William Jones (philologist)  

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"that anything natural can be offensively obscene never seems to have occurred to the Indians or to their legislators; a singularity (?) pervading their writings and conversation, but no proof of moral depravity." --"Translator's foreword to 'The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night' by Richard Francis Burton"

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sir William Jones (28 September 1746 – 27 April 1794) was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages. He was also the founder of the Asiatic Society.

Schopenhauer's citation

Arthur Schopenhauer referred to one of Sir William Jones's publications in §1 of The World as Will and Representation (1819). Schopenhauer was trying to support the doctrine that "everything that exists for knowledge, and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject, perception of the perceiver, in a word, representation." He quoted Jones's original English:

... how early this basic truth was recognized by the sages of India, since it appears as the fundamental tenet of the Vedânta philosophy ascribed to Vyasa, is proved by Sir William Jones in the last of his essays: "On the Philosophy of the Asiatics" (Asiatic Researches, vol. IV, p. 164): "The fundamental tenet of the Vedânta school consisted not in denying the existence of matter, that is solidity, impenetrability, and extended figure (to deny which would be lunacy), but in correcting the popular notion of it, and in contending that it has no essence independent of mental perception; that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms."

Schopenhauer used Jones's authority to relate the basic principle of his philosophy to what was, according to Jones, the most important underlying proposition of Vedânta. He made more passing reference to Sir William Jones's writings elsewhere in his works.




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