Comparative linguistics

Sam Garg gargsam at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 28 16:12:58 UTC 2000

No insult taken, as none was intended.

In principle, our views are startlingly alike.  I am therefore confident
that you will join me in requesting the name of this list be changed to
"Speculations in Indology - A philological perspective".  I respectfully
submit this title change will bring about two key benefits:

1) more accurately reflect the nature of this list
2) sharply reduce the number of 'non-specialists' that subscribe to/ clutter
this list

warmest regards,
Sanjay Garg

>From: Roland Steiner <steiner at MAILER.UNI-MARBURG.DE>
>Reply-To: Indology <INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK>
>Subject: Re: Comparative linguistics
>Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 13:09:09 +0200
>On 27 Mar 00, at 13:14, quoting some remarks of Robert Zydenbos Sam Garg
> > >Indology is largely, but not only philology
> > >philology is superior to archaeology (leave aside other disciplines) in
> > >understanding history
> >
> > Indology = philology and philology superior.  No wonder the fight to get
> > the Indology 'shelfspace' gets so fractious!
>May I explain in a few words? Philology has to do with human
>language, and that is the simple reason why the object of
>philology _in principle_ (that does not mean in each and every
>case) has more to say to us than other non-linguistic objects
>because speaking and writing is the most natural way of mutual
>understanding among human beings, at least in more complex
>situations. The "superiority" of philology is not a matter of
>methods and/or philologists (versus archeologists, scientists,
> > Philologists, however, do not intend relinquishing an inch of said
> > shelfspace.
>What is the meaning and the consequence of such statements?
>Even if there were philologists who "do not intend relinquishing
>an inch of said shelfspace", they would not be acting as philologists
>in these cases. Let us say: a "biologist" refuses to read any journal on
>chemistry. Would this be an argument against science as science? The same
>if a "physician" states that "everything is (a form of) matter and
>energy" (for example!) believing (metaphysically) that "everything" is
>To simplify, or to make it easier (than it is): Each field of human
>investigation has its own objects defined and limited by its own methods. A
>philologist or a scientist who speaks about things or objects
>which are not covered by his specific methods, does not speak
>as a philologist or a scientist. Sometimes it may happen that a
>philologist, an archeologist and a scientist seem to speak about
>the same thing using the same word(s), but meaning quite different things.
>However, among us rational beings it need not be said that each method or
>way of investigation which helps in clarifying or improving the
>understanding of a certain object is undoubtedly welcome (for example, the
>dating of material objects). But the  decision whether and in which way
>something can be seen as an aid for one's investigation, is up to the
>competent researcher, i.e., one who "defines" this specific object
>(according to his/her method).
> >> Many lay critics, also on this list, for some reason
> >> believe that the human sciences are stagnant and rigid.
> >
> > Not the human sciences but, certainly, the all too human
> > scientists certainly can appear that way.
>Without further argumentation, data, and information in the
>course of the investigation "probable" remains "probable", "likely"
>only "likely", "perhaps" only "perhaps", etc. Some problems arise
>if author A says that XY is "not completely impossible", author B
>(on the authority of A) writes that XY is "possible", author C (on
>the shoulders of B) states that XY is "likely", whereas D
>("quoting" C) declares, that XY has been proved. I think that D
>certainly will not appear stagnant and rigid.
> > Last, but not least, malign the critics.
>In our context the only interesting question is whether the critique
>is justified or not, and, even more interestingly, why.
> > Given the vast Indology universe built upon philology, all I can
> > say is that Vishnu must have incarnated as a philologist recently
> > and had one of his 'universe out of a navel dreams'!
>Too much honour, but may be true. Unfortunately not a suitable
>topic for philologists. Any theologians out there?
>No insult intended!
>With kind regards,
>Roland Steiner

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