Senior Fellow: April–August 2021
Research Project: Scepticism in the History of Indian Philosophy and the Role of the Ninth-Century Philosopher Jayarāśi
The aim of this project is threefold. First, it aims to clarify the notion of scepticism in relation to the Indian philosophical tradition. As is well known, in South Asia, scepticism did not form an independent tradition or even a philosophical school by itself, and philosophers with disparate affiliations, such as Madhyamaka Buddhism, Lokāyata materialism, and Advaita Vedānta monism, have been labelled sceptics in various studies of Indian philosophical thought. I will argue that Jayarāśi’s Tattvopalavasiṃha (“The lion that makes havoc to [all philosophical] principles”), which was probably composed some time in the ninth century, is the only surviving work in the history of Indian philosophy that can be considered sceptical in the proper sense of the term, in contradistinction to its use to designate ontological nihilism and illusionism. The second aim is to study Jayarāśi’s position on reasoning and his philosophy of language, two issues that have been hitherto neglected in modern scholarship. Finally, the project will provide a critical survey of the growing body of literature on Jayarāśi that has emerged during the last two decades.
Eli Franco is professor of Indology at Universität Leipzig.