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Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Sue Hamilton
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

India has a long, rich, and diverse tradition of philosophical thought, spanning some two and a half millennia and encompassing several major religious traditions.

This Very Short Introduction emphasizes the diversity of Indian thought, and is structured around six schools which have achieved classic status. Sue Hamilton explores how the traditions have attempted to understand the nature of reality in terms of an inner or spiritual quest, and introduces distinctively Indian concepts such as karma and rebirth. She also shows how Indian thinkers have understood issues of reality and knowledge -- issues which are also an important part of the Western
philosophical tradition.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Indian Philosophy by Sue Hamilton, the perfect gift for anyone who wishes to sort out their karma and nirvana (The Independent Weekend Review 02/06/01)

About the Author

Sue Hamilton is a member of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College, London. Her publications include Early Buddhism: A New Approach (2000), and she is co-editor (with Peter Connolly) of Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakti (1997).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 655 KB
  • Print Length: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (22 Feb. 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #391,850 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of compression 21 Aug. 2002
By A.K.
This is a jewel of a book. Skilfully using choronology, historical context and a typology of Indian views of reality as a framework, it sets the vast diversity of ancient Indian philosophy into a comprehensible form. But in doing so, on the other hand, it never loses sight of the way that simplification might misrepresent the diversity. And, moreover, it never lets its classifications obscure the fact that Indian philosophers combined reason and faith in a way unfamiliar to the Westerner.
"Indian Philosophy, a Very Short Introduction" runs through the different darshanas (viewpoints) of the ancient Indian philosophers. It makes a detour for Buddhism, but accepts that the Very Short Introduction format does not permit Jainism and Sikhism to be covered. The underpinnings of the Buddhist worldview are particularly well-explained.
The text is as easy to read as can be hoped for such a complex subject. Although it is easy to confuse the various darshanas, they are signposted by the handy chronologies that are interspersed among the different chapters. One minor complaint is that the "Very Short Introduction" format resembles a word-processed mimeograph shrunk to A5 size, and is over-priced as such.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing little book 6 April 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
I am a big fan of the entire "Very Short Introduction' series, and have read several dozens of them. However, even in that field of mostly outstanding introductory books, this one stands out. I cannot give it enough praise. This is an eminently readable yet extremely intellectually stimulating book. It manages to convey the full richness and subtlety of Indian philosophical tradition, or at least as much of it as can fit in this format. Hamilton takes us through the historical development of the Indian philosophical thought, linking each new development to the previous ones, and emphasizes its significance. This is the first book that has convinced me that there are highly sophisticated philosophical traditions that have emerged outside of the Greco-Roman world. It would be of interest to anyone interested in philosophy, and not just for those interested in Indian thought. I highly recommend this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The book delivers on its promise 15 July 2013
It offers an accessible short introduction into a vast, complex and 'exotic' for the Westerner topic. I had to re-read it 2-3 times to get a fuller understanding, and it was worth it.

It is very interesting to notice the vast richness, diversity and long history of Indian thought, which is not well known in the West. You still meet many books entitled 'History of Philosophy' while what they mean is 'History of Western Philosophy'.

It is also interesting to find out parallels between Eastern and Western thought.

Although it would be too crude to summarise it this way, I would say that there are two major strands in Indian philosophy; one being the brahmanical tradition and its attachment to the proper execution of its rituals and the study of its books; the other being a more radical strand, exemplified by Buddhism, that dismisses the ritualistic tradition as pointless.

The nature of reality is a central point of concern for both of them; while brahmanic thought tends to see reality as constructed by the words of the traditional scriptures, Bhuddism focuses instead on the ways humans sense the world and how that affects their viewpoints.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reliable and readable introduction 22 Sept. 2008
By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE
This excellent entry in the VSI series would serve as a good introduction to philosophy in general, as it takes pains to define terms like metaphysics, epistemology, exegesis and soteriology, basic terminology that might be new to the non-specialist. It is a scholarly but very readable account, with useful illustrations.

In the nineteenth century, specific schools of thought were presented to the West as 'Hinduism' or 'Indian philosophy', and these views - polytheistic and monistic - are very often still regarded as representative. This is rather like presenting Lutheranism as 'European religion' and Existentialism as 'European philosophy'. Another excellent book in this series - Hinduism, by Kim Knott - corrects the first misapprehension, and this present book corrects the second.

Philosophy and religion have combined in Indian thought in a way that differs from the Western tradition - at least, since Kant and the Enlightenment. Thus, a work like this invites us to approach philosophical enquiry in a new way, or at least to recognize an alternative approach.

Like all the authors in this series, Hamilton has the problem of encapsulating a vast subject into a small space. In Chapter 1, the author describes the selections she has made and why she has made them - in particular, why she chose to exclude Jainism. The book concentrates on the classical period beginning in the 5th century BC (interestingly, a history of Western philosophy would likely begin in the same era, with the same backward glance at the religious and mythical traditions from which it evolved). The 6 classical darsanas are mentioned, and enough authors and texts are referenced to give you plenty of scope for further study, if you wished.

Highly recommended.
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