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Getting in the Mind of Medhātithi With the Help of Formal Argumentation


· Elisa Freschi University of Toronto, Canada (Toronto, Canada)
· Agata Ciabattoni Technische Universität (Vienna, Austria)


07/26 | 16:10-16:30 UTC+2/CEST


This paper discusses the benefits of applying formal argumentation theory to Dharmaśāstra reasoning. For this purpose, we will analyse cases in which the discussions become extremely elaborated, usually through the application of Mīmāṃsā-influenced reasoning rules, as in the texts by Medhātithi (9th c.) and Vijñāneśvara (12th c.). Such texts can become extremely complex and do not always make their selection process explicit. In other words, it is not clear why, e.g., Medhātithi finally selects one solution to the controversy he examines over the others. Our formal tools, which enable us to elaborate a diagram of the structure of the argument, will make this structure clearer, displaying their hidden hypotheses and showing which arguments are considered to be stronger or weaker and why. For instance, is analogical reasoning able to provide stronger support than, e.g., authoritative statements? We will examine case studies such as the discussion of corporeal punishment (ad Manu 8.318). We will thus show how, once the relevant sources have been selected, edited, translated and discussed, one can add a further layer of understanding by formalising them into an argumentation framework.