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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is there any "Applied Philosophy" in Classical Indian Philosophy?


I recently read an interesting quiz bearing the title "How good do you know yourself?". The first questions is "What part of the newspaper do you read first?". Easy answer for me, since I (almost only) read the book supplement (and hardly ever buy a newspaper unless it has a book supplement). However, in the last 5 years I have been enjoying more and more, books/articles/blogs about what one usually labels "Applied Philosophy". This may have to do with my personal background, but possibly also with the increasing need to make philosophical thoughts available and useful to a larger number of lay-people (including myself, whenever I am not researching). Unluckily enough, there is hardly any applied philosophy in India. Bimal Krishna Matilal explained this absence by saying that ethical philosophy lacks because ethical reflections are dealt with in a narrative (rather than theoretic) way, in the Mahābhārata and in similar epics. Many interesting insights can be found in other texts, especially in the chapter on karman of Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakoṣabhāṣya. But, still, I am afraid one would in vain look for volumes on "Applied Philosophy in Classical India". This might mean that applied philosophy has a lot to do with our contemporary perspective (although "applied philosophy" seems to suit perfectly the Chinese classical milieu), with our post-Existentialism expectations towards philosophy. This also means, probably, that an Applied chapter of Classical Indian Philosophy largely needs to be developed yet.
(Auguste Rodin's Penseur)

2 comments:

VS said...

That work would indeed be quite a challenging one. There are so many contrasting schools of thought. To bring them together would perhaps require a collaborative effort.

elisa freschi said...

Yes, but I am almost only interested in collaborative efforts. There are only a few of my goals I can achieve on my own.

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