South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Does Perception Support or Refute the Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness?

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

The paper will examine a passage from the 7th chapter of Jayanta Bhaṭṭa’s Nyāyamañjarī (c. 900 CE). The passage has only received cursory scholarly attention. It has not been translated into a European language.


The passage can be divided into two parts, the first of which addresses the question of whether recognition (pratyabhijñā) refutes the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness. Does a cognition such as ‘this table that I am looking at now is the same table I was looking at a moment ago’ imply the existence of a unitary table existing at both moments?  Included here is a discussion between a Buddhist and a Naiyāyika about the nature of recognition, with the Buddhist holding that it is not a single cognition (jñāna), but rather two: a perception (anubhava) followed by a memory (smṛti). I will discuss what motivates the Buddhist and Naiyāyika positions and what hangs on them.


In the second part of the passage, the Buddhist defends the thesis that momentariness is apprehended by direct perception. A key claim here is that direct perception cannot grasp a temporally extended entity, because the range of sensory perception is the present alone. I will investigate whether the Buddhist illegitimately moves from this merely epistemological claim to an ontological claim about the duration of objects – whether he unwarrantedly assumes that the temporal extent of an object exactly matches the temporal range of perception.

Alex Watson

Ashoka University, India

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1 - Does Perception Support or Refute the Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness?



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