Philosophy East and West, vol. 51, no. 4 (2001): Nondualism, Liberation, and Language

Guest Editor: Arindam Chakrabarti

Arindam Chakrabarti, 449


The Word Is the World: Nondualism in Indian Philosophy of Language
Ashok Aklujkar, 452

The meanings in which the word “word” can be taken, the interpretations that the relevant meanings would necessitate of the “word-equals-world” thesis, and the extent to which Bhartrhari can be said to be aware of or receptive to these interpretations are considered. The observation that more than one interpretation would have been acceptable to Bhartrhari naturally leads to a discussion of his notion of truth, his perspectivism, and his understanding of the nature of philosophizing as an activity in which language plays a basic role and epistemology and ontology are interdependent. The difference of Bhartrhari’s thinking from that of the Vedāntins of Śankara’s tradition is identified, and a brief comment on the history of vivarta and parināma as philosophical terms is offered.

The Peacock’s Egg: Bhartrhari on Language and Reality
Johannes Bronkhorst, 474

Bhartrhari was not only a clever and well-informed philosopher but also a conservative Brahmin who maintained his own tradition’s superiority against the philosophies developed in his time. He exploited a problem that occupied all his philosophical contemporaries to promote his own ideas, in which the Veda played a central role. Bhartrhari and his thought are situated in their intellectual context. As it turns out, he dealt with issues that others had dealt with before him in India and suggested solutions to existing problems. Indeed, it becomes clear that he was both a philosopher who dealt with current problems and challenges and a traditionalist who used the philosophical debate of his time to try to gain respectability for his own Vedic tradition.

Could There Be Mystical Evidence for a Nondual Brahman? A Causal Objection
Stephen H. Phillips, 492

The great Advaita Vedāntin Śankara puts forth a mystic parallelism thesis that is identified and examined here: mystical and sensory experiences are epistemically parallel. Among the conclusions drawn are that the Advaita metaphysics precludes successful defense of a Brahman-centered philosophy on the basis of such a thesis because Advaita precludes a story about how the experience of its Brahman could arise. Thus Śankara needs “scripture” (śruti) to secure important parts of his view. A truly mystical Vedānta, in contrast, would not.

Nāgārjuna’s Theory of Causality: Implications Sacred and Profane
Jay L. Garfield, 507

Nāgārjuna argues for the fundamental importance of causality, and dependence more generally, to our understanding of reality and of human life: his account of these matters is generally correct. First, his account of interdependence shows how we can clearly understand the nature of scientific explanation, the relationship between distinct levels of theoretical analysis in the sciences (with particular attention to cognitive science), and how we can sidestep difficulties in understanding the relations between apparently competing ontologies induced by levels of description or explanation supervening on one another. Then rGyal tshab’s exposition of Dharmakirti’s account, in the pramānasiddhi chapter of the Pramānavarttika, of the necessity of a belief in rebirth for the cultivation of bodhicitta is examined. This account is accepted in the dGe lugs tradition both as an accurate representation of Dharmakīrti’s views and as authoritative regarding bodhicitta and the mahākarunā that is its necessary condition. But Dharmakīrti, rGyal tshab, and their followers, by virtue of accepting this argument, neglect Nāgārjuna’s account of dependent arising and in consequence are implicated in what might be seen from a proper Prasangika-Madhyamaka point of view as the very subtlest form of self-grasping.

Bhartrhari on What Cannot Be Said
Terence Parsons, 525

Bhartrhari claims that certain things cannot be signified—for example, the signification relation itself. Hans and Radhika Herzberger assert that Bhartrhari’s claim about signification can be validated by an appeal to twentieth-century results in set theory. This appeal is unpersuasive in establishing this view, but arguments akin to the semantic paradoxes (such as the “liar” paradox) come much closer. Unfortunately, these arguments are equally telling against another of his views: that the thatness of the signification relation can be signified. Bhartrhari also claims that the relation of inherence cannot be signified—a quite different view that is not borne out by twentieth-century results. Finally, further research is needed to investigate what Bhartrhari’s own reasons might have been for these views.

Physics within Nondual Consciousness
Amit Goswami, 535

It is shown that if quantum physics is interpreted according to the philosophy of monistic idealism—that consciousness is the ground of all being—then some of the important dualisms of philosophy can be integrated.


An Ineffective Inoculation, a review of Aristotle in China: Language, Categories and Translation, by Robert Wardy
J. E. Tiles, 545


La pensée Chinoise et l’abstraction, by Anna Ghiglione
Reviewed by Mary Tiles, 554

The Character of Logic in India, by Bimal Krishna Matilal, edited by Jonardon Ganeri and Heeraman Tiwari
Reviewed by Michael G. Barnhart, 556


Phänomenologie der Natur (Phenomenology of nature), edited by Kah Kyung Cho and Young-Ho Lee, 560