Season 2

Reason in an Uncertain World: Nyāya

While modern people may turn to ancient Sanskrit philosophers for meditation or yoga, few would turn to them for help with difficult contemporary problems, such as what counts as “fake news” or navigating Internet debates. In this season of Sutras (and stuff) we'll discover how a group of premodern Indian philosophers known as “Nyāya” can help us reason well together.

What are the limits of our reasoning? What counts as good evidence for our beliefs? How do we know if someone is a trustworthy source of information? What do we do when we are gripped by doubt? When is a debate with someone worth our time, and how can we discuss contentious topics? These questions are as relevant today as they were in ancient India.

Episode 1: Introduction

https://anchor.fm/malcolm-keating/episodes/Introduction-to-Season-2-ei6sov

How can we become better thinkers and better human beings? What’s the connection between critical thinking and reducing suffering? In this intro episode to Season 2, we’ll learn about the Indian tradition known as “Nyaya,” who says these things are very closely related, and whose ideas we’ll be focusing on in detail this coming season.

Music:

Brittle Rille by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3460-brittle-rille

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Sources:

Matthew Dasti and Stephen Phillips, The Nyaya-sutra: Selections with Early Commentaries, Hackett Publishing, 2017. https://www.hackettpublishing.com/new-forthcoming/the-nyaya-sutra

Complete translation of the Nyaya-sutras: Ganganatha Jha, The Nyaya-sutras of Gautama, Volume 1, 2, 3, and 4, Motilal Banarsidass Publishing, 1984.

Vol 1 https://archive.org/details/nyayasutrasofgautamaganganathajhavol1mlbd_202003_324_z/

Vol 2 https://archive.org/details/nyayasutrasofgautamaganganathajhavol2mlbd_202003_441_o

Vol 3 https://archive.org/details/nyayasutrasofgautamaganganathajhavol3mlbd_202003_171_B

Vol 4 https://archive.org/details/nyayasutrasofgautamaganganathajhavol4mlbd_202003_922_k


Episode 2: Knowing

https://anchor.fm/malcolm-keating/episodes/Knowing-eiobnb

We can’t directly see it but we know it exists by extending our vision with special tools. We can reason about when it’s present based on associations. We can share facts about it with each other. And we can learn its name by comparing it to other similar kinds of things. I’m talking about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, and in this episode we’ll focus on how early Nyāya philosophers might explain our knowledge about this disease, and how they think all human beings have the ability to know using a special set of natural abilities.

Music:

Brittle Rille by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3460-brittle-rille

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Sound:

Zapsplat.com

dersuperanton at https://freesound.org/s/435876/

FreqMan at https://freesound.org/s/20049/

Trump clip from Feb 27, 2020 (AP footage): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15XjckAOTwU

Sources:

Matthew Dasti and Stephen Phillips, The Nyaya-sutra: Selections with Early Commentaries, Hackett Publishing, 2017. https://www.hackettpublishing.com/new-forthcoming/the-nyaya-sutra

Complete translation of the Nyaya-sutras: Ganganatha Jha, The Nyaya-sutras of Gautama, Volume 1, 2, 3, and 4, Motilal Banarsidass Publishing, 1984.

Season 1

Note June 3, 2020: When I started this podcast in February 2020, I envisioned a first season of ten episodes. I wrote, recorded, and scheduled the most recent episode (Episode 8) before the nationwide protests against police brutality began in the United States, which is my country of origin and my current home while I am on leave from my college. Given current events, even though I strongly believe that philosophy, and even premodern Sanskrit philosophy, has an important role to play in shaping a more just and equitable society, I have decided to put a pause on recording and disseminating these episodes. I'll be taking the summer off to focus elsewhere, and plan to return in the fall with the second season.

Why not write more episodes which focus on connections between social justice, the current protests, and Sanskrit philosophy? Perhaps I will in the future, but right now I feel like my voice isn't the one that needs to be heard. Rather, as a white person, I want to listen to, and have my fellow Americans hear, the voices of black people, along with others historically oppressed in this country. I plan to return September 1, 2020, with a new season.

Episode 8: Binging

Listen at Anchor.fm

Binge-watching. You sit down, popcorn and soda at the ready, and before you know it, three hours have gone by and Netflix pops up with a message: “Are you still watching?” While binge-watching is a fairly new English phrase (attested by the OED back to 1998 in verb form) in the sense of “overindulgence,” binging goes back to the 19th century, associated with gluttony. While binging on television may be a particularly modern phenomenon, the connection between gluttony and aesthetic taste is not. Today on Sutras (and Stuff) we’ll look at the Sanskrit thinker Abhinavagupta on aesthetic gluttony. Would he binge-watch the Tiger King or even the Ramayana on Netflix?

Sources

Locana commentary on Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka, Jeffrey Moussaeiff Masson, M.V. Patwardhan, Daniel H.H. Ingalls, Harvard University Press, 1990. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674202788

Śāntarasa and Abhinavagupta's Philosophy of Aesthetics, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, J. L. Masson, M. V. Patwardhan, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1969. On Amazon.

The Triadic Heart of Siva: Kaula Tantricism of Abhinavagupta in the Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir, Paul E. Muller-Ortega, State University of New York Press, 2010. https://www.sunypress.edu/p-857-the-triadic-heart-of-siva.aspx

For further listening & reading:

History of Philosophy podcast about rasa more generally: https://historyofphilosophy.net/node/764

This episode's sounds are from

Sandpiper tweeting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper alarm call: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdqpvJ7FO4w

Sideways Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBzJR4Emxvo

Community Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWRuxQyzFcM

Theme music from Ramayana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJJTPXLlWDU


Episode 7: Craving

Listen at Anchor.fm

Do you wish things were different right now? Is there some experience you used to have that you miss? Are you having unpleasant feelings? If so, you've got a lot in common with Buddhist practitioners and philosophers from the 4th century CE. In this episode, I speak with Bryce Huebner, Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. We talk about how some Buddhist philosophers think our mental lives are interrelated with our emotions, how this idea relates to contemporary cognitive science, and why that may help those of us who are wishing things were different right now.

Sources and Links

Bryce Huebner is Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Yogacara Buddhism, cognitive science, and the relationship between the two check out:

Jonathan Gold, Paving the Great Way Maria Heim, The Forerunner of all Things Evan Thompson, Waking, Dreaming, Being

Episode 6: Expertise

Listen at Anchor.fm

Who should you listen to? Now, more than ever before, we have access to advice from a range of self-proclaimed experts. Anyone with a webcam and an Internet connection can dole out advice. But how do we tell if someone is trustworthy? In this episode, I test some so-called experts based on the requirements from Nyaya philosophers. Let's see who makes the cut...

Sources and Links

Quotes from Caraka’s Compendium are from

Domink Wujastyk’s The Roots of Ayurveda and the Caraka Samhita Online

Quotes from the Nyayasutra are from

The Nyaya-sutra: Selections with Early Commentaries translated by Matthew Dasti and Stephen Phillips

Clips of Dr. Phil and Dr. Fauci are from

The Laura Ingraham Show on Fox News (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GLwsH8EwgA), an interview with Dr. Phil (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDGKsWPOq1w ), and an interview with Dr. Fauci (https://achievement.org/achiever/anthony-s-fauci-m-d/#interview)

Episode 5: Contagion (part two)

Listen at Anchor.fm

Love, happiness, and disease. These are a few things that today we call "contagious." But how did thinkers in the Indian subcontinent, before the discovery of viruses, understand diseases and their treatment? This podcast is part two of a two-part interview with Patricia Sauthoff, an expert in the history of alchemy and medicine in India.

Episode 4: Contagion (part one)

Listen at Anchor.fm

Love, happiness, and disease. These are a few things that today we call "contagious." But how did thinkers in the Indian subcontinent, before the discovery of viruses, understand diseases and their treatment? This podcast is part one of a two-part interview with Patricia Sauthoff, an expert in the history of alchemy and medicine in India.

Episode 3: Reclining

Listen at Anchor.fm

If you’re going to recline your seat on an airplane, you should do it gently. And if you’re going to kill your enemy with the shyena ritual, you should build a brick altar. But should we do either of these things? Mimamsa and the logic of troubling commands.

Bonus Episode: Disease and Debate

Listen on Anchor.fm

What does an ancient Sanskrit text have to tell us about reasoning about the coronavirus and debating with people about its treatment? Caraka’s Compendium, a medical treatise, gives some guidelines for when to bother debating with people, and whom we should trust with our health.

Sources & links

Episode 2: The Man

Listen on Anchor.fm

Taylor Swift does it, and so does Kalidasa. How does figurative speech work and why do we enjoy it so much?

In this episode, I talk about how figurative language from Sanskrit poetry to William Shakespeare to Taylor Swift.

Sources and Links

Episode 1: Threads

Listen at Anchor.fm

What do ancient Sanskrit aphorisms have in common with modern Internet communication? In this episode, Malcolm talks about sutras and Twitter, bedbugs and textual interpretation.

Sources & Links