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Brains, Buddhas, and BelievingThe Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind$
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Dan Arnold

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231145473

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231145473.001.0001

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The Apoha Doctrine

The Apoha Doctrine

Dharmakīrti’s Account of Mental Content

(p.116) 4 The Apoha Doctrine
Brains, Buddhas, and Believing

Dan Arnold

Columbia University Press

This chapter considers the apoha doctrine as Dharmakīrti's proposed explanation of the content of thought—an explanation meant as a nonintentional account of intentionality, resembling, in this respect, the contemporary project of “naturalizing” intentionality. Apoha simply means “exclusion,” and the doctrine centering on this notion is typically characterized as the signal Buddhist contribution to India's philosophically sophisticated preoccupation with language. The apoha doctrine represents an alternative to the kinds of realism about linguistic universals variously exemplified by Brahmanical schools of Indian philosophy. Most basically, Buddhist proponents of the apoha doctrine argue that the semantic contentfulness of terms can finally be accounted for without reference to really existent universals—in particular, that the referents of words can be accounted for in terms of “exclusion”.

Keywords:   Dharmakīrti, Buddhism, apoha doctrine, Indian Buddhists, mental thought, intentionality, language

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