Catherine Prueitt

Selected Publications
  • “Beyond Time, Not Before Time: The Pratyabhijñā Śaiva Critique of Dharmakīrti on the Reality of Beginningless Conceptual Differentiation.” Philosophy East and West, 2019 (forthcoming).
  • “Review of Human Being, Bodily Being, by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad.” MIND, 2019 (forthcoming).
  • “Is There an Ideal Scientific Image? Sellars and Dharmakīrti on Levels of Reality.” Wilfrid Sellars and Buddhist Philosophy: Freedom from Foundations. Edited by Jay Garfield. Routledge, 2018, pp. 48-66.
  • “Karmic Imprints, Exclusion, and the Creation of the Worlds of Conventional Awareness in Dharmakīrti’s Thought.” Sophia, Vol. 57,  2018: 313-335.
  • “Shifting Concepts: The Realignment of Dharmakīrti on Concepts and the Error of Subject/Object Duality in Pratyabhijñā Śaiva Thought.” The Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 45, 2017: 21-47.
Research Interests    

My research engages Sanskritic pre-modern South Asian philosophies with a focus on how these traditions contribute to our contemporary understanding of human experience, particularly with regard to how conceptual processes relate to selfhood, attention, and experiences of pain. I work with the Buddhist Dharmakīrti’s apoha (exclusion) theory of concept formation, especially as modified by the Hindu Pratyabhijñā Śaiva tradition, to provide a framework for understanding pain that does not rely on the assumption that the appropriate way to address pain is to eliminate it: rather than seeking to take pain away, enlarging the scope of one’s experience through breaking down habitual patterns of perception may provide a more effective way to address various forms of human suffering.

In addition to my work on pain, I am interested in the implications of the apoha model of concept formation for embodied ethics. I explore how a full recognition of the ways in which an individual’s experience is shaped by more than just an objective world could lead to an ethical paradigm that prioritizes changing or cultivating the underlying patterns of habituation that result in action, rather than assigning blame or praise once an action has already occurred. Focusing on systemic causation instead of personal responsibility raises a number of intriguing possibilities for understanding the ethical implications of human agency, as well. I question whether or not paradigms of choice, free will, and responsibility provide appropriate foundations for understanding ethical action, and propose alternative models rooted in South Asian traditions.

Recent and Upcoming Presentations
  • “Mental Perception or Reflexive Awareness? What a Distinction from Classical South Asia Reveals about Introspection.” American Philosophical Association Eastern Annual Meeting (upcoming in January 2020, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • “Abhinavagupta on the Transformation of Pain.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (upcoming in November 2019, San Diego, California)
  • “Selfhood and the Value of Pain.” Canadian Philosophical Association Annual Congress (June 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada)
  • “At the Limits of Pain: Attention, Exclusion, and Self-Knowledge in Pratyabhijñā Śaivism.” Virtues of Attention Global Philosophical Perspectives III: Workshop on Mind, World, and Attention (April 2019, New York University, New York)
  • “Why Care about Freedom and Agency?” American Philosophical Association Central Annual Meeting (February 2019, Denver, Colorado)
  • “Subverting the Monological Ideal by Embracing the Nonhuman World: How Abhinavagupta’s Nondual Ontology Could Support Charles Taylor’s Dialogical Ethics.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (November 2018, Denver, Colorado)
  • “How to Bring Words to Life: Apoha as the Transition between Nonconeptual and Conceptual Language in Pratyabhijñā Śaivism.” The 2018 Toshihide Numata Book Award Symposium “Meaning in the World and in Texts: Thoughts on Buddhist Philosophy of Language” (November 2018, University of California, Berkeley)
  • “Beyond Time, Not Before Time: Affirming the Beginningless Reality of Conceptual Differentiation in Indian Philosophy,” Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy, Columbia University (February 2018, New York, New York)
  • “Conventional Truth When There Is No Conventional Reality: Understanding Dharmakīrti on Conventional vs. Ultimate Means of Trustworthy Awareness,” XVIIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (August 2017, Toronto, Canada)