The role of philosophy in the academic study of religion in Indian


  • Sonia Sikka


Joseph T. O’Connell, philosophy of religion, religious pluralism, diversity of faith, religion and ideology, Hinduism, comparative study of religion


Joseph T. O’Connell drew attention to the relative scarcity of academic work on religion in South Asia, and o ered as a plausible explanation for this state of a airs the tension between secular and religio‐political communal interests. This paper explores the potential role of phi‐ losophy as an established academic discipline within this situation, in the context of India. It argues that objective study, including evaluation, of the truth claims of various religious traditions is an important aspect of academic as opposed to confessional engagement with religion, and that philosophy in India is especially well suited to undertake such re ection and to provide corresponding education. Unlike Western countries, philosophy and religion were never clearly separated in India and did not evolve in tension with one another. The history of Indian philosophy therefore includes and is included within the history of its ‘religions’, in a way that makes philosophical examination of the truth claims of Indian religions internal to those religions themselves. By tracing this history, the discipline of philosophy can help to unsettle the idea of religion as a matter of xed dogma. It can also continue the procedure of interpreting and evaluating metaphysical and epistemological theses that has been an intrinsic component of Indian religious thought for most of its history.