The Indian Philosophy Blog launched!

Remember the time when I was complaining about the absence of a platform for discussions among scholars philosophically interested in India? Now we (meaning: myself, Amod Lele and a group of interesting friends and colleagues, based throughout Europe and in the US) launched one! Ideally, this should work as a forum where ideas can be discussed and shared. We also hope that it will increase the chances for Indian philosophy to become part of the intellectual discours of philosophy throughout the (academic) world.

Hope you will join the discussion!

A theist caught in the paradoxes of free will

Can a theist believe in God’s omniscience&omnipotence and in free will? I have argued in other posts that one can think in a compatibilist way (because God wants to be freely loved) and that this entails that no punishment/ban from God’s presence can be eternal. Here I would like to test it in the case of Vedānta Deśika/Veṅkaṭanātha, a Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedāntin who also wrote Mīmāṃsā works.

From a Mīmāṃsā standpoint, free will is a fundamental presupposal, since Vedic prescriptions are in a dialectical relation with one’s desire (rāga): one always decides on the basis of the one or the other. That rāga itself might lie beyond one’s free will is an idea never discussed by Mīmāṃsā authors, possibly because they are interested in the phenomenology of free will and not in its ontology.

Can the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta point of view agree with this perspective? On the one hand, one might think that the omnipotency of God as conceived by Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta authors leads back to the initial problem. On the other, according to Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta human beings are nothing but specifications (viśeṣas) of the only existing reality, God Himself. In some forms of Vaiṣṇavism (e.g., in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism), God can freely choose to self-delude Himself as part of His play (līlā). Thus, the child-Kṛṣṇa can willfully forget His omnipotence in order to enjoy His mother’s protection.

Can one conceive the freedom enjoyed by human beings also as a case of self-delimitation?

Further thoughts on free will in Indian Philosophy can be read here.



What did Kumārila have in view when he spoke of a “linguistic force” and of an “objective force”?

What did Kumārila mean when he spoke of śabda– and arthabhāvanā? While the first compound can be interpreted as a tatpuruṣa (the force of language) or as a karmadhāraya (the force consisting of language), the latter remains less clear… You can read about three interpretative proposals here.

Do we need to waste our time proving that unicorns do not exist?

Do we need to prove that unicorns, tooth fairies, hobbits and so on do not exist? The question is not just funny, insofar as an upholder of the existence of ghosts and the like could easily claim that —strictly speaking— there is no evidence of their non-existence. In Indian epistemology, this amounts to saying that there are no bādhakas ‘invalidating cognitions’ telling us that the existence of ghosts, etc. is invalid.

Is there really a single author of the Yogasūtra and Yogabhāṣya?

The idea that the Yogasūtra (henceforth YS) and the Yogabhāṣya (henceforth YBh) are not two distinct texts has been discussed for the first way in a systematic way by Johannes Bronkhorst in 1985 (“Patañjali and the Yoga Sūtras”, Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik). Philipp Maas in his published PhD thesis (Maas 2006) examined it again and Philipp Maas in his contribution to Eli Franco’s Periodization and Historiography of Indian Philosophy (2013) dealt with it again in greater detail.