Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

Anil Mundra

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

The Jain theory of “non-one-sidedness” (anekāntavāda) — that any real object possesses contrary properties — has understandably been deemed paradoxical by both its classical Indian detractors and many well-wishing modern proponents. However, examination of a Sanskrit locus classicus, Haribhadrasūri’s Victory Flag of Non-One-Sidedness (Anekāntajayapatākā, c. 8thcentury C.E.), reveals that the theory insists not only on non-contradiction but indeed the dictates of common sense. On this reading, its basic insight turns out rather like Hegel’s “determinate negation” without his idealism.

This is a draft of the central chapter of my dissertation, and it is long and technical. The central concepts of the text come on pages 3, 19, and 28. But beyond that, those of you who understandably do not want to wade through the whole thing might consider choosing your own adventure depending on your interests:
  • If you’re into Anglo-American and “common sense” philosophy, go directly to the second section: “Experience and Intuition, Common Sense and Conventional Practice” (~15 pp.)
  • If you incline more toward Continental philosophy and Hegel, go to the third section: “Contradiction and the Compossibility of Contraries” (~15 pp.)
  • If you’re most interested in Sanskrit intellectual history and exegesis, go to the fourth section: “Hermeneutics and Doxography” (~5 pp.)
  • If you’d rather think about the methodological issues of comparativism, go to the last section “Comparison, Common Sense, and Colonialism” (~2 pp.)

I’m very grateful to anyone who takes the trouble to read and discuss even a single section!

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, April 13th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link and password for the paper, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu).

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

The Critics of Metaphysics and the Power of their Judgment, Part II: Heidegger and Derrida

Ryan S. Bingham

PhD Student, Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

The Critics of Metaphysics and the Power of their Judgment
Part II: Heidegger and Derrida

At the outset of his critical project, Immanuel Kant describes his age as “the genuine age of criticism,” claiming that the “power of judgment” belonging to this age calls for the institution of a peculiar “court of justice”: namely, “the critique of pure reason itself.” Among the critiques of his age, this critique was to have the power to decide “the possibility or impossibility of a metaphysics in general,” which is “the culmination of all culture of human reason.” This critique, demanded by the age’s power of judgment, reached its third and final stage in the critique of the “power of judgment” itself. What did this critique grant to the “power of judgment,” and what judgments concerning metaphysics did it thus make possible? When inheritors of the Kantian critical project have made critique of the power of judgment integral to their own attempt at a critique of metaphysics, what judgments have they made concerning the power of judgment, and how has this immanent critique of critique affected the project of a critique of metaphysics? In this two-part essay, I first situate the critique of the power of judgment within the Kantian critical project, specifically attending to its importance to Kant’s effort to decisively ground a metaphysics. I then attend to the tradition of the critique of the power of judgment as part of a critique of metaphysics on the part of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. I argue that the critique of the power of judgment comes to serve as a site for the critique of critique itself. For Heidegger, from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, this critique entails the uncovering of what is “unthought” in Kant’s transcendental idealism for the sake of either an essential grounding of metaphysics or an overcoming of metaphysics toward his “other beginning.” For Derrida, however, this critique entails the detection of cultural prejudices (e.g., Platonic, Christian, German) as these inform the critique of metaphysics itself in Kant and Heidegger. Far from either pretending to a lack of prejudice or abandoning the critical project, Derrida’s pursuit of the critique of the power of judgment as a critique of the critique of metaphysics promotes renewed critical attention to cultural prejudices, including, notably, those of the critic. Derrida thus uniquely alters the task of criticism.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, March 9th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link and password for the paper, please email Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu).

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Ontological Homelessness as a Phenomenology of Belonging: Comparing the Nihilisms of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani

Anna M. Duong-Topp

MA Student, Divinity School

Ontological Homelessness as a Phenomenology of Belonging: Comparing the Nihilisms of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani

This analysis investigates how Kyoto School philosopher Keiji Nishitani utilizes the phenomenological framework of Martin Heidegger to express a Zen philosophical perspective on ontological homelessness. An articulation of this framework, herein termed the Structure of Being, summarizes the relationship between ontology, nihilism, and German-Japanese inter-philosophy. Ontological homelessness expounds the nihilistic experience of spatial disillusionment which affects humanity in response to modernity. Further emphasis is placed on the spatial approaches to ontology which Zen Buddhism serves to enhance, particularly through the mystical employments of śūnyatā and samādhi. I conclude that an appropriation of these insights by public praxis can aid in reversing the ontological homelessness experienced in the 21st century. Nishitani’s Religion and Nothingness and Heidegger’s Being and Time are most central to this study, though a few of their later works in conjunction with secondary sources are employed for analytical purposes.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu).

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Jack Plimpton

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Through a comparative study of Georges Bataille and Jean Gebser, a theory emerges suggestive of two forms of human existence wherein both hold the quality of consciousness/being as non-differentiation; one as humanity’s origin and another as humanity’s ‘endpoint’ in its mutational becoming. To use an Abrahamic traditional metaphor, the first form of existence is the state of non-differentiation while in Eden whereas the latter is a post-Fallen reunion with God. Bataille exemplifies the position that humanity must retreat into the state of existence before its archaic Fall, before its archaic break from intimate continuity; this is similarly the approach of ascetics. While Gebser recognizes through his own framework the truth in an archaic form of existence, or consciousness, he sees this method as backtracking and alternatively proposes humans integrate their various structures of consciousness to realize a Zen, satori-like, integral enlightenment which transcends differentiation. With Gebser’s method, non-differentiation is achieved again but in a deeper form of non-differentiation. Due to their essence of non-differentiation like water in water, these two forms of human existence raise many questions. Foremost, if these two states of existence can be distinguished, it must be quantitatively by depth, which suggests a new purposive explanation about humanity’s archaic Fall from continuity.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 16th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

A faculty conversation sponsored by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop

Tuesday, February 9

6:00-7:00

Virtual Event (Zoom)

Join us to discuss questions like “What is ‘comparativism’ in the Philosophy of Religions?” “How does one communicate between divergent definitions of ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ across times and traditions?” “Does comparative work in the Philosophy of Religions have its own distinct object and methodology? Or is there perhaps something of comparativism at stake in the Philosophy of Religions in general?” Professors Daniel Arnold and Brook Ziporyn will share their perspectives on the roles and contemporary challenges of comparativism in the field. A large portion of the conversation will be dedicated to student questions. All are welcome to join! 

Please contact workshop coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) and Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) with any questions concerning this event. 

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The Workshop is committed to being fully accessible and inclusive.  Please contact Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in Workshop events.

Michael S. Allen: When Good Philosophers Make Bad Arguments: Examples from Nyāya and Vedānta

Michael S. Allen

University of Virginia

When Good Philosophers Make Bad Arguments:
Examples from Nyāya and Vedānta

Thursday, January 28th, 4:00pm CT

Virtual Event

RSVP to Rebekah Rosenfeld at rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu for Zoom link.

Michael S. Allen (Assistant Professor, University of Virginia) works on philosophy, religion, and environment in South Asia. He is founder and co-chair of the Hindu Philosophy unit at the American Academy of Religion. He is currently working on a book titled The Ocean of Inquiry: Niścaldās and the Premodern Origins of Modern Hinduism, which focuses on the neglected genre of vernacular Vedānta.

The Workshop is committed to being fully accessible and inclusive.  Please contact Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in Workshop events.

Danica Cao: Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

Danica Cao

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions

Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

“This paper examines a debate that took place in 1943 between the New Confucian philosopher Xiong Shili 熊十力 (1885-1968), known for his Buddho-Confucian work New Treatise on Consciousness-Only (xin weishi lun 新唯識論), and the Buddhologist Lü Cheng 呂澂 (1896-1989), one of the earliest scholars in modern China to have mastered languages like Sanskrit, Pāli, and Tibetan, and developed new methods of textual criticism. More specifically, it deals with 1) the fundamental contrast between “intrinsic awareness” and “intrinsic quiescence” Lü places between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism; 2) Xiong’s adoption of the word “ontology” in conjunction with “cosmology” for his philosophy; and 3) Xiong’s critique of teleology in Lü’s scholarly commitments. In engaging closely with these three points of contention, this paper seeks to make sense of the conceptual space charted out by their debate, which is both traditional in its continuation of a series of pre-modern metaphysical oppositions in East Asian thought and modern in the tensions created by their drastically different methodological tendencies. Such a space is created with anxieties over defining their philosophies of religion against Western challenges in the background, but comparisons with Europe hardly enter the debate proper. What sorts of roles does “India” play here as a mediating other? What are the limitations and inspirations of such visions? Can we enlist these thinkers as predecessors to a transcultural philosophy of religions?”

The paper may be accessed here. E-mail Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) for the password.

Thursday, December 3, 6:00 PM CDT

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

John Marvin: Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA

John Marvin

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA 

This paper examines the final mathematical work of Edward Nelson, his attempted proof of the inconsistency of Peano arithmetic and primitive recursive arithmetic, fo- cusing on its philosophical framing and its admitted religious motivations with consid- eration of both his theologically adjacent writings and his account of a visionary expe- rience. The paper outlines the mathematical and philosophical significance of Nelson’s attempted proof, and clarifies the relationships among that project, his mathematical formalism, and his religious convictions. The article situates Nelson’s thought in terms of its inheritance from Catholic Aristotelianism, iconoclastic and apophatic discourses, and its relationship to post-20th-century foundational debates. This paper will try to address concerns including: how would one be driven by religious convictions and experiences to heterodox positions in the philosophy of mathematics, and why would one feel it necessary to make dramatic technical discoveries to defend such convictions, as Nelson did? The body of this paper presents Nelson’s work and thought in a man- ner accessible to the engaged mathematical layperson, offering a simplified intuition for keystone ideas from modern logic when necessary, with more rigorous and precise discussions offered for interest and accuracy in frequently referenced appendices. The article is intended to be a comprehensive account of Nelson’s final writings and their reception, providing mathematical specialists with a unified resource for the historical and philosophical details surrounding Nelson’s proof attempt as well as with a lucid but sufficiently technical presentation of the proof’s strategies, and, for scholars in other fields, serving as an introduction to and a vignette of a previously inaccessible, philosophically significant event in very recent mathematical history. 

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, November 10th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.