“Doing philosophy” with ancient (Indian) sources

This extremely positive review of Jonardon Ganeri’s The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance is worth the attention of readers of our blog not only for the book’s apparently splendid contents and argument, but also for Ganeri’s intriguing methodological model. Here is the last paragraph of the review:

One particularly noteworthy feature of this book is that Ganeri manages the amazing feat of writing for two different audiences at once. One is Western-trained philosophers looking for answers to the puzzling questions the various properties of the self. They will find a thorough and sophisticated discussion that at the same time introduces them to a stunning set of intellectual gems from India’s philosophical history. The second audience consists of scholars working on Ancient Indian materials dealing with the relation of body, mind, and self. Even though the discussion is going to be considerably more hard-going for this audience, they will find new insights into ways of thinking about the Ancient Indian discussion and the interrelation between various philosophical traditions on almost every page. The ease with which Ganeri manages to keep both audiences on board without sacrificing either philosophical sophistication, or distorting the nuances of the historical discussion by broad-brush generalizations found in less accomplished works on cross-cultural philosophical debates is nothing less than astonishing. It is no exaggeration to say that this book marks the beginning of a completely new phase in the study of Indian philosophy, one in which a firm grasp of the historical material forms the basis for going beyond pure exegesis, opening up the way for doing philosophy with ancient sources.

(I have added the bold.) I know neither Indian philosophy nor contemporary philosophy indebted to the Indian tradition well enough to be able to assess this conclusion, but it sounds exciting!

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