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date: 20 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the theory of knowledge of Bhartṛhari (c.5th cent.), the philosopher of language and grammarian, from the angle of perception and the awareness of oneself in the world. It is argued that, even though these topics are not systematically treated in Bhartṛhari’s work, in the context of his epistemology, which emphasizes the centrality of language, it is of crucial importance to show how language-based categories operate even in perception. After a brief introduction dealing with the role of grammar in the intellectual history of ancient India and Bhartṛhari’s place in the Pāṇinian tradition, the chapter examines a number of passages from his work that touch upon perception, its relation to the body, its intrinsic limitations in apprehending external objects, and the role of the mind in selecting and organizing the sense data, even when these remain at the periphery of individual awareness.

Keywords: Bhartṛhari, language, grammar, perception, consciousness, speaker’s intention, upalipsā, self-awareness

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