Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prasangika's semantic nominalism: reality is linguistic concept

I referenced Thakchoe's article by the above name previously in this post. I've culled some excerpts from it below resonant with themes and discussions in this blog and previously in the Batchelor thread, particularly the difference between rangtong and shentong. Hence when Thakchoe references "Prasangika" he means the rangtong, since some variants of shentong are also Prasangika. See the Batchelor thread for more info. More commentary follows the excerpts below.

"Tsongkhapa claims that the Prāsaṅgika posits all realities through the force of linguistic convention: language and ontology are understood to be mutually embedded within each other. [...] Neither language nor ontology has priority over each other" (427-8).

"The Prāsaṅgika therefore disagrees fundamentally with Dignāga-Dharmakı̄rtian idea that [...] reality and language stand apart from each other independently and constitutively. […] Reality can never be a linguistic entity, it must be an ineffable—extra-linguistic and non-conceptual whereas language is always divorced from reality, operating purely at the conceptual level" (428).

"Candrakı̄rti argues that all determinate categories, sensory faculties, and phenomenological experiences are dependent on our conceptual constructs, and these in turn depend on the conventional terminologies of everyday language. Candrakı̄rti’s argument, then, is that cognitions apprehend the objects of experience, and those objects that we experienced are conceptually (therefore linguistically) represented in the cognitions as having the representations of some specific categories" (431-2).

*Note: I see these as image schema or basic categories a la L&J.

"The Prāsaṅgika’s semantic theory is fundamentally different from the semantic realism of Theravāda, Vaibhāṡika, Sautrāntika (even Svātantrika) all of which argue that language and reality are mutually exclusive, and that linguistic concepts apply only to the unreality—conventional truths" (432).

"What about nirvāṅa or ultimate truth? Could it be argued that they exist as merely names or concepts? The Buddhist semantic realists’ answer to this question is one of an unequivocal negative. They hold the view that ultimate truth (by extension nirvāṅa) is ineffable: non-conceptual and extra-linguistic. The linguistic concepts and ultimate truth can never coincide—the two are mutually exclusive" (436).

"Prāsaṅgika maintains it is a category mistake to assume that there exists ontological / metaphysical dichotomy between nirvāṅa and saṁs̄ara or between ultimate truth and conventional truth" (442).

Much of this is also explored in Thakchoe's The Two Truths Debate found in the Batchelor thread. Bottom line for this thread: image schematic basic categories are our link to experiencing and translating reality, but cannot do so with reality in toto. Nonetheless, reality for us cannot exist without these basic categories. Per L&J language arises from and extends these embodied image schema, so language too has as much claim to our experience of reality once it emerges. There is no going back to some pre-linguistic and pure apprehension of reality as such, since such a chimera never existed in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.