Agency in Ṛgveda Book 2: Comparative Examination and Philosophical Implications

By Astrid Vicas.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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This paper outlines observations concerning agency in Ṛgveda Book 2, which it compares to agency in Sumerian proverbs and wisdom literature and Shang oracle bone inscriptions. These observations indicate an affinity on important aspects of agency between the Ṛgveda 2 and Sumerian conceptions, on one hand, and a marked contrast with the outlook on agency that transpires from Shang oracle bone inscriptions, on the other hand. Ṛgveda 2 and Sumerian texts share a genetic conception of agency. Nevertheless, Ṛgveda 2 is distinctive in profiling a conception of agency that incorporates multiple determination, pluripotency, the explicit expression of universality, and mutual interaction. The paper will briefly explain these characteristics and their significance. All three conceptions of action, nevertheless, agree on one common feature: they do not present an inner driving power that brings about action. A broader implication of this study is that it is helpful to pay closer attention to generally under examined conceptions of agency, since they may reveal insights that are commonly overlooked.

Keywords: Agency, Comparative Philosophy, Intercultural Philosophy, Philosophy of Action, Ṛgveda, Shang Oracle Bones, Sumerian Proverbs and Wisdom Literature

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.23-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 450.729KB).

Dr. Astrid Vicas

Associate Professor, Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, FL, USA

Astrid Vicas is currently working on projects that examine the relation between agency, culture, and values, and that focus on the impact of developments in technology on our conceptions of agency and narrative. She is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Leo University.