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Misleading Rhetoric Set Aside

Ashok Vohra

J.N. Mohanty is the only living Indian philosopher who is well versed in both western philosophy and Indian philosophy. In western philosophy he is a recognized authority on phenomenology, particularly Husserl. His translation of Gangesha’s Pramanyavada and commentary on it is by now a classic. He had his training in Indian philosophy and learnt the Sanskrit language from traditional pandits. It is important to say this by way of introduction to Professor J.N. Mohanty because though the contents of the book lists that one can find the information ‘About the Author’ on page 181, that is after the index, there is no page 181 in the book—a lapse which one does not expect from Oxford. Classical Indian Philosophy is a book about which Mohanty says, “I always wanted to write, but the project had to be postponed until this stage of my life”. The book certainly has been written from the heart and contains in a distilled form a lifetime understanding of Indian philosophy of the author.   S.N. Dasgupta, S. Radharishnan, R.D. Ranade, Hiriyanna and C.D. Sharma did pioneering work in writing textbooks in Indian philosophy. These books are written to explain chronologically the doctrine of each school of Indian philosophy. Present day scholars, particularly those teaching Indian philosophy in the universities and colleges in India have been complaining about the school-wise writing of texts in Indian philosophy. According to them a better approach to writing textbooks would be problem-wise. They just lament and nothing has been done so far on the suggested pattern. Such writing involves not only mastery of the texts, familiarity with all systems of Indian philosophy, expertise in languages but also innovation. Mohanty has shown how to do it. Classical Indian Philosophy in this sense is a pioneering work.   The book not only discusses the metaphysical, epistemological, logical and ethical doctrines of different schools of Indian philosophy but also provides exposition of the religious, political, aesthetic, legal and moral principles of the Hindus. After giving a brief history of Indian philosophy from the Vedas (2000 BC) to Gangesha (1200 AD) in the first chapter, the book goes on to discuss the Theory of Knowledge (Pramana Shastra), Metaphysics (Prameya Shastra), Philosophy of Politics, Law and Morals (Dharma Shastra), Religion and Art and Beyond the Pramana-Prameya Distinction.   Mohanty has in the course of the book highlighted the problems that arise and cause conceptual confusion because ...

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