Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 533–552 | Cite as

The Unanswered Questions and the Limits of Knowledge



In this article I look at the Buddha's refusal to answer certain questions in light of the dynamics of ancient Indian debate. Doing so foregrounds a dimension of the Buddha's interaction with his interlocutors that is central for understanding the problem of what are known as the Undetermined or Unanswered (avyākata) Questions: namely, the Buddha's knowledge and authority vis-à-vis rival teachers.


Unanswered Questions Debate No-self 


All references are to the relevant Pali Text Society editions, with their corre- sponding volumes


Aṅguttara Nikāya


Aṅguttara Nikāya Aṭṭhakathā (Manorathapūraṇī)


Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad


Dīgha Nikāya


Dīgha Nikāya Aṭṭhakathā (Sumaṅgalavilāsinī)


Saṃyutta Nikāya


Majjhima Nikāya




Udāna Aṭṭhakathā (Paramatthadīpanī)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loyola UniversityChicagoUSA

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