Space, language, culture and politics in South Asia: Common Patterns and Local Distinctions – The 5th Coffee Break Conference

Ever thought that the nicest part of a conference are the coffee breaks, whereas the rest is usually boring and/or just a way of showing off? Then you are ready to participate in a Coffee Break Conference. The 5th one will take place in Rome from tomorrow to Saturday. Further details here.

You think it is a great idea, but you do not have the time to join us in Rome? Consider participating to the 6th Coffee Break Conference (Venice 2015). Further details are available here.

Further details on the Coffee Break Project can be read here (and in the posts linked from it)

Genetics and the Aryan invasion/Out of India theories

From time to time someone tries to have settled a cultural issue through biological elements. I tend to think that this is a fallacy of false cause. Consider, in this regard, the following comment by Jan Houben on the Indology mailing list (published with his consent):

The Error was (19th cent and nazi-time Aryan Invasion Theory) and is (Out-of-India-Theory) to think that GENETICS (and racial theories) can provide explanations in cultural questions in history, such as the well-attested spread of vedism between 1500 BCE (north-west of Indian subcontinent) and 1500 AD (throughout Indian subcontinent). Many scholars have remained unconvinced and unhappy with explanations in these terms from the beginning, innumerable are those who suffered from attempts to base state implemented policies on these theories but scientific ‘truth’ is ‘truth’ and in the absence of any other explanation … As I have been arguing in several studies, however, in our understanding of the phenomenon of the spread of vedism GENETICS need not be invoked at all as a crucial factor as it is to be understood rather in terms of MEMETICS and MEMORY CULTURE taking into account vedism’s interaction over centuries with its ecological and economic environment (for instance Worries about genetic lineage became obsessively important only secondarily in the last or K-strategist (niche-exploitation) phase of vedism reflected in a relatively late work such as Manu (on Hitler and Manu see Halbfass India and Europe p 139).


What do you think? Do you trust biological explanations?

Self in Indian and Greek Philosophy

Lots of interesting people (and friends) will discuss the issue in July in Exeter.

Note that there will be an interesting methodological section: On which basis can one compare Greek and Indian philosophy? Because of their common origin? Because of a convergence in human thought?

Kumārila on language

Workshop with Lars Göhler

The aim of the workshop is the translation and analysis of the Ślokavārttika sections on the status of language and on meaning. The workshop will focus on the sections about language in Kumārila’s Ślokavārttika (especially śabdādhikaraṇa and vākyādhikaraṇa). These include interesting discussions of the main philosophical positions about word- and sentence-meaning. (more…)