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Christian Coseru
College of Charleston
  1. Consciousness and the Mind-Body Problem in Indian Philosophy.Christian Coseru - 2018 - In Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Consciousness. New York: Routledge. pp. 92-104.
    This chapter considers the sheer amount of literature associated with the exploration of consciousness in Indian philosophy. It focuses on a range of methodological and conceptual issues, drawing on three main sources: the naturalist theories of mind of Nyaya and Vaisesika, the mainly phenomenological accounts of mental activity and consciousness of Abhidharma and Yogacara Buddhism, and the subjective transcendental theory of consciousness of Advaita Vedanta. The contributions of Indian philosophers to the study of consciousness are examined not simply as a (...)
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  2. Reason and Experience in Buddhist Epistemology.Christian Coseru - 2013 - In Steven Emmanuel (ed.), A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. West Sussex, UKL: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 241–255.
    Among the key factors that play a crucial role in the acquisition of knowledge, Buddhist philosophers list (i) the testimony of sense experience, (ii) introspective awareness (iii) inferences drawn from these directs modes of acquaintance, and (iv) some version of coherentism, so as guarantee that truth claims remains consistent across a diverse philosophical corpus. This paper argues that when Buddhists employ reason, they do so primarily in order to advance a range of empirical and introspective claims. As a result, reasoning, (...)
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  3.  84
    Reasons and Conscious Persons.Christian Coseru - forthcoming - In Andrea Sauchelli (ed.), Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: An Introduction and Critical Inquiry. London: Routledge. pp. 160-186.
    What justifies holding the person that we are today morally responsible for something we did a year ago? And why are we justified in showing prudential concern for the future welfare of the person we will be a year from now? These questions cannot be systematically pursued without addressing the problem of personal identity. This essay considers whether Buddhist Reductionism, a philosophical project grounded on the idea that persons reduce to a set of bodily, sensory, perceptual, dispositional, and conscious elements, (...)
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  4. Presence of Mind: Consciousness and the Sense of Self.Christian Coseru - 2019 - In Manidipa Sen (ed.), Problem of the Self: Consciousness, Subjectivity, and the Other. New Delhi, India: Aatar Books. pp. 46–64.
    It is generally agreed that consciousness is a somewhat slippery term. However, more narrowly defined as 'phenomenal consciousness' it captures at least three essential features or aspects: subjective experience (the notion that what we are primarily conscious of are experiences), subjective knowledge (that feature of our awareness that gives consciousness its distinctive reflexive character), and phenomenal contrast (the phenomenality of awareness, absence of which makes consciousness intractable) (cf. Siewert 1998). If Buddhist accounts of consciousness are built, as it is claimed, (...)
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  5. Consciousness, Naturalism, and Human Flourishing.Christian Coseru - 2020 - In Bongrae Seok (ed.), Naturalism, Human Flourishing, and Asian Philosophy. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 113–130.
    This chapter pursues the question of naturalism in the context of non-Western philosophical contributions to ethics and philosophy of mind: First, what conception of naturalism, if any, is best suited to capture the scope of Buddhist Reductionism? And second, whether such a conception can still accommodate the distinctive features of phenomenal consciousness (e.g., subjectivity, intentionality, first-person givenness, etc.). The first section reviews dominant conceptions of naturalism, and their applicability to the Buddhist project. In the second section, the author provides an (...)
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  6. Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy.Christian Coseru - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
    What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects? Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel? How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses? Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic philosophy (...)
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  7. Dignāga and Dharmakīrti on Perception and Self-Awareness.Christian Coseru - 2016 - In John Powers (ed.), The Buddhist World. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 526–537.
    Like many of their counterparts in the West, Buddhist philosophers realized a long time ago that our linguistic and conceptual practices are rooted in pre-predicative modes of apprehension that provide implicit access to whatever is immediately present to awareness. This paper examines Dignāga’s and Dharmakīrti’s contributions to what has come to be known as “Buddhist epistemology” (sometimes referred in the specialist literature by the Sanskrit neologism pramāṇavāda, lit. “doctrine of epistemic warrants”), focusing on the phenomenological and epistemic role of perception (...)
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  8.  73
    More or Less Within My Power: Nature, Virtue, and the Modern Stoic.Christian Coseru - 2018 - Reason Papers 40 (2):8-18.
    Can the Stoic conception of what is within our power be adapted to fit our scientifically informed view of nature in general and of human nature in particular? This paper argues that it can, but not without a revision of the Stoic’s classical dichotomy of power principle, namely that some things are up to us, while others are beyond our control. Given the extent to which the Stoic way of life flows from a certain conception of what is real, a (...)
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  9.  52
    Interpretations or Interventions? Indian Philosophy in the Global Cosmopolis.Christian Coseru - 2018 - In Purushottama Bilimoria (ed.), History of Indian philosophy. London & New York: Routledge. pp. 3–14.
    This introduction concerns the place that Indian philosophical literature should occupy in the history of philosophy, and the challenge of championing pre-modern modes of inquiry in an era when philosophy, at least in the anglophone world and its satellites, has in large measure become a highly specialized and technical discipline conceived on the model of the sciences. This challenge is particularly acute when philosophical figures and texts that are historically and culturally distant from us are engaged not only exegetically but (...)
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  10.  61
    Are Reasons Causally Relevant for Action? Dharmakīrti and the Embodied Cognition Paradigm.Christian Coseru - 2017 - In Steven Michael Emmanuel (ed.), Buddhist Philosophy: A Comparative Approach. Hoboken, USA: Wiley Blackwell. pp. 109–122.
    How do mental states come to be about something other than their own operations, and thus to serve as ground for effective action? This papers argues that causation in the mental domain should be understood to function on principles of intelligibility (that is, on principles which make it perfectly intelligible for intentions to have a causal role in initiating behavior) rather than on principles of mechanism (that is, on principles which explain how causation works in the physical domain). The paper (...)
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  11.  37
    Karma, Rebirth, and Mental Causation.Christian Coseru - 2007 - In Charles Prebish, Damien Kewon & Dale Wright (eds.), Revisioning Karma. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books. pp. 133-154.
    Attempts to provide a thoroughly naturalized reading of the doctrine of karma have raised important issues regarding its role in the overall economy of the Buddhist soteriological project. This paper identifies some of the most problematic aspects of a naturalized interpretation of karma: (1) the strained relationship between retributive action and personal identity, and (2) the debate concerning mental causation in modern reductionist accounts of persons. The paper explores the benefits of a phenomenological approach in which reductionist accounts of karma (...)
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  12.  40
    Consciousness and Causal Emergence: Śāntarakṣita Against Physicalism.Christian Coseru - 2017 - In Jonardon Ganeri (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 360–378.
    In challenging the physicalist conception of consciousness advanced by Cārvāka materialists such as Bṛhaspati, the Buddhist philosopher Śāntarakṣita addresses a series of key issues about the nature of causality and the basis of cognition. This chapter considers whether causal accounts of generation for material bodies are adequate in explaining how conscious awareness comes to have the structural features and phenomenal properties that it does. Arguments against reductive physicalism, it is claimed, can benefit from an understanding of the structure of phenomenal (...)
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  13.  35
    Precis of Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy.Christian Coseru - 2015 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (9-10):9-24.
    The point of departure for Perceiving Reality is the idea that per- ception is an embodied structural feature of consciousness whose function is determined by phenomenal experiences in a corresponding domain (of visible, tangibles, etc.). In Perceiving Reality, I try to develop a way of conceiving of our most basic mode of being in the world that resists attempts to cleave reality into an inner and outer, a mental and a physical domain. The central argument of the book is that (...)
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  14.  34
    Breaking Good: Moral Agency, Neuroethics, and the Spontaneity of Compassion.Christian Coseru - 2017 - In Jake H. Davis (ed.), A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 109-128.
    This paper addresses two specific and related questions the Buddhist neuroethics program raises for our traditional understanding of Buddhist ethics: Does affective neuroscience supply enough evidence that contempla- tive practices such as compassion meditation can enhance normal cognitive functioning? Can such an account advance the philosophical debate concerning freedom and determinism in a profitable direction? In response to the first question, I argue that dispositions such as empathy and altruism can in effect be understood in terms of the mechanisms that (...)
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  15.  33
    Perception, Causally Efficacious Particulars, and the Range of Phenomenal Consciousness: Reply to Commentaries.Christian Coseru - 2015 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 22 (9-10):55-82.
    This paper responds to critical commentaries on my book, Perceiving Reality (OUP, 2012), by Laura Guerrero, Matthew MacKenzie, and Anand Vaidya. Guerrero focuses on the metaphysics of causation, and its role in the broader question of whether the ‘two truths’ framework of Buddhist philosophy can be reconciled with the claim that science provides the best account of our experienced world. MacKenzie pursues two related questions: (i) Is reflexive awareness (svasaṃvedana) identical with the subjective pole of a dual-aspect cognition or are (...)
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  16.  31
    Freedom From Responsibility: Agent-Neutral Consequentialism and the Bodhisattva Ideal.Christian Coseru - 2016 - In Rick Repetti (ed.), Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will. New York: Routledge. pp. 92-105.
    This paper argues that influential Mahāyāna ethicists, such as Śāntideva, who allow for moral rules to be proscribed under the expediency of a compassionate aim, seriously compromise the very notion of moral responsibility. The central thesis is that moral responsibility is intelligible only in relation to conceptions of freedom and human dignity that reflect a participation in, and sharing of, interpersonal relationships. The central thesis of the paper is that revisionary strategies, which seek to explain agency in event-causal terms, set (...)
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