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Thursday, January 5, 2012

World Sanskrit Conference — 1 (author's intention)

The 15th World Sanskrit Conference just started. Until now there have been only two parallel sections (I attended two panels: "Sanskrit and Science" and "Philosophy"). As often stated on this blog, I can't understand why many people read instead of talking. There is just no need to have further reasons to be boring.

By contrast, the present conference is made much more exciting by many interesting discussions. The paṇḍits participating to it, for instance, really had many appealing arguments to Iwasaki Yoichi's learned paper on the topic of tātpāryajñāna 'cognition of the intention'. Basically the problem under examination was that of polysemy. Nyāya authors solve it by recurring to the speaker's intention. One will know whether Rāma refers to Balarāma, Paraśurāma or Sītā's husband because the speaker meant only one of them. Now, Gaṅgeśa, while referring to Prābhākara theses, also speaks of tātpāryajñāna. How can this be, given that Prābhākaras are known to refute the tātpāryajñāna, since they claim that the Veda has no author? How could they solve the problem of polysemy in the Veda? Personally, I would say that there are many ways to solve this problem even without any author. But what does Gaṅgeśa mean by speaking of tātpāryajñāna while dealing with the Prābhākaras? The paper's author, Yoichi Iwasaki, proposed that tātpāryajñāna might have meant (pace the commentators) the text's intention. I have never read of tātpāryajñāna in the Prābhākara texts I can remember and I do not agree with the suggestion that it might have been in some lost texts. Could it mean the intention of the hearer? Given that the meaning is not arbitrary according to most Indian theories, the intention of the hearer cannot miss the meaning. It will be based, e.g., on context.

On reading in conferences, see this post. On an alternative idea of conferences, see this one and the corresponding wiki.


Lajjikā said...

Many people read papers at conferences because it allows them to develop their thoughts more thoroughly before the conference and to present them exactly as they had intended. Not everyone is skilled at remembering every point when they are in the often nerve-racking position of speaking to a large and learned audience. I have heard some great read papers at conferences. I think the enthusiasm of the speaker and tone of voice matter more than whether it is read or spoken from memory. Public speaking is a skill we should all seek to practice and improve on, but no need to make people feel bad if they are not accomplished at it yet.

elisa freschi said...

Lajjikā, you are right and I have been too harsh. You might have noticed that in the following posts I rather shifted my position as to suggesting that at least one might "recite" one's written text or at least distribute interesting hand-outs.
I tend to think that reading is overestimated. One thinks that reading is good, because one gets more things said, but in fact to say too many things is not a good in itself in a conference. The public will anyway not remember all, so I deem it better to say a few things, but clearly. Don't you? And by the way, which read papers did you like more?

Lajjikā said...

Oddly I liked some that were unsubstantive like "Vegetables in Ancient India". I don't mean the topic was unsubstantive, but the paper itself wasn't very good. Still, the young man was enthusiastic about it and it was enjoyable to listen to. Maybe some people just have better voices.

elisa freschi said...

Thanks for your answer, Lajjikā, notwithstanding my initial harshness.

I missed that paper, but I think I see your point. I enjoyed Simon Brodbeck's paper because I think he is a great actor, independently of what he actually says (although I do think he is also a great scholar). And enthusiasm is also an additional advantage.

iwsk said...

Thanks for your comments and review. As you suggest, the Prābhākara-matas presented by Gaṅgeśa sound odd and I also agree that these matas are most probably composed by himself. But since Prābhākaras are criticized by Gaṅgeśa insistently, it is also conceivable that they are quite active at Gaṅgeśa's time and their discourse might be found in the texts of Jaina or Vedāntins. I cannot give up searching it yet.

As to the hearers' intention, I do not think the texts (esp. Vedas) are so open to hearers and both Udayana and Gaṅgeśa reject śrotricchārupam tātparyam. Hearers' responsibility is rather stated by yogyatā (bādhakapramābhāva).

My opinion to WSC is: don't move other papers ahead when a paper is canceled! I missed some interesting papers due to this bad habit.

elisa freschi said...

Dear Iwsk,
nothing to be thankful about. I just blog on what interests or strikes me.
Thanks for your interesting additions. In my personal research (especially while working on Freschi, Graheli "Bhattamimamsa and Nyaya on Veda and Tradition" 2005) I got the strong feeling that Naiyāyikas focus on the utterer's side ("āptavacana": the utterer has to be reliable), while Mīmāṃsaka tend to focus on the listener (apauruṣeyatva: there is no speaker!). No wonder, hence, that Udayana and Gaṅgeśa refute that the listener's tātparya. I doubt a Prābhākara would say the same. Maybe Gaṅgeśa labels tātparya something which in the case of the Prābhākaras can only be conceived in relation to the text itself OR to the listener? (I see your point about the first option being preferable, but I can't see how it can be feasable unless it is understood in relation to the listener).

I also missed several papers (for instance M.H. Gorisse's one) because of this policy of moving ahead papers to fill in gaps. Why not just having the discussion of the paper before last longer?

iwsk said...

I am sorry I have not got your paper, but maybe I am somewhat influenced by the conception that Mīmāṃsā theories are text-oritented. I understand Mīmāṃsakas do trust listener's reasoning to attain the meaning of the texts, and in that connection tātparya is also possibly go under the control of the listener, if it is not something like śakti or vṛtti. Let me read your paper with fresh eyes to get a new perspective.

elisa freschi said...

Thank you, iwsk, I am really enjoying this conversation. I did not mean to say that you should have read my paper, I was just explaining how I got to the view that Nyāya authors emphasize the speaker's side and Mīmāṃsā authors emphasize the listener's side.
I agree that the stress on listeners does not mean that they are free to interpret texts as they wish: no Derrida and instead strict rules of interpretation!

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