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Title: Development of Materialism in India: The Pre-Cārvākas and the Cārvākas
Authors: Bhattacharya, Ramikrishna
Keywords: Old MaterialismNew MaterialismNāstikaBhūtavādaCārvāka/Lokāyata
Issue Date: Jul-2013
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Ramikrishna Bhattacharya, "Development of Materialism in India: The Pre-Cārvākas and the Cārvākas", in: Esercizi Filosofici, vol. 8, n. 1 (2013), pp. 1-12
Series/Report no.: Esercizi Filosofici
vol. 8, n. 1 (2013)
The existence of more than one materialist school before the Cārvāka (eighth century) has been admitted by modern scholars. The radical departure made by the new materialists (the Cārvākas) was most apparent in the field of epistemology: even though the ontology of the old and the new materialists was similar, the partial acceptance of inference as a valid means of knowledge marked off the new materialists from the old ones. Hemacandra and others who continued to ridicule the Cārvākas for not admitting inference as such, we must say that their understanding of ‘new materialism’ was faulty; they failed or more probably refused to distinguish between the old and new approaches. Before “Cārvāka”, three other words, nāstika, lokāyata and bārhaspatya, were already current to designate materialism although the same words, particularly nāstika and lokāyata, were also used in other senses too. By the eighth century, however, all these words have become interchangeable in signification and so used in the works of several Buddhist, Jain and Brahminical authors. It needs to be emphasized that materialism in India, however, did not begin with the Cārvāka/Lokāyata. On the other hand, it came as the culmination of a long history of heterodoxy and the attempt to see nature “just as it is, without alien addition”. There are several words in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit that bear evidence to the existence of materialist outlooks. A study is made here of two such names, nāstika and bhūtavāda, and four points of difference between old materialism and new materialism are enumerated.
Type: Article
eISSN: 1970-0164
Appears in Collections:Esercizi Filosofici 08, 1 (2013)

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