Lecture Series: Language and Reality in Ancient India
Title “An introduction to the thought of Bhartṛhari: main features and open questions”
7pm, 7th July, 2021
In this talk I am going to offer an overview of the main features of the philosophy of Bhartṛhari, the great Indian philosopher and linguist who lived in the 5th c. CE. We are going to explore some important aspects of his thought, as they are put forward in his masterpiece, the Vākyapadīya, or treatise “On the sentence and the word”. We will start by considering Bhartṛhari’s contributions to epistemology and the problem of consciousness, which are two of the most innovative sides of his production. We will then move to examine his philosophy of language, in particular the reasons he give to support the idea that the sentence – and not the word – is the most fundamental unit of speech. Finally, we’ll turn to metaphysics with the purpose of understanding Bhartṛhari’s conception of the nature of reality and, in particular, his ideas about the vexed relationship between language and world.
Marco Ferrante is a specialist in the philosophical traditions of premodern India. He is currently conducting research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. He was Berggruen Fellow in Comparative philosophy at the University of Oxford. His most recent work is the book Indian Perspective on Consciousness, Language and Self: The School of Recognition on Linguistics and Philosophy of Mind, published by Routledge in 2020.