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Reading: Post-structuralism and Eastern Epistemology: the Concordance in Discordance


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Post-structuralism and Eastern Epistemology: the Concordance in Discordance


Dhanuka Bandara

University of Peradeniya, LK
About Dhanuka
Department of English
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The objective of this paper is to analyse the fascinating ties between German transcendental philosophy of the 19th century and the Upanishadic and Buddhist thought, and the myriad ways in which these ties bear upon later European philosophy. My paper argues that Arthur Schopenhauer's World as Will and Idea - which heavily draws upon the Upanishads and Buddhism-is the point of provenance of what I describe as a "Genealogy of Thought" in western philosophy. Therefore in this paper I trace the influence of Schopenhauer-and in turn that of the Upanishads and Buddhism - in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida. These three thinkers are closely associated with the poststructuralist project. It is my contention that the antecedents of post structuralism can be discerned in the Upanishads and Buddhism. Many fundamental tenets of poststructuralist thought such as the deconstruction of binary opposites, the Heideggerian critique of presence and self, and non-linearity resonate certain key positions held by classical Indian philosophers. I further go on to argue that the genealogy of thought that I am tracing is at odds with what could be broadly described as "traditional western metaphysics"; that the influence of the Upanishads and Buddhism afforded the thinkers that I am discussing a critical reflection on western thought. For this reason postcolonial theorists such as Gayathri Spivak and Homi K. Bhabha freely avail themselves of poststructuralist theory. This is because poststructuralist theory, as I argue in this paper, has its roots in the colonial encounter itself.
How to Cite: Bandara, D., 2014. Post-structuralism and Eastern Epistemology: the Concordance in Discordance. Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, 40, pp.85–98. DOI:
Published on 09 Dec 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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