[INDOLOGY] QUERY: mouse-venom

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Fri Jul 22 09:00:32 UTC 2016

Thanks to all who have responded. The force of the argument is now quite clear,
as are the facts that the example was more broadly current in Indian Buddhist materials 
and that it draws on broader concerns about rat-poisoning in India.

Neither Śāntideva nor his commentator assert rat-venom to be a CAUSE of memory loss.
Their point is that it acts as a latent condition for a memory that emerges when other conditions - the thunderstorm - obtain.
The sense of a latent condition seems perfectly to accord with the several examples so usefully
provided by Seishi Karashima.

The force of the argument derives from its demonstration of memory that does not have a prior act of
self-awareness as a condition, thereby showing that self-awareness is not a necessary condition for memory,
thereby showing that Dignāga's memory argument does not hold.

I leave to one side the question of how strong or weak one judges this argument to be.
At least it is not so clearly sophistical as it might have first appeared.

thanks again,

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago


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