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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 3

Published: 30.03.2012

It has, however, been contended that though the conditions of doubt as enunciated above may not be present in full, there are certainly other conditions of doubt present in it. In the first place, there is divergence of opinion regarding the truth of the opposite attributes. Secondly, the Jaina must advance reasons in support of each of the opposite attributes and the consideration of such reason must result in doubt, as one set of reasons will offset the other, and so neither existence nor non-existence can be asserted with certitude. But the second contention is also hollow like the first, since it is inspired by misconception. It is assumed that the predicates, existence and non-existence, are mutually opposed and so they would cancel each other. But the predicates are neither indeterminate nor have they the same reference, which would make opposition inevitable. Existence has reference to the identity of the substance, which never suffers lapse in spite of the evanescent modes which happen to it and non-existence has reference to these modes, either defunct or unrealised. It may have reference to a distinct identity also. So there is no opposition, which would be irresistible, if the predication of opposite determinations were in the self-same reference. Fatherhood and sonship are opposed in the same reference. The same man cannot be the son and father of 'A'. But he can be the son of 'A' and father of 'B' and there is no contradiction, since the reference is different. A sound probans (hetu), e.g., smoke, is existent in the kitchen and the hill and is non-existent in the lake. There is no opposition here and so also in sevenfold predication, as the opposites are asserted to be true not in the same reference, but in a different reference.

A charge-sheet of eight counts has been drawn up against the theory by another school of philosophers and this demands an examination and an answer. (1) The first charge is contradiction. It is asserted that affirmation and negation of the same attribute in respect of the same subject are not logically possible, since this would make self-contradiction inevitable. Existence is a positive attribute and non-existence is the negation of existence. The two are mutually repellent like heat and cold. (2) The second charge is consequential. The two opposites cannot exist in the same substratum and if existence and non-existence were predicated of the self-same subject, the identity of the subject would be split up into two - one as the substrate of existence and the other as the substrate of non-existence. (3) The third charge is that it makes infinite regress an unavoidable consequence. The Jaina position is that every real has a double character - one positive and another negative. Thus, jar, pen, table, chair and so on are all possessed of a double character, since they are both existent and non-existent according to the Jaina theory. Now 'existence' and 'non-existence' are real attributes and as such each of them must have a double character. Existence will have existence and non-existence in its turn, and the second element of existence will have again existence and non-existence and so on to infinity. What is true of existence will be equally true of non-existence, as the postulation of an endless series of non-existences and existences will be necessary in the latter case also. (4) The fourth charge is the consequence of 'confusion' (saṅkara)[1] A thing will have existence and non-existence in the same manner. What is existent will be non-existent and what is non-existent will be existent. This is a case of confusion which consists in the overlapping of all things in one substratum. (5) The fifth charge is 'transfusion' (vyatikara),[2] the opposite of confusion. If existence were to occur in the very manner in which non-existence occurs, existence would be transfused into non-existence, and if non-existence were to have the same manner of incidence with existence, it would become existence. This is transfusion which is defined as the mutual transference of locus. (6) The sixth charge is the consequence, 'doubt.' If a real were existent and non-existent both, it could not be determined definitely as existent or as non-existent. The result is doubt as to which it is. (7) The seventh charge is 'indetermination', which is the result of doubt. (8) The eighth charge is the inevitable consequence which is deduced by the nihilist that nothing is real, as every phenomenon is asserted to be possessed of both existence and non-existence - which is impossible.

This formidable catalogue of charges against the doctrine of non-absolutism, which is established by sevenfold predication, is really not so formidable as it appears at first sight. The fundamental charge is the allegation of self-contradiction and the remaining counts are only consequential. If the charge of self-contradiction can be shown to be unfounded and unreal, the disposal of the consequential charges will be a matter of methodical deduction. We have fully discussed the nature of opposition in the first chapter in connection with our critique of the Laws of Thought. The inflated list of objections recorded in the chargesheet is only an elaboration of the concept of contradiction as endorsed by formal pure logic; but it has been established that a priori conception of opposition is untenable. It should, we think, suffice to say that the criterion of opposition is absence of proof of the co-existence of the opposites. In other words, it is from experience and not from pure thought that we should derive our notion of opposition. We have shown how the denial of this fundamental truth has divided idealists and realists and driven them to hostile camps. The only consistent logical conclusion of the a priori concept of opposition is the philosophy of Vedānta as taught by Śaṅkarācārya. Śaṅkara succeeds in denying the plurality with their relations by the application of the Law of contradiction, based upon the difference and opposition of being and non-being, which he thinks to be absolute.

But if we can persuade ourselves that a priori reasoning in­dependent of experience is incompetent to yield insight into the nature of real and their relations, we cannot accept the findings of idealists. The Jaina is a realist and if Vedānta is the paragon of idealistic thought, as James has observed, Jaina philosophy is with equal propriety and truth entitled to be called the paragon of realism. If experience be the ultimate source of knowledge of reality and its behaviour, we cannot repudiate the plurality of things. The admission of plurality necessitates the recognition of the dual nature of reals as constituted of being and non-being as fundamental elements. One real will be distinguished from another real and this distinction, unless it is dismissed as error of judgment, presupposes that each possesses a different identity, in other words that being of one is not the being of the other. This truth is propounded by the Jaina in that things are real, so far as they have a self-identity of their own unshared by other (svarūpasattā), and they are unreal in respect of a different self-identity (pararūpasattā). If being were the only character of reals to the exclusion of non-being, all reals would have the self-same being - in other words, there would be only one real, which is the conclusion of Vedānta. If non-being were the only character of reals, they would not be real even in their own self-identity, as the presupposition of self-identity is being, which is denied in the proposition. This is exactly the conclusion of śūnyavāda. Jaina thought steers clear of the Scylla of monism and the Charybdis of nihilism by accepting the deliveries of experience as the final truth. Of course experience must not be contradicted by subsequent experience if it is to be an authentic source of knowledge. But the crux of the problem lies in the very conception of contradiction and the Jaina refuses to capitulate to the Vedāntist or the Nihilist, who are adherents of pure logic.

The logic of Jaina is empirical logic, which stands in irreconcilable opposition to pure logic, and the advocates of the latter have to part company with the advocates of the former. If one were to pose the difficult question, 'Which of the two, realism and idealism, possesses the final truth?' We can only advise him usefully by testing his logical convictions. "If you are a believer in absolute being or absolute non-being and in the absolute opposition of the two, you will find satisfaction either in Vedānta or Śūnyavāda. If, however, you have no such preformed faith, study the different systems of thought and understand the logic upon which they are founded, and you will arrive at your own conclusion in accordance with your logical sympathies that you will come to develop. If you come to believe in the truth of pure logic, you will become an idealist by faith. If, on the other hand, you are convinced by the contentions of realistic logic, you will be a realist. The form and nature of your philosophy will be determined by the strength of your convictions either way."

The Jaina position in logic, it can be expected, cannot be rejected by realistic philosophers. But as a matter of historical truth, realists also are not agreed in their views upon the nature of reality, although they are at one in rejecting the idealist's interpretation of logical truth. As regards the quarrel with the idealists, we do not want to act as umpire - an ambitious task which we leave to future prophets to adjudge. The realist can only show contradiction in the position of the idealist, which the latter does not believe to be a contradiction, and the idealist can show similar contradiction in the realist's position, which is believed by the latter to be the true description of the nature of reals as they are. I may be permitted to quote in this connection what I have said elsewhere about the differences of philosophers. "There is no reason to be optimistic that one day all philosophers will sink their differences and profess one philosophy. Philosophy is not so much a question of conviction or carrying conviction as it is a question of mental attitude and outlook of thought and habit of thinking. It will be therefore better and more consonant with truth to say that the task of philosophers is rather conversion than logical conviction. The phenomenon of rival schools of thought holding contradictory views and constantly fighting with one another, however unphilosophical it may appear, will not be a thing of past history, because the fundamental attitudes of mind, the bias of our thought movement, cannot be changed or destroyed."[3]

We have already alluded to the truth that the differences among realists are not less fundamental with regard to the interpretation of experience and thought. The Jaina deduces the conclusion that a real is constituted of being and non-being from the determinate nature that it possesses. The Naiyāyika also believes that existence is determinate, but declines to accept non-being as a factor of reality. The Naiyāyika believes in the opposition of being and non-being like the idealist and hence does not agree with the Jaina in respect of his assertion that reals are existent-cum-non-existent. It is contended by him, "The proposition 'A' is not 'B' or 'A' has not being as 'B' does not admit of the construction that 'A' has non-being of 'B' as an element of its being, which is the Jaina conclusion. The negation of 'B' relates to 'B' and not to 'A'. The proposition 'A' is not 'B' or 'A' has not the being of 'B' cannot be regarded as the equivalent of the proposition 'A' is not. What we seek to establish is that the identity of 'B' is absent in 'A' just as we assert non-existence of jar on the ground. The 'negation' is a determination of the jar and not of the ground and the legitimate form of assertion is 'the jar does not exist on the ground' and not 'the ground does not exist.' Similarly we should assert 'B' does not exist (in 'A') and not 'A' does not exist.' But the second proposition of the sevenfold predication just takes this illegitimate form."

The contention  of the Naiyāyika  seems to  have much plausibility, but it will not stand scrutiny. The non-existence of the jar is interpreted by the Naiyāyika as the attribute (dharma) of the jar. The non-existence of pen in the jar is similarly held to be an attribute of pen and not of the jar. The Jaina holds the opposite view. The dispute can be terminated by the determination of the substratum of negation. Negation will be the attribute of the substratum of which it subsists, just as 'redness' is the attribute of its substratum. In the proposition "The jar does not exist (qua pen)" the non-existence of pen is predicated of the jar and the Naiyāyika takes exception to it. The question can be put as follows: 'Is the non-existence of pen a property of the pen or of the jar?' The first alternative is not entertainable. If the non-existence of pen were a property of pen, the pen would cease to be pen. It cannot be maintained that what is a property of a thing does not exist in that thing. If negation as the property of the pen would subsist in the jar, why should not the other properties of the pen exist in the jar? The first alternative must then be rejected and it must be admitted on pain of contradiction that the negation of pen is an attribute of the jar and not of the pen. And it is this truth which is asserted in the second proposition. What the Jaina seeks to establish is the truth that the assertion of existence yields only the knowledge of a part-characteristic, which is completed by the assertion of non-existence. Non-existence of the pen does not belong to the pen, as that would make it a non-entity. The truth can be elicited by the question, 'Does not the pen exist as pen?' To say that the pen does not exist even as pen is a contradiction in terms. The non-existence of the pen is then to be asserted as its non-existence qua not-pen. This is the Jaina position and no purpose can be served by twisting its plain meaning. The predication of existence and non-existence being thus necessary, the conclusion is undeniable that a real is existent and non-existent both.


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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. Dharma
  2. JAINA
  3. Jaina
  4. Monism
  5. Non-absolutism
  6. Śaṅkarācārya
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