Podcast Series: Indian Philosophy for a Contemporary World

19 October 2020 (Mon),

During the past year, Asst. Prof. Malcolm Keating has been hosting a new podcast in an effort to bring Indian philosophy to a public audience. The podcast, “Sutras (and stuff)” features short episodes focusing on a single idea in premodern Sanskrit texts and their resonances in modern life. Episodes from the first season focused on topics like how Taylor Swift’s song lyrics illustrate kinds of figurative speech analyzed by Indian philosophers (“The Man,” episode 2), how Indian philosophers understood disease and contagion, and might have responded to a pandemic (“Contagion,” episodes 3 and 4), and whether binge-watching Netflix is a kind of aesthetic experience according to the philosopher Abhinavagupta (“Binging,” episode 8). Interviews with experts such as Elisa Freschi (University of Toronto), Patricia Sauthoff (Ayuryog Project), and Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University) also feature in the podcast.

In the current, second season, Keating is taking listeners through the early sūtra text, the Nyāya-sūtra (ca 150 CE), and its commentators. Drawing on interviews with Matthew Dasti (Bridgewater University) and Stephen Phillips (University of Texas at Austin) and his own research, Keating explores the relevance of Nyāya philosophy for the contemporary world: What are the limits of our reasoning? What counts as good evidence for our beliefs? How do we know if someone is a trustworthy source of information? What do we do when we are gripped by doubt? When is a debate with someone worth our time, and how can we discuss contentious topics?

This season draws on themes from his course, Debate and Reasoning in Indian Philosophy, which is a close look at Nyāya theories of debate and epistemology, and is related to his current research project on the norms of argumentation in Vācaspati Miśra and other early Nyāya philosophers. The podcast can be found at www.sutrasandstuff.com  or on any podcast platform.