavastutvavāda).48 However, Utpaladeva and his commentator have adopted Dharmakı¯rti’s theory of non-perception (anupalabdhi), and they therefore acknowledge that one cannot legitimately infer the nonexistence of something from the mere fact that this thing happens to be imperceptible: they admit with Dharmakı¯rti that an object which is by nature inaccessible to our perception, such as a demon, cannot be determined as existing or not from the simple fact that we do not see it, and they consider that the absence of a given entity can only be concluded from its imperceptibility in a given place and time provided that the conditions for perceiving such an entity are gathered in this particular circumstance.49

44 See above, fn. 23. 45 See above, fn. 32. 46 See e.g. I ¯PV, vol. II, p. 241 (avabhāsasāratvād vastūnām…, “Since real entities (vastu) have manifestation as their essence…”), or MS ´V I, p. 219: anābhātaṃ ca no vastu vyomasadmagavākṣavat / so’pi vā kalpitākāraś citprakāśe prakāśate // “And that which is not manifested is no real entity, just as the window of a castle in the sky; or [rather, contrary to what is unmanifest, at least] this [window,] since it has an aspect constructed [through the power of imagination,] is manifest within the manifesting consciousness (citprakāśa).” See also e.g. I ¯PV, vol. I, pp. 192–193: tac ca sadaiva, prakāśasya pramātr̥ tvāt, tadātmatayā ca

vināprakāśamānasyāvastutvāt. [*vināprakāśamānasyāvastutvāt Bh āskarī: vinā prakāśamānasyāvastutvāt I ¯PV (see Ratie ´ 2011a, fn. 10, p. 481)]. “And this [[[Wikipedia:Identity (social science)|identity]] of the object of knowledge with the knowing subject must] always exist, because the manifesting consciousness is the knowing subject, and because without this identity with the [[[knowing]] subject, the object,] which would not be manifest, would be no real entity.” 47 See e.g. the introduction to I ¯PK 2.4.12 in I ¯PVV, vol. III, p. 214, where the term ābhāsavāda obviously applies both to the S ´aiva nondualist system and to that, immediately mentioned at the beginning of the commentary on the verse, of the Vijn ˜a¯nava¯dins. 48 See I ¯PV, vol. II, p. 163, which also introduces I ¯PK 2.4.12. 49 On the adoption of Dharmakı¯rti’s theory of anupalabdhi by the S ´aiva nondualists, see Torella (2007) and Ratie ´

Nonetheless, according to the S ´aiva nondualists at least, there is a vast difference between a piśāca and an external object: the piśāca is not considered as an absolutely imperceptible object but only as an object imperceptible to some subjects in some circumstances, and more importantly perhaps, the piśāca is an entity that can be at least conceptualized, precisely inasmuch as it can be represented as an entity perceptible to others, be they extraordinary human beings or other piśācas. But whereas we are capable of imagining the piśāca, i.e., of considering the possibility of its existence through the mental process called sambhāvanā,50 there is no way in which we could even consider

the mere possibility of the existence of an external object, because we are simply incapable of imagining what is by nature completely alien to any kind of mental image.51 Contrary to entities such as the piśāca, the external entity is therefore an entity that escapes all our attempts to conceptualize it.52 And this is a crucial point, because in the verse on which Abhinavagupta comments when distinguishing between the two kinds of arguments,53 Utpaladeva does not only state that the external object postulated by the Sautra¯ntika is useless since within the sphere of ordinary human practice we only relate to phenomena; he also specifies that this external object is anupapatti—a Sanskrit term which can mean both “impossible in fact” and “impossible to account for in a rational way”,

50 On the crucial role of sambhāvanā/sambhāvana in the process of exclusion (apoha) that leads to the formation of concepts, see e.g. I ¯PV, vol. I, p. 242 (which conspicuously makes use of a Dharmakı¯rtian terminology): ato ghaṭāghaṭayor dvayor avabhāsasya sambhāvanāt samāropaḥ sāvakāśo bhavaty aghaṭasya saty ārope niṣedhalakṣaṇo ’pohanavyāpāra iti tadanuprāṇitā vikalparūpatā ghaṭa ity etasya niścayasya. “It is thanks to this hypothetical representation (sambhāvana) of the manifestation of two [entities, i.e.] the pot and the non-pot, that the superimposition (samāropa) can occur; [and] the operation of exclusion (apohana) consisting in the negation [of what is not the pot] occurs [only] when there is a superimposition of the non-pot. As a consequence, this certainty, ‘the pot’, consists in a concept (vikalpa), [and this fact that it consists in a concept] depends on the [exclusion, which in turn depends on the superimposition, which in turn depends on the hypothetical representation].” 51 See e.g. I ¯PV, vol. I, p. 242 (Abhinavagupta has just explained that our concept of the pot rests on our capacity to imagine both the pot and the non-pot): yas tv ayaṃ prakāśon āma tasya sthāne yaḥ saṃbhāvyate sa tāvad

aprakāśarūpo na bhavati, tulyakakṣasya hi saṃbhāvanaṃ bhavati, na ca yat prakāśena kartavyaṃ tad aprakāśasya kadācid dr̥ ṣṭam; saṃbhāvanāropaṇādibalād eva cāsyāprakāśarūpatvaṃ vighaṭeta. “However, that which is hypothetically represented (sambhāvyate) in place of the manifesting consciousness itself is certainly not [something] that would not consist in the manifesting consciousness; for there can [only] be a hypothetical representation of [something] equivalent [to the entity considered in the process of exclusion], and in no circumstance do [we] see that what can be accomplished by the manifesting consciousness [can be accomplished] by what is not the manifesting consciousness. And due to the mere fact that there is a hypothetical representation, a superimposition and [an exclusion,] the nature of this [[[entity]]] cannot remain a non-manifestation.” Note that this

means that the manifesting consciousness itself (prakāśa) cannot be conceptualized any more than what is completely alien to it; but the crucial difference between prakāśa and aprakāśa lies in the fact that the first one is always immediately apprehended through the most immediate of all knowledges, i.e. selfawareness (svasaṃvedana), since the S aivas consider that there is no consciousness without the awareness of being conscious. 52 See e.g. I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 161: svapne ’py anābhātasya vikalpyatvāyogāt…, “Because what is not manifested, even in a dream, cannot be conceptualized…”. 53 See I ¯PK 1.5.6: syād etad avabhāseṣu te ṣv ev āvasite sati / vyavahāre kim anyena bāhyenānupapattinā // “Let [us admit] this: since the sphere of human practice (vyavahāra) is determined on [the basis of] these manifestations alone, what is the point of some external [[[object]]] that would be distinct [from consciousness and] that is impossible/cannot be accounted for rationally (anupapatti)?”

and which for this reason constitutes a perfect expression of the rationalist optimism at the basis of such arguments as Vasubandhu’s mereological critique of the external objects: these arguments all presuppose that what is absurd from a rational and theoretical point of view must be impossible from a factual point of view.54 Now, this is how Abhinavagupta explains Utpaladeva’s verse in his I ¯PVV:

This is what [[[Utpaladeva]]] says [in I ¯PK 1.5.6:] even if the external object is inferred, it is only insofar as it is being manifest (prakāśamāna eva) [and therefore internal] that it can be talked about, because if [it] were distinct from the manifesting consciousness (prakāśa), since as a consequence it would have no manifestation, even [our awareness] that [the object] is inferred would amount to a state of stupor.55

Here Abhinavagupta is in fact anticipating on a demonstration that only occurs in verses 1.5.8–9, where Utpaladeva shows that the external object cannot be conceptualized at all.56 And showing that an absolutely unmanifest object cannot even be conceptualized amounts to stating that such an object is anupapatti in the sense that it is simply unthinkable. In other words, according to the S ´aiva nondualists, the external object is absurd not only because its nature cannot be accounted for whether it is made of parts or not, but also (and, according to Abhinavagupta at least, more importantly) because an absolutely unmanifest entity cannot be conceptualized at all, so that there is no way

to give any rational account of it. Thus elsewhere in the I ¯PVV, Abhinavagupta points out that the notion of an external object called “blue” for instance is absurd anyway, so that there is no more logical fault in considering it as yellow or as nothing at all than there is in considering it as existing “in itself” (i.e. independently of any conscious manifestation);57 and in the parallel passage of the I ¯PV, Abhinavagupta concludes: “therefore if there is a manifesting consciousness [of the object], then [only] the object exists.”58 That is to say, according to the nondualist S ´aivas, the argument showing that there is no epistemic access whatsoever to the external object is also the argument par excellence for a “metaphysical” or ontologically committed idealism, because an object that cannot even be conceptualized can have no

54 See e.g. Arnold (2008, p. 16, fn. 41): “It is […] presupposed by Vasubandhu’s arguments (as perhaps by metaphysical arguments more generally) that what we can or cannot adequately conceive tells us something about what is actually possible.” 55 I ¯PVV, vol. II, pp. 129–130: etad uktam: anumito’pi bāhyo’rthaḥ prakāśamāna eva vaktavyaḥ, prakāśād bhede hy aprakāśanaprasaṅgād anumitatvam api vastuno mūrchāprāyaṃ bhavet. 56 See Ratie ´ (2011b, pp. 496–497): in I ¯PV, vol. I, pp. 190–191, Abhinavagupta explains that “an object such as blue that is not pervaded by the manifesting consciousness, even in the form of an inferential concept” (anumānavikalpātmanāpi prakāśena… anāviṣṭon īlādir

arthaḥ), cannot be inferred at all, but that if the external object is conceptualized and therefore pervaded by the manifesting consciousness, “its nature is necessarily nothing but the manifesting consciousness, [and therefore] it is not external (prakāśamātrasvabhāva eva, na bāhyaḥ). 57 See I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 77: aprakāśasya siddhir eva na kācit, svātmani hi nīlaṃ yadi pītaṃ na kiṃ cid vā, tat kiṃ duṣyet. [*siddhir conj. (see Ratie ´ 2011a, p. 361 and fn. 117): prasiddhir I ¯PVV.] “There is absolutely no establishment (siddhi) of [what is a] non-manifestation; for if [we said that] in itself (svātmani), the blue is yellow or [even] nothing at all, how could it be wrong?” 58 I ¯PV, vol. I, p. 163: tad yadi prakāśas tadā bhavaty arthaḥ.

existence. The implicit principle at the basis of the S ´aivas’ metaphysical interpretation of the epistemic argument therefore seems to be the same principle that governs Vasubandhu’s mereological arguments: unless we abandon the idea that there must be some kind of correspondence between reason and reality, we must admit that that which cannot be conceptualized in any way cannot exist.

Is the Śaivas’ Interpretation of the Two Kinds of Idealistic Arguments a Betrayal of Their Buddhist Source(s)?

To sum up, Manorathanandin distinguishes two kinds of arguments for idealism: one that shows that there is no epistemic access whatsoever to any external object, and one that shows that the very nature of the external object is absurd since we cannot satisfactorily account for it whether we imagine it as having parts or not. The S ´aivas make the same distinction, and they clearly consider that the first kind of argument is just as ontologically committed as the second, or rather, that it is in fact the main (mukhya) argument against the existence of the external object, whereas the mereological arguments concerning the nature of the object are only secondary. Now, is this S ´aiva interpretation a betrayal of the original intention of the Buddhist philosophers by whom Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta were so much influenced, or does it reflect in some way at least the position of their Buddhist counterparts? On the one hand, there is evidence that this distinction largely predates the writing of the I ¯PKs and goes at least as far back as the S ´V, where Kuma¯rila, while criticizing the idealism of his Buddhist opponents, mentions the two different kinds of arguments and even specifies that the one resting on the means of knowledge is the root (mūla) of the one resting on the object of knowledge.59 However, not to mention that we are left with no clue as to the source from which Kuma¯rila might be borrowing here,60 determining the exact meaning of such a distinction proves

59 S ´V, Nirālambananavāda 17–18ab: bāhyārthāpahnavo dvaidham eko’rthasya* parīkṣaṇāt / pramāṇam āśritaś caikas tatrāstāṃ yaḥ prameyataḥ // pramāṇasthas tu mūlatvād ihedānīṃ parīkṣyate / [* bāhyārthāpahnavo dvaidham eko’rtasya Variant in Ed, p. 158, n. 2: bāhyārthāpahnave’dvaitam ekārthasya Ed.: bāhyārthāpahnave dvaitam eko’rthasya Kāśikā, TT ˙ .] “The denial of [the existence of] external objects [can be made] in two ways: one [such denial is based] on the examination of the object [itself]; and [the other] one rests on the means of knowledge. Among these [two sorts of denial], let [us] leave aside the one [based] on the object of knowledge; rather, here, for now, [it is] the one based on the means of knowledge that is going to be examined, because it is the root [of the other argument].” On the context of this passage see Taber (2010, p. 280). 60 Assuming, of

course, that Kuma¯rila is indeed borrowing from a Buddhist source. Admittedly, one could suspect that in fact the Mı¯ma¯m ˙ saka himself is the author of this distinction as well as of the idea that one of the arguments is the root of the other (an idea that he invokes so as to justify the fact that S ´abara only mentions one of the Buddhist types of arguments, as Pa¯rthasa¯rathimis ´ra makes clear in his introduction to S ´V, Nirālambananavāda 17–18ab). Nonetheless, Kuma¯rila is probably invoking this idea precisely because it is acknowledged by his opponents (so that the Buddhists cannot criticize S ´abara’s text in this regard if it conforms to their own principle), which would explain in particular why he does not bother to explain in what way one argument is the root of the other. Besides, even if we were to assume that this distinction was first devised by a non-Buddhist author, Manorathanandin’s work at least testifies to the fact that it was adopted by the Buddhists themselves.

particularly difficult as the Mı¯ma¯m ˙ saka does not take the trouble of explaining why one argument is the root of the other. Among Kuma¯rila’s commentators, Pa¯rthasa¯rathimis ´ra is content with noting that the argument based on the means of knowledge is more essential because the establishment of the existence of the object of knowledge depends on the examination of the means of knowledge;61 as for Umbeka62 and Sucaritamis ´ra,63 they merely explain that if the existence of the external object cannot be established by any means of knowledge, speculations regarding this object are vain, whereas if a means of knowledge establishes this

61 See NR ad loc., p. 158: pramāṇabalenaiva bāhyārthe vyavasthāpite yad idam avayavino ’vayavātirekeṇānupalabdheḥ paramāṇūnāṃ cātīndriyatvān na b āhyaṃ grāhyaṃ sambhavatīti codyaṃ tat pramāṇabalenaiva nirastaṃ bhavatīti pramāṇabalenaiva parīkṣitaṃ yuktam iti. “Since the [[[existence]] of] the external object is established through the sole force of the means of knowledge, this sole force of the means of knowledge refutes the criticism according to which no external apprehended object is possible because [we] do not perceive any whole independently of the parts and because the atoms are beyond the reach of the sense organs; therefore it is right to examine [this criticism] through the sole force of the means of knowledge.” According to Taber (2010, p. 280), Pa¯rthasa¯rathimis ´ra’s explanation amounts to saying that “any refutation of objects based on their

alleged impossibility would immediately run up against the evidence of common experience” given that “cognition itself seems to present us prima facie with objects”. I.e., if I understand Taber’s interpretation correctly, according to Pa¯rthasa¯rathimis ´ra, perception, since it presents us with an object appearing as external, ipso facto refutes the mereological kind of argument. However, here Pa¯rthasa¯rathimis ´ra rather seems to be simply saying that the argument based on the means of knowledge is stronger than the former as it is capable of demonstrating the existence of the object. 62 See TT ˙ , p.198:sacayadyapibauddhairbāhyārthābhāvaḥprameyaparīkṣayāpramāṇavr̥ ttyaśaktyāvā*

pratipāditaḥ, tathāpi prameyaparīkṣāṃ parityajya pramāṇavicāra evāṅgīkr̥ taḥ, tanmūlatvāt prameyasya. yadi bāhyārthagrāhakatvena pravartante pratyakṣādayaḥ, tataḥ prameyavikalpānāṃ tadviruddhatvād aprāmāṇyam;athanapravartante,tataḥprameyābhāvādevakutastadvikalpaḥ. [*pramāṇavr̥ ttyaśaktyāvā conj.:pramāṇavr̥ ttyaśaktyāEd.] “And even though the Buddhists demonstrate the nonexistence of external objects[either]throughan examination of theobject of knowledgeor by[showing] theimpossibilityfor the means of knowledge of occurring [if its object is external, here Kuma¯rila], setting aside the examination of

theobjectofknowledge,onlyhasrecoursetoanexaminationofthemeansofknowledge,because[themeans ofknowledge]istherootoftheobjectofknowledge.[Thatistosay,]if[itcanbeshownthat]perceptionand [other means of knowledge] operate by apprehending external objects, then the conceptual constructions [that wemight build]regardingthe object of knowledge have novaliditygiven that they arecontradictedby this [fact that the means of knowledge apprehend external objects]; but if [the means of knowledge] do not operate [in such a way], then since there is no object of knowledge at all, what would be the point (kutaḥ) of any conceptual construction regarding this [[[Wikipedia:Nothing|nonexistent]] object]?” 63 See Kāśikā, vol. II, pp. 36–37: ayam arthaḥ – yady api dvedhā bāhyārthāpahnavo bauddhair āśritaḥ, tathāpi pramāṇāśrita eva mūlabhūtatvād iha

vicāryate, pramāṇamūlā hi prameyasthitiḥ. tad yadi pramāṇam anuguṇam, kiṃ vastuvikalpaiḥ. na tadbalena tadanupapattiṃ parihr̥ tyārtho vyavasthāpyate. atha tu pramāṇam evārthaṃ pratyācaṣṭe, kiṃ prameyavikalpaiḥ kr̥ takarair iti. “Here is the meaning [of this passage]: even though the Buddhists base [their] denial of [the existence of] external objects on two [different] kinds [of arguments], here it is only [the kind that is] based on the means of knowledge that [Kuma¯rila] examines, because it is the root [of the other]; for the existence of the object of knowledge has as its root the means of knowledge. Therefore if[, in the course of this examination,] the means of knowledge is [found to be]

in accordance [with the existence of the external object], what could be the point of the conceptual constructions [that we might build] regarding the thing itself (vastu)? [For if this is the case,] the object is not established to exist [only] provided that the force of these [[[Wikipedia:conceptual|conceptual]] constructions] does not [show] that this [[[object]]] is impossible[: rather, the object must exist anyway]. If, on the other hand, the sole means of knowledge refutes the [external] object, what point could there be in those conceptual constructions regarding the object of knowledge [and supposedly] helping [the means of knowledge to establish something that the means of knowledge already establishes by itself]?”

existence, there is no more point in denying it—but here again, they do not let us know why this is the case. By way of contrast, the nondualist S ´aivas seem to be particularly keen on justifying the preeminence of one argument over the other, but while doing so they also emphasize their disagreement with their Buddhist adversaries, which seems to suggest that here as often, they are adopting a Buddhist idea but also distorting it so as to suit their own metaphysical agenda. They thus insist on a crucial divergence between their own epistemology and Dharmakı¯rti’s, namely the fact that according to them, concepts (and not only perceptions) require some kind of immediate manifestation of their object at the time when they occur.64 And thus extending the notion of ābhāsa to the realm of concepts seems to be precisely what enables the S ´aivas to provide the epistemic argument with a fully ontological dimension: the external object cannot exist because the very fact that it is absolutely unmanifest and therefore

impossible to conceptualize makes it absurd—and even the Buddhists, when adducing mereological arguments against the external object, admit the postulate that what cannot be theoretically accounted for cannot exist in fact. On the other hand, Dharmakı¯rti (at least according to Manorathanandin’s explanation) seems to have used the epistemic argument merely to show that contrary to what the Sautra¯ntikas claim, there is no rational need whatsoever to postulate the external object so as to account for phenomena, because such an external object cannot be determined to be the cause of phenomenal variety, and because this phenomenal variety can be perfectly explained by an internal mechanism of latent traces, so that ontological questions become strictly irrelevant regarding an external object that has no impact whatsoever on the only reality with which we ever have to deal, i.e., cognitions.65 64 See above, fn. 39. 65 Fromthispointofview,thefirstpartofI ¯PK1.5.6atleast(i.e.,thenotionofanupapattioftheexternalobject excepted) seems to correspond to Dharmakı¯rti’s intention with the epistemic argument. See e.g., among the newly discovered fragments of Utpaladeva’sVivr̥ tionthis verse (edited and translated in Ratie ´ forthcoming), the beginning offragmentA1:vyavahartrapekṣayātāvadbhāvavyavasthākriyamāṇāvabhāseṣvevanirapāyā paryavasyatīty adhikatarādr̥ ṣṭavastuparyālocanam idaṃ svacchandaceṣṭitaṃ. “To begin with, this investigationofarealitythatisimperceptibleand[consistsin]somethingmore(adhikatara)[thanmanifestationsand the consciousness manifesting them] is a [purely] arbitrary endeavour (svacchandaceṣṭita), given that with respect to the subject of human practice (vyavahartr̥ ), the determination of the existence of entities which is successfully

performed only concerns manifestations.” Cf. Abhinavagupta’s summary of this verse at the beginning of Chap. 1.5 (I ¯PV, vol. I, pp. 151–152): tadanabhyupagame ’pi tāvan na kiṃcid uparudhyata iti darśayati. “[In this verse, Utpaladeva shows] that to begin with, even if one does not admit the [[[external object]],] nothing at all is impeded”. The reason why Abhinavagupta does not mention in his summary the bādhakasorargumentsagainsttheexternalobject(andinparticularthe“main”one,i.e.,itscompleteabsence of manifestation, including in an inferential concept) seems to be that although it is already defined by Abhinavagupta while he is commenting on the term anupapatti in I ¯PK 1.5.6, in Utpaladeva’s kārikās its explicit presentation occurs later, i.e. in I ¯PK 1.5.8–9, and Utpaladeva’s short Vr̥ tti ad I ¯PK 1.5.6 only explains the termanupapattiin connection with what Abhinavaguptacalls the “additional arguments”. Thus, as noted byRaffaeleTorella,I ¯PK1.5.6mightstillbereadentirelyasthediscourseofaVijn ˜a¯nava¯din(seeTorella2002, p.114,fn.12),althoughAbhinavaguptawarnshisreadersthatthemereologicalargumentsagainsttheexternal objectalludedtointheVr̥

ttiareonly“additional”,andalthoughhealreadymentionsthe“main”argumentinan anticipation of the demonstration in I ¯PK 1.5.8–9. Only fragments of Utpaladeva’s Vivr̥ ti on I ¯PK 1.5.6 have beenrecoveredsofarandnoneofthemcontainsadistinctionbetweenthetwokindsofarguments,butitshould be noted that I ¯PVV, vol. II, p. 138 (quoted above, fn. 41) seems to implythat Utpaladeva himself had already drawn (at least in part) this distinction.

I find the S ´aivas’ way of presenting the distinction between the two Buddhist idealistic arguments quite extraordinary in that it reveals the S ´aivas’ fascination for the Dharmakı¯rtian philosophical tradition, but also their aptitude at transforming subtly but profoundly the meaning of Buddhist concepts, and more generally, the capacity of philosophical ideas to undergo the strangest metamorphoses when thus imported from one religio-philosophical background to another: a Buddhist argument which, according to Manorathanandin at least, serves to eliminate ontological questions regarding the external object becomes the main means of its complete ontological denial once set in a S aiva conceptual frame. But I readily admit that this S ´aiva “ontologization” of a Buddhist epistemic argument is nothing more than a hypothesis on my part (although, hopefully, a likely one): I do not know in what exact measure the S ´aivas really distorted the original import of the epistemic argument, as I am not certain whether Manorathanandin was

faithfully expressing Dharmakı¯rti’s intention in his presentation of the distinction between the two arguments; nor do I know with certainty to what extent the S ´aivas took advantage of an ambiguity in the formulation of this distinction by their Buddhist rivals;66 and it is also possible that in fact S ´an ˙karanandana’s Prajñālaṃkāra (which may well have been one of the sources of the S ´aivas’ acquaintance with this distinction)67 contained an interpretation of the epistemic argument much closer to Abhinavagupta’s than the explanation offered by Manorathanandin. But at any rate, it seems to me that the very fact that some 10th- and 11th- century S ´aiva authors were aware of a distinction between two Buddhist types of idealistic arguments should be of interest to historians concerned with Buddhist philosophical ideas inasmuch as it shows that this distinction was well known at the time even among non-Buddhist learned circles. I therefore find it hard to believe that it was not discussed among Buddhist circles more than can be gathered from the currently available Buddhist texts, and I can only hope that future studies on Buddhist philosophical texts written around the turn of the second millennium (such as

66 See the remarks above on what I see as an ambiguity in Manorathanandin’s distinction—of course it is quite possible that I only see such an ambiguity because I do not understand the passage correctly, and it should also be noted (see fn. 67 below) that in all probability the S ´aivas did not know Manorathanandin’s commentary anyway. 67 As far as I know there is no compelling evidence that Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta were aware of Manorathanandin’s commentary on the PV, and in fact such an acquaintance seems improbable given that Manorathanandin is likely to have been active in the second part of the 11th century (see Steinkellner and Much 1995, p. 105), i.e. after Abhinavagupta’s death. On the other hand, Abhinavagupta, who often quotes S ´an ˙karanandana’s works, mentions his Prajñālaṃkāra precisely in connection with the distinction between the two

kinds of arguments, and he specifies that he has not taken the trouble of explaining the “additional arguments” in detail precisely because S ´an ˙karanandana has already done so in his treatise (see above, fn. 33). So from Abhinavagupta’s commentaries we can be sure that S ´an ˙karanandana had explained the second kind of arguments at length, but it is also possible that the same author had distinguished them from the first kind of argument. It should be noted in this regard that according to Vincent Eltschinger, establishing idealism on the basis of Dharmakı¯rti’s arguments was the very “raison d’e ˆtre” of the Prajñālaṃkāra (see Eltschinger 2010, pp. 108–111), and the sahopalambhaniyama in particular seems to have played an important role in S ´an ˙karanandana’s major work (see ibid., p. 108). 68 So far only one of S ´an ˙karanandana’s treatises has been fully edited and translated (see Krasser 2002). On the manuscript sources now available and the current state of studies on this author see Eltschinger (2010).

S ´an ˙karanandana’s works)68 will soon afford us a few more certainties regarding the way(s) in which the Buddhist philosophers themselves have understood and distinguished their own arguments in favour of idealism. Acknowledgments This article was written thanks to the generous financial help of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as part of project FR 2531/3-1. I am grateful to Vincent Eltschinger, Eli Franco, John Taber and Birgit Kellner for carefully reading a previous version of it and providing insightful remarks.

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