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Universe and Inner Self in Early Indian and Early Greek Thought$
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Richard Seaford

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474410991

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410991.001.0001

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Soul chariots in Indian and Greek thought: polygenesis or diffusion?

Soul chariots in Indian and Greek thought: polygenesis or diffusion?

Chapter:
(p.149) 10 Soul chariots in Indian and Greek thought: polygenesis or diffusion?
Source:
Universe and Inner Self in Early Indian and Early Greek Thought
Author(s):

Paolo Magnone

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410991.003.0011

This chapter discusses the similarity between the allegories of the soul as chariot in Plato's Phaedrus and the Katha Upanishad. It begins by investigating the methodological assumptions underlying such cross-cultural comparison in the absence of pertinent historical documentation. Then the congruences and discrepancies between the two texts are reviewed. The allegory is integral to Upanishadic thought in a way that is unparalleled in Greek thought, and this supports the conjecture of diffusion in a westward direction. The paramount difference between the two texts is the idle passenger, absent from the Phaedrus but central to the allegory in the Katha Upanishad. This difference is significant as a watershed between Upanishad-based Indian and Plato-influenced Greek philosophy.

Keywords:   Soul, Chariot, Plato Phaedrus, Katha Upanishad, Diffusion

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