Viśiṣṭādvaitic Panentheism and the Liberating Function of Love in Weil, Murdoch, and Rāmānuja

In Benedikt Paul Göcke & Swami Medhananda (eds.), Panentheism in Indian and Western Thought: Cosmopolitan Interventions. Routledge. pp. 60-92 (2024)
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As we explore panentheism, what can we learn from Rāmānuja's Viśiṣṭādvaita? Although widely acknowledged as a panentheist, in the contemporary debate on how to characterize panentheism, Rāmānuja barely features. But Rāmānuja's position is worth studying not just because it bears on taxonomical questions. Among its interesting features is a conception on which devotional love, bhakti, serves an epistemic function that is also of crucial soteriological relevance. This chapter addresses both these topics. First, Rāmānuja's Viśiṣṭādvaita is used to cast doubt on a characterization of panentheism recently proposed by Mikael Stenmark. Second, Rāmānuja's conception of bhakti is juxtaposed with two conceptions of love that serve an analogous dual function: Weil's conception of supernatural love and Murdoch's conception of love as just attention. Rāmānuja's position, it is argued, is distinct, partly due to his panentheist commitments, but it also shares a number of features with the other two. In closing, it is suggested that for further comparative work on these three, ample room remains.

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T. Raja Rosenhagen
Ashoka University (Sonipat, India)


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