Chris Framarin on 13 March 2014 at 4:19 pm said: Hi Shyam,
I think we should be more open to the possibility that the Yogasūtra (and other seminal Hindu texts) attribute direct moral standing to entities in virtue of their capacity for pleasure and pain (among other reasons). Your argument against this view reads:
One standard account that we find from Hedonic Utilitarians like Peter Singer and Bentham is the idea that someone counts, ethically, if they can suffer (Singer 2012). Animals count because they can suffer. I like the hedonic account, but it has problems. On this account, if I overcome suffering, I would no longer be in the category of things who should be taken seriously. This disincentivises me from overcoming suffering. That’s strange.
Ethan Mills on 14 March 2014 at 5:52 am said:
It seems to me that freedom vs. determinism wasn’t a major issue in the Indian tradition because almost everyone was a compatibilist (or soft determinist). Karma and rebirth simply wouldn’t work without determinism: the whole idea that certain actions inevitably lead to certain consequences seems like some kind of determinism. But it need not be hard determinism, the theory that determinism rules out freedom. A decision to follow the path of a specific school can be free in the sense of being caused by the right sort of desire or mental state, but one need not claim that such a choice must itself be solely caused by an agent (as in libertarian agent causation theories). Compare this with the sort of compatibilism advocated by Hume and Mill.
Now, I’m not saying that any classical Indian philosophers explicitly advocated compatibilism. They didn’t have to. In a tradition driven so heavily by disagreement, there was simply no reason to argue about an issue that almost everyone agreed about. I suspect this has been such a big issue in Western thought because of the religious background: if you can be damned for all eternity for your choices, they damn well better be fully yours. But with karma and rebirth, you simply need to be in a position where you can follow a path to liberation at some point. If it doesn’t happen now, you’ll have plenty more chances in future lifetimes.
andrew ollett on 8 March 2014 at 5:03 pm said:
there is clearly a lot to disagree with here, especially regarding the narrow construal of “philosophy,” which clearly reflects an enlightenment-era ideal of “reasoning without tradition” that is not only western, but even excludes an enormous amount of what had previously counted as philosophy in the west. i will limit my dissent to an obvious point: there may be “theology” and “philosophy” (maybe), but there are not “theologians” and “philosophers.” this is one instance of the myth of the schools, according to which everyone who ever wrote in india was a card-carrying member of one and only one philosophical (or should i say theological?) school. is kumārila incapable of philosophical thought because his primary output was commentaries on a system of scriptural interpretation? instead of kicking every important indian thinker (except for the later naiyāyikas, i guess) out of “philosophy,” we need to change our idea of what “philosophy” is. or maybe we need to ditch the label of “philosophy” altogether, constricting and judgmental as it is, and focus on the history of indian intellectual traditions.