Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 1

Published: 23.03.2012

We now propose to discuss the import of each term of the propositions. Each term is logically significant and the significance of the terms contributes to the significance of the proposition as a whole. Let us consider the first two propositions. The first proposition is: 'The jar exists certainly in a context (syād astyeva ghaṭaḥ). The formal definition of the first proposition may be propounded in the following terms. It is an affirmative proposition which asserts a positive fact without negating other characteristics in respect of a subject. In the example given the jar is the subject and 'exists' is the predicate, which is a property of the jar. The second proposition may be formally defined as follows: 'It is a negative proposition importing negation of a certain property without negating other characteristics.' 'The jar does not certainly exist in another context'. In the original proposition in Sanskrit two qualifying prepositions, viz., syāt and eva are employed. It is difficult to find exact equivalents of these two terms in English. We have tentatively rendered syāt as 'in a context' and eva as 'certainly'. We are conscious of the inadequacy of the English terms to connote the sense that the original terms signify. But the elucidation of the meaning of the terms will serve to preclude misconception and so we do not wait for exact equivalents. In our opinion the term syāt is untranslatable. Let us examine the logical value of the terms of the first proposition. The particle 'certainly' (eva) is logically necessary inasmuch as it serves to exclude an undesirable consequence. The existence of the jar is to be understood as existence in reference to its own context constituted by its own individuality and specific spatio-temporal setting, and not in reference to a different context. The particle 'certainly' (eva) is calculated to exclude this contingency. It helps to clarify the import of the predicate that it relates to the subject in reference to a particular context and not in a different reference. The negative implication is derived from the use of the particle eva, which we have tentatively translated as 'certainly.' It has a restrictive force and this should be understood as the meaning of the English equivalent. The exact implication of eva in the proposition is the exclusion of the negation of 'existence'. The predicate 'existence' is affirmed of the subject, and this affirmation can be significant, only if the predicate belongs as a matter of necessity to the subject. The element of necessity is indicated by the adverb 'certainly' (eva). It means that the predicate is a necessary concomitant of the connotation of the subject, though not a part of it. It may be a synthetic proposition and the predicate may be a new attribute. But the very fact of predication implies that the attribute is not absent in the subject. The adverb 'certainly' implies that the attribute predicated is a necessary concomitant of the connation of the subject, though not a part of the implication of the term, and the negation of the opposite follows from the necessity of the relation that is emphasised by it (eva).

The term syāt is untranslatable. It means that the subject possesses a manifold of attributes. In the proposition syad ghaṭo 'sty eva the particle syāt implies that the subject is a manifold of attributes of which the predicate is one as a matter of fact. That the predicate is one of the attributes possessed by the subject and that as a matter of necessity is implied by the term 'certainly' (eva). The full meaning of the first proposition may thus be stated as follows: "The jar is a substance of which 'existence' is one attribute as a matter of necessity among the plurality of attributes that belongs to it." The phrase 'as a matter of necessity' implies that the predicate is never absent in the subject. It may be urged that the element of necessity is falsely introduced inasmuch as the opposite of existence, viz., non-existence, is also predicated of it in the second proposition. And the form of the proposition being the same, existence and non-existence, both being predicates, would belong to the subject as a matter of necessity. This seems to be a case of self-contradiction. But the Jaina does not find any contradiction in the two predicates belonging to the same subject, as existence and non-existence are determinate. If they were indeterminate, the contradiction would be inevitable. And the contradiction would again be irresistible if existence and non-existence were affirmed of the subject in the same reference. The jar is existent as ajar and non-existent as other-than-jar. There is no contradiction here. But if the jar were affirmed to be existent and non-existent both as a jar, the contradiction would be apparent. As in the first two propositions existence and non-existence are predicated in a determinate sense, there is no contradiction between them.

It is worthy of remark that the qualifying phrases syāt and eva are not absolutely indispensable for logical precision. It is necessary for those who have not realized the indeterminate nature of reality. Reals are indeterminate in the sense that they cannot be determined as possessing only such and such attributes and not the rest. The particle syāt is employed only to emphasise this truth. But it is not necessary for a person who is aware of the manifoldness of reals. Similarly the particle 'eva' is redundant. They are employed only to guard against a customary misconception, and if such misconception be not present, they are not logically necessary. But a logical discourse is always aimed at persons, who are in doubt, but inquisitive for truth, and with regard to such persons the logical form has its significance and necessity.

Let us now sum up the results of the analysis of the import of the individual terms and determine the total import of the propositions. The import of the first proposition is thus to be stated as follow: "The jar is possessed of existence as determined by its own nature and so on." The second proposition means "The jar is possessed of non-existence as determined by other individuality and so on." The existence and non-existence that are predicated of the subject are determinate. The jar used as the subject in the proposition is only illustrative. We can substitute any existent for it and the predicate will relate to it. And as regards the predicates, 'existence' or 'non-existence,' they are also specific instances and can be replaced by any other attribute. The principle governing predication is that an attribute is necessarily concomitant with its negative. Whatever attribute, quality or action, may be predicated, it can be true of a subject only in reference to a context. The jar, for instance, exists in so far as it possesses the nature of jar and does not exist in the nature of a pen. Existence is determined by non-existence and vice versa. We have seen in the second chapter that non-existence is a case of other-existence. The jar is the non-existence of the pen and vice versa. Existence without reference to and independent of individual entities is only an abstraction of thought. 'A' can have existence because it has not existence as 'B.' Existence is always concrete and as such is defined and determined by other concrete existence. In other words, existence cannot be separated from what exists, though it is distinguishable in thought. What is said of existence also holds good of other attributes. A real is possessed of infinite attributes and these cannot be separated from the real. They are one with the real in the sense that they have no existence apart from and independent of the real, in which they are embodied. Thus all attributes are determinate in the sense of having determinate being. And determinate being means being in a particular reference outside which it is simply non est. So being and non-being are correlates and the predication of one implies the predication of the other.

It follows then that the negative proposition is as much true as the affirmative one. It has been contended by others that being or existence[1] constitutes the nature of a real and non-being only relates to another real. The import of the predicate in the proposition 'The jar exists' is that existence is a part and parcel of the reality of the jar. 'The jar does not exist' is really an apparent proposition, having only a formal similarity with the affirmative proposition. The predicate 'non-existence' does not in reality belong to the jar as a jar, but to what is not jar. The Jaina is also agreed that the negation of the attribute has reference to something else. The jar really exists as jar and not as pen. So negation of existence can have reference to the pen and other things which are not jar. If the non-existence of pen were an attribute of the jar, the colour, shape and other characteristics of the pen should also be the attributes of the jar. But this is absurd. The Jaina, however, does not think that the two cases are similar or that the contention is tenable. The colour, shape and other qualities of the pen are the exclusive properties of the pen and so cannot be predicated of anything else. But non-existence-as-pen is an attribute of the jar. The jar has a self-existence and a self-identity which is inseparable from its non-existence-as-pen. As has been said above, existence has no objective status apart from the concrete real, and since one real is distinguished from another real, the existence of one is ipso facto distinguished from that of others That one existence is distinct from another existence means that the two are not identical, that is to say, each has an identity of its own, which can be understood fully in reference to another existence. To know is to distinguish. A thing can be known fully as it is in itself only when it is known to be what it is not. It is really difficult to determine the status of the element of negation in the knowledge of a real - whether it is antecedent or consequent to the knowledge of the positive aspect. But the question of precedence is not material. It is undeniable that conception of a real is a complex of a positive and a negative aspect. The Jaina does not seem to be wrong when he insists that the determinate cognition of a real as what it is and as what it is not is a matter of intuition, sensuous or non-sensuous according to the nature of the object. It has been said in the fourth chapter that conceptual knowledge according to the Jaina is as much derived from objective reality as sense-intuition is.

Another consideration may be put forward in favour of the Jaina contention. 'The jar does not exist' is a proposition which has the same formal consistency as the affirmative proposition has. If non-existence be a characteristic, it must have a substratum of its own. The Naiyāyika would have us believe that it belongs to what is not-jar, since existence as pen and the like is denied of the jar, and the jar's non-existence is equivalent to the negation of existence as pen. But that only shifts the difficulty and does not solve it. The coincidence of non-existence and existence in the pen again would raise the same difficulty. The pen is a pen because it is not not-pen, that is to say, jar and the like. The negation of not-pen, is thus as much an element of its being as the pen-character is. The Jaina again substantiates his position by a different line of approach. He examines the implication of the substantive-adjective relation and arrives at the same result. 'Whatever is an adjectival determination is necessarily concomitant with its opposite. The predicate is an adjectival determination. The predicate is concomitant with its opposite.' This is a perfect syllogistic argument and is also materially true. Take any proposition and the truth will be obvious. 'The pen is red' is a proposition with 'red' as the predicate. Now, the predicate 'red' has significance only, because it is a determinate attribute, which it is by virtue of its negation of the opposite, not-red. Many things may be not-red, but the negation of not-red would apply only to what is red. The implication of the proposition 'the pen is red' is that 'the pen is not not-red as distinguished from diamond.' Not only is the law true of positive attributes, but it equally holds good of negative attributes also. 'The pen is not red,' though apparently a negative proposition, has a positive implication. The pen has some colour, which we know to be different from red. Even in what is held to be an absolutely negative proposition, e.g. 'Air has no colour,' the negation of colour has a positive implication in that colour is existent in some other substance. If we now apply the law to the cases under consideration, we shall see that the propositions 'The jar exists' and 'the jar does not exist' are rather complementary to one another and not inconsistent. Existence, being a predicate and an adjective, must be concomitant with its opposite, non-existence, and similarly non-existence, being a predicate, will be concomitant with existence.[2] The Vedāntist complains of contradiction in the coincidence of existence and non-existence in one substratum. But the Jaina is emphatic in his repudiation of the charge. There is no incompatibility, as the existence of a thing qua itself and non-existence qua others are not unperceived. It is non-perception of co-existence, which is the determinant of contradiction, but this is conspicuous by its absence here. It is not a fact that existence is incongruent with non-existence, or that one supersedes the other as light does darkness. We have fully discussed the nature and scope of the Law of Contradiction in the first chapter and the arguments need not be reproduced here.


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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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. JAINA
  2. Jaina
  3. Sanskrit
  4. Syad
  5. Syād
  6. Syāt
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