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Course 1006: Natural Time and World Time

Milind Wakankar

The fateful tie between the idea of the world and the idea of history functions as a dominant theme in Eurocentric notions of time, humanity and transformation. In this tradition (beginning roughly with Heraclitus and still discernible in Fichte, Schelling, Hegel and Heidegger) nature is understood as pre-historical or pre-worldly, as a necessary threshold to the advent of historicity. This course seeks to understand how an alternative account of nature and sentience can be gleaned from traditions outside or prior to the imposition of a European frame on the modern. If a term for ‘world’ (understood as ‘inner-worldly time’) is hard to find in this set of texts, how can one go about constructing a new account of historical change? How does this affect our understanding of the emergence of subjectivity? Texts to be examined are Elizarenkova on ‘names’ in the Vedas; Oldenberg on divine hierarchies in early Indian antiquity; Hacker on the Prahlad section of the Bhagwat Purana; the cosmogonic schema of the ‘Mokshadharma’ section of the Mahabharata; the notion of ‘sunya’ in Nagarjuna; the analysis of ‘rebirth’ in Obeyesekere; the idea of ‘mahatmya’ in Mahipati and of the ‘prosaic’ in early Mahanubhava literature; brief selections from Aristotle’s Physis, Hegel’s Greater Logic, Plato’s Timaeus, Fink’s ‘Sixth Cartesian Meditation’; the notion of ‘vivarta’ in the Gita; selections from Hans Jonas, Frances Yates; and finally a discussion of the work of Dnyaneswari. The course will involve occasional recourse to Spinoza and Bruno.


Week-1 :Introduction to the course.

Week-2 :Elizarenkova, Tatyana J. 1995. 'Vocabulary' In Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis Albany: State University of New York Press. 29-106. (Link found here.) Week-3 :Goto, Toshifumi. 'Yajnavalkya's Characterization of the Atman and the Four Kinds of Suffering in Early Buddhism'. Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies (EJVS) 12-2, July 2005. 71-85. (link found here)

Week-4 :
Aristotle. 1980. Physics trans. Hippocrates. G. Apostle, Grinnell, Iowa:The Peripatetic Press. (link found here)
Heidegger, Martin. 1998. 'On the Essence and Concept of Physis in Aristotle's Physics B, 1' In Pathmarks ed Willam McNeill, Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press. 183-230.

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