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Lokāyata/Cārvāka

Pradeep P. Gokhale

Published in print October 2015 | ISBN: 9780199460632
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199085507 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199460632.001.0001
Lokāyata/Cārvāka

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Cārvāka-darśana, also called Lokāyata and Bārhaspatya-darśana, is popularly recognized as a materialistic philosophical system which accepts perception as the only pramāṇa (means to knowledge), consciousness as a product of matter, and sensuous pleasure as the only goal of life. In the last century, this popular image of Lokāyata was challenged by presenting the system as a materialist system which accepted perception as well as inference as the sources of knowledge, and which was against otherworldly religions, but not against morality. A third version of Lokāyata based on Jayarāśibhaṭṭa’s scepticism was also explored by some scholars in the last century. Taking a clue from these different versions the present work develops a pluralistic interpretation of Lokāyata thought. It claims that the diversity in the Lokāyata/Cārvāka school is greater and much more complex than it is generally taken to be. Through separate chapters it discusses cognitive scepticism, extreme empiricism, and mitigated empiricism in the Lokāyata/Cārvāka system and their implications for ontology and axiology. Contrary to the common charge against Indian philosophy that it is essentially religious, the present work tries to show how philosophy as a purely secular, rational, and non-dogmatic discipline in the context of Indian philosophy can be appropriately located in the Lokāyata approach. By presenting the Lokāyata approach as a meta-philosophy of Indian philosophy, the work overviews the endeavours of some contemporary thinkers such as Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, S. S. Barlingay, and B. R. Ambedkar towards Lokāyata-centric reconstruction of Indian philosophy.

Keywords: Cārvāka; Lokāyata; pramāṇa; cognitive scepticism; extreme empiricism; mitigated empiricism; common-sense empiricism; scepticism; philosophy; Indian philosophy

Book.  240 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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