This article proposes a new reading of the mirror analogy presented in the doctrine of Chinese Yogācāra Buddhism. Clerics, such as Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–664) and his protégé Kuiji 窺基 (632–682), articulated this analogy to describe our experience of other minds. In contrast with existing interpretations of this analogy as figurative ways of expressing ideas of projecting and reproducing, I argue that this mirroring experience should be understood as revealing, whereby we perceive other minds through the second-person perspective. This mirroring experience, in its allusion to the collectivity of consciousness, yields the metaphysical explication of mutual interdependence and the prescription of norms for compassionate actions.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arnold, Dan. 2012. Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-scientific Philosophy of Mind. New York: Columbia University Press.
Coseru, Christian. 2012. Perceiving Reality: Consciousness, Intentionality, and Cognition in Buddhist Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dignāga 陳那. Ālambanaparīkşā, On the Insight of the Condition of the Perceived 觀所緣緣論. Trans. by Xuanzang 玄奘. T.31, No. 1624. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
Gallagher, Shaun. 2001. “The Practice of Mind: Simulation or Interaction.” In Between Ourselves: Second-Person Issues in the Study of Consciousness, edited by Evan Thompson. Charlottesville: Imprint Academic.
Goldman, Alvin. 2006. Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Mindreading. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hyslop, Alec. 2014. “Other Minds.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition). Edited by Edward N. Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/other-minds/ (last accessed on June 15, 2018).
Jiang, Tao. 2006. Contexts and Dialogue: Yogācāra Buddhism and Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
Kuiji 窺基. Commentary of the Perfection of Consciousness-only 成唯識論述記. T.43, No. 1830. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
______. The Handbook of the Gist of the Perfection of Consciousness-only 成唯識論掌中樞要. T.43, No. 1831. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
______. Commentary of the Perfection of Consciousness-only 成唯識論述記. T.43, . Commentary of the Twenty Verses on Consciousness-only 唯識二十論述記. T.43, No. 1834. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
La Vallée Poussin, Louis de, trans. 1928. Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi: la Siddhi de Hiuan-Tsang. Paris: P. Geuthner.
Lin, Chen-Kuo. 2009. “Object of Cognition in Dignāga’s Ālambanaparīkṣāvṛtti: On the Controversial Passages in Paramārtha’s and Xuanzang’s Translation.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 30.1: 117–138.
Lusthaus, Dan. 2002. Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogācāra Buddhism and the Chʼeng Wei-shih Lun. New York: Routledge.
Lü, Cheng 呂澂. 1986. The Collected Writings of L ü Cheng on Buddhism, Vol. 1 呂澂佛學論著選集(一). Jinan 濟南: Qilu Shushe 齊魯書社.
MacKenzie, Matthew. 2017. “Luminous Mind: Self-Luminosity versus Other-Luminosity in Indian Philosophy of Mind.” In Indian Epistemology and Metaphysics, edited by Joerg Tuske. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Paramārtha 真諦. On the Turning Consciousness 轉識論. T.31, No. 1587. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
Perrett, Roy. 2017. “Buddhist Idealism and the Problem of Other Minds.” Asian Philosophy 27.1: 59–68.
Schmithausen, Lambert. 2005. On the Problem of the External World in the Ch’eng Wei Shih Lun. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies.
Takakusu, Junjirō 高楠順次郎, Watanabe Kaikyoku 渡辺海旭, Ono Genmyō 小野玄妙, and Taishō Issaikyō Kankōkai 大正一切経刊行会, eds. 1924–1932. Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō 大正新脩大藏經. CBETA Database, www.cbeta.org (last accessed on May 30, 2019).
Taylor, Charles. 1985. Human Agency and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
______. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Thompson, Evan. 2015. Waking, Dreaming, Being: New Light on the Self and Consciousness from Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.
Tzohar, Roy. 2016. “Imagine Being a Preta: Early Indian Yogācāra Approaches to Intersubjectivity.” Sophia 3.1: 1–18.
Xuanzang 玄奘. On the Perfection of Consciousness-only 成唯識論. T.31, No. 1585. (see Takakusu et al. 1924–1932)
Yao, Zhihua. 2005. The Buddhist Theory of Self-cognition. New York: Routledge.
Zahavi, Dan. 2005. Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person Perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
______. 2008. “Simulation, Projection and Empathy.” Consciousness and Cognition 17.2: 514–522.
______. 2010. “Empathy, Embodiment and Interpersonal Understanding: From Lipps to Schutz.” Inquiry 53.3: 285–306.
I want to express my gratitude to the comments from two anonymous reviewers that helped me improve the article. I am also grateful to Antoine Panaïoti for his suggestions on the earlier draft, and to Shaun Retallick for his editorial advice. Finally, I hope to thank Le Programme de Bourses d'Excellence pour Étudiants Étrangers (PBEEE) from the Quebec government for supporting my research.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Li, J. Through the Mirror: The Account of Other Minds in Chinese Yogācāra Buddhism. Dao 18, 435–451 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-019-09674-3
- Chinese Yogācāra Buddhism
- Other minds
- Second-person perspective