Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 2

Published: 29.11.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

In what sense does the Hegelian subordinate distinction to identity? Now doubt he emphasises distinction to distinguish his concrete identity from abstract or formal identity but he does not admit—what a realist would admit—that, an object can be distinct in itself and need not be in a comprising identity. The dialectic movement ends in an absolute identity, not in an absolute distinction. The thesis and antithesis at any stage are said to be reduced to 'ideality' in the synthesis, to be not only contained but transformed by it. The identity progresses in concreteness in the sense that it dissolves in itself a deeper and deeper difference; but the absolute in the last resort is taken as the identity of the deepest differences, not as incommensurable bifurcations of an identity.

What however is this relation of subordination of distinction to identity? Distinction is in some sense negated by the identity: it is said to be dissolved or reduced to 'ideality' in the identity. Not that it is negated in the sense an illusory percept is said to be negated by a true percept: difference or the rich variety of the universe is not an illusion. If then difference still retains some kind of being, what is the name of the relation between this being and the being of the identity? Should it be called identity again, as apparently the Hegelian would call it? Identity then would occupy two positions: the synthesis or the composite as we may call it is the identity of the different factors and is also identical with them, being thus at once a relation and a term.

The Hegelian ordinarily understands identity as mutual implication or correlation. If A and B imply one another, each being wholly intelligible by the other, they are said to be identical. In this sense a synthesis would be taken as the identity of its factors. Is the identity of the synthesis with the retained being of the distinction within it also to be understood in the sense of mutual implication? The two implications that make up mutual implication must be envisaged as substantially different truths and must not be a purposeless repetition of each other in different verbal order only. If a synthesis and its factors be mutually implicatory, the synthesis implying the factors must mean something concretely different from the factors implying the synthesis. It cannot mean simply that the factors are presupposed by the unity; for that means substantially the same thing as that the factors presuppose the unity. The two sides are but the verbal explications of the same fact viz. the thought of identity-in-difference or synthesis. Synthesis implying the factors should mean then that the unity must break out actually into difference. In the last resort it will amount to saying that the Absolute should be experienced, not merely thought, as necessarily reproducing itself in actuality. But is the actual universe experienced as necessary? It is only thought to be necessary; and accordingly the implication by the Absolute of actual differences—the necessity of its self- reproduction—is not distinct as a substantial truth from the mere presupposition of the Absolute by the universe.

The identity then of a synthesis with the retained being of the distinction within it is not an identity in the sense of mutual implication. If the relation be still called identity, it must be taken as simply intuited, as all identity is taken to be in the Nyāya. Apparently then the Hegelian, while subordinating distinction to identity, has to admit two utterly different kinds of identity, corresponding to the difference of thought and intuition, which cannot be reduced to further identity. This however is a contradiction.

A similar contradiction may be brought out in the Nyāya view. Here however we start with the priority of distinction to identity and we have to end, as will appear presently, by admitting an identity that is not distinct from anything at all. Confining ourselves to positives, we have synthetic identity of positives in this system in the form of Samavāya or the relation of inherence. Without going into the subtle technicalities of the Nyāya in this connection, we may indicate that Samavāya is understood by it as the relation of attribute to its substratum and of a whole to its part. It is a relation of distinct objects and is regarded as what is presupposed by every other relation of existents. It is not a mere formal relation of identity: the distinction of the terms of this relation is taken to be real and to be in no sense superseded by it. Hence it is not called identity in this theory but it is pointed out that one term of the relation—attribute or whole—exists inseparably from the other—substratum or part, the inseparability being eternal although no term may be infinite or permanent. This eternal inseparability may accordingly be regarded as a form of concrete identity.

Now this identity is taken as knowable by perception, unlike the implicational identity of Hegel which is supposed to be known only by necessary thought. As a percept it is a distinct among distincts, not as in the Hegelian theory comprehensive of the distincts. Ultimately there are objects like the simple atoms distinct in themselves and not inhering in anything beyond them. Other objects like attributes and wholes exist as distinct but inseparable from their substrata. Finally the relation Samavāya or this concrete identity is also a distinct object. Thus priority is assigned, as has been pointed out, in this system to distinction.

The relation of Samavāya implies three grades of distincts—objects that must be in some substratum, the substrata, and the relation itself. The question may be asked if relation is a distinct being in the sense in which the objects of the other two grades are distinct. These objects are distinct as the terms of the relation: objects which do not inhere in anything are still determinate as having attributes and wholes inhering in them. Not that the knowledge of a substance presupposes the knowledge of what inheres in it: it is known as distinct prior to the analysis. But in point of being, every object except relation must either have something inhering in it or itself inhere in something else or be in both these situations. Relation is not itself related to anything beyond, for then there would be a regressus ad infinitum. It is a distinct existent only by self-identity or sva-samavāya.

Self-identity however is not a relation of distincts at all. Granting—what is not admitted by all—that Samavāya is known by perception, this self-identity or Sva-Samavāya is not a perceptible fact but is only an artificial thought-content. Self-related means unrelated in the objective. Samavāya is certainly known along with its terms but as a fact, it is only unrelated and cannot be even said to be definitely different from its terms. Can it then be determinate in itself? It may indeed be conceded that the determinateness of a related term does not in point of being depend on its relations: the relation of a term presupposes an intrinsic determination in the term. But that need not mean that the term is itself unrelated and has relation only added to it. In point of being the relation of Samavāya is eternal and so the related term is never unrelated, though as a term it is distinguishable from the relation. Relation then as an unrelated term is not even determinate and it is a contradiction to speak of it as self-related or unrelated and yet as determinate.

In the two conceptions of indentity-in-difference above considered, the subordination of either relation to the other appears to lead to a contradiction. Shall we then take the relations to be merely coordinate? We may take one type of such a view as presented in a recent work on Logic by W.E. Johnson (Vol. I, chapter xii). In the last two views, a term A can'be both identical with and other than B. The present view denies it and keeps to the commonsense principle that distincts cannot, be also non-distinct. Yet identity as a relation is admitted: a term X, viewed in connexion with the distincts A and B, would be said to be identical as against the distinction of A and B. Identity of X here practically means its self-identity: it is not merely the thing X but a relation in reference to the distinction. Identity of X thus implies a distinction outside X viz. between A and B, not any distinction or plurality within itself.

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Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan) General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria
Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
© by the Authors

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  1. Nyāya
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