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Vātsyāyana’s Guide to Liberation

Das, N; (2020) Vātsyāyana’s Guide to Liberation. Journal of Indian Philosophy 10.1007/s10781-020-09438-x. (In press). Green open access

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In this essay, my aim is to explain Vātsyāyana’s solution to a problem that arises for his theory of liberation. For him and most Nyāya philosophers after him, liberation consists in the absolute cessation of pain (ātyantika-duḥkha-vimukti). Since this requires freedom from embodied existence, it also results in the absolute cessation of pleasure. How, then, can agents like us (who habitually seek pleasure) be rationally motivated to seek liberation? Vātsyāyana’s solution depends on what I will call the Pain Principle, i.e., the principle that we should treat all aspects of our embodied existence as pain. If we were to follow this advice, we would come to apply the label of pain (duḥkha-saṃjñā) to all aspects of our embodied existence, including pleasure. This would undermine our attachment to our own embodied existence. I show that this fits with Vātsyāyana’s general theory of motivation. According to this theory, by manipulating the labels (saṃjñā) using which we think about the world and ourselves, we can induce radical shifts in our patterns of motivation.

Type: Article
Title: Vātsyāyana’s Guide to Liberation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10781-020-09438-x
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-020-09438-x
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. his article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Liberation, Nyāya, Vātsyāyana, the Pain Principle
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108799
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