Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 4

Published: 02.04.2012

But the Naiyāyika is not prepared to accept the Jaina interpretation so easily. It is contended by him that non-existence should be regarded as the attribute of the negatum. The meaning of the second proposition 'the jar does not exist as pen' is that the pen does not exist in the jar and it is plain that the non-existence belongs to the pen, which is non-existent. The non-existence is asserted of the pen and not of the jar. But here the Naiyāyika only lays emphasis upon one aspect of a complex situation. The Jaina does not deny that the pen is negated. The point at issue is the relation of attribute and substantive. The Naiyāyika admits that in the proposition 'The jar does not exist on the ground,' the non-existence of the jar is an attribute of the ground, which is the substratum of the non-existence in question. The non-existence of pen in the jar is exactly on a par with the case. And if the non-existence of the jar can be accepted as an attribute of its locus, why should an objection be raised regarding the non-existence of pen being an attribute of the jar, which is the import of the second proposition. We shall show in a subsequent chapter that all relations, irrespective of their apparent distinctions, are reducible to the relation of identity-cum-difference and the predicate is always a term which stands in this relation of identity to the subject. Non-existence of the pen is affirmed in the jar and thus stands in a relation to the latter, and is thus a predicate of it.

It is seen that from whatever angle of vision one may approach the problem of negation, one cannot avoid the conclusion that non-existence is a real attribute of the existent. The Naiyāyika sets out to demonstrate the impossibility of the co-existence of non-existence and existence in an entity, but ends in asserting non-existence as the attribute of another existent, viz., of the negatum. While he denies that non-existence of the pen is an attribute of the jar, he asserts that it is an attribute of the pen. But the pen cannot be non-existent as pen and existent as pen both - as that makes contradiction inevitable. If must then be admitted that non-existence can relate to the pen as determined by not-pen. The positive-cum-negative character of reals is the unavoidable conclusion even for the Naiyāyika. As we had an occasion to observe that it is only the Jaina who is the only consistent realist, and his confreres, the Naiyāyika and the Mīmāṁsist, have at times succumbed to the temptation of pure logic. The present case is only an illustration of the truth of our assertion.

But an objection of a formal nature has been raised. Granted that reals are positive-cum-negative in nature, still the form of the propositions as adopted by the Jaina is not correct. The propositions should be of the form, 'The jar exists' and 'The pen does not exist' and not 'the jar does not exist'. The negation of pen has always this form with the negatum as the subject, though as a matter of ontological fact, the non-existence of pen may be regarded as an attribute of the jar. The Jaina does not attach undue importance to formal disputes. He will be satisfied if the Naiyāyika accepts the Jaina position that reals are possessed of a double nature, positive-cum-negative, and abandons his wavering allegiance to the absolutist interpretation of the Law of Contradiction. As regards the form of verbal representation, the Jaina would only appeal to convention, that is followed. The form of propositions is not necessarily determined by philosophical truth. Take for instance the proposition 'John is cooking.' What is the meaning of the subject, John? Do we mean that John is only a physical organism, or a spirit, or an embodied spirit? According to the difference of import the subject should be stated differently in conformity with the objective truth. But no sane man, unless there is a special necessity for definition of the subject, raises any difficulty on the score of ontological truth regarding the form of proposition. It will suffice if the proposition is understood in the intended sense. As regards formal propriety the Jaina will only point to the large volume of usage and the time-honoured custom as his apology.

It may be claimed that the Jaina has succeeded in establishing his position that reals are existent and non-existent both. But if there still be left a lingering doubt or hesitation and further demonstration needed, it can be supplied by the following consideration. The Naiyāyika agrees that the pen does not exist in the jar.[1] The non-existence of pen is asserted to subsist in the jar. But such assertions must remain vague and obscure unless the nature of subsistence is determined in precise terms. Is the 'non-existence' in question numerically different from the jar in which it is asserted to subsist? If it is different, it must be supposed that the non-existence is non-existent in its substratum. In other words, the identity of the jar and the identity of the non-existence being different, the latter must be non-existent in the former and vice versa. But the same problem will arise in the case of every subsequent non-existence and there will be no end of the process. The vicious infinite is not the only absurdity of the supposition. The second non-existence of the first non-existence will be equivalent to affirmation, according to the dictum 'Negation of negation is the original position.[2] And, thus, this will be a case of self-contradiction, since the assertion of non-existence of the pen terminates in the affirmation of its existence. If, on the other hand, the non-existence of the pen be not different from the jar, the jar will have to be regarded as identical with non-existence, just as it is admitted to be identical with existence - the position advocated by the Jaina.

The aforesaid duality is repudiated by Prabhākara, the great Mīmāṁsist, who denies the reality of non-being. It is maintained by him that being is an indivisible simple characteristic of a real and non-being is only the self-same being as understood in reference to another real. It is 'being' all the same and all the while and non-being is only another name of it. The difference of nomenclature, however, does not presuppose a factual difference in the make-up of a real. The Jaina affirmation of being and non-being as elements in the real is thus an assumption based on the assumption of numerical difference of non-being from being, which is not a fact. But the Jaina thinks this contention to be based upon an unsound principle, which, if admitted, will lead to the abolition of many an accredited characteristic of reality. It is true that a real generates a positive cognition of 'being' qua its self-identity as determined by its own context and the same real gives rise to the idea of 'non-being' in reference to another real in another context. If the difference of conditions and relations be a reason for denying the objectivity or numerical difference of the contents of cognition, we do not see how 'being' can be asserted as an objective characteristic in preference to non-being, both being equally conditioned. Moreover, such attributes as fatherhood and sonship of the same person understood in relation to different persons would also be unreal, or be the same. Again, number will be an ideal creation, or there will be no difference of number as one, two, three and so on. A thing is one in its own self and thus has oneness as its determination; and the same thing together with another thing becomes two and thus comes to have the number 'two' as its determination. It cannot be thought for the reasons assigned that the attribute of number is an ideal creation or the different numbers are not really different. Being and non-being have no doubt the same substratum, but the sameness of substratum does not argue the sameness of the attributes. Nor again can it be maintained that being and non-being are identical with their substratum and hence identical with each other. In that case, the different numbers would be the same number having the same substratum and having the same relation of identity to the same substratum. Nor can the difference of 'number' or other relative attributes, as fatherhood etc., be preserved by virtue of the relation of inherence (samavāya), as inherence will be found to be only a name for identity-cum-difference (tādatmya).

There is, then, no logical justification for supposing that being and non-being are numerically identical. It ought to be accepted on the contrary that difference of relations and conditions is the cause of real difference of ontological status. The criterion of difference is the opposition 0/ character and the proof of such difference is the difference of conditions[3] and this twofold criterion is fully applicable to the case of being and non-being. That being has a character which is the opposite of that of non-being and that the two are entailed by different conditions does not require proof, as the opponent also cannot deny them. The Jaina position that being and non-being are essential elements of the nature of a real should be taken as established. We have considered the various objections advanced by thinkers of opposite schools and it cannot be denied that the Jaina has met them with considerable force of logic. As regards the charge of contradiction involved in the compresence of being and non-being, which constitutes the main plank in the platform of the rival philosophers, the Jaina simply declines to accept the charge as authentic. We have considered the problem of contradiction in the first chapter and therein we have dealt with the four types of oppositional relation. The Jaina has made out that none of these types is applicable to the case of being and non-being, as both are perceived elements in a real. The Jaina has further made out that experience is the ultimate determinant of contradiction and the compresence of being and non-being is endorsed by experience. The Jaina has further resolved the opposition of reason and empirical knowledge. We do not think it necessary to enter into arguments that we have produced in the first chapter. We had to deal with the concept of opposition repeatedly as occasion required and we are perfectly sure that the careful reader of the present book does not stand in need of being pumped with the arguments that the Jaina advances in support of his position and in answer to the animadversions of his opponents. Suffice it to say that being and non-being are true elements of reality, which is determinant in all cases. The Jaina does not believe in indeterminate being and    indeterminate non-being, which are according to him abstractions of formal logic. The opposition of indeterminate being with indeterminate non-being, on which the idealistic logician banks, has thus no force against the Jaina realist. The Jaina is an empiricist in the matter of determination of the nature of reality and it seems absolutely certain that in so far as the plain delivery of experience is taken into consideration the Jaina stands on unassailable grounds. It cannot be denied that the idealist also appeals to experience, but he subjects experience to critical analysis and examination. Uncriticised experience is suspect in idealistic philosophy. But the realist also has his own canons of criticism and he applies them to experiential data like the idealist. But there arises a fundamental difference in the results of the interpretation of experience by both the schools. It is no use making a complaint against the discrepancy of interpretation, which we must face as a necessary evil. The differences, on the contrary, should impel us to probe deeper and deeper into the problem. Differences of philosophy are not, to my mind, an unmixed evil. Criticism seems to be the very life of philosophy and it is necessary that we must stand by our convictions until we are made to see the drawbacks in our position by the criticism of the opponent.

To return to our problem, the Jaina is emphatic that the charge of contradiction against the co-presence of being and non-being in a real is a figment of a priori logic; and his dismissal of this fundamental accusation entails the collapse of all other charges, which are consequential upon the truth of contradiction. As regards the charge of regressus ad infinitum, it has been disposed of before. It will suffice to say that a real is a manifold of infinite plurality of attributes, and the infinity of attributes, which is the consequence of the charge, is true and authenticated by logic. So the charge does not invalidate the Jaina position.

We have finished our survey of the sevenfold predication and we have given serious thought to its implications and the criticism thereof. The dialectic of sevenfold predication is not easy to understand. It is not surprising that the doctrine has been misunderstood even in India. The critics of Jaina non-absolutism have not shown a critical grasp of this abstruse theory and their criticism has been rather shallow and superficial. It cannot be expected that the idealist logician will accept the logical theory of the Jaina realist. But the pity is that its implications were not sought to be understood even by those schools of thinkers who had much in common with the Jaina. The affinities of Jaina thought with other schools of thought are pronounced and momentous. Barring the Monists of Śaṅkara's school and the Buddhist Nihilist (Śūnyāvādin), almost all schools of Indian philosophy, particularly those who have realistic leanings, have consciously or unconsciously followed the logic that is advocated by the Jaina. We do not propose to enter into the tangled problem of chronological priority and the consequent problem of influence of one school upon the other. It must be admitted that the systematization of Jaina philosophical thought and logic is rather a later phenomenon. We are concerned with the Masters of Jaina thought, who, as a matter of historical fact, flourished after Dignāga and Dharmakīrti. This has been a source of advantage to Jaina thought. It had the opportunity to study afresh the implications of the philosophy of non-absolutism called anekāntavāda, which seems to date back to a far remote past. But in spite of the chronological posteriority of the Jaina Masters, it must be admitted that the Jaina theory of sevenfold logical predication is the most original contribution of Jaina thought, which cannot be traced to the influence of other schools. In philosophy and other fields of abstract thought it is by no means the truth that the first is always the best or the most original. What we seek to emphasize is not the question of obligation this or that way, but the points of agreement among the different philosophies and their implications. It is undeniable that the Jaina seizes hold of these points of agreement and makes them proof of the inevitability of the truth of anekānta and not of personal or communal triumph.

The Sāṅkhya believes in one Prakṛti, the prius of the world of plurality, material and mental, standing in opposition to Puruṣa, the eternal, unchanging spirit. This Prakṛti is the unity of three principles, called sattva, rajas and tamas, which are mutually opposed in respect of their nature and functions. The compresence of three opposite principles in the unity of Prakṛti can be upheld only by the canons of non-absolutist logic as systematized by the Jaina. It is not suggested that the Sāṅkhya is indebted to Jaina thought. But the position of the Sāṅkhya is only an illustration of the validity of Jaina logic, no matter whether the Sāṅkhya is conscious of it or not. Moreover, the Sāṅkhya doctrine of the identity of substance in the midst of its changing modes is another illustration of the doctrine of identity in difference, which is another synonym of anekāntavāda.

The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika school, which swears by the infallibility of the Law of Contradiction as interpreted in absolutist logic, advocates a number of universals of the second grade in contradistinction to the highest universal, 'existence'. Now these secondary universals, e.g., substance-universal, quality-universal and action-universal, exercise a double function, which is mutually opposed. Substance-universal synthesizes all substances and at the same time separates them from other universals. So also the universals of the same grade. As regards the universals of lower grades, viz., man-universal, cow-universal, horse-universal and the like, they also eminently discharge the opposite functions of unification and differentiation. These universals are therefore called universal-cum-particulars. This constitutes evidence of the truth of the synthesis of opposites, which the Jaina propounds to be the universal truth.

As regards the Buddhists of Dignāga's school, who are the loudest in their protestations of the inviolability of the Law of Contradiction, they, too, are constrained to admit the validity of non-absolutism in exceptional cases. In the perceptual cognition of variegated colours in carpet, the unity of the content qua a carpet and the plurality qua colours are admitted to be present together. Besides, the plurality of contents of the cognition and the unity of the cognitive act are affirmed to belong to a self-identical situation. The confession of the unity of the plurality is only an unconscious tribute to Jaina standpoint and if it is construed as corroboration of non-absolutism by the Jaina, we cannot accuse the latter of dogmatic zeal. The Sautrāntika and the Yogācāra believe in the plurality of powers of a single entity and this is an admission of the synthesis of plurality in one - which is the characteristic Jain position.

The Cārvāka materialist holds consciousness to be the product of four elements, earth, air, water and fire. The product is not numerically different from the elements, as that would make it a separate principle; nor is it identical severally with each, as in that case even jars and tables would possess spirit. It is thus one and the four at the same time. This is only a confirmation of anekāntavāda. The affinities of Mīmāṁsist logic and ontology with the Jaina theory are too pronounced to be ignored. The Mīmāṁsist believes in the dual nature of reals, constituted by being and non-being as elements, and is thus at one with the Jaina. The later Vaiṣṇava philosophers, who believe in unity and plurality both and in their ultimate synthesis, cannot but endorse the Jaina logical standpoint. As regards the Prabhākara school of Mīmāṁsā, it also has to fall back on non-absolutist logic on occasions. One instance will suffice. According to Prabhākara all cognitions are cognisant of three elements, the content, the act of cognition (that is to say, their own identity), and the self as the knower. Accordingly all cognitions are held to be judgments by him of the form T know this.' The synthesis of three in one constitutes an endorsement of the Jaina logical standpoint. The purpose of this long schedule of affinities with other schools of thought is to show that the doctrine of the manifoldness of truth called anekāntavāda, which is proved by the application of the logical form of sevenfold predication, is not the outcome of logical aberration or abnormality of thought-proclivities, as the critics profess it to be. The logic of non-absolutism, as illustrated by sevenfold predication, seems to be the only kind of logic, that should be followed by realists. The refutation of the commonplace charges of indetermination and doubt against the theory should entitle it to serious consideration. The Jaina has succeeded in establishing that sevenfold predication is not a frivolous estimation of truth. And if I have succeeded in driving home this truth, I shall consider that I have accomplished a difficult task and fulfilled a sacred duty, which we owe to the philosophers of old, who are our own kith and kin spiritually and ethnologically.


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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

Printed by:
Pawan Printers
J-9, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi-110032

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekānta
  2. Anekāntavāda
  3. Consciousness
  4. JAINA
  5. Jaina
  6. Non-absolutism
  7. Objectivity
  8. Prakṛti
  9. Puruṣa
  10. Rajas
  11. Sattva
  12. Sāṅkhya
  13. Tamas
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