The 2023-24 Roop Lal Jain Memorial Lecture
Jaina philosophers accept the existence of a plurality of immaterial individual selves that are eternal yet always changing. As substances, the selves possess a set of essential properties, the most distinctive of which is consciousness. These essential properties continually undergo modal modification. Immaterial selves are embodied and trapped in the cycle of rebirths until they attain liberation, an endless existence in a disembodied form. As the whole Jaina soteriological project hinges on the existence of the self, Jaina thinkers have discussed it since the early texts. In this talk, Ana Bajželj will examine the Tattvārthavārtika (Rājavārtika), an 8th-century commentary on Umāsvāmin’s Tattvārthasūtra, composed by Akalaṅka, one of the most prominent medieval Jaina philosophers. She will discuss how Akalaṅka develops his arguments for the existence of the self while maintaining his philosophical commitments and how he responds to the challenges of competing philosophical views.
ANA BAJŽELJ is Associate Professor and Shrimad Rajchandra Endowed Chair in Jain Studies in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of California, Riverside. She was previously a research fellow at the University of Rajasthan and the Polonsky Academy (Van Leer Jerusalem Institute), and she taught at the University of Ljubljana and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on Jaina philosophy, particularly metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of mind. She is the author of The Nature of Change in Jaina Philosophy (Ljubljana University Press, 2016, in Slovenian) and the co-author of Insistent Life: Principles for Bioethics in the Jain Tradition (UC Press, 2021). She is currently working on a monograph study of the Tattvārthasūtra and its commentaries.
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