[INDOLOGY] modality, exclusion and pervasion

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Thu Jul 1 17:31:58 UTC 2021

One place where one does find concepts approximating the Aristotelian modes is in the discussion of a farmer’s expectations of realizing a crop in the intro to Kamalasīla’s TSP and parallels in Dharmottara and Arcata. And we do find a terminology there - avasyaka, sambhava, etc. - etc. that is suggestive of mode-talk. Moreover, the context reminds us of Aristotle’s prominently biological interest. Whether or not we can speak of a theorization of the modes here perhaps merits discussion. But it is also quite clear that these thinkers were not proposing a distinct modal logic.


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From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Brendan S. Gillon, Prof. via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Thursday, July 1, 2021 7:06:54 PM
To: indology at list.indology.info <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] modality, exclusion and pervasion

Without gainsaying in the least either Patrick's point or Birgit's
supplement, let me say that `incompatibility' is a modal word in English
in virtue of the suffix `ability', whereas the Sanskrit word `virodha',
like the English word `exclusion', is not a modal word. Of course, that
does not preclude  an author using `virodha' modally, but
linguistic evidence would have to be adduced to establish that.

Furthermore, we must be alert to distinguish two properties not
co-occurring, two properties never co-occurring and the impossibility of
two properties co-occurring. The first two non-occurrences are not
modal, only the last is. As I suggested last time, there is a difference
between accidental universal generalizations and
law-like universals. To use an example due to Carl Hempel, one can
imagine that no body of gold in the universe exceeds 1 million metric
tons. But the universal claim that `every body of gold in the universe
has a mass less than 1 million metric tons' is an accidental universal
claim, to be distinguished from the modal claim
that `every body of gold in the universe must be less than 1 million
metric tons'. I am not aware of a difference was made between accidental
universal generalizations and necessary universal generalization was
made or even exploited in Indian philosophical thought.

Best wishes,


Brendan S. Gillon                       email: brendan.gillon at mcgill.ca
Department of Linguistics
McGill University                       tel.:  001 514 398 4868
1085, Avenue Docteur-Penfield
Montreal, Quebec                        fax.:  001 514 398 7088

webpage: http://webpages.mcgill.ca/staff/group3/bgillo/web/

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