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Wittgensteinian Philosophy and Advaita Vedanta (A Survey of the Parallels)

Wittgensteinian Philosophy and Advaita Vedanta (A Survey of the Parallels)


Item Code: IDK534

by Ravindra K. S. Choudhary

Hardcover (Edition: 2007)

D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd
ISBN 8124604193

Size: 8.8" X 5.8"
Pages: 282
Price: $33.50
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Form the Jacket
The philosophy of Wittgenstein and the Advaita Vedanta philosophy are two philosophical traditions far apart in time and cultural space yet they possess striking similarities. This painstaking research carried out with a rare thoroughness by an erudite scholar, Ravindra K. S. Choudhary, shows that there are illuminating parallels between them even recognizing their legitimate differences.

The work argues that though Advaita Vedanta did not exert a direct influence over Wittgenstein, the philosopher owes much to Schopenhauer who was a great admirer of the Upanisads, Examining a variety of Wittgenstein's works earlier as well as later and the basic texts of Vedanta, the Upanisads, the Brahmasutra and the Bhagavad-Gita, along with Sankara's interpretations of them, it delves into their similarities vis-à-vis the question of reality, the realm of value and some central issues of ethics and religion. It observes that, for instance, Wittgenstein's notion of the mystical (das Mystische) is similar to the Advaitic view of Brahman. For both, the matters of value have a higher or transcendental level as distant from the world of facts. Wittgenstein's idea of a good or happy life is very close to the Vedantic ideals of jivanmukti as well. The work goes on to show that the Vedantic parallels of Wittgenstein's philosophy persists in distinctive ways from the Tractatus to his last writings. The volume reveals a fresh approach in the field of comparative philosophy.

The volume will benefit all those concerned with the discipline of philosophy, Indian Western.

About the Author
Dr. Ravindra Kumar Choudhary a scholar who won top positing in both his degrees- B. A. (Hons) from Ranchi University and M.A. from BHU Varanasi -has specialized in comparative philosophy and applied areas. He has published numerous research papers and articles. He has availed of the UGC-IUC Associateship of IIAS and the Residential Fellowship of ICPR. Currently, Lecturer and Head in the Department of Philosophy at the RSP (PG) college, Jharia Dhanbad, Jharkhand (India), he is working at present on a UGC-sponsored research project and supervising many doctoral researchers.

I Express, first of all, my thanks to God Almighty. This work is, by His grace, the fulfillment of a longstanding desire to explore the parallels between Wittgensteinian philosophy and Advaita Vedanta. As the differences between the two philosophic traditions, needless to say, are well known, I have been more interested in the similarities. Such similarities between the two, I believe, are not simply superficial ones, but illuminating parallels. So this is a topic that should have attracted far more attention from comparativists than it has.

The subject of this survey is thus somewhat new. To my knowledge, this is perhaps the first attempt to present a book-length study of the parallels between Wittgensteinian philosophy and Advaita Vedanta. However, the present work does not pretend to be a forerunner in this area. A few Wittgensteinians and some contemporary expounders of Advaita Vedanta have spoken of the similarities between the two in passing. They often connect aspects of Wittgenstein's philosophy with Advaita Vedanta or vice verse. We come across sporadic comments upon such similarities.

I have thus attempted to explore a potential area of comparative philosophy where only sporadic views and versions could have been developed so far. The present survey seeks also to enrich its subject of exploration. With some new perspectives through the act of comparison. My work, however is limited as well as open-ended. I believe that all such comparisons are worthwhile only if the important differences between the two philosophies along with their traditional settings are kept in strict view. This is really a prerequisite for any comparative venture. I also hope that my work will stimulate further investigations into other aspects of this largely unexplored area.

My first encounter with Wittgenstein's work was as a postgraduate student of philosophy at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). I have had also the opportunity there to study certain cardinal texts of Advaita Vedanta. I am deeply indebted my teachers of BHU at whose feet I got the insight philosophies. illuminating affinities between these two great philosophies Dr. R.R. Pandeya, the then Head of the Department and later VC of Gorakhpur University was one of such teachers. I am no less grateful to the other teachers of the Department who were so gracious to me: Dr. B.N. Singh, Dr. D.A. Gangadher Dr. U.C. Dubey, Dr. S.V. Kumar, Dr. A.K. Rai, Dr. D.B. Choubey, Dr. K.P. Mishra, Dr. Mehta and Shri A. Kumar.

After entering into the service of lectureship, I took up the project afresh. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla selected my research proposal for the prospective doctoral work on A Survey of the Parallels between Wittgensteinian philosophy and Advaita Vedanta for the Award of UGC Inter-University Centre' s Associateship in 2000, which led me right to the registration for PhD. This book is a rewritten version of my recently completed doctoral thesis on the above topic done under the supervision of Dr. R. S. Ambasta, ex-Head, Department of philosophy, Vinoba Bhava University (VBU), Hazaribag. I wish to place on record my support. I am grateful also to the external examiners who accomplished the evaluation and appreciation of the work.

Thanks a lot to Dr. N.K. Ambasta and Dr. Aparna Mukherjee, the present and the previous Heads of Philosophy Department of VBU, who have helped to sustain the work to completion well within the time-frame. My grateful thanks also go to the Dean, Dr Rajani Sharma. I would also like to express special thanks to my friends of student days at St. Columa's collage, Hazaribag and to my teachers Dr. N.K. Sinhu and Dr. Rajesh Kumar. To my PhD. Student, Om Prakash, Sanjay and Rajesh, I am thankful for their co-operation in the preparation of the Index.

The bulk of writing was done on the carrels of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) library at Shimla in three long spells during 2001-04. I am gratefully thankful to the Institute and its Director, Professor Bhuvan Chandel, for providing me with a beautiful setting highly conducive to scholarly habits. Without the initial opportunity for study and discussion afforded by that experience this work would not have been possible.

In the attempt to develop it, I enjoyed the opportunity of presenting three papers on related themes at the Inter-University Centre in IIAS, Shimla as the Course Works during my three spells of the Associateship. I learned a lot from discussing my material with the esteemed Fellows and co-Associates in the seminars at the Institute. Dr. H.S. Gill of JNU Delhi, Dr. L.P. Singh of Magadh University, and Dr. Kisor K.Chakrabarti of Duke University, USA who were in position as Fellows of the Institute were kind enough to chair my seminars. Their comments and suggestions were of inestimable value to me. I have also been profited greatly by discussions with other Fellows: Dr. G.C. Nayak, Dr. P.K. Roy, Dr. P.K. Mukhopadhayay, Dr. B. Kar, Dr Nirbhai Singh and Dr. Dudhnath Singh. I am thankful to Dr. Chandana Chakrabarti of Elan University, USA for her affectionate encouragement and also to Dr. E.C.G. Sudarshan of University of Texas for showing interest during their visits. I have been benefited by the suggestions of my friends and fellow Associate Dr. K.C. Pandey of Gorakhpur University who shares my interest in Wittgenstein.

I am also beholden to Indian Council of philosophical Research (ICPR) for awarding me the Residential Fellowship for preparing a book on my doctoral research work. As a Resident Fellow, I utilized the rich library and participated in the seminars at the Academic Centre of the Council in Lucknow during 2004.

I am indebted also to University Grants Commission for awarding the research grant on an core part of this work. Thus IIAS. ICPR and UGC have been the leading sources of encouragement and support for writing this book.

I am deeply grateful to the authorities of VBU, Hazaribag particularly the three consecutive Vice-Chancellors -Professor N. K. Chatterjee, Dr. B. Ekka and Dr. M. P. Singh -for allowing me time away from teaching duties to pursue research, which made possible the availing of the Associateship and the Fellowship. My sincere thanks go to the Principal, RSP (PG) College, Jharia and also to the colleagues, staff and students for their co-operation and encouragement. It was due to their close co-operation that I could carry out this work simultaneously with my gruelling assignment as the co-ordinator of the College for assessment and accreditation by NAAc for the first time in VBU.


Preface vii
Abbreviations xvii
Chronology of Wittgenstein's Life xix
Transliteration chart xxi
1Introduction 1
why is there a need for this Survey? 1
The aim of the survey 2
An outline of the Linkage 3
Method and Approach 6
The General Plan of the work 8
A note on the Social and interdisciplinary Relevance of the work 10
2Meeting the Major Challenges 15
Anticipating Major Challenges 15
Wittgenstein's "two Philosophies"
Set Patterns of Studies 19
Contextualism and Translation 25
Identity and difference 33
3Analytic philosophy and Advaita Vedanta An Overview of select studies37
Advaita after Analysis 37
G.N. Mathrani's Application of Philosophical 38
Analysis to the Issues of Advaita Vedanta
G. Misra's interpretation of Advaita as analysis 41
G.C. Nayak's "Reappraisal" of Sankara as an Analytic Thinker 44
K. Satchidananda Murty's use of Wittgensteinian 48
Ideas in Explicating overarching Issues of Advaita
R. Balasubramanian's Interpretation of 53
Advaita in Terms of Wittgensteinian Ideas
R.C. Pradhan's Efforts to Promote the Pursuits of the 56
Parallels between Wittgenstein and Advaita Vedanta
S. Panneerselvam's Attempt to show "some Parallels 60
between Wittgenstein and Sankara"
A Note on the Reception of Wittgenstein's Ideas by his 62
Contemporary Expounders of Advaita
the west is changing its General conception of Indian Philosophy, Especially that of Advaita Vedanta 65
4 the West of Reality: Early Wittgensteinian and Advaita Responses 69
What is Reality?69
Early Wittgenstein's Attitude to Metaphysics 71
The "From of Reality" in the Tractatus 77
An Allusion to the Transcendental Dimension of Reality 80
"Facticity" and "Transcendence": The Metaphysical Matrix manifested in the Tractatus 84
Wittgenstein "Metaphysical Self" and the Atman of Advaita Vedanta Compared 88
"Saksin" (Witness) as an Advaitic Parallel of Wittgenstein's "Metaphysical Self"91
"Sub specie Aeternitatis" : Wittgenstein's weltanschauung and its Affinities with the world-view of Advaita Vedanta 96
A Note on the Spinozistic roots of "Sub Specie aeternitatis" 100
5 Reality Revisited: Later Wittgenstein Vis-a-vis Advaita Vedanta on the Question of Reality 105
Later Wittgenstein's attitude to Metaphysics 105
The problem that have "the Character of Depth" the Idea of the "Limit"117
"An Attitude Towards a soul": the Status of self in Wittgenstein's late philosophy -A transcendental Reading 121
Advaita View of the mystical: private or public?126
The Ineffability of mystical Experience and Wittgenstein's private Language Argument 130
6 Wittgenstein and Advaita Vedanta on Ethics: some Issues of common concerns 135
"the point of the Book is Ethical One"135
Wittgenstein's and Advaita Vedanta on the Matters of Value in General 137
the Metaphysical Matrix of Value 140
Value "Ethics is Transcendental" 142
"the two ways of viewing the world in Wittgensteinian philosophy and Advaita Vedanta 147
Wittgenstein's Idea of the "Good" or "happy life" and the Vedantic Ideal of Jivanmukti 150
Wittgenstein and Niskama-Karma154
Wittgenstein's later Views on Ethics 157
Some Development in Wittgenstein's view of Ethics 161
can Gandhian Advaitic vision Counterbalance 162
Wittgenstein's Disillusionment with the Modern
western Civillization
7 Wittgenstein and Advaita Vedanta on Religion: the realm of Illuminating Affinities 169
Wittgenstein's "problem of Science" and "Problem of Life" Vis-a-vis Upanisadic "para-vidya" and "Apara-Vidya 169
Wittgenstein's "mystical" and Vedantic "Brahman" 175
Wittgenstein's Mysticism and Vedanta Vedanta 192
the Echoes of Wittgenstein' Earlier Mysticism in later Thoughts 197
Religion as a "Suit Generis" From of Discourse 201
"seeing" a "seeing-as"205
The "Frog" and the "Fly"-Two Parallel Prospect 212
8Some concluding Remarks 217
Some Ramification, Potentials and Prospects 224
Select Bibliography 229
Name Index243
Subject Index251
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