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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Testimony: Does the listener also need to be competent?

A colleague and friend of mine, Sudipta Munsi, has sent me an article through which we would like to participate to our CBC discussion on testimony (although he will not be able to join us in Turin). You can find it on the Asiatica wiki, here.
Comments would be welcome. And I would be especially pleased if you could comment on Sudipta's point about the listener's competence (on the last page).

Do you agree that a listener also needs to fulfil special requirements in order for an act of testimony to be successful?

For further posts on testimony, check the labels "śabda" and "epistemology". My Italian blog on Linguistic Communication in Indian and Western philosophy can be read here. On the panel of testimony at the next CBC, see this post.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Classically 'chitta suddhi' and 'sraddha' are required to take in the full purport of sruti. Sravana can lead to liberation in the perfect auditor according to the orthodox. I remember asking if there were any examples of this but none were offered. It seems to be a theoretical possibility.

elisa freschi said...

Thank you, Anonymous reader. Am I understanding correctly that some contemporary Advaita Vedāntin told you about the possibility of attaining liberation just out of hearing the Sacred Texts if one is an appropriate recipient (i.e., has śraddhā and cittaśuddhi)? With no further mediation?

अश्वमित्रः said...

It worked for me.

elisa freschi said...

Do you mean to say that you reached mokṣa by listening to the śruti?

SUDIPTA MUNSI said...

A very interesting argument against āptatva is made by Citsukhācārya in his Tattvapradīpikā –

तथाप्तवाक्यं शब्दप्रमाणमिति नैयायिकानामपि।

आप्तोदीरितवाक्येषु मालतीमाधवादिषु।
व्यभिचारान्न तद्यौक्तमाप्तत्वस्यानिरुक्तितः॥

स्वकपोलकल्पितमालतीमाधवादिवाक्येषु प्रामाण्याभावादतिव्याप्तिः। न हि पुराप्त एव सन्नाटकनाटिकादिप्रबन्धविरचनमात्रेणानाप्तो भवति भवभूतिः। उक्तं चैतदुम्बेकेन – “यदाप्तोऽपि कस्मैचिदुपदिशति न त्वयाननुभूतार्थविषयं वाक्यं प्रयोक्तव्यम् यथाङ्गुल्यग्रे हस्तियूथशतमास्ते इति तत्रार्थव्यभिचारः स्फुट” इति।

A little later he goes further and argues:

कश्चायमाप्तो नाम ?…..

प्रमाणेन यथादृष्टं तथावादीति चेत् , मैवम् ; एकदेशे तथाभूतवादित्वेऽप्यंशान्तरेऽन्यथाभूतवादिन्यपि प्रसङ्गात्।

Again,

अथ निर्दोष आप्त इति चेत् , मैवम् ; आप्तानामपि क्वचिद्रागादिदोषसंभावात्।

and

यत्र विषये यो निर्दोषः स तत्राप्त इति चेत् , न ; यत्तच्छब्दयोर्विशेषत्वेनासाधारण्यादव्याप्तेः।

elisa freschi said...

I am summing up for non-Sanskritists: Citsukha says that the definition of reliability (āptatva) suffers of over-inclusion, since it includes also sentences in a drama such as Mālatīmādhava by Bhavabhūti, for one cannot conclude that Bhavabhūti is unreliable through a sheer investigation of the drama. Did I understand correctly?

elisa freschi said...

Next, Citsukha goes on with a critique of the definition of "reliable":
1. It cannot be defined as one who describes things as s/he has known them through a valid instrument of knowledge. Because the definition would end up including also people who utter only a partial truth.
2. Nor does the definition "flawless" work, since also reliable people may sometimes be affected by faults such as passions.
3. Last, "flawless as for the content about which s/he speaks" also does not work, since it has as outcome an under-inclusion. But I did not understand why. Could you explain?
I now realise that this is helpful also for people who do (think they) know Sanskrit (like me).

SUDIPTA MUNSI said...

It may be pointed out, as Pratyagrūpa Bhagavān, the author of the commentary, Nayanaprasādinī says, that the names, Bhavabhūti and Umbeka refer to the same person (bhavabhūtirumbekaḥ). Now since Umbeka says, “An āpta while instructing someone says that the latter should not say something as he has not experienced, such as on the tip of one’s finger there are hundreds of bands of elephants”, he cannot be said to have ceased to be an āpta for writing such fictional works as Mālatīmādhava, etc. Thus one cannot at one point of time be said to be an āpta, while at another not so. This makes the definition over-extensive.

The other arguments which Citsukha offers are as follows:

1) It cannot be said that one is an āpta in as much as he describes what he experiences with the aid of instruments of knowledge, because although he might be saying things as they are through one part of his statement, yet other parts of his statement may not deal with things as they have been experienced by him with the aid of the instruments of knowledge;

2) It cannot be said that one is an āpta because of his being flawless, because of the prevalence of preferences and dislikes at some places (i.e. in matters different than the one he or she is talking about and about which his or her reliability is being investigated);

3) It cannot be said that one is an āpta only in those matters in which he is flawless in, because then the definition being conditioned by the expression ‘in those matters in which’ would apply to a particular person, and would not thus be pervasive in general.

In think, the main drift of all these arguments is that one is not an āpta in select matters or in a restricted way, but if one is an āpta, his āptatva hold good as a whole and his āptatva extends to all possible fields. Thus by denying partial āptatva, the very notion of āptatva itself is refuted.

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