Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri present a lively introduction to one of the world's richest intellectual traditions: the philosophy of classical India. They begin with the earliest extant literature, the Vedas, and the explanatory works that these inspired, known as Upanisads. They also discuss other famous texts of classical Vedic culture, especially the Mahabharata and its most notable section, the Bhagavad-Gita, alongside the rise of Buddhism and Jainism. In this opening section, Adamson and Ganeri emphasize the way that philosophy was practiced as a form of life in search of liberation from suffering. Next, the pair move on to the explosion of philosophical speculation devoted to foundational texts called 'sutras,' discussing such traditions as the logical and epistemological Nyaya school, the monism of Advaita Vedanta, and the spiritual discipline of Yoga. In the final section of the book, they chart further developments within Buddhism, highlighting Nagarjuna's radical critique of 'non-dependent' concepts and the no-self philosophy of mind found in authors like Dignaga, and within Jainism, focusing especially on its 'standpoint' epistemology.
Unlike other introductions that cover the main schools and positions in classical Indian philosophy, Adamson and Ganeri's lively guide also pays attention to philosophical themes such as non-violence, political authority, and the status of women, while considering textual traditions typically left out of overviews of Indian thought, like the Carvaka school, Tantra, and aesthetic theory as well. Adamson and Ganeri conclude by focusing on the much-debated question of whether Indian philosophy may have influenced ancient Greek philosophy and, from there, evaluate the impact that this area of philosophy had on later Western thought.
About the authors
Peter Adamson received his BA from Williams College and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He worked at King's College London from 2000 until 2012. He subsequently moved to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, where he is Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy. He has published widely in ancient and medieval philosophy, and is the host of the History of Philosophy podcast.
Jonardon Ganeri is a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of Attention, Not Self (2017), The Self (2012), The Lost Age of Reason (2011), and The Concealed Art of the Soul (2007). Ganeri's work draws on a variety of philosophical traditions to construct new positions in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology. He became the first philosopher to win the Infosys Prize in the Humanities in 2015.