Soliciting syllabi for courses on Indian philosophy

Recently, Malcolm Keating brought up the idea for a thread on syllabi for courses in Indian philosophy. And Elisa Freschi’s thread yesterday reinforced the importance of such a discussion. Here’s what I’d like you all to do. Please send me PDFs of syllabi that you have for courses on Indian Philosophy. Feel free to send prototypes for courses you haven’t yet taught, or links to others’ online syllabi you think worthy of inclusion. Send to mdasti (AT) bridgew (DOT) edu. I will then create a new section on the resources page with a list of syllabi for perusal. If anybody would like to talk shop about basic approaches to such courses, please do so in the comments section below. I will do a follow up post once the syllabi have been integrated into the site.

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

16 Replies to “Soliciting syllabi for courses on Indian philosophy”

  1. Yes, this is a great idea! I’m wondering if the list would require the full syllabus or maybe just the reading list and class schedule. For instance, I doubt anyone needs to see my attendance policy or the dozen other things my university requires on syllabi.

  2. I don’t care either way, personally. If it’s too much trouble to cut such materials out, it’s okay to keep it. If someone would rather not include them, that’s fine too.

  3. May be it is a matter for another thread or may be I can pick the information from the “bibliography” section of the syllabi, but apart form the topics and schedule I would be very interested in knowing your opinion about the best or, rather, currently commonly used translations of the (some) classical texts. In Argentina we have very few updated translations of the sources and whenever I think of buying new material, which is not very often given my limited personal budget available for bibliography, I have to be quite picky. Thanks!

  4. I am writing to solicit a set of resources that would be useful for convincing a typical Western philosophy department (primarily analytic, but with a bit of continental) that there are critical things that it needs to learn, critical with respect to its own goals and values, from a serious engagement with different forms of Asian philosophical thought. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Luke, sorry your comment has languished without reply. Would these resources be things you’d like them to read, like books or articles? Or web resources? Or testimonials, so to speak, from names they’d know and trust?

      • I think that what would be most useful would be recent peer-reviewed articles and testimonials and/or web resources from familiar scholars. Thank you!

        • As a start, here’s a statement by David Chalmers.

          “Having spent the last week thinking about Buddhist philosophy of mind — an enormously rich tradition that anticipates numerous key ideas in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind — it’s a little stunning that hardly any of the leading research departments of philosophy in the anglophone world employ anyone who specializes in Buddhist philosophy, or indeed in any area of non-western philosophy. How hard would it be to change the conventions so that every department would be expected to have at least one specialist in non-western philosophy?”

          Quoted here, with more discussion:

          Also see this post for some more background:

          These posts are a bit “gripey” in a good way, I think, but they presuppose that they are speaking with people who are already sympathetic; some others may get defensive upon reading them.

          Re: articles, you mean articles that speak to Western concerns, or are by “names” and hint at the importance of India?

          Please look at the SEP, on India, to show that it is taken seriously there, at least, and with articles that speak to what is important in philosophy anywhere. (Here’s a search link: )

          • Further, here’s a sterling example of an open minded analytic philosopher who sees some of her ideas anticipated by Indian thinkers: Jennifer Nagel, whose recent paper in PPR mentions Indian philosophers in a few places, here:

            Nagel has mentioned Indian thinkers in a number of her papers, some currently unpublished.

            Speaking of PPR, they’ve published brilliant essays on Indian philosophy in the past by Jonardon Ganeri and Arindam Chakrabarti, so you may want to look there too.

          • These are very useful points of departure. Thank you! Here is what I’m looking for in the article category: articles written for specialists in Western philosophy that show why recourse to non-Western philosophical concepts and techniques is useful for doing particular kinds of Western philosophy. I don’t mean, in any way, to imply that this is the criteria by which non-Western philosophical systems OUGHT to be engaged. Quite the contrary! But this is what I think would be most useful for my specific purposes.

  5. Many thanks for initiating this thread of discussions . This is really what should be discussed at length. Incidentally here in India we are also trying to figure out an answer similar to the Question raised here specifically by Malcom keating – entryways into Indian Philosophy and why .. But I would like to ask for one clarification here – Entry with what sort of academic background as well as cultural origin ? This Entry is not supposed to be independent of Background and origin.
    I don’t have any firsthand experience of the situation of student strength in the Philosophy Departments outside India.. , but in India , frankly speaking , the situation is really alarming . Philosophy as an academic discipline has lost every previous glamour to attract students here .. The real state of Arts for Academic Philosophy in India can’t be assessed by seeing the craze for World Yoga Day celebration here ..!
    This is exactly the situation once faced by Indian Philosophy in its pre-colonial stages ever since the mid 19th century . You might be aware of the disputes and heated debates in colonial Bengal about what should be taught in the newly founded ( Jan’1824 )Sanskrit college in Kolkata – how much of the content taught in ‘Tols’ should be preserved for the new college curriculum .. etc . Reasons for that situation were manifold and we can’t discuss these in full length here ..; but the reasons should be revisited as the present situation of academic Indian Philosophy is definitely an outgrowth of its colonial turmoil .
    This Blog is a good place at least to address these issues .. I would like to draw your attention to one of the very important reasons behind this scenario referring to a question Christian Coseru raised last year in this Blog ( Whither Indian Philosophy ? , 23 July , 2014 ) – “ whether Theory of Knowledge ( and Reality ) originating in the Indian philosophical traditions can be extended to accommodate the vast bodies of empirical knowledge we now have .”
    This is one of the most important questions we ( concerned about Indian Philosophy / Knowledge dynamics developed in India .. ) should all try to make sense properly .. , because this very question , in one form or other , gradually started taking shape ever since our colonial ( Indian) reception of West during the early 19th Century .. And as a Bengali of so-called ‘Hindu’ origin .. , I must say that this Question as well as the ‘ proposed Answers’- drafted during the end of the 19th century , in its several forms continued to shape our subsequent social , political as well as intellectual attitudes towards the contents of ‘pre-colonial knowledge Dynamics’ as a whole .. But, still there are enough grounds to say that , this question had never been addressed properly within an adequately critical epistemic framework . ..
    In short , any modern syllabus of Indian Philosophy , apart from its perennial classical contents , must provide spaces ( at least one semester )to address openly this particular Question as well as its Historical context – what should precisely be the best norms of our modern engagement with Indian Past Today ?
    One can take his/her own stance .. , but that is prerequisite for understanding the rest of the Story .. !
    One should have a reasonable understanding of the pre-colonial knowledge dynamics ( for example in undivided Bengal … ) to properly assess Questions like – What exactly constitute ‘ modern’ Indian Philosophy.. and what is the basis of the claim of its ‘Modernity’ . Are these only to do with the mixed response to West? Why Nalanda wisdom was faded so quickly after the decline of Biuddhism during the 12th Century ..
    These are the Questions one should address along with finding his/her point of Entry into Indian Philosophy / Knowledge Dynamics Today. So , one of the historically meaningful / rewarding Entrypoint to the massive literature of Indian Philosophy is definitely with the Colonial Background of reassessment of the whole story ( perennial as well as early modern )in mind .
    We initiated an attempt here based in Nalanda … nearly a decade back to make sense of these kinds of Questions ( please visit our website – , particularly the section –colonial Background ).
    To conclude, Knowledge keeps redefining a space/ Place .. Colonial reception of West started redefining Indian scenario as a whole and this process is still in progress … which is hardly reflected in any course curriculum of Philosophy .So any curriculum Today of Indian Knowledge Dynamics can’t overlook the issue that , how knowledge redefines.. Story of redefining a place by Philosophy must be a part of any course offered about that Philosophy.
    Very soon we are going to initiate a series of interviews, with these questions in mind .. , with the traditional Indian scholars based mainly in Varanasi, Mithila .. and South India ..
    In case of any query , please feel free to write to me –

  6. Pingback: Humble reminder–Please send me syllabiThe Indian Philosophy Blog | The Indian Philosophy Blog

  7. Luke, I had to reply down here, since it stops you from making nested replies after a few. In my experience, there is not a lot of that sort of work which makes some kind of explicit case about Indian philosophy as its main focus. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    Rather, there is a ton of good work on Indian philosophy already , and any philosophically literate person who reads some of it can’t but see it’s value.

    Some of this work is written for non-Indianists, and as such, is meant to speak to them and be accessible. Ethan mills and I have both remarked that we’ve heard things like “Wow, I had no idea how much was there in India” about this sort of work. I can send you the manuscript of one such article; it’s due to come out in a collection, but it’s not out yet. As a matter of fact, as more collections are looking for the inclusion of Indian or Asian work, you will have more of an opportunity for these kinds of papers.

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