(1.2) Explicate what you take to be the argument in nun Vajira’s poem. How does Nagasena use the poem for the purposes of convincing king Milinda that there is no soul? Do you agree with Craig that the point of the poem is “not about the conventionality of language” (Craig 42)?
In chapter 4,”What am I: An unknown Buddhist on the self: King Milinda’s chariot,” of Edward Craig’s (2002) book, “Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction,” a king, King Milinda and a Buddhist monk, Nagasena, were engaged in a heated argument on the topic of whether or not soul is of existence. After some time of back and forth questioning, the king and the monk came to an agreement that there is no soul. This was achieved by the monk bringing up the famous poem by the Buddhist nun, Vajira.
King Milinda questions Nagasena for his name and the monk replies but states that it is just a name since there is really no person. Anyone would be confused by this statement and the king is no exception. Milinda continues to question Nagasena about the “Buddhist doctrine of the ‘five aggregates’” for the existence of the soul. The ‘five aggregates’ are the elements that makes a human being: feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness, and material form. He asks questions such as if there were no soul, then how could one be reborn for there will be nothing to carry on? Even still, Nagasena denies of such thing. Seeing the king is frustrated he places a string of parallel questions for him regarding the chariot which Milinda rode in. To all the questions the king answers “No” to. “Is the axle the chariot? – are the wheels the chariot?...” Anyone would have answered the same as the king had done. What was surprising was the king’s answer to Nagasena’s second last question. He questions is “the pole, the axle, the wheels,… the reins and the goad all together” the chariot? Milinda answers “No, revered sir.”
From this point, the monk quotes the famous poem of Vajira’s, “Just as when the parts...