mentalism and beyond in buddhist philosophy

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Mentalism and beyond in Buddhist Philosophy Author(s): Herbert V. Guenther Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 86, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1966), pp. 297304 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 25/02/2012 16:42Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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The Phoenician Inscription from PyrgiCBQ CC CIS CRAIBL CSEL DISO Ephem FHG ILN JA JBL JNES KAI NP


cated to Astarte because of any political or military event-in fact, line 6 would imply just the opposite. Many of the details which Garbini cites to establish a philological connection between Caere and Carthage are simply not cogent; thus his argument about the opening dedicatory formula and about the cult of Astarte at Carthage really prove nothing one way or the other. Among earlier commentators on the text S. Moscati sensed the Phoenician character of the text, but could only bring himself to describe it as " fenicio-punica." A. Dupont-Sommer, M. Dahood, P. Nober, and J.-G. Fevrier were content to follow Garbini's designation of it as Punic. Only J. Ferron came out clearly for its Phoenician character. Though we disagree with most of his interpretation of the text, nevertheless in this respect we tend to agree with him.'2Abbreviations: AfO ArchClass ArOr BIE Archiv filr Orientforschung Archeologia classics Archiv Orientdlni Bulletin de l'Institut de Z'Egypte


12 The author wishes to thank Profs. W. F. Albright, G. S. Glanzman, R. E. A. Palmer, and J. D. Shenkel for reading this article in manuscript and making various helpful comments and suggestions for its improvement.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly Corpus christianorum Corpus inscrip tionum semiticarum Comptes rendus de l'academie des inscriptions et belles-lettres latiCorpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum norum C.-F. Jean and J. Hoftijzer, Dictionnaire des inscriptions s6mitiques de l'ouest M. Lidzbarski, Ephemeris fiur semitische Epigraphik C. Miller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum Illustrated London News Journal asiatique Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Near Eastern Studies H. Donner and W. R81llig, Kanaandische und ararnaische Inschrif ten Neo-Punic Inscriptions (see list in Z. S. Harris, A Grammar of the Phoenician Language [New Haven, 1936]). G. A. Cooke, A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions Oriens antiquus J. Friedrich, Ph6nizisch-Punische Grammatik R6pertoire d'epigraphie semitique Rivista degli studi orientali Studi romani C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook Verbum domini Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenldndischen, Gesellschaf t







thought can be seen as a gradual progress from what seems to be a kind of naive realism through representative realism towards subjective idealism as far as the Indian setting applies, all of which is summarily discussed in Tibetan works on Buddhist philosophy under the heading of dngossmra-ba.' This term may best be translated by1 See for instance Ngag-dbang dpal-ldan's Grub-mtha' chen mo'i mchan-'grel dKa'-gnad mdud-grol blo-gsal gces-nor, vol. II (dngos-smra-ba'i skabs), where the philosophical views of the VaibhAsikas (pp. 1-70 of the Sarnath edition), SautrAntikas (70-110), and Vijf1anavadins (111-230) are discussed as forming one group (skabs).

'reductionism" because each system so far mentioned tries to reduce the whole of reality to one or more particular existents (dgnos-po). I deliberately avoid the term 'substance' in this connection because this term is exceedingly ambiguous even in Western philosophies and its unqualified (or unqualifiable) use with reference to Eastern ways of thinking would only add to confusion. Moreover, 'substance' would have to be defined in relation to 'matter' which again would raise formidable problems but solve nothing. There seems to be a similar difficulty to pertain to the terms rdzas and dngos-po. The latter has been translated by me as 'particular existent,' and the former is usually understood as meaning 'Matter,


GUENTHER: Mentalism and Beyond in Buddhist Philosophy

material substance.' But if we take rdzas in this sense we are forced to classify Buddhist idealism as 'materialism' because 'mind' (sems) is said to 'exist materialiter' (rdzas-yod). Its difference from the avowedly materialistic system of the Vaibhdsikas is only its monistic tendency. For the Vaibhasikas both the 'physical' (gzugs) and the 'mental' (sems) existed materialiter (rdzas-yod) 2 and in this respect could claim ultimate validity. They were of the same reality and were not mere incompatibles. But even the differentiation into pluralism (as in the case of the Vaibhlsikas) and monism (as in the case of the Vijnanavadins) is not a helpful description or classification because it can be argued that the Vaibhasikas, too, were monists in the sense that they recognized only one basic stuff (rdzas) as absolutely real, while they would be pluralists in recognizing a number of such stuff items giving rise to the fictional notions of the empirically physical and mental. All this shows that the use of Western categories in connection with Eastern patterns of thought is extremely misleading and in most cases reveals a considerable lack of understanding on the part of him who uses these categories. Instead of slurring over the major differences in philosophical thought in the East and West it seems more profitable to speak of the three major trends in Buddhism (Vaibhdsika, Sautrdntika, and VijfidnavAdin) criticized by the Buddhists themselves for their inadequacies, as representing a kind of 'thingness of thought' which turns even abstracta into 'things' or concrete entities, and either overlooks or is incapable of understanding the functional and operational nature of the thought-process. The critique of the 'reductionist' systems of Buddhist thought by the Buddhists themselves is therefore basically due to diametrically opposed attitudes which it is not sufficient to characterize as either static or dynamic. This difference becomes evident by contrasting the views of the bK '-brgyud-pas and rNying-ma2As opposed to btags-yod. If this distinction between rdzas-yod and btags-yod holds good for the Vaibhlisikas as we are told by the Tibetan authors of works dealing with Indian Buddhist thought, the "nominalistic " trend is not merely a corollary of the allegedly " idealistic " development, but forms an integral part of Buddhist "realism." This again shows that discussions of Buddhist problems in philosophy without previous and careful semantic studies are instances of deliberate obscurantism.

pas. The former are mentalists, while the latter repudiate the mentalistic reductions. Both start from the central concept of 'Mind' for which the texts use two closely related terms: sems and semsnyid. Both terms occur together in one of Saraha's verses which are considered authoritative by both schools. The relevant verse is found in Dohdkosa 43:cittekka saala biam bhava-nivvdna vi jamsi viphuranti tam cintdmani-riiam panamaha icohaphalam dei 3

The Tibetan translation issems-nyid gcig-pa kun-gyi sa-bon te gang-la srid dang mya-ngan-'das 'phro-ba 'dod-pa'i 'bras-bu ster-bar byed-pa-yi yid-bzhin nor 'dra'i sems-la 'phyag-'tshal-lo

Here it will be observed that citta is translated by sems-nyid and that tam is rendered by sems. The use of the particle nyid deserves special attention because it is from here that divergent interpretations derive. Inasmuch as nyid emphasizes the preceding word, pointing to the very thing under consideration, the translation of the Tibetan version is:"Mind, indeed, is all alone the seed of everything, From which the (various) forms of life and Nirvana proceed. Praise to mind which is similar to the WishFulfilling Gem Granting one's heart's desires."

The comparison of the Tibetan version with the Prakrit original shows that the latter does not contain a corresponding emphatic particle eva. And since nyid has a specific use in Tibetan, the insertion of it is ample proof that the Tibetans translated according to what was intended by the sentence, rather than mechanically.43 This verse number is given according to M. Shahidullah, Les Chants Mystiques de KRnha et de Saraha. Les Dohd-kosa et Les Carya. Paris 1928. This rather slipshot edition fails completely to mark the differences between the Apabhramsa version and its Tibetan translation. The version is a bowdlerized text and cannot be claimed to be original. 4 Tibetan translations of Indian texts are noted for their accuracy and this has given rise to the erroneous conception that Tibetan translations were just the original work in a different language. It shall not be denied that mechanical (almost computer-like) translations were made, but they belonged to a later age when the spirit of Buddhism was no longer alive. See the inter-


Mentalism and Beyond in Buddhist Philosophy


The bKa'-brgyud-pas do not always seems to have distinguished between the use of sems and sems-nyi