Classical Indian Philosophy (book review) JN Mohanty

210914: in an unusual move, i have decided to increase the rating, to reflect how this compact intro does spur my thoughts, in a kind of metaphysical way as gilles deleuze recommends. there is a series of appendices that spurs this revaluation, the most important an outline summarizing the 'darshana' (schools) of indian thought. i had been frustrated, marking it down, because i was not understanding it, not following a coherent order. this is a mistake, as a glance at the contents page shows the pattern beginning with theories of knowledge-metaphysics-politics, law, morals-religion and art-beyond the knowable cognition/true cognition- in this brief book i am inspired to look at more indian philosophy, of which i had only been familiar with buddhism, and there is no greater value of a book than it encourages you to read another. and another....


this made me realize how limited my indian philosophy knowledge is. as mentioned, buddhist, and of that mahayana, when it is clear that there is an entire history, involving, contesting, the epic 'vedas' of india, the ramayana and the mahabharata. admittedly, i have known of these texts primarily as a sort of indian 'odyssey', but such is a limited appreciation, as these 'vedic' works describe and then justify the entirety of caste structures against which buddhism in particular fought. i did not know the arguments of jains, of which i want to learn more, want to think more. i did not understand how, following the three paths of devotion, ritual (morally correct behaviour in general), knowledge, the atman or self would come to recognize and more- become- brahma. i did not know those aspects, in particular, the doctrine of the law of karma was in the air to such extent no one needed defend or even describe it. this is a causal law, an extension from physical law to metaphysical causality. had read that the buddhists were first to 'ethicize' it, rather than simply alterations of life and death in transmigrations in jain thought, but the hindus also seem to follow this law. the book does try to link to, but also show difference from, the western metaphysical picture in everything from 'quality' to 'epistemology' to 'laws of how cognition works' to 'what is cognitive knowledge' to 'agreed empirical sources'. there is a very brief, tantalizing reference to that western, monotheistic, semitic question on 'the problem of evil'- and how it can not even be formulated in eastern thought, as it expresses that it is in the nature of god to follow this law...


so, ok, i do not 'know' much more indian philosophy now, having read this book, but rather than knowledge i have new ways of thinking. some are extensive lists, changeable lists, of qualities, of doctrines- but it is not that i read this for summation but inspiration. and much as i found those 'guides for the perplexed' on say merleau-ponty or sartre, so engaging, even as only intros, so i find this book...

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