Faculty Collaborator Profile

Sonam Kachru

Assistant Professor, Religious Studies


My research interests lie in the history of philosophy, with special attention to the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia. Topics of particular interest to me include the philosophy of mind, action and philosophical anthropology. I believe the history of Buddhist philosophy in South Asia is best pursued keeping in view the long conversations of Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophers in South Asia, and also the importance of narrative thought for the history of ideas.

My first monograph (now available from Columbia University Press) is entitled Other Lives: Mind, and World in Indian Buddhism. It offers a new interpretation of the Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu. You can read more about it here.

I am working on a book (under advance contract with the University of Virginia Press, tentatively titled Attention: An Indian Buddhist Story). The book presents the history of Buddhism in South Asia as a history of (sometimes competing) normative paradigms of attention, exploring the ways in which one might think to evaluate mind and consciousness in the context of practices of self. Complementing the project on attention, I have begun a (very) long term project, “Practices of Self in Antiquity: Between Athens and Pataliputra,” guided by the multi-lingual edicts of the Buddhist Emperor Aśoka. The hope is to provide the materials for a new history of the practices and hermeneutics of self, an account of the vocabularies and practices that once constituted a connected climate of philosophical culture and therapy in antiquity.



A Common Thread

A Common Thread

Over 2,000 years ago, the Indian emperor Ashoka Maurya wrote a code of ethics that drew on faiths and philosophies across his vast empire.