AW: Soteriology of universals

Paul G. Hackett ph2046 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Wed Oct 17 15:44:35 UTC 2007


That's interesting.  Can you provide a citation 
for that argument (the 
_Jnanasrimitra-nibandhavali_ (Patna, 1959), I 
    Of course, once you start talking about the 
perspective of an omniscient consciousness, it's 
a whole different affair.


Paul Hackett

At 10:46 PM +0200 10/13/07, Eli Franco wrote:
>Although universals are supposed to be unreal, they are nevertheless object
>of meditation. The case is argued in some detail by Jnaanasrimitra in the
>Yoginirnaya. The problem arises in connection with the object of the
>cognition of an omniscient person (such as the Buddha, etc.). If I remember
>correctly, Jnanasrimitra argues that its object is not an infinite number of
>individuals, but general properties (dharma) that appertain to all
>Best wishes,
>-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
>Von: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Im Auftrag von Paul G.
>Gesendet: Samstag, 13. Oktober 2007 04:49
>Betreff: Re: Soteriology of universals
>    You could argue that meditation on universals (sAmAnya) in Buddhism
>is not directly soteriological (since they are held to be un-real),
>but the negation of them is.  Georges Dreyfus has a discussion of the
>soteriological aspects of Dharmakirti's epistemology in his
>_Recognizing Reality_.
>Paul Hackett
>Columbia University
>At 9:46 PM +0100 10/12/07, Will Rasmussen wrote:
>>The realist-nominalist debate over the epistemology and metaphysics
>>of universals (sAmAnya) was/is as robust in the India as it was/is
>>in the West. However, in a few places Plato defends real universals
>>not only for their explanatory and even causative power, but also
>>for their soteriological power, by which meditation upon them (e.g.,
>>beauty, wisdom, goodness) is transformative of the mind/soul.
>>Graphically portrayed are his myths of metempsychosis (Meno,
>>Phaedrus and Republic), but only briefly does he ever identify
>>meditation/contemplation as the instrument/vehicle for determining
>>the direction of the psyche's transmigration.
>>I am curious to inquire whether this use of universals as objects of
>>meditation/contemplation was ever prescribed in any of the Indian
>>schools of philosophy, where of course metempsychosis was so widely
>>endorsed. In particular, I would be especially interested if India's
>>staunch universal realists, nyAya and vaizeSika, ever did so. Can
>>anyone suggest texts from nyAya or vaizeSika that address the
>>soteriological use of universals, and not just their existence and
>>explanatory power?
>>Failing that, might later mImAMsA address this anywhere, perhaps
>>through their doctrine of the eternality of sound..., though I
>>suspect this is rather a long shot.
>>And finally, I wonder whether the yoga darzana's meditation on the
>>qualities of saguna brahman might in some text(s) be construed as
>>reflection upon the universals (sAmAnya) of these qualities. I'm not
>>thinking here so much of the Tantric theory of the transformative
>>power of mantras purely by dint of their sound, but transformation
>>by focus upon the meanings of the universals.
>>I should perhaps mention that in turning to traditions in India I am
>>not seeking to put words in Plato's mouth, nor am I delving for
>>directions in the diffusion of ideas. Instead, I am interested in
>>seeing how different traditions (may have) developed the idea of the
>>salvific effect of 'universals-contemplation' on the mind/soul.
>>Many thanks and best wishes to all,
>>Dr Will Rasmussen
>>Matilal Lecturer in Indian Philosophy
>>Department of Philosophy
>>King's College London
>>160 The Strand, London WC2R 2LS
>>Tel: 020 7848 2757
>>Email: will.rasmussen at

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