Philosophy and the End of Sacrifice - Disengaging Ritual in Ancient India, Greece and Beyond - Peter Jackson

Philosophy and the End of Sacrifice - Disengaging Ritual in Ancient India, Greece and Beyond - Peter Jackson


Philosophy and the End of Sacrifice - Disengaging Ritual in Ancient India, Greece and Beyond - Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson [+-]
University of Stockholm
Peter Jackson is Professor at the department of History of Religions at Stockholm University, Sweden. Jackson received his PhD in the History of Religions from Uppsala University in 1999. He specializes in the study of Indo-European religions, with a particular emphasis on ancient Indian and Iranian religions, the religions of ancient Greece and Rome, and Old Norse religion. He also works on more general theoretical and conceptual concerns in the study of religion. His most recent book is The Transformations of Helen: Indo-European Myth and the Roots of the Trojan Cycle (2007).
Anna-Pya Sjödin [+-]
Mid-Sweden University
Anna-Pya Sjödin is Senior lecturer in the study of religions at Mid Sweden University, department of Humanities, affiliated researcher at Uppsala University, department of Linguistics and Philology. Sjödin received her PhD in Indology at Uppsala University 2007. Her research interests include Indian epistemology, ontology and the relationship between action (karma) and knowledge (veda/jñāna) in early and later Indian philosophical texts. Her dissertation “The happening of Tradition: Vallabha on Anumāna in Nyāyalīlavati” (2007) concerns medieval Hindu epistemology. More recently she has published on yogic cognition in Vaiśeṣika.


This volume addresses the means and ends of sacrificial speculation by inviting a selected group of specialist in the fields of philosophy, history of religions, and indology to examine philosophical modes of sacrificial speculation — especially in Ancient India and Greece — and consider the commonalities of their historical raison d’être. Scholars have long observed, yet without presenting any transcultural grand theory on the matter, that sacrifice seems to end with (or even continue as) philosophy in both Ancient India and Greece. How are we to understand this important transformation that so profoundly changed the way we think of religion (and philosophy as opposed to religion) today? Some of the complex topics inviting closer examination in this regard are the interiorisation of ritual, ascetism and self-sacrifice, sacrifice and cosmogony, the figure of the philosopher-sage, transformations and technologies of the self, analogical reasoning, the philosophy of ritual, vegetarianism, and metempsychosis. The first section of the volume, “Historical and Comparative Approaches to Ritual Thought in Ancient India and Archaic Greece,” is devoted to changes in religious behaviour and the place of sacrifice in early Indian intellectual history. Instead of searching for origins and closures, the individual contributions rather attempt to map changes, and sometimes to catalogue the complexity in thinking and acting that comes to light in the early Indian material. What becomes clear then, instead of a simple one-way causality between thought and performance, is an ongoing transformation mediated by both intellectual activity and ritual reflexivity. Beginnings and ends in this sense never actually take place as clearly definable moments in time. The precarious act of historical and/or logical comparison can of course not be disregarded in this connection,because the terminology underlying one’s research is always confronted with the general problem of translation. The themes forming the backbone of the book’s midsection, “Ritual Thought in Late Antiquity,” are all grounded in textual sources from Late Antiquity, such as the Corpus Hermeticum, the Nag Hammadi texts, and the letters of Paul. As will become clear, however, they also point in quite different directions, both spatial and temporal, by evoking ancient Egyptian material, ethnographic comparanda and 20th century philosophy. The last section, “Repercussions of Sacrifice in Western Philosophy,” closes the historical circuit by addressing the continuation of sacrificial themes in contemporary continental philosophy.

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Jackson, Peter ; Sjödin, Anna-Pya. Introduction. Philosophy and the End of Sacrifice - Disengaging Ritual in Ancient India, Greece and Beyond. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 1-10 Feb 2016. ISBN 9781781791257. Date accessed: 07 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.28071. Feb 2016

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