SV: Something wrong with the WSC?

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at CHELLO.NO
Sat Feb 18 17:05:48 UTC 2006

Dear Ferenc,

Since I read an earlier version of you Purusha paper, I must express some
astonishment at the rejection. I found it quite interesting and stimulating,
and I see no reason why it should not be read at an Indological conference.
Given the latest work in comparative mythology (pending publication) by
Michael Witzel (who makes comprehensive comparisons of mythological
material), I dare say your paper belongs in the forefront of such studies.
It is certainly a valid contribution to the field, and since it is Vedic, it
should also be of Indological interest. 

As for your Nyaya project, I must leave that to others. 

Best regards,

Lars Martin

From: Lars Martin Fosse 
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114, 
0674 Oslo - Norway 
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax:  +47 850 21 250 
Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45 
E-mail: lmfosse at


> -----Opprinnelig melding-----
> Fra: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] På vegne av 
> Ferenc Ruzsa
> Sendt: 17. februar 2006 22:06
> Til: INDOLOGY at
> Emne: Something wrong with the WSC?
> Friends,
> I am not allowed to speak at the 13th World Sanskrit 
> Conference in Edinburgh. This might seem a purely personal 
> affair [and it is: living in Budapest, it is not exactly nice 
> to be cut off from an important forum of communication with 
> the scholarly community], but perhaps it does have some 
> general interest as well.
> 1. I offered a paper in which I intended to disprove the 
> generally accepted view according to which the cosmogonical 
> myth of the is Indo-European inheritance.
> 2. It was rejected – no reason given.
> 3. After inquiry for the ground of the decision in e-mail I 
> was told that "the subject matter ... was not sufficiently 
> relevant to the concerns of a World Sanskrit Conference."
> 4. I offered another paper on old Nyaaya inference. As it was 
> submitted after the deadline [of course, since the previous 
> rejection was received a month after the deadline] it was 
> evaluated as a special favour for me.
> 5. Rejected again: they "do not find it to contain an 
> original idea, and therefore reject it." I quote my abstract 
> below, so that anybody may see if it contains anything new or not.
> I am unaware of any conceivable personal reason for this 
> double rejection.
> Any comments?
> Ferenc Ruzsa
> ------ The abstract: --------
> The centrality of in old Nyaaya inference
> The five-membered naiyaayika inference seems unnecessarily 
> complex. The following three questions are inherently interrelated:
> – What is the role of the fourth and fifth members, when they 
> are but repetitions of the second (proof) and the first 
> (proposition/conclusion)?
> – Why do we have in the third member an example instead of a 
> statement of the general rule?
> – Why are there two examples, positive and contrary, when the 
> rules illustrated by them are but contrapositives of each 
> other, i.e. they are logically equivalent?
> Later Nyaaya practically dropped the last two members, 
> keeping them only for rhetoric reasons in public arguments 
> (paraarthaanumaana). And already Dharmakiirti suggested that 
> the first two members only constitute a valid inference (the 
> general rule being implied by them). But the Suutra is very 
> strict on the five members: omitting or adding an extra 
> member means unconditional defeat in a debate (nigrahasthaana).
> Already in the Suutra we find clear awareness of the fact 
> that no example is a valid substitution of the general rule: 
> one kind of false reason, hetvaabhaasa is the savyabhicaara, 
> where there is an exception to the rule. 
> And later Nyaaya develops the theory of the upaadhis, 
> restricting conditions to correct such faulty inferences.
> The two kinds of example are generally justified with 
> reference to those rather unusual cases where either of the 
> two is not possible (kevalaanvayin, kevalavyatirekin). This 
> explanation, although ingenious, is not fully convincing as 
> it is extremely difficult to find a plausible example of a 
> kevala-vyatireki li"ngam.
> We get closer to a possible answer once we get rid of the 
> notion that the anumaana is but a contorted version of the 
> very simple Barbara-type syllogism. Then we may recognise 
> that the Nyaaya inference is essentially inductive and 
> intensional, in contrast to the basically extensional and 
> strictly deductive nature of traditional European logic. Here 
> the question is not, ‘Given these premisses, what follows?’ 
> but rather ‘How can we get the right premisses?’ And it is 
> the function of the to establish them.
> The premiss being sought is always a necessary relation; 
> purely extensional or accidental universality, like ‘all 
> chairs here are brown’ is not considered. This is already 
> suggested by Pra"sastapaada and explicitly stated by 
> Dharmakiirti. So this premiss, the general rule, must be a 
> natural or metaphysical law.
> The two kinds of example represent two complementary research 
> strategies to find, confirm or reject such laws, e.g. there 
> is no smoke without fire. 
> Focusing our attention on smoky objects, we try to remember a 
> case when there was no fire nearby; and then focusing on 
> essentially non-fiery objects, we try to find a case when 
> there was still some smoke there. The stock example is very 
> suggestive. ‘As in the kitchen’ is clearly not a single case 
> of co-occurrence of fire and smoke, but refers to innumerable 
> observations, and furthermore the causal relation could also 
> be easily observed there. ?Not as on the lake’ again suggests 
> many observations, and also helps to clarify the concept of 
> smoke – for there may be dhuuma on the lake, in the sense of ‘mist’.
> Presenting this double strategy is a convincing way to prove 
> a general law; and in a debate it is a fair offer to the 
> opponent: try in both ways to find a counter-example! And if 
> you can’t, then accept my rule.
> In a real debate this could be a long and complicated 
> process; that is why at the end it was very useful to recall 
> the other premiss (there is smoke on the mountain) and the 
> proposition (there is fire on the mountain) – since they were 
> announced hours, perhaps days ago; and in the meantime the 
> meaning of smoke has also become more definite, so we should 
> now check if it was really smoke or only mist we saw.

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