Thursday, 22 April 2010

Person and relation

Here is something I have been searching for and found this morning. It is from De Smet, saying why 'relation' is not to be included in the definition of person in general:
Krempel’s masterly study of the concept of relation, especially in St Thomas, seems not to have been sufficiently assimilated by the author. This weakens his understanding of ‘person’ and its possible application in Vedānta. Like many contemporary Christian writers, he includes ‘relation’ within the very definition of ‘person’ without wondering why St Thomas did not do that. Specific definitions of the term, when applied to specified persons, such as those of the Trinity, have to include it for special reasons. But ‘relation’ is not a definiens of ‘person in general’ which only connotes ‘capacity for inter¬personal relationships.’ (De Smet, Review of Doctrine de la Non-Dualite (advaita-vada) et Christianisme, in Indian Theological Studies 23/1 (1986) 65-68.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

De Smet's Sankara essays

Some good news: Motilal Banarsidass have just written, expressing their willingness to publish De Smet's essays on Sankara. The editors said that "they cannot question the scholarship of De Smet". Of course now they want the complete MS, with Preface, Introduction, Index, and total number of pages.

They have suggested a change in title. I had Forward Steps in Sankara Research: Essays by Richard De Smet. Their suggestion: Understanding Sankara: Essays by Richard De Smet. A good enough suggestion, I think: I was not satisfied with my title, especially because it is also the title of one of the articles.

At their suggestion, I had divided the essays into three parts:

I. Studies
1. Language and Knowledge of the Absolute According to Sankara
2. The Fundamental Antinomy of Sri Sankaracarya's Methodology
3. Sankara's Non-Dualism (Advaita-Vada) (1964/68)
4. Theological Method and Vedanta
5. The Logical Structure of 'Tattvamasi' according to Suresvara's Naiskarmya Siddhi
6. Maya or Ajnana? A Textual Analysis
7. Questioning Vedanta
8. Chinks in the Armour of Avidya
9. Contemplation in Sankara and Ramanuja
10. Spiritual Values of Advaita Vedanta and Social Life
11. Forward Steps in Sankara Research
12. The Buddha, Meister Eckhart and Sankaracarya on 'Nothing'
13. Radhakrishnan's Interpretation of Sankara
14. Radhakrishnan's Second Presentation of Sankara's Teaching
15. The Creative Word in Sankara Vedanta
16. Sankara's Perspective on Meaning and Truth
17. The Dynamics of Contemplation according to Sankara
18. Sankara's Non-Dualism (Advaita-Vada) (1997)

II. Dialogue
19. The Correct Interpretation of the Definitions of the Absolute according to Sri Sankaracarya and Saint Thomas Aquinas
20. Sankara and Aquinas on Liberation (Mukti)
21. Sankara and Aquinas on Creation
22. Advaitavada and Christianity
23. Robert de Nobili and Vedanta
24. Origin: Creation and Emanation
25. Sankara Vedanta and Christian Theology
26. From Catholic Theology to Sankara Vedanta and Return with Fr F.X. Clooney

III. Reviews
27. Review of M. Piantelli, Śaṅkara e la rinascità del Brahmanesimo ??
28. Review of Paul Hacker, Kleine Schriften
29. Review of Wilhelm Halbfass, Indien und Europa: Perspektiven ihrer Geistigen Begegnung
30. Review of W. Halbfass, Studies in Kumārila and Śaṅkara
31. Review of Doctrine de la non-dualité (advaita-vada) et Christianisme
32. Review of Som Raj Gupta, The Word Speaks to Faustian Man, vol. 1
33. Review of Jose Thachil, The Upaniṣads: A Socio-Religious Approach
34. Review of Srinivasa Rao, Advaita: A Critical Investigation

1. A Note Concerning Śaṅkara’s Doctrine of Creation
2. Upadhyay’s Interpretation of Śaṅkara
3. Some Problems of Scholastic and Vedānta Philosophy
4. Parallel Arguments for the Existence of God in Aquinas and Śaṅkara

Monday, 12 April 2010

Heidegger GA 23

I am enjoying reading Heidegger's GA 23. I have done the part on philosophical method - where he outlines the phenomenological method as the method of philosophy - it seems to me a rerun, in much more accessible language, of the early part of Being and Time. Not that I understand now what the phenomenological method means - though H does try to distinguish between ontic and ontological, ontological being what is concerned not so much with entities, Seiende, but with the Being, Sein, of entities.

I am onto the Thomas Aquinas part now. I have the impression that H respects Aquinas. He begins by listing the available literature; then a list of the works; then a brief exposition of the way an article is presented (the question, the Videtur quod non, the Sed contra, the Response, the answers to objections), and then ...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Heidegger on science and mathematics

I had the impression that Heidegger did not much about / was not much bothered about the fact of science. But see his GA23, 10ff: a whole section 3 with the title: "Entdeckung der Natur und Ausbildung der mathematischen Physik." Subsection a) Wissenschaftliche Entdeckung der Natur und ontologische Besinnung. b) Die neue Bedeutung der Mathematik.

Not, I think, as sophisticated as Lonergan; but not nothing either.

In a sense, if H wants to deal with Modern philosophy, he cannot avoid the fact of science: he has to deal with Descartes, and Spinoza, and Leibniz, and Pascal, and Kant, after all. All of whom are grappling, probably, with the implications of modern empirical mathematical science for philosophy. Descartes and Kant are certainly wanting to remodel philosophy after the example of mathematical science - the same certainty, for example; the same clarity; the same effectiveness and overcoming of confusion.

And of course there is H's master, Husserl, with his "Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft." So Wissenschaft cannot be far from H. But: that does not mean he loves it. He is probably working his way out of its traps. Which is part of his overcoming of modernity, or post-modernism.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Vol. 23 of Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe

Volume 23 of the Heidegger Gesamtausgabe (GA) arrived by itself; probably it did not fit into the 5 kilo parcels. It belongs to the II. Abteilung of the GA, the Vorlesungen or lectures of 1919-1944, and bears the title "Geschichte der Philosophie von Thomas von Aquin bis Kant" - History of Philosophy from Thomas Aquinas to Kant. Given at Marburg, Winter Semester of 1926-27. Edited by Helmuth Vetter. [The H GA are far less impressive than the Lonergan CWL, for reasons outlined by Theodore Kisiel: the over-possessiveness of the Heidegger heirs, from what I remember. The scholarly apparatus is meagre for a German production, for example. Pity. Still, the GA run into some 90 volumes. Quite an achievement. But of course the financial potential here is enormous, given H's vast popularity in comparison with L's.]

Somehow I began reading, perhaps because of the curious fact of finding Heidegger actually speaking of Thomas Aquinas. The volume consists of a transcription of Heidegger's handwritten notes for lectures - which, from what I gather, were a job he had to do, taking time out from the printing of Being and Time. Still, they are Heidegger's notes, not just anybody's notes for lectures.

Since they are handwritten notes for lectures, they are in the form of jottings, rather than complete sentences. But: far easier to read (so far) than Being and Time, for example.

The chief contention seems to be: don't take Modern (Western) Philosophy as a completely new beginning. Its roots go back to Ancient Philosophy, but passing especially through the Middle Ages.

In the Middle Ages, interestingly, Heidegger chooses to concentrate on Thomas Aquinas. He gives the reason for this: Thomas Aquinas was a careful interpreter of Aristotle. (I was surprised to see the respect H has for Aquinas.)

Still, the main criticism is there: the forgetfulness of Being. Thomas - like everyone else - concentrated on beings - the world, the human being (psyche - Mensch), God.

The blurb on the inner covers says that these lectures were given during the last phase of the writing of Being and Time.

So H does not begin from Descartes, but goes back to Thomas Aquinas, and through Thomas, I guess, to Aristotle. He speaks of the Modern period as the Protestantism of the spirit / reason, and of the period before that as the Catholicism of the spirit / reason. He also speaks of the whole process as culminating in Hegel. (I must remember that it is Heidegger who is writing; so the great process of the overcoming of Hegel, which took place in large part also due to Heidegger, has not yet happened.) Hegel, H says, is the culmination and perfection of the development of Western philosophy. (I need to study Hegel!)

At any rate, I am thrilled to be actually reading this stuff. I have been extremely bored these days, and this has brought some life. Who knows where it will lead. I have the idea that H is struggling with a new language for Christian theology, or for religion, as well as a new language for 'philosophy.' That is, in part, also the endeavour of Lonergan. So. Let's see where this goes. A bit of cross-fertilization will not do harm. Otherwise I spend time merely on novels. Historical ones, cultural ones, of course. And perhaps not ultimately useless. But.

And: one has to read. Slowly. One has to think. And that calls for a contemplative, chewy type of reading. Mastication. Letting the juices mix.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe in the Divyadaan Library

The Divyadaan library has just got richer by a whole new set of Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe. We ordered the paperback set in order to cut costs, but I am already regretting. These are books that you need to have properly open before you if you are going to read and understand... But: the deed is done.

Volumes still to arrive: 3, 4, 30, 35, 37, 57, 72, 73, 74, 82, 83, 84, 86.

Why this extravagance? One, because many of the volumes in this 90 volume set are never going to be translated. Two, because one does need to refer to the German every now and then, in order to shed light on some obscure point, or to check some reference while editing an article - and this can be done even if one's German is not really strong enough to be able to read Heidegger. Three, why not, perhaps there will be some future professor who might have enough German to read and understand ....

A patrimony.

For the record, we also have part of the Gadamer Collected Works in German, and again part of Dilthey's Collected Works in German.