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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ontological or epistemological arguments for the subject?

Rāmānujācārya definitely favours a non-ontological approach to the problem of the subject. For him, the subject is what one becomes due to hearing and obeying to Vedic prescriptions.
What about his more systematic predecessor, Śālikanātha?

Since its very beginning, the chapter he dedicates to this topic (the Tattvāloka within his Prakaraṇapañcikā) seems to look for a balance between the two opposite tendencies. In its second verse, the first two padas are rather ontologically oriented, whereas the last two stress the role of the subject as the agent of cognitions we can experience in every day life:


The self, distinguished from intellect, sense faculties and from the body, is an all-pervasive substance |

different according to each field (of experience) [i.e., according to each empirical individual] , it shines forth in the act of understanding of the objects ||


(buddhīndriyaśarīrebhyo bhinna ātmā vibhur dhruvaḥ | nānābhūtaḥ pratikṣetram arthavittiṣu bhāsate || 2 ||)


Moreover, the subject is repeatedly identified as the knower (jñātṛ) and its necessity is demonstrated through epistemological arguments (such as the need for a reunification of different sense-cognitions and the possibility of memory).


How can the two approaches coexist?


On Rāmānujācārya's approach, see here. For further post on the topic of subjectivity, check the label "subject".

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