Human Being, Bodily Being: Phenomenology from Classical India, by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad

Mind 1:1-13 (2019)

Catherine (Cat) Prueitt
University of British Columbia
Human Being, Bodily Being makes a striking contribution to phenomenology as a whole: there are traditions that are friendly to the phenomenological project of providing a nuanced, careful, and rich understanding of human bodily experience, but that are not subject to the Cartesian mind/body problematic or its overcoming. Ram-Prasad draws on the historical particularity of the phenomenological method while unabashedly (and correctly) pointing out: ‘None of the Western material studied here... generally sought to frame the philosophical enterprise of phenomenological analysis as being one about a culturally circumscribed subject... I take these classical Indian texts to be equally concerned about human beings as such, as being intrinsically about the human condition’ (Ram-Prasad 2018, p. 185). If all this book did were convincingly argue that phenomenologists should be looking at Indian traditions, it would still be a valuable contribution to contemporary discourse. But the book does far more than this. Each of the four chapters provide compelling explorations of different types of bodily being; their contributions to particular subfields stand on their own independent of any methodological considerations. This review's focus on the ethics of sexual communication is but one instance of new conversations this book should provoke.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzz052
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