How to Refer to a Thing by a Word: Another Difference Between Dignāga's and Kumārila's Theories of Denotation

Journal of Indian Philosophy 39 (4-5):571-587 (2011)
In studies of Indian theories of meaning it has been standard procedure to examine their relevance to the ontological issues between Brahmin realism about universals and Buddhist nominalism (or conceptualism). It is true that Kumārila makes efforts to secure the real existence of a generic property ( jāti ) denoted by a <span class='Hi'>word</span> by criticizing Dignāga, who declares that the real world consists of absolutely unique individuals ( svalakṣaṇa ). The present paper, however, concentrates on the linguistic approaches Dignāga and Kumārila adopt to deny or to prove the existence of universals. It turns out that in spite of adopting contrasting approaches they equally distinguish between the semantic denotation of a <span class='Hi'>word</span> and its pragmatic reference to a thing in the physical world. From a purely semantic viewpoint, Dignāga considers the exclusion ( apoha ) of others by a <span class='Hi'>word</span> as the result of a conceptual accumulation of the sense-components accepted in the totality of worldly discourse. Among the three characteristics Dignāga held must be met by universals, Kumārila attaches special importance to their entire inherence in each individual ( pratyekaparisamāpti / pratyekasamavāya ). This is because he pragmatically pays attention to the use of a <span class='Hi'>word</span> in the discourse given in a particular context ( prakaraṇa ) by analyzing a sentence into a topic and a comment.
Keywords Dignāga   apoha  Sense-component  Kumārila   pratyekasamavāya  Topic and Comment  Context
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-011-9136-x
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