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Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette M.A.

Doctoral Fellow: November 2015 - Oktober 2018
Focus Area: Organisation of Coexistence


The Point of Views: Indian Doxography in Context

It is common practice to label as ‘doxographical’ a text or a portion of a text that provides an organized list of philosophical views attributed to competing systems of thought. Indologists, who adopted the term ‘doxography’ from European Classicists, were quick to identify the earliest types of Indian doxographies in the writings of two Buddhist and Jain authors from the sixth century A.D., namely Bhavya and Haribhadra Sūri. Many saw in their writings a literary development consistent with an age-old effort to systematically compare competing doctrinal positions, an intellectual interest in dissent that could be witnessed already, in primitive form, within the canonical literature of their traditions. Among Indologists the subject of doxography did not receive as much attention as among Classicists. Nevertheless, it is now accepted that there is an Indian ‘genre’ of doxography, comparable to the Greco-Roman one, and that it produced a significant amount of samples from late antiquity till today. Since previous research in the field overlooked the significance and purpose of dialectic within the socio-religious traditions that produced doxographies, namely in Madhyamaka Buddhism, Jainism and Advaita-Vedānta, and since these texts are essentially dialectical, my project will reassess the earliest available Indian doxographical texts within the work of their authors, in line with the philosophical stances and dialectical methods of their tradition. In the end, what function were early Indian doxographies intended for?