Veṅkaṭanātha’s epistemology, ontology and theology

In the world-view of a fundamental Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta teacher like Vedānta Deśika (1269–1370, aka Veṅkaṭanātha), theology is the center of the system and epistemology and ontology assume their role and significance only through their relationship with this center.

Funding your research projects: some data

(This post is a continuation of my post of last week and gives some better grounded data.)

If you are a scholar active in Europe, you will most probably depend on funding for your projects in order to survive, given that surviving out of teaching alone is infrequent and a tenure is not foreseeable. Thus, it becomes essential to know what one’s chances are.
A short comparison shows that among European countries,

  • Switzerland is the one in which more money for research is granted (total amount/number of inhabitants): 88,5 E pro inhabitant each year
  • Finnland is the next one: 61,1 E
  • UK (Research Council UK): 48,0 E
  • Neatherlands (NWO): 37,2 E
  • Germany (DFG): 33,5 E
  • Austria (FWF): 23,8 E

This is however still not enough, since a lot depends on how many funding agencies there are in each country, so that, e.g., the situation may look different in Germany if one takes into account also the Humboldt scholarships, the Max Planck foundation, etc.

Moreover, the amount of money available per inhabitant still does not say much, since it is not said how many inhabitants apply for that money. In this sense, it seems that the acceptance rate of the German DFG is much lower than expected, whereas the Swiss acceptance rate is high, as expected:

  • Swiss acceptance rate: around 50%
  • Austrian acceptance rate: 25,8%
  • German (DFG only) acceptance rate: around 17%

Still more interesting, especially for prospective peer reviewers are the following data:

  • acceptance rate in 2008 (Austria, FWF): 43,0% (2008 was the highest peak attained, before that the rate was around 41,5%)
  • acceptance rate in 2013 (Austria, FWF): 25,8%

Why this huge difference in a few years? Because the number of application has been incredibly growing (from 1,000 in 2001 to 2,386 in 2013).
This means that the lower acceptance rate is not due to the lower quality of post-2008 projects. Rather, after 2008 the FWF Jury (and I imagine that a similar situation applies to the DFG and similar fundings) just had to look for weak points in each project in order “not to go bankrupt” (precise quotation of what I heard at a recent FWF roadshow).
Given that the decision about a project is taken in Austria, Germany and Italy (I guess that the same applies to the other EU countries, but I cannot be sure) by a jury or committee on the basis of peer-reviews, much burden lies on the peer reviewers themselves.
Again, as I heard at the same roadshow:

We are forced to look for anything which looks like a critique, if we want not to go bankrupt. We know we are turning down projects we would be funding in better financial conditions.

There is nothing blamable in that, but I am convinced that peer reviewers should be informed about the weight of their decisions. Anything less than “enthusiastic approval” amounts to good news for the committee, who can turn down the project. It is fine, if you think the project not to be worthy, but I, for one, will send my further suggestions directly to the applicant and not include them in my peer review the next time I am asked to review a project.

What will you do? What have you done until now?
Source: FWF

A non-funded project on deontic logic —And some general notes on peer-reviewing projects

Some months ago, departing from Decemeber 2013, I started working on a fascinating project, the formalisation of the deontic logic of some Mīmāṃsā authors (Kumārila, Prabhākara and Maṇḍana). Given that I am not an expert on formal logic, the project has been conceived together with some colleagues working on formal logic and on the IT tools for automating it. After some preliminary work, we submitted a project within the “Mathematics and…” call of the WWTF. The other principal investigator was Agata Ciabattoni and the other collaborators were Björn Lellmann and Ekaterina Lebedeva. Agata and Björn would have been working with me on selecting the logical rules from the relevant Sanskrit texts, translating them in formal logical language and developing automated deduction methods to reason about them.
Ekaterina, as a linguist and an expert of the intersection of language and logic, would have taken care of the fact that our translations of Sanskrit passages into logical rules did not entail logical ambiguities.

The 168th Philosophers’ Carnival

The 168th version of the Philosophers’ Carnival, with a link to Anand Vaidya’s blogpost on modality in Indian philosophy at the Indian Philosophy Blog, can be read here. Thanks to the reader(s) who pointed to Anand’s post! Keep on alerting the philosophers’ carnival website about interesting blogposts, especially about ones which might escape the editors’ attention because they do not deal with mainstream philosophy.

Jain libraries in India

Readers might have noticed that I am working on the availability of Buddhist texts after the disappearance of Buddhist communities in South India. Did the vanished Buddhist communities leave beyond libraries of Buddhist texts? —I have no evidence of that. Did Jains collect Buddhist texts also in South India?

Buddhism in Tamil Nadu until the end of the first millennium AD

Was Buddhism ever predominant in Tamil Nadu? Which Buddhism? And when?

After my last post on the disappearance of Buddhism from South India, I received two emails of readers pointing to the fact that Buddhism must have been prosperous in Tamil Nadu, given that Dharmakīrti himself was born in Tamil Nadu and that the Maṇimēkalai (a Buddhist literary text in Tamil, datable perhaps to the 5th–7th c.) presupposes a Buddhist community and reuses materials from Śaṅkarasvāmin’s Nyāyapraveśa.

Mīmāṃsā and Grammar

Did Mīmāṃsā influence Indian Grammar? Or did they both develop out of a shared prehistory?

Long-time readers might remember that this is one of my pet topics (see this book). Probably due to the complex technicalities involved, apart from Jim Benson, not many people have been working on this topic, but in the last few days I had the pleasure to get in touch with Sharon Ben-Dor (who worked on paribhāṣās, more on his articles in a future topic) and then to receive the following invitation:

Doing things another way: Bhartṛhari on “substitutes” (pratinidhi)
Time: Friday, 17. October 2014, Beginn: 15:00 c.t.
Place: Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Seminarraum 1, Apostelgasse 23, 1030 Wien
Speakers: Vincenzo Vergiani and Hugo David (Cambridge)