International Seminar on

Neoplatonism and Indian Thought

New Delhi, India 

December 29, 1992 to January 3, 1993

Co - Chairpersons

Prof. Baine Harris (USA)

Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios

2 Tughlakabad Inst. Area

New Delhi - 110 062

Organizing Secretary

Dr. Rajan K. Ghosh

Indian Council of Philosophical Studies

4th Floor, Rajendra Bhawan

210, Deen Dayal Upadhya Marg

New Delhi - 110002

August 1, 1992

Esteemed scholar and friend,

Namaskar and pranaams,

May we, on behalf of the international organising committee, extend this special invitation to the four - day International Seminar on Neoplatonism and Indian Thought, to be held at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti House, New Delhi, from December 29th, 1992 (day of arrival) to January 3rd, 1993 (day of departure). The invitation is extended only to a select number of scholars, and judging from the response to the idea so far, we may have to restrict the number of participants to less than half those invited.

It was in the thirties of our century that E. Brehier, the renowned French philosopher, asked the question about an oriental and specifically Indian element in the thought of Plotinus, the fountainhead of Neoplatonism in the 3rd Century A. D. In his introduction and notes to La Philosophie de Plotin (Paris, 1938, pp 107 - 133) Brehier suggested that certain elements in Plotinus could not be derived from Greek thought, for example the absence of any line of demarcation between the human self and the Divine Principle.

In general a large number of western scholars are of the other view, that Plotinus can be explained strictly within the bounds of Greek thought. This was expressed in H. K. Mueller’s paper in Hermes 49, (1914), pp 70 - 80. The British scholar A. N. Armstrong argued the same way in his paper "Plotinus and India'', in Classical Quarterly, 30 (1936), pp 22-28. For us in India the debate was admirably summarized by J. F. Staal in his Advaita and Neoplatonism. A Critical Study in Comparative Philosophy (University of Madras, 1961). O. Lacombe’s judgement is in the Silver Jubilee Commemoration Volume of the Indian Philosophical Congress (Calcutta, 1950, pp. 45-54) ‘Plotinus stands at the junction of the two currents of influence - Greek and Indian.”

Our goal in this seminar is not to settle this dispute, but to go beyond it, to the question of contemporary meeting of European and Indian thought that looks behind so called Modern Philosophy, to find common meeting points. We need to do this as part of our own search in India for a more acceptable and less one-sided assessment of the identity of our own nation and culture. In our country the western ideology of secularism sits rather awkwardly with its twin forms, liberalism and marxism, on the broad shoulders of a magnificent heritage of highly creative Indian thought.

We will be assisted in this process by 15 distinguished international participants from USA, Canada, U. K. and Japan. We enclose a list of these persons and their paper topics. There will be room only for at the most half a dozen Indian papers, (see list of possible topics) which will have to be briefly presented. It is not obligatory for you to write a paper at all, but we would be glad to have short 4 - page texts by you distributed to the participants. Longer papers are also welcome, since these are to form the bulk of a publication in the future.

Our budget is severely limited - unless someone comes up with a generous offer. We want to offer hospitality to all our participants, national as well as international. The international participants are paying their own travel, and we except our Indian participants to do the same. Accommodation will be provided for those coming from outside Delhi, but it will be modest.

What we need immediately from you is a reply on the enclosed slip. If you want to present a paper, please let us have the topic not later than September 15, 1992, and the paper itself by the end of November 1992 or earlier if possible.

Dr. Ranjan K. Ghosh

Organizing Secretary


Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios