The blindmen and the elephant—a story found
in the works of Mallisena, a 13th c. Jain acharya.
Anekantavada is to be contrasted with ekantavada which stands for a definite categorically asserted philosophic position. But aneka ‘many’ is not diametrically opposite to eka ‘one’, for many includes one. Different ekantavadas may thus be only constituents of the anekanta doctrine. Also aneka does not stand for indefinite or infinite, for, as any Jaina scholar would point out, anekantavada is certainly not a philosophy of indetermination.
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Originally published in Indian Philosophical Quarterly, January 2002. Republished here with thanks to Prof. Tandon and The Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) of Savitribai Phule Pune University.