Friday, 1 April 2011

De Smet on person

Michael Comans criticizes De Smet's suggestion that the para Brahman is equivalent to the personal God of Christianity. See The Early Method of Advaita Vedanta (Delhi: MLBD 2000) 225-231. Note that his maximum court of appeal w.r.t. an interpretation of Aquinas seems to be Copleston. Should be interesting to study this better. De Smet comes to Sankara trained by people like Scheuer (who De Smet himself calls "a prince among metaphysicians and a mystic", see "Surrounded by Excellence"), Marechal (in his mind the greatest of contemporary Thomists, again De Smet, see Understanding Sankara 132 tentative), and having taught a course in Metaphysics as well as Natural Theology for many years.
The bibliography lists: the dissertation, the article on Suresvara (1961), the Religious Hinduism article (1968, 1997), "Sankara and Aquinas on Creation" (1970), and the 1974 article "Towards an Indian View of the Person."

In general, see also:

  • Paul Hacker, [Essay on the Person in Indian Thought] Kleine Schriften, herausgegeben von Lambert Schmithausen. Glasenapp-Stiftung: Band 15 (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1978) 270-292. [De Smet is aware of this: see his review of Hacker.]
  • Paul Hacker, "The Idea of the Person in the Thinking of the Vedanta Philosophers." Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta. Ed. Wilhelm Halbfass. Albany: SUNY, 1995. 153-176. [Very likely a translation of the previous item.]

Important observations by De Smet in his review of Doctrine de la non-dualite,  see Understanding Sankara 443 (tentative). The author has not assimilated Krempel's masterly study of relation especially in Aquinas. Like many contemporary Christian writers, he includes 'relation' within the very definition of person without wondering why Aquinas did not do that. He explains: specific definitions of the term, when applied e.g. to the Trinity, have to include it for special reasons. but relation is not a definiens of person in general, which only connotes 'capacity for interpersonal relationships.' (ibid.)   

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