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The Enigma Of The Universe : Qualities

Published: 28.10.2014

That property which always subsists in a substratum is called quality.[1]  More particularly, qualities are also defined as “those properties which have substance as their substratum and which are not themselves the substratum of other attributes.”[2] Here, also the non-absolutistic attitude is to be applied. For, qualities cannot be absolutely distinct from the substance, nor can they be absolutely identical with it. A quality cannot belong to the substance without becoming its nature and being. “The Jains admit that qualities are ever changing, but maintain that change of quality does not mean destruction of nature. An entity preserves its nature through change. The qualities also preserve their identities through their ever changing modes. Therefore the true relation between the substance and its qualities is one of identity-cum-difference. The element of identity explains the experience of persistence. While that of difference explains the experience of change.”[3]

Now the qualities are further divided into two categories:

  1. Universal qualities
  2. Particular qualities.[4]

Those, by virtue of which, things, in which they subsist, can be grouped together to form a class, are called universal qualities; while particular qualities are those, by virtue of which, one thing can be distinguished from another.

It should be carefully borne in mind that neither the universal nor the particular are independent entities. They are qualities and as such are not seperate from things but are identical with them in point of existence. Their relation with things (as said before) is that of identity-cum-difference.

Moreover, their existence is not merely subjective.

Furthermore, universal qualities are six in number, which are found in all substances. They are as follows: being, entityhood, substancehood, objectivity, possession of space-points and agurulaghutvam.

Of these, ‘being’ means continuous duration (by reason of which an entity maintains its existence and never meets extinction). ‘Entityhood’ means causal efficiency. ‘Substancehood’ means the characteristic of being a substratum of qualities and modes. ‘Objectivity’ means the possibility of becoming an object of knowledge. ‘Possession of space-points’ means a quality which makes measurement of parts feasible. ‘Agurulaghutvam’ means steadfastness in its own nature.

Agurulaghutvam literally means ‘being neither heavy nor light’. It is precisely the quality which prevents a substance from surrendering its substancehood and a quality from abandoning its quality hood. This quality is not capable of being characterized in terms of specific gravity. It ensures the uniformity and continuity of an entity in respect of its distinctive character as substance or quality.

Particular qualities are different in each substance, which will be discussed further while describing each substance in detail.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Objectivity
  2. S. A. Jain
  3. Sūtra
  4. Tattvārtha Sūtra
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