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Scholasticism and Philosophy: on the Relationship between Reason and Revelation in India

Abstract : Making reason and revelation agree, notably by defining the former’s subordination to the latter, was one of the main concerns of European Medieval scholasticism; and from the tension between the weight of scriptural authority and the aspiration to the independence of rational inquiry finally emerged in Europe a philosophical field free of any allegiance to a revealed discourse – or at least pretending to be so – and castigating the old “scholastic method.” In India, by way of contrast, the philosophical field has remained essentially scholastic inasmuch as most philosophical systems never ceased to acknowledge scripture (āgama) as a means of valid knowledge, and even often asserted its supremacy over reason and experience. Yet, just as European scholasticism cannot be reduced to the image of it that has prevailed since Descartes, the relationship between scriptural authority and rational enquiry in India is much more complex than might appear at first sight. It is first and foremost in order to defend their respective scriptures that various Indian religious currents chose to engage in philosophical debates; but this apologetic intention paradoxically led their champions to set aside scriptural authority. The paper points out this strange process of philosophical emancipation, born of apologetic concerns and nourished by them; and by comparing two apparently diametrically opposed definitions of the relationship between reason and revelation – that of the Buddhist Dharmakīrti, and that of the Śaiva nondualist Utpaladeva –, it aims at showing that although the Indian philosophical field never acquired the autonomy (real or proclaimed) that has characterized Western philosophy from the 17th century onwards, it grew in a constant creative tension between the acceptance and rejection of scriptural authority.
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Contributor : Isabelle Ratié <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 22, 2018 - 8:31:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:44:13 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01690273, version 1


Isabelle Ratié. Scholasticism and Philosophy: on the Relationship between Reason and Revelation in India . ThéoRèmes : Enjeux des approches empiriques des religions, Institut romand de systématique et d'éthique, 2017, pp.1-17. ⟨halshs-01690273⟩



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