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Prapañca, palabres et discours

Mercredi 18 mai 2011

Encyclopédie philosophique. Notions, p. 2879 (J. May)

Prapañca Expansion ou prolifération du pseudo-réel en entités discrètes. Aspect gnoséologique et verbal: la prolifération des choses se double de celle des idées et des désignations. D'où «pensée discursive» (cf. kalpanā). Certains textes le glosent par vāc, la parole; les traductions chinoises le rendent habituellement par xilun, «palabres dérisoires».

B.K. Matilal, Perception. An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986, p. 310

Sprung translates prapañca as "the manifold of named things," which is at best ambiguous because one is not sure whether the emphasis should be on names or on things. The Tibetan exegetical tradition holds that the term ought to be understood in the sense of expressing the objectively experienced counterpart of conceptualization (vikalpa) — in other words, the crystalized and objectified aspect of conceptualization.

In rendering prapañca as verbal proliferation I am influenced by Candrakīrti [commentaire des Madhyamakakārikā de Nāgārjuna, fin du IIe s.], who seems to be saying that the purpose of speech (language) is to proliferate meanings. […]

Our entire language is a snare or a colossal maze the 'conceals' reality completely. We conceptualize the reality (the given = that which is grasped) by our conception-free awareness with the help of words, and then, in search of the meanings of words, we objectify concepts. But the objectivity of concepts and complexes of concepts, i.e. the meanings of words and sentences, is only a borrowed objectivity, a sort of make-believe. Moreover they originate from our desire, craving, will, and conceit. Our language, therefore, is invented for our convenience, but it soon becomes a tangled maze that deceives us at every step.

/311/ Nāgārjuna says repeatedly that the reality, the ultimate reality or 'that-ness', is beyond prapañca, beyond verbal proliferations. Candrakīrti glosses prapañca as 'speech', in the sense of 'language'. Nāgārjuna states: 'Those who conceptualize (proliferate through conceptualization) the Buddha, who is imperishable and who has transcended conceptualization-through-language, will not see the Tathāgata, for they are destroyed (hatāḥ) by such conceptualization-through-language.'

22.15 Ceux qui tiennent des discours sur le Buddha, lequel transcende tout discours, toute modification, tous, égarés par leurs propres discours, ne voient pas le Tathâgata.

prapañcayanti ye buddhaṃ prapañcātītam avyayam [sans modifications]/
te prapañcahatāḥ sarve na paśyanti tathāgatam // 15 //

/311/ … Wittgensteinian pronouncement, 'Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language'… The reality becomes hidden (saṃvṛta) behind the cloak of words and concepts.

Pourquoi les beaux parleurs sont-ils détruits par leurs palabres? Comme le serpent qui se mord la queue, ou le magicien qui à partir d'un os trouvé dans la poussière reconstitue le corps d'un tigre, puis lui redonne vie, pour être aussitôt dévoré par son œuvre. Syndrome de Pinocchio. McEvilley (Pyrrhonism and Madhyamika, 1982) compare prapañca avec /tuphos/:

On the contrary, both Sextus and Nagarjuna rejected any attempt to find in the dialectic the security which the dialectic itself has removed from other concept-systems. For both, the dialectic is an "uroboric" [self-devouring < Uroborus: serpent qui se mord la queue] or self-destroying path: first it wipes out conceptual proliferation (Skt. prapañca, Grk. typhos), the habit of projecting linguistic distinctions ontologically, then it erases itself too. To put it differently: the dialectic disappears at the same moment when opinions disappear: opinions and the rejection of opinions are a dependent pair, and when opinions are gone, it is no longer possible for a rejection of opinions to exist.

Prapañca, c'est la pensée discursive, procédant par dichotomies et polarisation, qui produit une prolifération sans frein des noms et des choses, source des actes ou motivations à agir (karman) et des passions qui sont à leur tour source d'affliction (kleśa). Inversement, il faut se libérer de ce piège du langage pour se libérer des passions.

Nāgārjuna, Stances du milieu, 18.5

Quand les actes et les passions sont abolis, c'est la délivrance. Actes et passions proviennent des imaginations. Celles-ci de la pensée discursive (prapañca), laquelle s'arrête dans la vacuité.

The afflictions (kleśa) and action (karman) arise from conceptualization and this from conceptual constructions (prapañca).

vikalpa, «imagination, conceptualisation, pensée hypostasiante (hypostatizing thought, Sprung)»

Le Buddha est au-delà de tout discours.

18.9 Intransmissible par et à autrui, paisible, hors discours, hors concept, sans diversité: autant de façons d'indiquer ce qu'il en est vraiment.

25.24 Béni est l'apaisement de tout geste de prise (sarvopalambhopaśamaḥ), l'apaisement de la prolifération des mots et des choses (prapañcopaśamaḥ). Jamais un quelconque point de doctrine n'a été enseigné à quiconque par le Buddha.

By ending, or "pacifying" (upaśama), our conceptual proliferation (prapañca), defilements and motivated action (karman) cease. Voidness (śūnyatā) serves precisely this function. The inner horizon of śūnyatā is a deconstruction of referentiality and its bases, that is, of the karmic residues or past impressions (vāsanā) that are egoistic tendencies towards reification (vikalpa) and the construction the outer horizon of prapañca.