Query: Did classical Indian philosophers revise their works?

Frits Staal jfstaal at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Tue Dec 18 22:48:05 UTC 2001

Dear Birgit,

May I refer you to my mini-paper "Changing One's Mind" in the Journal Of
Indian Philosophy 23(1995)53-55 or do you know it already?


At 04:52 PM 12/18/01 +0100, you wrote:
>Are there cases where one can demonstrate that classical Indian
>philosophers significantly revised their own earlier works in the light of
>what they themselves wrote later in their career?
>By "significant revisions", I mean cases where actual formulations were
>demonstrably changed: e.g. when technical terms coined later would have
>made their way into revisions of earlier works, or when definitions of key
>concepts developed and sharpened only later would have been inserted into
>earlier works.
>Based on my own limited experience in reading Indian philosophical
>treatises, I cannot come up with any such cases, and would - for several
>reasons - actually doubt that they exist; but then again one can never be
>sure, and perhaps my reasons are based on false assumptions.
>In DharmakIrti's works, for instance, one finds statements like "... iti
>vakSyAmaH" that anticipate passages in later chapters of the same work,
>which might be later insertions (though this need not be the case) - but
>these I would not consider as "significant revisions"; in fact, if these
>are insertions, the fact that a philosopher inserted statements that
>certain problems will be addressed at a later point indicates a certain
>caution so as *not* to alter the textual form of what has already been
>written. Such insertions might therefore be seen as indicating a distinctly
>"preservationist" attitude towards one's own compositions on the part of
>I would appreciate any information on this matter; in addition to - if
>extant - case-studies, I would particularly appreicate references to
>literature which might discuss such subjects in relation to attested (?)
>sociocultural practices of textual composition, handling of manuscripts,
>and manuscript transmission.
>Birgit Kellner
>Institute for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies
>Vienna University
Frits Staal


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