“Perceiving Reality is a masterful study of Buddhist epistemology.
It is first and foremost a substantial contribution to the philosophical
literature, developing a compelling account of epistemic authority in the
context of the phenomenology of perception. It is also an excellent study of
Indian Buddhist epistemological inquiry. The philology is impeccable.
But it is always in the service of philosophy.
Philosophers and Buddhologists must pay attention to Coseru’s book.”
What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects?
Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel?
How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses?
Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions
by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that
is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging
with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic philosophy of mind, but also by
drawing on the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Coseru offers a sustained argument
that Buddhist philosophers, in particular those who follow the tradition of inquiry
initiated by Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, have much to offer when it comes to explaining
why epistemological disputes about the evidential role of perceptual experience cannot
satisfactorily be resolved without taking into account the structure of our cognitive
awareness. Perceiving Reality examines the function of perception and its relation
to attention, language, and discursive thought, and provides new ways of conceptualizing
the Buddhist defense of the reflexivity thesis of consciousness–
namely, that each cognitive event is to be understood as involving a pre-reflective implicit
awareness of its own occurrence.
Coseru advances an innovative approach to Buddhist philosophy of mind in the form of
phenomenological naturalism, and moves beyond comparative approaches to philosophy
by emphasizing the continuity of concerns between Buddhist and Western philosophical
accounts of the nature of perceptual content and the character of perceptual consciousness.