This very engaging introduction to Indian Philosophy can be thought of as a series of essays on some of the most prominent schools of thought of ancient Indian philosophy, with each essay being followed up by detailed ‘further readings’ that can be used to explore particular ideas further. While this presentation of the book facilitates an easy introduction to each of the schools of thought, it can have the effect of obscuring the subtle interconnections and derivations within and between them.
Also, the fact that Bartley chose to use Buddhist arguments as the point of departure for defining all the other schools of thought has the unfortunate effect of making them seem overly derivative. In spite of these defects, the books is worth a read, particularly the sections on Sankhya and Nyaya are a discursive delight to read.
The section on Buddhism is a bit stretched out, as it had to be given the nature of the presentation. The section on Mimamsa school is given a slightly simplistic explanation and the earlier and later schools are not delineated enough to give full play to the power of this school of thought, nor are the connections with Sankhya, particularly with Gita, fully explored. The Vedanta school is given a lot of detail and space but without looping back and connecting fully with Sankhya through the upanishadic arguments.
Given the scope of an introductory book, it is perhaps asking too much to address all the nuances but some of the space dedicated to quoting Sankara’s and others’ arguments could have been given over to tracing the differences and similarities between the schools and in showcasing the organic nature of the growth of the entire philosophic edifice.
P.S. Forgive the omission of diacritical marks. Please do google to pick out exact pronunciations.
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