Test On Buddhism Nyaya And Personal Identity


1. This test will be held in class on Thursday, March 25, 2010. No late or make-tests will be scheduled. There will be no exceptions. The exam will begin at 1:30 PM. If everyone present in the class finishes before 2:45 PM then the exam will be ended when the last person finishes. Do not be late!

2. You will need only one examination blue book and a pencil or blue or black pen. You will be penalized if you do the test using anything other than these materials. Plan ahead. You may also, if you wish, bring one and only one sheet of paper with any information you wish on it for reference during the test. This sheet may NOT contain information that comes from a source other than your textbook, class notes, or study questions. Use of any source other than these on the test will be considered cheating.

3. On the day of the test, please write your name on the outside cover of your blue book. Do not write your name anywhere else on your test. Please also “double-space” your answers, and write only on the front of the pages. (Don’t worry—you will have plenty of space.)

4. Your test answers should be your own work. Any detectable collaboration will be considered cheating. Cheating will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, the first instance of cheating will merit a grade of “0” on the test and the notification of the student’s advisor. Repeated offenses will be met with more serious sanctions.

5. This is not a research assignment. You are NOT to use outside sources. Usage of verbatim quotations from the textbook and paraphrasing of the textbook are to be used sparingly and kept under three lines per occurrence. If you must use quotations, know that all verbatim quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks. All such quotations, and any paraphrasing of material from the text, must be followed by an appropriate citation. The following simplified format may be used: ([author’s name], [page number from which the text is taken]). The following is an example of the minimally acceptable citation format:

For a verbatim quotation: “Being enlightened would mean being without existential suffering” (Siderits, p. 27)

For paraphrasing: Enlightenment, according to the author, is a condition of living in which one is free from suffering of an existential sort. (Siderits p. 27)

Failure to cite quoted or paraphrased works properly is plagiarism—the misrepresentation of other’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. In keeping with Marygrove College’s academic honesty policy, the first instance of plagiarism will merit a grade of “0” on the test and the notification of the student’s advisor. Repeated offenses will be met with more serious sanctions. Lecture material does not need to be followed by a citation.

6. Be sure that you address all parts of the question. Be efficient, clear, and thorough in your writing. Keep in mind that this is a test of your understanding of the material, not a solicitation of a manifesto of your own personal philosophy. Stay focused on simply and directly answering the questions.

7. Your answers should be substantive and your points should be supported with evidence (from the text), lecture material and independent argument. All technical philosophical terms (e.g. ‘psychological continuity’, ‘substance’, etc.) should be defined. Charts, graphs, and drawings should not be used. Your answer must be correct and clear. It need not be rhetorically pleasing. That said, basic issues such as grammar, spelling, and structure will all count towards your grade. Clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand.

8. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at any time. I do not give provisional grades to test answers but I will answer questions about the test insofar as I can without conferring an unfair advantage on anyone.


On the day of the exam the instructor will select three of the following questions using a random procedure. Of the three questions selected by the instructor, students will choose any two and write answers to them. All parts of the question must be accurately and concisely answered using complete, well-formed sentences of English. While your answers will be graded primarily on the quality of what is written, be aware that the questions call for a degree of detail that will not be achievable in merely one or two paragraphs. Each of the two questions will be worth fifty (50) points for a grand total of one hundred (100) points.

Below are the questions. These questions will not be altered in any way prior to the exam. They will occur exactly as they are written here. READ EACH QUESTION VERY CAREFULLY and break it into its composite parts before attempting to answer.

1. Consider two chairs in this room. Explain what would it mean for the chairs to be numerically identical. Explain what would it mean for them to be qualitatively identical. In reality which is it: Are the chairs numerically identical or qualitatively identical?

2. Imagine a conversation between two people: a believer in the Greek gods and a Buddhist. Our believer in the Greek gods argues that having a self means having the same soul in the same body while one is alive, and that when a person dies his or her soul goes to the realm of the dead and lives there eternally (in an appropriate state of reward or punishment). Give and explain in detail at least three reasons why the Buddhist would reject the account of the self offered by the Greek.

3. Two very important Buddhist ideas emerge from the Chariot Argument: the notion of convenient designation and the notion of a conceptual fiction. (a) Explain of each of these ideas in detail. (b) Explain what it means when the Buddhist says that a person's name is simply a convenient designator for what is, essentially, a conceptual fiction. {Note: In order to receive full credit, (a) and (b) must BOTH be done.}

4. (a) Explain each one of the categories from the Nyaya school of Indian Philosophy. (b) Next, imagine studying at a table outdoors and seeing a robin hopping on the ground a few feet away from you. Give an account of the robin using the Nyaya scheme of categories. {Note: In order to receive full credit, (a) and (b) must BOTH be done. Also, you must answer (a) and (b) separately.}

5. Suppose I were to draw the inference that it was going to rain based on the appearance of clouds in the sky. Analyze this inference using the Nyaya framework (i.e. according to subject, property, reason, positive example, and negative example).

6. The Nyaya school argues that memory is the foundation for the psychological unity of a person's subjective experience, and that we can conclude on the basis of that unity that there is a permanently existing self. Give and thoroughly explain the cause and effect based objection that the psychological unity created by memory is only apparent. In your answer be sure to explain how, if the Buddhist objection is right, the Nyaya position that memory reveals a permanently existing self is weakened.

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