Difference between revisions of "Lakṣaṇa"

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Revision as of 03:04, 9 November 2019

Lakṣaṇa (Sanskrit; P. lakkhaṇa T. mtshan nyid) refers to either the defining characteristics or main characterics of something. The term is used in a variety of contexts in Buddhist philosophy. It is commonly translated as "mark", "sign", "characteristics", etc.

As defining characteristics

When used in the sense of a definition or defining characteristicsis a very important one in Buddhist philosophy, so much so that the sutra vehicle is often known as the vehicle of characteristics. A correct and useful definition must avoid the three faults of being too narrow, too broad or impossible.

In Pramana

In Pramana, definition (mtshan nyid) is usually discussed in terms of the triad of definition (mtshan nyid), name (lakṣya; mtshon bya) and basis of definition (mtshan gzhi).

For example, in the case of a vase:

  • the definition is something like "narrow-necked, bulbous object capable of holding water"
  • the name (or definiendum) is "vase"
  • and the basis of definition (or illustration) is the particular instance, such as the green vase on your table.

References