Sankara, Śāntarakṣita and Spinoza.

In Marie-Louise Friquegnon & Noé Dinnerstein (eds.), Studies on Śāntarakṣita’s Yogācāra Madhyamaka. Global Scholarly Publications (2012)

Tammy Nyden
Grinnell College
Baruch Spinoza, the seventeenth century Dutch rationalist, has always been seen as a bit of an anomaly within the Western tradition. His monism, unique conception of God as Nature, and ethical focus on human freedom or liberation has occasioned some comparisons with Asian philosophies. Unfortunately, almost all of these comparisons take the form of vague passing remarks within the context of a work or discussion with another philosophical focus. The reader is often left to wonder what the particular commonalties are and may even get the impression that such comparisons result from frustrations in placing certain Spinozistic views within the European tradition, rather than concrete affinities with various Asian traditions. This is unfortunate, as it would be beneficial to see how a Western philosopher might approach the fundamentally ‘Eastern’ philosophical problem of human liberation and the nature of the self. In the following, I will argue that Spinoza provides a decidedly Western answer to this problem and that his answer may be viewed as a middle ground between Sankara's Advaita Vedantic approach and Santaraksita's Vajrayana Buddhist approach.
Keywords Spinoza  Santaraksita  Sankara  Tibeten Buddhist Philosophy  Vedanta Hindu Philosophy  liberation  Intellectual love of God
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