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Sunday, July 22, 2012

prasaṅga in the Nyāyabhāṣya

prasaṅga, although it later came to define the Western reductio ad absurdum, actually rather had the meaning of "automatic occurrence". This meaning is kept in the Kalpasūtra, in the Mahābhāṣya, in the Mīmāṃsā and in the Nyāyasūtra (see the last post).

In his Nyāyabhāṣya, Pakṣilasvāmin Vātsyāyana does not deviate in his interpretation of the term prasaṅga from the above-mentioned usages of the Nyāyasūtra. […] Pakṣilasvāmin uses the term prasaṅga in the […] meaning of "occurrence of" or "possibility of an occurrence" […]. It is obvious that in this context [namely, NBh ad 1.1.5], prasaṅga is used without the hypothetical negative connotation found in many instances of the "younger" parts of the Nyāyasūtra […] (Prets 2007, p. 672--3).

Slightly later prasaṅga appears in the obscure definition of arthāpatti 'cogent evidence': arthād āpattiḥ arthāpattiḥ. āpattiḥ prāptiḥ prasaṅgaḥ. The first part can be translated as 'Cogent evidence is the ensuing (āpatti) from the thing itself' (this is my translation, Prets renders artha with ''meaning of the sentence'').  But what to do with the following line? Oetke (1992: 197, fn. 12) suggests: "āpatti is obtaining, resulting". Prets rather interprets the two terms as hierarchically linked and writes: "Ensuing (āpatti) [consists of] the resulting (prasaṅga) of an obtainment (prāpti)". This should mean that Prets reads prāptiprasaṅga, but he does not state it explicitly.

For other cases testifying a common prehistory shared by Śrautasūtras, Grammar and Mīmāṃsā authors, see this post (on tantra), this and this one (on prasaṅga, the latter discusses a metarule, i.e., "an exception counts more than the general rule").

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