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Buddhist Emptiness as a Tool for Pragmatic Reasoning about Consciousness

Jonathan C. Gold (Princeton University)

Drawing upon (but not dwelling in) my work in Buddhist philosophy, I propose that the Buddhist doctrines of the two truths and the three natures can be understood as expressing and formalizing Occam’s Razor. This provides us with articulate tools to challenge reification of abstract entities and to privilege, always, pragmatic assessments as the defining criteria of reality. When we turn to the nature of consciousness, then, questions around illusionism and the requirements of satisfactory explanations can be made sharper by adopting the strict epistemic modesty that a Buddhist critique entails.