Buddhists and Jains

In this last section of the podcasts on ancient Indian thought, we move on to consider the development of Buddhist thought, focusing on Nāgārjuna, the second century founder of Mādhyamaka Buddhism, the great Yogacārā Buddhist thinker Dignāga, and the reaction to his thought in Dharmakīrti. We also cover Jain philosophy, focusing especially on Umāsvāti. Major philosophical themes in this sub-series include epistemology, with the brilliant skeptical methods of Nāgārjuna and the perspectivism of the Jains, as well as critique of Vedic ideas about the self. Our treatment of Indian philosophy (for now at least: we may return to cover later Indian thought in a future series of episodes) will conclude with a look at cultural interchanges between Indian thought and other cultures.

Look out for interviews with Amber Carpenter, Marie-Helene Gorisse, Graham Priest, and Jan Westerhoff, with a surprise appearance by a special guest to round off the whole series.

Next up after ancient India: a series of about the same number of episodes, devoted to Africana philosophy, co-authored with Chike Jeffers of Dalhousie University. This will look at philosophy in Africa as far back as ancient Egypt, in the African diaspora, and go as far African-American philosophy of recent decades. In the meantime we will continue to release episodes in alternating weeks on European thought, moving through the end of medieval philosophy, then Byzantium and the Renaissance.

Further Reading
In addition to the general reading list recommended here, see also:

• L.A. Babb, Understanding Jainism (Edinburgh: 2015).

• P. Balcerowicz, Essays in Jaina Philosophy and Religion (Delhi: 2003).

• P. Balcerowicz, Early Asceticism in India: Ājīvikism and Jainism (London: 2016).

• S.C. Berkwitz, South Asian Buddhism: a Survey (London: 2010).

• A.D. Carpenter, Indian Buddhist Philosophy (Durham: 2014).

• E. Conze, Buddhist Thought in India (Ann Arbor: 1967).

• E. Conze, Buddhism: a Short History (Oxford: 2008).

• P. Dundas, The Jains (London: 2002).

• W. Edelglass and J.L. Garfield (eds), Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (Oxford: 2009).

• P. Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices (Cambridge: 2013).

• A. Hirakawa, A History of Indian Buddhism, trans. P. Groner (Honolulu: 1990).

• P.S. Jaini, The Jaina Path of Purification (New Delhi: 1998).

• J.L. Jaini, Outlines of Jainism (Cambridge: 2013).

• B.K. Matilal, The Central Philosophy of Jainism (Ahmedabad: 1977).

• M. Siderits, Studies in Buddhist Philosophy (Oxford: 2016).

• J. Westerhoff, The Golden Age of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (Oxford: 2018).

• P. Williams and A. Tribe, Buddhist Thought: a Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition (London: 2000).

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Episodes 43 - 62: Buddhists and Jains

43. We Beg to Differ: the Buddhists and Jains

Posted on 28 May 2017

An introduction to philosophical developments in Buddhism and Jainism up to the time of Dignāga in the sixth century AD.

44. It All Depends: Nagarjuna on Emptiness

Posted on 11 June 2017

Nāgārjuna founds the Mādhyamaka (“middle way”) Buddhist tradition by “relinquishing all views” and arguing that everything is “empty.”

45. Motion Denied: Nāgārjuna on Change

Posted on 25 June 2017

Nāgārjuna applies his emptiness theory to motion, change, and cognition.

46. No Four Ways About It: Nāgārjuna’s Tetralemma

Posted on 9 July 2017

Nāgārjuna’s four-fold argument scheme, the tetralemma (catuṣkoṭi).

47. Jan Westerhoff on Nāgārjuna

Posted on 23 July 2017

A discussion with Jan Westerhoff, an expert on the great Buddhist thinker Nāgārjuna, dealing with the notion of emptiness, the tetralemma, and Nāgārjuna's reception in India and Tibet.

48. Taking Perspective: the Jain Theory of Standpoints

Posted on 6 August 2017

The Jain theory of standpoints or non-onesidedness (anekāntavāda) makes truth a matter of perspective.

49. Well Qualified: the Jains on Truth

Posted on 17 September 2017

Does the Jain theory of seven predications (saptabhaṇgī) land them in self-contradiction, or help them to avoid it?

50. Marie-Hélène Gorisse on Jain Epistemology

Posted on 1 October 2017

We're joined by Marie-Hélène Gorisse for a look at the Jain theory of knowledge.

51. Change of Mind: Vasubandhu and Yogācāra Buddhism

Posted on 15 October 2017

Vasubandhu’s path to Yogācāra Buddhism, a form of idealism which holds that nothing can be mind-independent.

52. Under Construction: Dignāga on Perception and Language

Posted on 29 October 2017

The great Buddhist thinker Dignāga argues that general concepts and language are mere constructions superimposed on perception.

53. Follow the Evidence: Dignāga's Logic

Posted on 12 November 2017

Dignāga’s trairūpya theory, which sets out the three conditions required for making reliable inferences.

54. Graham Priest on Logic and Buddhism

Posted on 26 November 2017

Graham Priest joins Peter to discuss non-classical logic and its connections with Buddhist patterns of reasoning.

55. Doors of Perception: Dignāga on Consciousness

Posted on 10 December 2017

Dignāga argues that all perception is accompanied by self-awareness.

56. Who’s Pulling Your Strings? Buddhaghosa

Posted on 24 December 2017

Buddhaghosa, a major figure in the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, argues against the need for a self to control and coordinate mental activities.

57. Learn by Doing: Tantra

Posted on 7 January 2018

Philosophy is put into practice in Kashmir Śaivite Tantra and Buddhist Tantra.

58. Amber Carpenter on Animals in Indian Philosophy

Posted on 21 January 2018

An interview about the status of nonhuman animals in ancient Indian philosophy and literature.

59. Looking East: Indian Influence on Greek Thought

Posted on 4 February 2018

Did Indian ideas play a role in shaping ancient Greek philosophy?

60. The Buddha and I: Indian Influence on Islamic and European Thought

Posted on 18 February 2018

The impact of ancient Indian thought upon the Muslim scholar al-Bīrūnī and upon European thinkers like Hume, Hegel, and Schopenhauer.

61. What Happened Next: Indian Philosophy After Dignaga

Posted on 4 March 2018

A whirlwind tour of developments in Indian philosophy after Dignāga and a few words about the contemporary relevance of the tradition.

See the India timeline here on the site for the various names mentioned in this episode.

62. Kit Patrick on Philosophy and Indian History

Posted on 18 March 2018

The host of the History of India podcast joins us for the final episode on India.