Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 489–509 | Cite as

Lakṣaṇā as a Creative Function of Language

Article

Abstract

When somebody speaks metaphorically, the primary meanings of their words cannot get semantically connected. Still metaphorical uses succeed in conveying the message of the speaker, since lakṣaṇā, a meaning-generating faculty of language, yields the suitable secondary meanings. Gaṅgeśa claims that lakṣaṇā is a faculty of words themselves. One may argue: “Words have no such faculty. In these cases, the hearer uses observation-based inference. They have observed that sometimes competent speakers use the word w in order to mean s, when p, the primary meaning of w does not make any semantic sense. In all such cases, s is actually related to p. After having observed this, when the hearer hears the utterance of w, and realizes that w’s primary meaning p is semantically unfit for the sentence-meaning, they infer on the basis of their prior observation that ‘the competent speaker must mean s by uttering w’. Thus lakṣaṇā becomes a success.” This apparently well-argued reduction does not stand the critical examination; neither in Gaṅgeśa’s framework, nor even in the general theory of language. For one can compose and interpret potentially infinite novel sentences based on lakṣaṇā while the observational inferences one can make are finite. Gaṅgeśa says very clearly that as far as the secondary meaning is concerned, no prior observation is required. This paper will argue that not only does language yield secondary meanings through lakṣaṇā, but it also restricts the use of secondary meanings; for one cannot mean just anything by saying something. Lakṣaṇā is a creative function with infinite potential within the limits set up by the language faculty.

Keywords

Gaṅgeśa Lakṣaṇā Inference Linguistic creativity 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Chakrabarti, A. (1992). On knowing by being told. Philosophy East and West, 42(3), 421–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge: MIT.Google Scholar
  3. Chomsky, N. (1969). Current issues in linguistic theory. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  4. Das, N. (2011). Lakṣaṇā as inference. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 39(4–5), 353–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dowty, D. R., Wall, R. E., & Peters, S. (1981). Introduction to Montague semantics. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  6. Ganeri, J. (2006). Artha: Meaning. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Guha, N. (2008). Arthāpatti: A critical examination. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, XXV(4), 107–133.Google Scholar
  8. Jha, D. (1971). Mīmāṃsāślokavārttika of Kumārilabhaṭṭa. Darbhanga: Kameswar Simha Darbhanga Sanskrit University.Google Scholar
  9. Kasturirangan, R., Guha, N., & Ram-Prasad, C. (2011). Indian cognitivism and the phenomenology of conceptualization. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 10(2), 277–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kripke, S. (1985). Speaker’s reference and semantic reference. In A. P. Martinich (Ed.), The philosophy of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Matilal, B. K. (1990). Logic, language and reality. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Private Limited.Google Scholar
  12. Saha, S. (2009). Fusion epistemology. Kolkata: Jadavpur University.Google Scholar
  13. Śāstrī, P. B. (1968). Bhāṣāpariccheda of Viśvanātha with Muktāvalī commentary of Viśvanātha and Muktāvalī-saṃgraha subcommentary of Pañcānana Bhaṭṭācārya Śāstrī. Kontai: Satinath Bhattacharya.Google Scholar
  14. Searle, J. R. (1985). Metaphor. In A. P. Martinich (Ed.), The philosophy of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Stern, J. (1983). Metaphor and grammatical deviance. Noûs, 17(4), 577–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Śukla, S. N. (1936). Nyāyamañjarī of Jayantabhaṭṭa. Jayakrishna Das Haridas Gupta. Benares: The Chaukhamba Sanskrit Series Office.Google Scholar
  17. Tarkavagish, K. (1990a). Tattvacintāmaṇi of Gansesa Upadhyāya (Vol. II, Part 1). Chaukhamba: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan.Google Scholar
  18. Tarkavagish, K. (1990b). Tattvacintāmaṇi of Gansesa Upadhyāya (Vol. IV, Part 2). Chaukhamba: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan.Google Scholar
  19. Tarkavagish, K. (1990c). Tattvacintāmaṇi of Gansesa Upadhyāya (Vol. II, Part 2). Chaukhamba: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology KanpurIndia

Personalised recommendations