Abstract

One of the issues dividing the Digambara and Śvetāmbara sects of Jainism centers on the nature of the kevalin—where a kevalin is a being that has achieved kevalajñāna or omniscience. According to the Śvetāmbara sect the kevalin continues to act much like a normal human being (eating, preaching, walking, etc.) after his enlightenment. But the Digambara sect denies this. They claim that the kevalin ceases to act at the moment of his enlightenment. Reason is given here for thinking that the Digambara sect is right about the nature of the kevalin. It is argued that the kevalin is a trivialist, that is, someone who believes that everything is the case. According to Graham Priest, precisely because a trivialist believes everything, he is unable to act. Because he believes that a given state of affairs already obtains, the trivialist cannot form the intention to bring about that state of affairs. Why is the kevalin a trivialist? An answer is attempted by raising a paradox in Jain epistemology. According to various doctrinal sources, the kevalin is infallible and omniscient. But the mode of this knowledge is a priori, because the kevalin is causally isolated from the rest of reality. How is it possible for the kevalin to know everything infallibly without there being any connection between himself and the objects of his knowledge? The only solution to this paradox is to postulate that everything is true and that the kevalin believes everything to be true. It is then shown that this trivialist account of Jain epistemology coheres nicely with Jain logic and metaphysics. Given that the kevalin is a trivialist and given the conclusion that the trivialist cannot act, the kevalin cannot act. Therefore, the Digambara sect is right about the nature of the kevalin.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 176-193
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-09
Open Access
No
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