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Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India First Edition Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0231142229
ISBN-10: 0231142226
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Editorial Reviews

Review

" Against a Hindu God is a book about the late Indian critiques of Brahmanical conceptions of God. But more than just a study of Buddhist philosophers like Ratnakirti, Parimal G. Patil is interested in what late medieval Indian philosophers have to say to the disciplines of philosophy, theology, religious studies, and South Asian studies. Utilizing the concepts and vocabulary of Sanskrit grammatical theory, Patil constructs a trans-disciplinary space for the comparative philosophy of religion, a vision of the discipline that is both creative and compelling. Scholars routinely note that Buddhist logical and epistemological theories exist in the service of a religious agenda, but few have explained the soteriological dimensions of Buddhist philosophy as clearly as Patil does in this work. A major contribution to the fields of Buddhist and comparative philosophy." --

(Jose Ignacio Cabezon, University of California at Santa Barbara)

A penetrating study.

(Stephen Phillips H-Buddhism)

...an inviting introduction to the central concerns of Indian forms of logic and to some of its most excellent epistemology,

(Patrick McAllister Journal of Hindu Studies)

This is a brilliant, erudite, formidable, and intricately argued first book, which shows the arrival of an outstanding Indologist and philosopher. The book calls for concentration and an eye for detail, but it amply rewards the reader.

(Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad Philosophy East and West)

...a fascinating and important book...

(Michael D. Nichols Journal of Buddhist Ethics)

Patil sets a high standard for comparative philosophy. In addition, the work provides a compelling, new interpretation of the place of philosophy on the Buddhist path to liberation.

(Jonathan C. Gold International Journal of Hindu Studies)

Review

Against a Hindu God is a book about the late Indian critiques of Brahmanical conceptions of God. But more than just a study of Buddhist philosophers like Ratnakirti, Parimal G. Patil is interested in what late medieval Indian philosophers have to say to the disciplines of philosophy, theology, religious studies, and South Asian studies. Utilizing the concepts and vocabulary of Sanskrit grammatical theory, Patil constructs a trans-disciplinary space for the comparative philosophy of religion, a vision of the discipline that is both creative and compelling. Scholars routinely note that Buddhist logical and epistemological theories exist in the service of a religious agenda, but few have explained the soteriological dimensions of Buddhist philosophy as clearly as Patil does in this work. A major contribution to the fields of Buddhist and comparative philosophy.

(José Ignacio Cabezón, XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara)

This book combines philological erudition and precision, philosophical sophistication and acuity, with subtle methodological and historical reflection. Parimal G. Patil presents a masterful philosophical exposition of Ratnakirti's critique of Nyaya arguments for the existence of God, but he does much more than this. By exploring its philosophical context, he demonstrates the richness of the premodern Indian philosophical scene, the relevance of Buddhist-Nyaya debates for contemporary philosophy, the importance of cross-cultural scholarship for philosophy, and the value of philosophy for understanding the religious traditions of South Asia. This book will be of great interest to scholars of philosophy, religion, and South Asia and to all those interested in the methodology of global scholarship.

(Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College)

Parimal G. Patil's magisterial study of eleventh-century Indian Buddhist anti-God dialectics offers an authentic glimpse of the highly sophisticated epistemological argumentation between theist Nyaya-Vaisesika and atheist Buddhist philosophers. Not just specialists in Indian, Buddhist, and comparative philosophy, but all serious researchers in epistemology, philosophical theology, and metaphysics will profit from this uncompromisingly rigorous monograph. If this does not demolish the ignorant but popular stereotype of Indian philosophy as mushy logic-shunning spiritual wisdom, then nothing ever will.

(Arindam Chakrabarti, professor of philosophy, University of Hawaii and the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (June 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231142226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231142229
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,138,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jonathan Homrighausen on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patil, a Harvard professor of religious studies, documents the philosophical debates between Buddhist thinker Ratnakirti and his Hindu adversaries, the Nyaya school, over the existence of a Creator deity named Isvara. Patil expands this issue into a broader discussion of Buddhist epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Much of this book was highly inaccessible and technical, and I skimmed much of it. But what I skimmed was illuminating.

The Nyayas' argument for the existence of a Creator should be familiar to anyone read in Western religion. In effect, it is a blending of the argument from design and the cosmological argument. Every effect has a cause, and for a complex object/effect, that cause must be intelligent. Just as a pot (a la William Paley's watch) has a cause, so must the earth, and that cause must be intelligent. Just as the argument parallels Western critiques, so do the objections. The design argument only proves a deity who is a creator, not an all-knowing or all-powerful one. Its analogy between a universe and a pot fails; we have seen pots created so we can infer that any pot we encounter is created, but we have not seen a universe created. This analogy - the inference from "universe" to "creator" - leads into broader issues of mind, language, and knowledge, the debate Patil spends his book reconstructing.

The final chapter was the most interesting. Here Patil reflects on the value of philosophy for Buddhism. Many Buddhists eschew philosophy, citing a story from the Pali Canon (the earliest Buddhist scriptures) in which the Buddha compares abstract metaphysical questions to a man shot by a poisoned arrow (suffering/dukkha).
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