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216 / International Journal of Hindu Studies

At 460 pages Fowler's book is overly long, dense, and hardly appropriate as
an introduction. Yet neither is it a reference book. It is merely a tertiary source
lacking all of the requisite scholarly apparatus that is entirely dependent upon
the secondary literature preceding it. I cannot recommend this book, hut I also
cannot recommend too many alternatives. Because it might serve its purpose
without qualifying as an original work of scholarship, it raises a crucial issue
about and challenge for scholars of Indian philosophy regarding the proper
standards for scholarship.
Deepak Sarma

Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland

Nicholas F. Gier, Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. 328 pages.
"Titanism" refers to "humans taking on divine attributes as their own without
any regard for their logical coherence" (13). Gier considers the study primarily a
philosophical enterprise claiming that Titanism is "a philosophical mistake with
theological implications: a conflation of human and divine attributes" (16). As
the author explains, "Titanism is an extreme form of humanism that does not
recognize that there are limits to what humans can become and what they should
do" (2). The monograph presents a worldwide survey of this trend in both South
and East Asian religious traditions and Euro-North American philosophy.
Nicholas Gier develops the idea of Titanism from Heinrich Robert Zimmer's
Philosophies of India, identifies five types of spiritual Titanism, and interprets
them based on Friedrich Nietzsche's three metamorphoses of camel, lion, and
child. Several traditions are offered as philosophical counters to spiritual
Titanism, such as the critique of ultimate self in early Buddhism or the sacred
statecraft of Confucianism.
What is most problematic in Gier's utilization of Titanism as a rhetorical
device across the spectrum of the world's religio-philosophical traditions is that
it lacks a self-awareness of the Judaic-Christian cultural presuppositions that lie
behind its usage. Namely, Gier's defining characteristics of "deity" and "divinity" are construed in manners which may not be applicable to the particular East
or South Asian tradition under analysis.
Along these lines, Gier's wide-ranging survey of extreme humanistic trends is
revealing and provides a wealth of doctrinal and historical details but is thwarted
by polemic exaggerated analysis at the expense of an accurate understanding of
primary source material. For instance, Gier charges Mahiy,~na scholasticism
with Gnostic Titanism (88), the contention that humans may have perfect knowl-

Book Reviews / 217

edge presumably in the "determined attempt to acquire and to monopolize total
power" (3). However, by definition, a Mah~y~nist is one cultivates the altruistic
intention (bodhicitta) of striving for perfect enlightenment for the sake of all
beings, not for only egocentric concerns.
Gier's polemic also suffers from an overall reliance upon secondary sources
that are outdated. The notions that N~g~rjuna's dialectic is "the realization that
the negation of knowledge is the means to liberation" (90), that Mahayana
Buddhist insight is "Sa. ~ r a is and that is Sar0s~ra" (171), that
the dharmakaya is a monistic position that implies "that all individuals are
essentially one" (160-61), or, finally, that a Bodhisattva does "not enter Nirvana
[sic] until all sentient beings are saved" (154) are inaccuracies from a previous
generation's cross-cultural comparative playbook. Additionally, a fair number of
errors in Sanskrit and Tibetan, particularly of place names and persons, plague
the text.
Spiritual Titanism may have value for comparative philosophers and theologians with its distinct thesis of Titanism as applied to a vast range of Western,
South Asian, and East Asian traditions. Yet, a specialist in any one of these
areas may not find the trope as useful.
James B. Apple

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

David L. Gosling, Religion and Ecology in India and Southeast Asia. New
York: Routledge, 2001. 219 pages.
This book is a rather unique contribution to the study of religion and ecology not
only because the author was initially trained as a scientist but also because the
study is concerned with India and Southeast Asia in their religious interconnectedness. The author explores the relationships between the environment and
Hinduism and Buddhism (particularly Theravada) in an attempt to show how
particular Asian religious traditions have adopted and can adopt diverse environmentally ethical approaches (whether based on Gandhian principles, the
ethics found in SvLrni Vivekananda's teachings, or by influence of the Buddhist
Sad.gha, to name a few). The study is chronological in its broadest sense, from
pre-Vedic through post-independent India, tracing what Stanley Tambiah has
called the "continuities and transformations" between religious perceptions of
nature in the past and present.
Chapter one broadly introduces the field of ecology and how the environment
is seen in relation to religion in Asian cultures. In chapter two the transformation
from nomadic to settled life is summarized, while chapter three discusses the