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Ampersand: An International Journal of General and Applied Linguistics

Edited By R. Cann, H. Pichler, K. Van De Poel, D. van Olmen, and K. Watson

Academic Paper

Title: Chomsky and Habermas: Nyaya Theory of Debating
Paper URL:
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Discipline of Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Philosophy of Language; Psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: If Chomskian speaking subject would be misplaced from its “ideal” locus by the outside behavioral manipulation, threat or violence, there are two possibilities: (a) the linguistic creativity would be crippled; LAD might be inactive and dialogue without manipulation may end its course or (b) One can bypass this IL-problem and could still be linguistically creative. The extreme case of “end of dialogue” - situation was the ultimate termination of Socrates or a case of foreclosure, i.e. the rejection (rather than repression) of the existing and given symbolic order. This paper deals with the possibility (b), where there is a struggle for achieving emancipatory polylogue (instead of dialogue, polylogue refers to plural participation of speaking subjects with plural views) in connection with the concept of labor of speaking. The author reviewed two theories for this emancipatory speaking game: one was proposed by Habermas, who introduced the notion of Communicative Competence (CC--it is not the Dell Hymes brand of CC) and the old Indian logicians introduced another one. In this paper, Habermasian theory of labor (forces of production) and interaction (relation of production) with a goal achieve CC is compared with the objectives of Nyaya theory of debating, where three types of mode of debating ('Vada', 'jalpa', 'vitanda’) were introduced under the umbrella term katha or speaking. 'Katha' is a dialogue between vadi (propagator) and prativadi (refuter). "When two opposite parties dispute over their respective theses,...... in which each of them tries to prove his (sic) own thesis with reasons, each of the thesis is called vada." (Dasgupta, S., 1922: 360). Vada from the perspective of Critical Theory, is a "rational problem solving discourse" based on evidence and argument with no interest of winning the dispute. The only purpose of this rational conversation (ukti-pratyukti) is 'Determination of theory with no humiliation of the opponent’. Thus, it depends on the mutual understanding between vadi-prativadi, both of whom are contributing in the decision-making policy. On the other hand, "Jalpa means a dispute in which disputants give wrangling rejoinders in order to defeat their respective opponents." (ibid) In this case, one of the debaters must win and a judge or panel of judges may determine the winner. Uddotkara mentioned that this type of debate needs the providing and rebuttal "based upon equivocation (Chala) and parity of reasoning (jati) and censure of all kinds.” (Matilal, 1985: 13) "Chala means the intentional misinterpretation of the opponents' argument for the purpose of defeating him (sic). Jati consists in the drawing of contradictory conclusions, the raising of false issues or the like with deliberate intention of defeating an opponent." (Dasgupta, S: 362). Anyway, this tricky debate with the intention of winning has nothing to do with CC and it leads to a discourse generally found in some popular interviews and chat shows. Thirdly, “A Jalpa is called vitanda when it is only a destructive criticism which seeks to refute opponents' doctrine without seeking to establish or formulate any new doctrine."(Ibid) It is, from the standpoint of critical theory, a latent or non-latent strategic systematically distorted communication to manipulate others argument by using chala, jati etc. and there is no question of proving the counter-thesis. Thus, this paper provides a theory of speaking game without imagining the possibility of transcendental space for interaction without manipulation./L/Keywords: Nyaya Philosophy, Crippled Creativity, Dialogue without manipulation
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Language Forum, Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. XXIII, No. 1-2, pp. 115-123, 1997

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