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 or definition
When used in the sense of a definition or defining characteristics within Buddhist philosophy, it is said that a correct and useful definition must avoid the three faults of being too narrow, too broad or impossible.
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.
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. lakṣaṇa
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