Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 2

Published: 29.03.2012

Let us apply the results attained to the problem raised, viz., whether sevenfold predication applies to the truth of non-absolutism. The 'true non-absolute' has been found to have its opposite in the 'true absolute' and the sevenfold predication can start on with these tow opposites. 'It is absolute'; 'it is non-absolute'; 'it is both'; 'it is inexpressible' (as the two opposites together cannot be thought by a single concept or expressed by a single word); 'it is absolute and inexpressible'; 'it is non-absolute and inexpressible'; 'it is absolute, non-absolute and inexpressible.' It does not require any further proof to assert that the application of sevenfold predication to the universal truth of non-absolutism does not involve the consequences of self-surrender or infinite regression, which were believed by the opponent to be unavoidable. The non-absolute is constituted of absolutes as its elements, and as such would not be possible if there were no absolutes. If it be permitted to employ an imagery, the non-absolute may be compared with a tree and its absolute elements with the branches and members of the same. As the tree disappears if the branches and members are taken out, the non-absolute would similarly vanish if the absolute elements were not there.

We have established the sevenfold predication with the two attributes, existence and non-existence. Though we have repeatedly asserted that the attributes in question are only illustrative in character and our selection of these two was inspired by the recognition of the fact that the two attributes were the elemental characteristics of things, we now propose to add two more typical illustrations for the sake of easy understanding of the comprehensive scope of the doctrine. Let us take two pairs of attributes, permanent and impermanent, one and many, and illustrate the sevenfold predication with them.

The jar is permanent and 'the jar is impermanent' are the two elemental propositions and the predication is true of reality. The jar qua the unitive substance is continuous through all the modes and as such is permanent. The substance of the jar is again earthy material, which is ever present. From the point of view of the material substance, the jar is again a mode of it. So the affirmation of permanence in respect of the jar qua its material substance is true. The jar, again, as immanent in its modes and attributes, is identical with the latter and from the point of view of such identity the jar is as impermanent as the modes are. The construction of the derivative modes being quite consequential, it need not be discussed in detail. The import of the first proposition may be stated as follows: The jar is possessed of the attribute, permanence, so for as it is determined by its substantive character. The second proposition may present a problem according as the interpretation of the predicate may differ. 'Impermanent' may mean the attribute, 'absence of permanence,' or it may be interpreted as 'different from permanent.' The first interpretation does not present any specific problem as it is quite on a par with the attribute of non-existence. There is no difficulty that permanence and impermanence may co-exist in one substratum in respect of different determinations, viz., as substance and as changing modes. There is absolutely no contradiction between the attributes as they relate to different facts, e.g., permanence relates to the substance and impermanence to the modes. The contradiction would arise if both the predicates were to relate to the self-same thing, that is to say, if permanence and impermanence were affirmed in respect of the substance or of the modes in the same reference. But that is not the case and so the propositions are not incompatible. But a real difficulty occurs if the second interpretation is followed. The jar is a unit and cannot be both permanent and impermanent in the contemplated sense. 'The jar is permanent' means 'the jar is identical with 'the permanent' and 'the jar is impermanent' means 'the jar is different from 'the permanent.' The jar, which is permanent, cannot have 'difference' from 'permanent', since difference is an attribute which subsists in the whole of a real. It is not a part-characteristic like 'conjunction' (saṁyoga) or attributes derived from conjunction, red or blue. A jar may be red and non-red, red in one part and non-red in another part. These attributes are called part-characteristics, since the locus of one is not the locus of the other (avyāpyavṛtti). But difference is not a part-characteristic, as it belongs to the subject as a whole. Difference or identity, on the other hand, are whole-characteristics (vyāpyavṛtti). If 'A' is different from 'B', it can be so if 'A' as a whole would be different, in other words, if it has an identity unshared by 'B' in any aspect.

The Jaina however does not believe in whole-characteristics at all and the denial of whole-characteristics is only a corollary of the dictum that the positive is the correlate of the negative.[1] 'Difference' would not be a determinate attribute, if it did not negate its opposite. An indeterminate attribute is only a contradiction in terms. The Jaina asserts that difference being a determinate characteristic must be concomitant with its opposite, otherwise it would cease to be an attribute at all. Such being the case, difference and identity, so far as they are determinate characteristics, must be co-existent in the same substratum, and this knocks out the Naiyāyika's differentiation between whole-characteristic and part-characteristic and the difficulty based upon it. The hollowness of the Naiyāyika's contention can be demonstrated further by the examination of concrete instance. Conjunction is a part-characteristic even according to the Naiyāyika. Suppose a monkey is perched on a branch of a tree. It is to be said then that the tree is conjoined to the monkey in the top and not conjoined in the root. The 'conjoined' is a different attribute from the 'non-conjoined.' There is nothing repugnant about it, if one asserts on the strength of this difference that the conjoined tree is different from the non-conjoined tree. The soldier in uniform is different from the same soldier in civilian dress. The same person as a judge of the High Court is different from the man in a private capacity or in a different capacity, say, as Vice-chancellor of a University. It is sometimes found that the grant sanctioned by the same person as the official Head of a University is negatived by the same person as Governor of a Province. We regard such a procedure as an oddity or even as a case of contradiction. But logically speaking there is no contradiction, as functional identity and personal identity are two things. We shall clarify this point further in a subsequent chapter, when we shall deal with the problem of inherence (samavāya) as relation.

Let us consider the pair of 'one' and 'many' (in the sense of other than one') and see how the sevenfold predication unfolds itself. 'The jar is one' and 'the jar is many' are the basic propositions. The 'oneness' is true of it, as the unitive substance, which owns up the modes and manyness, is the underlying entity of the modes themselves, which are identical with the substance. The substance and the modes are not different. And this identity of the substance with the modes constitutes its plurality. Both unity and plurality are true of each real. The Buddhist affirms the truth of the modes and on the basis of the identity of the substance with each mode, asserts the plurality as the only reality. The result is the doctrine of flux. The Vedāntist declares the modes to be unreal appearance in and over the unity. Both appeal to experience in support of their contentions, but as their logic stands in the way, the opposite aspect is repudiated as illusory. But the Jaina accepts the two together as constitutive of the true nature of reality and does not believe them to be incompatible, as they do not relate to the self-same thing, but to two different things, viz., substance and modes. The identity of the two is felt in experience equally with the difference of the modes and the unification of the plurality is certified by perceptual intuition. But are these determinations, unity and plurality, capable of being predicated of all taken as one? It is the position of the Jaina that a determination is concomitant with its opposite. But what about the universe - the totality of existents? Is the totality an ideal unity and a real plurality? If the position be this, it follows that the unity being a subjective construction, plurality will be true character of the totality of existence. So instead of a universe, we shall really have a pluri-verse. We postpone the discussion of the problem to a subsequent chapter, as we cannot do justice to the paramount importance which it possesses by dealing with it as a side issue. We may state in a dogmatic form that the Jaina takes the totality of existence as a unity with the plurality of existents preserved with all their individuality. The universe will be found on examination to be a unity of plurality exactly on a par with the individual, which is an epitome of the macrocosm, being a unity and a plurality in one and at the same time, though in a different reference.

The universality of sevenfold predication with regard to all that exists cannot be called in question. Even the totality of existents does not prove an exception, as it is also one and many. It is one qua the universal being and many in reference to the plurality of things. So the sevenfold predication with the predicates, unity and plurality, is true of the totality as it is of the individuals themselves. As regards the individuals, all of which are undergoing change into modes, the plurality of the modes and the unity of the substance in each individual are attested truths and the sevenfold predication is the legitimate form of their evaluation.

We have discussed all the problems that were raised in connection with the specific instances of sevenfold predication and we have considered the objections advanced by the opponents regarding specific attributes. We now propose to consider the objections that have been advanced, not against specific predicates, but against the theory as a whole. In the first place, it is urged that the theory of sevenfold predication is only a quibble (chala). Whatever is existent is affirmed to be non-existent, whatever is permanent is asserted to be impermanent, in the sevenfold predication. It is only a jugglery in words and a despicable sophistry as it continually shifts the ground whenever confronted with a difficulty. But the charge is unfounded as the definition of a verbal quibble does not apply to it. A quibble consists in alleging a contradiction in the assertion of a person by putting a construction upon his words different from the intended sense.[2] It is resorted to when the assertion is susceptible of a double construction. In Sanskrit vocabulary which is exceptionally rich in sense, the occasions for quibble are numerous. The stock-in-trade example of quibble is the proposition 'The man has a new (nava) blanket.' The word for 'new' is nava, which also signifies the number 'nine'. The opponent charges the speaker with contradiction by taking the word 'nava' in the sense of 'nine.' He says that the assertion is false. 'The man has not even two blankets, how can he have nine blankets?' But there is no ambiguity in the Jaina propositions, nor is the assertion of existence and non-existence intended in different senses. The Jaina, on the contrary, scrupulously defines the meaning of his words and he insists on the uniformity of the sense of the same words occurring in the different propositions. The charge of 'quibbling' is the unkindest and the most frivolous accusation that can be conceived of against the Jaina position.

In the second place, it is alleged that the theory of sevenfold predication can only be the cause of doubt and not of certitude. The concurrence of opposite attributes in the same substance is impossible, yet the sevenfold predication asserts existence and non-existence, identity and non-identity, permanence and impermanence, of the same subject. This can only mean that the assertor is not sure of his position and is in doubt about the truth of either of the opposite attributes. What is doubt but this cognition of opposite attributes? Take, for instance, the notorious case of doubt. 'Is it a man or an inanimate tree'? Doubt arises since the mind is confronted with two conflicting alternatives, man and tree, in respect of a self-identical entity, which cannot both be true. Similarly in the sevenfold predication, the assertion of existence and non-existence, which are mutually opposed, in respect of the same subject cannot but produce a doubt in the mind of the person to whom it is addressed. But the allegation is not well-founded upon truth. The conditions of doubt are not present in sevenfold predication. The conditions of doubt are three, viz., the cognition of attributes common to the alternatives, the non-cognition of distinctive attributes, and the recollection of the distinctive attributes. An analysis of the instance under consideration will prove the truth of the assertion. A man sees at dusk a tall object ahead and owing to insufficiency of light cannot observe the specific attributes of the tree, e.g., nests of birds upon it, the hollow in the trunk and the like, or of a human being, such as movement of hands and feet, the head-dress and so on. The object may be a man or a branchless tree, and whichever it is, it must have the attributes in question. But the attributes escape observation, though the man recalls them. He knows what is a man and what is a tree. But owing to the lack of perception of the specific determinations of either, he is in a fix and his mind oscillates between them. In the case of sevenfold predication, on the contrary, existence and non-existence are each defined by their specific determinations, internal and external, and the cognition of these determinations makes doubt impossible. The cognition of common characteristics, when it is accompanied by the absence of the cognition of specific determinations, causes doubt, but not when such determinations are cognised. There can therefore be no room for doubt in sevenfold predication.


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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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  1. JAINA
  2. Jaina
  3. Non-absolutism
  4. Sanskrit
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