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  1. 1. Comments on Watson Sebastian Watzl (CSMN, Oslo)
  2. 2. The Nyāyā-Vaiśeṣika View Faculty Attention is a mental faculty that allocates resources. Separation Attention is distinct from consciousness Necessity Attention is necessary (but not sufficient) for consciousness Self There is unified persisting subject of experience. Control Attention is always directly controlled by the subject.
  3. 3. The Buddhist View time experiential events No Faculty No unified mental faculty that allocates resources. No Self No unified persisting subject of experience. Temporal Atomism Every fundamental experience momentary. IntrinsicnessAttentiveness is an intrinsic feature of experiences. No Control Attention never controlled by the subject. attentive experiential events
  4. 4. The Buddhist Argumentative Strategy  Focus of the Debate: What explains the character of the experiential stream? (not: what is the character of the experiential stream)  The Buddhist argues for a sparse, deflationary, atomistic mental ontology.  Methodological advice  Don’t introduce entities beyond necessity!  If something is not needed to explain the character of the experiential stream, don’t believe it exists!
  5. 5. The Buddhist Argumentative Strategy Discussion Points 1  Why should a defender of the Nyāyā-Vaiśeṣika view accept this methodological advice?  Seems to presuppose a strong presumption in favor of the sparse ontology.  Alternative methodological advice:  Ask what best explains uncontroversial features of mental life.  Ask also about the point or function of some feature of mental life.
  6. 6. Awareness of Attention and Time  Are we ever aware of attending or shifting attention?  Buddhist (?)  No, nothing beyond the sequence of experiential events is ever “apprehended”  That seems false  Can be (or become) aware of shifting attention.
  7. 7. Awareness of Attention and Time Argument against Temporal Atomism 1. Awareness of shifting attention from red dot to green dot is awareness of a temporally extended experiential process or change in experience. 2. This process is not momentary. 3. Awareness of shifting attention is not illusory ________________________________________________ 4. Not all aspects of experience are momentary experiential events.
  8. 8. Awareness of Attention and Time  Objection:  Should understand awareness of shifting attention from red dot to green dot as: attentive experience of red dot followed by attentive experience of green dot.  If we don’t go beyond experience, there is still no reason to believe in fundamentally non-momentary aspects of mental life.  Reply:  Same strategy would understand awareness of a moving dot as: awareness of dot at one location followed by awareness of dot at different location.  The don’t go beyond experience strategy then would lead to the conclusion that everything (not just mental life) is fundamentally momentary.
  9. 9. Awareness of Attention and Time Discussion Points 2  Do Buddhists accept the parallelism between temporal atomism about mental life and temporal atomism generally?  Do Buddhists (explicitly) reject the claim that a change in experience is not sufficient for an experience of change?
  10. 10. Awareness of Attention and Agent Control  It seems to me that I can control my attention. I can, just like that, focus on the green dot.  Attention, in a case like this, seems to be a paradigmatic example of a voluntary activity.  Central to the Nyāyā- Vaiśeṣika view  Also: Reid, Malebranche, W. James  Freedom over attention one of the last bastions of freedom as we think of external factors outside our control and
  11. 11. Awareness of Attention and Agent Control Argument Against the No-Self View 1. There is an experience of actively controlling the focus of attention. 2. The experience in (1) is an experience as of oneself controlling the focus of attention. 3. An experience as of oneself controlling the focus of attention is an experience as of a thing or substance that does something and has a variety of experiences and not an experience of one experience event causing another experience event. 4. The experience in (3) is not illusory _______________________________________________ 5. There is a thing or substance that does something and has a variety of experiences
  12. 12. Awareness of Attention and Agent Control  The Sāṅkhyas deny (5). But Buddhists don’t.  Success of this argument would also undercut the main line of support for the no-self view.  The Buddhist will probably try to deny (2) or (3).
  13. 13. Awareness of Attention and Agent Control Discussion Point 3  Do Buddhists discuss this argument?  If so, how do they respond to it?  Is not, what would they say?
  14. 14. An Argument against Persisting Subjects Another argument against the Self view 1. If there were a persisting self, then that self would need to undergo qualitative change over time (since it is affected by various distinct objects and to be affected by something requires being changed by it). 2. But the self cannot undergo qualitative change over time (because then it would have two different natures at different times). ____________________________________________ _ 3. There is no persisting self
  15. 15. An Argument against Persisting Subjects Another argument against the Self view 1. If there were a persisting self, then that self would need to undergo qualitative change over time (since it is affected by various distinct objects and to be affected by something requires being changed by it). 2. But the self cannot undergo qualitative change over time (because then it would have two different natures at different times). ____________________________________________ _ 3. There is no persisting self quality (~ guṇa?) nature (~svabhāva?_
  16. 16. An Argument against Persisting Subjects Another argument against the Self view 1. If there were a persisting self, then that self would need to undergo a change in qualities over time (since it is affected by various distinct objects and to be affected by something requires being changed by it). 2. But the self cannot undergo a change in nature over time (because then it would have two different natures at different times). ____________________________________________ _ 3. There is no persisting self
  17. 17. An Argument against Persisting Subjects Discussion Point 4  Have the Nyāyā- Vaiśeṣikas made this response?  If so, how did/would the Buddhists reply?
  18. 18. Explaining Patterns in the Experiential Mosaic
  19. 19. Explaining Patterns in the Experiential Mosaic  The Nyāyā-Vaiśeṣikas might argue that their view is better than the Buddhist view, because it can explain patterns in the stream of consciousness that for the Buddhist are brute facts:  Attentive experiences are accompanied by (other) inattentive experiences.  Training can affect attention generally.  ...
  20. 20. Explaining Patterns in the Experiential Mosaic Discussion point 5  Would the Buddhists allow such explanatory arguments?  How far can such arguments go?
  21. 21. Thanks Alex! and hope to learn more ....
  22. 22. The Questions  The Buddhist Argumentative Strategy  Awareness of Attention and Time  Awareness of Attention and Agent Control  An Argument against Persisting Subjects  Explaining Patterns in the Experiential Mosaic

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