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Ratnakīrti and the Extent of Inner Space: an Essay on Yogācāra and the Threat of Genuine Solipsism

  • Sonam KachruEmail author


Though perhaps a dubious honor, Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 550–650 C.E.) is the first philosopher in any tradition to explicitly recognize the epistemological threat of solipsism, devoting an entire essay to the problem—The Justification of (the very idea of) Other Minds (Santānāntarasiddhi). This essay revisits Ratnakīrti’s (990–1050 C.E.) Doing Away with (A Justification of) Other Beings (Santānāntaraduṣaṇa) as a diagnosis of Dharmakīrti’s attempt to reconstruct the very idea of other beings, with particular attention to Ratnakīrti’s sensitivity to the conceptual preconditions for a genuine threat of solipsism. Along with the diagnosis of the conditions for the emergence of a problem of genuine solipsism, this essay takes as its focus Ratnakīrti’s criticism of attempts to meet with the problem. In particular, I shall stress an insight Ratnakīrti adduces in the course of his diagnosis. Attempts to meet the problem of solipsism head on, Ratnakīrti shows us, obscure what the preconditions for a genuine problem reveal: the fact of our possessing two incommensurable conceptions of mind, one of which is intrinsically and entirely first-personal—in a sense to be clarified in the course of this essay—and the other not. I conclude this essay with an inconclusive sketch of the difficulties that remain when considering what Ratnakīrti would have us conclude from his own diagnosis.


Idealism Solipsism Epistemology First-person Mind Other minds Other beings Yogācāra Xuanzang Dharmakīrti Ratnakīrti 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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