Thursday, July 30, 2009

Movement is not just conjunction and disjunction

Maṇḍana Miśra, who lived short after Kumārila, wrote a separate study on bhāvanā called Bhāvanāviveka (“Discernment about bhāvanā”). Apart from its intrinsic philosophical value, this text is also precious because it reproduces many objections raised against Kumārila's theory but not otherwise recorded. The main objector maintains, à la Zeno of Elea, that movement just does not exist. It is nothing but the conjunctions and disjunctions (saṃyoga-vibhāga) inhering in a thing (BhV, p.25). For instance, walking is nothing but conjunctions and disjunctions inhering in feet and ground. In fact, only conjunctions and disjunctions are, indeed, seen (pp. 29-301) and one then infers movement out of them (pp.33-34) at a time when the alleged movement has actually already vanished and one only sees a new disjunction or conjunction (Uṃveka, p.35, BhV, p.35). But, since the latter are enough to explain what one sees, why should one postulate a further entity?2 One could complete the argument by specifying that the illusion of a separate category, movement, is just created by the succession of disjonctions and conjunctions.

This interesting position is criticised by Maṇḍana, who upheld the specificity of activities. Since conjunctions and disjunctions do not cease to be there, argues Maṇḍana, one would keep on inferring an activity even when one pauses after having walked3.

1api ca pratyakṣāpratyakṣavṛttyor api saṃyogavibhāgayoḥ siddhayoḥ pratyakṣatvakalpanā yuktā na tv asiddhasya karmaṇaḥ. tābhyām eva tarhi saṃyogavibhāgābhyāṃ kriyām anumimīmahe (BhV p.30, ll.1-3).

2tasmād guṇaviśeṣa eva dhātūpādānaḥ kriyā na tu tadatiricyamānātmā kriyāpadārthaḥ, yaḥ pratyayasya dhātor vābhidheyaḥ syāt (BhV, p.35). And siddher guṇaviśeṣeṇa pacatīty api saṃvidaḥ | kriyāpadārthasyānyasya nānumānaṃ prakalpyate || 24 || (BhV, p. 36).

3na caiṣa tajjanyābhimatasaṃyogavibhāgālambana eva pratyayaḥ. […] na hi calitvā sthitasya kriyāprabhavapūrvottaradeśasaṃyogavibhāgābhāvaḥ. atas tadālambano vyāpārapratyayo na jātu viramet (BhV, p. 83, ll.6-12).

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