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Philosophy 24lb HINDU THOUGHT IN GLOBAL CONTEXT (Spring 08)


Prerequisite: At least one course in philosophy, or consent.

Requirements: A short (three page) paper on an assigned topic from the text just before midterm; an intensive oral midterm conference (four students, one-and-a-half hour) based on detailed midterm review questions and a preliminary written draft response; a comprehensive final paper (l6-20 pages, in lieu of exam) on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor, and due at the end of exam period; class attendance and participation is central.

Description: A critical exploration of classical Hindu thought (Vedanta) in a global and comparative context. Special focus on selected Principal Upanisads, a close meditative reading of the Bhagavad Gita and an in-depth exploration of Shankaras Brahmasutra Commentary.

This course explores fundamental philosophical themes in classical Hindu thought. The course opens with a study of selected texts from the Upanisads. The first part of the course is an intensive study of the Bhagavadgita. This is developed in a global context of philosophy with critical comparison with classical texts in the European traditions - Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Descartes and others.

The student is oriented in the methods and dialectics of meditative thinking which is rigorously and systematically developed in classical Hindu thought. This introduction to meditative life is developed through direct participation, performance and experimentation, and brings out the inherent limitations in egocentric thinking showing why such conduct of mind produces existential suffering and disorders.

The second part of this course is an intensive study of the great commentary

by Sankara ( 7th Century, A.D., who developed Advaita non-dual Vedanta) on the Brahmasutras.

In this advanced text in the phenomenology of meditative discourse the student enters into a powerful critique of dual thinking and experiences the foundations of natural reason in the non-dual (Advaita) methods of conducting the mind. This course seeks to cultivate the deepest understanding of the meditative teachings through a direct encounter with meditative thought.


l) Bhagavadgita (Selected chapters of Deutschs translation on Blackboard)

2) Advaita Vedanta by Deutsch

3) Brahmasutra Commentary by Sankara

4) Optional: Meditative Reason by Gangadean

5) The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

6) Selections from Aurobindo