Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

External-World Skepticism in Classical India: The Case of Vasubandhu

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of International Journal for the Study of Skepticism

The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (c. 400 CE) has seldom been considered in conjunction with the problem of external-world skepticism despite the fact that his text, Twenty Verses, presents arguments from ignorance based on dreams. In this article, an epistemological phenomenalist interpretation of Vasubandhu is supported in opposition to a metaphysical idealist interpretation. On either interpretation, Vasubandhu gives an invitation to the problem of external-world skepticism, although his final conclusion is closer to skepticism on the epistemological phenomenalist interpretation. The article ends with reflections on what light Vasubandhu might shed on the issue of whether skepticism is a natural problem in epistemology as well as why, despite Vasubandhu, the skeptical problem was not a central issue in the later Indian tradition.

Affiliations: 1: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, United States,


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Anacker S. (2005). Seven Works of Vasubandhu: The Buddhist Psychological Doctor . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
2. Balcerowicz, P. (2016). “Jayarāśi.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition). Edited by E. Zalta. <>.
3. Berkeley G. (1979). Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous . Indianapolis: Hackett.
4. BonJour L., (2013). “"Epistemological Problems of Perception",” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Ed. Zalta E.. (Spring 2013 edition).
5. Bridges J.,, Kolodny N.,, and Wong W. (eds.). (2011). The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Reflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Burnyeat M.F. (1982). “"Idealism and Greek Philosophy: What Descartes Saw and Berkeley Missed",” The Philosophical Review Vol 91: 340.
7. Chakrabarti A. (1992). “"Idealist Refutations of Idealism",” Idealistic Studies Vol 22: 93106.
8. Dasti M. (2012). “"Parasitism and Disjunctivism in Nyāya Epistemology",” Philosophy East and West Vol 62: 115.
9. DeRose K. (1995). “"Solving the Skeptical Problem",” The Philosophical Review Vol 104: 152.
10. Descartes R., (1984). Meditations . In: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes , Vol Volume II. Trans. Cottingham John,, Stoothoff Robert, and Murdoch Dugald. New York: Cambridge University Press.
11. Descartes R,. (1985). Discourse on Method . In: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes , Vol Volume I . Translated by Cottingham J.,, Stoothoff R., and Murdoch D.. New York: Cambridge University Press.
12. Downing L., (2013). “"George Berkeley",” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Ed. Zalta E.. (Spring 2013 edition).
13. Feldman J. (2005). “"Vasubandhu’s Illusion Argument and the Parasitism of Illusion upon Veridical Experience",” Philosophy East and West Vol 55: 529541.
14. Fine G. (2003). “"Sextus and External World Skepticism",” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Vol 24: 341385.
15. Franco E. (1994). Perception, Knowledge and Disbelief: A Study of Jayarāśi’s Scepticism , Second Edition . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
16. Frauwallner E. (1951). On the Date of the Buddhist Master of the Law Vasubandhu . Rome: Instituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.
17. Garfield J. (2002). Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross Cultural Interpretation . New York: Oxford University Press.
18. Gautama,. (1999). Nyāya-Sūtras of Gautama with the Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana and the Vārṭika of Uddyotakara, Vols. 1–4. Translated by Jhā G.. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
19. Gold J. (2006). “"No Outside, No Inside: Duality, Reality and Vasubandhu’s Illusory Elephant",” Asian Philosophy Vol 16: 138.
20. Goodman C. (2004). “"The Treasury of Metaphysics and the Physical World",” The Philosophical Quarterly Vol 54: 389401.
21. Granoff P. (1978). Philosophy and Argument in Late Vedānta: Śrī Harṣa’s Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādhya . Boston: D. Reidel Publishing.
22. Griffiths P. (1986). On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-Body Problem . La Salle, IL: Open Court.
23. Hall B. (1986). “"The Meaning of Vijñapti in Vasubandhu’s Concept of Mind",” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol 9: 723.
24. Hayes R. (1988). Dignāga on the Interpretation of Signs . Boston: Kluwer.
25. Huemer M., (2011). “"Sense-Data",” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Ed. Zalta E., (Spring 2011 Edition).
26. Jayatilleke K. (1963). Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
27. Kaplan S. (1992). “"The Yogācāra Roots of Advaita Idealism? Noting a Similarity Between Vasubandhu and Gauḍapāda",” Journal of Indian Philosophy Vol 20: 191218.
28. Kapstein M. (1988). “"Merelogical Considerations in Vasubandhu’s ‘Proof of Idealism’ (Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi)",” Idealistic Studies Vol 18: 3254.
29. King R. (1995). Early Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism: The Mahāyāna Context of the Gauḍapāda Kārikā . Albany: State University of New York Press.
30. King R. (1998). “"Vijñaptimātratā and the Abhidharma Context of Early Yogācāra",” Asian Philosophy Vol 8: 518.
31. Kochumuttom T. (2008). A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience: A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu the Yogācārin . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
32. Kronen J., and Laine J.. (2012). “"Realism and Essentialism in the Nyāya Darśana",” International Philosophical Quarterly Vol 52: 315333.
33. Kuzminski A. (2008). Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism . Boulder: Lexington Books.
34. Matilal B. (1986). Perception: An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge . Oxford: Clarendon Press.
35. Matilal B., (2002). “"Scepticism and Mysticism".” In Ganeri J. (ed.), Mind, Language and World: The Collected Essays of Bimal Krishna Matilal , 7283. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
36. Maund B. (2003). Perception . Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
37. Mill J. (1865). An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy , Vol. Vol 1 . Boston: William V. Spencer.
38. Mills E. (2015). “"Jayarāśi’s Delightful Destruction of Epistemology",” Philosophy East and West Vol 65: 498541.
39. Nichols S.,, Stich S.,, and Weinberg J.,. (2003). “"Meta-skepticism: Meditations in Ethno-Epistemology".” In Luper S. (ed.), The Skeptics: Contemporary Essays , 227247. Burlington: Ashgate.
40. Phillips S. (1995). Classical Indian Metaphysics: Refutations of Realism and the Emergence of “New Logic.” Chicago: Open Court.
41. Phillips S. (2012). Epistemology in Classical India: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyāya School . New York: Routledge.
42. Radhakrishnan S., and Moore C. (eds.). (1989). A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy . Princeton: Princeton University Press.
43. Ram-Prasad C. (1995). “"Dreams and the Coherence of Experience: An Anti-Idealist Critique from Classical Indian Philosophy",” American Philosophical Quarterly Vol 32: 225239.
44. Robinson H. (1994). Perception . New York: Routledge.
45. Rudd A. (2008). “"Natural Doubts",” Metaphilosophy Vol 39: 305324.
46. Sarma D. (ed.) (2011). Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader . New York: Columbia University Press.
47. Siderits M. (2007). Buddhism as Philosophy: An Introduction . Indianapolis: Hackett.
48. Stoltz J. (2007). “"Gettier and Factivity in Indo-Tibetan Epistemology",” The Philosophical Quarterly Vol 57: 394415.
49. Stroud B. (1984). The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism . New York: Oxford University Press.
50. Stroud B. (2009). “"Scepticism and the Senses",” European Journal of Philosophy Vol 17: 559570.
51. Thorsrud H. (2009). Ancient Scepticism . Berkeley: University of California Press.
52. Trivedi S. (2005). “"Idealism and Yogācāra Buddhism",” Asian Philosophy Vol 15: 231246.
53. Vasubandhu,. (1925). Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi: Deux Traités de Vasbandhu, Viṃśatikā (La Vingtaine) Accompagnée d’une Explication en Prose et Triṃśatikā (La Trentaine) avec le Commentaire de Sthiramati . Edited by Lévi S.. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion.
54. Vasubandhu,. (1975). Abhidharmakośabhāṣyaṃ of Vasubandhu . Edited by Pradhan P.. Patna: K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute.
55. Vasubandhu,. (2005). "Viṃśikāvṛtti (Twenty Verses and Commentary)".” In Anacker S. (ed.), Seven Works of Vasubandhu , 413421. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
56. Wayman A. (1979). “"Yogācāra and the Buddhist Logicians",” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol 2: 6580.
57. Williams M. (1996). Unnatural Doubts: Epistemological Realism and the Basis of Scepticism . Princeton: Princeton University Press.
58. Willis J. (1979). On Knowing Reality: The Tattvārtha Chapter of Asaṅga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi. New York: Columbia University Press.
59. Wood T. (1991). Mind Only: A Philosophical and Doctrinal Analysis of the Vijñānavāda . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
60. Wood T. (1994). Nāgārjunian Disputations: A Philosophical Journey Through an Indian Looking-Glass . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation