Basic bibliography for Bhaṭṭa Jayanta

Suppose you want to undertake the study of Indian Philosophy and you want to read primary sources? Where should you start? I argued (in my contribution to Open Pages in South Asian Studies) that Bhaṭṭa Jayanta is a great starting point,

  1. Because he is a philosopher
  2. Because he deals with texts of other schools and thus aims at being understandable
  3. Because he is a talented writer

Can one understand a sentence without believing its content to be the case?

Well, yes… isn’t it?
The problem is less easy than it may look like and amounts to the problem of non-committal understanding. Is it the normal attitude while listening to a speaker or just an exception or an a posteriori withdrawal of belief once one notices that the speaker is in any way non reliable?

Linguistic Communication as an Instrument of Knowledge: A panel

I came back last week from Athens, were I had organised together with Malcolm Keating a panel on Linguistic Communication as an instrument of knowledge. I ended up framing the problem according to four basic questions, namely 1) What do we know? , 2) How (through which instrument of knowledge) do we know it?, 3) What is the role of language as a medium?, 4) What is the role of the social context?

Śabara on sentences (PMS 1.1.24–26)

The discussion on the epistemological validity of sentences starts in Jaimini’s Pūrva Mīmāṃsā Sūtra (PMS) and in Śabara’s commentary thereon when the opponent notes that, even if —as established in PMS 1.1.5— there were really an originary connection between words and meanings, this would still not mean that the authorless Vedas are a reliable instrument of knowledge, since they are made of sentences, not just of words. And clusters of words are either made by human authors or are just causally put together by chance and are thus meaningless.

A pathway through Kumārila’s Ślokavārttika, śabda-chapter, part 1

The chapter on śabda ‘language as instrument of knowledge’ within Kumārila’s Ślokavārttika is an elaborate defense of linguistic communication as an autonomous instrument of knowledge. Still, its philosophical impact runs the risk to go unnoticed because it is at the same time also a polemical work targeting rival theories which we either do not know enough or we might be less interested in, and a commentary on its root text, Śabara’s Bhāṣya on the Mīmāṃsā Sūtra. The chapter has also the further advantage that all three commentaries on it have been preserved. Thus, beside Pārthasārathi’s useful one, one can benefit also from Śālikanātha’s deeper one and from Uṃveka’s commentary, which is the most ancient, tends to preserve better readings of the text and is philosophically challenging.

The following is thus the first post in a series attempting a pathway through the chapter:

CfP: Language as a tools for acquiring Knowledge (Atiner conference)

If you have been following this blog or my previous one you will know that I have been looking for chances for cross-cultural philosophy since many years. You will also know that I have been thinking at the Atiner Conference as a good chance to discuss about Indian themes as part of Philosophy tout court and not within the small ghetto of Indian Philosophy for Indologists.

This year, Malcolm C. Keating (University of Texas, Austin) and I will be hosting a panel at the next Atiner conference in Athens, 25–28 May 2015. If you are interested to join, read the following CfP and drop a line either in the comments or at my personal address. (more…)

Enough with the “eternality of sound” in Mimamsa!

F.X. D’Sa Sabdapramanyam in Sabara and Kumarila (Vienna 1980) is one of the very first books on Mimamsa I read and I am thus very grateful to its author. Further, it is a fascinating book, one that —I thought— shows intriguing hypotheses (e.g., that Sabara meant “Significance” by dharma) which cannot be confounded with a scholarly philological enquire in the texts themselves.

K. Yoshimizu on topic and comment

Andrew Ollett has just posted some interesting comments on K. Yoshimizu recent workshop and on the impact of his theories from a linguistic point of view. Andrew especially elaborates on the topic-comment opposition and on the possibility to read along these lines the vidheya–upadeya opposition found in Kumarila.

If you missed the workshop, you can read about it also here.

What was Dignaga’s theory of apoha? On PS 5.43

The sequence of opponents and discussants within the Pramāṇasamuccaya is difficult to reconstruct and one might need to gather informations from many different sources. In the following I will focus on a specific problem:

  • is the example of the presence of horns as leading to “non-horse” an instance of the way apoha works (as with Yoshimizu, which supports in this way his analysis of Dignāga’s procedure as entailing a compositional analysis) or just an example about an inference, which works in a way similar as the apoha, i.e., does not need to exclude elements one by one (as with Kataoka, who thus supports his claim that Dignāga does not need any positive postulation).