The present volume appears to be the first general introduction, for English-reading students, to that which, in Indian tradition, corresponds to 'philosophy' in British and probably in most other English-speaking universities. It shows how Indian philosophers have posed such questions as whether we can be sure we 'know' anything, whether words 'mean' anything, whether it is possible to generalise from observed regularities in nature and whether there is anything in nature, or in 'reality', corresponding to our concept of a 'class'. It traces the sustained and rigorous analysis of such philosophical problems through many centuries, indicating in outline the interrelationships of ideas and 'schools' and development of the theory of knowledge, formal logic and other analytical investigations. The closely related development of science in India is also indicated. This does not imply that Indian philosophy is the same as 'Western' philosophy or part of it, which would make it redundant and uninteresting. It is interesting in that it discusses similar philosophical problems in different ways, as philosophers elsewhere have. But there is the problem of translation, obvious in most books on Indian tradition, especially if we compare any two of them. This Course is based only on original Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit sources translated by the author.
This outline is intended to serve as an introductory textbook for Indian philosophy. It indicates the scope of the subject, providing essential basic material for the study, chronologically arranged, and giving references for further reading. The 'material' here provided is taken direct from the original sources, i.e. the works of Indian philosophers, and translated by the author of the Outline in all cases: its authenticity can always be checked by anyone who cares to look up the original, provided he can read the original language.
The present book is merely a general survey, allowing no room for detailed exposition and discussion, which requires monographs on individual philosophers and problems. As a general outline it also traces the origins and is arranged chronologically, though it hardly contains any history beyond this arrangement. This is meant to facilitate the placing of a philosopher to some extent in the development and study of the problems, in other words in his philosophical environment. Despite its brevity and the limitations of an attempt to survey an entire field of human enquiry from its origins, it is hoped that this introduction will help to dispel misconceptions and to bring to the attention of contemporary philosophers investigations of interest and value.