Causation-by-Ideation Theory:Subjective Idealism in Mahāyāna Buddhist Thought

  • Alfonso Verdu
Part of the Studies in Philosophy and Religion book series (STPAR, volume 3)


As we have just seen, the scholastic theories of Hīnayāna Buddhism reduce reality to a flux of “factors” for conscious experience. In so doing they foreshadow the doctrines of the British empiricists, especially David Hume’s denial of substantial personality and self-identity. The dharmas are the pluralistic factors of conscious experience whereby an apparent permanent subject stands in correlation to its world-object. This apparently self-abiding, continuous subject is the illusory effect resulting from the in-itself-discrete, quantum-like sequence of homogeneous dharma-elements of subjective awareness called vijñāna (discriminative consciousness) as they appear in coordination with their concomitant “objective” dharmas. The dharmas are spatio-temporally discrete and discontinuous; they manifest themselves as congeries or aggregates brought forth under the influence of sets of causal conditions. These causal conditions arise through the concurrence of a number of principal and subordinate causes (hetu-pratyaya). This pluriform conception of causality runs parallel to the pluralistic nature of the dharmas themselves.


Conscious Experience Causal Condition Individual Seed Chinese Text Illusory Effect 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso Verdu
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of KansasUSA

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