1st Edition

Desire and Motivation in Indian Philosophy

By Christopher G. Framarin Copyright 2009
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    Desireless action is typically cited as a criterion of the liberated person in classical Indian texts. Contemporary authors argue with near unanimity that since all action is motivated by desire, desireless action is a contradiction. They conclude that desireless action is action performed without certain desires; other desires are permissible.

    In this book, the author surveys the contemporary literature on desireless action and argues that the arguments for the standard interpretation are unconvincing. He translates, interprets, and evaluates passages from a number of seminal classical Sanskrit texts, and argues that the doctrine of desireless action should indeed be taken literally, as the advice to act without any desire at all. The author argues that the theories of motivation advanced in these texts are not only consistent, but plausible.

    This book is the first in-depth analysis of the doctrine of desireless action in Indian philosophy. It serves as a reference to both contemporary and classical literature on the topic, and will be of interest to scholars of Indian philosophy, religion, the Bhagavadgita and Hinduism.

    Introduction  1. Four Interpretations of Desireless Action  2. Desireless Action in the Yogasutra  3. The Desire for Moksha  4. Unselfish Desires  5. Desireless Action in the Manusmrti  6. Desireless Action in the Nyayasutra and Brahmasiddhi  7. A Defense of Desireless Action.  Conclusion


    Christopher G. Framarin is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, Canada. His areas of research are Indian philosophy, philosophy of religion, and ethics.

    "Christopher Framarin has spent many years analyzing the problem of niskāma karma or desireless action in Indian philosophy as evidenced by his many papers on the topic. The results of these papers are gathered into his book, Desire and Motivation in Indian Philosophy, which presents a sustained defense of the doctrine from multiple perspectives. Its philosophical depth and sophisticated argument notwithstanding, Framarin’s work is lucid, persuasive, and well-executed...this is an important book that will likely generate significant interest in the Gītā’s philosophy of action both among analytic philosophers and in the wider tradition of Western philosophy." -- Joydeep Bagchee, Philosophy East & West Volume 61, Number 4 October 2011 707–717