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Monday, April 11, 2011

Do we need priorities?

As a latin motto runs, the things to be learnt are many and our life is short (Ars longa vita brevis), hence, no matter how much we would like to do it, we will not be able to read all the 20 millions of Sanskrit manuscripts waiting to be edited.

Hence, setting priorities is a fundamental task. Priorities are needed not just for theoretical purposes, but also for historical ones. In other words, I am not suggesting that we should decide which texts are theoretically more interesting in order to focus on them and forget the others, just as it happened in Ancient and Classical India. I am an historian of philosophy and am particularly fond of authors deemed to be "minor" or less-significant, because they can help us reconstructing the cultural background of an era, and because they are often more helpful than their well-known predecessors (or successors) in understanding a difficult point.

For instance, no one could start one's journey in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā reading Prabhākara himself, since his texts are hardly understandable at all (as acknowledged even by his contemporaries). The texts to be understood as ``prioritary" should, by contrast, be the ones which can spread light on the others.

On the importance of reading primers, see here.

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