Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda ► Anekānta, Syādvāda And Saptabhaṅgī ► Syādvāda (Relativism)

Posted: 27.02.2012

A real, as shown, has pairs of characteristics which oppose (negate) each other, and we have also seen how this opposition is resolved in the uniqueness of the real. In order to exhibit the internal harmony of these apparently opposed characteristics and also to attain logical and linguistic precision, the Jaina philosopher has proposed to prefix the restrictive expression syāt (which means 'in some respect' or 'with reference to a particular aspect or context') to those propositions which have such conflicting characteristics as predicates. The expression syāt moreover brings out the relative validity of the predication and is thus a corrective against the absolutist ways of thought and evaluation of reality.[1] And the practical application of non-absolutism which necessitates the invention of this linguistic tool for logical precision is known as syādvāda (relativism). To illustrate this application by a concrete example, let us take the eternal-cum-evanescent nature of the real. A real is eternal in respect of its substance (dravya) and evanescent in respect of its modes (paryāya). In other words, the characteristics of eternality and evanescence are to be predicated of the self-same real with reference to its two different aspects, viz. the substantial and the modal. The real qua subject of a proposition, at every stage of its analysis, is found to be a unity of two 'opposite' elements and as the predicated characteristic can refer to only one of those two elements, it must be held to be true of only that element and by this very fact untrue of the other.[2] The predication is thus found to be only relatively true.[3]

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