Saying the unsayable

Philosophy East and West 56 (3):409-427 (2006)
Abstract
A number of traditional philosophers and religious thinkers advocated an ineffability thesis to the effect that the ultimate reality cannot be expressed as it truly is by human concepts and words. However, if X is ineffable, the question arises as to how words can be used to gesture toward it. We can't even say that X is unsayable, because in doing so, we would have made it sayable. In this article, I examine the solution offered by the fifth-century Indian grammarian-philosopher Bhartrhari and develop it into a linguistic strategy based on the imposition-cum-negation method. The purpose is to show how we can non-contradictorily say, or rather indicate, the unsayable.
Keywords Bhartrhari  ineffability  John Hick  indication
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