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.

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).

• W. Edelglass, P.-J. Harter, and S. McClintock, The Routledge Handbook of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (London: 2022).

• 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).

43. We Beg to Differ: the Buddhists and Jains

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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

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

45. Motion Denied: Nāgārjuna on Change

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

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

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

47. Jan Westerhoff on Nāgārjuna

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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

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

49. Well Qualified: the Jains on Truth

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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

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

51. Change of Mind: Vasubandhu and Yogācāra Buddhism

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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

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

53. Follow the Evidence: Dignāga's Logic

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

54. Graham Priest on Logic and Buddhism

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

55. Doors of Perception: Dignāga on Consciousness

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

56. Who’s Pulling Your Strings? Buddhaghosa

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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

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

58. Amber Carpenter on Animals in Indian Philosophy

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

59. Looking East: Indian Influence on Greek Thought

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

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

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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

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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

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