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Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (review)

Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (review) s perficial approximation and unmanageable comprehensiveness. He does an u i pressive job explicating Gagea's account in language familiar to students of m analyticphilosophy,andmakesastrongcasefortherelevanceofNyyaviewsto analyticepistemologyandlogic.Classical Indian Philosophy of InductionisatremendousresourcefromwhichstudentsofWesternandIndianphilosophyalikehave muchtolearn. Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy.BytheCowherds.New York:OxfordUniversityPress,2011.Pp.xii+251.$35.00. ReviewedbyJeremy E. Henkel WoffordCollege Collaborativelywrittenbysomeoftheworld'sforemostexpertsinIndo-TibetanBuddhistphilosophy,1Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophyisan unusualbook.Itstandssomewherebetweenbeingacollectionofessaysandbeing asinglemonograph.Theauthorsrefertoitasa"polygraph"toacknowledgeboth theirmutualinfluenceoneachotherandtheinterrelatednessofthechapters;nevertheless,eachchapterisindependentenoughtostandonitsownasaseparatearticle. ThecentralthemeofMoonshadowsisthenotionofconventionaltruth,particularly asitiselaboratedinMadhyamaka.Thebookisnotahistoricalexegesis,however;it isanattempt ndasuccessfuloneatthat oengagewiththeBuddhistnotionof --a --t conventionaltruthnotonlyonitsownterms,butalsofromtheperspectiveofcontemporaryWesternepistemologicaldiscussions. The first chapter contains an introduction to the notion of the "two truths" in BuddhismandtherolethatconventionaltruthplaysinBuddhistphilosophyaswell asasummaryoftheremainingchapters.Chapter2addressestheissueofhowatruth thatisdistorting,misleading,andultimatelytobeabandoned sconventionaltruth --a istakentobe anproperlybeconsidereda"truth"atall.Theauthorsarguethat --c thereissomethinglegitimatehere,that"conventionallytrue"isnotjustaroundabout wayofsaying"false." Chapters3and4dealspecificallywiththeepistemologyofconventionaltruth, includingwhatthelegitimateepistemicinstruments(pramainSanskrit,tshad ma inTibetan) are. Chapter 3 focuses on Candrakrti's divergence from the DiggaDharmakrti analysis of the pramas, and chapter 4 looks more closely at T ongkhapa'sdevelopmentofCandrakrti'sanalysis.Together,thechaptersaddress s concernsabouthowthegraspingofwhatisonlyconventionallytruecanbeconsideredknowledge,andhowsomethingcanbesaidtoexist(evenifonlyconventionally)ifanalysisrevealsittobeultimatelyemptyornon-existent. Chapter5examinesTsongkhapa'sandGorampa'scompetinginterpretationsof whatweshouldtakeNgrjuna'semptinesstobeadenialof hesupposedintrinsic --t naturesofobjects,ortheobjectsthemselves.Chapters6and7exploretheaffinities betweenMadhyamakaandclassicalWestern(bothAcademicandPyrrhonian)skepticism.Inchapter8theauthorsarguethat,atleastwithregardtoconventionaltruth, PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number3July2012428­429 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress theMadhyamakapositionisbestunderstoodasasortofdeflationarytheoryoftruth, ratherthancorrespondence,coherence,orevenpan-fictionalism. Chapters9­12explorethequestionofhowthenotionofconventionaltruthcan beacceptedwithouttruththerebylosingitsnormativeforce.ForthenotionofconventionaltruthtodotheworkthatitissupposedtodowithinaBuddhistframework, theremustbeadifferencebetweenacceptingthatsomethingisconventionallytrue andjustslavishlyfollowingmajorityopinion.Relatedly,anaccountisneededofhow therecanbeepistemicprogresswithintherealmofthemerelyconventional. Finally, chapters 13­14 look at the implications of different accounts of conventionaltruthforunderstandingenlightenment,andforattemptstojustifyamoral/ ethicalstandpointtothosewhodonotnecessarilyshareone'sbasicviews. ThenotionofthetwotruthsisacentralissueinBuddhistphilosophy,butdiscussionsalmostalwaysfocusprimarilyorexclusivelyonthenatureofultimatetruth. TheauthorsofMoonshadowshavedoneagreatservicetoBuddhistscholarshipin remindingusjusthowimportant,andhowphilosophicallyinteresting,thenotionof conventionaltruthis. Note 1 hecontributorsincludeGeorgesDreyfus,BronwynFinnigan,JayL.Garfield,GuyMartin ­T Newland,GrahamPriest,MarkSiderits,KojiTanaka,SonamThakchoe,TomTillemans, andJanWesterhoff. Lives of Confucius: Civilization's Greatest Sage Through the Ages.ByMichaelNylan and Thomas Wilson. New York: Doubleday, 2010. Pp. ix+293. Hardcover U.S. $25.00,CAN$29.95. ReviewedbyGuo Jue WesternMichiganUniversity Almost a century ago, the renowned historian Gu Jiegang (1893­1980) remarked thateacherahasitsownKongzi,andinfacteacherahashadmanydisparateK ngzis. o Suchvaryingpersonalities,hecontinued,mystifyEveryman,whoislongingforatrue Kongzi.1 Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson's Lives of Confucius: Civilization's http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 62 (3) – Aug 3, 2012

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Abstract

s perficial approximation and unmanageable comprehensiveness. He does an u i pressive job explicating Gagea's account in language familiar to students of m analyticphilosophy,andmakesastrongcasefortherelevanceofNyyaviewsto analyticepistemologyandlogic.Classical Indian Philosophy of InductionisatremendousresourcefromwhichstudentsofWesternandIndianphilosophyalikehave muchtolearn. Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy.BytheCowherds.New York:OxfordUniversityPress,2011.Pp.xii+251.$35.00. ReviewedbyJeremy E. Henkel WoffordCollege Collaborativelywrittenbysomeoftheworld'sforemostexpertsinIndo-TibetanBuddhistphilosophy,1Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophyisan unusualbook.Itstandssomewherebetweenbeingacollectionofessaysandbeing asinglemonograph.Theauthorsrefertoitasa"polygraph"toacknowledgeboth theirmutualinfluenceoneachotherandtheinterrelatednessofthechapters;nevertheless,eachchapterisindependentenoughtostandonitsownasaseparatearticle. ThecentralthemeofMoonshadowsisthenotionofconventionaltruth,particularly asitiselaboratedinMadhyamaka.Thebookisnotahistoricalexegesis,however;it isanattempt ndasuccessfuloneatthat oengagewiththeBuddhistnotionof --a --t conventionaltruthnotonlyonitsownterms,butalsofromtheperspectiveofcontemporaryWesternepistemologicaldiscussions. The first chapter contains an introduction to the notion of the "two truths" in BuddhismandtherolethatconventionaltruthplaysinBuddhistphilosophyaswell asasummaryoftheremainingchapters.Chapter2addressestheissueofhowatruth thatisdistorting,misleading,andultimatelytobeabandoned sconventionaltruth --a istakentobe anproperlybeconsidereda"truth"atall.Theauthorsarguethat --c thereissomethinglegitimatehere,that"conventionallytrue"isnotjustaroundabout wayofsaying"false." Chapters3and4dealspecificallywiththeepistemologyofconventionaltruth, includingwhatthelegitimateepistemicinstruments(pramainSanskrit,tshad ma inTibetan) are. Chapter 3 focuses on Candrakrti's divergence from the DiggaDharmakrti analysis of the pramas, and chapter 4 looks more closely at T ongkhapa'sdevelopmentofCandrakrti'sanalysis.Together,thechaptersaddress s concernsabouthowthegraspingofwhatisonlyconventionallytruecanbeconsideredknowledge,andhowsomethingcanbesaidtoexist(evenifonlyconventionally)ifanalysisrevealsittobeultimatelyemptyornon-existent. Chapter5examinesTsongkhapa'sandGorampa'scompetinginterpretationsof whatweshouldtakeNgrjuna'semptinesstobeadenialof hesupposedintrinsic --t naturesofobjects,ortheobjectsthemselves.Chapters6and7exploretheaffinities betweenMadhyamakaandclassicalWestern(bothAcademicandPyrrhonian)skepticism.Inchapter8theauthorsarguethat,atleastwithregardtoconventionaltruth, PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number3July2012428­429 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress theMadhyamakapositionisbestunderstoodasasortofdeflationarytheoryoftruth, ratherthancorrespondence,coherence,orevenpan-fictionalism. Chapters9­12explorethequestionofhowthenotionofconventionaltruthcan beacceptedwithouttruththerebylosingitsnormativeforce.ForthenotionofconventionaltruthtodotheworkthatitissupposedtodowithinaBuddhistframework, theremustbeadifferencebetweenacceptingthatsomethingisconventionallytrue andjustslavishlyfollowingmajorityopinion.Relatedly,anaccountisneededofhow therecanbeepistemicprogresswithintherealmofthemerelyconventional. Finally, chapters 13­14 look at the implications of different accounts of conventionaltruthforunderstandingenlightenment,andforattemptstojustifyamoral/ ethicalstandpointtothosewhodonotnecessarilyshareone'sbasicviews. ThenotionofthetwotruthsisacentralissueinBuddhistphilosophy,butdiscussionsalmostalwaysfocusprimarilyorexclusivelyonthenatureofultimatetruth. TheauthorsofMoonshadowshavedoneagreatservicetoBuddhistscholarshipin remindingusjusthowimportant,andhowphilosophicallyinteresting,thenotionof conventionaltruthis. Note 1 hecontributorsincludeGeorgesDreyfus,BronwynFinnigan,JayL.Garfield,GuyMartin ­T Newland,GrahamPriest,MarkSiderits,KojiTanaka,SonamThakchoe,TomTillemans, andJanWesterhoff. Lives of Confucius: Civilization's Greatest Sage Through the Ages.ByMichaelNylan and Thomas Wilson. New York: Doubleday, 2010. Pp. ix+293. Hardcover U.S. $25.00,CAN$29.95. ReviewedbyGuo Jue WesternMichiganUniversity Almost a century ago, the renowned historian Gu Jiegang (1893­1980) remarked thateacherahasitsownKongzi,andinfacteacherahashadmanydisparateK ngzis. o Suchvaryingpersonalities,hecontinued,mystifyEveryman,whoislongingforatrue Kongzi.1 Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson's Lives of Confucius: Civilization's

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Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 3, 2012

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