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604 Philosophy East & West Volume 65, Number 2 April 2015 604–610© 2015 by University of Hawai‘i Press BOOK REVIEWS Periodization and Historiography of Indian Philosophy. Edited by Eli Franco. Wien: Institute für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde der Universität Wien, 2013. Pp. viii + 388. Hardcover €40, isbn 978-3-900-27143-5.  Reviewed by Anand Venkatkrishnan Columbia University Historiography has long weighed like a nightmare on the scholarly study of Indian philosophy. The early Hegelian approach to this study, which maintained that a history of philosophy necessarily entailed a philosophy of history, seemed to have been replaced for much of the twentieth century by a studied indifference to history in favor of the abstract, fine-grained analysis of concepts. At particularly uncharitable times, one gets the sense that it was easier to close our eyes to the embarrassment of universalizing narratives, as though they could be conjured away in imagination. But the old ghosts remained: An Orientalist teleology that deemed the original expressions of philosophical thought to be the ones most worthy of study, and that determined later developments to be symptoms of decay and degeneracy; periodizations of knowledge that reflected an author’s own Zeitgeist more than developments internal to philosophical traditions themselves; and differing theories of what counted as philosophy proper based on often-unacknowledged assumptions of historical importance . It is not difficult to despair that any attempt to revisit the tragedy of periodization and historiography would result in more than farce. Happily, recent work by scholars of Indian intellectual history has prompted­ renewed attention to the historical context and development of philosophical­ traditions. In particular, the project “Sanskrit Knowledge-Systems on the Eve of Colonialism ” has provided a sophisticated, if incipient, account of the prolific intellectual output within Sanskrit traditions of learning in early modern India (ca. 1550–1750 c.e.). The relatively circumscribed nature of the project belies its wider implications for the study of Indian philosophy: first, by insisting on the centrality of social and intellectual history to reconstructing ideas, and second, by reintroducing historical periodization as a necessary problem for scholars of global thought to engage. In light of these developments, the present volume, Periodization and Histori­ ography of Indian Philosophy, edited by Eli Franco, represents a welcome and impressively detailed reflection on the study of Indian philosophy and the historical development of Indian thought. Although not directly connected to the SKECS pro­ ject, the overlap between the two demonstrates encouraging signs for the historical study of Indian philosophy. This volume brings together papers from the 2009 World Sanskrit Conference. The editors’ preface explains that the inspiration for the workshop was a new edition of the German Indologist Erich Frauwallner’s Philosophie des Book Reviews 605 Buddhismus (p. vi). Infamous for his racist periodization of Indian philosophy and his complicity with fascist political designs, Frauwallner represents not only a foil but also a warning for this collection, reminding authors and readers alike that acts of periodization and historiography are at once unavoidable and unsettling. For as­ Kathleen Davis and others have argued, these acts govern a politics of time that often occludes and reifies more than it reveals.1 Eli Franco’s essay introduces five historical periodizations of Indian philosophy. First is Paul Deussen, who considered the greatest achievements of Indian thought to have occurred before the rise of classical philosophical schools—a judgment that influenced Indian intellectuals fromVivekananda to Radhakrishnan (pp. 3–5). Next is the work of Erich Frauwallner, whose periodization of Indian philosophy into Aryan and non-Aryan proves in Franco’s account to be factually and morally contestable (pp. 7–9). Franco then discusses Walter Ruben, whose work periodized Indian thought along clearly Marxist lines (pp. 14–15). He proceeds to shows how Madeleine Biardeau’s account of Indian philosophy was influenced by the anthropologist Louis Dumont’s ideas about the lack of the individual in caste society and the ­ absence of historical consciousness in India (p. 17).2 Finally, Franco presents the extreme idealist work of John Plott and his colleagues, who attempted to correlate world history with the history of philosophy (pp. 22–23). Acknowledging the indispensability of historicism—the fundamental act...


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