Contemplating Lists: List-Making as Spiritual Exercise in Indian Thought

01 October 2019 → 30 September 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Philosophy of mind
List-Making Spiritual Exercise Indian Philosophy Literary studies Religion Area studies Philosophy
Project description

Nested in the speculative records of early contemplative exercises, in the canonical discourses of famous teachers, in the first authoritative systematic formulations of sectarian doctrinal boundaries, or, again, in the mature literature of a hair-splitting scholastic culture, lists are omnipresent in Indian philosophy. Yet, while the peculiar contents of various ancient Indian meditations or debates received considerable scholarly attention, the taxonomic structure framing these contents remains understudied. The current project intends to remedy the situation. Meta-sectarian in intent, it will focus on Jainism, Buddhism, and Sāṃkhya, to examine the earliest evidences of list-making in each tradition, so as to establish a taxonomy of doctrinal lists. These lists and the theorization of their use in ritual and contemplative settings constitutes the core materials of the first part of this study. Building upon these initial findings, the second part aims to draw family-trees of evolving lists. The metaperspective, brought together in the third part, while examining the pedagogical methods of each tradition, will help to elucidate if the architectonics of Indian philosophical contemplation underwent any significant change through time and how it determines each soteriological program.