[INDOLOGY] Modality in ancient Indian philosophy

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Wed Jun 30 09:30:28 UTC 2021

Dear Jan,

Matilal, Logic, Language and Reality, pp. 423-426, briefly discusses modal concepts and, I believe, touches on the topic elsewhere as well. But he says, for instance, that for NyAya, "there is no strict distinction between logical impossibility and factual impossibility." My own impression is that modality is often pertinent to Indian arguments, but that it is treated intuitively, without formal theorization of the modes.

all best,

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études, émérite
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago
From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Jan Westerhoff via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2021 4:16 AM
To: indology at list.indology.info <indology at list.indology.info>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Modality in ancient Indian philosophy

Dear Colleagues,
having just read a recent article in JIP (2021, 49, p. 468) making the
curious claim that there are "many texts of early Madhyamaka and
Yogācāra with clear modal reasoning" I started wondering about
the status of modal notions in Indian philosophy again. It was my
understanding that the discussions of modal notions we could find in
ancient Indian sources were confined to aspects of logical and deontic
modalities, but had very little to say on necessary, possible, or
contingent existence (indeed there seems to be no clear differentiation
between the contingently non-existent (flowers in the sky) and the
logically impossible (sons of barren women)).

Are you aware of any primary (or secondary) Indian philosophical sources
that discuss modal existence questions?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

Jan Westerhoff

JC Westerhoff
Lady Margaret Hall
University of Oxford
Norham Gardens
Oxford OX2 6QA
United Kingdom

westerhoff at cantab.net

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