By Puruṣottama Bilimoria (auth.)
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Additional info for Śabdapramāṇa: Word and Knowledge: A Doctrine in Mīmāṃsā-Nyāya Philosophy (with reference to Advaita Vedānta-paribhāṣā ‘Agama’) Towards a Framework for à ruti-prāmāṇya
Interesting as Bhartrhari's theory is, we want to be able to avoid some of the metaphysical assumptions that are germain to his system - for instance, that there is an ontological identity between language, at its most subtle level, and reality, in its penultimate nature. Nor do we want to assume that the problem of the relation between knowledge and reality is reducible to the problem of the relation between knowledge and meaning and between language and reality. But, as in any analysis, I do make some INTRODUCTION 19 assumptions which I cannot hope to justify here, and which are to be disavowed as soon as their elucidatory purpose has been served.
The first concerns his emphasis on the principal role of the sentence (vakya). According to Bhartrhari, what is permanent is the relation that sentence bears to its meaning. a'. If 'sentence' is the minimal meaningful speech-element, then there cannot be anything less than the sentence which could also be said to be a meaningful unit. a is sometimes taken to be discrete units of meaning, such as a word, a letter,or a particle, through which 'meaning', as it were, 'bursts forth'. D. 22 The reference, then, is not to any meaning-bearing element as such, unless the association is with a sentence.
Language, too, cannot be said to represent or embody these truths in their totality, as language deals with concepts and the truths are not necessarily conceptual, though they may come close to the conceptual structures, say, of certain cognitive understandings. Language may, however, succeed in pointing to these truths. Thus, it may be said, truths of the higher order outrun, as it were, language and grasping by person or persons. ruti thus assumes itself to be one with these truths, being able to embody some and point to others.