: Nisk?makarma is generally understood nonliterally as action done without desire of a certain sort. It is argued here that all desires are prohibited by nisk?makarma. Two objections are considered: (1) desire is a necessary condition of action, and (2) the Indian tradition as a whole accepts desire as a necessary condition of action. A distinction is drawn here between a goal and a desire, and it is argued that goals.
The Saṃnyāsa Upaniṣads characterize the life of the saṃnyāsin as devoid of earthly pleasures. At the same time, these and other texts record confusion and suspicion toward those who would pursue such a life, and disbelief that such severe austerity could be required. To many, the saṃnyāsin seems to forsake the good life in forsaking earthly pleasures. I call this the ‘Precluded Pleasures Objection’ to the saṃnyāsin ideal. A number of replies to the Precluded Pleasures Objection might be drawn from (...) the Saṃnyāsa Upaniṣads themselves. The first points out that the saṃnyāsin ideal is typically reserved for members of the twice-born classes, and perhaps only brāhmaṇa men, who have reached relative... (shrink)
This book argues that the standard arguments for and against the claim that certain Hindu texts and traditions attribute direct moral standing to animals and plants are unconvincing. It presents careful, extensive, and original interpretations of passages from the Manusmrti (law), the Mahābhārata (literature), and the Yogasūtra (philosophy), and argues that these texts attribute direct moral standing to animals and plants for at least three reasons: they are sentient, they are alive, and they possess a range of other relevant attributes (...) and abilities. This book is of interest to scholars of Hinduism and the environment, religion and the environment, Hindu and/or Buddhist philosophy more broadly, and environmental ethics. (shrink)
Environmental Ethics and the Mahābhārata : The Case of the Burning of the Forest Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-20 DOI 10.1007/s11841-011-0264-2 Authors Christopher G. Framarin, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada Journal Sophia Online ISSN 1873-930X Print ISSN 0038-1527.
Many contemporary authors argue that since certain Hindu texts and traditions claim that all living beings are fundamentally the same as Brahman (God), these texts and traditions provide the basis for an environmental ethic. I outline three common versions of this argument, and argue that each fails to meet at least one criterion for an environmental ethic. This doesn’t mean, however, that certain Hindu texts and traditions do not provide the basis for an environmental ethic. In the last section of (...) the paper I briefly outline and defend an alternative, according to which all plants and animals have intrinsic value and direct moral standing in virtue of having a good. (shrink)
Many contemporary authors argue that the Hindu doctrines of karma and/or rebirth entail that both human and nonhuman entities in nature are interconnected, and hence have intrinsic value. These doctrines do not entail that entities in nature are interconnected, however. Even if they did, the interconnectedness of entities cannot establish their intrinsic value. If the interconnectedness of entities did establish their intrinsic value, the account would attribute equal intrinsic value to all things, both natural and non-natural, and hence, fail to (...) meet the “non-vacuity requirement.” The doctrines of karma and/or rebirth do entail that nonhuman entities in nature have intrinsic value, but not because they are interconnected. First, the doctrines entail that distinctions among embodied beings are trivial. If human beings have intrinsic value—as is typically assumed—and if the differences between a human embodiment and an animal or plant embodiment are trivial, then these differences seem less able to explain differences in the intrinsic value of humans, animals, and plants. Second, the best explanation of the connection between the treatment of nonhuman entities and the merit or demerit that arises as a result is that all living beings are intrinsically valuable. Other explanations are circular, or fail to explain the severe punishments that result from harming nonhuman entities. (shrink)
Alfred R. Mele defends a broadly 'Humean' theory of motivation. One common dispute between Humeans and anti-Humeans has to do with whether or not a desire is required to motivate action. For the most part Mele avoids this dispute. He claims that there are reasons to think that beliefs cannot motivate action, but finally allows that it might be that it is a contingent fact that beliefs can motivate action in human beings. Instead Mele argues for the claim that certain (...) kinds of desires - namely action-desires - are 'paradigmatic motivational attitudes', similar in an essential way to intentions, and that beliefs are not. Hence it is a necessary truth that action-desires encompass motivation to act; if beliefs encompass motivation to act, it is not a necessary truth that they do. In this way Mele preserves some of what is intuitively right about the Humean account, while admitting that the arguments normally offered in support of the standard Humean claims are open to objections. I argue that Mele's account is implausible. His argument against the claim that state-desires are essentially motivation-encompassing attitudes is convincing, but the same argument proves that action-desires are not essentially motivation-encompassing either. If this difference between desires and beliefs cannot be maintained, however, then Mele fails to defend any motivationally relevant difference between beliefs and desires. (shrink)
Roy W. Perrett argues that the Hindu sage, like the western moral saint, seems precluded from pursuing non-moral ends for their own sakes. If he is precluded from pursuing non-moral ends for their own sakes, then he is precluded from pursuing non-moral virtues, interests, activities, relationships, and so on for their own sakes. A life devoid of every such pursuit seems deficient. Hence, the Hindu sage seems to forsake the good life. In response, I adapt a reply that Vanessa Carbonell (...) offers in the context of the moral saint. The Hindu sage might pursue non-moral virtues, interests, activities, relationships, and so on for their own sakes, so long as his motivation to pursue moksa is read de re rather than de dicto. Indeed, this reply is more convincing in the case of the Hindu sage than it is in the case of the moral saint. (shrink)
The literature on Hinduism and the environment is vast, and growing quickly. It has benefitted greatly from the work of scholars in a wide range of disciplines, such as religious studies, Asian studies, history, anthropology, political science, and so on. At the same time, much of this work fails to define key terms and make fundamental assumptions explicit. Consequently, it is at least initially difficult to engage with it philosophically. In the first section of this paper, I clarify a central, (...) implicit assumption that many of the authors working in this area share—namely, the assumption that a plausible environmental ethic must attribute direct moral standing to individual, living, non-human entities in nature, such as animals and plants. In the second section, I offer a preliminary defense of this assumption. In the third section, I respond to objections, and conclude that the argument is at least initially convincing. (shrink)
Medhātithi reduces Manu’s descriptions of the householder as support and source of the āśramas to his performance of the five great sacrifices. Patrick Olivelle characterizes Medhātithi’s interpretation as “radical,” but a strong preliminary case might be made in its favor. Nonetheless, there are a number of reasons to resist Medhātithi’s interpretation. The more plausible interpretation of these passages is also the most straightforward. The householder is the support of the other three āśramas because he is economically productive. He is the (...) source of the āśramas because he has children. The householder is the best of the āśrama, in turn, because the broad benefits that he produces by these means, in particular, are so essentially important. Descriptions of the householder as source and support of the āśramas appear in a wide range of texts. In most of these contexts, they play a central role in justifying the status of the householder. At the same time, these claims often betray the same kind of ambiguity that Medhātithi notes. The fact that Manu counts these descriptions as distinct reasons for the householder’s superiority does not imply that other texts say the same thing. His precedent, however, is worth keeping in mind when interpreting parallel passages in other contexts. (shrink)
There is a principle of charity within the Indian philosophical tradition that states that one is justified in reverting to a non-literal interpretation of a text only when a literal reading entails a clear contradiction. Most scholars have argued that a literal interpretation of the Bhagavadgtā's advice to act without desire ought to be abandoned for this reason, because it contradicts the obvious fact that desire is a necessary condition of action. In this paper two often cited arguments for the (...) claim that desire is a necessary condition of action are considered and it is argued that neither is cogent. Consquently, a literal reading of the Bhagavadgtā does not result in a clear contradiction, and the literal reading cannot be abandoned based on the principle of charity. Further, I argue that aside from the unjustified assumption that the text must be in accord with a Humean theory of action, the textual evidence from the Gtā weighs heavily in favor of a literal reading of the advice to act without desire. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the prohibition on desire in the orthodox Indian systems is not simply a prohibition on selfish desires. The word “selfish” is ambiguous. It can mean either “self-interested” or “excessively self-interested.” Since only excessively self-interested actions are prohibited, the prohibition on desire cannot be a prohibition on all self-interested desires. But the prohibition on desire cannot be a prohibition on excessively self-interested desires either, because this class of desires is too insignificant to explain the general (...) preoccupation with the elimination of desire in the tradition. Finally, I argue that selfish desires are indeed prohibited, but only if by “selfish” one means “based on false beliefs about the self.” Even then, however, selfish desires do not exhaust the class of prohibited desires because some prohibited desires are based on false beliefs about things other than the self. (shrink)
My thanks to Joydeep Bagchee for his review of my book in this issue of Philosophy East and West. Here I will respond to some of his objections, and offer some points of clarification. First, I want to say something about Bagchee's claim that the earlier papers in which I worked out some of my thoughts on the issue of desireless action are relevant to understanding the book. Bagchee seems to mean this as a criticism, since he says,Each chapter marks (...) a new ingress into the problem. This only becomes clear when one looks at the way Framarin develops the individual approaches in his papers, because he unfortunately does not always spell out the consequences of his moves in the book.I assume that the consequences that .. (shrink)
One common interpretation of the orthodox Indian prohibition on desire is that it is a prohibition on phenomenologically salient desires. The Nyāyasūtra and Brahmasiddhi seem to support this view. I argue that this interpretation is mistaken. The Vedāntins draw a distinction between counting some fact as a reason for acting and counting one's desire as a reason for acting, and prohibit the latter. The Naiyāyikas draw a distinction between desiring to avoid some state of affairs and believing that some state (...) of affairs is unimportant , and advocate the latter. Both deny that the state to which the English word ‘desire’ refers is a necessary condition of acting. (shrink)
One common interpretation of the orthodox Indian prohibition on desire is that it is a prohibition on phenomenologically salient desires. The Nyāyasūtra and Brahmasiddhi seem to support this view. I argue that this interpretation is mistaken. The Vedāntins draw a distinction between counting some fact as a reason for acting (icchā) and counting one's desire (rāga) as a reason for acting, and prohibit the latter. The Naiyāyikas draw a distinction between desiring to avoid some state of affairs (dveṣa) and believing (...) that some state of affairs is unimportant (vairāgya), and advocate the latter. Both deny that the state to which the English word 'desire' refers is a necessary condition of acting. (shrink)