22 November 2019

Heart Sutra and Social Reality

This essay continues on from: Heart Sutra: Author, Scribe, Editor, Translator, Reader. (25 October 2019)

In John Searle's account of social reality, the ontologically subjective can become epistemically objective when everyone agrees to treat it as such. One of his best examples is money. Although it seems peripheral to the issues I write about, money is one of the best systems to look at to see how social reality works. We all know and use money, yet we seldom stop to think about it. I will first give an account of money in terms of social reality and then look at how this can be applied in terms of Buddhist texts. And I circle back to previous essays in this series to consider the issues raised by Jonathan Silk, especially the idea of the ur-text. The Heart Sutra, being what it is, is difficult to slot into the standard narratives of philology.


The vast majority of money today, some economists say 97%, is in fact debt owed to banks and has no basis in physical reality, not even in token form. Most money is just notations in an electronic ledger. Modern money is by and large just a concept, that is, it is ontologically subjective. Can we then say that money is not real? Seemingly not, since we behave all the time as though money is real. I can go into a shop, hand over money, and come away with a loaf of bread. The shop keeper must believe that money is real or they would not give me real bread in exchange for it.

Sometimes this concept of money is called fiat currency because the government just declare that there is money and, lo, there is money. The Latin fiat comes ultimately from the verb facere "make, do" and means "let it be done" (3rd person singular present subjunctive of the passive mood). Hence also: fiat lux "let it there be light". 

Of course, not just anyone can state what money is. Typically only the government are empowered to do this. One of the agreed functions of government is to decide what forms of payment are valid for settling debts and paying taxes (which are a kind of debt to the state).

The government are able to do this in a meaningful way because we agree that the government is empowered to make this kind of declaration, and we agree to act as if the declaration is the way things are. While we are in agreement, the subjective idea of money is an epistemic fact. This is tantamount to being real. When we cease agreeing, as happens in cases of hyperinflation, then money ceases to be real and we cannot use it to settle debts. Money is ontologically subjective, but epistemically objective. 

So, money is whatever a suitably empowered person or body declares it to be. Such a declaration is a speech act with the specific illocutionary function of defining money. I wrote about speech acts in the previous essay. And this is possible only because we all agree to act as if the government has this power and to act as if money has value. As I wrote in 2016:
"Money is defined socially by collective intentionality rather than by any appeal to ontology or reality. Searle calls this an institutional fact." (Institutional Facts & Language). 
Intentionality here is the idea that our thoughts have an object. Collective intentionality is the idea of a group of people all having mental states related to the same object. One way to understand collective intentionality is with respect to a physical, mind-independent object. Think of the ball at a football match watched by 100,000 fans. The reason they all know at the same time when the ball goes into the goal is because it the ball is a mind independent object being tracked by 100,000 independent minds. Coordinating such responses in the absence of mind independent objects is a very difficult task.

With money we sometimes have physical objects in the form of coins and notes. However, as I said, money is largely notional, an idea, an abstraction. So there need not be a physical object for there to be collective intentionality. A credit card ,for example, represents not money, but the right to transfer  electronic funds, including borrowed funds, from one account to another. Such transactions never involve physical money, only electronic notations in databases.  

The value of modern tokens that represent money (notes and coins) is typically a fraction of the monetary value of the objects, particularly in the case of notes. Objectively, money is worth precisely the paper it is written on. The first modern paper money was worth vastly more than its weight in gold, because it represented the promise to pay a certain, much greater, amount of gold. The founding of Bank of England broke this connection between money and goods, and set the scene for the creation of modern currencies, so let me sketch an overview of what happened.

The Bank of England

In 1694, King William III was asset rich but had racked up enormous debts fighting wars in Ireland and France. Financing this debt had become a serious problem. An idea by William Patterson was to fund it by public subscription. That is, British subjects would give money to the crown via an intermediary to pay off the debts in the short term on the promise of being paid back with interest in the long term. Today we would call it refinancing. The intermediary was incorporated as a private company, with limited liabilities, and was given a royal charter than enabled it to trade in government bonds (i.e., to trade the debts the government owed to subscribers) and to issue bank notes.

The newly incorporated Bank of England raised a large amount of cash which was used to buy up government debt, allowing the King to use his cash-flow to run the country (pay the army and public servants). Cash poured in because of the promise of good interest rates. But the investment had to exist first, before the investors would cough up their cash. One of the attractive things about an investment is that a reputable institution has already committed to it, which suggests that the risk of losing one's capital is acceptable. Banks actively lead investment; they don't passively respond to it. The debt comes first, then they seek investors to cover it. Funding government spending commitments is still a solid investment opportunity with low risk in most nations.

By this time, money had already begun to take the form of notes. The notes were IOUs for a certain amount of gold. These were originally issued by goldsmiths who typically held large amounts of gold and could easily pay out when an IOU was presented. But people soon realised that the value lay in the promise to pay and they began trading the notes themselves as a way of settling debts. At this stage the value of money was still pegged to the value of gold, also known as the gold standard.

We have tried using the gold standard off and on since 1694 but keep abandoning it. Advocates for using a gold standard are called "goldbugs". The physically limited amount of gold places constraints on the supply of money . For example, in 1971 the value of the US dollar was pegged to the value of gold as a result of global post-war monetary reforms. Just as the USA needed to expand the supply of money to pay for the Vietnam War, the French were hoarding gold. This put a squeeze on the US money supply and threatened to make the war unaffordable. So the USA once again broke the connection of money to physical reality which allowed them to create as much money as they needed by selling government bonds.

The goldsmith's IOUs were easily forged and the supply of notes was soon several times the amount of gold that existed. This is a weakness in most forms of physical money. One of the jobs of the Royal Mint was to ensure the integrity of the coinage, a job that Isaac Newton prosecuted with savage efficiency during his tenure. The new bank notes issued by the Bank of England were designed from the outset to be difficult to counterfeit. However, the new notes still represented a promise to pay and were still linked to the ability of the Bank of England to honour that promise.

The success of the Bank of England rested on a number of intangible factors. The Royal charter empowered the bank to issue bank notes. In effect it created the modern notion of money as a promise to pay. Thus the success also rested on how that promise was perceived. As long as people believed that the promise could be made good, they acted as if the bank note had value. The Bank had to seek investors to continue to ensure that their reserves were able to meet the day to day need to pay out gold on the promise, but in practice the demand for actual gold was small compared to the size of the debt they took over from the King, and the demand for gold diminished over time. People became comfortable dealing with bank notes: gradually bank notes became banknotes. We stopped thinking of the notes as IOUs and started thinking of them as money.

I say "people", but in fact during the 17th and 18th Centuries the only people investing in the Bank of England were wealthy aristocracy and the emerging class of industrialists. In all likelihood they were all men. Common people still mainly used coins which were valuable because of the stuff they were made of. Coins were still literally made of gold or silver or copper. The breaking of the link between the value of the substance and the face value of the coin took longer.

The value represented by the banknote was notional. It existed because English businessmen agreed to act as if it did. The reputation of the Bank of England started out as an adjunct of the reputation of the King and the businessmen involved. The King had to declare, via the Royal charter, that notes issued by the Bank were a valid way to settled debts and pay taxes. At this point paying tax became a matter of returning an unredeemed IOU from the King, to the King. Gradually the Bank came to have its own reputation as reliable and dependable. Banks became the epitome of conservative and reliable social institutions. They were models of probity and rectitude. This reputation is long gone in 2019, but I can still remember a time when banks prided themselves on their reputation. 

Reputation is a vitally important part of the social reality. The mere whiff of a bank being insolvent, i.e., unable to pay what is promised, can cause a run on the bank. This is when people scramble to get their money out before the bank can no longer make good on their promise to pay. We've experienced this in recent living memory, which is part of why banks' reputations have changed. 

This form of banking, in which a bank issues debts and then seeks investors, is now the model that all banks use. It is the source of most of the money in circulation. We are sometimes mislead into believing that banks lend out our savings but this is not really what happens. To be sure, banks do invest our savings, but they do so in deals that are arranged before we make our deposits. Debt first, then deposits. 

This kind of money is not ontologically objective, rather it is ontologically subjective; it primarily exists in our minds. But it is epistemically objective because anyone who knows what money is accepts that money represents value and participates in the system. When I buy a book printed on hundreds of pages of paper I simply hand over one or two small paper notes. I'm not exchanging paper for paper, because the shopkeeper and I agree to act as if the notes have value, via a promise to pay made by William of Orange in 1694. And the huge weight of social reality is behind this transaction. Indeed, opting out is scarcely an option. If I unilaterally decide that money has no value then I cannot participate in the economy. Nor will shopkeepers haggle over the value of a banknote, even if in some countries they will haggle over the price of goods and services. 

In this social reality, the government is empowered, by virtue of being the office-holder, to perform certain functions. One of these is to define money and control the supply of money, i.e., to regulate how much debt banks can create.

There is nothing special about kings or gold. We simply collectively decide to treat them as if they are special and mark this with a speech act (and in the case of kings, with some form of ritual action). A king is just a human being and gold is just a metal. The value we place on them is subjective. George III was not materially changed when the USA declared itself a republic in which "all men are created equal". This subjective value may be based on objective qualities such as the rareness or ductility of gold, or the personal qualities of a particular king. Even so, the concept of value is  itself subjective. And it is the value we place on kings and gold that influence our participation in social reality.

Having outlined a relatively clear case study of social reality, I now want to argue that the situation with texts and Buddhist communities is somewhat analogous.

The Social Reality of Buddhist Texts

A given text is considered to be a Buddhist sūtra because Buddhists, or enough Buddhists of the right status, accept that it is so. There are, of course, disputes over some texts. The Heart Sutra is a rather brilliant example because it is emphatically not a sūtra by most formal definitions of the concept. Nonetheless it is accepted as a sūtra and is seen by many as the acme of Buddhist sūtras. One regularly sees it referred to as the most popular Buddhist sūtra. If we can understand the social reality of the Heart Sutra we may get some important insights into the social reality of Buddhist texts more generally. 

Buddhists in early medieval China developed a list of criteria for judging the authenticity of a text. They had to do this partly because almost as soon as Buddhism was introduced into the China, the literati set about writing their own Buddhist texts, such as the Forty-Two Section Sūtra or the pseudo-Śuraṃgama Sūtra, or the Awakening of Faith in Mahāyāna. Lest we be judgemental, this is not new or distinctive to China. In fact, this also happened throughout the history of Buddhism in India. 

Indian Buddhism seems to have lacked the idea that texts were unchanging and sacrosanct. Brahmins had this attitude and took extraordinary measures to preserve the Vedas with very high fidelity. Unusually, the Vedic oral tradition is more accurate than the Vedic manuscript tradition that started in the Common Era. By contrast, Buddhist texts changed, probably with every retelling of the story and with every copy of a manuscript once writing was introduced into India, in the 3rd Century BCE.

The Heart Sutra lacked all of the features that would make it a sūtra. It is considered to be a sūtra despite this because the text itself says (speech act) that is a sūtra and that it was translated by Xuanzang. He was a prestigious individual in his time, known for his trip to gather Indian Buddhist texts and for his translations of the same. The extent to which the Buddhist stories about his relationship with successive emperors are true is something that is very much up for discussion (both Jeffrey Kotyk and I are waiting for articles to be published on this subject). Xuanzang does seem to have attracted considerable royal sponsorship to support his translations, which included a large team of collaborators and assistants paid for by the state. 

We now know that the Heart Sutra is not a translation at all, it is a chāo jīng 抄經 or "digest text". The Heart Sutra combines passages copied from the Large Sutra (T 223) and the Dhāraṇīsamuccaya (T 901) with some passages composed in Chinese. What's more we know that Xuanzang's chief follower (Kuījī) and a prominent collaborator (Woncheuk) both expressed doubts about the status of Heart Sutra in their commentaries. They seem to have been aware that it was not a sūtra. Still, by the end of the 7th Century the association with Xuanzang, the great pilgrim and translator, is enough for Chinese Buddhists to agree that a non-sūtra is in fact a sūtra, that is, they acted as if it were a sūtra. And now it is de rigueur for commentators to remind readers that the Heart Sutra is the most popular Buddhist sūtra. Not only is this non-sūtra accepted as a sūtra, it has become the epitome of a Buddhist sūtra. In fact, the text has also transcended the Buddhist context and become a pop-culture meme; we find it printed on lampshades, hats, and mousepads.

It is quite common to find Buddhists who say that simply hearing the text was enough to spark their conversion to Buddhism. Such people tend to emphasise the mystery said to be inherent in the text (though research has shown the mystery to be largely the result of spelling and grammatical errors). 

I've argued that the digest text is a distinctively Chinese genre and I still think this is accurate. However, Jonathan Silk raises an interesting objection to thinking of such texts as "apocryphal" or "pseudo-epigraphical". As he points out:
"Nearly all Buddhist scriptural literature from the very earliest times follows the same pattern: texts are constructed out of parts, stock phrases, pericopes, elements which are drawn upon to create – with of course some new elements as well – new works."
At face value, the Chinese digest texts seem to fit this same pattern. So if I want to draw a distinction I have to try to say why I think they are different. Digests were consciously a condensation of a larger text and attempted to capture the essence of it. Even the most modular Pāli Sutta usually tries to convey some new point and often expands on existing works rather than making any attempt to condense them. The digest as epitome is distinctively Chinese. It's not just a storytelling medium, but reflects a conscious attempt to simplify long, complex, and abstruse Buddhist texts for the local culture.

Another objection here is that the Chinese criteria would have excluded many Indian texts, such as the well-known Karaṇīya Metta Sutta, which similarly lacks all of the necessary features to be considered a sūtra. Think of the case of the Dhammapada, which is also not a sūtra but has other claims to authenticity, despite being a collection of verses, some of which also circulated beyond the Buddhist community and despite each version having a different but overlapping selection of verses. 

Silk's point is well taken. It raises a number of important questions. If the formulaic nature of Buddhist texts is evident throughout history, then to what extent is any Work (in the sense I outlined in the two previous essays) a new Work? In what sense is any text an ur-text if it copies passages from elsewhere. Is the Heart Sutra a distinct work or is it derivative of the Large Sutra? How disruptive is the presence of Guānzìzài 觀自在 or the dhāraṇī in the scheme of things, given that they do not come from Prajñāpāramitā sources?


The Buddhist version of social reality is no different in principle from any other social reality. It is based on collective intentionality and it consists of relationships between members of a social group  that is characterised by social cohesion and cooperation, status hierarchies, in-group privilege, and so on. It's just a variation on the standard social primate architecture.

Social functions are carried out by individuals and groups. People are empowered to carry out functions, usually by speech acts that declare that they are empowered to do so. Within the "priesthood" of Buddhism some members are agreed to play special roles: teacher, preceptor, hierophant, political leader, and so on. Sometimes they all come together in one person such as the "Pope" of Tibetan Buddhists, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This is possible because of the collective intentionality of the community and their agreement to act as if such things are real, i.e., to treat speech acts as creating new epistemically objective, institutional facts.

The only real power that one person has over another is physical. The strongest can bully the weakest if they want to. However, we are a social species, so lone bullies can be dealt with by a coalition of weaker individuals. A coalition of bullies working for a cunning strategist is much more difficult to deal with and becomes a feature of human culture as we settle into cities. To some extent kingship is an extension of physical strength, at least in its origins. The state is able to exert physical force, usually through proxies, to compel obedience. Although we sometimes see similar models in religion, or we see religious and secular functions merge or unify in order to use violence in a religious cause, this is not the norm. The power of a priesthood is more often psychological. 

Some modern Buddhist groups have rejected some of the traditional social distinctions (i.e. monk/lay) but we tend to reproduce the features of primate social reality in any case. Various forms of hierarchy emerge, the worst of which appears to be the monarchy, i.e., the singular leader with no peers. Without checks and balances there is often abuse of power in monarchies. And indeed we see this all the time in monarchic and deeply hierarchical social setups that are found in Buddhist groups. Buddhist monarchs are no better than any other kind. However, monarchs cannot rule without the explicit consent of their subjects, especially when they don't have an army to enforce their will. They maintain their position purely by charisma. A religious monarchy of the type very often found in Buddhist groups centred around a charismatic living teacher is not usually maintained by violence or the threat of it. It's maintained because people are willing to be subjects of a monarch. And it breaks down when people no longer consent to be subjects, often because the monarch has not fulfilled their social obligations.

The dynamics of sexual relations within religious communities is a minefield. Religieux often have extremely negative attitudes towards sex and desire. Monarchs who lack peers are almost always lonely and sometimes naive about power differentials. There will always be some people that will trade sex for higher social status; and who will be resentful if they do not obtain it. Fundamentally people who are coerced resent it; we are acutely attuned to ingroup fairness and unfairness provokes a disgust reaction. Any form of tyranny inevitably breeds discontent and, eventually, rebellion. Monarchies are inherently unstable. Moreover, the question of succession becomes fraught because truly charismatic leaders are rare. Good kings are almost inevitably followed by bad kings.

Even with more equitable groups, there will be formal and informal functions that members play with the consent of the group. Deciding which texts form the doctrinal basis of a Buddhist movement is a function that leaders usually take on. They determine the curriculum and set texts for the community. For many Buddhists, the curriculum was set centuries ago by some founder figure; or we may operate on an even longer term tradition without an identifiable founder, or we may attribute our tradition to the mythical founder of Buddhism (though this does not bear scrutiny).

I think the group I'm a member of is slightly unusual in that members acknowledge some common texts, but on the whole we each rely on wide range of different texts. Our Venn diagram has a small intersection and large areas of non-intersection. What's more our founder was eclectic in the texts that he commented on; far more eclectic than any of his followers who cannot hope to keep all of his teachings in mind while also being engaged with any number of other teachers. We are also strongly influenced at times by non-Buddhist texts.

Coming back to the Heart Sutra again, we cannot see exactly what happened for it to be incorporated into the Chinese Buddhist canon. One plausible narrative is that Xuanzang himself created the Heart Sutra as a gift for Gaozong and Wu Zhao on the occasion of Wu Zhao's son becoming Crown Prince (in 656 CE). We still cannot say how the digest text came to be considered an authentic text, only that when it did (some time before March 661 CE), it was precisely the association with Xuanzang that enabled this. 

A reference to Xuanzang invokes his journey to India and return with many authentic sutras. On the other hand, the standard narrative says that he obtained the Heart Sutra before he left China. There is no reason to believe this narrative and several reasons to doubt it. So, for now, the situation remains unclear. The traditional stories are not historical accounts, but serve to increase the prestige of the text (and perhaps the protagonists). The prestige of the Heart Sutra and of Xuanzang have fed off each other to create a charismatic narrative that is itself a religious text. Few people reference the traditional sources directly, but nonetheless the story continues to circulate and be told, if only in bastardised forms such as the legend of Monkey.

The social reality of the Heart Sutra in China is not based in physical reality. It is based on facts that are declared to be true and accepted as true on some other basis; a subjective basis. Nonetheless, it is a fact that Chinese Buddhists have treated the Heart Sutra as an authentic Indian sūtra for more than 1200 years. This raises the question that I've been trying to get at for some time.

Buddhist Text Permissions

Systems administrators talk about the "permissions" of files in their computer systems. This is a set of parameters which allows different users, or classes of users, different rights to look at documents, to edit documents, and to run programs (the read, write, and execute parameters). Adjusting these parameters allows the sysadmin to, for example, prevent naive users from accidentally deleting important files or running malicious software. The sysadmin is empowered to make and apply such determinations to protect their system and to protect users from their own incompetence.

When it comes to who can read, write, or execute a Buddhist text the situation is very complex. Here I will take "execute" to mean "put into practice." For example, some Buddhist practices require an initiation; while some are sectarian. The meditation practices referred to in the Heart Sutra were not for beginners. The attainment of emptiness requires a good deal of experience as well as a temperament for and a lifestyle conducive to a very reduced level of sensory stimulation.

These are issues that can only exist with respect to social realities that themselves are localised in time and space. If I ask the question in one place at different times (diachronic), then I get a set of different answers for each time. If I ask the question at one time (synchronic) in different places I get a different set of answers in each place. There is not one place or one time which speaks for all places or all times, not even the mythical India of the past.

There are no agreed standards on the file permissions on the Heart Sutra. I've literally had Asian lay people tell me that I could not possibly understand the Heart Sutra because I do not speak Japanese, despite the fact that I can read Sanskrit and they believe that the text was originally composed in Sanskrit. And this despite my publishing on the text in both Sanskrit and early medieval literary Chinese.

Historical Development

The Heart Sutra was composed in the mid-7th Century, mainly using passages copied an early 5th Century Chinese translation of a 4th Century manuscript copy of a Text that existed before the 3rd Century CE, but grew out of a text that itself developed in stages over centuries.

If we take Joseph Walser's suggestion, the mainstream texts of Prajñāpāramitā literature began as a couple of pages, but as Huifeng/Matt Orsborn has shown, it must have quickly expanded into the chapter structure of the Small Sutra that by the Pala Dynasty (9-12th C) was called the Aṣṭasāhasrikā. The Large Sutra was a threefold expansion, incorporating a raft of new material (including Gāndhārī alphabet practices) that occured at an unknown date and continued to expand over time, leaving versions such as the Aṣṭadaśasāhasrikā, the Pañcaviṃśātisāhasrikā, and the four-fold expanded Śatasāhasrikā.

At any given point in this chronology, in any given place, there would be an answer to who was empowered to read, write, and execute a text. There would be an answer to the question of what the authentic text looked like that was not disrupted by the historical existence of earlier versions or contemporary parallels in other communities that were different. Thus, as I noted in a previous essay, the concept of an ur-text may not apply at all.

When we look at and try to understand this history we have to be cautious. One potential misstep is to assume that what applies now applied in the past. This is almost certainly not true. Not only does Buddhism change all the time, but the surrounding cultures change also, and there are complex interactions. Buddhism may change in response to changes in society; reacting positively or negatively to those changes, either going along with them or taking a different (perhaps even oppositional) path. On the other hand, that Buddhism is often dependent on patronage from political elites and politics is an important consideration. Very few living Buddhists are in the position of being able to criticise their national government, for example. Religious Buddhists often appear to endorse the authoritarian regimes we find in nominally Buddhist nations. Contrary to the peaceful self-image many Buddhist converts have, Buddhists in traditional countries routinely advocate violence against cultural/religious minorities, e.g. in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Another potential misstep is to assume that we have clear information about what rules applied in the past. We are reliant on normative texts that outline someone's, sectarian, idealised situation. This is not a guide to actual practice. Indeed, Greg Schopen has shown us that archaeology almost always conflicts with normative accounts, suggesting that they cannot be taken on their own terms.

Prajñāpāramitā is now universally met out of context, separated from the practical traditions that gave rise to it. I suspect, for example, that the Chinese never encountered a living Prajñāpāramitā tradition, rather they met the literature as interpreted by other Mahāyāna sects that had never practiced the type of meditation described by the literature. Once Madhyamaka metaphysics took hold, Prajñāpāramitā came to be seen as a mere adjunct, but my impression is that the two are unrelated. Prajñāpāramitā rejects the kind of metaphysics expounded by Nāgārjuna. 


Searle's outline of social reality is a powerful way of understanding and appreciating a variety of social groups and phenomena, especially when we combine it with his earlier work on speech acts. It allows us to appreciate that there are different kinds of facts that play different roles in how we understand ourselves, our world, and our place in the world. As a philosophical framework it affords us an interesting perspective on social phenomena such as money. And the description of money is a good way of setting out the key elements of the framework, including the idea of collective intentionality, and the four different kinds of facts.  

By showing that there are analogies between such disparate social phenomena as money and Buddhist texts I hope to have opened up a new way of looking at issues such as the authenticity and legitimacy of Buddhist texts or, indeed, Buddhist teachers. Such things are seldom based on ontologically objective facts, although such facts are always relevant. Rather, the issues are largely dependent on observer relative features, by institutional or epistemically objective facts as well as some ontologically subjective facts.

Buddhists at different time and places take different texts to be authentic. In the case of the Heart Sutra, which is not a sūtra, there were  still mechanisms by which the reputation of Xuanzang could be leveraged to make a claim to authenticity. Such claims are not based in ontologically objective facts, despite the earliest Heart Sutra being one carved into a stone slab dated 661 CE. Particularly in China we know that texts were frequently passed off and accepted as authentic, when even by their own standards they were not. The association with India, even via a pilgrim like Xuanzang could be the overriding factor.

Buddhist texts are institutional; they are authentic if Buddhists act as if they are authentic. This is what authenticity boils down to, or rather is built up from. In the case of the Heart Sutra, the legitimising narratives came after the physical instantiation as a Document. Indeed, some details of the Heart Sutra myth did not emerge for decades after the first evidence for the text. Like the case of debt preceding deposits in banking, we may wonder if texts proceed legitimising narratives in Buddhism. Given how flimsy the story of the Buddha is, perhaps this too came after the fact. 

I think this approach has some promise as a way of understanding the crisis of methodology in studying Buddhism and Buddhist texts that Jonathan Silk has put his finger on. 



Searle, John R. (1995). The Construction of Social reality. Penguin.

Jonathan A. Silk (2015) 'Establishing­/­Interpreting­/­Translating: ­Is­ It­ Just­ That­ Easy?' Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Vol. 36/37: 205-225.

Michael McLeay, Amar Radia and Ryland Thomas. Money creation in the modern economy. Bank of England, Quarterly Bulletin 2014 Q1.
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