Friday, 17 July 2009

Being, on, sat

Working on the text for the IGNOU philosophy course (Being and Essence), I became aware that I have been concentrating so much on essence that I have quite forgotten being. Of course, the whole thing starts with being, with Parmenides who used various forms of einai (to be) to speak of stable, unchanging being. Still, it would be interesting to follow up not merely the Platonic crystallization of what Parmenides began in terms of ousia, but also the vagaries of the Greek word einai and on. Heidegger, of course, famously concentrated on this, and on Aristotle's observation that being is used in a variety of ways...

Then of course I have not looked at all at Indian thought. That is a different history altogether. I suppose I would have to look at the Sanskrit sat and its derivatives. Sat is, like ousia, a derivative and a substantive of as, which is the infinitive to be. So there is a prima facie similarity in the original development. Also, just as Parmenides and Plato concentrated on the unchanging aspect of being, so also in India there is this fascination with the unchanging, the permanent, the stable....

What about essence? That will require some work.

What resources are available for the Indian side? I know there is the Marathi Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Any other reference work like that?

And how much time do I have for all this? Till 27 July. 28 we leave for the Rectors' retreat.

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