2. Indian & Non-Western
Introduction to Indian Philosophy
This course introduces the so-called 'Six Schools of Classical Indian Philosophy': Nyãya and Vaisheshika, concerned with Logic and Epistemology, Mimamsa and Vedanta, involving exegesis of the ritual and spiritual sections of the Veda, and Samkhya and Yoga, concerned with the theory and practice of meditative absorption. It then looks at Jainism, the materialism and scepticism of the Charvakas, and the four schools of Indian Buddhist Philosophy.
Themes in Indian Philosophy
A survey of some key themes in classical Indian philosophy: value, knowledge, reasoning, word, world, self and ultimates. Students will both encounter something of the wide range of classical Indian philosophical concerns, and also learn to address the argumentative details of the Indian debates on these topics.
Indian Metaphysics and Epistemology
This course will look at some of the philosophical positions taken by the realist schools of Nyãya, Vaisheshika, Mimansa and Jainism, and the arguments used to support them against Buddhist idealism and nominalism. The specialization of Nyãya was logic and epistemology, that of Vaisheshika was ontology, and that of Mimamsa was hermeneutics.
Indian Philosophy of Religion
The course will consider Indian arguments for and against the existence of God and the continuation of life after death. It will also examine what the various religio-philosophical traditions of India meant by liberation / enlightenment (moksha, nirvana, apavarga, nihshreyasa). Theistic and non-theistic theories of liberation will be contrasted, and a question that arose for the former – the relation of liberated souls to God – will be engaged with.
This course will look at the four schools of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Yogacara and Madhyamaka) and the positions they took on issues such as the self, realism versus idealism, momentariness versus persistence, perception, inference, the existence of universals, the mind-body problem and the philosophy of language.
The course is structured chronologically, from the Classical Advaita Vedanta of Gaudapada, Shankara and Mandana Mishra, to Vijnanabhiksu, to Dharmaraja, to K. C. Bhattacarya, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. We will examine Advaita Vedanta’s metaphysics, its theory of value, of self-realization, the role it gave to meditation, and its debates with other schools (including other varieties of Vedanta).
Samkhya and Yoga
Classical Yoga lays out an eightfold psychological path to liberation, and Samkhya offers an ontology and a cosmogony that was inspired by the Yogic practice of meditative absorption. The course will examine these systems and their debates with other schools, such as that between the Samkhya/Yoga view that the world evolves by a top-down process from a primordial subtle matter, and the Nyaya-Vaisheshika view that the world is built up out of atoms.
Saiva and Vaishnava Philosophy
The course will investigate the Metaphysics, Epistemology and Soteriology of Saivism and Vaishnavism. On the Saiva side we will concentrate on the non-dualistic tradition of Somananda, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta and Kshemaraja. On the Vaishnava side, we will concentrate on the two Vedantic traditions of Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita.
The Self in Indian Philosophy
Perhaps the primary point of contention in the debates between the classical Indian traditions of Philosophy was the question of the self. For the Brahminical schools we have, or rather are, an eternal immaterial soul. For the Buddhists, far from being eternal, we are something different in every single moment. For the Cārvākas we are merely the body. We will look at the debates between the various darśanas on this question of the existence and nature of the self. We will also draw on parallel debates in Western Philosophy.