There in only ‘Philosophy:’ The case of Testimony

Bhartṛhari and verbal testimony: a ‘hyper-antireductionist’ approach?


Abstract


The grammarian and philosopher Bhartṛhari (5th. c. CE) developed a philosophy that is essentially characterized by the prominent role language has in structuring humans’ efforts to cope with reality. Within this broader picture, he adopted an epistemological standpoint that was somehow at odds with the standard view of other South Asian thinkers, usually founded on a careful and systematic distinction of the means able to lead to a reliable cognitive event (technically called pramāṇas). Bhartṛhari claimed that such an interpretation is rather artificial, and that a cognition is actually a multifaceted process, whose single components are almost always hard to pinpoint. His main theoretical contribution consists of affirming that such a multifaceted cognitive act is informed and shaped by language.

The article deals with Bhartṛhari’s epistemology by discussing the author’s opinion on the nature of testimony. Furthermore, it addresses the question whether pure inference should always be regarded as an accurate way of acquiring knowledge.

Keywords

Bhartṛhari; Epistemology; Epistemology of Testimony; Inference; Vākyapadīya

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/1825-263X/2249

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