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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 4

Published: 19.03.2012

The beginningless existence of pre-non-existence may how-ever be asserted to be a fact with reference to its identity with the causal substance, as the substance qua substance exists from eternity. But this seems to be a poor defence. If pre-non-existence be given a beginningless status on the basis of its identity with beginningless substance, it would be regarded as destitute of end also, as substance qua substance has no end. But in the case of endless persistence of pre-non-existence there would be no occasion for the emergence of the effect, as the effect can come into existence only on the cessation of pre-non-existence. So pre-non-existence as a part of existent has no logical sanction. Nor can it be held to be an independent category, as there is no proof of it. It may be contended that such judgments as 'the jar was not existent before its origination' are cognisant of non-existence. But the contention falls through as judgments like 'There is no post-non-existence in pre-non-existence' have also reference to non-existence, but nobody believes in the existence of non-existence in another non-existence, as such belief would involve an infinite series of non-existences. If it is held that the series of non-existences are not numerically different, but one and the same, the four types of non-existence would become one indistinguishable fact - a consequence which cannot be accepted by the advocate of objective non-existence.

It has been argued by the Vaiśeṣika that the above criticism may be successful against those who believe non-existence to be identical with existence. But non-existence is a separate principle, as it is always determined by a positive entity. Non-existence is always understood as non-existence of positive reals, e.g., the non-existence of pen or chair has chair and pen as its determinants. The determinatum is of a different order of being from the determinant and so non-existence as a different principle is to be admitted. But the argument has no cogency. A quality is a determinant of a substance, but the two are equally positive. It is thus not proved that the determinant and determinatum must be of different kinds of being. The objectivity of pre-non-existence will be exploded by the following dialectic. Pre-non-existence may be conceived to have both a beginning and an end; secondly, it may be conceived as having a beginning, but no end; thirdly, it may lack both the limits - that is to say, it may have neither beginning nor end; fourthly, it may have no beginning but may have an end. In the first alternative, the production of effect prior to pre-non-existence would not be barred out. In the second, there would be no subsequent production as pre-non- existence is without end. In the third, there would be no effect at any time as pre-non-existence is eternal. The fourth alternative is no doubt the accepted position. But the question may be pertinently raised whether pre-non-existence is one self-identical fact with reference to all effects or its number varies with the number of effects. If it be one, it would cease when even one effect is produced and there being no other pre-non-existence to preclude their production, all possible effects would emerge simultaneously at that moment. Of course the contingency does not arise if each effect is supposed to have a separate pre-non-existence corresponding to it. But it would occasion another difficulty. Let it be true that each effect has its own pre-non-existence, which ceases when the effect comes into being. But has the pre-non-existence in question an independent ontological status or is it dependent upon the positive real to which it relates? An independent pre-non-existence cannot be regarded as non-being, as non-being is by your very definition a determinant of being and an independent principle cannot be determinant of anything. Let it be supposed that is is dependent upon a positive real. But the only entity upon which it can be supposed to depend is its relative negatum. But the negatum is non est while pre-non-existence persists and the latter ceases to be when the negatum comes into being. So the relation of dependence or independence of pre-non-existence in regard to the negatum is unthinkable. But there is a third possibility which may avoid the alleged difficulties. Let pre-non-existence be one and its diversity be supposed to be a relational characteristic with no ontological status. So the contingency of simultaneous emergence of all possible effects on the cessation of pre-non-existence does not arise, for relational diversity will continue as effects will come into being in succession. But if the diversity of pre-non-existence be only relational and not real, then there would be no logical necessity for postulating four types of non-existence. One non-existence in relation to time-divisions, prior and posterior, may appear as pre-non-existence and post-non-existence. The same non-existence, again as related to all the divisions of time, past, present and future, will assume the role of absolute non-existence and that of mutual non-existence with reference to the mutual relation of diverse reals. But if one non-existence may function as diverse types of non-existence, in spite of the lack of intrinsic diversity, why should not reality as such play the role of non-existence? The Jaina and the Mīmāṁsist have made out a plausible case for non-existence as a part of reality. But as there is no proof of the existence of non-being in all its varieties apart from reals, it stands to reason that positive reals alone should be supposed to account for the different concepts of non-existence. There is no necessity that all our concepts should be grounded in objective reality and as regards non-existence the opponent has been compelled to concede that varieties of non-existence are more or less unreal constructions. The Cārvāka would conclude that non-existence as such as a metaphysical fiction, uncritically hypostatized as an objective fact on the evidence of concepts, which do not stand the test of critical analysis. Non-existence, whether as a part of positive reals or an independent fact having no logical sanction, should be boldly asserted to be a fiction, pure and simple.

The Jaina does not believe that the Cārvāka has made out an unimpeachable case for the unreality of negation. The idea of negation is there, and there is no reason why it should be an ungrounded illusion. It is not an illusion, as it is not invalidated by the testimony of subsequent experience. Whether one may like the idea or not, one cannot get rid of it as much as one cannot get rid of the idea of existence. If non-existence be a metaphysical fiction, there is no reason for preferential treatment of existence. Both should be discarded or accepted without reservation. Of course the Vaiśeṣika view of independent non-existence is riddled with difficulties. But non-existence as an element in the make-up of positive existents should be regarded as factual. The objections of the Cārvāka are not insurmountable. Of course, the position would be hopeless if the sceptic's objections were backed by logic. Let us examine whether the difficulties are real or only conjured up by sophistry. Let it be granted that the immediate antecedent phase of the causal stuff constitutes the pre-non-existence of the relevant effect. Yet, the consequence alleged, that there would be continuous existence of the effect throughout the past except at the last moment when the immediate phase comes into being, would not arise. The difficulty raised by the Cārvāka, if sincere is due to the oversight of the difference between post-non-existence and other types of non-existence. The effect is the negation of pre-non-existence, whereas the immediate antecedent phase of the cause is the pre-non-existence of the effect. It was not in evidence in the past and so the question of its post-non-existence before its emergence and consequently the emergence of the effect before its time have no raison d'être. There is the absence of pre-non-existence and of the effect both in the past, and there is not incongruity in it. The effect is incompatible with the presence of pre-non-existence and not with its absence. The absence of the pre-non-existence in the past history of the cause is itself an instance of pre-non-existence and thus if the infinite past series of pre-non-existence be regarded as one whole, the continuity of pre-non-existence in the past, which is the import of the dictum that pre-non-existence is without beginning, is established. The same result is reached even if pre-non-existence be asserted to be identical with the causal substance. The causal substance is without beginning. The issue of endless continuity of pre-non-existence would not arise, since the identity of pre-non-existence is maintained with the causal substance only in so far as it is bereft of the effect. And as there is no time in the past when the causal substance is destitute of the absence of effect, the continuity of pre-non-existence in the infinite past is assured. Again as the substance qualified by the absence of the effect ceases to be when it comes to be vested with the effect, which is only a modification of the causal substance, the pre-non-existence qua the qualified substance also ceases. The endless continuity of the effect would not therefore be possible. It is to be distinctly recognized that there is a vital difference between the causal stuff as qualified by the absence of the effect and the same as qualified by the presence of the effect. The absence of the effect previous to the emergence of the effect is of the nature of pre-non-existence and not numerical difference (itaretarābhāva), and the same again subsequent to the effect is of the nature of post-non-existence and not again numerical difference. The objections raised by the Cārvāka on the basis of numerical difference are therefore absolutely irrelevant. The pre-non-existence of the effect in the past and its post-non-existence in future are not jeopardized in any event whether the said pre-non-existence is regarded as identical with the immediate antecedent phase or with the causal substance as one whole.

We now propose to consider another problem raised as a side-issue in this connection. Let it be granted that the Jaina has succeeded in proving that pre-non-existence is continuous throughout the infinite past. But in that case it would not be liable to cessation, as a thing which is without a beginning is of necessity without an end also. Even if exception is made in the case of non-existence as done by the Vaiśeṣika, the rule is inflexible so far as existent things are concerned. The Jaina makes out both pre-non-existence and post-non-existence to be enfitative in character and this exposes him to the charge advanced. But the Jaina does not believe in the universality of the rule that whatever is beginningless is also endless or vice versa. The Vaiśeṣika contention is not endorsed as non-existence apart from and independent of an entity is held to be a fiction. But everybody, who believes in the salvation of souls, must admit that the unblessed condition of the transmigratory soul is brought to an end on the cessation of bondage despite the fact that it is without a beginning. The converse of the proposition that whatever is endless is also without a beginning is also not true. Salvation is endless. Nobody believes that a saved soul again returns to the cycle of birth and death. But though endless it is not without a beginning. It is an event in the history of a soul and thus is a definite chronological fact. The rule breaks out in this instance again.

The conclusion is inevitable that pre-non-existence is a fact and a positive fact at that, the denial of which entails the absurdity of the continuous existence of the effect in the infinite past. There is no incongruity in the fact that though positive it should be construed in terms of negation. It is true that the negative judgment 'there was no jar in the past' arises only on the emergence of the jar. It is also true that the pre-non-existence of the jar is a positive real, being regarded as identical with the immediate antecedent phase of the causal stuff or the causal stuff as a whole. But it is not necessarily true that a positive fact is always interpreted by an affirmative judgment or that it is repugnant to a negative judgment. The vacant ground is referred to by the negative judgment viz., 'There is no jar on the ground', although the content of the judgment is nothing more than the positive fact, the ground.

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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Itaretarābhāva
  2. JAINA
  3. Jaina
  4. Objectivity
  5. Soul
  6. Vaiśeṣika
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