Understanding Prescriptive Texts: Rules and Logic as Elaborated by the Mīmāṃsā School

Elisa Freschi, Agata Ciabattoni, Francesco A. Genco, Björn Lellmann


The Mīmāsā school of Indian philosophy elaborated complex ways of interpreting the prescriptive portions of the Vedic sacred texts. The present article is the result of the collaboration of a group of scholars of logic, computer science, European philosophy and Indian philosophy and aims at the individuation and analysis of the deontic system which is applied but never explicitly discussed in Mīmāsā texts. The article outlines the basic distinction between three sorts of principles —hermeneutic, linguistic and deontic. It proposes a mathematical formalization of the deontic principles and uses it to discuss a well-known example of seemingly conflicting statements, namely the prescription to undertake the malefic Śyena sacrifice and the prohibition to perform any harm.


deontic logic; Mīmāṃsā; language as a means of knowledge; hermeneutics of sacred texts; epistemic value of prescriptive texts; conflicting obligations; proof theory

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