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Why There is "I" Rather than "It"? The Ontology of the Subject in the Upanishads

The project is financed within the framework of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities, module Universalia 2.1.

Project coordinator: Prof. Dr hab. Marta Kudelska

The purpose of this project is the English translation and subsequent publication of the book Why There is "I" Rather than "It"? The Ontology of the Subject in the Upanishads.

This book deals with the ontology of the subject in classical Upanishads. All the interpretations are based on the original Sanskrit sources and they are written from the nirguna point of view. All the considerations start with a translation and new interpretation of the Nasadiyasukta (Rigveda X 129). The main thesis is focused on the distinction between verbs originating from two roots: the root as from which the word sat comes and the root bhū, from which the word bhava comes. While the as element primordially implies a static state, the bhū element implies a dynamic one. This distinction is crucial for all given considerations in the book. Based on this idea, the scheme of the classical Upanishads is reconstructed. In the next parts many terms denoting the roles or the functions of the subject are taken into consideration. The analysis of the sentence ‘aham asmi' – ‘I am" is of considerably material importance. This utterance leads to the division into subject and object. ‘Aham' stands for the primordial level of bhava, and ‘asmi' still remains in the sat dimension. The subtlest form of the object appears as the light. In some texts the light assumes the shape of Purusha, the archetype of God, but according to other sources the light assumes the shape of the soul. The main thesis of this book is to show that all forms, all categories are secondary to the primordial, absolute state of being, which transcends all shapes and forms.

The Advaita is still one of the most popular Indian schools of philosophy. Detailed topics in this field are widely discussed on academic and semi-academic grounds. I am certain of the fact that this particular reconstruction of philosophy of the Upanishads is an original one. I also hope that it will be a new voice in the discussion of the sources of Indian philosophy. This book will not only provide the readers with an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of philosophy and Indian religion, but also to find a common philosophical conception, which opens a new perspective in reading the great Western philosophers, whose works are connected with the philosophy of subjectivity.