Thursday, 14 April 2011

Phenomenology of the eye

I've heard of a phenomenology of the smile, but has someone, anyone, worked out a phenomenology of the eye? I was staring at the curtain in my office, and suddenly one of the designs began looking like an eye. I found myself wondering: what is it that is so fascinating about the eye? Why are we so drawn to the eyes? The eyes are points in the human body that are actually some sort of opening. There is a mysterious depth to them: the white cornea, within which the darker iris, and at the centre the aperture, the pupil that actually lets in light on to the retina.... But none of this really accounts for the way the eye pulls, the way it is, in many ways, the centre of a person, and certainly of a person's face... (though sometimes I find myself looking at the mouth). The way the eyes register and express a whole range of emotions. The dull eye of one who is bored, the vacant eye of one who does not understand, or is perhaps, temporarily or more permanently, absent; the bright eyes of one who understands, who catches the point; the scornful eye, the disdainful look; the penetrating eye that sees through you; the compassionate eye, the angry eye, the eye lit up with passion; the interested eye, the bored eye...

And are we talking only about the human eye? What about animal eyes? Is there something analogous there? Perhaps there is....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Panikkar and Heidegger

It seems to me that Panikkar is drawing heavily from Heidegger, especially from his critique of Being as presence, his attack on Substance, and his critique of onto-theology; but Panikkar himself seems to opt for a more 'clearly' 'theistic' - or 'religious' - position than Heidegger himself.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Still reading Panikkar ...

Some days ago I was bored reading Panikkar. Today I find I am irritated. He jumps about, he is not serious. Or is it that he is - too profound? Or perhaps I am not in the mood to jump into the deep waters he is indicating - God and Being, God and Being and Person, and all that. Ground trod by, opened up by, people like Heidegger and Whitehead, to name just two. Heidegger who questioned the whole of the Western tradition's identification of Being and God, God and Being. Whitehead who questioned the primacy of substance, working out, I think, alternative categories, and certainly an alternative metaphysics.

But my impression reading Panikkar is that his objections, his problems w.r.t. evil, for example, are too - flippant, can easily be answered. He has made a straw man, a paper man, and he proceeds happily to demolish it. 

Panikkar and onto-theology

I am surprised. Panikkar is smack into the middle of Heidegger ground: I think he is spinning out, in his own way, Heidegger's proscriptions of onto-theology. He does make reference to Heidegger from time to time.

There is also, interestingly, his first published effort on F.H. Jacobi. Jacobi also, if I understand rightly, made a disjunction between reason and faith: hence his leap of faith. According to De Smet, it was Jacobi's restriction of 'person' to the human being that led to the great translators of Sanskrit texts rendering nirguna as impersonal and saguna as personal.

So a nest of problems here: voluntarism; the disjunction between God, reason, Being; Duns Scotus; Heidegger (with his Scotist influences); Lonergan; Benedict XVI; Islam (with its tendency towards voluntarism); Hauerwas's proscriptions of Duns Scotus and postmodernism. 

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Sankara's Taittiriya Upanisad Bhasya

Part 1: Siksavalli
TU 1 (Invocation)
SB: From which is born all this transient world...
Aum! sam no mitrah sam varunah....

Part 2: Brahmananda Valli
Aum saha nav avatu...
2.1.1: satyam jnanam anantam brahma / blue lotus

Part 3: Bhrguvalli

Friday, 8 April 2011

A possible paper: the authenticity of the Mandukya Up. Bh.

More correctly: a paper using Lonergan's method to reflect on the authenticity of the Mand. Up. Bh. attributed to Sankara. 

Reading Panikkar...

I have begun reading Panikkar, beginning from The Silence of God. I can't help noting that I am bored.... Which was not the case years ago, when I first began reading Panikkar, during my theology days. At that time, it was an experience of excitement and light upon light. What is the difference? The reasons could be many. But one that rises to the surface of my mind is: now I have waded through Lonergan. And I find - or I come away with the impression - that Panikkar is brilliant, but often just that: brilliant. For one who has passed through Lonergan, too many questions arise upon reading Panikkar. And he is (too) clever by far...

Might this irritate some lover of Panikkar? Maybe. But: this is my experience. And: I have come to no firm conclusion so far. So: no offence indicated. Just process.

But I do not (as of now) exclude the possibility of coming to some conclusion.

I am particularly intrigued by Panikkar's constant calling into question, in this book, the equation between Being and Thinking. Have to penetrate this. An old old conundrum. 

Som Raj Gupta's bhasya on the Sankara-bhasyas

The Word Speaks to the Faustian Man - a series of volumes 'by' Som Raj Gupta, published by Motilal Banarsidass. Going by the title, no one would imagine that this is a major contemporary translation of most of Sankara's works. In fact, a bhasya on the bhasyas: Gupta provides the original texts (Upanisads, Gita or Brahma-sutras as the case may be), Sankara's commentaries, and then his own commentary. I came to know about this work only because of a brief notice by De Smet of vol. 1. Reading closely, I realized that there were several volumes to follow. Luckily MLBD had copies, so now Divyadaan library has vols. 1-5, with vol. 5 in two parts. Unfortunately one has to dig beyond the title page to find out just what the particular volume is dealing with. So this might be helpful:

1: Isa, Kena, Katha and Prasna Upanisads.
2: Mundaka and Mandukya Upanisads.
3: Taittiriya and Aitereya Upanisads.
4: Chandogya Upanisad
5-1: Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, chs. 1 and 2.
5-2: Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, chs. 3-6

6: Bhagavadgita
7 (parts 1, 2, 3): Brahmasutras.

Of the above, De Smet would reject the authenticity only of the Mandukya Up. Bh. But it is certainly useful to have the text so readily available.

Is Gupta going to do also the Upadesasahasri? 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Anvaya-vyatireka in Sankara

  • Halbfass, Wilhelm. "Human Reason and Vedic Revelation in Advaita Vedanta." Tradition and Reflection: Explorations in Indian Thought. [Albany: SUNY, 1991.] Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1992 162-182. In the Preface the author notes that this article, which is ch. 5 in the book, is an enlarged and thoroughly revised version of the third of the four Studies in Kumarila and Sankara. [vii-viii.]
  • Mayeda, Sengaku. “An Introduction to the Life and Thought of Śaṅkara.” Śaṅkara’s Upadeśasāhasrī. Vol. 2: Introduction and English Translation. Tr. and ed. Sengaku Mayeda. Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1973. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006. 1-97, at 46-68. Cites De Smet 66n14, 66n17, 67n28, 

The Mandukya Upanisad and the Gaudapada-Karika

[Much of the matter here is from Mayeda 1967-68.] 

GK: Gaudapadiyakarika.
GKBh: Sankara's Gaudapadiyabhasya.
MU: Mandukyopanisad.
MUBh: Sankara's Mandukyopanisadbhasya.

MU consists of only 12 prose sentences. [Mayeda 1967-68 73.]
In MS as well as printed editions, the MU is interspersed among the 29 stanzas of the first prakarana of the GK, which comprises 4 prakaranas explaining the MU. [Mayeda 1967-68 73.]
GK is also called Agamasastra, or Mandukyakarika. [Mayeda 1967-68 73-74.]
GKBh is also called Agamasastra-vivarana, Gaudapadiya-gamasastra-bhasya, and Gaudapadiya-gamasastra-vivarana. [Mayeda 1967-68 74n2.]
GKBh: oldest extant work before Sankara (AD 700-750), and stands in the line of Advaita philosophy. [Mayeda 1967-68 74.]
Tradition: that Sankara, commenting on both texts (MU and GK) wrote both the MUBh and GKBh. [Mayeda 1967-68 74.]
It is generally taken for granted that the GKBh and the MUBh are commented by a single hand. Mayeda finds no evidence for questioning this. [Mayeda 1967-68 75n1.]
  • Bhattacharya, V. "Mandukya Upanisad and the Gaudapada Karika." Indian Historical Quarterly 1 (1925) 119-125, 295-302. [For latter pagination, see as of 5 Apr 2011.]
  • Bhattacharya, V. The Agamasastra of Gaudapada. Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1952. 46-52. Questions authenticity of MUBh and GKBh (xxxiii n3).
  • Karmarkar, R.D. Gaudapada-Karika. Poona: Government Oriental Series, Class B, No. 9, 1953) xxxi-xxxiii.
  • Nakamura, H. Vedanta Tetsugaku no Hatten (= The Development of the Vedanta Philosophy) (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1955) 557-565. 527-534: Questions authenticity of MUBh and GKBh.
  • Jacobi, H. "On Mayavada." Journal of the American Oriental Society 33 (1913) 51-54. [For pagination, see as of 5 Apr 2011.] 52, n. 2: suspicion of the identity of the commentator of the GK with the author of the BSBh. [Mayeda 1967-68 74.]
  • Chintamani, T.R. "Sankara - The Commentator on the Mandukya Karikas." Proceedings of the Third Oriental Conference (Madras, 1924) 419-21: objects to Jacobi. [Mayeda 1967-68 74n3.] [Till Mayeda,] Chintamani was the only scholar so far to defend the tradition [of Sankara authorship of the MUBh and GKBh], but he could not show any strong positive evidence. [Mayeda 1967-68 74n4.]
  • Bhattacharya, V. "Sankara's Commentaries on the Upanisads." Sir Asutosh Mookerjee Silver Jubilee Volume, vol. 3, pt. 2 (Calcutta, 1925) 103-10: Questions the authenticity of the MUBh and the GKBh. [Mayeda 1967-68 74n4.] 104: From the fact that Sankara nowhere quotes the MU, even where it could have served his purpose, e.g. in commenting on the Chand. Up. 2, 23, 3, Bhattacharya infers that the MU itself was not written before or even in the time of Sankara. This theory is rejected by Nakamura, see Vedanta Tetsugaku... 536-539. [Mayeda 1967-68 81n2.]
  • Bhattacharya, V. "The Gaudapada-Karika on the Mandukya Upanisad." Proceedings of the Second Oriental Conference (1922) 439-462. [for pagination, see as of 5 apr 2011] 441n1, 442, 444n4, 454n1: questions authenticity of MUBh and GKBh. [Mayeda 1967-68 74n4.]
  • Belvalkar, S.K. Shree Gopal Basu Mallik Lectures on Vedanta Philosophy, pt. 1 (Poona, 1929) 218: Questions authenticity of MUBh and GKBh.
  • Devaraja, N.K. An Introduction to Sankara's Theory of Knowledge (Varanasi, 1962) 38-42. Questions authenticity of MUBh and GKBh. 
  • Venkatasubbiah, A. "The Mandukyopanisad and Gaudapada," Indian Antiquary 62 (1933) pt. DCCLXXII, 185-186: Sankara does not quote the MK at all nor even refer to it in the BSBh nd other works. [Mayeda 1967-68 81.]
  • Nikhilanananda. The Mandukyopanisad with Gaudapada's Karika and Sankara's Commentary. (Mysore: Sri Ramakrishna Asrama, 1955) 217-219 and 219n1. [Mayeda 1967-68 84n3.]
  • Mayeda, Sengaku. "On the Author of the Mandukyopanisad and the Gaudapadiya-Bhasya." The Adyar Library Bulletin 31-32 (1967-68) 73-94. 94: concludes that the GKBh including the MUBh is one of Sankara's genuine works. 
  • Vetter, T. "Die Gaudapadiya-Karikas: Zur Entstehung und zur Bedeutung von (a)dvaita." Wiener Zeitschrift fur die Kunde Sudasiens 22 (1978) 95-131. [Halbfass 1991/1992 186n41.] 
  • Vetter, T. Studien zur Lehre und Entwicklung Sankaras. Vienna, 1979. [Halbfass 1991/1992 139.] Like Hacker, he sees the MUBh and GKBh as the earliest document of Sankara's transition [from Yoga] to Advaita Vedanta (Halbfass 1991/1992 139).
  • Vetter, T. "Erfahrung des Unerfahrbren bei Sankara." Transcendenzerfahrung, Vollzughorizont des Heils. Ed. G. Oberhammer. Vienna, 1978. 45-59. [Halbfass 1991/1992 139, 186n40.]

Friday, 1 April 2011

De Smet on person

Michael Comans criticizes De Smet's suggestion that the para Brahman is equivalent to the personal God of Christianity. See The Early Method of Advaita Vedanta (Delhi: MLBD 2000) 225-231. Note that his maximum court of appeal w.r.t. an interpretation of Aquinas seems to be Copleston. Should be interesting to study this better. De Smet comes to Sankara trained by people like Scheuer (who De Smet himself calls "a prince among metaphysicians and a mystic", see "Surrounded by Excellence"), Marechal (in his mind the greatest of contemporary Thomists, again De Smet, see Understanding Sankara 132 tentative), and having taught a course in Metaphysics as well as Natural Theology for many years.
The bibliography lists: the dissertation, the article on Suresvara (1961), the Religious Hinduism article (1968, 1997), "Sankara and Aquinas on Creation" (1970), and the 1974 article "Towards an Indian View of the Person."

In general, see also:

  • Paul Hacker, [Essay on the Person in Indian Thought] Kleine Schriften, herausgegeben von Lambert Schmithausen. Glasenapp-Stiftung: Band 15 (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1978) 270-292. [De Smet is aware of this: see his review of Hacker.]
  • Paul Hacker, "The Idea of the Person in the Thinking of the Vedanta Philosophers." Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta. Ed. Wilhelm Halbfass. Albany: SUNY, 1995. 153-176. [Very likely a translation of the previous item.]

Important observations by De Smet in his review of Doctrine de la non-dualite,  see Understanding Sankara 443 (tentative). The author has not assimilated Krempel's masterly study of relation especially in Aquinas. Like many contemporary Christian writers, he includes 'relation' within the very definition of person without wondering why Aquinas did not do that. He explains: specific definitions of the term, when applied e.g. to the Trinity, have to include it for special reasons. but relation is not a definiens of person in general, which only connotes 'capacity for interpersonal relationships.' (ibid.)