Sensation and the Empirical Consciousness

Christian Coseru

in Perceiving Reality

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199843381
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979851 | DOI:
Sensation and the Empirical Consciousness

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At its foundation, the Buddhist epistemology of perception rests on the descriptive accounts of consciousness and cognition advanced by the Abhidharma scholastics. These accounts constitute the starting point for a series of complex arguments that Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla present in supporting their own analysis and interpretation of key doctrinal aspects in Dignāga and Dharmakīrti’s definitions of perception. This chapter offers a review of canonical and Abhidharma sources on the specific characteristics of the sensory systems as instruments of perception, drawing mainly from Vasubandhu’s work. It also explores the challenge that the rejection of a permanent self as the agent of sensory activity posed for the early Buddhists, and attempts to meet that challenge by adopting a two-dimensional view of cognitive awareness: as discernment and sentience.

Keywords: Abhidharma; Buddha’s discourses; no-self view; sensation; perception; attention; consciousness; mental proliferation; pragmatism

Chapter.  13572 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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