South Asia

Organized Panel Session

Buddhist-Brahmanical Debate

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

By 'Buddhist-Brahmanical debate' we refer to the philosophical debates between, on the one hand, the various branches of South Asian Buddhism, such as Abhidharma, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra/Vijñānavāda and Pramāṇavāda, and on the other, the various Brahmanical religio-philosophical traditions (darśana), such as Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika and Mīmāṃsā. The papers in this panel concern the post-Dharmakīrtian period, beginning around 600 CE, and they stretch into the period of Navya-Nyāya, which is usually said to begin with Gangeśa of Mithila (c. 1320). The debates we will look at concern Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion.


The period in which Buddhism flourished in South Asia was a particularly fertile time for creative philosophizing in the subcontinent; and one of the reasons for this was the constant challenge that Buddhism provided to the Brahmanical traditions by way of ever new arguments against core constituents of Brahmanical ontology: God, the self, substances, universals, agents, essences.

Each new generation of Buddhist philosophers came up with fresh arguments, and hence each new generation of Brahmanical philosophers came up with fresh responses and counter-arguments. Thus 'Buddhist-Brahmanical debate' is a topic that obviously cannot be dealt with in any comprehensive manner in a single panel. Our papers focus on: the question of whether objects endure over time or are momentary, whether there is such a thing as non-conceptual perception and if so how it is to be analyzed, and whether omniscience is possible.


Alex Watson

Ashoka University, India

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Amit Chaturvedi

University of Hawai’i, United States

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Alex Watson

Ashoka University, India

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Nilanjan Das

New York University Shanghai, China

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Amit Chaturvedi

University of Hawai’i, United States

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Hugo David

French School of Asian Studies, India

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