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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Spring 2004

ANS 384 • Indian Aesthetics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
27370 W
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
WAG 210

Course Description

Longstanding traditions of poetry and drama in Sanskrit become colonized by philosophers with distinct theories of self language, and reality. This course approaches the sophisticated aesthetice of late classical Indian thought from an overview of the philisophic schools, Vedanta, Samkhya, Mimamsa, Nyaya, Bauddha Yogacara, and Tantra (Kashmiri Saivism) in particular. Philosophy of language will be our special focus at the beginning, along with epistemology (testimony taken to be a source of knowledge provides key context for linguistic theorizing). Aestheticians seem obsessed with the question of the semantic value of “suggestion” beyond both denotation and (by philosophers and grammarians a well-explored) “indication” or “secondary sense.” In the second part of the course, we shall move away from philosophy of language and take up the theory of emotions (BHAVA) and “aesthetic responses” (RASA) that is interwoven with linguistic theory in late texts. We shall see how different metaphysical views tie in with a “psychology of the aesthete” including the laying out of a new “yoga” or path to mystical experience. (Make your life art.) The objectivity of the RASA theory will be of special concern, as we see how it is shaped by a philosophic heritage. But acheiving an overview of that heritage will be our main point. The course is an introduction to Indian philosophy as well as to the rich aesthetic literature of late classical Indian thought.

Grading Policy

A short paper informing a long paper and a class presentation.


A collection of photocopies and two or three translations of key works such as the Natyasastra (Treatise on Dramatics”) or Abhinava’s commentary on Dhvanyaloka (Illumination of Poetic Suggestion”) to be announced.


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