Veṅkaṭanātha is an important milestone for the reconstruction of the history of Indian philosophy. In fact, he is a historical figure and the reconstruction of his thought is also facilitated by the contextual knowledge already available about the times, the cultural and geographical milieu, and the religious tradition related to him.
This post is part of a series dedicated to a discussion of the reviews of my book Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā. For more details on the series, see here. For the first post (on Andrew Ollett’s review) of the series, see here. For the second post (dedicated to Taisei Shida’s review), see here. As already hinted at, I welcome comments and criticism.
Hugo David’s review is (to my knowledge) the only one in French. It is encouraging that great work is still done in languages other than English, but I will allow myself some longer summaries of it, for the sake of readers who may not know French. (I beg the reader’s pardon for my translations, which do not convey the elegance of David’s original French).
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,
- Because he is a philosopher
- Because he deals with texts of other schools and thus aims at being understandable
- Because he is a talented writer
In my previous post on this topic, I had neglected an important source and I am grateful for a reader who pointed this out. The relevant text is a verse of Kumārila’s (one of the main authors of the Mīmāṃsā school, possibly 7th c.) lost Bṛhaṭṭīkā preserved in the Tattvasaṅgraha:
The one who jumps 10 hastas in the sky,
s/he will never be able to jump one yojana, even after one hundred exercises! (TS 3167)
Scholars of Sanskrit philosophy are familiar with translations oscillating between the following two extremes:
- A translation which closely follows the original and is chiefly meant as an aid to understand the Sanskrit text (as in Kataoka 2011)
- A translation which smooths the text, so that it sounds as if it had been originally written in the target language (Dominik Wujastyk’s and Ch. Ram-Prasad’s ones)
I am fond of group work —I am just too ambitious to be satisfied with what I can achieve alone and I am therefore always keen to work with other people on bigger projects. I have discussed in several other posts my experience as an editor and as a co-editor. But is it possible to publish a unitary book if different people translate different parts of it?
You can read my views on the written version of the paper presented by Kei Kataoka on apoha (and of the views by Kiyotaka Yoshimizu discussed in it) here, here and here.
A discussion of K. Yoshimizu’s paper (on the chronology of Kumārila and Dharmakīrti) can be found here.
A summary of likes and dislikes of my readers and colleagues can be read here (don’t forget to add your own favs).
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).
The main point of departure for any inquiry into Dignāga’s theory of apoha is his Pramāṇasamuccaya, chapter 5. Unluckily enough, this text is only available as a reconstruction from the two (divergent) Tibetan translations and from Jinendrabuddhi’s commentary.
We all know that for Dignāga the meaning of a word is apoha ‘exclusion’. But how does one seize it and avoid the infinite regress of excluding non-cows because one has understood what “cow” means? Kataoka at the last IABS maintained (if I understood him correctly) that Dignāga did not directly face the problem of how could one seize the absence of non-cows. He also explained that the thesis he attributes to Hattori and Yoshimizu, which makes the apoha depend on the seizing of something positive (e.g., one seizes the exclusion of non-cows because one seizes the exclusion of dewlap, etc.) contradicts the negative nature of apoha, since it indirectly posits positive entities, such as dewlaps. But this leaves the question of how apoha can take place in the worldly experience open.