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Document Details :

Title: 'La sagesse est l'Œil-du-monde'
Subtitle: Réflexions sur la littérature sapientiale de l'Inde ancienne en général et sur le genre des 'maximes illustrées par une analogie' (nyāya en particulier
Author(s): CHENET, François
Journal: Journal Asiatique
Volume: 294    Issue: 1   Date: 2006   
Pages: 143-154
DOI: 10.2143/JA.294.1.2017894

Abstract :
La sagesse a toujours été comparée, dans l'Inde, à une lampe éclairant de sa lumière supérieure la conduite humaine. Or, si la notion de sagesse est, dans l'Inde, difficile à cerner, c'est qu'elle n'est pas univoque, attendu qu'elle ressortit à deux registres qu'il convient de distinguer. D'une part, il y a la sagesse mondaine, ordonnée à la quête des trois premiers «buts de l'homme∞ (puruṣārtha) – artha, kāma, dharma – et consignée dans les recueils de proverbes, d'aphorismes, de fables didactiques, etc. D'autre part, il y a la sagesse ultime, "transcendantale", qui est celle des grandes sotériologies indiennes. Or, il n'est pas rare que les philosophes indiens aient, eux aussi, recours à un certain type de maximes, les "maximes illustrées par une analogie (tirée de l'expérience) mondaine" (laukika-nyā̊ya), aux fins de conforter leurs raisonnements ou d'expliciter leur métaphysique. Après avoir présenté les sources de la sagesse indienne, l'on s'attache ici à élucider la fonction du recours à l'analogie dans la littérature sapientiale de l'Inde et à évaluer sa pertinence dans la quête de la sagesse, tant mondaine qu'ultime.





Just as blind people cannot find their way unguided into a city, so only wisdom is often compared to a lamp guiding men in life and imparting to them a superior light or a kind of organ of vision which allows them to tread either the path of mundane life or the path of liberation. A proverb is a short or pithy sentence containing or compressing some well-known truth or common fact ascertained by experience or observation, a sentence which briefly expresses some practical truth. An aphorism contains usually a wise precept, educed from the general experience of mankind. Proverbs and aphorisms are sources of Hindu wisdom and they have had a subtile and pervasive influence on popular opinion. But if wisdom is so elusive to our understanding, it is due to the fact that wisdom is not univocal. Actually, it is necessary to distinguish between two kinds of wisdom. On the one hand, there is the mundane wisdom, which teaches the right attitude according to the three primary “aims of life" (puruṣārtha) – artha, kāma, dharma –, and which is expressed in a special class of literature, using proverbs, aphorisms and profound parables. Mundane wisdom imparts right instruction by means of illustrations and similes. On the other hand, there is the supramundane wisdom, the transcendental wisdom, which proceeds from intuitive illumination, yields sapientia experimentalis and grants release, liberation (mokṣa), and which is expressed in religious and philosophical texts. Now Indian philosophers are also never tired of using illustrations (dṚṣṭānta) and similes (upamāna) for explaining their metaphysics, and they often argue from analogy; moreover they often resort to some “maxims based on an analogy (drawn from mundane) experience" (laukika-nyāya). What is required is only the similarity of an unknown object to a well known object. The present paper deals with the sources of Hindu wisdom and analyses the function of the recourse to analogy and assesses its relevance in Hindu wisdom, either mundane or transcendental.

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