After spending some years travelling around Africa as a sailor, Juan Arnau obtained a BA in Astrophysics in 1994 from the Complutense University of Madrid. In 1995, he travelled to India thanks to a fellowship from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). He began his studies on Indian philosophy and culture at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) under the supervision of the Catalan Sanskritist Oscar Pujol.
He travelled to Mexico to carry out his doctoral research at the Centre for Asian and African Studies at El Colegio de México, studying Sanskrit with Rashik Vihari Joshi. After finishing his PhD, he started to work as a lecturer in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, where he continued his research with Luis Ó. Gómez. After six years, he returned to Spain as a researcher at the López Piñero Institute for the History of Medicine and Science (CSIC-University of Valencia) and as Associate Lecturer at the University of Barcelona. He is currently working as an Associate Professor-tenure track at the University of Granada.
Areas of research
His early work focused on the Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna and, specifically, on the translations from Sanskrit to Spanish of two of his most important works (the first in Spanish literature history): Fundamentos de la vía media (Siruela, 2004) and Abandono de la discusión (Siruela, 2006). At the same time, Juan Arnau also published a detailed and intriguing study of the philosophy of this monk, together with an analysis of the classic themes of Buddhist thought and hermeneutics and the doctrine of vacuity (La palabra frente al vacío. Filosofía de Nāgārjuna, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005). Since then, his interest in exploring the concept of the human in Buddhism led him to write the reference essay Antropología de Budismo (Kairós, 2007), in which he tackles the distinct “language games” through which the tradition builds its universes of meaning. Furthermore, this essay also focuses on fundamental themes such as nature and perception, memory and desire, the issue of suffering, the question of language and mental culture and the different meditation strategies to increase cognitive abilities.
In 2008, he published Rendir el sentido (Pre-Textos 2008, shortlisted for the Anagrama Essay Prize), in which the author approaches the issue of knowledge and sense transmission between different cultures from a more theoretical perspective. The analysis employs as tools the history and philosophy of science, hermeneutics and literary theory by combining three traditions (Kabbalistic, French and English traditions) and three types of knowledge: scientific, theological and literary. In the same year, the Fondo de Cultura Económica published Arnau’s Arte de probar, a continuation of Rendir el sentido. In this work, however, Arnau focuses on the origin of Logics as a discipline and on the legitimation of knowledge in Ancient India by means of public debate and inference protocols leading to the science of Logics. In particular, special attention is paid to the ironic philosophers who were experts on the dismantling of the principles and structures of Logics with the aim to show the collective illusion of thought.
In this genuine search, Arnau published Vasubandhu (Pre-Textos, 2011), the first thorough monograph published in Spain about the main figure of the Buddhist idealism of the Vijñanavada School, whose conception of the psyche would have a long-lasting influence of East Asia. In this work, Arnau delves into the nature of consciousness and the potential of imagination, as well as the relations between verbal and cognitive activity and the conception of existence as a mental episode. He published in the same year Leyenda de Buda (Alianza, 2011), with a careful and lyric style. In 2012, he published the philosophical fiction book El cristal Spinoza (Pre-Textos, 2012), which had an excellent reception from the readers and the critics, who devoted highly favourable reviews in the main cultural supplements of newspapers. In the same year, the publication of El efecto Berkeley (Pre-Textos, 2012), with the same success.
In 2014, Arnau published Manual de filosofía portátil (Atalanta), a 500-plus page book about the history of Philosophy and which was awarded the Premio de la Crítica Valenciana 2015, and shortlisted for the Premio Nacional de Ensayo in the same year. Arnau is also the author of La invención de la libertad (Atalanta, 2016), whose work is the result of an alliance among cultures and, more importantly, between the man and the universe. In 217 he published La fuga de Dios. Las ciencias y otras narraciones (Atalanta, 2017), an attempt to recover the harmony between the scientific and spiritual views, based on the assumption that the universe is present in each living being and that this is the geometry of the world where we live.
As a result of two decades of research, Arnau published Budismo esencial (Alianza, 2017), where he offers a comprehensive picture of the Siddharta Gautama's lessons, an episode already recreated by the author in the Leyenda de Buda (Alianza, 2011).
In 2018 Arnau published La fuga de Dios. Las ciencias y otras narraciones, an essay on the philosophy of science which was warmly received by both critics and readers (reviews in Claves and Revista de Occidente).
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Budismo esencial. Alianza Editorial.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. La fuga de Dios. Ediciones Atalanta.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan, translator. Bhagavadgītā (By Anonymous). Ediciones Atalanta.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan, translator. La mente participativa. Una nueva teoría del universo y del conocimiento. By Henryk Skolimowski. Prologue by Jordi Pigem. Ediciones Atalanta.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. La invención de la libertad. Ediciones Atalanta.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. El efecto Berkeley. Valencia: Pre-Textos.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Manual de filosofía portátil. Ediciones Atalanta.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. La medicina india. Según las fuentes del Ayurveda. Editorial Kairós.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Cosmologías de India. Védica, samkhya y budista. Fondo de Cultura Económica.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. El cristal Spinoza. Valencia: Pre-Textos.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Leyenda de Buda. Alianza Editorial.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan, and Carlos Mellizo. Vasubandhu / Berkeley. Valencia: Pre-Textos.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Elogio del asombro. Conversaciones con Agustín Andreu. Valencia: Pre-Textos.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Arte de probar. Ironía y lógica en India antigua. Madrid: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Rendir el sentido. Filosofía y traducción. Valencia: Pre-Textos.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Antropología del budismo. Barcelona: Editorial Kairós.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan, translator. Abandono de la discusión. By Nāgārjuna. Direct translation from Sanskrit. Colección El Árbol del Paraíso. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. Actualidad del pensamiento de Nagarjuna. Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios de Asia y África.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. La palabra frente al vacío. Filosofía de Nagarjuna. Mexico D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan, translator. Fundamentos de la vía media. By Nāgārjuna. Direct translation from Sanskrit. Colección El Árbol del Paraíso. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela.
 Arnau Navarro, Juan. El Mulamadhyamakakarikah de Nagarjuna: la vacuidad como medio hábil. PhD Dissertation. Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios de Asia y África.
"El viaje imaginal. Una historia de la imaginación". Upanisad. Critical edition and translation from Sanskrit.