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Boer, L. den

Department of the History of Philosophy

Guṇaratna’s Refutation of the Cārvāka Perspective on the Soul:

An Argumentative Analysis of Tarkarahasyadīpikā 49.98 - 134

The philosophical school of the Cārvākas has a unique position within the history of Indian philosophy. Unlike other schools, the Cārvākas were strongly opposed to religion and propounded sceptical and materialistic ideas. Notably, they denied the existence of the soul and argued that everything, including consciousness, is constituted by the four elements.

Since all original Cārvāka texts are lost, the only historical descriptions of their ideas can be found in works of their opponents. Despite the fact that these sources might be biased, they are highly interesting from a philosophical point of view since the effort to refute the Cārvāka standpoint drives their commentators to challenging argumentations.

An outstanding example of such a source is a passage in the Tarkarahasyadīpikā (Light on the Secrets of Reasoning) in which the Jaina author Guṇaratna Sūri (fl. 1412) refutes the Cārvāka perspective on the soul. In my thesis, I provide an argumentative analysis of this debate in order to answer the following two questions:

i. How does Guṇaratna refute the Cārvāka arguments against the existence of the soul?

ii. Which argumentative role do the Cārvāka arguments play in Guṇaratna’s debate?

On the basis of my analysis of Guṇaratna’s text, I demonstrate that the Cārvāka arguments are valuable tools for rival philosophers to develop their own ideas and to protect them against criticism. On a more general level, this case-study explores the value of a primarily conceptual approach to the Cārvāka sources.

Last modified:29 May 2015 2.20 p.m.