History, time, and knowledge in ancient india

History and Theory 38 (3):307–321 (1999)
The lack of interest in history in ancient India has often been noted and contrasted with the situation in China and the West. Notwithstanding the vast body of Indian literature in other fields, there is a remarkable dearth of historical writing in the period before the Muslim conquest and an associated indifference to historiography. Various explanations have been offered for this curious phenomenon, some of which appeal to the supposed currency of certain Indian philosophical theories. This essay critically examines such "philosophical explanations."I argue that it is not true that there was no history in ancient India, and it is not surprising that there was no developed historiography or scientific history. It is both true and surprising that there was no real importance attached to history in ancient India. An adequate philosophical explanation for this historical phenomenon, however, is not to be found in appeals to the influence of indigenous metaphysical theories about time and the self. A much more plausible philosophical explanation appeals instead to certain features of classical Indian epistemology
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DOI 10.1111/0018-2656.00094
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Sheldon Pollock (2007). 1. Pretextures of Time. History and Theory 46 (3):366–383.

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