Reading often books related to South-Asian culture (especially: history, texts, philosophy), I am usually confronted with the annoying fact that they hardly have a methodological introduction, that the goal they want to attain is often unspelt, that their presuppositions are ambiguous, etc.
In short: their authors often implicitly assume to be following no particular method, and that there is hence no need to debate it –which is a very dangerous stance, because one always follows one method or the other and believing not to follow one just means that one is following one as if it were the only possible one, i.e., blindly.
Hence, Michel Angot's long introduction to his translation of the Nyāyabhāṣya (discussed in some previous posts) is refreshing and intriguing at the same time. I dissent with several of Angot's claims, but the fact of promoting debate is, in my opinion, a further advantage of Angot's Introduction.
I am puzzled, for instance, by Angot's statements about the absence of the concept of "possess" (avoir) and "ought" (devoir) not just in Sanskrit language, but also in Sanskrit thought (pp.38-44), since the accurateness of Angot's reflection concerning Sanskrit is accompanied by no reflections at all about the French usage of these words. Angot seems to use French almost in the same way he reproaches Indians to have used Sanskrit, that is, as if it were the "natural language", the one in comparison to which any other might be judged. Hence, since there is a verb "to have" in French and not in Sanskrit, Angot discusses the "absence" of the corresponding meaning in Sanskrit (p. 43, my emphasis). He does not discuss its presence in French, nor does he seem to admit the possibility that the same content might be expressed through two different phraseologies. I might be wrong, but I cannot see any conceptual difference between the Latin way of expressing possess (mihi est …), the Hindī one (mere pās … hai) and the French one (j'ai …). And even if there were one (for instance, if the French phraseology would stress one's agency within a possess-relation), French would be part of the question and not a judge aloof of it. One might argue that French thinkers misconstrue the relation of possess as if it implied an agent, although it is quite different from the description of an action. Structural linguists do in fact distinguish between the "I" in "I cook" (agent), the "I" in "I hear" (experiencer) and the "I" in "I have" (theme or patient).
However, it is noteworthy that Angot himself at another point of his long introduction criticises the idea that the language determines the thought (p.48) and adds the very important caveat that one is never sure that the categories we now attribute to a language are the same shared by ancient authors thinking in that same language (p. 48, fn.120).
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