CFP: Special Issue on INDIAN RELIGIONS AND THE CONCEPT OF GOD (Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions)

Submission deadline: November 30, 2022

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Although Western philosophy of religion has developed many useful exegetical and philosophical tools for evaluating Abrahamitic conceptions of God as they apply to respective philosophical traditions, there is a growing awareness that such monotheistic Western approaches might conceal and prohibit a culturally sensitive and philosophically adequate appreciation of the numerous concepts of God found in religious traditions outside of the Western hemisphere. This awareness, which is part of the motivation beyond what is known as cross-cultural philosophy of religion, encompasses both the need for and the encouragement of new dialogues between Western philosophy of religion and non-Western traditions as a means to foster a deeper mutual understanding of the variety of concepts of God or the divine developed in the history of humankind.  

Divinity in some Indian religions, such as Vaiṣṇavism, Śaivism and Śaktism, is often conceived monotheistically, as a supreme OmniGod (much like Western accounts of God.) Despite the evidence supporting this, these Indian concepts of God exhibit certain peculiarities that threaten the idea of their being monotheistic (or even theistic, one might say.) For instance, they manifest a plurality of divine forms, referred to as devatās and avatāras (divinely incarnations), they subsequently assimilate or incorporate other divinities in the Hindu pantheon and continue to exist in ambiguous relationships with them (an example being those between Viṣṇu, Śiva, Brahmā, and the Goddess), they are united with ordinary living beings in various ways, and they sometimes possess (exude?) ultimately impersonal or abstract nature. Moreover, in the Indian subcontinent, theistic traditions have resided alongside those that are decidedly non-theistic (for instance, Jain, Buddhist, and naturalist traditions), or non-theistically inclined (such as Nyāya and perhaps Yoga within Hinduism), and possibly a[mono]theistic (as in the Cārvāka and Mīmāṁsā schools) – although concepts of divinity in all these traditions are up for debate. Given all of this, we might ask: are Indian theistic traditions really monotheistic? Or, to put it in conceptual terms, is their concept of God a monotheistic one? Or, is their concept of divinity theistic at all?  

Accepting that there are different conceptions of divinity among the Indian religious and philosophical traditions, we are then behoved to pose this question: how can these concepts of God be philosophically characterized? What divine properties does any given tradition ascribe to its divinity? Can this divinity be described in a consistent way? Or is it a contradictory concept? If the concept is contradictory, how would this affect its intelligibility? Does any of those concepts of God have some advantage over traditional philosophical accounts of God? How do they relate to well-known accounts of God, such as those of classical theism, pantheism, panentheism, process theism, open theism, etc.? And what are the difficulties peculiar to these Indian concepts of God?  

This special issue of Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions (https://www.springer.com/journal/11841) will address these questions and approach the concept of God in Indian religions from a contemporary philosophical perspective. We invite submissions of papers on general philosophical topics related to Indian religions and the concept of God, including but not restricted to the following themes:  

- God in Indian religious traditions.

- Divine attributes and Indian concepts of divinity.

- Indian concepts of divinity vs. western concepts of God.

- Atheistic or agnostic arguments against the coherence of Indian concepts of God.

- Vaiṣṇavism/Śaivism/Śaktism: monotheistic, panentheistic or what?

- Language and God in Indian traditions.

- Divinity and Hindu deities.

- Relation of the divine with the world: creation and difference/non-difference.

- Consciousness and Indian concepts of divinity: cosmopsyshism, panenpsychism or what?  

Papers should be submitted through Sophia’s Editorial Manager (https://www.editorialmanager.com/soph/default1.aspx) specifying that they are being submitted to the special issue on Indian Religions and the Concept of God, and obey Sophia's submission guidelines (https://www.springer.com/journal/11841/submission-guidelines). Submitted papers will go through a double-blind peer-review process. The deadline for submission is November 30, 2022.  

The special issue will be guest-edited by Ricardo Silvestre, Alan Herbert and Purushottama Bilimoria. It is scheduled to be launched in the beginning of 2024. There will be an online conference on March 2023 related to the special issue. Authors who want to make sure that the theme of their papers fit into the special issue might send an extended abstract (no more than 900 words) to [email protected] or [email protected]  

The special issue is one of the outcomes of the project “Philosophical Approaches to the Vaiṣṇava Concept of God”, funded by the John Templeton Foundation via the Global Philosophy of Religion Project (https://www.logicandreligion.com/vaishnava-concept-of-god).   

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