The Nondual Mind: Vedānta, Kashmiri Pratyabhijñā Shaivism, and Spinoza

Abstract

This book compares Hindu nondual philosophy to that of Baruch Spinoza, demonstrating the similarity of Spinoza’s ideas to Kashmiri Pratyabhijñā Shaivism. The book is well researched, but it is written in an informal style suitable for both scholars and the educated general public. There is already some scholarly literature comparing Spinoza’s philosophy to Śaṅkara’s Vedānta, but none of it has focused, as this book does, on philosophy of mind, and none of it has included nondual Kashmiri Shaivism in the comparison. Among other things, the important distinction between Śaṅkara’s Vedānta and nondual Kashmiri Shaivism is brought to the fore by looking at those two philosophies through the lens of Spinoza. “I liked James H. Cumming’s The Nondual Mind a lot. It is beautifully written, thoughtful, and very clear.” (Prof. Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Charlotte Bloomberg Professor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University) “James H. Cumming’s scholarly interpretation of Spinoza’s works, persuasively showing how 17th century European ideas that ushered in the Enlightenment find a precursor in 10th century Kashmir, is a masterpiece of reason and philosophy that will leave the reader with profound thoughts on the meaning of history, God, and life itself. As a senior staff attorney in my chambers for many years at the California Supreme Court and a top scholar of ethics and philosophy of law, Mr. Cumming never ceased to amaze me with his outstanding research and intellect. This scholarly book is a must read for all who want to know why Spinoza continues to influence contemporary philosophy and how his work is still relevant in today’s challenging, interconnected world.” (Hon. Ming W. Chin, Associate Justice (Retired), Supreme Court of California, 1996–2020)

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