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The Collision of Language and Metaphysics in the Search for Self-Identity: On “ahaṃkāra” and “asmitā” in Sāṃkhya-Yoga

Authors:
  • Pedagogical University of Krakow

Abstract

The author of this paper discusses some major points vital for two classical Indian schools of philosophy: (1) a significant feature of linguistic analysis in the Yoga tradition; (2) the role of the religious practice (iśvara-pranidhana) in the search for true self-identity in Samkhya and Yoga darśanas with special reference to their gnoseological purposes; and (3) some possible readings of ‘ahamkara’ and ‘asmita’ displayed in the context of Samkhya-Yoga phenomenology and metaphysics. The collision of language and metaphysics refers to the risk of paralogism caused by the common linguistic procedures making the subject define its identity within the semantic order (i.e. verbal conventions and grammatical rules) which does not reflect the actual metaphysical situation of the self, though it determines one’s self-understanding in the empirical sense. Whereas, Samkhya-Yoga aims at recognizing, reorganizing and, finally, going beyond these procedures regarded as the obstacles on the path towards self-knowledge and liberation form metaphysical ignorance. Keywords: ahamkara ; asmita ; ego ; Hindu philosophy ; Indian philosophy ; language ; grammar and philosophy ; liberation ; metaphysics ; paralogism ; Patanjali ; Samkhya ; Sankhya ; self ; self-knowledge ; subjectivity ; Yoga.
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         
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        
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          
 
            
          
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         
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          
      

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        
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     
         
  
        
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         
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        
      
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          
           

        
      
             
  


       
    
            
         
 


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 
           

            
         
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   
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    
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    
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         
            
         
  
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

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     


         
       
        
          
      
           
         
         
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      
           

       
     
          
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     
               
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 
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  
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             
            
   
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 
   
          

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          
              
      
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          
    
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   
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
          
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          
           
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  
      
           
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     
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              
              
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   

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           
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       
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          
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    
  
 

    
  
             

            
            
      
   
 
   

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    

            
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         
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        
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         
    
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          
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
             
           
 
            
 
   

   
           
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

   
   

   
       
  
    

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
         
         
 


       

        

             
             
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        
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           
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           
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    
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          
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          
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
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         
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  
         
       
       
           
          
  
         
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
          
           



        

             
    
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          
          
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 
           
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... Polskie słowo "poznanie" (używane w wyrażeniach "prawdziwe poznanie", "fałszywe poznanie" itd.), oznaczające zarówno proces poznania, jak i wiedzę będącą jego rezultatem, pozwala oddać wspomnianą niejednoznaczność. 9 Taki autorytet w filozofii zachodniej nazywany jest autorytetem epistemicznym. Zob. ...
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the paper discusses the issue of psychophysical agency in the context of Indian philosophy, focusing on the oldest preserved texts of the classical tradition of Sāṃkhya­Yoga. the author raises three major questions: What is action in terms of Sāṃkhyakārikā (ca. fifth century CE) and Yogasūtra (ca. third century CE)? Whose action is it, or what makes one an agent? What is a right and morally good action? the first part of the paper reconsiders a general idea of action — including actions that are deliberately done and those that 'merely' happen — identified by Patañjali and Ῑśvarakṛṣṇa as a permanent change or transformation (pariṇāma) determined by the universal principle of causation (satkārya). then, a threefold categorization of actions according to their causes is presented, i.e. internal agency (ādhyātmika), external agency (ādhi­ bhautika) and 'divine' agency (ādhidaivika). the second part of the paper undertakes the prob­ lem of the agent's autonomy and the doer' s psychophysical integrity. the main issues that are exposed in this context include the relationship between an agent and the agent's capacity for perception and cognition, as well as the crucial Sāṃkhya­Yoga distinction between 'a doer' and 'the self '. the agent's self­awareness and his or her moral self­esteem are also briefly examined. moreover, the efficiency of action in present and future is discussed (i.e. karman, karmāśaya, saṃskāra, vāsanā), along with the criteria of a right act accomplished through meditative in­ sight (samādhi) and moral discipline (yama).
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The legend of Genesis 2.19-20, which expresses a view about the development from names to nouns, and other ideas attributed to, read into and superimposed upon it, have influenced the course of Western speculation on language for several millennia. Thus arose one of the most misleading notions of mankind: the idea that language originates from naming. This idea occured not only in the Ancient Near East, but also in Greece and China. It implied that grammar is not part of language, but imposed upon it from the outside. The Chinese had also more sophisticated ideas, e.g., that language consists of sentences and propositions in addition to names. Language, moreover, is not only for naming but also for issuing orders. To the Indians, language is primarily for doing, not for naming. Accordingly, there is a close connexion with ritual, which suggests that the origin of language is in fact partly ritual.
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