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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

And liable to misinterpretation


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style="text-align: justify;">[Footnote 1: Recently a very able Sanskrit dictionary of technical philosophical terms called Nyayakos'a has been prepared by M.M. Bhimacarya Jhalkikar, Bombay, Govt. Press.]

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am afraid the translation may not be found very intelligible. Gu@naratna's commentary is excellent so far as Jainism is concerned, and it sometimes gives interesting information about other systems, and also supplies us with some short bibliographical notices, but it seldom goes on to explain the epistemological or ontological doctrines or discussions which are so necessary for the right understanding of any of the advanced systems of Indian thought. Thus in the absence of a book which could give us in brief the main epistemological, ontological, and psychological positions of the Indian thinkers, it is difficult even for a good Sanskrit scholar to follow the advanced philosophical literature, even though he may be acquainted with many of the technical philosophical terms. I have spoken enough about the difficulties of studying Indian philosophy, but if once a person can get himself used to the technical terms and the general positions of the different Indian thinkers and their modes of expression, he can master the whole by patient toil. The technical terms, which are a source of difficulty at the beginning, are of inestimable value in helping us to understand the precise and definite meaning of the writers

who used them, and the chances of misinterpreting or misunderstanding them are reduced to a minimum. It is I think well-known that avoidance of technical terms has often rendered philosophical works unduly verbose, and liable to misinterpretation. The art of clear writing is indeed a rare virtue and every philosopher cannot expect to have it. But when technical expressions are properly formed, even a bad writer can make himself understood. In the early days of Buddhist philosophy in the Pali literature, this difficulty is greatly felt. There are some technical terms here which are still very elastic and their repetition in different places in more or less different senses heighten the difficulty of understanding the real meaning intended to be conveyed.

But is it necessary that a history of Indian philosophy should be written? There are some people who think that the Indians never rose beyond the stage of simple faith and that therefore they cannot have any philosophy at all in the proper sense of the term. Thus Professor Frank Thilly of the Cornell University says in his _History of Philosophy_ [Footnote ref 1], "A universal history of philosophy would include the philosophies of all peoples. Not all peoples, however

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[Footnote 1: New York, 1914, p. 3.]

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have produced real systems of thought, and the speculations of only a few can be said to have had a history. Many do not rise beyond the mythological stage. Even the theories of Oriental peoples, the Hindus, Egyptians, Chinese, consist, in the main, of mythological and ethical doctrines, and are not thoroughgoing systems of thought: they are shot through with poetry and faith. We shall, therefore, limit ourselves to the study of the Western countries, and begin with the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, on whose culture our own civilization in part, rests." There are doubtless many other people who hold such uninformed and untrue beliefs, which only show their ignorance of Indian matters. It is not necessary to say anything in order to refute these views, for what follows will I hope show the falsity of their beliefs. If they are not satisfied, and want to know more definitely and elaborately about the contents of the different systems, I am afraid they will have to go to the originals referred to in the bibliographical notices of the chapters.


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