views updated

Nayavāda (Skt., naya, ‘viewpoints’). In Jain philosophy, the doctrine of viewpoints, sometimes called the doctrine of relative pluralism. This doctrine is a unique instrument of analysis which asserts that all viewpoints are only partial expressions of the truth. No statement can be absolutely true because it is a view arrived at from only one angle or one particular standpoint. When combined with the kindred teaching of syādvāda, this doctrine results in the distinctive Jain teaching of anekāntavāda, in which Jain philosophers delineate seven nayas. The seven possible points of view (saptabhaṅgī) are figurative, general, distributive, actual, descriptive, specific, active (see e.g. Tattvārthasūtra 1. 31 f.), and they are abstracted from what a thing may be in itself (pramāṇa). These doctrines have helped the Jains avoid extreme and dogmatic views, and have bred an intellectual toleration and a breadth and realism to their thinking which acknowledges a complex and subtle world.