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Debating the Jains in Medieval India: Where Myth and Logic Meet

Story imageBSW Lecture by Phyllis Granoff, Yale University
Medieval Indian philosophy texts often read like oral debates set to writing. The philosophical debate in India was carefully scripted; the rules for argument were agreed upon before the start of the debate and even the subject matter of the debate was strictly regulated. This paper proposes two related hypotheses. First, it suggests that most Indian philosophers drew their arguments from a very restricted corpus of literature, that is, from philosophy texts. Second, it proposes that the Jains were an exception to this general rule. Jains were quick to draw from other genres of literature, for example the mythological texts known as puranas, and demanded of their opponents that a given philosophical position  be consistent not only with other philosophical doctrines of the school in question; they also required that philosophical positions be consistent with  material that could be found in non-philosophical texts. The paper argues that the Jains had a holistic understanding of intellectual culture that did not allow for the strict compartmentalization of "philosophy" as a discrete and closed system.

Location: Room 137, 1879 Hall, Dept. of Religion

Date/Time: 02/27/14 at 4:30 pm - 02/27/14 at 6:00 pm

Category: Public Lectures

Department: Buddhist Studies Workshop