Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Opposition

Published: 29.02.2012

The fountain-head of all this logical controversy is the estimation of the relation between being and non-being. The formulations of the Laws of Thought are inspired by the belief that there is innate opposition between being and non-being - an opposition which is absolutely incapable of dissolution. But the Jaina philosopher is unable to appreciate the raison d'être of this belief. Opposition (virodha), according to him, is exhausted by the following three types of relation, none of which can be shown to obtain between being and non-being.[1]

The first type of oppositional relation is represented by the relation of destruction, which obtains between the destroyable and the destroyer, e.g., between snake and mongoose, or fire and water. The destruction in such cases is possible only when two coexistent positive facts come together into collision and the one overpowers the other. There is not such relation of destruction between being and non-being, as the two, according to the opponent himself, do not coexist in a common substratum even for a moment. If, however, the two are admitted to coexist in a common substratum, none would destroy the other, because both are equally powerful on account of their independent and equally powerful origin.

The second type is represented by the relation of non-coexistence, which obtains between characteristics originating at different moments of time; e.g., between greenness and yellowness of the self-same mango at different moments of its existence. Yellowness in this context can only succeed greenness and can never coexist with it. This type of opposition also does not hold good between being and non-being. The characteristic of non-being cannot succeed the characteristic of 'being' in the same sense as yellowness succeeds greenness. Non-being cannot inherit the locus of being, because the locus of being has ceased to exist along with the cessation of being. And non-being without a locus is as ununderstandable as square-circle. The logical difficulties of pure being and pure non-being have already been discussed.[2]

The third type of oppositional relation is represented by the relation of obstruction, which obtains between the obstructed and the obstructor (pratibandhya-pratibandhaka); e.g., the conjunc­tion of a fruit with its stalk obstructs the gravitation of the fruit towards the earth. This type of opposition also is not possible between being and non-being. Being is not an obstructor of non-being, because the existence of being does not obstruct the existence of non-being. We have already seen how the object of our experience is a synthesis of being and non-being.[3]

None of these three types of opposition can be discovered by pure thought unaided by empirical knowledge. The destructive opposition is observed when two positive facts actually collide, the opposition of non-coexistence is witnessed when one fact vanishes in advance in order to give place to another fact, and the obstructive opposition is admitted when one fact is found to resist the occurrence of another. We cannot admit any collision between being and non-being, as one of the terms, viz. non-being, is not a positive fact. Nor do they exhibit the opposition of non-existence, because neither being nor non-being can be conceived as vanishing in order respectively to give place to non-being and being. The obstructive opposition also does not obtain between being and non-being, because none of the two can obstruct the occurrence of the other. The opposition between being and non-being thus cannot be illustrated by any empirical example. In fact, pure being and pure non-being are themselves only imaginary creatures and consequently the question of their mutual opposition should not arise at all. Determinate being and determinate non-being alone are true. Such being and non-being are only two diverse characteristics synthesized into the unity of the real. There is not any kind of opposition between them, as there is none between the colour and the shape of the same thing. Opposition or contradiction, in fact, arises when there is more conjunction and no real synthesis. Characteristics are not contradictory because they are diverse, for the real holds diversity in unity. "Contradictions exist", says Bradley, "so far only as internal distinction seems impossible, only so far as diversities are attached to one unyielding point assumed, tacitly or expressly, to be incapable of internal diversity or external complement. But any such fixture is abstraction, useful perhaps, but in the end appearance. And thus, where we find contradiction, there is something limited and untrue which invites us to transcend it."[4]


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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
© by the Authors

Printed by:
Pawan Printers
J-9, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi-110032

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