Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prasangika's Semantic Nominalism

Balder brought this paper by Thakchoe to my attention. I go into Thakchoe extensively in the Batchelor thread, as well as the Gaia predecessor thread called "letting daylight into magic."* The link let me download the article. I gave it a quick skim and it seems to address the issue only in terms of the various traditional Buddhist formulations. No mention of contemporary cognitive linguistics, which for me provides more relevant answers to the issue. And which would add to and inform Thakchoe's linguistics.

For example, my translation is that we cannot help but use our categories in designating anything, hence we can only know or translate reality via such categories. Which is not to say that reality is our categories, only that any reality we can know it filtered through those categories. 'To know' meaning to have meaning, hence semantic nominalism. This is not linguistic nominalism, since our basic categories/image schema are pre-linguistic but have semantic content via our embodied relationships. Hence there is this non-dualistic relationship between our pre-linguistic basic categories and objects which still allows for real objects to exist without that relationship. But when going linguistic we might make two mistakes: 1) forget this embodied grounding and separate the linguistic words from the pre-linguistic meanings; and thus 2) separate embodied meanings in words from reality as such into two distinct and separate ontological realms, one samsara and the other nirvana. Or a formal, metaphysical view by another name.

Per Balder's paper, it might be more akin in modern practice to comparing Chomsky's linguistics v. semantics with Lakoff's embodied and mutual entailing variety.

* It is stored at Google documents. Sometimes it takes a long time to load, if it loads at all. One can instead use the 'file' menu and download it into a Word document, which only takes a few seconds.

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