I am   concerned   with   the communicative  process,  broadly  speaking. Specifically I am interested in how it is that speakers can convey a range of things, in the status of those things as meanings—whether said, implied, suggested, etc.—and in how it is that hearers can come to understand what is said, implied, or suggested.

Titles in blue are links to pre-publication drafts.

In this paper, I examine Kumārila Bhaṭṭa's account of figurative language in Tantravārttika 1.4.11-17, arguing that ,for him, both metonymy (lakṣaṇā) and metaphor (gauṇa-vṛtti) crucially involve verbal postulation (śrutârthāpatti), a knowledge-conducive cognitive process which draws connections between concepts without appeal to speaker intention, but through compositional and contextual elements. It is with the help of this cognitive process that we can come to have knowledge of what is meant by a sentence in context. In addition, the paper explores the relationship between metonymy and metaphor, the extent to which putatively literal language involves metonymy, and the objective constraints for metaphorical interpretation.

We seem to be able to report the content of metaphors by saying things like, "Romeo said that Juliet is the sun", where, for the sentence to be true, the content of the that-clause cannot simply be the (false) literal meaning of "Juliet is the sun." Recently, Ernie Lepore and Matt Stone have given an account of reporting metaphorical thinking which claims that the truth conditions of such a sentence are captured by what similarities Romeo endorses on entertaining the metaphor embedded in the that-clause. I argue that this account fails to capture the context-sensitivity and constrainedness of embedded reports of metaphors.

I undertake textual exegesis and rational reconstruction of Mukula Bhaṭṭa’s Abhidhā-vṛtta-mātṛkā, or “The Fundamentals of the Communicative Function," written to refute Ānandavardhana’s claim in the Dhvanyāloka that there is a third “power” of words, vyañjanā (“suggestion”), beyond the two already accepted by traditional Indian philosophy.

We frequently use single words or expressions to mean multiple things, depending upon context. I argue that a plausible model of this phenomenon, known as lakṣaṇā by Indian philosophers, emerges in the work of ninth-century Kashmiri Mukula Bhaṭṭa.

Review of Amber Carpenter's Indian Buddhist Philosophy. Philosophy East and West, 65:4, October 2015.

Review of Christopher G. Framarin's Desire and Motivation in Indian Philosophy. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 133:1 (2013).

Email me for drafts related to the projects below.

Accounting for the Varieties of Meaning (Book Project)
This text is the first book-length English translation of Mukulabhaṭṭa’s Fundamentals of the Communicative Function, a work which draws on the Sanskrit intellectual traditions of grammar, hermeneutics, poetic analysis, and philosophy. Along with a translation and Romanized text of the Sanskrit, which will be helpful for specialists, the volume includes a translator’s introduction which situates the text historically and conceptually, together with a commentarial essay which illuminates connections with both Mukulabhaṭṭa’s intellectual context and contemporary philosophy.

Postulation in Indian Philosophy: Major Texts & Arguments (Edited Volume)
Postulation is one of the major ways in which human beings gain knowledge of unobservable things, according the Indian philosophical tradition. Despite its centrality for two important philosophical schools of thought—Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta—and its position as a point of controversy between these schools and the Nyāya, or "Logic’’ school, little has been written on the topic, and there is no book-length introduction for scholars who wish to enter into the debate.This edited collection will include English translations of Sanskrit philosophical texts, some previously untranslated, in addition to an introductory essay, translator’s essays on each text, and a collection of self-contained philosophical essays on the general topic.

Metaphor in Kumārila Bhaṭṭa's Tantravārttika (Series of Articles)
In his seminal work, Kumārila explains how metaphors work, as they are involved in supporting exhortations (arthavāda-s) which encourage the fulfillment of ritual duties. Correct understanding of metaphor has high stakes, and thus Kumārila argues for a view on which there is a traceable relationship to the primary or ordinary meaning. His argument responds to interlocutors who argue for a view on which a metaphorical meanings involve superimposition.