Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Sciences


John G. Arapura


It will be my intention in this essay to demonstrate that Śankara-Vedānta should be addressed primarily as theology and not as philosophy. At the very least, such reference to Śankara-Vedānta as philosophy is misleading if left unqualified--and sometimes unjustified even when qualified. I am convinced that Śankara-Vedānta can be more accurately described as theology for mainly two reasons: Śankara's starting point is revelation (śruti) and his primary concern is of a soteriological nature, viz., the desire for liberation (mumuksutvam). These two essential characteristics of Śankara's thinking doubtlessly put some distance between his method and primary concern and those of modern, Western philosophy. I have specifically delimited the philosophical aspect of this distinction to the modern, Western era for reasons of clarity. Even by doing this, we can not come to an agreement on what is one, modern, Western philosophy, but rather only isolate some mainstream elements. However, I do think it feasible to maintain that--on the grounds of so important a set of distinctions as the respective starting points and primary concerns--we can point to differences between philosophy and theology and thereby clarify our understanding of Śankara-Vedānta.

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