Jain philosophy

Jain philosophy refers to the ancient Indian philosophical system found in Jainism. One of the main features of Jain philosophy is its dualistic metaphysics, which holds that there are two distinct categories of existence, the living, conscious or sentient being (jiva) and the non-living or material (ajiva).[1]

Jain texts discuss numerous philosophical topics such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, cosmology and soteriology. Jain thought is primarily concerned with understanding the nature of living beings, how these beings are bound by karma (which are seen as fine material particles) and how living beings may be liberated (moksha) from the cycle of reincarnation. Also notable is the Jain belief in a beginning-less and cyclical universe and a rejection of a Creator deity.

From the Jain point of view, Jain philosophy is eternal and has been taught numerous times in the remote past by the great enlightened tirthankaras ("ford-makers").[2][3] Historians trace the developments of Jain thought to a few key figures in ancient India, mainly Mahavira (c. 5th century BCE, a contemporary of the Buddha) and possibly Parshvanatha (c. 8th or 7th century BCE, though this is disputed).[4]

According to Paul Dundas, Jain philosophy has remained relatively stable throughout its long history and no major radical doctrinal shift has taken place. This is mainly because of the influence of Umaswati's Tattvārthasūtra, which has remained the central authoritative philosophical text among all Jains.[5]


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