This dissertation explores the relationship between the buddhalogical commitments of philosophers—commitments, that is, to what buddhahood is and how the path to it is to be traversed—and their systematic philosophical thought. In particular, I consider the unorthodox position in philosophy of mind of Ratnakarasanti (11th century), who defended the ultimate existence of contentless consciousness on the basis, I argue, of buddhalogical commitments developed in his enigmatic interpretation of tantra. This position is then juxtaposed with that of Ratnakara’s younger contemporary and critic, Jñanasrimitra, who defended the orthodox view that consciousness is by definition contentful in relation to a very different, non-tantric buddhalogy.


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Early Career Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies, 2022


What Is It Like To Be A Buddha? Tantra and Transformative Experience in Buddhist Philosophy




Buddhist philosophy and tantra are often studied separately. In 9th–12th century Pāla India, however, the boundaries between philosophy and yogic practice were not so clear. Grounded on the careful study of texts, this monograph frames debates about central stages of tantric practice as responses to problems in Dharmakīrti’s influential tradition of epistemology and philosophy of mind. Tantric authors not only used arguments and technical language inherited from Dharmakīrti; they also engaged critically with Dharmakīrti’s text tradition, offering new solutions to some of its foundational philosophical problems on the basis of the revolutionary possibilities afforded by tantra. In exploring these issues, this work sheds light on novel conceptions of consciousness, mental content, and transformative experience that developed in this period.