Introduction to Philosophy and/or Philosophy of Mind

I am considering to co-teach a course with a philosopher at the University of Florida, one in which we’d look at Indian and Western writings on the same topics, e.g. mind, self, epistemology, etc. These interdisciplinary courses are given special funding by the university.

Have any of you taught a course like this? Would you be willing to describe how you organized it?

Right now I am thinking I would assign books like Perception by Matilal, or Chakravarthi’s Non-Realism, or Ganeri’s Concealed Art of the Soul, and he (my co-conspirator) would assign texts from a well-known contemporary thinker dealing with similar topics (AJ Ayer, Searle, and a few others came up). The point in doing so would be to not only see what the views were in Indian/West, but to see how the arguments are made by contemporary thinkers. What do you think? We are in a formative stage any suggestions would be of great help and greatly appreciated.

About Jonathan Edelmann

Assistant Professor of Hinduism University of Florida

5 Replies to “Introduction to Philosophy and/or Philosophy of Mind”

  1. Jonathan, you may also want to look at Ganeri’s new book *Self* which may provide some comparative directions already. Also, I’ve seen some good comp phil syllabi with ideas on Anand Vaidya’s personal page.

    I’d gently suggest keeping the comparisons roughly equivalent. That is, comparing ancient “archaic” Indian philosophy like old Samkhya with 20th century work on the mind/body problem comes off as odd. It makes more sense to compare the that to Plotinus, etc.

    It might be best to take the scholarly work you have already noted, and maybe have some really concise translations of the sophisticated shastric authors to provide a glimpse into the classical traditions. As is often the case, scholars of Buddhism (Coseru, etc.) have provided some good models for this already.

    It may also help to give students an idea of the the deep controversies that the Indian authors confronted. Is the truest self merely a locus of awareness or more? Is there an enduring self or not? Is consciousness reflexive or not? Etc.

    • Respect sir, The question should be, what is the right mode of comparison, if philosophy is a form of knowledge by itself it should be possible to compare any one from any time. But it is something mediated by arguments with regard to new knowledge one gains from the world, then perhaps science should be the ground from which these comparisons should be made. This leaves out the one option where a philosopher begins a certain argument and has not reached its mature form as it has not been subjected to critique by various other perspectives and hence has to keep growing in which case those who come later are better than those who came before.

      In case of samkhya, it might make sense to compare it with “The hard problem of consciousness”. And Even Einsteins relativity, as Samkhya never agrees to ontological view of time. In fact some epics in Hinduism which describes time being different in different realms possibly might have been influenced by this notion of samkhya.

      Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions.

    You write, “That is, comparing ancient “archaic” Indian philosophy like old Samkhya with 20th century work on the mind/body problem comes off as odd. It makes more sense to compare the that to Plotinus, etc.”

    So are you suggesting that Larson’s work on Samkhya and Paul Churchland, or Ganeri’s work on Nyaya and contemporary philosophies of mind in analytic philosophy, or Ramprasad’s work on Sankara and contemporary continental philosophy is not the way to go? Are you saying one should work with folks like Aurobindo or Radhakrishnan if one wants to look at 20th century Western philosophies?

    • I think that using modern scholarship on the old texts makes sense. Truthfully, I’m a bit conflicted about what I am getting at, because if you do something skillfully, then it works well. And to do comparative/historical philosophy, we aren’t bound by temporal contexts, of course. I guess I would just choose the more robust shastric work in Indian phil, and not say, mere shlokas from the Gita or Upanishads alone or something equivalent.

  3. I am glad that you will be teaching about the mind. As per Madhva’s school, mind is Atheendriya vastu or unseen sense organ,
    which acts as the apex sense organ. Mind is subtle body. It is the
    prototype of a man’s soul. Soul divests itself of mind when it completes 84 lakh lives. The demigod in charge of mind is Shiva.
    He is fifth in divine hierarchy. You might have one question. Why
    study the mind which you are going to get rid of ? Thro’ the 84 lakh
    lives you should be properly guided. Further in the imperishable , eternal soul, there is an inbuilt mind called Saksi, says Madhva

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *