Modern Evolutionist Naturalism And Šankara’s Arguments Contra Sankhya

Vladimir K. Shokhin


This comparative study aims at juxtaposition of modern Western naturalistic evolutionism and the mostly similar attitude in the classic Indian philosophy in the shape of Sankhya’s cosmology in the context of their corresponding critiques by contemporary creationists and Advaita-Vedanta. The long and pointed polemics with Sankhya in the Brahmasutrabhasya by Šankaracharya (7th-8th centuries A.D.) is in the focus of this investigation along with numerous references to the Sankhya-karika by Isvarakrsna (5th century A.D.) as the basic text of the philosophical school criticized by its most powerful opponent. Comparing Western and Indian evolutionism reveals some very important differences to such a degree that the Indian species of the genus would be, in the author’s opinion, better identified as not evolutionism in the strict sense but as a “développisme” combining features of evolutionism with those of emanationism. As to Sankhya’s naturalism, it turns to be much more “sophisticated” than that, e.g., of Thomas Huxley or the so-called New Atheists because its “stuff” is more psychological than material. Nevertheless, crucial logical gaps remain the same in both cases (along with an antitheistic “faith” instead of rationalism), while their taking into account by opponents of naturalism offers a challenge for comparative philosophical theology.

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