Indian Philosophy

An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought

Richard King

"A balanced and thorough introduction to basic issues and important figures in Hindu and Buddhist thought. . . . The book is impressively comprehensive despite its brevity."
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This book provides an introduction to the main schools of Indian philosophy within both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Richard King analyzes the schools' different doctrines and compares their approaches to specific philosophical topics — ontology, epistemology, perception, consciousness, and creation and causality.

While King's main focus is on the ideas as professed by the major schools of thought, he also takes into account the important contributions made by individual thinkers. Among these are Bhartrhari, who helped introduce linguistic analysis into Indian philosophy; Nagarjuna, the reputed founder of the Mahayana or "Middle Way" school; and Asanga, the believed founder of the Yogacara or "Practice of Yoga" school.

This is the first introduction to Indian philosophy written for a western audience to assess Indian thought in its own context and to examine its relationship with the West. King discusses the nature of philosophy in general, examining the shifting usage of the term throughout history. He examines western perceptions of Indian philosophy, exploring the reasons why it has not made substantial inroads into western intellectual discourse.

King argues that western scholars will remain tied to a Eurocentric perspective as long as they continue to ignore the possibility of philosophical thought "East of the Suez." This, he argues, highlights the need for a post-colonial and global approach to philosophy.

Written in a clear and accessible style, the book can be used for courses in religion, theology, and philosophy.

Table of Contents


India and the History of Philosophy
Defining the Subject Matter
Histories of Western Philosophy
Secular Reason and the Dichotomy of Tradition vs Modernity
Indian Materialism - A Counter-Example

Can Philosophy be Indian
Is there 'Philosophy' in Ancient India?
Why consider 'Indian Philosophy'?

The Varieties of Hindu Philosophy
The Origins and Nature of Hindu Philosophy
Bhartrhari and the Philosophy of Linguistic Analysis
The Varieties of Hindu Philosophy
The Prior Exegesis School
The Later Exegesis or 'End of the Vedas' School
The Particularist School
The School of Reasoning
The School of Enumeration
The Classical Yoga School

Buddhist Philosophy in India
Buddhism in India
The Doctrinal Foundation of Buddhist Philosophy
The Buddhist Philosophy of No-Abiding-Self
Mainstream Buddhist Philosophy
Mahāyāna Buddhism in India

Ontology: What Really Exists?
Vaiśesika: Classifying Reality
Reality as Process: The Abhidharma Response
Rejecting the Ontology: The Mahāyāna Philosophy of Emptiness

Epistemology: How do we know what we know?
The Foundations of Knowledge
Inference and the Nyāya School
Emptiness and Nāgārjuna’s Critique of Pramāna Theory

Perception: Do we see things as they are?
The Nature of Perception
Perception in Advaita Vedānta: Reconciling the Everyday World and Monism
The Image Theory of Perception

Consciousness and the Body: What are we?
The Dualism of the Sāmkhya Philosophy of Īśvarakrsna
The Yoga System of Patañjali

Creation and Causality: Where do we come from?
Myth and History
Ancient Indian Cosmogonies
Creation and Causality in Buddhism
God and Causality in Buddhism
God and Causality in Nyāya-Vaiśesika
Causal Theory in Sāmkhya and Yoga
The Early Vedānta of the Brahma Sūtra
Śankara and the Philosophy of Non-Dualism
Causal Theory in Advaita
Rāmānuja and Non-Dualism of the Qualified

Philosophy in a Post-Colonial World
Postmodernism, Ethnocentricity and Western Philosophy
The Politics of Translation
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Entering the Western Philosophical Arena

Bibliography of Cited Works

index and Glossary of Important Sanskrit Terms


"A balanced and thorough introduction to basic issues and important figures in Hindu and Buddhist thought. . . . The book is impressively comprehensive despite its brevity."—Religious Studies Review


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Richard King is a reader in religious studies at the University of Stirling in Scotland. He is the author of three previous books on the topic, including Orientalism and Religion (Routledge, 1999).

280 pp., 6 x 9

May 1999
Only for sale in U.S. and Canada

280 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-756-9
May 1999
Only for sale in U.S. and Canada

280 pp.

May 1999
Only for sale in U.S. and Canada

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