The research intends to compare Buddhism, vs. Quine vs. Crowley by examining some of the philosophy put across by the two Buddhist and other two contemporary philosophers. The research will spell out each philosophy one by one giving each a critical analysis and interpretation. The research intends to start by looking at Vasubandhu's Indian Buddhist Theory to be followed by the other Buddhism philosophy of Nagarjuna known as the philosophy of the middle way of Persons. The third and the fourth section will look at Quine's relativism, and Crowley's idea of crossing the abyss respectively. Lastly after a thorough look at each of the four philosophies the conclusion will give the comparison between each of the philosophy so as to satisfy the objective of the research.
Vasubandhu's Indian Buddhist Theory of Persons
Vasubandhu own contribution is the refutation or proving of the theory of self to be untrue, he did so by putting across his own original Indian Buddhist theory of persons, which (Duerlinger 9)[footnoteRef:2] among other authors view as defense theory of person initially suggested by the schools of Sautrantika and Vaibhasikas. The schools of Sautrantika and Vaibhasikas both believed that persons conceive themselves as illusionary localization of consciousness and that these untrue beliefs, idea, impression are the root cause of rebirth and suffering in human life. Vasubandhu through his theory says "persons can overcome this rebirth and suffering by simply acknowledging that they are not substantially real phenomena. He stems this point from the assumption that persons exist as a collection of substantially real non-permanent skandhas or aggregates. According to (Donath 23-26)[footnoteRef:3] Vasubandhu's theory suggest that these aggregates or skandhas are the phenomena upon which individual's own conception is based upon, and that nothing at all can be conceived on the basis of correct inference or direct perception. [2: Duerlinger 9] [3: Donath 23-26]
The Indian Buddhist theory of person disapproves other theory of persons that have been formulated by other schools, most notably the school of Pudgalavadins. This school suggested that the nature of existence was not part to individuals' own collection of such phenomenal and that illusionary localization of consciousness comprised of five skandhas or aggregates that were separate from the Atman considered to be inexpressible and in the fifth category. The theory claims that people unexplainable conventional realities are conceived depending on the collection of skandhas and that one exists ultimately apart from being conceived as someone without an identity separate from his i.e. one can have two different ideas that they consider to be one.
Vasubandhu while trying to disapprove the school of Pudgalavadins, he spells out a suggestion as to why the Buddha didn't answer the question as to whether people are or are not themselves other than their bodies, and this according to him was because the Buddha kept into consideration of the intention of the questioner. According to Vasubandhu, the intention of the questioner when asking the question was to know Buddha's answer if a soul is present within the body. Another question also in the school was from King Milinda to Nagasena, which Vasubandhu translated to "is an individual the body or is the body and the individual separate things?" Vasubandhu justify his disapproval on the school of Pudgalavadins by concluding that this question could not be answered because the soul itself doesn't exist.
The manner in which Vasubandhu offers disapproval to the school of Pudgalavadins has attracted a lot of critics from other philosophers and authors who include (Duerlinger 9)[footnoteRef:4] and (Bechert, and Gombrich, 89)[footnoteRef:5] whom both argue that Vasubandhu refutation is questionable because it was based on assumption of facts not evidence. Other critics point out that the school of Pudgalavadins didn't have two ideas labeled as self but they were three, therefore Vasubandhu criticism was wrong as it was based on two ideas. Pudgalavadins three ideas comprised of the temporal self, the physical body and the eternal Atman which if combined together could have been termed as "entities without separate identities," which means that both Nagasena and Buddha could interpreted have the questions raised similarly. Vasubandhu without any evidence for assumption interprets what is contrary to this. Alternatively other critics of Vasubandhu are of the opinion that the Buddha could have failed to respond to this question because combination of Atman and temporal self forms 'selves' not one self that's unexplainable. In such a case the question would have appeared as: "are we or not other than our bodies" in the negative and positive. [4: Duerlinger 9] [5: Bechert, and Gombrich, 89]
(Davidson 67-89)[footnoteRef:6] laments further about Vasubandhu criticism by claiming that it's not in record that the Buddha out rightly denied the existence of self, but instead he is quoted as saying "that the self can't be found neither in the skandhas nor apart from them." Buddha himself further talks of five aggregates or skandhas as the burden and acknowledges the carrier of the burden as the person," this point, adds more weight to the idea of temporal self, two non-bodily selves or the Atman or the five skandhas or the bearer of the burden. [6: Davidson 67-89]
Nagasena on the other could have agreed to Pudgalavadins belief that self is not same or different than Nirvana by suggesting that an individual doesn't exist as self that could also mean temporal self doesn't exist. It is from this reason mentioned above that (Duerlinger 9)[footnoteRef:7] and (Donath 23-26)[footnoteRef:8], concludes that Vasubandhu failed to give concrete evidence to prove the assumption he made while refuting the school of Pudgalavadins. [7: Duerlinger 9] [8: Donath 23-26]
Nagarjuna's philosophy of the Middle Way
Nagarjuna's philosophy is based on doctrine of dependence arising, which assumes that each and every pattern and regularity, and each of connection connections of the patterns must be explainable. Each of these explanations given offers further connections and patterns. Thus the doctrine of dependent arising consists of even more and greater articulate patterns of interdependence, but Nagarjuna is quick to point out that this doctrine cannot describe the whole universe as there is no well defined universe to explain.
(David 98-123)[footnoteRef:9] has pointed in his studies that Nagarjuna based his argument on the fact neither the present interdependence that's arising, nor the one already arisen, nor the non-arisen is being arisen, which is well explained by the concept of present moving, the move and the not yet moved. The author further adds on that the doctrine of dependence arises more questions than answers, by asking explanations of explanations to be explained leading to an infinite regression, Nagarjuna also accepts this as challenge as he only tries to explain the patterns of connections. [9: David 98-123]
What Nagarjuna posit as compared to ontological relativism are similar. As he points out that anything dependently co-arisen if its verbally established can only be answered by a further dependent co-arisen, this means there is no absolute truth same as ontological relativism. On the issue of reincarnation of Atman the answer, which is the truth is dependent first of all on the acceptance of Atman, which is also established verbally. To accept something as a dependent arisen therefore is largely dependent on verbal conventions and to acknowledge something as dependent arisen means that it is acknowledged as being referent to a word of which the object or word being referred to is temporal-spatial, indefinite and casual manifold.
Nagarjuna notes that to refer to anything existence as verbal only is to maintain its emptiness i.e. dependent and nominal, in other words such a thing neither has existence nor nonexistence, but only a conventional reality. His philosophy questions assumptions like individuality of persons, belief in selfhood or fixed identity, existence of stable things, the separation between bad and good conduct, the separation between fettered and blessed life and the one-direction and linear movement of causation, he term all this assumptions as being based on the concept of insight of emptiness or the lack of existence.
The middle way philosophy can also be termed as the middle way of emptiness as neither nonexistent nor existent and hence based on this dependently arising are viewed as neither nonexistent or nonempty and as existent and empty. On the other hand dependent origination includes dependently co-arisen being conventionally existent but empty and thus the middle way.
Therefore the present arising, the arisen and the non-arisen do develop existence and ontological truth, this means the non-arisen whom are arising can have nature of existence reality coupled with non-reality emptiness of physical. This in a sense contradicts the regression that's infinite because the nature of existence of infinite regression doesn't commence until we begin it, but if it is arisen ontologically it will generate all the other things this way, which then could be termed as the middle path between Sautranikas opinion of nothing comes out of nothing and the Sautantkas opinion that leads to a regress which is infinite.
Nagarjuna's middle way philosophy also shows the distinction between nirvana and samsara by stating that…