[INDOLOGY] some thoughts about modality, vyaapti and `eva'
Brendan S. Gillon, Prof.
brendan.gillon at mcgill.ca
Wed Jun 30 19:11:04 UTC 2021
Dan's recent post has prompted a couple of more thoughts, which members
of the list might find useful.
Comment on `abhaava':
The first point elaborates on Dan's point about `abhaava'. `abhaava' is
ambiguous between a non-relational meaning, well translated by
`non-existence', and a relational meaning, well translated by the
English relational noun `absence'. Compare the English word `empty',
which is also relation, though context sensitive. An empty jar is
usually empty of a contextually relevant liquid, but is not usually
empty of air; whereas in a chemistry lab, an empty jar might be
virtually empty of all matter whatsoever.
Comment 1 on `vyaapti':
It is not uncommon for many authors to translate `eva' when used in the
triruupahetu as `necessarily'. It does, of course, mean `only'. But it
is also an emphatic, corresponding roughly to `indeed'. The translation
of `necessarily' is not supported by either Apte or MW. Nor is it
supported by any of the hundred or so uses of `eva' which I have tracked.
Comment 2 on `vyaapti':
That said, I agree with Dan that the notion of necessity comes up in
connection with the problem of establishing the pervasion of one
property by another. This issue arises with establishing a subset
relation between the instances of two properties, such as being an oak
and being a tree and is addressed by Dharmakiirti early in his
svaarthaanumaana chapter. Dharmakiirti seeks to address the problem of
how one knows from a limited sample of A's and B's that All A's are B's.
His answer is to invoke a pair of metaphysical relations, causation and
`identity', which, once established from A to B, guarantees that All A's
What I am not aware of and would be grateful to know if whether or not
there any discussions of how to distinguish between universal claims,
such as `all the nails in this board are rusty', which are accidental
generalizations and do not support subjunctive propositions, and `all
men are mortal', which seem non-accidental and do support subjunctive
propositions. (This is a topic of importance to the philosophy of
science and was noted by Nelson Goodman. I do not know whether or not
something comparable appears in Aristotle or in the Medievals.)
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
H3A 1A7 CANADA
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