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Epistemology, Logic, and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis

Item Code: NAR852
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Author: Bimal Krishna Matilal
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9780199460939
Pages: 165
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 160 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

This landmark classic marks the beginning of a new approach to Indian philosophy. While older approaches were born from the assumption that critical thinking was unknown to the East and all philosophical Endeavour was assumed to be a manifestation of religious doctrine or a form of mysticism, Matilal brilliantly succeeds in dispelling these assumptions and so opens up the rich traditions of Indian philosophical analysis to the modern reader.

Is reality actually knowable and therefore expressible in language? Matilal locates his analysis in this central debate and brings in Indian philosophical texts as pivotal, canonical statements of epistemological and methodological relevance. This edition incorporates additions and changes made by Matilal in his personal copy. Edited and with a preface by Jonardon Ganeri, the volume is a lucid introduction to the varied legacy of Indian philosophical analysis.

About the Author

BIMAL KRISHNA MATIL (193 - 91) was Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, All Souls College, Oxford. He was awarded the Padman Bhushan by the Government of India In 1991.


The original publication of Bimal Krishna Matilal's Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, was an event of monumental importance in the contemporary study of Indian philosophical traditions. The very title resonates with an entirely new way to think about the subject, an approach that implies a willingness to engage with the thought of the classical thinkers neither as subjects of reverence beyond criticism, nor as dispassionate objects of historical dissection, devoid of the vibrant intimacy that characterizes the philosophers' engagement with the world they inhabit. Never before had anyone dared to say that the classical Indian thinkers were, in the first place, epistemologists, logicians, and grammarians, rather than religious seekers or mystics. The thought itself was revolutionary, the execution of the thought brilliant. This book is the uncompromising, audacious statement of a bold new mind. Here, in this book, Matilal puts in place all the key components of an approach to the study of Indian philosophy that would go from strength to strength over the next twenty or thirty years. His depiction of the literature as an extended philosophical dialogue, between the Nyaya exponents of a philosophy of realism and common sense on the one hand, and the Buddhist advocates of a revisionary conceptual standpoint on the other, was itself revolutionary, and this for two reasons. Firstly, the division is drawn, not on religious, but on secular philosophical lines. The Nyaya is not represented merely as a branch of `Hindu thought', but as a legitimate and well articulated attitude towards central philosophical questions; the same is true of the Buddhist authors discussed. This dialogue, Matilal argues with indisputable persuasiveness, is a philosophical debate and not a clash of religious doctrine. Secondly, Matilal made it clear, again for the first time, that the medium of discussion was one of philosophical argumentation according to carefully considered principles of rational inquiry, rather than juxtaposition of rival stereological world-views.

The history of Indian philosophy was, with this book, retold decisively, no longer as a history of competing metaphysical frameworks, but as an extended investigation into the question of knowledge, its grounds, possibility, and domain. Epistemology, Matilal argues, is the key philosophical discipline in the Indian debate, not metaphysics, a claim that does not preclude the discussion of metaphysical questions, but sees their resolution as lying in an analysis of the structures of knowledge and language. This new way of understanding the inner dynamic of the Indian philosophical legacy bore immediate fruit. Texts whose contribution to a religious and stereological agenda had been hard to determine became, suddenly, of obvious and central relevance to a quite different intellectual project, the project of understanding the human mind and its capacities with respect to the world it inhabits. Texts like the Praman-samuccaya and the Tattvacintiimani, whose discussions had previously been regarded as obscure and esoteric, now became comprehensible as central canonical statements of epistemological and methodological doctrine.

If Matilal was later to develop the idea with ever greater sophistication and subtlety, that fact does not detract from the breathtaking brilliance of the readings of classical texts one finds here. In its sheer courageousness to think through again the arguments and ideas of the classical authors, to engage with them as vital intellectual presences, Epistemology, Logic, and Grammar remains an inspirational and pro-found masterpiece. Matilal's own willingness to revise and republish the text, after an interval of some twenty years, might itself be taken as an indication of his conviction that both the ideas and the spirit of the book retain a contemporary relevance. It continues to be required reading by anyone who desires to know why an engagement with the thought of the classical Indian theorist repays th t contemporary philosophical mind. In its sheer, outrageous daring, combined with immaculate scholar-ship, Epistemology, Logic, and Grammar is a model for what modern writing on Indian theory ought to be like. I would like to thank Oxford University Press for bringing out a new edition of this book, which is a landmark in the modern study of Indian philosophy, and yet has sadly been out of print for a very long time. For three decades, this book has served to introduce students of philosophy to the rich traditions of Indian philosophical analysis. In his personal copy, B. K. Matilal made a good number of additions, emendations, and alterations with a view to a new edition of the book. These have been incorporated in the revisions for this second edition.

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