[Advaita-l] Interesting URL

Gerald Penn gpenn at cs.toronto.edu
Fri May 9 16:44:14 CDT 2008

"Neo-advaita" may very well be the most misused philosophical
term of our time - right up there with "ontology" and "karma."  This is
actually an Indian school of philosophy, not Western, and it dates back
over 100 years.  It is not a "Western phenomenon," though arguably an
Eastern reaction to Westernization, and it has absolutely nothing to do
with cults of personality.  What this article says to me is that Mr.
Jacobs simply does not understand the term.  I'm not sure he's ever even
read a neo-advaitic philosophical treatise, from the general way that
he's carrying on.  Perhaps it's also worth noting that his article begins
with a quote from the Book of Matthew, which, though appropriate to his
topic, hardly recommends his own brand of reasoning as any more
classically advaita than the schools he is criticizing.
   I've seen "neo-advaita" used on this list with a similarly condescending
sneer.  At best, it appears to connote that "my guy is more authentic
than his guy."  At times, I suspect that what it's implicitly saying is
that Westerners are somehow racially unqualified to study Hinduism.  In
either case, as students of philosophy, don't you think it's time that you
set a higher standard for yourselves than this?  At least be honest and
just state your prejudice.  Or if there is a legitimate philosophical
objection to be made, don't confer a label on it, as if that's somehow the
end of the debate, let alone a label that simply doesn't apply.  Advaita
has a very long and respected tradition of dialectic in which this sort of
monkey business would never be mistaken for a satisfactory or convincing
rebuttal.  It's embarrassing to see the level of discussion on this
list sink to this level.

Gerald Penn

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