Points of Controversy

9.3. Of Matter as Subjective

Controverted Point: Whether matter should be termed subjective or objective.

Theravādin: If that is so, you must also affirm of matter or body, that it has the mental features of “adverting,” ideating, reflecting, co-ordinated application, attending, willing, anticipating, aiming—things which you would, on the contrary, deny of matter.

All, or any of them you can rightly affirm of mental properties, such as contact (mental reaction), feeling, perception, volition, cognition, faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi, understanding, lust, hate, illusion, conceit, erroneous opinion, doubt, mental inertia, distraction, immodesty, indiscretion—all of which you admit as subjective. But matter is not one of these, and therefore such things may not be affirmed of it.

You deny in the case of matter all those mental features—adverting, etc.—but claim for it the term “subjective,” which is really applicable to “contact,” sensation, etc. These, as you admit, do not lack those mental features named.

Uttarapāthakas: But is not matter correlated (as an object)? Of course you assent. Then as correlated it is surely right to apply the term “subjective” to matter, etc. since “object” is one of the twenty-four (causal) relations.