Meaning and Appearance: The Theology of Literary Emotions in Medieval Kashmir
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CitationReich, James D. 2016. Meaning and Appearance: The Theology of Literary Emotions in Medieval Kashmir. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines a major debate in tenth- to twelfth-century Kashmiri literary theory between two famous theorists: Abhinavagupta and Mahimabhaṭṭa, and shows that we cannot fully understand the debate between these two thinkers if we do not properly understand the religious context in which it took place. This is because the philosophical issues at stake in this debate, which concern the difference between how things appear and what they truly are, overlapped in important ways with theological debates going on at the time. So when a twelfth-century literary theorist discussed how the words of a poem relate to the mood at the core of the poem, he was at the same time discussing issues that were of basic theological importance in his context, such as God's relationship to the world, the self's relationship to actions, or the relations between knowledge, intuition, and memory.
Part One looks at the famous theory of "poetic manifestation" developed in the ninth century by Ānandavardhana and radically updated 150 years later by Abhinavagupta. In this half of the dissertation I explore the connection between Abhinavagupta's literary theory and his Hindu theology. Part Two of the dissertation looks at a famous attempt to refute the theory of poetic manifestation by Mahimabhaṭṭa, a theorist writing in Kashmir within a generation of Abhinavagupta who relied heavily and explicitly on the Buddhist philosophy of Dharmakīrti. I show that Mahimabhaṭṭa's use of Dharmakīrti was a direct response to the religious basis of Abhinavagupta's theory, as Dharmakīrti represented an inverted religious worldview from that of Abhinavagupta. This difference, in turn affects the conclusions these theorists reach about the ethical value of literature. Whereas Abhinavagupta ultimately concludes that the pleasure literature affords us is itself an ethical goal, Mahimabhaṭṭa attributes only an instrumental value to the pleasure of literature, saying that it is like sugar coating on the bitter medicine of ethical lessons. These conclusions, I show, are not arbitrary, but are deeply tied to the assumptions underlying both aesthetic and religious ideas.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493514
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