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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bibliography on absence and a question

Guha's article (discussed in this post), though thought-provoking, has a weak point, i.e., the fact that the author ignores much interesting material on the topic of absence (even on the smaller topic of absence in Nyāya and Mīmāṃsā), a topic to which I will dedicate a separate post. I am in a conflict of interests, since I wrote three articles on absence in Mīmāṃsā (they can be found on, here, here and here), but I am not talking about my work. Arindam Chakrabarti's great book Denying existence : the logic, epistemology, and pragmatics of negative existentials and fictional discourse (1997) is just ignored, and so are Schmithausen's (1965) comprehensive study of error in Indian philosophy (a topic closely connected to that of absence, since one might claim that in the case of error one grasps something non-existing) and Birgit Kellner's book (1997) and article (1997—but written well thereafter) on this topic.
Such works would have helped Guha to distinguish the topic of ontology as an "inventory of the world" from that of the padārthas, which are —in my opinion— not just part of this inventory, as proven by categories such as samavāya 'inherence', which could hardly figure in an inventory, although they are needed to make sense of the world in an economical way.
Further, Guha refers  to the view that "Most of the Indian schools that were interested in ontological categoriology began their journey from linguistic intuitions" (p. 113), without taking into account Bronkhorst's (Brill 1999, previously published in French) position about it (he refers, instead, to "Professor Gangadhar Kar", with no indication of any work).

Thus, to the question:
With today's Google Scholar and the like, can ignoring essential literature still be excused? Does reading enhance one's philosophical results or is it only pedantic?

For my praise of reading, see here. For the post on Guha's article, see here (be sure to check the interesting comments).

1 comment:

ombhurbhuva said...

I’m looking at your abhavapramana paper. It’s interesting. I’m also reading on Google books some of Chakrabati’s work. A small point. The paradigm case of error in Indian philosophy is confusion i.e. taking something to be that which it is not. Delusion and Illusion are different and need to be kept separate in a different category. ‘Confusion’ brings in the great topic of superimposition/adhyasa and is meant, in Advaita at least, to underline a substratum ontology. I would say that it is not primarily about an argument from illusion but is designed to combat that type of thinking. I have ‘laid’ two posts on the Counterpositive notion during the last week which make a few points that might be of interest.

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