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Navya Nyaya language and methodology: Padartha

Shivdasani Lecture
OCHS Library
Dr Piyali Palit
Thursday, 23 October 2008 - 5:00pm

The Indian model of philosophical analysis, technically devised by the Neo-Logicians, known as the Navya Nyaya school, places forth a PRAMA-oriented picture of the World (visva). This world features four basic constituents stated as (i) pramata, the knower, (ii) prameya, the knowables, (iii) pramana, the process of knowing, and, (iv) pramiti, the knowledge achieved by the pramana. Nothing in this world is left out of these broad categories, i.e., each and every entity in this world must find its place in any of those characters noted above. To speak more specifically, all worldly entities must fall either under the category of prameya, the knowables or under pramana, the process of knowing; in fact while we speak or even think about the process of knowing, pramana also happens to fall under the character of prameya. Hence, to take a definite look into this character – prameya, was of utmost importance for the Indian philosophers to get a clear picture of this world. Neo-logicians adopted the Vaisesika theory of padartha and developed it through linguistic elaboration since for them this world appeared to be not only a prameya but also as abhidheya – verbalisable – which was accepted by all the philosophical schools. Practically, knowability and verbalisability are two basic properties of this world of our experience, and, virtually our experiences tell us how we know and how we express our experiences through language or try to communicate with others. The neo-logicians marked the process of knowing as ‘encoding’, i.e., internalization of the external world, while the process of expressing verbally was marked as ‘decoding’ or ‘sabda-vyavahara’. Before we go into details of these two processes, a holistic picture of this world as ‘padartha’ following the Neo-logicians will be discussed.

Dr. Piyali Palit, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, did her Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Role of Syncategorimaticity as the Principle instrument in Linguistic behaviour in Vedic and Popular Usages’. She did her MA in Sanskrit from Visva Bharati, Santiniketan and Acharya in Advaita Vedanta from Rashtriya Sanskrita Sansthan, New Delhi. She was awarded a fellowship for the project on ‘Influence of Indian Tradition on Rabindranath Tagore’ at the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. She is also associated with the Centre of Advanced Studies in Philosophy at Jadavpur University. Presently she holds the chair of Principal Investigator, Major Research Project in Indian Philosophy and Research Methodology, sponsored by University Grants Commission, Govt. of India. Her recent research works extend in the areas: Analytic Research and Theory Development, Ontological Issues in Ayurveda, Advaita Vedanta, Vaisesika, Purva Mimamsa and Panini-Vyakarana. Apart from a number of articles published in various National and International journals, proceedings, and anthologies, she has authored titles including Basic Principles of Indian Philosophy of Language, A Treatise on Arthasamgraha, Samksepa-Sariraka (Trans. & Comm.), Panchikarana-Varttika, Vedanta-Sanja-Prakarana (both are transcribed from rare original manuscripts).