No outside, no inside: Duality, reality and Vasubandhu's illusory elephant

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Some of the basic terminology of Yogacara philosophy needs reevaluation. Whereas commentaries almost universally gloss the term dvaya ('duality') with some version of the phrase grahya grahaka ca (lit. 'grasped and grasper', but usually translated as 'subject and object'), in fact this gloss is absent from the earliest strata. The term and its gloss are derived from separate streams of Yogacara reasoningone from discussions of linguistic conceptualization and the other from discussions of perception. Once we see that these two are distinct, it becomes clear that the commentarial literature asserts their identity in order to philosophically unify Yogacara thought. One upshot of this is that even in this later assertion 'duality' refers not to the distinction between internal and external reality (as in 'textbook' Yogacara), but to the falsely projected distinction between mental subjects and mental objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalAsian Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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