ABSTRACTEpisodic memory is the ability to revisit events in one's personal past, to relive them as if one travelled back in mental time. It has widely been assumed that such an ability imposes a metaphysical requirement on selves. Buddhist philosophers, however, deny the requirement and therefore seek to provide accounts of episodic memory that are metaphysically parsimonious. The idea that the memory perspective is a centred field of experience whose phenomenal constituents are simulacra of an earlier field of experience, yet (...) attended to in a way that presents them as happening again, is, I suggest, a better one than that the memory perspective consists in taking as object-aspect the subject-aspect of the earlier experience, or the idea that it consists in labelling a representation of the earlier experience with an I-tag. (shrink)
Jonardon Ganeri presents a radically reoriented account of mind, to which attention is the key. It is attention, not self, that explains the experiential and normative situatedness of humans in the world. Ganeri draws together three disciplines: analytic philosophy and phenomenology, cognitive science and psychology, and Buddhist thought.
Hidden in the cave : the Upaniṣadic self -- Dangerous truths : the Buddha on silence, secrecy and snakes -- A cloak of clever words : the deconstruction of deceit in the Mahābhārata -- Words that burn : why did the Buddha say what he did? -- Words that break : can an Upaniṣad state the truth? -- The imperfect reality of persons -- Self as performance.
Original in content and approach, Philosophy in Classical India focuses on the rational principles of Indian philosophical theory, rather than the mysticism usually associated with it. Ganeri explores the philosophical projects of a number of major Indian philosophers and looks into the methods of rational inquiry deployed within these projects. In so doing, he illuminates a network of mutual reference and criticism, influence and response, in which reason is simultaneously used constructively and to call itself into question.
This is a short summary of the book The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness and the First-Person Stance. It introduced an “author meets critics” panel at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division meeting in San Francisco 2016. I try to relate the discussion in the book to recent work that has appeared since its publication.
The world of academic philosophy is now entering a new age, one defined neither by colonial need for recognition nor by postcolonial wish to integrate. The indicators of this new era include heightened appreciation of the value of world philosophies, the internationalization of the student body, the philosophical pluralism which interaction and migration in new global movements make salient, growing concerns about diversity within a still too-white faculty body and curricular canon, and identification of a range of deep structural problems (...) with the contemporary philosophical academy in its discursive, citational, refereeing and ranking practices. We are entering what we might call " the age of " re-emergence, " a new period the key features of which are as follows. First, philosophies from every region of the world, locally grounded in lived experience and reflection upon it, are finding new autonomous and authentic forms of articulation. Second, philosophical industry, leaving behind a center-periphery mode of production, is becoming again polycentric: the philosophical world is returning to a plural and diverse network of productive sites. Third, Europe and other colonial powers have been provincialized, no longer mandatory conversation partners or points of comparison but rather unprivileged participants in global dialogue. Fourth, philosophers within the largely Anglophone international academy are beginning to acknowledge their responsibility to arrange international institutions to enable wide and open participation; that is, acknowledge that their control over the academy is a fallout from colonialism rather than a reflection of intellectual superiority. We may thus look to a future when there will be a vibrant pluralistic realism in departments of academic philosophy around the globe, and a new cartography of philosophy. (shrink)
What is the rational response when confronted with a set of propositions each of which we have some reason to accept, and yet which taken together form an inconsistent class? This was, in a nutshell, the problem addressed by the Jaina logicians of classical India, and the solution they gave is, I think, of great interest, both for what it tells us about the relationship between rationality and consistency, and for what we can learn about the logical basis of philosophical (...) pluralism. The Jainas claim that we can continue to reason in spite of the presence of inconsistencies, and indeed construct a many-valued logical system tailored to the purpose. My aim in this paper is to offer a new interpretation of that system and to try to draw out some of its philosophical implications. (shrink)
I thank Sean Smith and Monima Chadha for their reviews of Attention, Not Self and for their commentary. It has been rewarding to think through the issues they have raised, and I am grateful to both.Let me begin with the methodological principle that Sean Smith endorses at the beginning of his review. Smith says this: "My main argument is that Ganeri attributes views to Buddhaghosa that the latter does not hold. Embedded in this complaint is the assumption that we should (...) try to get a thinker right and on their own terms as a precursor to seeing how their views interface with those of others. It is an assumption I will rely on throughout." Let me call this the Exegesis First assumption. The assumption takes the form... (shrink)
Of the many interrelated themes in Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, two strike me as having a particular centrality. First, there is the theme of attention to the present instant. Hadot describes this as the ‘key to spiritual exercises’, and he finds the idea encapsulated in a quotation from Goethe's Second Faust : ‘Only the present is our happiness’. The second theme is that of viewing the world from above: ‘philosophy signified (...) the attempt to raise up mankind from individuality and particularity to universality and objectivity’. Insofar as both attention to the present and raising oneself to an objective view imply the mastery of individual anxiety, passion and desire, they belong to a single conception, that conception being one of a ‘return to the self’: Thus, all spiritual exercises are, fundamentally, a return to the self, in which the self is liberated from the state of alienation into which it has been plunged by worries, passions, and desires. The ‘self’ liberated in this way is no longer merely our egoistic, passionate individuality: it is our moral person, open to universality and objectivity, and participating in universal nature or thought. (shrink)
The soul is an elusive thing, and anyone who wants to describe it must do so with metaphors, painting it in a picture of words. The metaphors one chooses for this task will reflect the aspects one is most eager to promote of what it is to be a person, a living, breathing, thinking presence in the world. Popularly, the soul is often pictured as a little fellow inside one's head, a homunculus with whom one is in constant communication. Such (...) a picture lends color to the idea that to be a sentient being is to be in a condition of inner dialogue with oneself, reasoning things out, talking things over, and perhaps also being guided by one's conscience, an inner voice heard only by oneself. Notice that the soul so. (shrink)
It has become a common-place to read the ‘no-self’ theory of the Buddhist philosophers as a reductionist account of persons. In Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit himself seemed to endorse the association, having learned of the Buddhist theory from his colleague at All Souls College, Bimal Krishna Matilal. The Buddha’s denial that there are real selves metaphysically distinct from continuous streams of psycho-physical constituents lends itself, to be sure, to a reductionist interpretation. I believe, nevertheless, that there are good grounds (...) for scepticism, and I think it is time for scholars of Buddhism to be more cautious about the identification than they have been up until now. Different Buddhist schools, not to mention different thinkers within particular schools, have given widely varying philosophical construals of the Buddha’s claim about ‘no-self’, and, while some thinkers and some schools might favor a reductionist reading of the claim, others, I would argue, do not. In this paper, I will examine the theory of persons of one such, the Mādhyamika Buddhist Candrakīrti. Candrakīrti’s interpretation of the “no self” slogan is, I believe, anti-reductionist but irrealist: persons are not reducible to psycho-physical streams, nor are they real existents distinct from the stream. How is it possible for him to say both these things? Let us see. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is that the capacity to think of one’s perceptions as cross-modally integrated is incompatible with a reductionist account of the self. In §2 I distinguish three versions of the argument from cross-modality. According to the ‘unification’ version of the argument, what needs to be explained is one’s capacity to identify an object touched as the same as an object simultaneously seen. According to the ‘recognition’ version, what needs to be explained is one’s capacity, having once (...) seen an object, to reidentify that same object by touch alone. According to the ‘objectivity’ version, what needs to be explained is one’s capacity to think of one’s perceptions in different modalities as perceptions of one and the same object. The third version seems to establish that one must conceive of oneself substantially, as the numerically identical owner of one’s experiences, a conclusion in agreement with recent work in developmental psychology claiming to show that an infant’s cross-modal capacities are essentially implicated in their development of a sense of self. There is further work to be done if this is to be tumed into an argument against reductionism: there is no swift route from the epistemology of self-consciousness to the metaphysics of the self. In the §3, I will claim that there is, nevertheless, an argument linking the two. What I propose is an argument derived, not from the token-reflexive rule for the first-person, but resting on its anaphoric behaviour spanning intensional operators. (shrink)
Plato articulates a deep perplexity about inquiry in ?Meno's Paradox??the claim that one can inquire neither into what one knows, nor into what one does not know. Although some commentators have wrestled with the paradox itself, many suppose that the paradox of inquiry is special to Plato, arising from peculiarities of the Socratic elenchus or of Platonic epistemology. But there is nothing peculiarly Platonic in this puzzle. For it arises, too, in classical Indian philosophical discussions, where it is formulated with (...) great clarity, and analysed in a way that casts it in a new light. We present three treatments of the puzzle in Indian philosophy, as a way of refining and sharpening our understanding of the paradox, before turning to the most radical of the Indian philosophers to tackle it. The Indian philosophers who are optimistic that the paradox can be resolved appeal to the existence of prior beliefs, and to the resources embedded in language to explain how we can investigate, and so move from ignorance to knowledge. Highlighting this structural feature of inquiry, however, allows the pessimist philosopher to demonstrate that the paradox stands. The incoherence of inquiry is rooted in the very idea of aiming our desires at the unknown. Asking questions and giving answers rests on referential intentions targeting objects in a region of epistemic darkness, and so our ?inquiry sceptic? also finds structurally similar forms of incoherence in the pragmatics of interrogative discourse. (shrink)
This book examines the theories of meaning or artha in different schools of philosophical thought highlighting the significant relationship between 'word' and 'meaning'. It demonstrates that classical Indian theory of language can inform and be informed by contemporary philosophy.
The much-welcomed recent acknowledgement that there is a plurality of philosophical traditions has an important consequence: that we must acknowledge too that there are many philosophical modernities. Modernity, I will claim, is a polycentric notion, and I will substantiate my claim by examining in some detail one particular non-western philosophical modernity, a remarkable period in 16th to 17th century India where a diversity of philosophical projects fully deserve the label.
'Empty are the words of that philosopher who offers therapy for no human suffering. For just as there is no use in medical expertise if it does not give therapy for bodily diseases, so too there is no use in philosophy if it does not expel the suffering of the soul.' The philosopher Epicurus gave famous voice to a conception of philosophy as a cure or remedy for the maladies of the human soul. What has not until now received attention (...) is just how prominent an idea this has been across a whole spectrum of philosophical tradition. Philosophy as Therapeia presents a collection of papers by leading scholars, providing a new reading of the history of philosophy, one which perhaps contradicts those who have wanted to maintain that philosophy is a peculiarly European cultural product, and instead affirms its identity as a global intellectual practice. (shrink)
Jonardon Ganeri gives an account of language as essentially a means for the reception of knowledge. The semantic power of a word and its ability to stand for a thing derives from the capacity of understanders to acquire knowledge simply by understanding what is said. Ganeri finds this account in the work of certain Indian philosophers of language, and shows how their analysis can inform and be informed by contemporary philosophical theory.
When J. L. Austin introduced two “shining new tools to crack the crib of reality”—the theory of performative utterances and the doctrine of infelicities—he could not have imagined that he was also about to inaugurate a shining new industry in the philosophy of the social sciences. But with its evident concern for the features to which “all acts are heir which have the general character of ritual or ceremonial,” Austin’s theory soon became indispensable in the analysis of ritual, linguistic and (...) every kind of social action. While Indianists such as Frits Staal, Bimal Matilal and David Seyfort Ruegg have made good use of the work of Austin and his “ordinary language” school, it is Quentin Skinner who has attempted to turn Austin’s insights into a general “theory and method” for the study of intellectual cultures. The question I want to address in this paper has to do with the applicability of Skinnerian techniques to the study of literary and intellectual Sanskrit culture in premodern India. If not all of Skinner’s methods transfer to the new context, identification of the points at which they breakdown helps to clarify the distinctive contours of Indian intellectual history, and suggests appropriate methodological innovation. (shrink)
Three rival conceptions of philosophy overlap, we may imagine, in the Sassinid court of Chosroes. One is due to Priscian, a refugee from Athens after Justinian’s closing of the philosophical schools. A second and third are from India: the Buddhist conception of Vasubandhu and the Nyāya view of Vātsyāyana. I will argue that the rivalry between these three understandings of philosophy ultimately rests in three different conceptions of what makes an inner life one’s own.
The thesis of this paper is that the capacity to think of one's perceptions as cross-modally integrated is incompatible with a reductionist account of the self. In §2 I distinguish three versions of the argument from cross-modality. According to the `unification' version of the argument, what needs to be explained is one's capacity to identify an object touched as the same as an object simultaneously seen. According to the `recognition' version, what needs to be explained is one's capacity, having once (...) seen an object, to reidentify that same object by touch alone. According to the `objectivity' version, what needs to be explained is one's capacity to think of one's perceptions in different modalities as perceptions of one and the same object. The third version seems to establish that one must conceive of oneself substantially, as the numerically identical owner of one's experiences, a conclusion in agreement with recent work in developmental psychology claiming to show that an infant's cross-modal capacities are essentially implicated in their development of a sense of self. There is further work to be done if this is to be turned into an argument against reductionism: there is no swift route from the epistemology of self-consciousness to the metaphysics of the self. In the §3, I will claim that there is, nevertheless, an argument linking the two. What I propose is an argument derived, not from the token-reflexive rule for the first-person, but resting on its anaphoric behaviour spanning intensional operators. (shrink)
This essay defends the view that “modern science,” as with modernity in general, is a polycentered phenomenon, something that appears in different forms at different times and places. It begins with two ideas about the nature of rational scientific inquiry: Karin Knorr Cetina's idea of “epistemic cultures,” and Philip Kitcher's idea of science as “a system of public knowledge,” such knowledge as would be deemed worthwhile by an ideal conversation among the whole public under conditions of mutual engagement. This account (...) of the nature of scientific practice provides us with a new perspective from which to understand key elements in the philosophical project of Jaina logicians in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries c.e. Jaina theory seems exceptionally well targeted onto two of the key constituents in the ideal conversation—the classification of all human points of view and the representation of end states of the deliberative process. The Buddhist theory of the Kathāvatthu contributes to Indian epistemic culture in a different way: by supplying a detailed theory of how human dialogical standpoints can be revised in the ideal conversation, an account of the phenomenon Kitcher labels “tutoring.” Thus science in India has its own history, one that should be studied in comparison and contrast with the history of science in Europe. In answer to Joseph Needham, it was not ‘modern science’ which failed to develop in India or China but rather non-well-ordered science, science as unconstrained by social value and democratic consent. What I argue is that this is not a deficit in the civilisational histories of these countries, but a virtue. (shrink)
Following H. T. Colebrooke's 1824 'discovery' of the Hindu syllogism, his term for the five-step inference schema in the "Nyāya-sūtra," European logicians and historians of philosophy demonstrated considerable interest in Indian logical thought. This is in marked contrast with later historians of philosophy, and also with Indian nationalist and neo-Hindu thinkers like Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan, who downgraded Indian rationalist traditions in favor of 'spiritualist' or 'speculative' texts. This article traces the role of these later thinkers in the origins of the (...) myth that Indian thought is spiritual and arational. The extent to which nineteenth-century European philosophers were aware of Colebrooke's 'discovery' is documented, and then their criticisms of the Hindu syllogism and its defense by orientalists like Ballantyne and Müller are examined. (shrink)
The article reviews the book " Epistemology of Perception : Gaṅgeśa's Tattvacintāmaṇi, Jewel of Reflection on the Truth : The Perception Chapter Transliterated Text, Translation, and Philosophical Commentary," by Stephen H. Phillips and N. S. Ramanuja Tatacharya.
This second volume in the Foundations of Philosophy in India series is an important contribution to the philosophy of language. Here Jonardon Ganeri highlights the significant relationship between semantic power and epistemic power to understand the important philosophical category of meaning.