Saturday, June 16, 2012

Indic Philosophical Schools: A Basic Bibliography

As a “basic” bibliography, this compilation for Indic philosophical schools is far from exhaustive. Not a few English translations of important texts are missing, but references to same will be found in the bibliographies of the relevant studies. The division between āstikadarśana (‘visions of orthodoxy’) and nāstika (‘heterodox’) schools is a conventional characterization accepted by both sides of the conjunction. The former is comprised of the Nyāya, Vaiśesika, Sāmkhya, Yoga, Mīmāmsā, and Vedānta philosophical schools (bear in mind a few of the schools are further divided from within: e.g., there are, technically, ten schools of Vedānta, although three main ones), while the latter designation refers to Jaina, Buddhist, and Cārvāka philosophies. I have more comprehensive bibliographies for both Hinduism and Buddhism (and ‘Chinese philosophies’ for that matter) available at this blog (the latest versions are available upon request).

In correspondence, Professor Mohan Matthen kindly suggested this list would be more helpful were I to divide it into “problem” areas, by which I take it he meant according to the reigning division of intellectual labor in professional philosophy: logic, epistemology (in the Indic context, largely under the heading of ‘perception’), ontology, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind (e.g., consciousness, ‘mind-body’ issues, even personal identity), and so on. While that no doubt is true, there are simply too many titles that don’t fit into one (or, they fit into more than one) of these categories, even though contemporary works in Indic philosophy increasingly evidence a willingness to treat their topics within these rubrics. Perhaps this is something worth attempting in a later draft of the compilation. For now, I trust readers can for the most part and with not too much trouble identify titles that fall under the relevant “problem” areas in which professional philosophers discuss this material.

That said, we should keep in mind that “philosophy” here is typically within the larger practical and metaphysical context of religious worldviews, hence the overarching aim or end revolves around spiritual notions of “liberation” or “freedom,” what in the Western theistic traditions falls within the compass and concerns of soteriology. We might fairly describe most of these worldviews as dedicated to practicing philosophy in a manner quite similar—if not in many respects identical—to the “therapy of desire” common to the Hellenistic ethical schools: Aristotelian, Epicurean, Skeptic, and Stoic, studied by Martha Nussbaum (the medical analogy is prominent in Buddhism as well). Indeed, in ancient Greek philosophy generally, philosophy is part and parcel of a “way of life,” and thus, in theory, is meant for those with the requisite temperament and training, in other words, and at least in principle, it is intended for anyone having attained the age of reason. As John M. Cooper writes in his latest book, Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Plotinus (2012), “Over most of the one thousand years of philosophy in ancient Greece and Rome, philosophy was assiduously studied in every generation by ancient philosophers and their students as the best way to become good people and to live good human lives.” Philosophy as a “way of life,” perhaps needless to say, is not the conception that rules the practice of modern and contemporary philosophy.

I welcome notice of errors and title suggestions.


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