The Buddhist Theory of Self-Cognition

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This highly original work explores the concept of self-awareness of self-consciousness in Buddhist thought. Within the Buddhist doctrinal system, the Sanskrit word svasamvedana or svasamvitti (self-cognition, self-awareness or self-consciousness) signifies a form of reflexive awareness. It is one of the key concepts in the Buddhist epistemological system developed by Dignaga (ca. 480-540 CE) and his followers. The discussion on whether the mind knows itself also had a long history in the Buddhist schools of Mahasamghika, Sarvastivada, Sautrantika and early Yogacara. The same issue was debated later among followers of the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools. This work is the first to study systematically the Buddhist theory of self-cognition with an emphasis on its pre-Dignaga development. Its central thesis is that the Buddhist theory of self-cognition originated in a soteriological discussion of omniscience among the Mahasamghikas, and then evolved into a topic of epistemological inquiry among the Yogacarins. To illustrate this central theme, the author draws on a large body of primary sources in Chinese, Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan, most of which are being presented to an English readership for the first time. This work makes available important resources for the study of the Buddhist philosophy of mind.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Zhihua Yao received his PhD from Boston University. He is Research Assistant Professor at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong. He specializes in Buddhist Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Abbreviations xii
1 Introduction 1
2 Origin: Mahasamghika 6
The origin of self-cognition 6
The Mahasamghika theory of self-cognition 7
The Andhakas' arguments for self-cognition 23
3 Refutation: Sarvastivada 42
Sarvastivada Abhidharma 42
Awareness of single moment 44
Refutation of self-awareness 49
Discussion of self-consciousness 68
Two minds and memory 72
The problem of self-feeling 78
4 Synthesis: Sautrantika 97
Sautrantika: Sources 97
Multiple minds 99
Mental consciousness 104
Proof of self-cognition 113
5 Systematization: Yogacara 121
Yogacara and its two schools 121
Self-cognition in early Yogacara 123
Self-cognition: Dignaga 130
Cognition of self-cognition: Dharmapala 145
Later development 147
6 Conclusion 156
Appendix Dates of Important Authors 161
Bibliography 165
Index 190
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