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A Study of Bhartrhari’s Philosophy of Language by: Tandra Patnaik

This book offers a study of Bhartrhari’s Vakyapadiya in an altogether modern (the post-Fregean) perspective on the philosophy of language. Bhartrhari’s analysis of language is presented methodically and in contemporary philosophical idiom.



ISBN: 9788124604083
Year Of Publication: 2017
Edition: 3rd
Pages : xix, 228
Bibliographic Details : Glossary; Bibliography; Inde
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 23 cm.
Weight: 400


It is the first ever study of the fifth-century scholar, Bhartrihari’s Vakyapadiya in an altogether modern, the post-Fregean, perspective on the Philosophy of Language. A uniquely original thinker in India’s splendid grammarians’ tradition, Bhartrihari overreached the limits of language analysis set by his predecessors like Panini and Patanjali constructing, as he did, a brilliant Philosophy of Language that sought to spell out, among other aspects, the subtle distinctions between the “knowable” and the “sayable”, between “what is said” and “what is meant”, between the semantics of “everyday speech” and “literary discourse”. Sadly, Bhartrihari has, through the centuries, suffered neglect, largely because the Grammarian School never figured in the six major systems of traditional Indian philosophy.
For the first time, this monograph tries to reinterpret Bhartrihari’s position — “as a philosopher”, emphasizing the high relevance of his Vakyapadiya to modern Western thought. A reputed scholar of grammar, philosophy and Sanskrit studies, the author presents Bhartrihari’s analyses of language methodically, unbiased. And, significantly, in contemporary philosophical idiom — with contextual focus on the views of modern Western philosophers: Frege, Wittgenstein, Grice, Austin, Davidson, Searle, Strawson and the like. Also offered here is a lucid exposition of the Sphota Theory.
Growing from Dr Patnaik’s a decade-long research on Bhartrihari’s philosophy, the volume highlights not only ancient Indian contribution to the study of language, but the interconnectedness among its indigenous approaches to linguistics, philosophy, logic and aesthetics as well.


1. Philosophy of Language: Its Scope and Limits
The Linguistic Turn
The Indian Viewpoint
Does Shabda Pramana Mean Scriptural Authority?
Bhartrihari: The New Way of Looking at Language
Metaphysics and Language
Metaphysics and Mysticism?
2. Shabdadvaitavada: The Metaphysics of Language
Shabda Brahman: Its Implications
Problems of Linguistic Monism
Word and Consciousness — Word and Concept — Word Universal and Object Universal
The Nortion of Change and Time
Bhartrihari’s Monism and its Logical Conclusions
Logical Atomism and Holism
3. The Sphota Theory of Language
Language Analysis and Metaphysics
Sphota: Its Meaning and Implications
Bhartrihari on Speaker’s Communication of Meaning
Hearer’s Understanding and Pratibha
Wittgenstein on Understanding
4. The Word and the Meaning
Nature of the Relationship
What does the Word Mean? Some Western Theories
Essentialism — Non-Essentialism
Bhartrihari on Different Layers of Meaning
Primary and Metaphorical Meaning — Literal Sense and Contextual Meaning
Bhartrihari and Wittegenstein on Diversities of Meaning
5. Language and Communication
Formalism Versus Communication-Intention Theory
Bhartrihari on Language
Structural and Functional Components of Utterance — Language Beyond Utterance — Intention and Convention
Language as a Function: Wittgenstein, Grice, Austin and Searle
Bhartrihari and Searle on Linguistic Communication
6. Thought and Language
Nature of the Problem
Bhartrihari on Thought and Language
Frege and Davidson on Thought and Language
Truth and Belief: The Indian Perspective
Search for the Ultimate Ground of Communication
7. The Word and the World
Semantics and Ontology
The Buddhist (Dinnaga’s) Viewpoint
Bhartrihari and Dinnaga on Word-World Relation
Linguistic Phenomenalism: An Assessment
8. Word-Meaning and Sentence-Meaning
Sentence-Holism versus Word-Atomism
Bhartihari’s Argument for Sentence-Holism
Two Opposing Modern Views on the Problem
9. The Knowable and the Sayable
Bhartrihari on what can be Said
Some Modern Views on the Problem
Bhartrihari on the Limiting Concepts of Knowability and Sayability
Wittgenstein on the Limits of Sayability
Glossary of Sanskrit Terms
Selected Bibliography

Meet the Author
Late Dr Tandra Patnaik distinguished herself with Utkal University having become topper at the BA (Hons) and MA examinations. She combined in her the scholarship of a grammarian, a Sanskritist and a philosopher which had given her the essential interdisciplinary orientation to reinterpret Bhartrhari in terms of the recent developments in the Philosophy of Language. Her doctoral dissertation on “James’ Concept of Meaning” (1982) was spoken of very highly by Sir P.F. Strawson (of Oxford), who also happened to be her PhD examiner. An author of four books and numerous research papers, Dr Patnaik was with the P.G. Department of Philosophy, Utkal University, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.
Books of Tandra Patnaik