Keynote Respondent: Ramprasad Chakravarthi
Lectures on Categories
The Seven Category Ontology Reaffirmed
Ontological Categories in Early Indian Philosophy
This paper will address the question whether and to what extent the ontological categories of early Indian philosophies can be looked upon as what might be called ‘natural categories’, categories that correspond in some way to the reality they intend to describe. It turns out that some of the Indian categories are of this kind, others are not. Examples will be discussed.
On bhava - the ultimate category
Whereas some categories clearly are the outcome of mental deliberations, such as the dharma-taxonomies of the Buddhists, the padarthas of the Vaisesikas, or the tattvas of the Samkhyas, others seem to arise from within the cognitive models of Indian culture. This paper explores the concept of bhava as one of the categories arising from within the Sanskrit linguistic and philosophical traditions and traces its transformation into one of the core categories of Sanskritic thought.
Nyaya's pramana (Knowledge-Generators) as Natural Kinds
This paper examines Nyaya's understanding of the sources of knowledge, especially perception and inference, as generating genuine subkinds of cognition that are discernible by introspection as well as through our own and others' behaviour, and addresses how typological resources are used by the school in its epistemological theory. By being able to recognize a cognition as perceptual, inferential, analogical, or testimonial in character, we have access to our knowledge such that doubt and controversy can be resolved. The hinge premise is that we may assume such cognition to be veridical. Like contemporary disjunctivists, Naiyayikas see pramana as natural processes and their results as falling into natural kinds, with close imitators, illusions, incorrect inferences, false testimonial comprehension, and so on, as something else altogether, not the same at all, though a wider uniting kind may be identified, being-a-property, being-a-psychological-property, and so on up through the categorial system. This facet of Nyaya's epistemology helps to solve an issue facing modern reliabilist externalism, which is the position that beliefs receive a default positive epistemic status in virtue of being the results of reliable processes of belief-formation. The issue is how to differentiate doxastic processes in an epistemically relevant fashion. Nyaya has a straightforward answer--identify candidates by the highest standard, one-hundred percent reliability, and correlating marks (jati-vyanjana)--an answer that this paper in the end says a word or two to defend.
The Analysis of Experience in Classical Samkhya
This paper argues for an interpretation of classical SƒÅ·pÉkhya according to which its schema of twenty-five categories constitutes the result of an analysis of experience as opposed to a speculative cosmogony or imaginative account of how our psychological faculties come into existence. Problems with prevalent interpretations are highlighted, notably the difficulty of understanding how physical elements can ‘evolve’ from psychological ones and that of understanding the relevance of the categorial schema to SƒÅ·pÉkhya’s overall soteriological goal. An experience-oriented interpretation is then proposed, drawing analogies with aspects of Kantian and phenomenological philosophy. It is contended that the manifest categories be understood as constituents of possible experience (or experience-in-general) rather than as material entities, and the relations between them be understood in terms of synchronic conditionality rather than diachronic material causality. The proposed interpretation, it is argued, shows the SƒÅ·pÉkhya system to be more internally coherent and soteriologically relevant than do alternative interpretations.
Madhyamakas and Ontological Categories
The status of categories within Madhyamaka philosophy is a curious one. On the one hand there is a strong tendency to reject philosophically refined analyses of the constituents which make up the world, thereby rejecting systems of categories as well. The Madhyamika, it seems, accepts whatever conventions the world accepts at the merely conventional level but does not propose any conventions of his own. In fact there appear to be good reasons for such a view. Given that the membership of an object in a category is generally taken to be a clear example of a property an object has intrinsically, and since the Madhyamikas reject intrinsic properties (properties which exist by svabhava) they should reject categories as well.
The Concept of a Category in Vaisesika Philosophy
The present paper proposes to put forth a general outline of categories (=padarthas) as available in the Vaisesika system of Indian philosophy. Vaisesika is usually held to be a pluralistic realism in the sense that it propounds six categories as divisions of reality and claims that all the existent, knowable and nameable entities can be covered under these six padarthas: dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma (action or motion), samanya (universal), visesa (ultimate particularity) and samavaya (inherence). Kanada, the founder of Vaisesika system, has himself declared in the beginning of his discourse that a proper knowledge of the six padarthas through twin methods of sadharmya (similarities) and vaidharmya (dissimilarities) among them, will enable one to accomplish the final goal. Accordingly, several sets of similarities among different groups of padarthas have been elucidated which definitely help in a better and clearer understanding of the Vaisesika categories. In brief, the Vaisesika concept of categories is very comprehensive since it presents an exhaustive enumeration of reals.
From Ontology to Taxonomy: the Jaina Colonisation of the Universe
This paper explores the shift in Jaina thought from categorization (the ontological dualism of jiva and ajiva) to classification (the universe as a map of the Jina's mind), and reflects on a corresponding alteration in soteriological and sociological concerns.
Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session Three - Christian mystical traditions 1 ‚ The Relevance of Christian Mysticism
Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction ‘mysticism’ is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of ‘mysticism’, particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan’s claim, among others, that the east is ‘spiritual’ while the west is ‘material’. Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category ‘mysticism,’ this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.