On the Notion of Linguistic Convention (samaya, saṃketa) in Indian Thought

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.31649/sent41.01.043

Keywords:

Indian philosophy of language, linguistic convention (samaya, saṃketa), the relationship (sambandha) between word (śabda) and its meaning (artha), the power of word to express the meaning (śakti)

Abstract

Linguistic convention (samaya/saṃketa) is one of the central notions of Indian philosophy of language. The well-known view of samaya/saṃketa is its conception as the agreement initiating the relationship between words and their previously unrelated meanings. However, in Indian philosophy of language, we also encounter two other important but little-researched interpretations of samaya/saṃketa, which consider it as the established usage of words. 

I present a new classification of traditions of Indian thought based on their view of linguistic convention. This classification is to be verified and expanded in further studies. As far as I know, such a classification has never been undertaken before. 1) Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Buddhism, and later classical Yoga of the Tattvavaiśāradī accept samaya/saṃketa as an agreement initiating the relationship between words and their previously unrelated meanings. 2) Bhartṛhari the Grammarian and the continuators of his thought acknowledge samaya/saṃketa as the established usage of words that is rooted in the natural relationship between words and their meanings; the convention manifests (makes known) the relationship. This view was probably also shared by Mīmāṃsakas and Advaitins. 3) Classical Yoga of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya and probably also earlier Grammar thought of the Mahābhāṣya accept linguistic convention as the established usage of words, but this usage, though having neither a beginning nor an end, is not based on any natural and necessary word–meaning relationship. In this view, linguistic convention not only manifests the word–meaning relationship but also keeps it in existence. 

Another new contribution of this research is my explanation for why the same Sanskrit term samaya/saṃketa was applied to the different ways of understanding linguistic convention. I explain this through the common aspects of all three kinds of samaya/saṃketa. The first aspect is the content of all these kinds of samaya/saṃketa. Irrespective of how linguistic convention is understood, its content is the same: “such and such a word has such and such a meaning”. The second aspect is the crucial role of linguistic convention in language acquisition, communication, and transmission.

Author Biography

Ołena Łucyszyna, Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw (Poland)

habilitated doctor, Associate Professor

References

Arnold, D. (2006). On semantics and saṁketa: thoughts on a neglected problem with Buddhist apoha doctrine. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 34(5), 415-478. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-006-9001-5

Arnold, D. (2010). On (non-semantically) remembering conventions: Dharmakīrti and Dharmottara on saṃketa-kāla. In P. Balcerowicz (Ed.), Logic and belief in Indian philosophy (pp. 539-564). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Athalye, Y. V. (Ed.), & Bodas, M. R. (Trans. of the Tarkasaṃgraha). (1930). Tarka-Saṃgraha of Annaṃbhaṭṭa with the author’s own Dīpikā, and Govardhana’s Nyāya-Bodhinī. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

Babcock Gove, P., et al. (Ed.). (1993). Webster’s third new international dictionary of the English language. Unabridged. Cologne: Könemann.

Chakravarty, A. (2004). The ‘glory’ and impenetrability of the Peacock-egg: Eternalism versus conventionalism about the word-meaning relationship. In S. Bhattacharyya (Ed.), Word and sentence: two perspectives. Bhartṛhari and Wittgenstein (pp. 45-54). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.

Dvivedin, V. P. (Ed.). (1895). The Bhāṣya of Praśastapāda together with the Nyāyakandalī of Śrīdhara. Benares: E. J. Lazarus & Co.

Harimoto, K. (2014). God, reason, and Yoga. A critical edition and translation of the commentary ascribed to Śaṅkara on Pātañjalayogaśāstra 1.23-28. Hamburg: Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Universität Hamburg.

Hayes, R. P. (1988). Dignāga on the interpretation of signs. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-2899-2

Houben, J. E. M. (1992). Bhartṛhari’s samaya / Helārāja’s saṁketa. A contribution to the reconstruction of the Grammarians’ discussion with the Vaiśeṣikas on the relation between śabda and artha. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 20(2), 219-242. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01854712

Houben, J. E. M. (1995). The Saṃbandha-samuddeśa (Chapter on relation) and Bhartṛhari’s philosophy of language. A study of Bhartṛhari’s Saṃbandha-samuddeśa in the context of the Vākyapadīya with a translation of Helārāja’s commentary Prakīrṇa-prakāśa. Groningen: Egbert Forsten. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004454620

Jambuvijayajī, Muni Śrī. (Ed.). (1961). Vaiśeṣikasūtra of Kaṇāda with the commentary of Candrānanda. With the introduction by A. Thakur. Baroda: Oriental Institute.

Jhalakīkar, B. (1928). Nyāyakośa or dictionary of technical terms of Indian philosophy. Revised and re-edited by V. S. Abhyankar. Poona: The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

Joshi, S. D., & Roodbergen, J. A. F. (Eds. & trans.). (1986). Patañjali’s Vyākaraṇa-Mahābhāṣya: Paspaśāhnika. Poona: University of Poona.

Larson, G. J., & Bhattacharya, R. S. (Eds.). (2011). Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies: Vol. XII: Yoga: India’s philosophy of meditation. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Łucyszyna, O. (2017). On the notion of linguistic convention (saṁketa) in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 45(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-016-9296-9

Lysenko, V. (2018). The Buddhist philosophy of language in India: an overview. In M. Herat (Ed.), Buddhism and linguistics: theory and philosophy (pp. 19-33). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67413-1_2

Maas, P. A. (2013). A concise historiography of classical Yoga philosophy. In E. Franco (Ed.), Periodization and historiography of Indian philosophy (pp. 53-90). Vienna: Sammlung de Nobili, Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde der Universität Vien.

Maas, P. A. (Ed.). (2006). Samādhipāda. Das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten Mal kritisch ediert. The first chapter of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra for the first time critically edited. Aachen: Shaker Verlag.

Matilal, B. K. (1990). The word and the world: India’s contribution to the study of language. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Miśra, N. (Ed.). (1971). Pātañjala-yoga-darśanam, Vācaspatimiśra-viracita-Tattvavaiśāradī-Vijñānabhikṣu-kṛta-Yogavārttika-vibhūṣita-Vyāsabhāṣya-sametam. Varanasi: Bhāratīya Vidyā Prakāśana.

Murty, K. S. (1959). Revelation and reason in Advaita Vedānta. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

Nyāyaratna, M. (Ed.). (1873-1887). The Aphorisms of the Mīmāṁsā by Jaimini, with the Commentary of Śavara-svāmin (Vol. 1-2). Calcutta: Gaṇeśa Press.

Nyaya-Tarkatirtha, T., et al. (Eds.). (1936-1944). Nyāyadarśanam: with Vātsyāyana’s Bhāṣya, Uddyotakara’s Vārttika, Vācaspati Miśra’s Tātparyaṭīkā and Viśvanātha’s Vṛtti (Vol. 1-2). Calcutta: Metropolitan Printing & Publishing House.

Ogawa, H. (2013). Bhartṛhari on three types of linguistic unit-meaning. In G. Cardona (Ed.), Proceedings of the 15th World Sanskrit Conference: Vol. II: Vyākaraṇa across the ages (pp. 217-279). New Delhi: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan.

Pandeya, R. C. (1963). The problem of meaning in Indian philosophy. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Potter, K. H. (1981). Introduction to the philosophy of Advaita Vedānta. In K. H. Potter (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies: Vol. I: Advaita Vedānta up to Śaṁkara and his pupils (pp. 3-100). Princeton (New Jersey): Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400856510

Saito, A. (2020). The theory of the Sphoṭa. In A. Graheli (Ed.), The Bloomsbury research handbook of Indian philosophy of language (pp. 76-107). London: Bloomsbury Academic. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350049154.0010

Śāstrī, D. (Ed.). (1978). Ślokavārttika of Śrī Kumārila Bhaṭṭa with the commentary Nyāyaratnākara of Śrī Pārthasārathi Miśra. Varanasi: Tara Publications.

Shastri, D. (Ed.). (1968). Tattvasaṅgraha of Ācārya Śāntarakṣita with the commentary Pañjikā of Śrī Kamalaśīla (Vol. 1, 2). Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati.

Subramania Iyer, K. A. (1969). Bhartṛhari: A study of the Vākyapadīya in the light of the ancient commentaries. Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute.

Śukla, S. N. (Ed.). (1936). The Nyāyamañjarī of Jayanta Bhaṭṭa. Benares: Jaya Krishna Das Haridas Gupta, The Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

Taber, J. (2005). A Hindu critique of Buddhist epistemology. Kumārila on perception. The “Determination of perception” chapter of Kumārila Bhāṭṭa’s Ślokavārttika. Translation and commentary. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, Taylor & Francis Group. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203420621

Tarka Pañcānana, J. (Ed.). (1861). The Vaiśeṣika darśana, with the commentaries of Śaṅkara Miśra and Jayanārāyaṇa Tarka Pañcānana. Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Tillemans, T. J. F. (Ed. & trans.). (2000). Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika: an annotated translation of the fourth chapter (parārthānumāna) (Vol. 1: k. 1-148). Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Downloads

Abstract views: 182

Published

2022-04-30

How to Cite

Łucyszyna, O. (2022). On the Notion of Linguistic Convention (samaya, saṃketa) in Indian Thought. Sententiae, 41(1), 43–54. https://doi.org/10.31649/sent41.01.043

Issue

Section

ARTICLES

Metrics

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.