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prajñaptisat (Sanskrit; T. btags yod བཏགས་ཡོད་; C. jiaming you 假名有) refers to an imputed entity. This term is translated as "secondary existent," "nominal existent," etc.

Jan Westerhoff states:

In Buddhist philosophical thought preceding Nāgārjuna we find the distinction between primary existents (dravyasat) and secondary existents (prajñaptisat). Primary existents constitute the objective and irreducible constituents of the world out there while secondary existents depend on our conceptual and linguistic practices.[1]

The Kīrtimukha Translation Group states:

It should be noted that theories of the nominalist critique of “self” go back to Pali sources like the Milindapanha and were later used to support the śūnyavāda view in Madhyamaka works. We are grateful to David Higgins for providing this insight along with the following note: “A shared premise of such [Madhyamaka nominalist] critiques is that the ‘self’ is a mere nominal designation (prajñapti) for what is in reality a heterogeneous assemblage of partite factors. Although nominalism is often associated with Buddhist epistemological views concerning the ontological status of universals, early Buddhist thinkers already regarded composite entities such as selves and persons as having a mere nominal existence. Along these lines, early Abhidharma traditions distinguished between substantially existent (dravyasat) and nominally existent (prajñaptisat) entities and regarded the ‘person’ as nothing more than a merely conventional denomination established on the basis of the five psychophysical aggregates and having a merely conventional reality. According to Mi bskyod rdo rje, [. . .] Madhyamaka thinkers such as Candrakīrti denied even ‘nominal existence’ to selves and persons within the tenets of their own system.” Higgins (forthcoming).[2]

See also


  1. Westerhoff, Jan (2022), Sep-man-red.png Nāgārjuna, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  2. 84000.png Kīrtimukha Translation Group (2022), The Sūtra on Transmigration Through Existences, fn. 20, 84000 Reading Room

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