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Epistemology and Linguistics (Bhartrhari, Structuralism and Poststructuralism)

Epistemology and Linguistics (Bhartrhari, Structuralism and Poststructuralism)
Item Code: NAR439
Author: Prabha Shankar Dwivedi
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788120841949
Pages: 193
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.3 kg
About the Book

The book focuses on the comparative understanding of the formation of meaning in a textual structure with special reference to Indian as well as Western traditions of knowledge, where finally, arriving at a resolution, the affinity between the two is emphasised. In this book, Bhartrhari, whose Vakyapadiya is conceded to be the foundational text for evolution of philosophy of grammar/meaning as a branch of study, is considered with the founding father of structuralism, Ferdinand de Saussure, and the successive theorists: Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan, the two key exponents of poststructuralism. Bhartrhari holds a very significant place in Paninian school of Indian grammatical tradition as he invests the central notions of the school with the feature of universal applicability by propounding his philosophical propositions. The book extensively discusses how the structuralism and poststructuralist notions prefigured in Bharttharian postulations propounded in the Vakyapadiya. This book scrutinises many seminal texts and concepts of both the traditions to explicate the contemporary relevance of Bhartrharian ideas in the field of language studies. Further, the book provides ample evidence and analysis supporting the claim that Bhartrhari long ago introduced a 'proto-structuralism' that informed the core of Saussure's work in the course de linguistique generale.

About the Author

DR. PRABHA SHANKAR DWIVEDI is an Assistant Professor of English at Indian Institute of Technology, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. Previously, he was teaching at the Dept. of English, DHSG Central University, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Dr. Dwivedi has done considerable research in the area of comparative linguistics and literary theory. In addition, he has published various articles on Indian poetics, comparative literature, gender studies, and culture and religion.


The convergence of content into being is actually the consequence of the contextual value inscription, which supposedly commences after the valid permutations, authorized by the existing rules and laws of the language in the construction of a textual structure. In a textual form, value is not generated; instead it is configured for having been due upon varied contextual conditions, as in different contexts and relational associations, a linguistic unit hardly stands for the same meaning. That is why, Ferdinand de Saussure observes it to be arbitrary, and Bhartrhari considers smaller units as 'unreal' before the structure obtained by the authorized permutations of the contents, which for the similar reasons is viewed as 'erratic' and 'unreal' by Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan. But these poststructuralist theoreticians vary from Bhartrhari in the final resolution of this semantic event, where for Bhartrhari the forms/structures consecutively emerged bear meanings, and if the event continues, the finally obtained value would be considered 'real' against the forms obtained at different steps. This state, which in Bhartrhari, is being addressed as final, never arrives in Derrida, and even for that matter in Lacan. Both the theoreticians view the whole process as a chain of endless signification, where each content is constitutive of some other content, and thus, the process attains a state of infinity. Here, the value obtained, being aberration leads to another value, which further directs to some other, and in this way a constant event of perpetual postponement of meaning begins, not to be resolved at any point, while structuralism, like Bhartrhari, always procures a meaning that can be considered to be final by the authority of the logos, where the process of signification may end for the given conceptual form. In the subsequent pages of the present book, an effort has been made to comprehend the nature of meaning as it is obtained in the views expressed by Bhartrhari, and European structuralist and poststructuralist theorists so as to establish the nature of affinity between discursive formation inherent upon Indian and Western traditions of thought.

Work of such nature needs generous support and able guidance, which I got profusely from the people whom I owe this work. In this connection, I should like to put my indebtedness on record for my teacher, Professor Bhavatosh IndraGuru; without his consistent support and criticism, this work might not have reached the stage of publication. Here, I also express my gratefulness to Dr. N. I. Guru for reading the proofs of this work; also whose help and constant encouragement kept me motivated towards the completion of the work. My special thanks are due to all my colleagues at Indian Institute of Technology Tirupati for their unswerving and unforeseen support. I also want to sincerely thank my former colleagues of the Dept. of English, Dr. H. S. Gour Central University, Sagar for their timely suggestions and support. My doctoral students, Pankaj, and Atul, deserve special mention here for raising critical questions, and helping me variously in bringing forth this book. I should like to ink my unfathomable gratitude to my mother Mrs. Pavitra Devi, and my maternal uncle Dr. S. G. Shukla for their unconditional affection and care. I, further, take this opportunity to give due credit in my work to my wife Anjoo Dwivedi, my nephew Sandip Dwivedi, and my dear friends Patiraj, Neelotpal, and Neelambuj for their constant care and support that made this work less strenuous than it might have been.

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