Where Does the Cetanic Break Take Place? Weakness of Will in Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra

Comparative Philosophy 7 (2) (2016)
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This article explores the role of weakness of will in the Indian Buddhist tradition, and in particular within Śāntideva’s Introduction to the Practice of Awakening. In agreement with Jay Garfield, I argue that there are important differences between Aristotle’s account of akrasia and Buddhist moral psychology. Nevertheless, taking a more expanded conception of weakness of will, as is frequently done in contemporary work, allows us to draw significant connections with the pluralistic account of psychological conflict found in Buddhist texts. I demonstrate this by showing how Amélie Rorty’s expanded treatment of akrasia as including emotional response and perceptual classification allows us to recognize that one of the purposes of many of Śāntideva’s meditations is to treat various forms of akratic response.
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