Mereological Composition in Analytic and Buddhist Perspective

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (2):173-194 (2021)
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Abstract

Comparing Buddhist and contemporary analytic views about mereological composition reveals significant dissimilarities about the purposes that constrain successful answers to mereological questions, the kinds of considerations taken to be probative in justifying those answers, and the value of mereological inquiry. I develop these dissimilarities by examining three questions relevant to those who deny the existence of composite wholes. The first is a question of justification: What justifies denying the existence of composite wholes as more reasonable than affirming their existence? The second is a question of ontology: Under what conditions are many partless individuals arranged composite-wise? The third is a question of reasonableness: Why, if there are no composites available to experience, do “the folk” find it reasonable to believe there are? I motivate each question, sketch some analytic answers for each, develop in more detail answers from the Theravādin Buddhist scholar Buddhaghosa, and extract comparative lessons.

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Nicholaos Jones
University of Alabama, Huntsville

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