The Philosophical Traditions of India: An Appraisal

By Eltschinger, Vincent | The Journal of the American Oriental Society, January-March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Philosophical Traditions of India: An Appraisal


Eltschinger, Vincent, The Journal of the American Oriental Society


The Philosophical Traditions of India: An Appraisal. By RAFFAELE TORELLA. Translated by Kenneth Frederick Hurry. Varanasi: INDICA Boom, 2011. Pp. 269.

One can only welcome K. E Hurry's English translation of Raffaele Torella's masterly introduction to classical and medieval Indian philosophy, whose Italian original (11 pensiero dell'India: Un'introduzione. Rome: Carocci Editore) was published in 2008. For this book is much more than a new doxographic account of Indian philosophy. Reflecting more than thirty years of Torella's creative and exemplary interaction with philosophical and non-philosophical Sanskrit literature, this introduction abounds in insightful observations and new materials on the nature, the sociocultural background, the "archaeology," and the historiography of Indian philosophy. Besides a very learned introduction (pp. 7-32), the book comprises two main parts: "Brahmanic Philosophy and Environs" (pp. 33-120) and "Opponents of Brahmanic Culture: The Materialism of the Lokayatas, Jainism and Buddhism" (pp. 121-71). A fourfold "Excursus" ("The Form of the Texts," pp. 173-79; "Logic," pp. 180-83; "Knowledge and Truth," pp. 184-88; "Linguistic Speculations," pp. 189-96), two appendices ("Orality and Writing," pp. 197-21 1; "From the Sarvadarganasanzgraha: The Pratyabhijfia-Dargana," pp. 212-23), a bibliography (pp. 225-50), and three indices (pp. 251-69) round out the volume.

The book's introduction deals with the various (Western as well as Neo-Hindu) prejudices responsible for the denial of anything like "genuine" philosophy in ancient India. With most critics, Torella admits that no Sanskrit word (except perhaps the rare tattvajtianaisana) provides a satisfactory equivalent of 'philosophy' or 'philosopher': darlana (rather than being philosophy is a "world view," p. 15; see below), anviksiki (rather than philosophy, "a wider critical and investigative attitude that perennially tests the validity of the rules regulating human activities," p. 16), parikyaka (rather than a philosopher, "one who questions things instead of accepting them," p. 17). In this connection, the author engages in a stimulating discussion of the Neo-Hindus' emphasis on direct personal experience and the transformative character of Indian philosophy as dariana, and argues that this understanding of dartana is irrelevant for classical and medieval facts "since those connotations of the immediacy of personal experience and the all-inclusiveness they wished to attribute are alien to it" (p. 15). Simi-larly, he is ready to grant the absence of "pure theory" (together with "axiological neutrality" and the search for universal truths, one of the defining features of "philosophy" according to Husserl) in Indian philosophical literature, which more often than not is to be read within "ethical-religious contexts" and against the background of "soteriological-devotional preoccupation[s}" (p. 18). Note, however, that according to the author (p. 29), "the western critic himself is increasingly aware that 'pure' theory, free from conditioning, which by contrast is claimed to characterise western thought, is in actual fact nourished and guided by unconscious paradigms, and inevitably conditioned by contexts and cultural models." Does, then, the lack of personal flavor and impulse (notwithstanding Dharmakirti, JayarAgit, RaghunAtha iromani, pp. 20-21), of "any search for truth without some kind of pre-established directions," as well as the "virtual absence of conversion" (p. 18; note Torella's discussion of Mandana Migra, gankaranandana, and Vacaspati Mifra, pp. 19-20), plead against the existence of philosophy in ancient and medieval India? The answer to this question provides Torella with an opportunity to discuss the central notion of stastra-one of the most penetrating parts of the book (pp. 21-26). Finally, is "Indian philosophy" something like a contradictio in terminis due to the apparent conditioning of speculation by (mostly Vedic) revelation? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Philosophical Traditions of India: An Appraisal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.