Redrawing the Map of Reality: The Debate on Ontology among the New Logicians in Early Modern India
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CitationMadhavan, Gokul. 2017. Redrawing the Map of Reality: The Debate on Ontology among the New Logicians in Early Modern India. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I examine some of the ways in which different ontological schemata were developed, critiqued, and defended in the Sanskritic intellectual tradition of late pre-modern India. I do so by focusing specifically on the stream of thought known as Navya Nyāya, whose adherents displayed a commitment to realism and rigorous analysis and a willingness to subject long-standing ideas to withering critique. I look at three major ontological schemata:
1. the so-called “Standard Model”, particularly as exemplified in Jagadīśa Tarkâlaṅkāra’s Tarkâmṛta, which developed out of an earlier period of creative synthesis of the older Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika traditions.
2. the “Radical Revision” proposed by the brilliant Raghunātha Śiromaṇi in his Padârtha-tattva-nirūpaṇa.
3. Veṇīdatta’s “Attempted Synthesis” of the Standard Model and the Radical Revision in his Padârtha-maṇḍana.
I also examine two other texts that provide innovative perspectives on the debate on ontological schemata and on the language in which this debate was conducted:
1. Gaṅgādhara Sūrī’s Kāṇāda-siddhānta-candrikā, in which he presents a “sedimentary” account of the ontological debate in Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, describing the key features of the Standard Model while pointing out the major loci of dispute with the Radical Revision and with other Naiyāyika-Vaiśeṣika ontological schemata.
2. Maheśacandra Nyāyaratna’s Navyanyāya-bhāṣā-pradīpa, in which he explains the key features of the technical language of Navya Nyāya without a strong commitment to specific ontological positions.
These schemata are all usually described in Navya Nyāya texts using the peculiar but astonishingly powerful technical language developed by Navya Nyāya philosophers. I also “translate” these traditional schemata into the language of modern mathematics, using tools developed in fields like category theory to model the formulations of the Navya Nyāya language. Using this, I show that the developments in the Navya Nyāya ontological schemata over time are increasingly more conducive to representation in category-theoretical terms.
Finally, I indicate some important ways in which the trajectory of this set of debates continues to be of relevance to us even now. This project is as much about the intellectual history of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika as it is about the intellectual future of some of its core philosophical ideas.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42061480
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