Sponsored By: Infinity Foundation

The Man from Nicobar

The Man from Nicobar: The Bauddhatarkabhasa on Sabdapramana
by Rohit Dalvi

This paper was written by a student at the University of Hawaii as part of an Infinity Foundation sponsored project.

In the beginning was Relation……..Gaston Bachelard

If we cast an inquiring glance over the range of beliefs and genuine knowledge that we claim to possess, we cannot fail to notice that they arise from more than a single source. Knowledge is unquestionably generated through perception and inference; nevertheless, it is also transmitted to us through the speech-acts of others which is to say, through verbal testimony. Knowledge generated through linguistic performances or verbal testimony is somewhat similar to the basic model of communicatively generated bits of knowledge like when a bird emits a squawk on seeing a predator and transmits to other birds the information that a predator is in the vicinity.1 If I were to utter the words “Watch out!” (In all sincerity) while crossing the road, it would communicate to the hearer the need to be aware of an impending danger. Although it is an attempt to urge someone to use his or her perceptual faculty, it is nevertheless conveying more than the need to literally “watch”. By using words, I am generating in the auditor a knowledge-bit that roughly translates into an indication of potential harm. The hearer receives more than an injunction to see or to infer. The opponents of verbal testimony will in this case try to reduce the hearer’s subsequent response of noticing traffic as an inference based on my utterance, which acts as an inference prompter.

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About the Author

Rohit Dalvi received his BA in Philosophy from Bombay University. He was awarded the Infinity grant in Fall 1997 and in Spring 2003. Currently he is working on a dissertation on the concept of Relation under Professor Chakrabarti’s supervision. In this dissertation he will work with ideas from Bhartrhari and Utpaladeva as well as Western Philosophy. In the future he plans to do further research in Kashmir Saivism.