mtshan nyid

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[when used in an ordinary sense] (definitive) characteristic; - characteristic feature; qualification [when used in a positive sense] attribute/ a . . . quality [RB]

mark, attribute, conception, definition, characteristic [, general definition, identity, nature, sign, mark of existence, distinguishing feature, defining characteristic, attribute, the individual characteristics which have existence solely by virtue of designations, manifestation, philosophy, the reason why, conception, dialectics native (Tserig) [IW]

qualifications [RY]

defining property / characteristic [ggd] [RY]

characteristic, defining characteristic, definition [thd]

signs, character, philosophy, defining characteristic, by definition, definition, intrinsic characteristics, primary characteristic (non-causal, though caused by the causal characteristic, belonging to the state of a thing, heat of the fire while rtags is smoke of the fire), SA rang gi mtshan nyid attributes, manifestation, criterion, quality, attribute, dialectic, definition, specific characteristics, characteristic feature, characteristic nature, definitive characteristic, feature [JV]

[substantially existing chos gsum tshang ba ste, EG beam supporting power is characteristic of a pillar], mark, attribute, conception, definition, characteristic [R] [IW]

  • , mark, attribute, conception, definition, characteristic, essential/ natural characteristics, logic, philosophy [IW]

lus kyi mtshan nyid the physical attributes [RY]

definitive characteristic, definition, [lakshana]; dialectics; 1) marked, attribute, conception, definition, characteristic, general definition, identity, nature, sign, mark of existence, distinguishing feature, defining characteristic, attribute, the individual characteristics which have existence solely by virtue of designations. 2) manifestation. 3) philosophy. 4) the reason why, conception. 5) native. manifestation; (defining) characteristic; characteristic feature. 6) qualifications, requirements [RY]

Discussion

Mtshan nyid, or characteristic, is most commonly characterized as that which fulfills the threefold substance, existence, and dharma. Characteristics are the attributes of a phenomenon that distinguish it from other phenomena. When we perceive an object, first we perceive characteristics and based upon those we then recognize it. For example, in the first moment we perceive hot and burning, and in the second moment we recognize that as fire.

Characteristics are actually inherent to the characterized objects. For example, the characteristic of fire is that it is hot and burning. The characteristic is not the words that describe, but rather the actual hot and burning quality itself.

The word mtshan nyid is often incorrectly translated as definition: the word "definition" is generally understood both in common language and Western logic as the statement or words that tell what another word or object is. As such, a definition is something one reads elsewhere and then applies to the defined object. It is always a conventional designation for its object. Therefore it follows that a definition is not a characteristic, because it does not fulfill the substance of the phenomenon—the words "hot and burning" are themselves neither hot nor burning. The translation definition has other unfortunate logical consequences which I will not discuss here for sake of brevity. [DKC]