Carl Olson is Professor of Religious Studies at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. His previous books include The Indian Renouncer and Postmodern Poison: A Cross-Cultural Encounter and The Theology and Philosophy of Eliade: A Search for the Centre.
Throughout the history of Indian religions, the ascetic figure is most closely identified with power. A by-product of the ascetic path, power is displayed in the ability to fly, walk on water or through dense objects, read minds, discern the former lives of others, see into the future, harm others, or simply levitate one's body. These tales give rise to questions about how power and violence are related to the phenomenon of play. Indian Asceticism focuses on the powers exhibited by (...) ascetics of India from ancient to modern time. Carl Olson discusses the erotic, the demonic, the comic, and the miraculous forms of play and their connections to power and violence. He focuses on Hinduism, but evidence is also presented from Buddhism and Jainism, suggesting that the subject matter of this book pervades India's major indigenous religious traditions. The book includes a look at the extent to which findings in cognitive science can add to our understanding of these various powers; Olson argues that violence is built into the practice of the ascetic. Indian Asceticism culminates with an attempt to rethink the nature of power in a way that does justice to the literary evidence from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain sources. (shrink)
This work presents a dialogue between classical and contemporary Indian and postmodern thinkers. Juxtaposing the diverse perspectives of Indian philosophers and philosophies, including Buddhism, Sankara, and Radhakrishnan, and western postmodern thinkers such as Lacan and Derrida, Olson addresses topics such as desire, suffering, the self, and identity.
A comparison between Eliade and Deleuze would seem at the first sight a lost cause. But, if we look more carefully, we can notice that the ontology, alterity and difference alike represent subjects for the history of religions and the post-modern speech.
Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism explores a new mode of philosophizing through a comparative study of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and philosophies of major Buddhist thinkers including Nagarjuna, Chinul, Dogen, Shinran, and Nishida Kitaro. The book offers an intercultural philosophy in which opposites intermingle in a chiasmic relationship, and which brings new understanding regarding the self and the self's relation with others in a globalized and multicultural world.
Although there are various studies comparing Greek and Indian philosophy and religion, and Chinese and Western philosophy and religion, Brahman and Dao: Comparatives Studies in Indian and Chinese Philosophy and Religion is a first of its kind that brings together Indian and Chinese philosophies and religions. Brahman and Dao helps close the gap on a much needed examination on the rich history of Buddhist transmission to China, and the many generations of Indian Buddhist missionaries to China and Chinese Buddhist pilgrims (...) to India, including the legendary Bodhidharma, and Faxian and Xuanzang. (shrink)
Historical Dictionary of Buddhism, Second Edition contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has more than 900 cross-referenced entries on important personalities as well as complex theological concepts, significant practices, and basic writings and texts.
The representational mode of thinking assumes a correspondence between appearance and reality that is supported by a metaphysical edifice. This way of thinking uses the metaphor of the mirror, which suggests a reflected image of consciousness and confusion between the representation and original consciousness. Jacque Derrida, a leading postmodern philosopher, wants to overcome the mode of representational thinking and extricate himself from it by attempting to think and emphasize differences. Like Derrida, the Daoist sage Zhuangzi and the Japanese Zen master (...) Dōgen also seek to avoid representational thinking; however, these Eastern philosophers accomplish this in a very different way. This paper will compare their differences with respect to overcoming the representational mode of thinking. (shrink)
To contemplate writing a comparison of aspects of the philosophical works of Śaṅkara, a major philosophical figure in India of the eight or ninth centuries, and Jacques Derrida, a so-called postmodernist thinker, gives a writer reason to pause and to consider moving forward with caution. A writer must proceed cautiously because writing is a risky endeavor, according to Derrida, who also perceives it as a violent exercise because language is more primary than writing in the sense that it is not (...) possible to inquire about the origin of language because we already exist within it, and we cannot get outside of language to examine its origin.1 From another Derridean perspective within the context of interpreting Plato .. (shrink)
Following the lead of Nietzsche, several post-modern philosophers challenge the Western notion of rationality and its representational model of thought and embrace the Dionysian element in Nietzsche's philosophy, which can take the form of embracing madness (Foucault), desire (Deleuze and Guattari), or carnival (Kristeva). This paper will place Radhakrishnan into the context of a hermeneutical dialogue with these figures from post-modern philosophy, and it will attempt to address the issue of the post-modem attack on rationality by these post-modern philosophers by (...) comparing their concept of rationality with that espoused by Radhakrishnan. It will also be demonstrated that for Radhakrishnan reason supplies conceptual clarity, is subordinate to intuition, and justifies the validity of intuition which transcends reason. It will be argued that Radhakrishnan agrees with the post-modernist that reason is not universal, but he does not share their radical scepticism as his philosophy seeks wholeness, unity, order, and rationality in conjunction with intuition in contrast to the choice of these post-modernist for diversity, difference, and chaos, and madness. (shrink)
In probably the earliest Upanisad text, one learns that at the beginning of the world there was only Ātman in the form of a person. Discovering that only he existed, he declared ‘I am’. After losing his fear of being alone, he found that he did not have pleasure because of his solitary condition. Thereupon, he divided himself and became a man and a woman. When the two beings copulated other beings and forms of life were produced. Thus the original (...) universal principle is androgynous. By knowing itself, it became all that there is in the universe. The philosophical implication of this myth is that he who knows that he is Brahman becomes the All. It is unclear, however, whether or not the author of this section of the text means to imply that the one who knows becomes androgynous. (shrink)