Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-54jdg Total loading time: 0.212 Render date: 2022-08-18T04:52:16.013Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

A Return to the Self: Indians and Greeks on Life as Art and Philosophical Therapy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 April 2010

Extract

Of the many interrelated themes in Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, two strike me as having a particular centrality. First, there is the theme of attention to the present instant. Hadot describes this as the ‘key to spiritual exercises’ (p.84), and he finds the idea encapsulated in a quotation from Goethe's Second Faust: ‘Only the present is our happiness’ (p.217). The second theme is that of viewing the world from above: ‘philosophy signified the attempt to raise up mankind from individuality and particularity to universality and objectivity’ (p.242). Insofar as both attention to the present and raising oneself to an objective view imply the mastery of individual anxiety, passion and desire, they belong to a single conception, that conception being one of a ‘return to the self’:

Thus, all spiritual exercises are, fundamentally, a return to the self, in which the self is liberated from the state of alienation into which it has been plunged by worries, passions, and desires. The ‘self’ liberated in this way is no longer merely our egoistic, passionate individuality: it is our moral person, open to universality and objectivity, and participating in universal nature or thought (p.103).

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Hadot, Pierre, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995)Google Scholar, translated by Michael Chase from the original Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique (Paris: Etudes Augustiniennes, 1987).

2 Sorabji, Richard, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), pp. 238–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 For example, Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.10: ‘[A]nd remember withall that it is only this present, a moment of time, that a man lives: all the rest either has been lived or may never be.’ Translated by Haines, C. R., Marcus Aurelius, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass. 1916)Google Scholar.

4 From the translation of A. H. Armstrong in the Loeb Classical Library edition (Cambridge, Mass. 1966). Stephen Clark, this volume, also discusses this passage.

5 Sen, Joseph, ‘Good times and the timeless good,’ Journal of Neoplatonic Studies 3 (1995), pp. 325Google Scholar; p. 24.

6 For other examples, see e.g. Chāndogya 6.1.1–7; 8.7.1–8.12.6.

7 Halbfass, Wilhelm, ‘The therapeutic paradigm and the search for identity in Indian Philosophy,’ in his Traditions and Reflection: Explorations in Indian Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), p. 251Google Scholar. See also Martin Ganeri, this volume.

8 Meditations 6.6: ‘But if there appears nothing better than the very deity (daimon) enthroned in thee, which as brought into subjection to itself all individual desires, which scrutinizes the thoughts, and, in the words of Socrates, has withdrawn itself from all the enticements of the senses …’; compare 3.12, 3.16, and also 4.3: ‘From now therefore bethink thee of the retreat into this little plot that is thyself.’

9 For references: Wezler, Albert, ‘On the quadruple division of the Yogaśāstra, the caturvyūhatva of the Cikitsāśāstra and the ‘four noble truths’ of the Buddha,’ Indologica Taurinensia 12 (1984), pp. 289337Google Scholar.

10 Yogasūtra 2.1.16–17, 24–26.

11 Yogasūtra 2.1.29. Just as the modern idea of what it is to be stoical is comparatively impoverished, so similarly is the contemporary understanding of what is involved in the practice of yoga. See further Jayandra Soni, this volume.

12 Nyāyabhāṣya 2, 14–16. Page and line numbers refer to Gautamīyanyāyadarśana with Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana, critical ed. Anantalal Thakur (Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1997).

13 Nyāyabhāṣya 7, 1–11.

14 Nyāyabhāṣya 8, 4.

15 Nyāyavārttika 3, 18–4, 1. Page and line numbers refer to Nyāyabhāṣyavārttika of Uddyotakara, critical ed. Anantalal Thakur (Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1997).

16 See the chapters by David Burton and Christopher Gowans, this volume.

17 Śrīdhara (c. 990 ce), in the Nyāyakaṇḍalī: Praśastapādabhāṣyam of Praśastapāda with the commentary Nyāyakaṇḍalī by Śrīdhara Bhaṭṭa, edited by Durgādhara Jhā (Varanasi: Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, 1997), p. 17.

18 Plutarch, On Tranquillity 473 B – 474 B; translated by Richard Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind, pp. 232–3.

19 For a subtle and extensive discussion of Plutarch's view about the self, see Sorabji, Richard, Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life and Death (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, chapter 9.

20 Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 392 B, translated by Richard Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind, p. 248; and 393 B, translated by Babbitt, Frank, Plutarch's Moralia, volume V, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass. 1936)Google Scholar.

21 Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind, p. 248.

22 Sorabji, Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life and Death, pp. 39–40.

23 I have discussed this Buddhist view in my The Concealed Art of the Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), chapters 6, 7.

24 Meditations 2.5. Cf. also 8.5: ‘Fret not thyself, for all things are as the Nature of the Universe would have them, and within a little thou shalt be non-existent.’

25 Translated by Horner, I. B.Milinda's Questions (Oxford: The Pali Text Society, reprinted1996), Volume 1, p. 204Google Scholar.

26 Saṃyutta Nikāya iv 197–8; translated by Bodhi, Bhikkhu in The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000), p. 1254Google Scholar.

27 Translated by Lang, Karen C. in Four Illusions: Candrakīrti's Advice to Travellers on the Bodhisattva Path (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), §41Google Scholar. There are many other Buddhist manuals of spiritual exercises, including notably Buddhaghoṣa's ‘Path of Purification’ (Visuddhimagga) and Śāntideva's ‘Guide to the Path to Buddhist Awakening’ (Bodhicaryāvatāra).

28 The issue is very well discussed by Burton, David, Buddhism, Knowledge and Liberation: A Philosophical Study (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004)Google Scholar, chapter 2 and in his chapter in this volume.

29 Tagore, Rabindranath, Thought Relics (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1912), p. 98Google Scholar; my italics.

30 Tagore, Thought Relics, p. 40; my italics.

31 Vishnu S. Sukthankar, S.K. Belvalkar et al., Mahābhārata, critical edition (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1933–66).

32 Thakur, Anantalal ed. Gautamīyanyāyadarśana with Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana (Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1997)Google Scholar.

33 See Keith Ansell Pearson, this volume, for related concerns in the thought of Nietzsche.

34 Thoreau, Henry David, Walden, or, Life in the Woods [1845] (New York: Pocket Books, 2004), pp. 1516Google Scholar.

1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

A Return to the Self: Indians and Greeks on Life as Art and Philosophical Therapy
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

A Return to the Self: Indians and Greeks on Life as Art and Philosophical Therapy
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

A Return to the Self: Indians and Greeks on Life as Art and Philosophical Therapy
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *