Loving God for no reason

Why does a devotee love God? Because He is good, merciful, omniscient…? Or just out of love?

This seems to be one of the moot issues between the two currents within the form of Vaiṣṇavism later to be known as Śrīvaiṣṇavism, since Piḷḷai Lokācārya (13th c.) stresses that loving without reason is superior to loving with a reason, just like Sītā’s ungrounded love for Rāma is superior to that of Lakṣmaṇa, who loves Rāma for his good qualities (see Mumme 1988, p. 150).

Keywords: jnā– and vid

In the last week, two students have asked me about the distinction between jñā- and vid- and this made me think that it might be worth adding a new section to Andrew’s collaborative enterprise (see here and here) of mapping the technical vocabulary of Sanskrit. Since jñā- (and its derivatives, such as jñāna) and vid- (and vidyā, etc.) have different acceptations in various areas of Sanskrit, let me state, once again, that I will only focus on śāstric, philosophical Sanskrit.

Can one understand a sentence without believing its content to be the case?

Well, yes… isn’t it?
The problem is less easy than it may look like and amounts to the problem of non-committal understanding. Is it the normal attitude while listening to a speaker or just an exception or an a posteriori withdrawal of belief once one notices that the speaker is in any way non reliable?

pada-vākya-pramāṇa… Since when?

If you have read post-Classical śāstra, you will have certainly encountered the formulation above, describing the three foundational disciplines as focusing on
words (pada), i.e., grammatical analysis in Vyākaraṇa
sentences (vākya), i.e., textual linguistics in Mīmāṃsā
means of knowledge (pramāṇa), i.e., epistemology in Nyāya

Gonda scholarships for Indology

Call for Proposals: The Gonda Fund for Indology

The Gonda Fund supports the scholarly study of Sanskrit, other Indian languages and literatures, and Indian cultural history. The Gonda Fund awards:

1. Fellowships to promising young Indologists at post-doctorate level, that enable them to spend one to six months at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands.
2. Funding to scientists, scholars and scientific publishers for publications and research projects.
3. Gonda-grants to PhD students in the Netherlands for scientific projects or working visits.
The deadlines for applications are 1 April and 1 October of every year.
The Gonda Fund is a foundation of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

More information is available at www.knaw.nl/gonda-fund.

Jaina Studies Scholarship for MPhil or PhD

Deadline: 15 July 2015
Thanks to the generosity of the B.C. Mehta Trust, SOAS is pleased to offer one Jaina Studies Scholarship. The scholarship is for a first year MPhil/PhD in the Study of Religions with a research proposal on Jaina Studies. The candidate must be a new admission (starting in September 2015).
The candidate must be eligible to pay the full time overseas tuition fee for 2015/16.
The total value of the scholarship for 2015/16 is £14,100 to be used for the first year tuition fee only.The Jaina Studies Scholarship is for one year only and cannot be renewed.

Further information is available here: http://www.soas.ac.uk/registry/scholarships/elap-scholarship.html

176th Philosophy Carnival

The 176th Philosophy Carnival is here, with interesting links to posts on logic, personal identity, Hume’s criticism of miracles and ethics. There is also a link to a blog I had never encountered on the Carnival, namely Go Gruel.

And, yes, I am not completely happy with the Carnival for the reasons I have already discussed (basically: lack of inclusiveness). But still I think that it is an excellent service, and that one should not criticise it unless one is ready to invest time and energy in a new project.

Linguistic Communication as an Instrument of Knowledge: A panel

I came back last week from Athens, were I had organised together with Malcolm Keating a panel on Linguistic Communication as an instrument of knowledge. I ended up framing the problem according to four basic questions, namely 1) What do we know? , 2) How (through which instrument of knowledge) do we know it?, 3) What is the role of language as a medium?, 4) What is the role of the social context?

Śabara on sentences (PMS 1.1.24–26)

The discussion on the epistemological validity of sentences starts in Jaimini’s Pūrva Mīmāṃsā Sūtra (PMS) and in Śabara’s commentary thereon when the opponent notes that, even if —as established in PMS 1.1.5— there were really an originary connection between words and meanings, this would still not mean that the authorless Vedas are a reliable instrument of knowledge, since they are made of sentences, not just of words. And clusters of words are either made by human authors or are just causally put together by chance and are thus meaningless.

Are words an instrument of knowledge?

Kumārila's Śabdapariccheda

Are words an instrument of knowledge? And, if so, what sort of? Are they an instance of inference insofar as one infers the meaning on the basis of the words used? Or are they are an independent instrument of knowledge, since the connection between words and meanings is not of inferential nature?