Tradition and Reflection: Explorations in Indian Thought

SUNY Press
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This book examines, above all, the relationship between reason and Vedic revelation, and the philosophical responses to the idea of the Veda. It deals with such topics as dharma, karma and rebirth, the role of man in the universe, the motivation and justification of human actions, the relationship between ritual norms and universal ethics, and reflections on the goals and sources of human knowledge.

Halbfass presents previously unknown materials concerning the history of sectarian movements, including the notorious “Thags” (thaka), and relations between Indian and Iranian thought. The approach is partly philosophical and partly historical and philological; to a certain extent, it is also comparative.

The author explores indigenous Indian reflections on the sources, the structure and the meaning of the Hindu tradition, and traditional philosophical responses to social and historical realities. He does not deal with social and historical realities per se; rather, basing his work on the premise that to understand these realities the reflections and constructions of traditional Indian theorists are no less significant than the observations and paradigms of modern Western historians and social scientists, he explores the self-understanding of such leading thinkers as Sankara, Kumarila, Bhartrhari and Udayana.
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About the author

Wilhelm Halbfass (1940–2000) was Professor of Indian Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding; On Being and What There Is: Classical VaisŒes|ika and the History of Indian Ontology; and the editor of Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta; all published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1991
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Religion / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Wilhelm Halbfass, philosopher and Indologist, is a committed participant in the dialogue between India and Europe, whose reflections on the Indian tradition and its Western perception are accompanied by reflection on and critical examination of the Western tradition. In this innovative combination of Indological research and philosophical-hermeneutical research in the history of ideas, he demonstrates a purpose more ambitious and a scope wider than Edward Said's who constructed the Western study of the so-called Orient as an attempt to deprive it of its identity and sovereignty, and who perceived the pursuit of Oriental Studies in Western universities to be an extension of a fundamentally political will to power and domination. Without denying the domination of the dialogue between India and Europe by the West, Halbfass goes beyond that to show a different way of approaching Indian thought; he strives to establish the presuppositions and prerequisites that would make a true dialogue and mutual understanding between Indian and Western intellectual cultures possible. The papers in the present volume originate from twenty-three scholars of Indology, philosophy, religious studies, comparative theology, classics, folkloristics and political theory, working in eleven countries spread over three continents. They address central issues of Halbfass' work; his critical responses to them commence with an extensive essay in which he assesses in a masterly manner the state of Indian studies almost twenty years after the publication of Said's Orientalismz.
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