Where are the Yoga philosophers?

Today I read in Philipp Maas’s contribution to Periodization and Historiography of Indian Philosophy (edited by Eli Franco) an intriguing critique of Colebrook and of all the Indologists who, seemingly following him, thought that there was nothing philosophical in Yoga apart from its Sāṅkhya component and that what was typical of Yoga alone was not philosophical.
I am always attracted to the idea of shaking from the roots my convictions, but this time I could not help asking: Where are they? Where did the Yoga philosophers hide while the others were discussing?
It is surely difficult to establish what is “philosophy” and what is not. Why should metaphysics count more than ethics? Why should epistemology be more “philosophical” than race or gender studies? Moreover, the recent Yoga in Transformation conference showed (even to me) that Yoga grew in close contact with other philosophical schools (e.g., with the Buddhist Abhidharma) and that interesting debates took and take place among Yoga authors (e.g., about the interpretation of specific practices). Similarly, it is possible that Yoga authors are found in texts we would not at first consider “philosophical”, such as the Epics, or the Purāṇas.
Nonetheless, if we think of philosophy as the dialectical enterprise to which authors such as Dignāga, Dharmakīrti, Kumārila, Maṇḍana, Śaṅkara and Abhinavagupta (I know, I am only naming the “classics”) contributed, the absence of philosophers distinctively reconducible to a Yoga school seems striking. Thus, the question:

Who are the Yoga philosophers? What and where (i.e., in which texts) did they discuss? In other words: What am I missing?

On the Yoga in Transformation conference, see here.

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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2 thoughts on “Where are the Yoga philosophers?

  1. Yoga is the operational arm of vedanta and there would be implicit in it a simplification of the more abstruse philosophy. Patanjali’s citta vritti nirodha does not make sense from a purist perspective but it is a beginning aim in control and one-pointedness of the mind. Western psychology may express itself likewise in dualistic terms which is useful operationally even though dualism is not generally held to be metaphysically valid.

    Swami Vivekananda has a little book of commentary called Raja Yoga on the Aphorisms of Pattanjali. In it he says that the yogi has passed the stage of ‘vada’ (controversy) and is now in ‘siddantha’ (decision). No true yogi will raise his hand to give his account but will focus on intensifying the conclusions that he accepts.

    • Thank you, Michael, I hoped that you would have stepped in. Your point seems to reinforce the idea that Yoga has little to do with the argumentative path of philosophy (I am not saying that it has nothing to do with “philosophy”, since this would depend on how one defines it). Am I right?