Soteriology of universals

John C. Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Fri Oct 12 22:21:02 UTC 2007

it would have to be argued that yes, in both Buddhism and hinduism,  
visualizations of various paradises were directly responsible for  
attaining soteriological goals.  From the Buddhist standpoint the  
entire teaching and attainment methodology is conceived of as taking  
place in a perfected world, either Akanishta or others.


On Oct 12, 2007, at 4:46 PM, Will Rasmussen wrote:

> The realist-nominalist debate over the epistemology and metaphysics  
> of universals (sAmAnya) was/is as robust in the India as it was/is  
> in the West. However, in a few places Plato defends real universals  
> not only for their explanatory and even causative power, but also  
> for their soteriological power, by which meditation upon them  
> (e.g., beauty, wisdom, goodness) is transformative of the mind/ 
> soul. Graphically portrayed are his myths of metempsychosis (Meno,  
> Phaedrus and Republic), but only briefly does he ever identify  
> meditation/contemplation as the instrument/vehicle for determining  
> the direction of the psyche's transmigration.
> I am curious to inquire whether this use of universals as objects  
> of meditation/contemplation was ever prescribed in any of the  
> Indian schools of philosophy, where of course metempsychosis was so  
> widely endorsed. In particular, I would be especially interested if  
> India's staunch universal realists, nyAya and vaizeSika, ever did  
> so. Can anyone suggest texts from nyAya or vaizeSika that address  
> the soteriological use of universals, and not just their existence  
> and explanatory power?
> Failing that, might later mImAMsA address this anywhere, perhaps  
> through their doctrine of the eternality of sound..., though I  
> suspect this is rather a long shot.
> And finally, I wonder whether the yoga darzana's meditation on the  
> qualities of saguna brahman might in some text(s) be construed as  
> reflection upon the universals (sAmAnya) of these qualities. I'm  
> not thinking here so much of the Tantric theory of the  
> transformative power of mantras purely by dint of their sound, but  
> transformation by focus upon the meanings of the universals.
> I should perhaps mention that in turning to traditions in India I  
> am not seeking to put words in Plato's mouth, nor am I delving for  
> directions in the diffusion of ideas. Instead, I am interested in  
> seeing how different traditions (may have) developed the idea of  
> the salvific effect of 'universals-contemplation' on the mind/soul.
> Many thanks and best wishes to all,
> Will
> -- 
> Dr Will Rasmussen
> Matilal Lecturer in Indian Philosophy
> Department of Philosophy
> King's College London
> 160 The Strand, London WC2R 2LS
> Tel: 020 7848 2757
> Email: will.rasmussen at
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