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Book: Exploring Hindu Philosophy

Chapter: Unity and its Concrete Multitudes

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42875


We begin our ontological explorations with the Nyāya and the Vaiśeṣika systems. According to them, not only an everyday object such as a cup but also the absence of this cup is a kind of “thing”. We work our way towards Advaita Vedānta, as systematised by Śaṃkara. According to Advaita, empirical distinctions are, in the ultimate analysis, misconceptions associated with our state of worldly ignorance. The unitary source, foundation, and telos of everything in the world is not an empirical object. In contrast, Vaiśeṣika has a down-to-earth feel: the world with its manifold differences is robustly real. Moreover, it is meaningful to say that medium-sized objects in our environment have mind-independent existence.

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