Making the Implicit Explicit: Emplotment as Saṃsāra and Soteriological Method in Advaita Vedānta (TT 16)

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Dr James Madaio 
Date: May 2, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

In this paper I explore emplotment as a means of re-framing the Advaita Vedāntin account of soteriology and enworlded subjectivity. I argue that there is a narrative hermeneutical framework and self-reflexive theological method implicit in the Advaita Vedāntic tradition, particularly as articulated by Vidyāraṇya, a fourteenth century Śaṃkarācārya from Śṛṅgeri. In conversation with contemporary cognitive narratology, I draw out the Advaita Vedāntic understanding of saṃsāra and soteriology on narrative grounds, or what I call emplotment1 and emplotment2. I argue that this approach is engendered by the tradition itself and provides a way of not merely thinking about the Advaitin project but on terms with it. This conceptual framework serves as my own method to understanding the theological enterprise of Vidyāraṇya, who, I argue elsewhere, utilizes narrative methods across the theological modalities of his Jīvanmuktiviveka.

James Madaio is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at New Europe College in Bucharest and was recently awarded his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester.