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The great divide

Cinema, literature and other aspects of western culture are increasingly open to Asian influence. Not so western philosophy, which remains almost entirely sealed off from eastern traditions. Why?

Kumarila claims that something that is called an “I” exists, established by the fact that an I is constantly present in thinking. Sankara, however, argues that this only shows that there is subjectivity —the presence of consciousness—not that there is an object named “I.” The apparent existence of an objective self is an illusion, created by the logic of the grammatical use of “I” in language.

Strange names, certainly. Strange thoughts? Anybody who has read philosophy in the west will not think so—provided that Kumarila (7th century) is replaced with Descartes (17th) and Sankara (8th) with Kant (18th). The point…

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