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Some common prejudices about Indian Philosophy: It is time to give them up - Printable Version

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Some common prejudices about Indian Philosophy: It is time to give them up - C C - Mar 27, 2015

http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/03/some-common-prejudices-about-indian-philosophy-it-is-time-to-give-them-up.html

EXCERPT: Is Indian Philosophy "caste-ish"? Yes and no, in the sense that each philosophy is also the result of its sociological milieu, but it is not only that. Is Indian Philosophy only focused on "the Self"? Surely not.

Why am I asking these questions? Because ---no matter how sophisticated our discussions of specific topics of philosophy can be--- one still encounters these prejudices in secondary literature…and consequently also in the writings of many colleagues who do not have access to direct sources. They cannot be blamed for that, but I hope that they will be grateful to receive some advice concerning what they believe on the basis of surpassed or unreliable sources.

The last example for me was a collection of notes on Academia.edu. Its author starts with the good intention "I’ve had enough of ignorance about Indian philosophy" and overall he sounds engaged and interesting. Unfortunately, however, he has received bad advices and/or chose badly among them. The result is a short summary of the usual suspects, with a strong bias in favour of Advaita Vedānta mistaken to be "Indian Philosophy" sic et simpliciter (bold passages are the author's ones, followed by my comments)....


RE: Some common prejudices about Indian Philosophy: It is time to give them up - Yazata - Mar 30, 2015

(Mar 27, 2015 05:07 PM)C C Wrote: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/03/some-common-prejudices-about-indian-philosophy-it-is-time-to-give-them-up.html

EXCERPT: Is Indian Philosophy "caste-ish"? Yes and no, in the sense that each philosophy is also the result of its sociological milieu, but it is not only that. Is Indian Philosophy only focused on "the Self"? Surely not.

Why am I asking these questions? Because ---no matter how sophisticated our discussions of specific topics of philosophy can be--- one still encounters these prejudices in secondary literature…and consequently also in the writings of many colleagues who do not have access to direct sources. They cannot be blamed for that, but I hope that they will be grateful to receive some advice concerning what they believe on the basis of surpassed or unreliable sources.

The author seems to be talking down to somebody. I'm not sure who. His/her colleagues, I guess. Which raises the question, why is this person supposedly better than they are?

Many of the classic 20th century secondary works on Indian philosophy were extraordinary works of scholarship. I'm not sure that I'd call them "surpassed". I'm put off by contemporary academics' easy assumption of superiority over all of those who came before them. It's not like a large number of fresh Sanskrit primary sources have been discovered in the last few decades that have revolutionized Indology and proven older interpretations wrong.

What we see instead are new styles of interpretation of largely the same primary material, interpretive styles that aren't necessarily any more accurate or enlightening than the work that preceded them, but merely reflect the assumptions, agendas and obsessions of contemporary academia.