Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda ► Non-Absolutism (Anekāntavāda) ► Section II ► Part 2

Posted: 26.03.2012

The justification of the first two propositions in the chain of sevenfold predication has drawn us into a discourse on the subject-predicate relation. But the position adopted by the Jaina involves him in open conflict with the Naiyāyika and we cannot avoid adverting to the controversy even though it may necessitate a digression.

The Naiyāyika believes in certain facts which are always existent and their opposites are inconceivable. For example, 'expressible,' 'cognisable' 'knowable' are attributes which are not inapplicable to anything and as such have no opposites. They are universally predicable. But as they have no opposites the Jaina's position that all predicates are concomitant with their opposites cannot hold good in these cases. Is there anything which is inexpressible or unknowable? To assert that A exists and is inexpressible or unknowable involves self-contradiction, inasmuch as the very assertion of it as A presupposes its being known and the act of assertion constitutes its expression. This is certainly a plausible argument against the Jaina position. But the plausibility will not bear scrutiny. 'Knowability' is a definite concept and it can have a meaning only if it negates its opposite. If a thing is called knowable by virtue of its being cognised by an accredited instrument of cognition, then of course fictions are not knowable. So the opposite of 'knowable' will not be wanting. If, however, 'knowable' be taken to stand for 'thinkable,' then also such expressions as "square circle" are available as the examples of 'unthinkable.' The question can be decided by a dilemma. Is the expression 'unknowable ' unmeaning? It cannot be entirely meaningless, as nobody would then care to assert it or feel called upon to rebut it. So the opposite of 'knowable' is not absent. Further if we descend from the realm of abstract speculation to the field of concrete reals, we shall have to acknowledge that the proposition, 'The jar is knowable' affirms the predicate in a determinate sense. The jar is knowable as ajar and not as a pen. Here the 'pen' will stand as its opposite. So all concepts, in so far as they have meaning, will have their opposites. The Naiyāyika's advocacy of purely positive attributes thus cannot create a difficulty form the Jaina standpoint. The fact can be made further clear from the consideration that the Naiyāyika would not have an occasion to make such assertions as that there are purely positive attributes, if there was no possibility of dispute. The Naiyāyika may succeed in exposing the inconsistency in the position of the opponent who would deny it. But the very necessity of logical defence shows that 'unknowable' may be logically untenable, but psychologically possible. As regards 'expressibility' the Jaina does not think it to be without its opposite. This has been made clear in our treatment of the concept of inexpressibility in Chapter V. We have seen that the law that the predicable attribute has its negative concomitant holds good also in the case of so-called purely positive attributes. We must consider the cases of fictions, e.g., sky-flower, a barren woman's son, square circle, phoenix, centaur and the like. Nobody would commit the absurdity of supposing that they are existent in any reference. These absolutely unreal fictions are logically predicable, but they have no positive concomitant, which they should have if the law of the mutual implication of opposites were universally true. But the Jaina would not take these fictions as purely negative ideas. If they are thinkable, they exist as thought constructions, though not as objective facts. Viewed from this point of view their objective non-existence is found to be commensurate with conceptual existence. It is not maintained that the negative concomitant should have coordinate status - an objective non-existence having subjective existence as its implicate or vice versa will equally meet the requirements of the law. And if we look deeper, coordinate status of the positive and negative concomitants can also be discovered in these cases. These fictions are complex constructions of incongruous elements. Both square and circle, sky and flower, a barren woman and a son, are objectively existent facts. But their combination is only non-existent. So the concomitance of existence and non-existence is found to hold good in these cases also.

The law of concomitance of opposites is only a deduction from the Jaina conception of determinateness of existence and as such holds good of all reals, irrespective of their role in logical thought. We have applied the law to predicates, but that is only by way of illustration. Predicate or subject, the law holds good of all facts. The conception of determinate existence is in direct opposition to the Vedāntist position of one universal existence which admits of no negation. It is again opposed to the Fluxist position that non-existence is only a fiction. A determinate existence is a complex of existence and non-existence, both being real elements of it. The first proposition is thus in need of being supplemented by the second - each being an incomplete description taken by itself. Let us now elucidate the import of the propositions in the light of the results of our speculations. 'The jar exists' would thus be correctly interpreted as 'X (the jar) is the substratum of existence as determined by the nature of jar'. The existence predicated of the jar is thus determinate and we mean this when we further amplify the original proposition, 'The jar exists,' by adding the restrictive clause 'as jar' to it. The second proposition is 'The jar does not exist' which is further amplified as 'The jar does not exist as pen and so on.' The non-existence of the jar is determined by the pen and the like which stand for the whole class of not-jar. The negative particle 'not' in connection with the verb means 'non-existence' and the latter is determined by the pen and like. The non-existence predicated would thus be determinate. The full import of the second proposition thus amounts to the following - 'The jar is the substratum of non-existence as determined by the nature of pen-and-the-like.' A non-existence is identical with the reality in which it subsists, the non-existence of pen and the like would be identical with the jar. The propositions only affirm the truths which have been established by us in the second Chapter.

We have repeatedly asserted that existence and non-existence are always determinate. Existence is determined by the specific nature or individuality of the subject (svarūpa) and non-existence is in its turn determined by the nature or individuality of things, which are different from the subject (pararūpa). There are also other determinants of existence and non-existence, viz., substance (dravya), location (kṣetra), and time (kāla). What are we to understand by these determinants? To return to the example given, 'The jar exists,' the predicate 'existence' is said to be determined by the nature of the jar. But what is the exact significance of the expression 'nature' of the jar? The Jaina answers the question in his characteristic way. It is not necessary according to him to enter into a metaphysical discourse to determine the nature of the jar. It all depends upon the universe of discourse. By 'the nature of the jar' one can understand the connotation of the term, which, in terms of ontology, is the uniform attribute or attributes that characterize all jars, and by 'the nature of others' one can understand the connotation of the terms expressing pen and the like. The existence of the jar would thus be determined by the attributes which invariably present themselves to our mind when we think of the jar. The result is the same. A jar exists so far as it possesses the attributes which we associate with it in our thought. If a jar were to exist as partaking of the attributes of a pen, the jar would not be distinguishable from the pen. And if, again, it did not exist as possessed of the attributes which characterise it just as it does not exist as possessed of the attributes of pen and the like, it would be a non-entity like a sky-flower. The nature of a real is, however, composed of an infinite number of attributes, which cannot be fully comprehended by the limited intellect that mankind normally possesses. But that does not make our knowledge unreal or false, though undoubtedly it must be incomplete as we are at present constituted. Any attribute that we comprehend in a real will be a real part of its nature. What is necessary in a philosophical discourse is that we must stick to it throughout. Thus, one is at liberty to think of the jar as a name, as a substance, or as a mode. And in affirming its existence we must remember that the predicate belongs to the subject in respect of the nature in which we understand it. The predication of non-existence likewise will have reference to a nature other than this. It is quite legitimate again to take the jar in a very restricted sense, for example, as possessed of a distinctive magnitude. The affirmation of existence of the jar would then be determined by this magnitude and the negation of existence would then be determined by other magnitude, which it does not possess. The logical consequences will be the same in spite of the variation of our conception, as the affirmation and negation of existence will have reference to the particular conception. Thus, if the jar as possessed of the name, or the mode or magnitude were not to exist qua these determinations like the pen, it would be a non-entity, and if it were again to exist in respect of opposite determinations, it would not be distinguishable from things which possess the latter determinations. We do not think it necessary to multiply instances. What is necessary is to recognize the metaphysical truth that things are possessed of an infinite plurality of attributes and the predication of one among these attributes is not false, though it is admittedly incomplete as a description of the nature of the subject. Every one of these attributes is true, but it would be a mistake, which is however traditional, to suppose that these alone constitute the nature of things.

We are now to consider the nature of other determinants, viz., substance, time and location, which we have referred to. The word 'substance' (dravya) here stands for the material or stuff of which it is made. The substance of the jar is thus clay. It exists as made of this material and is non-existent in respect of another material, e.g., gold. The proposition 'the jar exists' is thus to be completed by the insertion of the qualifying phrase 'of clay'. The jar of clay exists and not the jar of gold. That the material stuff is a necessary determinant of the predicate is obvious from the consideration that it has the same logical consequences as the first determinant notified above. Thus if the jar were to exist in respect Of another material, it would not be possible to assert that the jar is of clay and not of gold. A rich man may have a jar made of gold. But the gold jar would not be the same thing as the clay-jar. The difference is due to the difference of the material, though shape, size and function may be similar. The difference of material is only an instance of the difference of substance. The jar exists in clay and has no reality outside it. The same truth holds in the case of qualities also. The qualities must inhere in their respective substances and outside these substances, they have no being. Even in the case of those qualities which are known to inhere in more than one substance, the determination of the existence of these qualities by means of substance is also not wanting. Conjunction and disjunction, for instance, are qualities which relate to two things. It requires two things to be conjoined together and two again for one to be disjoined from the other. Though one substance cannot determine the existence of these qualities, the two together as their substrates will have the determining influence. Conjunction and disjunction can have existence only in their own substrates and not in others. Thus, the third substance will determine their non-existence. If these attributes were to have indeterminate substance, that is to say, if they could be supposed to exist in other substances than those in which they actually exist, the predicate of determinate conjunction or disjunction would be impossible. And if again they were not to exist even in their own substrates as they do not, in fact, in different substrates, they would be non-existent fictions.

Similarly, location is to be taken into account as determinant of the existence of things. The jar exists on the ground and not on the wall. The ground will be the specific location of the jar and the wall will be the location of other than jar. If a jar were to exist both in its own location and in the location of other things, the jar would not be a determine existent. And if it were not to exist even in its own location, it would not exist anywhere, as it admittedly does not exist outside its own location. Location is thus a determinant of the existence of things, which are what they are by virtue of their possession of specific locations, which cannot be interchanged.

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Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan)

General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria

Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
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