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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

artha, meaning and reference in Jayanta

artha is a very common term in śāstric Sanskrit and it is at times difficult to see what is Jayanta's distinctive usage of it.
He, in fact, inherits from the Nyāya and Mīmāṃsā systems an epistemological usage of artha in the context of the definition of perceptual knowledge, as meaning 'the real object of a valid piece of cognition'. In the context of linguistic usage, in the śāstric usage preceding Jayanta, artha tends to define the meaning of a word, often considered to be identical with its referent. This does not mean, however, that this artha is a concrete individual.
For instance, in a passage (NM 5, section 3.2.4 in Kataoka 2010), Jayanta states that although the universal is present only within an individual, the two have distinct arthas, thus showing that artha cannot refer to a concrete individual (since there would not be two distinct concrete individuals for vyakti and jāti):

This vṛtti (the presence of the universal in the individual) is the same that [holds] between parts and part-bearer, and between qualities and quality-bearer. Later it will be shown that these two (part and part-bearer and quality and quality-bearer) have different meanings.

 Jayanta rather inquires on what makes something into the content of an epistemic or of a linguistic act. What is the feature which makes an object fit to be grasped? Jayanta's explicit answer (again, in NM 5) will be that the object of a linguistic expression is the vyakti tadvān, i.e., the individual insofar as it is endowed with the characters which make it part of a universal. This is, consequently, the meaning of artha for Jayanta (whether this interpretation holds true for his predecessors and successors is still to be verified).

Do you have different views about the usage of artha in this or other authors? 


On Jayanta, see this post and this one. On artha in Indian thought, see this post and a remark in this one.

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