From word meanings to sentence meaning: A workshop in Cambridge

From Word Meanings to Sentence Meaning:

Different Perspectives in Indian Philosophy of Language

The reflection on language and its structures was a major component of the Sanskritic intellectual horizon, intimately connected with the broader epistemological and soteriological concerns of different schools. This led to the emergence of various conflicting philosophical views on the nature of the cognition obtained from language (śābdabodha). In this respect, a pivotal issue is how padārthas (the meanings/referents of words) relate to vākyārtha (the meaning/referent of the sentence). During this one-day colloquium, the focus will especially be on the views set forth by the Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā philosophers (Bhāṭṭa and Prābhākara), the Buddhists, the Grammarians, and the theoreticians of Alaṃkāraśāstra, and on the reconstruction of the debate as it developed in the course of the first millennium CE.


Date: November 11, 2016

Time: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm

Venue: Room 213, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

Convenors: Vincenzo Vergiani and Shishir Saxena


9:45-10:30 am: Maria Piera Candotti, Université de Lausanne/Università di Cagliari (Visiting Scholar)

Bhartṛhari and the basic meaning unit: innovation or restauration


10:30-11:15 am: Daniele Cuneo, Universiteit Leiden

When words do not suffice: the polymorphic concept of bādha


11:15-11:30 am: Tea / Coffee Break


11:30-12:15 pm: Hugo David, École française d’Extrême-Orient

vākyārtha eva padārthaḥ‘: On the reappropriation of an old Mīmāṃsā principle in a Vedāntic framework


12:15-1:00 pm: Elisa Freschi, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

From authorless words to Vedic prescriptions: The Mīmāṃsaka journey from the subject-independent nature of language to the prescriptive nature of language


1:00-2:00 pm: Lunch


2:00-2:45 pm: Kei Kataoka, Kyushu University

How to paraphrase a sentence? Bādari vs Jaimini


2:45-3:30 pm: Tiziana Pontillo, Università di Cagliari

The general samartha-constraint of word-formation rules in the Pāṇinian tradition


3:30-4:15 pm: Akane Saito, Kyushu University

Phonemes as the Conveyors of Sentence Meaning for Kumārila, Śālikanātha, Vācaspati, and Jayanta


4:15-4:30 pm: Tea / Coffee Break


4:30-5:15 pm: Shishir Saxena, University of Cambridge

Kumārila on why śabda cannot be classified as anumāna on the basis of āptavādāvisaṃvāda, as argued in the Śabdapariccheda & Vākyādhikaraṇa of the Ślokavārttika


5:15-6:00 pm: Vincenzo Vergiani, University of Cambridge

Of the unitary nature of complex sentences: Bhartṛhari’s remarks in the second kāṇḍa of the Vākyapadīya

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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2 thoughts on “From word meanings to sentence meaning: A workshop in Cambridge

  1. This looks like a blast! I hope to read these talks in publication form someday soon. Maybe you can update us here after the workshop?

    • thanks for suggesting it. I will ask the other participants —as you might remember, I decided to give up writing small reports of conferences after I ended up offending someone without meaning (and even noticing!) it.