Amod Lele recently asked whether there is an emic Buddhist morality or whether this is only a Yavanayāna invention
(i.e., an invention of contemporary Western-trained Buddhists). The question is in itself interesting, but the discussion it triggered is even more, since Jayarava (who blogs here) added the problem of the possible inconsistency of the doctrine of karman if one denies the continuity of the self. That there is a problem cannot be denied: Why should we care about the karman our actions accumulate, if it is not going to affect “us”?
Veṅkaṭanātha is an important milestone for the reconstruction of the history of Indian philosophy. In fact, he is a historical figure and the reconstruction of his thought is also facilitated by the contextual knowledge already available about the times, the cultural and geographical milieu, and the religious tradition related to him.
The trigger for a discussion about the distinction of body and self in Mīmāṃsā is not or not primarily the polemic with the Buddhists, but rather the need to justify the validity of ritual prescriptions. In particular, a sentence, the yajñāyudhivākya `sentence about the one who bears the weapons of sacrifice’ identifies the entity being endowed with the weapons which consist in the sacrifice itself with the one which will reach heaven.
The problem is that the entity which carries these weapons is the body — and the body will clearly not reach heaven, since it will be burnt.
Interestingly, bodily resurrection seems not to have ever been taken into account as an option, so that the resulting dualism is much more radical than in a Christian milieu: Mīmāṃsā authors plainly agree that the body will not go to heaven and that the sentence should rather be read as addressing in fact the real agent of the sacrifice, which is not the body, but the self.
This, however, has an important consequence, namely that the self is identified with the real agent beyond the body’s acts. This makes Mīmāṃsā authors start far away from the Upaniṣadic, Sāṅkhya and Vedāntic ideas of an underlying self which is untouched by change and action.
Thus, Sacred Texts like the above sentence suggest that there is a self. Mīmāṃsā authors point also to further evidences, first and foremost our I-cognitions, that is, the cognition we have of an “I” whenever we refer to ourselves. Objectors can easily contend that “I” is used in sentences which in fact refer to the body, such as “I am tall”, thus concluding that this evidence is valueless. Mīmāṃsā authors answer that metaphorical usages of “I” as referring to the body do not rule out that it usually refers to the subject. Again, this claim bases on the idea that the Mīmāṃsā subject is not a changeless and super-individual entity, but that it is a changing and dynamic person, which can be rightly described in I-sentences such as “I am bright” or perhaps even “I am a scholar of Greek philosophy”.
In classical Indian philosophy, linguistics and philosophy of language are of central importance and inform further fields, such as epistemology and poetics. Thus, looking at the debates on linguistics and philosophy of language offers one a snapshot on the lively philosophical arena of classical India.
Little is known about the Vātsīputrīyas who are an ancient (3rd c.) group of Buddhists mostly known because of their pudgalavāda ‘doctrine about the [existence of] persons’. Since they seem to be referred to only in connection with this teaching, I was surprised to find them mentioned by Veṅkaṭanātha in 14th c. South India.
(In the following I am summarising the German Call for applications, which will be reproduced below. Succesful applicants are expected to learn German in their first 2 years.)
An excellent scholar will be selected for a position to be filled departing from the 1.10.2016, for three years (further three years are possible). It is possible that the person will be selected for a TT (W2 Professur).
AOS: Tibetan Buddhism (Philosophy, Religion, Literature, History of Art). The knowledge of the language used in the primary sources is a requirement. A connection with Mongolistic and the capability to take into account the social aspect of the topics involved and to work indisciplarly are a desideratum.
Deadline for applications: 16 October 2015.
Applications should be sent to:
Universität Leipzig, Dekan der Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunst- und Orientwissenschaften, Herrn Prof. Dr. Manfred Rudersdorf, Schillerstr. 6, 04109 Leipzig Email: email@example.com
To be sent are: a list of academic publications and of classes taught (together with the evaluation received), certified copy of the highest academic degree and of the qualification.
Best luck to all!
The Doctoral Program in Buddhist Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany invites applications for two PhD scholarships for dissertation projects related to Buddhism:
The School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon invites applications from specialists in Buddhist Studies (Asian Buddhism) for a full-time tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level, effective September 16, 2016.
In my previous post on this topic, I had neglected an important source and I am grateful for a reader who pointed this out. The relevant text is a verse of Kumārila’s (one of the main authors of the Mīmāṃsā school, possibly 7th c.) lost Bṛhaṭṭīkā preserved in the Tattvasaṅgraha:
The one who jumps 10 hastas in the sky,
s/he will never be able to jump one yojana, even after one hundred exercises! (TS 3167)