Westerhoff über Svabhava im Madhyamaka

  • Als ich dies hier schrieb ...

    Die bedingten Dinge, die wirklich existieren, haben zwar keine Substanz aber eine Essenz.

    ... bezog ich mich auf: Westerhoff, Jan Christoph (2007): The Madhyamaka Concept of Svabhāva: Ontological and Cognitive Aspects, in: Asian Philosophy 17 (1), S. 17–45. Die Zitate sind aus diesem Text. Siehe ebenfalls bei Westerhoff (2022): Nāgārjuna, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2022 Edition). Online verfügbar unter Nāgārjuna (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

    Westerhoff unterteilt svabhāva konzeptuell in eine ontologische und eine kognitive Dimension. Die ontologische Dimension unterteilt er weiter in: Substanz-svabhāva, Essenz-svabhāva und Absolut-svabhāva (die wahre Natur der Dinge). Später setzt er Essenz- und Absolut-svabhāva gleich. Bei dieser Unterteilung bezieht er sich auf Candrakīrtis Kommentar Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. Nāgārjunas Kritik zielt ab auf Substanz-svabhāva und nicht auf Essenz-svabhāva. Nachfolgend zwei längere Zitate:


    Although at this early stage [i.e., early Abhidharma literature] svabhāva does not yet constitute a clearly defined piece of philosophical terminology it is apparent that it denotes a feature by which a particular phenomenon is to be individuated, thereby rendering it knowable and nameable. This understanding of svabhāva is made more precise by the Sarvāstivadins identification of svabhāva and svalakṣaṇa, the specific quality which is unique to the object characterized and therefore allows us to distinguish it from other objects. Objects have specific qualities (svabhāva) because they are distinguished from the qualities of other objects (parabhāva). In this context svabhāva as understood as an antonym to the common characteristics (sāmānyalakṣaṇa) which are instantiated by all phenomena.

    This understanding of svabhāva as the specific quality of objects is further restricted by Candrakīrti’s identification of svabhāva with the essential property of an object. Every essential property will be part of the specific quality of an object, but not the other way round. The specific quality of an object is the unique combination of properties that distinguishes the object from all others. An essential property is something an object cannot lose without ceasing to be that very object…

    In interpreting svabhāva as essence Candrakīrti notes that:

    For, in common usage, heat is called the svabhāva of fire, because it is invariable in it.

    The same heat, when it is apprehended in water, is not svabhāva, because it is contingent, since it has arisen from other causal conditions.

    Heat is a property which is always instantiated by fire (and, for Candrakīrti at least, every instantiation of fire is also an instantiation of heat). Water, however can be either hot or cold and requires some special conditions (apart from just being water) to heat it up. Although not stated explicitly, the notion of essence-svabhāva also appears to include a modal element: if fire lost the property of heat it would no longer be fire. Water, however, can cool down and still remain water. This conception of svabhāva therefore agrees very well with a common understanding of essence or essential property in contemporary metaphysics which conceives of these to be the properties an object cannot lose without ceasing to be that very object.

    The notion of essence-svabhāva is not one Nāgārjuna frequently employs in his arguments concerning svabhāva. Of of his rare references to this conception can be found in the Ekaślokaśastra where he states:

    because one, two and many each have its own bhāva, therefore we call it svabhāva. For example, earth, water, fire, and air are respectively hard, moist, hot, and moveable.

    Each has its own svabhāva. And because the nature of every one of the things has its own specific quality (svalakṣaṇa) it is said that each has its svabhāva.

    Here svabhāva appears to be identified with a quality each of the four elements cannot lose without ceasing to be what it is. It furthermore plays the role of an object’s specific quality (svalakṣaṇa) which allows the observer to individuate the elements and therefore reflects their essential qualities, i.e. their svabhāva. {Westerhoff 2007 #5199D: 19–20}

    Rather than seeing svabhāva as the opposite of shared qualities (sāmānyalakṣaṇa) it is contrasted with conceptually constructed or secondary (prajñaptisat) objects and equated with the mark of the primary ones (dravyasat). The distinction between primary and secondary objects constitutes the most fundamental ontological distinction drawn by the Sarvāstivādins.

    Primary existents constitute the irreducible constituents of the empirical world, secondary existents, however, depend on linguistic and mental construction for their existence. For the Sarvāstivādin primary existents encompass primarily partless moments of consciousness out of which secondary existents, medium-sized dry goods such as tables and chairs would be constructed. Although both classes of objects were taken as existents (sat), only the primary ones were assumed to possess svabhāva.

    On this understanding svabhāva no longer denotes an individuating property of objects by which they can be told apart from other objects (as it did when conceived in terms of essence) but an indication of ontological status. To have svabhāva means to exist in a primary manner, unconstructed and independent of anything else.

    This notion of svabhāva, which we are going to call substance-svabhāva is also the sense of svabhāva most prominent in Nāgārjuna’s arguments. {Westerhoff 2007 #5199D: 20}