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  • Remembering Jitendra Nath Mohanty
  • Arindam Chakrabarti (bio)

The only philosopher in the global history of philosophy who read and taught (in the original Sanskrit, German, and English) Patañjali, Vyāsa, Śaṅkara, Gangeśa, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Frege, Wittgenstein, Hume, McTaggart, Russell, Davidson, and Dummett with equal expertise, depth, and hermeneutic originality is no more. Jitendra Nath Mohanty, who passed away on the 7th of March 2023, was emeritus professor of philosophy at Temple University, Philadelphia. In the last decade of his life, he used to spend long periods in his home in Kolkata, the city where he studied as an undergraduate. Born in in 1928 in Cuttack, Orissa, India, Mohanty ranked first in all public examinations and in his B.A. at Presidency College, Kolkata and his M.A. examination at the University of Calcutta. After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen in 1954, he came back to India and continued his traditional-style tutelage under two great Sanskrit Pandits: Ananta Tarkatirtha (for Navya Nyāya) and Mahamahopadhyaya Yogendranath Bagchi (for Advaita Vedānta). In his long academic career, he taught at the University of Burdwan, the University of Calcutta, the New School for Social Research, the University of Oklahoma, Emory University, and Temple University and held visiting professorships at All Souls College Oxford and Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

JNM was trained equally thoroughly in three distinct traditions and styles of philosophy. Even great modern Indian philosophers of the twentieth century, such as K. C. Bhattacharya, B. N. Seal, R. D. Ranade, Radhakrishnan, B. K. Matilal, Daya Krishna, and R. C. Gandhi, could claim scholarly fluency in at most two traditions (of course the "Indian tradition" itself is a maddeningly complex plurality of traditions often sharing very little in common—e.g., Abhidharma Buddhism and Mādhva Dualist Vedānta). But Mohanty was well-versed in and collected insights and inspiration from European (Continental) Phenomenology, and Analytic Anglo-American Philosophy and several of the diverse Sanskrit Indian Philosophical schools of thought. More importantly, as can be demonstrated in detail, it is his expertise in the pluralistic yet both logically and phenomenologically rigorous styles of classical Indian philosophies that made him uniquely capable of doing the bridgework between continental and analytic philosophies of the West—between Husserl and Frege, for example. [End Page 1]

Within philosophy in general his interests ranged from metaphysics to epistemology, ethics, social philosophy, philosophy of physics (especially Time), Logic, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of language and mind. Among his numerous publications, the following books achieved bench-mark status in their respective fields: Gaṅgeśa's Theory of Truth: Containing the Text of Gaṅgeśa's Prāmāṇya (jñapti) vāda (Santiniketan: Visva-Bharati, India, 1966); Reason and Tradition in Indian Thought: An Essay on the Nature of Indian Philosophical Thinking (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Classical Indian Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2002); The Self and its Other (Oxford University Press, 2000); Logic, Truth, and the Modalities (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999; Jadavpur University, Kolkata, 1999); The Concept of Intentionality (St. Louis: Warren H. Green, 1972); Phenomenology: Between Essentialism and Transcendental Philosophy (Northwestern University Press, 1997); Husserl and Frege (Indiana University Press, 1982); Edmund Husserl's Theory of Meaning (Springer, 1976); and The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl: A Historical Development (Yale University Press, 2008). His charming and inspiring intellectual autobiography was published in 2012 by Oxford University press with the title Between Two Worlds: East and West, an Autobiography. Some of his classic papers are collected in the volume edited with an introduction by Purushottama Billimoria: J. N. Mohanty: Essays on Indian Philosophy Traditional and Modern (New York and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002). Philosophy East and West is going to publish a special issue devoted to JNM's life-time achievements in different branches and traditions of philosophy. [End Page 2]

Arindam Chakrabarti

Philosophy Department, University of Hawai'i

uharindam@gmail.com

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