Concepts of Self in the History of Hinduism, I (MT23)

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Professor Gavin Flood FBA
Date: October 26, 2023
Time: 2.00pm – 3.00pm

There is a history to ideas about the self. These two lectures will sketch some shifts in the ways the self has been conceptualised in that history and will in particular pay attention to tensions in Brahmanical thinking between different metaphysics of the self and social, transaction reality of persons as social actors.

Lecture 1: The sacrificial and transcendent self

In this opening lecture we will examine a first tension between the Vedic notion of sacrifice on the one hand and Upanishadic view of the self as transcendent, on the other. This also entails different concepts of redemption and differing understandings of the purpose of human life. We might offer a hypothesis that they both, in a sense, are the inverse of the other. We will focus on Mīmāṃsaka, Vedāntic and even Buddhist sources in our exploration and raise the question of how metaphysical conceptualisations relate to historical, social reality, gender roles, and notions of the common good, if at all.