The 'Scotch Metaphysics' in 19th Century Benares

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4 (2):139-157 (2006)
That India once had a sustained ‘dialogue’ with Scottish Philosophy is not gener- ally known, or that the exchange occurred in the medium of Sanskrit, not English. The essay explores an important cross-cultural encounter in the colonial context of mid 19th-century Benares where two Scots, John Muir and James Ballantyne, served as principals of a Sanskrit college established by the East India Company. Educated toward the end of the Scottish Enlightenment, they endeavoured to translate such distinctive concepts of ‘Scotch Metaphysics’ as Externalism into Indian philosophical categories. The ensuing ‘dialogue’ with Brahmin interlocutors shows that the prob- lems they faced were less terminological than conceptual, having to do with contras- tive ways of understanding ‘mind’ and ‘man’. Between the two Scots, there were also signifi cant differences, although both had gone to India as Scottish Calvinists. While Muir remained largely impervious to Indian infl uence, Ballantyne was profoundly changed, becoming, in effect, a ‘Vedantic Calvinist’
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DOI 10.3366/jsp.2006.4.2.139
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