I just had the pleasure to read the paper delivered by Michael Williams at the 14th World Sanskrit Conference. It focuses on Madhva's interpretation of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad passage (-a tattvamasi), but it is also interesting as a first glance into Madhva's hermeneutical strategies. Williams rightly, I believe, underlies the fact that Madhva accepts as self-understood the idea that once you have known the principal (pradhāna) componen of something, you have automatically known also its secondary (apradhāna) components. In the instance considered in the article, Madhva argues that, through knowledge of Viṣṇu (God), one can get to know also the world. This may well be true, although I would not expect Madhva to say something like that. Is not he the one who upholds the irreducible difference (atyanta-bheda) between God and the world? If there is such a difference, how could one fully know the world through knowing Him? One could answer that the difference lies in fact in the world's dependence on Him (whereas He is absolutely independent and autonomous). Hence, the world would be qualitatively similar to God (the example used to illustrate the pradhāna-apradhāna state is that of a ball of clay and the remaining mass of clay), although it ultimately relies on Him.
Does not this reduce the importance of Madhva's emphasis on the difference between God and the world? Does not this mean that there is in fact no dualism here? I can know better understand why Madhva himself did not label his philosophy Dvaita (dual) Vedānta. Still, his appeal to common experience as an epistemic instrument to seize difference looses much of its strength if difference does not regard the nature of God and the world, but just their dependence/independence (…hardly seized, by the way).