Theme of the International Conference, 21-24 November, 2013.
On the Nature of Consciousness: Classical and Contemporary Debates in Vedanta Philosophy
(Introductory Paper— Objectives, Sub-topics of the theme and Justification).
The distinctive voices of Vedanta philosophy brought in energy, excitement, creativity and originality
into the conversations on philosophical issues in India from the classical times to the present. The
classical Indian tradition and contemporary argumentative minds were both equally influenced by the
Vedantic ideas. There is no denying the fact that Vedanta forged a new Indian philosophical idiom to
which both contemporary Indian and global philosophy are indebted.
Vedanta philosophy coupled with Sanskrit language challenge the slavery brought forth by blindly
adhering to methodologies of doing philosophy on a western model. The voice and tongue being
borrowed, the subjugation of the soul is complete in all aspects. The collective consciousness of the
oriental civilization found a creative and original way of doing philosophy in Vedanta and a new school
of thinkers in contemporary times engaged creatively both with classical Indian tradition and with the
philosophy of the west and this resulted in Neo-Vedanta school whose chief proponents were Dr. S.
Radhakrishnan, K.C. Bhattacharya, Sri Aurobindo, Prof. Hiriyanna, Prof. T.M.P. Mahadevan etc. They
influenced the thinking of generations of students of philosophy world across.
The Contemporary Vedantins’ (Academic) understanding of classical Indian philosophy and their
exposure to western thought has resulted in creative and original philosophizing. This Neo-Vedanta
school and its ‘new Indian philosophical idiom’ have contributed immensely to contemporary Indian and
global philosophy. The methodology is different from analytical, phenomenological, and hermeneutics.
The richness and content of Indian philosophy inspired all these thinkers. In order to survive in the world
arena of philosophy they recognized that grounding their arguments on metaphysical presuppositions of
Vedanta would serve the purpose. As Professor J.N.Mohanty aptly describes: ‘the politics of knowledge’
needed to be won by having a style, content and methodology distinct from western model. The
western philosophers and their theories needed to be tested from Indian perspectives taking western
ideas as ‘purvapaksha’.
The conversations, classical and contemporary, in Vedanta range over issues such as the nature,
content and structure of consciousness. We can see the discussions on the science of consciousness in
the writings of K.C. Bhattacharya, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, J. Krishnamurti, Prof. R. Balasubrahmanin, J.N. Mohanty etc. J.Krishnamurti is not a Vedantin in the strict sense of the term but we cannot ignore him
while talking about consciousness theories of contemporary Indian thinkers. The studies on the
Phenomenology of Consciousness mainly focused on comparing the works of say Sankara and Kant;
Husserl, Frege, Wittgenstein and Sankara, etc,. This seminar aims at deliberating upon the nature and
functions of consciousness and answers the questions such as: Is consciousness a property of mind or is
it distinct from mind? Or is it a constituent of mind? Is mind equated with brain? What is the content
and structure of consciousness? What is an Indian philosopher’s answer to ‘intentionality of
Though the name of the conference suggests that the problematic of the conference is set in the context
of Vedanta Philosophy, we would welcome research papers on Consciousness from classical and
contemporary western perspectives, People working in the field of Phenomenology and Analytic
Philosophy are equally welcome.. Cognitive Science is one area where we would like to devote a session
during the conference. People from science can also present their findings, for the dividing line between
science and philosophy is becoming obscure by every passing day. We hope to create an ambiance that
would encourage academic discussion and meaningful dialogue.
Sub-topics of the theme
01. The Science of Consciousness: Intentionality and Reflexivity.
From the philosophies of Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, Nimbarka, Bhartrhari,
Sriharsha, Vidyaranya, Vachaspati, Nagarjuna, and K.C.Bhattacharya, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan,
J.Krishnamurti, Hiriyanna, Prof. R.Balasubramanian, Prof. J.N.Mohanty etc.
02. Atman and Brahman Inquiries
03. Collective Human Welfare and Individual Liberation
04. Neo-Vedanta philosophy’s concerns, goals, inquiries, methodology, style etc.
05. The possibility of exploring new-darshanas
06. The Limits of Logic, Reason and a critique of Sabda Pramana.
07. The Place of Advaita in Indian Philosophy—A Meta-Philosophical Approach.
08. The Scientific Explorations in to Consciousness Studies. 09. Cognitive Science and Consciousness Studies.
10. Phenomenology and Consciousness Studies.
11. Analytic Tradition and Consciousness Studies.
Note. This concept note will be re-worked and a detailed problematic would be re-loaded soon.
Dr. Adarasupally Nataraju
Professor & Conference Coordinator
Department of Philosophy Assam University, Silcahr. 788011
Contact: Dr. Adarasupally Nataraju Conference Co-ordinator
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