Mukulabhaṭṭa and pragmatics in Indian philosophy–a Guest Post by Malcolm Keating

Hello, everyone—Matthew asked me to write a guest post on some of my work on Mukulabhaṭṭa and pragmatics in Indian philosophy. I’d be interested in everyone’s thoughts!

Mukulabhaṭṭa was a ninth-century Kashmiri thinker who wrote a critical response to Ānandavardhana’s important Dhvanyāloka. Mukula’s only extant work, the Abhidhāvṛttamātṛkā (Fundamentals of the Communicative Function) is a study of literal and non-literal meaning, but his work straddles genre boundaries, including recognizably alaṃkāra-śāstra themes within a broader epistemological and linguistic framework. His work, though influential for Ālaṁkārikas who follow him, such as Mammaṭa, has not been given significant attention by modern scholars until relatively recently, most notably in Larry McCrea’s “The Teleology of Poetics in Medieval Kashmir.”

Lakṣaṇā as Removing Apparent Incompatibility

(1) “gaur vāhīka.” (“The peasant is a bull.”)

(2) “gaṅgāyam ghoṣa.” (“The village is on the Ganges.”)

(3) “pīno devadatto divā na bhuṅkte.” (“Fat Devadatt does not eat during the day.”)

According to Mukulabhaṭṭa, all of these expressions have something in common: their full meaning is understood through lakṣaṇā, often translated as “indication.” In his Abhidhāvṛttamātṛkā, he argues against Ānandavardhana’s view that we need suggestion (dhvani) in order to account for these meanings.

In my current work, I am especially interested in the relationship between lakṣaṇā and arthāpatti. Mukula claims that (3), which is a standard instance of śrutārthāpatti, is also a case of lakṣaṇā. Throughout his text, Mukula explains how lakṣaṇā removes apparent incompatibilities as in (3). Unlike Ānandavardhana’s view of lakṣaṇā, however, he thinks that the apparent incompatibilities need not only exist between component words in a sentence. Rather, there are multiple contextual facts: speaker, sentence, utterance, as well as the place, time, and circumstance.

Lakṣaṇā and IBE, arthāpatti, and Grice

What is of interest to me is the way in which interpretation through lakṣaṇā is analogous to the sort of inference to the best explanation which drives Gricean pragmatics. In fact, looking at H.P. Grice’s original definition of conversational implicature (which, of course, has had many emendations and objections over since its first publication), its structure is strikingly similar to arthāpatti

S conversationally implicates that q in saying that p iff S implicates q when:


  1. S is presumed to be observing the conversational maxims (or the Cooperative Principle),
  2. The supposition that S thinks that q is required to make saying that p consistent with this presumption,
  3. S thinks, and expects H to think that S thinks, the hearer can work out or grasp intuitively, that the supposition that q is required.


Inference to the best explanation (which I distinguish from abduction) can be defined as below (Mackonis 2013):


  1. The surprising fact, C, is observed;
  2. But if A were true, C would be a matter of course.
  3. No available competing hypothesis can explain C as well as A does.
  4. Hence, A is true.


Finally, arthāpatti as defined by Kumārilabhaṭṭa in the Ślokavārttika:

When an object is known through the six pramāṇa, which otherwise could not be, another, unseen object is imagined—this is an example of arthāpatti.

pramāṇa-ṣaṭka-vijñāto yatra artho na anyathā bhavet; adṛṣṭaṃ kalpayed anyam sa-arthāpattir udāhṛtā.

Grice’s #2, (although he uses the unfortunate term “consistent” which cannot be, strictly speaking what he means) points at the idea that the role of a conversational implicature q is to explain p against a background set of assumptions which includes #1, the CP. In the schema of IBE, q is equivalent to A, and p is equivalent to C. In the schema of arthāpatti, the adṛṣṭam is the conversational implicature which removes the apparent incompatibility between, for instance, the speaker’s utterance and background knowledge.

In the case of Devadatta, what is implicated is that Devadatta eats at night. It is surprising that a fat man would be this way without eating during the day, and so we conclude that he must eat at night. In the case of the peasant, where it is surprising that a speaker would identify a human being with an animal (Mukula points out that “peasant” and “bull” cannot have the same qualifying substratum), we presume that there is a metaphorical meaning. In the case of the village on the Ganges, it is suprising that a speaker would use the locative case for Ganges, since we know villages cannot be supported by rivers, so we conclude that she must be speaking metonymically and by “on the Ganges” she must mean “on the bank of the Ganges.”

Some Questions

If I am right that this general interpretive structure is characteristic of lakṣaṇā, which involves arthāpatti, then Mukula has a highly flexible and context-sensitive alternative to Ānandavardhana’s proposal of a new śakti, in addition to denotation and indication. However, it also raises several questions.

  1.  In discussing frozen or conventional metaphors (the word ‘rājan’ applied to non-kṣatriya rulers), Mukula notes that it’s possible to retrace the relationship between a literal meaning and a non-literal meaning through reflection (vicāraṇa) even if people do not actually go through a reflective process ordinarily. To what degree are interpreters expected to be able to calculate the relationship between literal and non-literal meanings? Or, related, to what degree, ought we be able to reconstruct such a relationship, and in what cases (note the Gricean distinction between conventional and conversational implicatures—does lakṣaṇā reject such a distinction, and why)?
  2. What makes a given interpretation the best one? Mukula says the interpretation for (3) that Devadatta drinks is blocked (badhita) because nighttime is mentioned. How strong is this defeater? Could there be two equally strong interpretations?
  3. Mukula often uses “ādi” to fill out the list of metaphorical content—the peasant and the bull both have dullness, laziness, and so on. If arthāpatti is the underlying pramāṇa by which hearers come to understand what is meant, should its deliverances be determinate? If so, what particular list of things counts as understanding the metaphor? If we do not come to understand a determinate proposition, then how should we understand lakṣaṇā in comparison to denotation and the other traditional śakti? Is this evidence that Ānandavardhana was right about suggestion in some way?
  4. Finally, a larger question is about the relationship between the pramāṇas of testimony, inference, and arthāpatti. If speakers sometimes utter non-literal sentences with the goal of conveying knowledge, how do their hearers come to have niścaya, or warrant, in what is communicated?



Ānandavardhana. The Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta. Number 49 in the Harvard Oriental Series. Harvard University Press, 1990.

Kumārilabhaṭṭa. Ślokavārttika of Śrī Kumārila Bhaṭṭa with the Commentary Nyaayaratnākara of Śrī Pārthasārathi Miśra. Tara Publications, Varanasi, 1978.

Muklabhaṭṭa. Abhidhāvṛttamātṛkā. Vidyābhavana Saṃskṛta granthamālā 165, Varanasi 1973.

Mukulabhaṭṭa. Abhidhāvṛttamātṛkā. Trans. K. Venugopalan. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 4:203-265, 1977.

H.P. Grice. Logic and Conversation. In H.P. Grice, editor, Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1989.

Adolfis Mackonis. Inference to the best explanation, coherence, and other explanatory virtues. The Philosophical Review, 190:978-95, 2013.

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

10 thoughts on “Mukulabhaṭṭa and pragmatics in Indian philosophy–a Guest Post by Malcolm Keating

  1. Thanks for this interesting post, Malcolm, which I hope will be followed by further ones.
    I do not know Mukula, thus I will relate only tangentially with what you write.
    1. I never use ‘indication’ for laksana. ‘Indication’ seems to me to mean a direct denotation. What about ‘secondary/indirect signification’?
    2. Concerning Kumarila’s definition of arthapatti (by the way, there is a typo about it in your last question, I think), I did not check the commentaries, but I would construe it as follows:
    yatra pramanasatkavijnato ‘rtho ‘nyatha na bhavet, sa anyad adrstam kalpayed [iti] arthapattir udahrta
    When an object which has been known through the six means of knowledge cannot be otherwise, it (the arthapatti) postulates something which has not been experienced [yet]. [So] is exemplified the arthapatti.
    3. Anandavardhana does not need dhvani to make gangayam ghosah mean “the village *on the river or* the Ganges”. Rather, he needs it in order to go one step *beyond* laksana, i.e., to show that gangayam ghosah suggests (dhvan-) that the village is particularly pure.

  2. Elisa,
    Thanks for the reply. In order:
    1. I have seen “indication” as well as “secondary indication” or “secondary meaning” etc. As I understand the English term “indicate”, though, I would not equate it with “denote.” It’s more like “hint” or “imply”, which is indirect.
    2. Yes, that “arthā” should be “arthāpatti.” I’ll see if Matt can fix that. And right, “not experienced” is probably better than “unseen” since the latter would be ordinarily taken just to mean perceptible through vision, whereas “adṛṣṭam” has a broader scope.
    3. You’re right about Ānandavardhana’s claim here, and Mukula has quite a lot to say about that particular sentence. I wasn’t clear in my post about the fact that Ānandavardhana’s full meaning would include purity, holiness, etc.—thanks. This is in fact what Mukula is concerned to show is wrong. He claims that lakṣaṇā can get us to the purity of the village, without dhvani:

    tatra sambandha-lakṣaṇā yathā gaṅgāyāṃ ghoṣa iti. atra hi gaṅgā-śabda-abhidheyasya śroto-viśeṣasya ghoṣa-adhikaraṇatva-anupapattyā mukhya-śabda-artha-bādhe sati yo ‘sau samīmpi-samīpa-bhāva-ātmakaḥ sambandhas tad-āśrayeṇa taṭaṃ lakṣayati. atra ca lakṣaṇāyāḥ prayojanaṃ taṭasya gaṅgātva-eka-artha-samaveta-artha-asaṃvijñāna-pada-puṇyatva-manoharatva-ādi-pratipādanam. na hi tat puṇyatva-manoharatva-ādi sva-śabdaiḥ spraṣṭuṃ śakyate. avyāpty-ativyāpti-prasaṅgāt.

    “Here is a case of indication by relationship*, as in the example, “The village is on the Ganges.” For in this case, where the literal meaning of the word is blocked, since the particular stream denoted by the word “Ganges” is inapplicable as the substratum of a village, that which the word indicates is the bank by means of the relationship of proximity and things being proximate. And here, the intention on the part of indication with regard to the bank is communicating things such as holiness and beauty, which the words do not convey but which are inherent in things related to the Ganges. For the words have no capacity to express things such as holiness and beauty, because there is the defect of under- and over-extension.”

    I understand the ativyāpti and avyāpti described to have to do with the denotative power of “gaṅgāyām”, but that when that word comes to mean bank+Ganges, there is the ability to communicate the nearness of the village to the river as well as its having the shared properties of the river. In this, I disagree with Venugopalan’s translation and note (footnote 86, p 261) in the JIP. Larry McCrea talks a bit about this passage, though not what the prasaṅga here refers to, in his book on pp298-99. Mukula goes on to equate varieties of dhvani with varieties of lakṣaṇā—in particular, the divisions of dhvani which have to do with whether the literal meaning is intended to be expressed or not (avivakṣita and vivakṣita). Mukula argues that the specific sort of lakṣaṇā (upādāna) seen in the Fat Devadatta example above can account for the vivakṣita sort, where the literal and non-literal are both intended to be communicated. He also thinks that the avivakṣita sort, where the literal is still communicated, in a way, but is not what is intended to be communicated, can also be explained by lakṣaṇā. (The example is the sentence, “I am Rāma, whose heart is hard”, where Rāma is speaking but he’s using his name as a definite description, to express the qualities associated with his sufferings.)

    In my brief post, I skipped over a lot of the distinctions Mukula makes, just to bring to fore the connection between arthāpatti and lakṣaṇā. I hope this helps clarify a bit.

    *This is one of five kinds of indication that Mukula identifies, by citing Bhartṛmitra: “Because of the relationship with that which is to be denoted, because of being similar, because of being associated, because of being opposed, because of relationship to an action, indication is thought to be five-fold.”

  3. Typo fixed.

    Simply as a matter of English, I’d agree with Malcolm here on #1. “Indicate” tends to suggest that the thing indicated is at a little distance, so to speak.

    Regarding your final point, Malcolm, see my thread comment #4 on my previous thread. It’s interesting that Uddyotakara explicitly makes the point that the very cognition produced in a hearer through repetition-based-implicature (or however we wish to frame it) is already in the mind of the speaker. This suggests that he, at least, wants to say that it is straightforward testimonial cognition.

    Connected to this, it seems that all cognition, excepting nirvikalpa-jnana (no diacritics here, sorry) requires some kind of conceptual competence, the ability to navigate conceptual connections. Therefore, the fact that one may need to consider relevant defeaters as a kind of sub-personal process does not necessarily turn something into inference.

    Finally, as a matter of curiosity, how did you become devoted to working on Mukula? Did you start with an interest in philosophy of language, which led you to him? Or did you find him through excursions into Indian thought, which led you to become concerned with his work on language?

  4. Matt, right, I don’t think that something like IBE or arthāpatti being involved would make these instances any less cases of testimonial knowledge. That said, there are still, I think, interesting questions about how to characterize arthāpatti’s involvement in such a process.

    My interest in Mukula arose out of a broad interest in philosophy of language, which I pursue in both Western and Indian traditions. I was initially interested in the question of metaphor specifically, and was curious about how Indian thought carved up the conceptual space in that debate, since it’s quite a mess in contemporary Western philosophy. This was my entry-way into Ālaṅkāra-śāstra. I discovered Mukula’s work through some brief mention of KK Raja in his “Indian Theories of Meaning”, then looked up the text myself, found that it had only been translated once in the JIP, hadn’t been really worked on, but was a really fascinating interdisciplinary approach to questions surrounding metaphor (and more).

  5. Malcolm, thank you very much for this extremely interesting post, especially for me! I have recently read Mukula’s work, and I’ve found it brilliant in many respects.

    I also thought of Grice, abduction and IBE as possible Western parallels, but I am no expert and I would be interested in hearing more about the way you would differentiate abduction and IBE, especially in relation to what Mukula argues for (does it better fit with one or the other?).

    What I personally found very fascinating is the lasting influence that Mukula had on the rest of alaṃkāraśāstra, and not directly (his name was never that famous among Indian intellectuals), but through the re-use of most of his ideas (the subdivisions of lakṣaṇā, basically) on the part of Mammaṭa.

    Mammaṭa himself gives many contributions to the speculations on the topic on lakṣaṇā (and dhvani and aesthetics), insofar as he argues for the existence of poetical implicature (dhvani) against Mukula (and others), but also tries to reshape the whole field by coordinating the insights of practically all his predecessors (Mukula on Lakṣanā, Abhinavagupta on rasa, Ānandavardhana on dhvani, Mahimabhaṭṭa on doṣas, Udbhaṭa and many others on the figures of speech), but this is probably the topic for a different thread (and book).

    I like your choice of indication as a translation for lakṣaṇa, I usually stick to the ‘Indological’ convention of translating it with ‘secondary signification’, or—what I prefer—’figurative signification’, but I understand that what the wide-encompassing concept of Mukula includes is often more than anything that could be dubbed as figuration (just as the ‘fat Devadatta example, I guess).

    Oh, yes, one more thing about Mammaṭa I wanted to share: I have no time to go through the passage again now, but if I recollect well, his refutation of the all-inclusiveness of Mukula’s lakṣaṇā pivots on the problem of the prayojana (which you translated as intention, although I would stick to something like ‘purpose’), as it is an additional meaning that needs an additional function of language (vyañjanā) to be expressed, otherwise the risk would be that of anavasthā, regressum ad infinitum (a similar argument is already in the Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka), as—again if I recollect well—if the prayojana is exlained by lakṣaṇā, there will have to be a prayojana for this lakṣaṇā as well, again explained by lakṣaṇā and again postulating a prayojana and so on and on.

    On the inclusion of arthāpatti within śabda, I do find it problematic, although it seems appropriate to say that that’s what Mukula had in mind. Conversely, Mahimabhaṭṭa in his Vyaktiviveka (again a refutation of the Dhvanyāloka together with Abhinavagupta’s Locana) argues exactly for the necessity of going beyond śabda and having to rely on anumāna/arthāpatti for accounting for practically any non-direct meaning in speech.

    To conclude, Malcolm, thank you very much for the great job you are doing and I am looking forward to the moment when I’ll find the time to read your articles that are presently sitting in my computer :-)

  6. Daniele,
    Thanks for the comments!

    In terms of abduction & IBE, I would say that the difference is essentially that abduction is a first step, a procedure that gives us a set of possible explanations, and IBE is a process which narrows to what ought to be (though is not guaranteed to be) the correct one. IBE includes some (tacit?) appeal to criteria such as explanatory power, simplicity, plausibility and so on. I would situate what Mukula is doing within IBE, based on the fact that he has given reasons for particular interpretations over others against the background of the varieties of lakṣaṇā. So since we must have a relationship between the literal meaning and the indicated meaning, that constrains the interpretation. This take on IBE is found in Mackonis who I cite–but precisely how IBE ought to be characterized is a matter of considerable debate (not unlike arthāpatti!) Peter Lipton, who has also put forward his own analysis has said that IBE is “more a slogan than an articulated philosophical theory.” (Lipton 2004). For a contrary position to mine on arthāpatti/IBE, see Rajesh Kasturirangan, Nirmalya Guha & Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad 2011

    Mukula’s use of prayojana is problematic, indeed–I’d recommend looking at Larry McCrea’s discussion in his book. It’s hard to work out precisely where the motive element, as it’s often called, fits into his model. Related–would you translate “purpose” over “intention” in order to avoid the connotations the latter has in contemporary philosophy of language?

    And yes, Mahimabhaṭṭa’s analysis is fascinating–I haven’t spent as much time on his work as I would like, but I’m hoping to do so in the future. I’ve also been reading the Nyāyamañjarī which mentions Ānandavardhana in the section discussing arthāpatti–Jayantabhaṭṭa was of course in Kashmir around the same time as Mukulabhaṭṭa and another opponent of the dhvani theory.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on my papers–I don’t run across that many people who are reading Mukulabhaṭṭa–feel free to send me an email if you’d like to talk more.

  7. Malcolm, as I imagined, the issue of abduction and IBE looks pretty complex and thorny…but thanks for the explanation and the reading suggestions.
    I should probably read again McCrea’s discussion on prayojana and Mukula in general, and yes I do feel that the connotation of the word ‘intention’ (in philosophy of language, phenomenology or even common speech) don’t really help in getting what prayojana usually is. And Sanskrit has other words that are more commonly rendered as ‘intention’ (abhiprāya, for instance). In this case, I like your ‘motive element’ or ‘motive’, btw.
    I didn’t know that Jayanta mentioned Ānandavardhana on arthāpatti, I thought he only mentioned him quickly and somewhat contemptuously somewhere else (but I might not recall properly, and it might well be that very passage)…I should definitely check it out.
    I’ll send you an email as soon as I manage to properly go back to Mukula and to read your articles, which—I guess—will not happen before the end of the year, at least :-)

  8. Daniele, I look forward to further conversation. Just a quick note that I don’t distinguish between abduction and IBE in those articles. As you say, it’s a big topic, and frequently those two terms are used interchangeably. It’s an area that I’m currently researching more carefully, though, so I’ll probably have more to say in the future.

    Oh, and re Ānandavardhana: I believe that quick/contemptuous mention is the same passage. I don’t have the text with me, so I am not 100%, though. It’s, as I recall, in the discussion of arthāpatti, but not about arthāpatti specifically, rather dhvani. I’ll check when I’m in my office tomorrow.

  9. I know I’m joining this discussion late, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say how interesting Malcolm’s topic is and see if I can manage to keep track of all of its moving parts.

    One question is of intellectual history. Mukula’s work is one of several “dhvani-dhvaṃsakas” and he thinks that the existing theory—developed by Mīmāṃsakas—is sufficiently powerful to describe the phenomena for which Ānandavardhana brought in the new theory of dhvani. But Mukula’s lakṣaṇā seems (here I’m relying on Kunjunni Raja) to be even more expansive than Kumārila’s, who thought that lakṣaṇā had a (limited) role to play in every single sentence. So one thread (which Mammaṭa took up, as Daniele noted) is the expansion of lakṣaṇā from a theory of word-meaning to something much closer to Ānanda’s own theory, which some scholars (Pollock) have explicitly connected with Gricean implicature.

    Another question has to do with the relationship between arthāpatti and lakṣaṇā in Mukula’s theory, and how exactly the parallel with Grice/IBE is supposed to work. If I understand you correctly, lakṣaṇā and implicature both involve a relationship between a stated meaning (p) and an implicated meaning (q). In (Mukula’s) lakṣaṇā, arthāpatti is how we get from p to q; in implicature, IBE is how we get there. For Mukula, it seems that every case of arthāpatti involves lakṣaṇā, whereas for everyone else (e.g. Mammaṭa), it was only true that lakṣaṇā involved arthāpatti. The difference is indexed, as you say somewhere above, to what p and q are (word-meanings, sentence-meanings, speaker-meanings) and what they are evaluated in reference to, and here is where I had some uncertainty about the goals and stakes of this comparative project. Are you using Mukula to improve upon Gricean pragmatics? Are you using Gricean pragmatics to offer a new understanding of Mukula? Or—as I suspect—are you using Mukula to explore the relationship between epistemic processes (arthāpatti etc.) and the production of meaning in language (lakṣaṇā etc.) in ways that never occurred to Grice et al. because of the relatively narrow parameters of their investigation?

    • Andrew, sorry for the delay in responding–I’ve been a bit busy. I’d be happy to chat more here or by email. A few thoughts are below.

      But Mukula’s lakṣaṇā seems (here I’m relying on Kunjunni Raja) to be even more expansive than Kumārila’s, who thought that lakṣaṇā had a (limited) role to play in every single sentence. So one thread (which Mammaṭa took up, as Daniele noted) is the expansion of lakṣaṇā from a theory of word-meaning to something much closer to Ānanda’s own theory, which some scholars (Pollock) have explicitly connected with Gricean implicature.

      That’s right. Mukula explicitly talks about this in his discussion of the theories of sentence meaning. He observes that the abhihita-anvaya-vādin needs lakṣaṇā for sentences like “gaur anubandhyaḥ” (a/the cow is to be tied up) because “cow” denotes a universal, but a universal can’t be tied up.
      Depending on one’s lexical semantics (which he discusses in the beginning of the text), one might need lakṣaṇā in just about every sentence. But then the anvita-abhidhāna-vādin, while she might not need lakṣaṇā for sentences like that one, needs something to account for cases like irony or where there is a implicature generated from a sentence that’s literally acceptable. Mukula thinks we need lakṣaṇā both from the perspective of words (sentence internal) and the perspective of sentences (something like implicatures). He is certainly targeting Ānandavardhana in his model, explicitly, and he’s trying to show that “suggestion” is really just indication.

      If I understand you correctly, lakṣaṇā and implicature both involve a relationship between a stated meaning (p) and an implicated meaning (q). In (Mukula’s) lakṣaṇā, arthāpatti is how we get from p to q; in implicature, IBE is how we get there. For Mukula, it seems that every case of arthāpatti involves lakṣaṇā, whereas for everyone else (e.g. Mammaṭa), it was only true that lakṣaṇā involved arthāpatti.

      I think that for Mukula, yes, śrūta-arthāpatti just is lakṣaṇā, but other cases of arthāpatti wouldn’t be (postulating that the sun has the capacity of movement from observing its going across the sky is not verbal). I haven’t looked as closely at Mammaṭa as I’d like–but he does rely on Mukula heavily, so their views may be very similar. In any case, I would surmise that for Mukula, there is (śrūta)arthāpatti involved in every case of indication.

      As for “everyone else”, it’s interesting to me that KK Raja and a few others seem to just assume that lakṣaṇā involves arthāpatti, especially given how commonly the term “ākṣepa” is used to describe it (not in the sense of the figure of speech). But I don’t think the connection is universally accepted.

      Are you using Mukula to improve upon Gricean pragmatics? Are you using Gricean pragmatics to offer a new understanding of Mukula? Or—as I suspect—are you using Mukula to explore the relationship between epistemic processes (arthāpatti etc.) and the production of meaning in language (lakṣaṇā etc.) in ways that never occurred to Grice et al. because of the relatively narrow parameters of their investigation?

      My project has the following aims:
      1. To understand Mukula’s project. I do this by using some tools from contemporary philosophy, since I think that where Mukula is terse or we have questions about what he’s claiming, we can fruitfully reason along with him this way. Of course, I would not claim to say that he himself would have seen himself as “a Gricean” or that what he’s doing is the same as Grice. I’m especially interested in the epistemological stakes of his treatise. His work is often classified as alāṁkāra-śāstra, but he’s pretty interdisciplinary. He’s giving an account of communication, and how we can have certainty/warrant. I think that hasn’t been explored enough yet.
      2. As a result of (1), to get clearer on the relationship between epistemic instruments and language. So while I think there are probably lessons in Mukula for contemporary philosophers of language, I’m not necessarily trying to find solutions to a patch up a Gricean model of implicature from within his work. If lakṣaṇā crucially involves arthāpatti, what follows from that? The latter is a pramāṇa which delivers knowledge–but non-literal interpretation is hard, and interpreters frequently disagree on what is “suggested”/”indicated.” Ānanda makes this point as part of his argument that suggestion cannot be anumāṇa. But perhaps the structure of arthāpatti allows us a way out of this criticism, especially if arthāpatti is something like IBE. (Though I’d also want to say that people disagree on what can be demonstrated through anumāṇa, and that the mere existence of disagreement can’t be sufficient to prove his point.)

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