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Against a Hindu God

Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India

Parimal G. Patil
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Against a Hindu God
    Book Description:

    Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God have been crucial to Euro-American and South Asian philosophers for over a millennium. Critical to the history of philosophy in India, were the centuries-long arguments between Buddhist and Hindu philosophers about the existence of a God-like being called Isvara and the religious epistemology used to support them. By focusing on the work of Ratnakirti, one of the last great Buddhist philosophers of India, and his arguments against his Hindu opponents, Parimal G. Patil illuminates South Asian intellectual practices and the nature of philosophy during the final phase of Buddhism in India.

    Based at the famous university of Vikramasila, Ratnakirti brought the full range of Buddhist philosophical resources to bear on his critique of his Hindu opponents' cosmological/design argument. At stake in his critique was nothing less than the nature of inferential reasoning, the metaphysics of epistemology, and the relevance of philosophy to the practice of religion. In developing a proper comparative approach to the philosophy of religion, Patil transcends the disciplinary boundaries of religious studies, philosophy, and South Asian studies and applies the remarkable work of philosophers like Ratnakirti to contemporary issues in philosophy and religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51307-4
    Subjects: Philosophy, History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction

    • CHAPTER 1 Comparative Philosophy of Religions
      (pp. 3-28)

      This book is about the philosophical content of an interreligious debate between Buddhist and Hindu intellectuals in premodern India. Its central concern is the range of arguments that an eleventh-century Buddhist intellectual named Ratnakīrti employed to criticize the beliefs of his non-Buddhist, Nyāya, interlocutors regarding the existence of a God-like being called “Īśvara.”¹ What is so exciting about these arguments is that they provide a window into Buddhist, Hindu, and Jaina intellectual practices and serve as concrete examples of one way in which the philosophy and intellectual history of religions was practiced in premodern South Asia.² In interpreting and critically...

  5. Part 1. Epistemology

    • CHAPTER 2 Religious Epistemology in Classical India: In Defense of a Hindu God
      (pp. 31-99)

      Philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God-like beings such as Īśvara have been important to the study of philosophy and religion in both Euro-American and South Asian contexts. This is in part because there is often much more at stake in such arguments than just the existence of an entity of one kind or the other—also at stake are both the worldview within which an Īśvara-like being is supposed to play a (central) role and the sense of self and way of life recommended by it. While such concerns may have informed Ratnakīrti’s arguments with the Naiyāyikas,...

    • CHAPTER 3 Against Īśvara: Ratnakīrti’s Buddhist Critique
      (pp. 100-194)

      Ratnakīrti’s Naiyāyikas defended their argument for the nature and existence of Īśvara by showing that none of the possible defects of the reason property “being an effect” applied to it. They concluded, therefore, that this reason property was a well-functioning instrument for the inferential awareness of Īśvara. Interestingly, in responding to their arguments, Ratnakīrti does not consider each defect in sequence and then argue that it does or does not apply to the reason property. Instead, he reorganizes the Naiyāyikas’ presentation of the material and discusses the issues raised in their defense of the argument under three more general section...

  6. Part 2. Language, Mind, and Ontology

    • CHAPTER 4 The Theory of Exclusion, Conceptual Content, and Buddhist Epistemology
      (pp. 197-247)

      In looking through the Naiyāyikas’ Īśvara-inference to uncover more basic problems in their account of inferential reasoning, Ratnakīrti presents himself as providing an “internal” critique of the Naiyāyikas’ argument—that is, a critique based on arguments and philosophical principles that are supposedly acceptable to them. As I have suggested, however, Ratnakīrti’s critique is also informed by his own philosophical views, as he brings to it very different ideas about the metaphysics and epistemology of inference-warranting relations (evident from his references to the “production” and “identity” modes of pervasion), the epistemology of certification and satisfaction, and the nature of reasonable doubt...

    • CHAPTER 5 Ratnakīrti’s World: Toward a Buddhist Philosophy of Everything
      (pp. 248-310)

      Like many of his predecessors in the so - called Yogācāra philosophical tradition, Ratnakīrti has no room in his ontology for mind-independent external objects (bāhyārtha).¹ For him, what we take to be mind-independent objects are nothing but mental objects/images. It is through his theory of mental objects/images that Ratnakīrti accounts for our experiences and thoughts about the world and the success of our “reality-involving” practices, such as sense perception and inferential-reasoning.² Our use of language is also such a reality-involving practice and, as explained in chapter 4, semantic value is one such mental object. For Ratnakīrti, it is the theory of...

  7. Conclusion

    • CHAPTER 6 The Values of Buddhist Epistemology
      (pp. 313-364)

      In introducing this book I began with a discussion of its subject matter (abhidheya), my reasons for writing it, including what I hoped to accomplish in doing so (prayojana), and how I hoped to achieve these ends (sambandha).¹ It seems appropriate, therefore, to conclude with how Ratnakīrti himself might answer such questions about his own work and, more specifically, with how he understood its value. My discussion of Ratnakīrti’s interest in the Naiyāyikas’ argument for the existence of Īśvara (in chapters 2–3) and my analysis of the broad range of philosophical resources that he relies upon in criticizing it...

    (pp. 365-390)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 391-406)