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The Philosophy of Language in Classical Indian Tradition 

The Philosophy of Language in Classical Indian Tradition 
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Item Code: IDD272
Author: K.S. Prasad 
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8186921206
Pages: 238
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 495 gms

From the Jacket

Philosophical query into the working of language has occupied an important place in the rich tradition of thought in India since the ancient times. This book throws light on various debates in classical Indian Philosophical tradition concerning the structure of language and meaning.

Papers in this book have been arranged in four groups basing on their thematic composition. The book begins with the general issues relating to language as figured in classical schools of Indian philosophy. Papers dealing with the semantic structure of language as discussed by Chartrhari in his Vakyapadiya follow this. The next set of papers is related to some of the important semantic notions of Nyaya philosophy of language. In this respect notions like sense, reference, proper names, meaning, etc., have figured in for discussion. The last set of papers is concerned with the import of sentences wherein papers dealing with Purva-Mimamsa are include. 

One of the significant features of this volume is that some of the issues and problems in Indian Philosophy of language have been approached from the contemporary Western perspective with a view to explicate and evaluate them in a better way and this would be of considerable interest to scholars and students of philosophy, particularly those involved in the study of classical Indian philosophy. 

About the Author

K.S. Prasad is a Reader in the Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, specialises in Nyaya. He obtained his Ph.D. in Indian epistemology and is teaching Indian Philosophy since 1984. Apart from teaching courses on Indian Philosophy, he has been actively participating in seminars and workshops. Besides, he has published few scholarly papers on Indian philosophy in renowned journals.  

Introduction

LANGUAGE is essentially a social phenomenon, for it is through language we share our experiences. We use language to describe past, present or future events and to express desires, wishes, emotions, commands, statement of facts, etc. Thus, the basic function of language is 'communication'. Human beings have at their disposal various means of communicating with one another, not all of which require language in an articulated form. A wave of a hand, a nod, or sometimes even a well-placed cough, for instance, can each convey a different meaning to the hearer though no words are explicitly involved. However, it is language, which is at the back of these gestures. There exists, thus, a close relation between thought and language. Even thinking about language makes use of language. Hence, an insight into the working of language can be and must be the beginning of philosophical inquiry.

In India, there is a rich tradition of debate on philosophy of language. It may be recalled that the importance of language is acknowledged as early as in the Vedic period. In 1J.gveda several hymns are devoted to vak. The central feature of philosophy of language in classical Indian tradition is that it maintains a congruous relation between language and Reality. In Indian tradition, language is never separated from metaphysics. Prof. T.R.V. Murthi expresses this fact in the following words,

Every system of philosophy had to consider language at some stage or other, and each one had to ponder over ultimate Philosophy of Language in Classical Indian Tradition questions concerning the relation of the word to reality, 'of the modes of meaning and the validity of Verbal Knowledge (sabda-pramana). Their metaphysical bias determined their answers to these questions.'

A word about the thematic organisation of the book: Papers have been arranged in four groups according to their thematic composition. The book begins with the general issues relating to language as figured in classical schools of Indian philosophy. This is followed by the papers dealing with the semantic structure of language. Bhartrhari, being one of the principle exponents of the Grammarian School, made a significant contribution on the issues relating to philosophy and the structure of language. Hence, papers falling under this group are all concerned with Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari. The next set of papers is related to some of the important semantic notions of Nyaya philosophy of language. In this respect notions like sense, reference, proper names, meaning, etc., have been figured for discussion. The last set of papers is concerned with the nature and role of action sentences. In this connection, papers dealing with Purva-Mtmamsa have been discussed.

I

In the tradition, we find two diametrically opposed views regarding the relation between language and reality. According to the first view, language has the competence to describe everything that is there. Whatever exits is knowable and whatever is knowable is nameable is the view of the Nyaya-Vaisesika. On the other hand, the opposed view is that language has no competence to express the nature of the real is held by the Madhyamika School of Buddhism and the Advaita Vedanta." By this, it follows that there are facts or state of affairs, actual or possible, which cannot be linguistically expressible. The tasted sweetness of a mango for instance, cannot be linguistically expressible.

V.N. Jha in his paper 'Language and Reality: Some Reflections from Indian Philosophy of Language' has highlighted the above controversy. He begins his paper by tracing Bhartrhari's philosophy in Rgveda. In this context, he exposes the basic distinction between the philosophy of Nyaya and the philosophy of Bhartrhari on problems related to language. According to the former, as Jha observes, cognition is followed by language, while for the latter no cognition is possible without language. Besides illustrating the various theories of sentence-meaning in Indian philosophy, Jha finally goes into the problem of the relation between language and reality as conceived in Indian philosophy of language.

Language in Indian philosophy is usually referred as sabda. Sabda, in a broad sense means sound (dhvani), both in its articulated and inarticulate forms. The articulated forms of sounds can also be termed as 'verbal'. The term 'verbal' stretches itself from a single articulated letter (varna) to sentential structure (vakya) as modes of expression. Broadly, the term 'linguistic utterance', where the main concern is presumably with words and meanings than with the sounds associated with these words, is regarded as sabda-pramana in Indian philosophy, which constitutes a major source of our knowledge. However, the Carvakas, the Buddhists and the early Vaisesikas rejected sabda as a pramana. While the Buddhists and the early Vaisesikas reduced sabda to inference, the Carvakas with their exclusive emphasis on sense experience denied all other methods of knowledge except perception. John Vattanky in his paper 'Word- A Separate Means of Valid knowledge' examines in detail the arguments of the Naiyayikas in support of their claim that sabda is an independent and irreducible means of valid knowledge in the context of the counter arguments of the Vaisesikas.

Contents

Acknowledgementsv
Introduction1
1.Language and Reality: Some Reflections from Indian Philosophy of Language15
2.Word - A Separate Means of Valid Knowledge23
3.Religious Language39
4.Grades of Holism: Bhartrhari Reconsidered51
5.The Problem of Meaning in Vakyapadiya63
6.Intention and Linguistic Communication: The Bhartrharian Perspective81
7.Sabdabodha and the Epistemic Primacy of Sense: An exercise in Comparative Philosophy of Language99
8.A Nyaya Interpretation of Proper Names137
9.In Search of the Seed of Laksana147
10.Abhihitanvaya, Anvitabhidhana and Ananvitabhidhana: Some Basic Problems155
11.Can Action be the Import of all Sentences? - A Dialogue with the Prabhakaras181
12.Word and Act: Purva Mimamsa's prescriptions for Heaven197
13.In Search of a Sound Theory in Indian Semantics209
The Contributors231
Index233

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