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Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Jain Philosophy (Part Three) Vol-XVII

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Item Code: NAL639
Author: Karl H. Potter
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788120836457
Pages: 432
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch x 6.5 inch
Weight 850 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Volume Seventeen concludes the series of the Encyclopedia dealing with jain philosophy (Volumes 10, 14 and 17) bringing its development to the present day. In his Introduction, Piotr Balcerowicz provides a formalized classification of the basics of the Jain theory of seven-fold modal description (saptabhangi or syadvada), which, as he explains. "gives a complete account of all perspectives relevant in the verbal description of a thing."


About the Author

Pioter Balcerowicz, of no nationality (which he emphasises), Professor of Philosophy and Indian Studies, currently based in Warsaw, Poland, specialize in the Indian philosophical tradition, with emphasis on epistemological thought and Jainism. He teaches Indian philosophy and Indian religion, as well as intercultural relations, conflict re-solution and contemporary history of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. He has published extensively on Indian philosophy and religion, especially Jainism, but also on the Middle East and Central Asia and Afghanistan. Since 2002, with his NGO 'Education for Peace', he has been involved in various development co-operation projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma/Myanmar and Africa.

Karl H. Potter is Professor of philosophy and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, and is the General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Series containing 28 volumes.



A contribution of Jainism to Indian philosophy which seems most stimulating, inspiring, debated and controversial, one which provoked the most opposition from other systems of India, is beyond doubt the doctrine of multiplexity of reality (anekantavada). Indisputably it is also the most interesting Jaina contribution to Indian philosophy. The doctrine involved both a very particular realist' ontology as well as a corresponding epistemology that was structured in such a way as to most aptly handle certain ontological presuppositions.

The Jaina ontology entailed by the doctrine of multiplexity of reality (anekantavada) viewed the world structure as consisting of four interrelated aspects: substance (dravya), quality (guna), mode (paryaya) and ineffable, transient occurrence (vivarta, vartana, often overlooked in both Jaina expositions of the theory and in analyses carried out by modem researchers). However, the point to emphasise is that things, especially when conceived as substances, were believed to preserve their identity and in this aspect they were immutable and permanent. At the same time, however, when conceived as modes, they appeared to change and transform continuously. This seemed to have led to contradictions in ontology. Besides, in order to explain the process of change, Jaina ontology also distinguished three modes of existence that actually co-existed: origination (utpada, udaya), continued existence (sthiti, dhrauvya) and cessation, or disintegration (bhanga, vyaya, apavarga). These four closely corresponded to the Buddhist Sarvastivada's and Abhidhama's four (or three) conditioned factors, known as 'markers' (samskrtalaksana) - origination (utpada), continuity (sthiti), deterioration (jara, vyaya) and extinction (bhanga, nirodha) - or second-order elementary constituents of reality (dharma) that were believed to attach themselves to every other first-order elementary constituent of reality 'marked' (laksya) by them and thereby determined in its momentary existence (ksanika).

The emphasis (which gradually became more pronounced after the second and third centuries CE) of Jaina ontology on both permanence and imperishability of substances, worked out against the Buddhist theories of momentariness (Ksanikavada) and insubstantiality (nairatmya, nihsvabhavata), as well as constant mutability and change of substances in form and occurrence, developed in contrast to the theory of the immutable substance of the Vaisesika, seemed to lead to a contradiction: how to reconcile the idea of a permanent substance with its incessant mutability? Both the dual nature of things and a solution of the paradox was expressed by Umasvamin (c. 350-400) in Tattvarthasutra 5.29-31:

[29] The existent is furnished with origination, annihilation and permanence. [30] It is indestructible in its essentiality, i.e. permanent. [31] [The existent is both], because [it is] established as having emphasized [property] and not-emphasized [property].

The conviction that world substances, and their qualities, modes and transient occurrences cannot even be conceived to exist entirely independently as if separated from other elements, and that they all simultaneously originate, are endowed with continued existence and disintegrate in every moment again and again while at the same time preserving their integrity and self-identity, led further to a belief that the world is a complex network within which all the existents are related with all the remaining ones and that their essential character and nature is not only determined by what is in .things themselves but also by all the relations in which they enter vis-a-vis all other existents.

Originally ontological or metaphysical considerations eventually led to the exuberant development of a corresponding epistemology, which ultimately involved what came to be known as the theory of multiplexity of reality (anekantavada), that comprised three analytical methods: the method (historically the oldest) of the four standpoints (niksepavada, nyasavada), the (usually) sevenfold method of conditionally valid predications, known as the doctrine of viewpoints (naya- vada) , and the method of the seven-fold modal description (saptabhagi, syadvada).


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