Linguistic and Phenomenological Theories of Verbal Cognition in Mīmāṃsā: A Study of the Arguments in Śālikanātha's Vākyārthamātṛkā-I and the Response in Sucarita's Kāśikāṭīkā

Saxena, Shishir Rajan  ORCID logo

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Mīmāṃsā thinkers propound an epistemology generally characterised as philosophical realism, and given their foundational resolve to disambiguating Vedic comprehension, a similar attitude is reflected in their speculations on the nature of language as well. Unlike some other schools of the Indian philosophical tradition, Mīmāṃsā philosophers admit the reality of words and word-meanings, which led them to formulate two theories whose aim is to explain comprehensively how the cognition of sentential meaning arises from uttered words. These two theories, abhihitānvaya and anvitābhidhāna, are advocated by Bhāṭṭa and Prābhākara Mīmāṃsakas respectively, and are considered as being the fundamental theories of sentential meaning that formed the basis for all classical Indian thinkers debating the nature of linguistic cognition.

The Vākyārthamātṛkā-I (VM-I) of Śālikanāthamiśra (9th cent. CE) is considered to be the locus classicus for the presentation of anvitābhidhāna. Sucaritamiśra (10th cent. CE) was the first Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsaka to respond to Śālikanātha’s criticisms, and he presents abhihitānvaya accordingly in his Kāśikāṭīkā on Kumārila’s Ślokavārttika Vākyādhikaraṇa. Modern scholarship is scarce with regard to these two seminal texts, and I present a translation/paraphrase of the several levels of argumentation found in the VM-I. In contrast to the VM-I whose Sanskrit text is published, the Kāśikāṭīkā on the Vākyādhikaraṇa is yet unpublished and I present an annotated edition and translation of Sucarita’s essay on vv.110cd-112ab, based on a study of two manuscripts. I endeavour in this thesis to present a philosophical, philological and historical study of these two works and thereby demonstrate the cogent linguistic and phenomenological arguments presented therein. I hope that this thesis may thus indicate some of the complexity and sophistication of the Indian philosophical debates on language, as well as aid in understanding the early history of the formulation of these influential doctrines.

Vergiani, Vincenzo
Mīmāṃsā, verbal cognition, abhihitānvaya, anvitābhidhāna, sentential meaning, Vākyārthamātṛkā, Śālikanāthamiśra, Sucaritamiśra, Kāśikāṭīkā
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge