Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rule-extensions in Indian Linguistics and Ritualistics

At the core of the basic framework of Sanskrit systematic thought (and possibly of many other scientific treatises written in every kind of languages) is the practical and effective opposition between general and specific rules. This opposition entails the need of a device for properly extending rules, especially in the case of an overlapping of rules. In the Indian culture this need has lead to an analysis of the abstract structure of the extension of rules, which has been probably inaugurated by the ritualistic tradition. This developed a methodology often considered as a good antecedent of the grammatical substitution-system and of other sophisticated patterns of scientific descriptions, such as the Mīmāṃsā's ones.
 Nevertheless, this underlying arrangement of technical works is not often made explicit, so that all its features are to be patiently detected by a modern reader, often merely by starting from some terminological hints hidden in the texts, such as tantra and prasaṅga.

What other terms made you consider in a different way the whole structure of the way one reasons within śāstras?

I have written way too much on this blog on tantra and especially on the more obscure prasaṅga (a couple of examples are this post and this one, but just enter any of the related terms in the search engine on the left).


Ramakrishnan Suryanarayanan said...

>>Nevertheless, this underlying arrangement of technical works is not often made explicit<<

The arrangement may have been well known at the time they were composed, thus obviating the need to explicate them.

elisa freschi said...

Yes. And furthermore, the texts were accompanied by oral instructions and were meant for insiders, not for complete outsiders (as we are). The lack of explicit instructions is only a problem for us, not for the original readership/audience.

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