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CitationAitken, Allison. 2020. Everywhere Relations. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation explores non-standard theories of relations and dependence structures within two historical contexts—medieval South Asia and Early Modern Europe. It includes selected papers from two separate but conceptually linked projects: the first is a defense of Madhyamaka Buddhist metaphysical indefinitism; the second is an interpretation of the Lockean person as a relation.
Part I explores the possibility that everything is ontologically dependent on something else. Mādhyamika Buddhist philosophers claim just that. I analyze the anti-foundationalist “neither-one-nor-many argument” of the ca. seventh/eighth century Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta in his Commentary on the Introduction to Reality (Tattvāvatāravṛtti). As I show, this argument rejects the possibility of ontologically independent entities by rejecting the possibility of mereological simples, both material and mental. I argue that Mādhyamikas like Śrīgupta are committed to a position I call “metaphysical indefinitism,” and I make a case for its internal consistency and identify its virtues.
In Part II, I examine Locke’s unintuitive yet philosophically promising account of relations, which has been neglected thus far, despite the fact that it bears on nearly all aspects of his system, including his influential theory of personal identity. I argue that for Locke the person is, metaphysical speaking, a relation. With this account, I shed light on a historically overlooked distinction between the Lockean self and the Lockean person. I further show how a relation-interpretation of the Lockean person yields significant metaphysical and epistemological payoffs.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368937
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