Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to present and defend an interpretation of some central views of Dignāga, an important Indian Buddhist philosopher of the fifth century c.e ., on the theory of reflexive awareness ( svasaṃvedana ), or RA. According to RA, a conscious cognition, for instance a conscious visual experience, is directed not only at an object (or content), but also at itself. The Dignāgian view of reflexive awareness rests crucially on the so-called memory argument. An interpretation of this argument is proposed here, and three ways one could try to resist it are underscored. These objections rest, broadly, on three alternative ways of understanding the scenario of the memory argument. It is claimed that these alternative interpretations are faced with serious problems and, thus, that they fail to refute the memory argument. It is concluded that RA offers an adequate account of the nature of consciousness and self-knowledge, that is, how we know our own minds. Moreover, while Dignāga’s general philosophical views are typically understood as endorsing a kind of epistemological idealism, namely Yogācāra idealism, I point out that the interpretation of RA I propose is independent of such an idealist epistemology.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 2, 2015