Omniscience and realism

Marginal notes about a workshop in Hawai'i

A non-intelligible entity cannot be conceived to exist. But, if the world needs to be known in order to exist, we need to postulate a non-partial perspective out of which it can be known. Since the perspectives of all human beings (as well as those of other animals, I would add) are necessarily partial and cannot be reconciled (how could one reconcile our perspective of the world with that of a bat?), this perspective needs to be God.

In case you are in Cracow next week

You might want to come and raise some interesting objection at one of the two lectures below:

Body and self in Śrīvaiṣṇavism. A “hands-on” discussion of Veṅkaṭanātha’s Seśvaramīmāṃsā (ad 1.1.5) (Wed, 11 am)
—Knowing the unknowable: Vedānta Deśika on supersensory perception (at the Pedagogical University of Cracow, Wednesday, 4 pm).

Shilpa Sumant on critical editions and role models

Shilpa Sumant has been so nice to come to Vienna for two lectures and for some additional hours of chatting. For the ones among you who have not yet encountered her work, Shilpa has published important studies and critical editions in the field of the Paippalāda school of the Atharvaveda, but her command of Sanskrit and her activity at the Pune “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles” makes her approach broad and particularly rich in cross-references and unheard-of materials.

What happened at the beginnings of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta?—Part 2

Several distinct component are constitutive of what we now know to be Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and are not present at the time of Rāmānuja:

  1. 1. The inclusion of the Āḻvār’s theology in Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta
  2. 2. The Pāñcarātra orientation of both subschools of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta
  3. 3. The two sub-schools
  4. 4. The Vedāntisation of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta
  5. 5. The impact of other schools

What happened at the beginnings of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta?—Part 1

The starting point of the present investigation is the fact that between Rāmānuja and Veṅkaṭanātha a significant change appears to have occurred in the scenario of what was later known as Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta (the term is only found after Sudarśana Sūri). The Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta as we know it was more or less there by the time of Veṅkaṭanātha, whereas in order to detect it in the oeuvre of Rāmānuja one needs to retrospectively interpret it in the light of its successive developments. This holds true even more, although in a different way, for Rāmānuja’s predecessors, such as Yāmuna, Nāthamuni and the semi-mythical Dramiḍācārya etc.

16th World Sanskrit Conference: A panel on the development of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta

Last week took place one of the main (or the main?) conferences for Sanskrit scholars, namely the 16th edition of the World Sanskrit Conference, of which you can read a short summary by McComas Taylor on Indology (look for it here). Marcus Schmücker and I organised a panel called One God—One Śāstra, Philosophical developments towards and within Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta between Nāthamuni and Veṅkaṭanātha. You can read the initial call for papers here.

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?

Puṣpikā 3

I just received my copy of Puṣpikā 3. Tracing Ancient India Through Texts and Traditions. Contributions to Current Research in Indology, edited by Robert Leach and Jessie Pons. The volume is the third in a series of volumes publishing the proceedings of the various IIGRS conferences and it is innovative in so far as it drops the alphabetic order adopted in the first two volumes. Here, the sequence of articles is rather organised thematically, with two papers on philosophical topics:

  1. Marie-Hélẻne Gorisse (Is Inference a cognitive or a linguistic process? A line of divergence between Jain and Buddhist classifications)
  2. Elisa Freschi (Between Theism and Atheism: A journey through Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and Mīmāṃsā)

Next come five articles ordered according to the chronology of their topics, from the Veda to contemporary Bengali Bauls:

  1. Moreno Dore (The pre-eminence of men in the vrātya-ideology)
  2. Paul F. Schwerda (“Tear down my Sādhana- and Havirdhāna-huts, stow away my Soma-vessels!” —Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa 2,269ff: A typical case of cursing in the Veda?)
  3. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués (A New Reading Of the Meghadūta)
  4. Jerôme Petit (Banārasīdās climbing the Jain Stages of Perfection)
  5. Carola Erika Lorea (If people get to know me, I’ll become cow-dung: Bhaba Pagla and the songs of the Bauls of Bengal)

The last paper follows the chronological sequence, since it discusses the application of modern teaching methods to Sanskrit:

  1. Sven Wortmann and Ann-Kathrin Wolf (Revisiting Sanskrit Teaching in the Light of Modern Language Pedagogy)

I had discussed the presentations on which the last paper was based in my previous blog, here. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués’ paper at the IIGRS had been discussed here.

I have not read the printed version of my article yet, but I already have one regret: I did not explicitly thank Robert (Leach) for his careful editing and for the many efforts invested in making my article understandable (my only excuse for that is that the editors of the first Puṣpikā had asked us to avoid such notes).