Friday, May 6, 2011

Identifying opponents

If you work on philosophical texts in Sanskrit, you will constantly have to face the problem of how to distinguish between opponents and upholders of views shared by the author. Often we can count on elements such as "it must be said" (ucyate), marking the beginning of a reply to a view one does not share, or nanu, iti cet, identifying opponents.
But what if they are all lacking? For the time being, I have not been able to identify any hierarchy between the pronouns used to introduce discussants, such as kecit, apare, anye. Today, thanks to a friend (M.Ferrante), I could read a page of Ashok Aklujkar's unpublished dissertation The Philosophy of Bharatṛhari's Trikāṇdī (Cambridge, Mass.,1970), where Aklujar writes that in Bhartṛhari (§0.7):

In the statements of those views which he can be said to accept on some level or another, either fully or in part, the word apara "someone else" is of common occurrence. It seems to have the same connotation for him which the word para has for Nāgeśa. As Helārāja [in his commentary to Bhartṛhari] puts it "The word apara is a reference to scholars who hold the same view". On the other hand, the view stated with kecit, kaiścit, or keṣāñcit "certain persons," more often than not, turn out to be either unacceptable to Bhartṛhari or acceptable only with qualifications, as Helārāja often observes.
Aklujkar himself says that this is an "interesting peculiarity" of Bhartṛhari, and adds some caution:

In this connection, I must emphasize that I have not been able to find out the exact conditions under which apara and kim+cit posses the described connotations, and that I do not ascribe a view to Bhartṛhari merely because the word apara figures in its statements. I also wish to draw attention to the fact that the other two words, eka "one" and anya "another," which Bhartṛhari uses in starting various views do not seem to possess any comparable connotations.

Did readers notice similar hierarchical patterns in Indian authors?

On Sanskrit syntax and objections, see here.

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