Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 April 2010
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).
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).
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. 3–25Google 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. 289–337Google 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.
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.