I am pleased to announce the addition of a new contributor to our blog: Alex Watson. Our readers already read here his description of his current position at Ashoka University, so I can focus on what happened before that.
After a BA in Philosophy and Psychology, Alex studied Indology at the SOAS (London) and then at Oxford. His PhD (an edition, translation and philosophical analysis of Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Nareśvaraparīkṣā defence of the existence of the self) was written under the tuition of Prof. Alexis Sanderson and examined by Prof. Lambert Schmithausen and Prof. Karin Preisendanz. The final result became a book (The Self’s Awareness of Itself), which goes well beyond its initial Śaivasiddhānta milieu and which has consequently been read, reviewed (my own review is here) and thought about many times more than most other Indological books.
After that, Alex continued to work on the theory of the ātman in Buddhist and “Hindū” philosophy, often pausing on Bhaṭṭa Jayanta’s Nyāyamañjarī. He studied psychotherapy and has published (see his page on Academia) on this topic. His second book, together with D. Goodall and Anjaneya Sarma, An Enquiry into the Nature of Liberation. Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Paramokṣanirāsakārikāvṛtti, a commentary on Sadyojyotiḥ’s refutation of twenty conceptions of the liberated state (mokṣa) contains a critical edition, a translation and a philosophical commentary (with many useful schemes) of a complicated, yet foundational text of Śaivasiddhānta. He also has publications on vijñānavāda, on apoha amd (in progress) on the īśvara debate.
After Oxford and before the Ashoka University, Alex taught or researched in Pondichéry, Fukuoka (Japan) and Harvard.
Last, let me add that Alex has the uncommon benefit among Indologists of being able to teach and talk in a sattvic mode, without the usual rajasic attitude of most speakers (“I have to say a lot in just 25′, so I will just speak faster”). Listening to him is thus a pleasure, and one ends up having understood and being able to remember what he said —unlike in many cases in which an incredible effort in concentrating on each of the points raised ends up in the complete oblivion of the whole talk a few hours after it has been delivered.