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date: 23 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In A Compendium of the Characteristics of Categories (Padārthadharmasaṃgraha) the classical Vaiśeṣika philosopher Praśastapāda (6th century ce) presents an innovative metaphysics of the self. This article examines the defining metaphysical and axiological features of this conception of self and the dualist categorial schema in which it is located. It shows how this idea of the self, as a reflexive and ethical being, grounds a multinaturalist view of natural order and offers a conception of agency that claims to account for all the reflexive features of human mental and bodily life. Finally, it discusses the ends of self’s reflexivity and of human life as a return to the true self. It argues that at the heart of Praśastapāda’s metaphysics of self is the idea that ethics is metaphysics, and that epistemic practice is ethical practice.

Keywords: self, agency, dualism, realism, dharma, nature, Vaiśeṣika, Praśastapāda, Śrīdhara, Udayana

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