Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought: An Essay on the Nature of Indian Philosophical Thinking

Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought: An Essay on the Nature of Indian Philosophical Thinking

Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought: An Essay on the Nature of Indian Philosophical Thinking

Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought: An Essay on the Nature of Indian Philosophical Thinking

Synopsis

In this book, Mohanty develops a new interpretation of the nature of Indian philosophical thinking. Using the original Sanskrit sources, he examines the concepts of consciousness and subjectivity, theories of language and logic, and meaning and truth, and explicates the concept of theoretical rationality which underlies the Indian philosophies. Mohanty brings to bear insights from modern western analytical and phenomenological philosophies, not so much for comparative purposes, but rather to interpret Indian thinking and to highlight its distinctive features.

Excerpt

These chapters had their origin in various attempts to isolate the distinctive features, if any, of Indian philosophy, especially as compared with Western philosophy. I began to think about Indian logical theories, epistemologies, semantic theories, and ontologies, these being the areas in which my original training and competence lay. But in the course of my investigation, it became increasingly clear to me that in order to be able to grasp what the Indian mode of thinking was, one had to go beyond the philosophies and to take a look at the Indian positive sciences as well. Historiography, positive law, and medicine were important areas, as was much of Hindu mathematics. Since my concern in this work is with the general mode of thinking, I have had to abstract from the detailed content of the theories, I have looked at their methodological (formal and contentual) commitments and also at their broad categorial concepts such as 'body', 'action', 'property', and 'law'. The same is also true of my concern with the philosophical theories in the more restricted sense. As far as it was possible for me, I have not dealt with the substance of their doctrines and have restricted myself to what appeared to me to be the deeper underlying structures. The book makes, and in my view needs to make, no claims to exhaustiveness. My purpose would be achieved if it succeeded only in revealing some of the parameters within which Indian philosophers have thought.

In dealing with fundamental distinctions between Indian and Western thought, my predecessors and some of my contemporaries have used clichés which I have found unhelpful and quite often positively misleading. In my view, one can no longer use such opposites as spiritual-non-spiritual intuition-intellect, logical-non-logical in philosophy when one is comparing philosophical worlds. These distinctions cut across the Indian-Western dichotomy. There are materialistic Indian systems, as there are Western philosophies which rely on logic and intellect or which reject intellectual methods for some sort of intuitive mode of deriving knowledge. Neither is the alleged religious context of Indian philosophy the decisive point, for, first, this context is not absent in much of classical Western thought and, secondly, it is . . .

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