Analytic Philosophy in Early Modern India (2022)

Table of Contents
1. The Vaiśeṣika System of Categories 1.1 Methodology and Theory of Definition 1.2 What is the Vaiśeṣika System of Categories? 1.3 The Underlying Structure of the List 2. Physical Substance 2.1 The Five Primary Physical Substances 2.2 Vaiśeṣika Atomism 2.3 The Metaphysics of Number (saṃkhyā) 3. Space, Time and Motion 3.1 Space (dik) 3.2 Time (kāla) 3.3 Vaiśeṣika Dynamical Theory: The Nature and Causes of Motion 4. Selves: Human and Divine 4.1 A Causal Argument for God’s Existence 4.2 An Argument for the Existence of the Human Self 5. Philosophical Psychology 5.1 Overview of Philosophical Psychology 5.2 Memory 5.3 Doubt (saṃśaya) 5.4 Tarka “Suppositional Thinking” 6. Causation and the Causal Theory of Knowledge 6.1 Overview of Causation 6.2 The Three Types of Cause 6.3 What is a Cause? 6.4 Causation and Knowledge 7. Perception, Concepts and Sense-Object Relations 7.1 ‘Qualificative Perception’ and the Role of Concepts 7.2 Types of Sense-Object Relation 7.3 Gaṅgeśa’s Criticisms and New Definition 8. Logical Theory and Gaṅgeśa’s Analysis of Inferential Warrant (vyāpti) 8.1 Overview of Logical Theory 8.2 Definitions of the Pervasion (vyāpti) Relation 8.3 The ‘No Counter-Example’ Definition 8.4 Gaṅgeśa’s Definition: the ‘siddhānta-lakṣaṇa’ 9. Meaning, Understanding and Testimony 9.1 The Language Processing Mechanism 9.2 Semantic Power and the Reduction of Semantic Properties 9.3 Testimony 10. The Vaiśeṣika Concepts of Universal, Inherence, and Basic Differentium 10.1 Universals 10.2 The Basic Differentia (viśeṣa) 11. The Ontology of Nonexistence (abhāva) and the Semantics of Negative Statements 11.1 Motivations 11.2 Temporally and Spatially Located Absence 11.3 The Logic of Negation FAQs Videos

Two older Indian philosophical traditions, the early Nyāya(grounded in Gautama Akṣapāda’sNyāya-sūtra, c. 100 C.E., and dealing mainlywith logic, epistemology, and the theory of debate) and theVaiśeṣika (grounded in Kaṇāda’sVaiśeṣika-sūtra, c. 100 B.C.E., dealingmainly with ontology), developed in parallel until, at some point inthe 11th or 12th century, they merged to form a new school, called“Navya-Nyāya”, the new Nyāya or “newreason” school (Ganeri 2011). Despite its name, Navya-Nyāyaincorporates and develops classical Vaiśeṣika metaphysicsas well as classical Nyāya epistemology. The Navya-Nyāyaauthors also develop a precise technical language through theemployment of which many traditional philosophical problems could beclarified and resolved. Navya-Nyāya techniques proved to be soversatile that they were employed, not just by philosophers, but alsoin poetics, linguistics, legal theory, and other domains of medievalIndian thought. The foundational text of this school wasGaṅgeśa’s brilliant and innovative Jewel of Reflectionon the Truth (Tattvacintāmaṇi). The schoolcontinued to develop for about four centuries, reaching its heightswith the works of Raghunātha, Jagadīśa andGadādhara (Ganeri 2014). The sophisticated use this school madeof its technical vocabulary made it increasingly inaccessible, and so,in the 17th and 18th centuries, several manuals or compendia werewritten to explain in simplified language the basic tenets of theschool. I will describe the philosophical principles ofNavya-Nyāya based on a synopsis of the most successful of these,Annambhaṭṭa’sThe Manual of Reason (Tarkasaṃgraha;henceforth TS), together with its auto-commentary, theDīpikā (henceforth TSD), This text wasnicknamed Bāla-gādādharī, a sortof ‘Beginners Guide to Gadādhara’. As well aspresenting the Vaiśeṣika theory of categories (a mixtureof physical theory, metaphysics and philosophy of psychology), and theepistemological, methodological, and logical techniques of the newNyāya system, The Manual of Reason interjectsfascinating discussions on a wide variety of topics of philosophicalinterest, making the text an enjoyable and informative introduction tolater Indian analytical philosophy (trans. G. Bhattacharya 1983; fordiscussion of the text, see also Athalye 1930, Atreya 1948, C.Bhattacharya 1966, Foucher 1949, Shastri 1961).

1. The Vaiśeṣika System of Categories

1.1 Methodology and Theory of Definition

Most Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika texts are structured inone of two ways. They either follow a traditionalVaiśeṣika pattern, in which the categories and theirvarious sub-groups are discussed in order, or else they follow apattern employed by the Buddhist logician Diṅnāga, andcopied by Gaṅgeśa, in which each of the sources ofknowledge is treated in turn. The Manual of Reason, however,adopts a style of analysis due to Vātsyāyana (the firstcommentator on the Nyāya-sūtra).Vātsyāyana stated that:

This [Nyāya] system will follow a three-fold procedure, viz.enumeration (uddeśa), definition(lakṣaṇa) and examination(parīkṣā). Of these,‘enumeration’ means the act of referring to each object [tobe analysed] by name; ‘definition’ means [citing] acharacteristic of the named object which distinguishes it from allother objects; ‘examination’ means ascertaining, with thehelp of the pramāṇas, the appropriateness ofthe distinguishing characteristic for the object defined(Bhāṣya before NS 1.1.3).

The heart of this method lies in the use it makes of definitions,conceived of as differentiating marks of the thing defined. TheManual of Reason (TSD 3d) refines the idea: it defines a‘definition’ of a class of things as any characteristicwhich is co-extensive with that class. A defining characteristic of theclass ‘cow’ is the property ‘having dewlap’.Note that this does not tell us what the essence of the classis—it merely supplies us with a syndrome or trait by meansof which we can identify the thing in question. The Naiyāyikas,we might say, have a ‘diagnostic’, rather than an‘essentialist’, conception of definition. The purpose ofthe ‘examination’ now becomes clear: it is to see whetherthe alleged defining trait really is co-extensive with the class to bedefined, or whether it is faulty, either by ‘over-covering’(cf. ativyāpti; applying to things outside thedefiniendum) or by ‘under-covering’ (cf.avyāpti; not applying to everything within thedefiniendum), or both. A properly defining characteristic has to be, touse modern terms, both a necessary and a sufficient property of thething to be defined. We see the pattern of enumeration, definition, andexamination repeated again and again in Navya-Nyāya texts likeThe Manual of Reason.

1.2 What is the Vaiśeṣika System of Categories?

The Vaiśeṣika system of ‘categories’(padārtha) is an attempt to classify in a systematicway all the different types of existent. Navya-Nyāya lists seven‘categories’ of object: substance (dravya),quality (guṇa), motion or action (karma),universal (sāmānya), particularity ordifferentiator (viśeṣa), inherence(samavāya), and absence (abhāva). Ofthese, the first six comprise the classical list of categories, foundeven in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtra, while theseventh (absence) is a distinctive addition by the later school. Mostof these types are themselves subject to sub-division: thus, there arenine types of substance, twenty four types of quality, etc.

One main question concerning this list of categories is whether wecan discern any underlying structure or organising principle. This isrelated with another important question: just what is a category?The Manual of Reason answers this second question by givingthe etymological analysis of the term‘padārtha’ (category):‘padārtha’ is the artha or meaningof a pada or word. The claim is that theVaiśeṣika categories are in some way the metaphysicalcorrelates of linguistic structures. One way to make this claim moreprecise would be to note the existence of striking similarities betweenthe Vaiśeṣika system and Sanskrit grammar (cf. esp.Faddegon 1918). Another way is to observe a distinctive pattern ofargument employed, in which the hypothesis that a certain type ofsubstance, quality, etc. exists is supported on the ground that itexplains some feature of our linguistic practice (for example, theargument that space exists as it explains our use of directionalterms.)

An alternative approach would be to seek some purelyapriori rationale behind the list. Athalye (1930: 75) offersone such:

A notion is either positive or negative, and so the external objectof a notion might be ‘existent’ (bhāva) or‘non-existent’ (abhāva).‘Existent’ things again are of two kinds, properties and acommon substratum in which they reside. The latter is‘substance’ (dravya). Of the properties, again,some reside in many objects conjointly, others in individual thingssingly. The first is ‘universal’(sāmānya), while the latter class is againdivisible into properties that are stationary and those that areevanescent, i.e. ‘quality’ (guṇa)and ‘motion’ (karma). The remaining twocategories, ‘inherence’ (samavāya) and‘particularity’ (viśeṣa) areassumed to explain the special theories of theVaiśeṣikas.

This reconstruction of the Vaiśeṣika system is notquite satisfactory, for it relies on an unexplained and perhapsquestion-begging distinction between stationary and evanescentproperties, and leaves two of the categories completely unaccountedfor. Another reconstruction (also deficient) is offered by Potter(1977). When we look at The Manual of Reason’s owndefinitions of the individual categories, it seems to be following thisapproach. The Manual of Reason’s definitions areas follows:

Substance(i) that which possesses the universal substance-hood;(ii) that which possesses qualities (TSD 3)
Quality(i) that which possesses universals, and isn’t a substance ormotion; (ii) that which possesses the universal quality-hood (TSD 4)
Motion(i) that which causes conjunctions (between substances);(ii) that which possesses the universal motion-hood (TSD 5)
Universalthat which is eternal, unitary, and inherent in many things (TS 82)
Differentiumthat which exists in eternal substances and functionsas their differentiator (TS 83)
Inherencethat thing which is eternal and a relation (TS 84)
Absence[No general definition given]

There are certain problems with this series of definitions, read asan apriori reconstruction of the categories. In particular,the definitions of ‘substance’ and ‘quality’seem to be jointly circular, unless we take as already given universalssuch as substance-hood, which make the definitions somewhat vacuous. Iwill give another reconstruction, one which roughly follows the greatNyāya-Vaiśeṣika author Udayana (cf. Tachikawa1981).

1.3 The Underlying Structure of the List

First divide things up into the existents and the non-existents, thelatter corresponding to the category ‘absence’. Now takeinherence to be a primitive, fundamental relation. Given such arelation, the following three-fold division is exhaustive:

  1. things which do not inhere in others, but are inhered in,
  2. things which both inhere in others, and are themselves inheredin,
  3. things which inhere in others, but are not inhered in byanything.

We want group (a) to correspond to the category‘substance’. Unfortunately, the Vaiśeṣikasclaim that wholes are distinct from, and inhere in, their parts. Theonly substances which do not inhere in anything are the atomicsubstances (which for the Vaiśeṣikas correspond with theeternal substances). Group (c) corresponds to the category‘universal’, for universals are said to inhere in things(substances, qualities and motions) but do not have anything inheringin them. Group (b) comprises, the non-atomic substances, the qualitiesand the motions. Let us now divide this group into two: those which areinhered in only by universals, and those which are inhered in by otherthings as well. The former corresponds to the categories‘quality’ and ‘motion’, for substances areinhered in, not only by universals, but also by qualities, motions, aswell as by other substances. Finally, we must find a way to sub-dividethe former group into qualities and motions. More traditionalNaiyāyikas preserve the distinction by saying that motions, butnot qualities, cause the substances in which they inhere to come intocontact with (or break away from) each other. This, however, appeals tothe idea of ‘contact’, which cannot itself be defined interms of our primitive relation inherence. Some radicalNaiyāyikas (especially Bhāsaravajña) claim thatmotions are just a kind of quality, as their properties are so similar.The only remaining category is ‘differentium’(viśeṣa), whose members reside in andindividuate the eternal substances i.e. the atoms. The point, perhaps,is that all other things are individuated by the universals and wholesthat inhere in them, but two atoms of the same substance are in allrespects identical. But if objects are individuated by means ofwhat inheres in them, then there must be something inhering in eachatom which distinguishes it from the others—a‘differentium’ (see §10.2).

This is a rough sketch, omitting many technicalities, of how theVaiśeṣika philosophers tried to build their system ofcategories on logical principles (for an example of suchtechnicalities, see TSD 3(c). The Manual of Reason points outthat a substance cannot be defined as the substratum of qualities,because of the Vaiśeṣika doctrine that substances do notpossess any qualities at the moment when they are created.)

2. Physical Substance

2.1 The Five Primary Physical Substances

Vaiśeṣika distinguishes, among nine acknowledgedtypes of substance, a sub-class of five—earth, water, fire, airand ākāśa—to which it gives the name“bhūta” (‘physical substance’).A bhūta is defined as a substance which possesses aspecific sensible quality—odour, taste, colour, touch and sound.

It was, perhaps, originally thought that the five physicalsubstances and the five sensible qualities are directly correlated,each quality residing in one and only one substance, odour just inearth, taste just in water etc. (such a view is reported byVātsyāyana under NS 3.1.65-6). This may give some insightinto the origins of the ‘five physical substances’ theory,but it was realised very early on that it is extremely implausible tomaintain that earth, for example, is invisible, or else that its colouris always due to intermixture with fire (Bhaduri 1947: 133). The set ofcorrelations between physical substances and sensible qualities is morecomplex in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras andlater texts, and is indicated in the following chart:


The orthodox Vaiśeṣika view is that each physicalsubstance is characterised by the possession of a particular type ofsensible quality and the absence of certain others. Thus, earth is thesubstance endowed with odour, water with taste but not odour, fire withcolour but not taste or odour, etc. A drawback of such definitions isthat we cannot infer, from the detection of a sensible quality, whichtype of substance is present. Later Vaiśeṣikatherefore looks for a diagnostic set of definitions, one which seeks tofind, for each substance, a particular sensible quality whose presenceis indicative of that substance. The Manual of Reason (TS10–14):

Earth is (specifally) endowed with odour
Water is (specifically) endowed with cold touch
Fire is (specifically) endowed with hot touch
Air is (specifically) endowed with touch without colour
ākāśa is (specifically) endowed withsound.

Thus, although earth, water, and fire are all tactile, onlywater allegedly has cold touch. It seems that it could find no positivedistinguishing trait for air, and thus reverted to the older style ofdefinition.

It is perhaps surprising to find a ‘five elements’theory defended still in the seventeenth century. Some modern writershave tried to represent these substances as metaphors for different‘states’ of matter—solid (earth), liquid (water), gas(air), and temperature (fire). This is, however, improbable, for it isnowhere said that a particular substance can turn from earth to waterto air. Perhaps it is a mistake to see the theory as belonging tophysics at all; instead, bearing in mind the way the substances aredefined in terms of their sensible qualities, we might see it as anexercise in the logical analysis of the data presented by the varioussense modalities to construct a (metaphysical) theory of the world.Such a theory would, for example, explain the fact that there arecorrelations between what we see and what we touch by positing thatthere must be types of things which can be both seen and touched.Likewise, the occurrence of tactile sensations with no correlatedvisual sensations leads us to postulate the existence of substanceswhich can be felt but not seen (air), and so on for the othersubstances. It is, after all, the existence of such correlationsbetween different sense modalities which grounds an objectiveconception of the world (phenomena accessible only by one sense aremore likely to be thought of as subjective in origin).

2.2 Vaiśeṣika Atomism

The Manual of Reason (TS 10–14) repeats theconventional Vaiśeṣika theory that the first foursubstances (earth, water, air, fire) are each of two types, atomic andcomposite. An atom (paramāṇu) is indestructible(anitya), indivisible (i.e. non-composite), and has a specialkind of dimension, called “small” (aṇu).The Vaiśeṣikas’ standard argument for atomism isas follows. It is an empirically established truth that whatever isperceived is composite. Thus even the smallest perceptible thing,namely, a fleck of dust in a sun-beam, has parts, which are thereforeinvisible. The Vaiśeṣikas call the smallest perceptiblething a “triad” (tryaṇuka) and claim thatit has three parts, each of which is called a “dyad”(dyaṇuka). Does each of these parts itself have parts?Yes—for it is another empirically established truth that the parts ofa visible thing themselves have parts (e.g. a piece of cloth, whoseparts, the threads, are themselves composite). TheVaiśeṣikas say that a dyad has two parts, each of whichis an atom.

This argument establishes that there are objects too small to beseen, but it does not demonstate that some of them are non-composite.Why cannot the process of sub-division be continued ad infinitum?The Manual of Reason’s intriguing answer is that if suchwere the case then Mount Meru and a mustard seed would have the samesize, as each would have the same (infinite) number of constituentparts! An implicit premise here (articulated by otherVaiśeṣikas) is that the size of a whole is a function ofthe size, number and spatial arrangement of its parts.

The argument seems to be question-begging, for the implicit premiseis only true if atomism is already accepted. A non-atomist will saythat the size of an object is determined, not by its constituents, butby the spatial boundaries of the ‘stuff’ it is made of.

2.3 The Metaphysics of Number (saṃkhyā)

The Navya-Nyāya account of number has been likened in contentand sophistication to that of Frege, and is indeed fascinating. TheManual of Reason says only that numbers are qualities(guṇa-s), that they are the ground for numericaljudgements, and that they range from 1 to a very high number calledparārdha (1014. Note here again discomfort with theidea of infinity). The view that numbers are qualities is in factassociated with old Vaiśeṣika, and turned out to beirreconcilable with the structure of the Vaiśeṣikaontological system. We may speak of there being three horses in thefield, but also of there being 24 qualities in theVaiśeṣika system. Yet a quality cannot by definitionreside in another quality—hence numbers cannot be qualities. Thisproblem led the Navya-Naiyāyikas to develop a new account ofnumbers, based on a new type of relation called theparyāpti or ‘completing’ relation.

Here is a summary of their theory. Consider the following pair ofsentences:

  1. The table has wooden legs
  2. The table has four legs.

The similarity between (1) and (2) suggests that we think ofnumber-words as akin to other adjectives, i.e. as attributing someproperty to the object/s they qualify. The Nyāya say that, in(1), the property of being wooden resides in the legs of the table bythe relation of inherence. Can we analyse (2) the same way, as statingthat a universal property four-hood inheres in the legs? The newNyāya (esp. Raghunātha and Jagadīśa) answerin the negative. For note that (1) entails

  1. Each leg is wooden.

However, (2) does not entail,

  1. Each leg is four.

The solution offered is to postulate a new relation,‘completion’, which relates the property fourhood to thefour legs jointly, but not to each leg individually.Raghunātha remarks that “the ‘completion’relation, whose existence is indicated by constructions such as“This is one pot” and “These are two”, is aspecial kind of self-linking relation.” His commentatorJagadīśa adds:

It might be thought that the ‘completion’ relation isnothing but inherence…So Raghunātha states that‘completion’ is a another relation….In a sentencelike “These are two pots”, ‘completion’ relatesthe property two-hood by delimiting it as a property which resides inboth pots. Otherwise, it would follow that there is no differencebetween saying “These are two” and “Each onepossesses two-hood”.

The proposal is that number properties are related jointly to objectsby the many-one relation ‘completion’. I think we cansimplify this proposal a little without losing its essentialstructure. Rather than saying, in a sentence like “Mars is aplanet”, that the property planethood resides in Mars by theinherence relation, we would now say that the predicate“…is a planet” is true of Mars, so to speakbuilding the inherence relation (or copula) into the predicate. In anentirely analogous way, we can build the completion relation into thenumber-predicate, which then becomes, if the number is n,an n-place relation. Thus the sentence “Venus and Marsare two” asserts of Venus and Mars that they stand in a certain2-place relation, the relation which is the number 2. The Nyāyaidea, then, is that number-adjectives are n-place relationalpredicates, and that numbers are n-place relations holding jointlybetween n distinct objects. It in no way follows from the statementthat the relation 2 holds between Venus and Mars, that it holds justwith Venus, any more than it follows from the statementthat X is to the left of Y, that X is tothe left, full stop. On the Nyāya proposal, then, it looks asthough the troublesome inference is blocked because its conclusion isnot even well-formed, since the phrase “Venus is two”,like the phrase “X is to the left”, is anincomplete or unsaturated expression.

The Nyāya, we have seen, distinguish two relations, theinherence and completion relations. Their motive is, as we might nowsay, to account for the distinction between collective and distributiveproperties. For the recognition that the inference from “Theseare two pots” to “Each pot is two” is invalid is justthe recognition that the predicate two does not distribute over pluralsubjects. The Nyāya idea is to analyse collective predicateslike ‘…are two’, not as one-place predicates ofaggregates or sets, but as n-place relational predicates, true of nobjects jointly. But since such relational predicates still takeobjects as subjects, this indeed shows that recognising the distinctionbetween distributive and collective predicates does not force us toabandon the adjectival view. The Nyāya, indeed, have a term forcollective properties: they call themvyāsajya-vṛtti-dharma or ‘propertieswhich occur jointly’.

3. Space, Time and Motion

3.1 Space (dik)

The Manual of Reason’s remarks on the nature of spaceand time are sketchy in the extreme. We must supplement them withdetails from other Vaiśeṣika and Nyāya authors.Even then, the theories of space and time found inNyāya-Vaiśeṣika texts have been studied verylittle, and we can only form a rough and inadequate picture at thepresent time. The Manual of Reason’s observationsconcerning the notion of space are as follows:

  1. Space is a substance (TS3)
  2. Space is the ‘ground’ for statements such as“this is east of that” etc. (TS 16)
  3. Space is unique, ubiquitous, and eternal (TS16).
  4. Space is an instrumental cause of every effect (TSD16).
  5. ‘Nearness’ (aparatva) and‘farness’ (paratva) are spatial qualities ofobjects.

Space is conceived of as that substance in virtue of which statementsattributing distance and direction, such as “A is tothe east of B” (or “A is nearto B”, “A is nearer to B thanto C”, etc.) are objectively true or false. Space isthus an explanatory postulate: it is argued that we must postulate theexistence of a new (spatial) substance to explain the fact thatobjects stand in spatial relations with one another. The problem is tomake sense of this claim. Bhaduri (1947: 216–7) does so asfollows (I paraphrase his account):

Imagine a sequence ofobjects A, B, C, D,…, F, each in contact with the next, arranged in aline. Now A is to the left of B, and B isto the left of C, and since “being to the leftof” is a transitive relation, A is to the leftof C, etc. But, although A is in contactwith B, and B is in contact with C, it isnot true that A is in contact with C—contact isatransitive. Thus contact cannot be what spatially relatesobjects. What then? “According the Vaiśeṣika, it isspace which brings [A and C] into relation. Both arein conjunction with space and thus with each other through itsmediation. Space is that which turns the relation of conjunction intoa transitive relation” (Bhaduri).

This explanation has a problem. It assumes that between any two bodiesthere is a chain of touching material objects. But, given thisassumption, we do not need to postulate a new substance with whicheverything is in contact, in order to create a transitive relationfrom contact. For we can define “being to the left of”thus: x is to the left of y iff there are distinctobjects p, q, r,…t suchthat x is in contact with p, p is incontact with q, …, t is in contactwith y.

Potter (1977: 92) refines the argument. We say that A isnearer to D than to F because there are moreintervening objects between A and F than there arebetween A and D. Suppose however thatbetween D and F there is no chain of materialobjects. How is it that we can still say “A is nearerto D than to F”? Potter answers: “Inorder to provide the material to explain this comparative judgement wemust postulate an intervening series of entities, and these must bespatial”. Note that this explains, not the transitivity ofdirectional relations like “to the left of”, but ratherthe magnitude of distance relations like “nearto”. “Near to” is not a transitive relation. Itaccepts the basic premise that the distance between two objects ismeasured in terms of the number of intervening entities, andpostulates a series of “spatial entities” when there areno material ones present.

This explanation also has a problem, for space is supposed to be asingle entity. Perhaps it should say that the two objects are incontact with a ‘segment’ of space, and spatial segmentshave magnitude.

Perhaps the best way to construe the argument is as offering anexplanation of spatial separation without having to postulatea series of mediating bodies. Thus, if A is nearerto D than F, and there is nothing eitherbetween A and D or between Aand F, the best explanation is that D is in contactwith a nearer part of space than F.

The Manual of Reason says that space is‘ubiquitous’ (vibhu), which it defines as‘being in contact with every sample of earth, air, fire, water(and ‘mind’) (TS14). This raises the question: is spaceinfinite in dimension, or the same size as the cosmos? If space isdefined in terms of the relations between physical objects, then itwould seem to have the same size as the cosmos. There are howeverVaiśeṣika arguments that it is infinite. TheVaiśeṣikas say that most bodies are either‘long’ (dīrgha) or ‘short’(hrasva) in dimension (TS25, Bhaduri 1947: 118), but that abody’s having ‘long’ or ‘short’ dimensionis unintelligible unless it has bounding, perimeter parts. Space,however, has no parts and hence no boundary. SomeVaiśeṣikas conclude that space has no finite dimension(i.e. is infinite); others that it has a special dimension called‘paramadīrgha’ or ‘maximallength’.

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3.2 Time (kāla)

The Manual of Reason says of time that it is the ground forstatements about the past, present and future, that it is unique,eternal and ubiquitous, and that it is the container of everything anda instrumental cause of every effect (TS15+D). The conception of timemirrors that of space: it is that in virtue of which statements of theform “A is earlier than B” are objectively true of false.Time is said to differ from space, and thus not be identical with it,in the following respect: whereas what is spatially near or far variesfrom person to person, what is temporally near or far is the same forall persons (cf. Bhaduri 1947, Mohanty 1992). But why should werestrict our attention only to presently existing persons?

In the Nyāya-sūtra, Gautama mentions anargument against the possibility of present time remarkably similar to(and perhaps even derived from) Nāgārjuna’sarguments against motion. NS 2.1.39 (paraphrased): There is no suchthing as the present time, because, when an object is falling to theground, each point on its descent belongs either to thealready-traversed sector or to the yet-to-be-traversed sector. There istherefore, no point on the trajectory to which the present time can beattributed. The present time is an imaginary point of demarcationbetween the past and the future. Gautama replies (NS 2.1.40-42) to thisby saying (i) that the concepts of ‘past’ and‘future’ are relative to that of the ‘present’,and not to each other, and (ii) that the denial of the present has anabsurd consequence, that nothing can be known perceptually, asperception functions in the present. The point of (i), perhaps, is thateven if the present is just a boundary, it is not therebyimaginary.

3.3 Vaiśeṣika Dynamical Theory: The Nature and Causes of Motion

Beginning with Praśastapāda (6th centuryC.E.), the early Vaiśeṣika authors took a rational andscientific interest in the behaviour of projectiles and other movingbodies. Their theory bears comparison with Philoponus’“impetus” theory, which was responsible for a paradigmshift in Western scientific thought. The Manual’saccount substantially agrees with that already found inPraśastapāda, which is partially traceable to theVaiseṣika-sūtra itself. The content of therelevant stanzas can be summarized as follows:

Motion is the non-inherent cause of conjunction and disjunction. Itis of five types, four volitional (throwing upwards, throwingdownwards, contraction, expansion) and the fifth comprising allnon-volitional motion (including falling, rotating, flowing, etc.) (TS5, 81).

Weight (gurutva) is the non-inherent cause of the initialfalling motion of a body (TS 30).

Fluidity (dravatya) is the non-inherent cause of (initial?)flowing (TS 31).

‘Impetus’ (vega) is a dispositionalproperty (saṃskāra), as is‘elasticity’ (sthitisthāpaka) (TS80). ‘Impetus’ is the non-inherent cause of thesecond and subsequent falling motions of a body (TS 30). Elasticity isthat which restores something to its original state after it has beendistorted.

Here is a brief summary of the theory. A moving body possesses, ateach moment in time, a particular ‘motion’, which is to bethought of as a momentary, quality-like property of the body. Motionsare defined to be the cause of conjunctions or disjunctions. Aconjunction with a (stationary) body is brought about by displacementin space. We are thus to think of the motion of a body as being eitheridentical with, or else the cause of, its displacement in space betweentwo moments in time. A motion cannot be caused by another motion (asthat would lead to perpetual motion). A body is set in motion by itspossession of a quality like ‘weight’ or‘fluidity’. It persists in motion by having a dispositionalproperty, ‘impetus’ or ‘elasticity’, which isthe continuous cause of subsequent motions. It is brought to rest bycoming into contact with other objects.

The role of ‘impetus’ in this account is particularlyinteresting. It is illustrated with reference to two examples: (i) afruit falling from a tree; (ii) a javelin thrown obliquely upwards.

  1. At time t0 the fruit is stationary at places0. Its weight is counterbalanced by its contactwith its stalk. At t1, its stalk breaks and itsweight causes it to move to point s1. At this timetoo there is produced in the fruit a dispositional‘impetus’. At t2, the impetus in thefruit causes a second motion, from s1to s2, and so on for all subsequent times. Notethat the ‘weight’ of the fruit is the cause of its initialmotion, but then ceases to be operative. The cause of all subsequentmotion is the ‘impetus’ impressed into the fruit by theinitial motion. It is this idea, that the subsequent motion of thefruit is the result, not of an external force, but of the internallyimpressed vega, which licenses us to describe theVaiśeṣika account as an impetus theory.
  2. When the javelin is thrown, the initial volitional push impartsinto the javelin an initial motion and an impetus. The upwards impetuscounteracts the javelin’s weight and causes its upwards motion.When this impetus is exhausted by contact with the air, thejavelin’s weight imparts a downwards impetus and the javelinfalls. The horizontal motion of the javelin is caused by its having ahorizontal impetus which again decreases as a result of contact withthe air. The amount of impetus initially acquired by the javelin isproportional to the applied volitional push. Once again, its is thejavelin’s having impetus, rather than the action of some externalforce, which accounts for its continued motion through the air.

The Vaiśeṣikas extend this model to explain certainother kinds of motion. (1) The initial cause of the flowing of water isalleged to result from a force called ‘fluidity’ (ratherthan the weight of the water). The subsequent flowing is the result ofthe water’s acquired impetus. (2) Interestingly, the impetus of abody moving in a straight line was thought to be ontologically of thesame type as the elasticity of a bent stick—a fact which reveals thatimpetus was thought of as a kind of internal force, not as inertia. (3)The Vaiśeṣikas mention various other kinds of motion:the movement of an iron needle towards a magnet, the upward motion offlames, the movement of air, and the initial motion of the atoms at thebeginning of creation. Given the above model, there must be some‘force’ which initially gives rise to each of thesemotions, yet none of the ‘forces’ so far isolated(weight/gravity, fluidity, elasticity) will do. TheVaiśeṣikas therefore speak of a new force,‘adṛṣṭa’ (the‘unseen’ force), alleged to account for such motions.

4. Selves: Human and Divine

The eighth of the nine Vaiśeṣika types of substanceis ‘self’ (ātman), defined as thesubstratum of mental states such as believing, knowing, etc. (The ninthis ‘mind’ (manas), a distinct element in theontology of the mental.) Selves are divided into two types—human(jīva) and divine (paramātman;īśvara). The Manual of Reason suppliesarguments (all traceable back to earlier authors) for the existence ofboth types of self.

4.1 A Causal Argument for God’s Existence

A properly formulated Nyāya argument has three components:thesis, reason (hetu) and example(dṛṣṭānta). The thesis, again, has twocomponents: the ‘locus’ (pakṣa) or place ofthe inference, and a property (sādhya) whose presence inthe locus is to be inferred. Thus every Nyāya argument exhibitsthe same pattern: p has S, because ithas H; e.g., d. (For example: “The mountain (= p) has fire (= S), because it has smoke (= H); e.g. the kitchen ( = d). See further§8). A sound argument must fulfil at least three criteria: (i)the reason property must be uncontroversially present in the locus;(ii) the reason property and the inferred property must beappropriately related, roughly such that wherever the reason ispresent, so is the inferred property; (iii) the example must be anuncontroversial place where both the reason property and the inferredproperty are present.

With this in mind, let us consider The Manual ofReason’s argument for the existence of God:

A dyad of earth etc. has a maker, because it is an effect; e.g. apot (TSD 17b).

Here, the locus of the inference is a dyad, the smallest compositeentity. The reason is “being an effect”(kāryatva), and the inferred property is “havinga maker” (kartṛ-janyatva). The Manual ofReason carefully defines what it means by a ‘maker’: athing which is non-inferentially aware of the inherent or materialcause of the thing to be made, has a desire to make it, and actsaccordingly. In this sense, the potter, but not the potter’swheel or the clay or any other causally relevant feature, is the makerof the pot, for it is the potter who sees the clay (= material cause ofthe pot), desires to make a pot, and acts accordingly by using thewheel and stick.

Comments: (1) Why does The Manual of Reason take dyads tobe the locus of the inference? This is, in fact, a clever move.Obviously, we cannot take God to be the locus (e.g. God exists,because…), for then the first criterion on a sound inferencewill not be met—the reason property, whatever it is, cannot beuncontroversially present in a locus whose very existence iscontroversial. We can’t take the locus to be “everything inthe world”, for many such things are not effects (e.g. atoms,space) and so The Manual of Reason’s desired reason willagain not be unequivocally present in the locus. Hence, we must picksome particular thing. We had better not choose a human artefact, forthe inference, even if sound, would then establish nothing about God.From the class of non-artefacts, the choice of dyads is a good onehere, for (a) they are the most basic things made out of the atoms, andhence out of which everything else is made, and (b) if The Manualof Reason can show that these have a maker, then it follows thatthe maker is aware of everything (from the definition of a maker and(a) above). Thus, God’s omniscience will be a corollary of theproof of his existence.

(2) The argument takes the picture of causation used in the“potter-pot” example and extends it to cover all naturalphenomena. God’s function is to make things out of the given anduncreated ingredients (the atoms, cf. the clay), which are theproducts’ material cause. Matilal accordingly describes theNyāya as having a “potter model” of God, in contrastwith a “spider model”, in which God spins the world out ofhis own essence, or a “magician” model, in which the worldis an illusion conjured up by God. The argument, however, rests upon ananthropomorphic and agentive view of causation. The BuddhistDharmakīrti ridiculed the argument by likening the pot to ananti-hill (another thing made of clay): should we say that thisadmittedly complex and intricate construction is the product ofintelligent agents? And even if we do, why should not the world, likean ant-hill be a product of collective agency, rather than produced bya single agent?

(3) The argument might be thought of as an argument based oninduction, induction from the class of artefacts to the class ofnatural products. What licenses the induction from things seen to havea maker to things not so seen? Dharmakīrti (cf. Vattanky 1984:56-8) says that we are licensed to infer that an object has a makeronly if we have seen other objects of the same type being made. Thus,we can infer that the Pyramids had a maker, not because we can see thatmaker, but because the Pyramids belong to a type (buildings) otherinstances of which we have seen made. The Naiyāyika makes abolder inductive claim, that two object belong to the same‘type’, in this sense, if they are both effects.

4.2 An Argument for the Existence of the Human Self

Vaiśeṣika defines the human self as the substratum of suchpsychological qualities as believing, etc., as well as of happinessand other emotions, which God does not have. There is an implicitappeal, here too, to the “potter” model of causation: justas, in the sentence “The potter makes the pot”, theproperty “….making the pot” resides in the potter,so too in “I believe that p”, the property“….believes that p” resides in me. Giventhat the self is defined as that substance, whichever it is, in whicha person’s psychological qualities reside, the question iswhether we can identify this substance as a physical one, for example,the person’s body or their senses, or whether we must postulatesome new type of substance. Vaiśeṣika’s argument forthe existence of the self as a new substance is by elimination of tworival candidates.

(1) The substratum of beliefs, etc. is the person’s body.The Manual of Reason makes the case for this as follows: If Isay, “I am cold”, “I am running”, it is mybody to which the predicate applies. Therefore, when I say “Ibelieve that p”, the subject likewise is mybody. The Manual’s reply is that if this were true,then

there would be the difficulty that with the destruction of a hand, afoot, etc., there will be the destruction of the body and it willfollow that there will also be the destruction of the self.

Clearly, I can lose part of my body without ceasing to believe andknow things. But losing part of my body does not entail losing my body,as a whole. So this argument fails. A better argument is found in theNyāya-sūtra: the very phrase “mybody” shows that I am not identical with my body. But thisdoesn’t work either, for I can also say “my soul”!There is no clear argument against physicalism here.

(2) The substratum of beliefs etc. is the person’ssense-faculties [recall that every physical substance was divided intothree: pertaining to body, sense-faculty, and (inanimate) object]. Thisrather strange claim might be taken to include the view of theBuddhists, that a person is reducible to a stream of momentary mentalevents, including sense-data etc. The Manual of Reason’sargument against such a view (a repetition of an argument already foundin the Nyāya-sutra) is a strong one:

Were this the case, there would be no re-identifying awareness(anusandhāna), e.g. “I who saw that pot am nowtouching it”, for there cannot be any recognition by one of whatis apprehended by another.

The idea here is that the possibility of recognitive experiencepresupposes the existence of a unitary enduring self. There are reallytwo arguments compressed here. One is this: I cannot rememberan object unless I have seen it earlier—I cannot remember what youhave seen (cf. Locke’s account of personal identity in terms of acontinuity of memory experiences). The other argument is moreintricate. The Abhidharma Buddhist claims that a person is just anaggregate of experiences, some visual, some tactile, etc. The problemraised for such an account by the Naiyāyika is that it ispossible to make trans-modality judgements, in which the deliverancesof one sense-faculty are compared with another. Suppose thatV(o1) is a visual experience of an objecto1, and T(o2) is atactile experience of an object o2. It is possibleto judge “o1= o2”, but this judgement does not belong tothe sphere of any one sense-faculty. Hence, it must be located insome other substance. The self is here conceived of as that whichcollates, organises and compares the deliverances of the individualsenses. See Ganeri 2012, chapters 11, 15, 16 for an expanded discussion.

This is a convenient place at which to introduce the last of thenine substances, the ‘mind’ (manas). It is definedby The Manual of Reason (TS18) as a sixth sense-faculty, oneby which a person ‘perceives’ their inner mental objects(beliefs, pleasure sensations etc.) In other words, it is a faculty ofintrospection. Naturally, we need an argument why this faculty cannotbe identified as belonging to the self, and the usual Nyāyaclaim is that the self is the agent of cognising, while the mind is aninstrument for cognising, just as we must distinguish between theaxe-man, who is the agent chopping the tree, and the axe, which is theinstrument for chopping. The Nyāya also claim that the mind hasanother function, which is to ‘switch’ between thedifferent sense-faculties, it being assumed that, while we are beingsubjected to sense-impressions from different faculties simultaneously,we only attend to one at a time.

The Manual of Reason (TS 79) says that eight of theVaiśeṣika qualities reside only in the self, and in noother substance. They are cognition, memory, pleasure or happiness(sukha), pain or unhappiness (duḥkha), desire(icchā), aversion (dveṣa), merit(dharma) and demerit (adharma) (TS 73-78). The firsttwo we will discuss later (§§ 5.2-3). As regards happinessand unhappiness, Matilal (1986: 301), summarizes theVaiśeṣika view when he says that “the essentialcharacteristic of pleasure or happiness consists in its beingexperienced as favourable to us or being in accord with us, i.e. withour body or mind or our very existential situation(anukūla)”, which makes it distinct from knowingor perceiving or apprehending something, and that it is an“inner disposition on account of which the external worldbecomes agreeable or desirable”. Desire is the state of cravingfor something. Merit is that which is produces by meritorious action(karma). See further Ganeri 2012, chapters 13, 14.

5. Philosophical Psychology

5.1 Overview of Philosophical Psychology

Study of the nature, content and causes of cognition (buddhi,jñāna, upalabdhi) lies at the very centre of theNyāya philosophical method. In epistemology, the question askedis: how do we distinguish between true and false cognitions, and underwhat conditions does a true cognition arise? In logical theory, theissue is: when does one cognition ‘follow’ from another, insome suitably articulated sense. In philosophy of language, theassumption is that sentence structure mirrors cognitive structure, andhence that an inquiry into sentence meaning proceeds via an analysis ofthe cognitions sentences ‘express’. The importance of thistopic is reflected by The Manual of Reason, for although‘cognition’ is technically just one of twenty-four types ofquality in the Vaiśeṣika schema, its analysis accountsfor nearly half of the book (TS 34–74).

The term ‘cognition’ is used by the Naiyāyikas torefer to any intentional (sa-viṣayaka;object-directed) mental state, including states of perceiving,inferring, doubting, guessing, remembering, etc., but excludingdesiring, hoping, suffering, etc. (cf. Matilal 1968: 7–8).Because we say that the subject has such states, they are thought to be‘qualities’ (in the technical Vaiśeṣikasense) of the soul. The Manual of Reason states that acognition is the “ground for all linguistic practice” (TS34), reflecting the Nyāya conception of language as primarily aninstrument for transmitting true thoughts from speaker to hearer.

From the point of view of epistemology, the most important division,within the class of cognitions, is between those which are true and therest. However, the standard Nyāya classification of the speciesof cognition, repeated by The Manual of Reason, begins withanother division, between memory cognitions (smṛti)and the remainder (anubhava; nonrecollective cognition). Thefull classification is as follows:

not true
‘not true’
false (viparyaya; 4 types)
doubt (saṃśaya)

Nyāya epistemology is in effect a theory of the truenonrecollective cognitions, and their division into four types on thebasis of the different accredited epistemic means(pramāṇa-s) by which they are produced. (Whatabout accidentally true cognitions, e.g. the result of a lucky guess?There are well-discussed problems with incorporating them into theabove schema). It is clear that, no matter how generally reliable areour epistemic methods, it will always be possible for misfires to issueoccasionally in false cognitions (e.g. perceptual illusions, beliefsresulting from a reporting error, etc.). The Manual ofReason’s example (TS 72) is of the false pseudo-perceptualjudgement “This is a piece of silver” on seeing anoyster-shell. I will discuss the epistemology of perception, inferenceand testimony in §§ 7, 8 and 9 respectively. Here, I willexamine in more detail three types of cognition which, though veryimportant within the Nyāya framework, are subsidiary to itsepistemology. They are: memory, ‘doubt’ and tarka.(Where do dreams fit in the schema? TS 70 states that they belong inthe category of ‘false’ cognitions. This, however, is odd,since they are not the product of any of the fourpramāṇas misfiring. Neither are they memoriesor states of doubt. According to Praśastapāda, dreams arethe result of the free movement of the ‘mind’ when it isnot connected with the external sense-faculties, influenced byadṛṣṭa, ‘unseen’forces.)

5.2 Memory

Memory is considered in the western tradition to be an importantmeans by which an individual can justify her beliefs about the past. Itis striking then to note that the Nyāya at the outset separatememory states from knowledge-yielding beliefs and deny to them thestatus of knowledge-hood. The Manual of Reason has thefollowing to say about memory:

A memory state is one which results solely from a ‘mentaldisposition’ (bhāvanā) (TS 35).

A ‘mental disposition’ is a quality of the soul which iscaused by a nonrecollective cognition and causes a memory cognition (TS80).

Memories are either ‘true’ or ‘false’, asthe originating cognition is true or false (TS 74).

The general theory is that an initial cognition, e.g. a perceptualexperience of an object, generates a dispositional mental state, whichhas the capacity, when certain other causal factors are present, totrigger an active memory of that object. (The whole process might belikened to that of someone who, having learned to swim, has adispositional capacity to swim, which they exercise on certainoccasions.) The resultant memory state has the same content as theoriginating perceptual experience, and can be said derivatively to be‘true’ or ‘false’, depending on whether theoriginal perception was veridical or not. Memory, on this account isrepresented as an entirely infallible faculty: there is no mention ofthe possibility of what is called “false memory”, i.e.having memories without any originating experience, or of “faultymemory”, in which the content of the memory does not exactlymatch that of the originating experience.


Given this account, in which memory is seen merely as reproducing apast knowing experience, there is perhaps a sense in which the memorydoes not itself count as knowledge, any more than an exact reproductionof a Picasso counts as a Picasso. The Naiyāyikas state thatmemories lack ‘independence’. The idea, perhaps, is this.In general we establish the veracity of an experience by examining theway in which it was caused (my perception of the table is veridical,because my eyesight is good, the lighting is adequate, etc.). In thecase of a memory, however, we must go via the originating experience.Memory is conceived of as a mere surrogate for the original experience,and its veracity is ‘dependent’ on that of the original. Wemight think, however, that memory in fact does more than merelyreproduce the original experience. It may represent the experiencedevent as happening in the past, and thus have a different content.

5.3 Doubt (saṃśaya)

The concept of doubt has an important theoretical role in Nyāya,for a state of doubt is claimed to be a necessary precondition for anyphilosophical enquiry. Doubt is one of the sixteen topics listedunder Nyāya-sūtra 1.1.1, which determine thecontent of the entire text. In particular, a doubt is the first stepin a properly formulated inference: is there a fire on themountain?—Yes, because there is smoke there. The Manual ofReason gives a very precise definition of a doubt (TS 71): acognition of two incompatible qualifiers in the same qualificand, forexample the cognition “Is this (dimly perceived or distantobject) a person or a tree-stump?” Schematically, then, a doubtis a cognition whose content is of the form “xis F or not-F?”.

Two points are worth noting. (i) Although doubts are classified asnon-true (apramā) cognitions, they are not false. Afalse cognition is one whose content is “xis F” when in fact x is not F. (ii)Doubts are distinguished from other cognitions by virtue of having aspecial type of content, rather than by being propositional attitudesof a special kind. The Nyāya do not here say that we can take oneof a series of attitudes towards the same proposition, believing,disbelieving, doubting, etc. Yet if the only thing which distinguishesa doubt is its having a content of the form specified in TS 71, thenwhat differentiates the doubt that x is F from thebelief that x is both F and not-F?Vardhamāna replies by drawing a distinction between actuallyhaving a contradictory belief and merely believing that one has acontradictory belief. The former is supposedly impossible, thesupposedly contradictory belief that x is both F andnot-F is really a belief that I have a belief whosequalificand is x and whose qualifiers are F andnot-F. Since there are no genuine contradictory beliefs,there are no beliefs with the same content as doubts.

5.4 Tarka “Suppositional Thinking”

The term ‘tarka’ is often used loosely in thesense of hypothetical or reductio-ad-absurdum reasoning, but TheManual of Reason gives it a much more precise and technicalsense:

Tarka is the ‘ascription’(āropa) of the ‘pervader’(vyāpaka) by the ascription of the‘pervaded’ (vyāpya). For example, ‘ifthere is no fire, then there is no smoke’(TS 73).

The terms in this definition require explanation. The technicalsense of ‘ascription’ (āropa) is‘counterfactual or suppositional cognition’(āhāryāropa), defined as a cognitionwhose qualifier is an property the opposite of which is known to residein the qualificand. In other words, it is a counterfactual assumption.‘Pervader’ and ‘pervaded’ are notions takenfrom the Nyāya theory of inference. When we say that whereverthere is smoke, there is fire, this can be re-expressed as that firepervades smoke, i.e. that the property of being asmoke-possessing-thing has a narrower extension than the property ofbeing a fire-possessing-thing. So here, fire is the pervader and smokeis the pervaded. Thus, tarka consists in a cognition ofsmoke’s absence given the counterfactual assumption thatfire is absent. It is the cognition of a conditional “if p thenq”, or “were p to be truethen q would be true”, assuming that‘p’ is false.

One main function of tarka is said to be the elimination ofdoubt. Suppose one has the doubt“Is x F?”. One might then judge“if x is not F then x isnot G”, and if one also knows that xis G, it will follow that x is F. TheNaiyāyikas recognise this function but deny neverthelessthat tarka is a source of knowledge(pramāṇa). Their reason, it seems, is that thereis a distinction between citing positive empirical evidence for athesis and merely eliminating the contrary possibility by a priorimethods. This is reflected, perhaps, in the fact that no example iscited in arguments based on tarka to buttress theinference. The Manual of Reason, it seems, goes even furtherand denies that the counterfactual conditional is a true cognition,which implies, since they are not false either, that counterfactualconditionals do not have a truth-value.

Udayana claims that tarka is of five types, namely‘self-dependence’(ātmāśraya), ‘mutualdependence’ (anyonyāśraya),‘circle’ (cakraka), ‘infinite regress’(anavasthā), and ‘having an undesirableconsequence’ or reductio-ad-absurdum(aniṣṭāprasaṅga). These arebasically self-explanatory – the fifth,‘prasaṅga’ is the one used to great effectby Nāgārjuna and other Mādhyamika Buddhists. Otherauthors give slightly different lists (see S. Bagchi 1953 fordetails).

6. Causation and the Causal Theory of Knowledge

6.1 Overview of Causation

The study of causation is an important part of Indian philosophicalthought. One reason for this is the early interest in cosmologicalspeculation: “We should remember that philosophic activity inIndia arose out of the cosmogonic speculations of the Vedas and theUpaniṣads. The all-important business of philosophy was toattempt to discover some simple, unitary cause for the origin of thiscomplex universe” (Matilal 1985: 287). Another reason is thatIndian linguistics (especially the Pāṇinian system of‘kārakas’ or relations between verb andnoun, which greatly influenced Nyāya,Mīmāṃsā and Buddhist thinkers) is based onan underlying causal model, in which the verb in a sentence designatesan event, for the production of which each such object as is designatedby a noun has a particular causal role. This same model informed andinfluenced Indian epistemology, and led to the development of thetheory of ‘pramāṇas’, the causalmeans or processes leading to an epistemically accreditedawareness-event (pramā). In the Nyāya tradition,four such pramāṇas are recognised: perception(pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna),‘analogical identification’ or ‘comparison’(upamāna) and testimony (śabda). Theaccounts given of each of these employ an extremely causalistic idiom,typical questions being ‘what causes a perceptualexperience?’, ‘what are the distinguishing causal factorsof true and false perceptual experiences?’, ‘under whatconditions does knowledge of the premises of an argument causeknowledge of the conclusion?’, etc.

The choice of examples undoubtedly influences one’s causaltheory. The Naiyāyikas almost invariably illustrate theirdiscussions with one of the following three examples: (i) Thepotter-pot example. The effect is the finished pot. Some of itscauses are the pot-halves (which the potter joins to form the pot), thepotter, his wheel and stick, the contact between each of thepot-halves, and between them and the stick, etc. (ii) Thethread-cloth example. Here the effect is the piece of cloth. Amongits causes are the threads from which it is woven, the weaver, theshuttle, the loom, various contacts, etc. (iii) The axe-treeexample. The effect, i.e. the felling of the tree, is caused bythe axe, its contact with the tree, the axeman, etc. Some of thequestions we would like to ask here are these. Can all instances ofcausation be fitted into the general pattern illustrated by theseexamples (e.g. is there always an ‘agent’)? Do theNaiyāyikas have an adequate account of causation even for theseexamples (i.e. can they distinguish between those factors which are,and those factors which are not, causes of the effect)? Can bothobjects and events be causes? Are causal relations singular or based onrepeatable regularities? Attempts to answer such questions as these ledto increasingly sophisticated accounts of causation as the Nyāyaschool evolved.

6.2 The Three Types of Cause

The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas traditionally held that,within the total collection (sāmagrī) of causalfactors leading to an event, there are three distinguishable types ofcause, namely ‘substrate’ or ‘inherence’ causes(samavayi-kāraṇa), ‘non-substrate’or ‘non-inherence’ causes(a-samavayi-kāraṇa), and‘instrumental’ causes(nimitta-kāraṇa). This classification isrepeated by The Manual of Reason (TS 43). A substrate cause isa substance in which the effect inheres. The substrate cause of a potwould be the pot-halves; of a cloth, the threads. This is because theNyāya say that a whole inheres in its parts, and, so, if theeffect (e.g. the pot) is a whole, its substrate causes are the parts inwhich it inheres. If the effect is an object’s coming to have anew property (e.g. the tree’s being felled), the substrate causeis the object (the tree). Note that, in spite of a certain similarity,the notion of a substrate cause is not the same as Aristotle’s“material” cause, for (i) the parts of an object are notnecessarily identical with the material from which it is composed, and(ii) even an immaterial substance can be a substrate cause, for examplethe soul, which is the substrate cause of epistemic events.

All other causal factors are either ‘non-substrate’causes or ‘instrumental’ causes. A non-substrate cause isone which inheres in the substrate cause. Thus, though not being thesubstrate, it is closely connected with it. The conjunction of threadsis said to be a non-substrate cause of a piece of cloth. Anotherexample is often cited. The non-substrate cause of the colour of apiece of cloth is the colour of the threads (which colour inheres inthe threads, in which inheres the effect, the colour of the cloth). Anyother causal factor is called an instrumental cause, for example, theweaver’s shuttle or the weaver herself. Why did theNaiyāyikas distinguish between non-substrate causes and theremainder? Perhaps it was an attempt to differentiate between thosecauses which must continue to exist for the effect to exist, and thosewhich need not. If the threads were to lose their colour, then thecloth would lose its, and if the threads were to become disjoint, thecloth would cease to exist altogether. If, however, the weaver dies,having already woven the cloth, or if the shuttle is subsequentlydestroyed, it will not affect the continued existence of theeffect.

It does not follow from these definitions that anything whichinheres in the substrate is a non-substrate cause, or that anythingwhich does not is an instrumental cause. In other words, we still needto define “being a cause”. First, however, two more typesof causal factor are distinguished by the Nyāya. These are the‘special’ instrumental cause (karaṇa) andthe ‘operating condition’ (vyāpāra)We often speak of the cause of an effect, andin doing so pick out one factor from the total collection of causalfactors as being particularly salient or important in bringing aboutthe effect. Intuitively, the idea is that, even if we have thesubstrate cause (the pot-halves), the non-substrate cause (the contactbetween the halves), and even some of the instrumental causes (thepotter, etc.), we will not get the effect (the pot) unless the potteracts or ‘operates’ to bring it about. In a sense, then, itis the potter’s actually using his stick which is thecause of the pot. The Naiyāyikas try to capture this idea bysaying that one of the instrumental causes is the ‘special’(asādhāraṇa) cause of the effect, andthey call it the ‘karaṇa’. This notion isparticularly important to the Nyāya epistemology (see below).What constitutes the ‘special’ nature of this cause? TheNavya-nyāya (cf. TS 54) answer is as follows. They introducefirst the notion of an ‘operative condition’(vyāpāra), defined as that cause whichimmediately precedes the effect. For example, the operative conditionfor a pot is the conjunction of the pot-halves; for the felling of atree, it is the final contact between axe and tree before the treefalls. The ‘special’ cause is defined as that factor which‘brings about’ this operative condition. In other words, itis the factor whose operation directly brings about the effect. In theexamples, it would be the axe or the potter’s stick. Theseobjects are, for the Nyāya, the true instruments by means ofwhich the effect is produced.

6.3 What is a Cause?

The Naiyāyikas build up in this way a model of causation, inwhich different causal factors have different types of causal role. Themodel reflects (or is reflected in) the Indian grammatical analysis ofcausal statements, such as “The potter throws a pot with herstick”, “The lumberjack fells a tree with her axe”,in which one distinguishes, apart from the verb designating the event,an agent (kartṛ), object (karman), instrument(karaṇa), and so on. We do not yet know, however, howto distinguish between causes and non-causes. The Manual ofReason (TS 41) provides the Navya-Nyāya answer. Given twoentities, c and e,

c is a causal factor for e iff
i.c exists before e,
ii.c exists ‘regularly’ (niyata)with e, and
iii.c is ‘relevant’(ananyathāsiddha) to e.

The first clause is to prevent self-causation. The import of thesecond condition is that entities similar to c must alwaysexist with entities similar to e. There must be an invariableor constant conjunction between c-type entitiesand e-type entities. This rules out objects which just happento be there, such as, to give the Naiyāyikas’ example, adonkey happening to wander past the pottery just as the potter goes towork. This feature of the account, the insistence that a causalrelation instantiates a regularity, resembles a Humean account ofcausation. The Naiyāyika, however, recognised the possibility of‘accidental’, non-causal regularities, such as day alwayspreceding night, or (the example given by The Manual ofReason), the colour of the thread always preceding thecloth. Although the occurrence of a cloth is invariably preceded, notjust by threads, but by the presence of thread-colour as well, wewould not want to say that thread-colour is a cause of cloth. Thethird clause is their attempt to eliminate such accidentalregularities. The same clause is supposed to stop the cause of a cause(e.g. the potter’s parents) from being a cause. Its meaning,however, is not quite clear. Literally, it states that a cause must be‘not established otherwise’. Kalidas Bhattacharya saysthat “an invariable antecedent is irrelevant if knowledge of itis not required for any anticipative knowledge of the origination ofthe effect” (see Potter 1977: 67). Matilal says that anantecedent is irrelevant if “it is possible to find a reasonableexplanation of its appearance” (1985: 290). The Manual ofReason states that an antecedent is irrelevant if its antecedenceis only established along with some other entity. We know thatthread-colour precedes cloth only because we know that it occurs withthe thread (which we know to precede cloth); hence the thread-colouris irrelevant in this sense. This highlights an asymmetry between thetwo regularities, the threadcolour-cloth regularity and thethread-cloth regularity. For while we can establish the latterdirectly by observing correlations between thread and cloth, weestablish the former by observing the correlation between threadcolourand thread. Thus the former supposedly depends on the latter but notvice versa. It is not clear, however, that the dependence does not runthe other way too. In any case, in using this criterion to blocktransitivity, the Naiyāyikas seem to seeking a definition not ofcausality per se (which most regard as a transitive relation), butrather an epistemic notion of ‘causal explanation’ or‘causal salience’.

6.4 Causation and Knowledge

Cognitions that are not memories are classified under two headings:true and false. If we can find factors invariably precedingtrue cognitions, then we will have the beginnings of a causaltheory of knowledge. We will be able to say that a cognition is aknowledge-episode iff it is (i) true and (ii) preceded by a causalfactor which invariably precedes true cognitions (i.e. its truth willnot be an accident). The Nyāya (TS 39) claim to find four, andonly four, invariable correlations: perception, inference, comparison,and testimony. To each they apply the model of causation outlinedabove. In particular, they isolate, in each case, a‘special’ instrumental cause (karaṇa), towhich they give the name ‘pramāṇa’.In the case of perception, for example, it is the senses. Note that aninvariable correlation between two entities, in the sense definedabove, does not entail that whenever the first is present, so is thesecond—the potter is invariably connected with a pot, but only causesa pot when he is actually ‘operating’. Similarly, apramāṇa, e.g. the eyes, only causes a truecognition when it is actually operating. In other words, thepramāṇa is a necessary but not a sufficientcause for true cognitions. To get a sufficient cause, the Nyāya(TSD 69 iii) says:

The causal condition that is ‘special’ to true cognitionis called a ‘guṇa’ [an epistemicexcellence]; the causal condition that is ‘special’ tofalse cognition is called ‘doṣa’ [anepistemic defect]. In the perceptual case, the guṇa [ofa true cognition ‘x is F’] is thesensory connection with an object [x] possessing a property[F], etc.

This is, in effect, the operative condition for trueperceptual cognitions. Thus, the occurrence of all the usual factors(substrate causes, non-substrate causes, general instrumental causes,etc.) together with an epistemic excellence (guṇa) isa necessary and sufficient causal condition for the occurrence of atrue cognition (see also Philips and Tatacharya 2003).

7. Perception, Concepts and Sense-Object Relations

Noticing something coiled up in the corner of the room, I perceiveit to be a piece of rope. Looking out of the window, I see that the skyis blue and see also, perhaps, the blueness of the sky. I see too thatthe air is cold, and that there is nobody on the street. What do allthese experiences have in common, in virtue of which they are all actsof perception? The Manual of Reason (TS 46) gives theclassical Nyāya answer:

Principle 1: In each case of perceptual experience,the experience has as its special instrumental cause a‘connection’ (sannikarṣa) between theobject perceived and the perceiver’s sense-faculty.

All seeings are the product of a sensory connection (of a type to bespecified) with the thing seen. This basic idea must be embellished intwo ways before it is can serve as a proper a theory of perception: (i)some account must be given of the fact that, in all the cases citedabove, the content of perception is semantically structured (e.g. thatthe thing in the corner is a piece of rope), for otherwise perceptualexperiences would not be capable of being true, and hence fail toqualify as knowledge-episodes; (ii) an account must be given of thetype of ‘connection’ involved here. Only then can weevaluate the merits of the Nyāya theory.

7.1 ‘Qualificative Perception’ and the Role of Concepts

A structured perception, of an object a as having a certain propertyf (e.g. seeing the thing in the corner as being a piece ofrope), is called by the Naiyāyikas ‘qualificative’(savikalpaka = saprakāraka), for it a perception of anobject, the ‘qualificand’ (viśeṣya) ashaving a certain feature or ‘qualifier’(prakāra; viseṣaṇa) (cf. TS 47). Itis alleged by the Naiyāyikas that any piece ofperceptual knowledge must be of this form, and further thatmost cases in which we claim just to be seeing an object(e.g. “I see the car”) are really cases of seeingsomething as a car. In a ‘qualificative’ perception, it isthe qualificand which is in sensory connection with the perceiver. Howthen does the qualifier enter the picture? The Nyāya claimthat:

Principle 2: In every case of perception, thequalifier is a previously perceived entity (substance, quality, motionor universal) which is recalled by the perceiver and‘superimposed’ upon the qualificand.

The intuitive idea is that the qualifying feature is a concept,empirically acquired by the perceiver, and now used to categorise theobject perceived. To see that the passing animal is a horse, one mustfirst possess the concept horse, by means of previousacquaintance with the type. (Use of the term ‘concept’ heredoes not imply that the features are in any sense subjective—for theNyāya they are objective entities or constructions out ofobjective entities). The Nyāya thus use their theory of memory(initial experience causing dispositional trace causing memory event)as a theory of concept-possession.

Principle 2 has a number of consequences:

  1. If every case of seeing an object a as f ispreceded by a prior perception of f, and if that priorperception were itself of f as qualified by somequalifier g, we would get an infinite regress. The Nyāya(cf. TS 47) therefore state that, in addition to qualificativeperceptions, there are also ‘non-qualificative’(nirvikalpaka = niṣprakāraka) perceptualexperiences. In such experiences, on sees both the object and itsqualifier, but not as being qualified by the qualifier.
  2. To illustrate the general theory, suppose I perceive for thefirst time a vase having a particular shade of blue which I have neverbefore seen. The theory states that, prior to seeing the vase as beingqualified by that shade, I first see the vase, together with (but notqualified by) the shade, and then, recalling that shade, impose itupon the vase.
  3. Perceptual illusions, hallucinations, etc., are all explained ascases in which a wrong feature is recalled from memory (or the conceptbank). Suppose I misperceive the coiled object in the corner as being asnake. The account given by the Nyāya is that I recall andsuperimpose the feature snakehood, on the basis presumably of its closesimilarity with the true feature ropehood. Similarly, if Ihallucinate a dagger, the account entails that I am superimposing thememory of some previously encountered dagger upon the region of spacein front of me (there must be some qualificand, by Principle1). This is called the ‘mislocation’(anyathākhyāti) theory of perceptual error. Notethat, if all error is a product of qualifier-mislocation, then no erroris possible with respect to the qualificand with which one is insensory connection. Note too that the Nyāya make no appeal to‘images’, ‘ideas’ or any other subjectivecontent to explain illusion—it is an externalist account of error.This shows that the so-called argument from illusion, from thephenomenal indistinguishability of veridical and non-veridicalperceptual experiences to their having a shared subjective content, isfalse. It is not clear, however, that one can always find a suitablequalificand (is a region of space really perceived in a hallucination?)or a suitable qualifier (e.g. when one sees a stick as bent, becausepartially submerged in water, where does the feature ‘being bentthus’ come from?—the Nyāya actually claim that it is anobjective feature causally produced by the act of perceiving!)
  4. This theory allows the Nyāya to say that locutions like“I see (visually) that the air is cold” or “I seethat the mango is sweet”, in which the qualifier, thoughperceptible is not a visible property, are genuine cases of perception.They classify them as a type of ‘extra-ordinary’perception, calledjñāna-lakṣaṇā-pratyāsatti.(The other types of extra-ordinary perception sometimes admitted are‘sāmānyalakṣaṇa’, inwhich all the bearers of a property are perceived by perceiving theproperty, and yogic perception.)
  5. The Nyāya state that experience amounts to aknowledge-episode when and only when it is true, i.e. when thequalifier actually qualifies the qualificand. The Manual ofReason (TS 69 iii) says that the guṇa or specialcausal factor for perceptual knowledge when the qualifier imposed bythe perceiver onto the sensorily connected qualificand is actuallypresent in the qualificand. There may, however, be scope forGettier-style counter-examples to this definition.

7.2 Types of Sense-Object Relation

The Manual of Reason (TS 48) reports the standardNyāya view, which is due to Uddyotakara, that there are exactlysix types of sense-object relation which ground perceptualexperiences:

  1. Contact or conjunction (saṃyoga). Ordinaryperceptions, e.g. of a pot. If by ‘contact’ we understandsome sort of causal relation, then the Nyāya can be said to havea causal theory of perception. However, they may mean that the eye isin contact with the object in some more literal sense.
  2. Inherence-in-the-conjoined(saṃyukta-samavāya). We noted above that, in‘non-qualificative’ perception, one sees the object and itsfeature together. The relation between the feature and the perceiver isan indirect one—the feature inheres in the object, with which theperceiver is in contact.
  3. Inherence-in-the-inherent-in-the-conjoined(saṃyukta-samaveta-samavāya). If the feature in(2) is a quality (guṇa), e.g. a particular shade ofblue, then inhering in it is a universal, blueness, which can itselfapparently be perceived.
  4. Inherence (samavāya). TheNyāya-Vaiśeṣikas have a rather strange doctrine,that each sense-faculty is made out of the type of substance with whichit is particularly associated. The auditory faculty is thus made out ofākāśa, and, as sounds inhere inākāśa, the relation between the hearerand the sound is inherence.
  5. Inherence-in-the-inherent (samaveta-samavāya).By this indirect relation, the hearer is related to properties such assound-hood inhering in sound.
  6. Qualifier-qualificand relation(viśeṣaṇa-viśeṣya-bhāva).This is an important one. The Nyāya believe that absences are‘real’ objects, e.g. the absence of an elephant in the roomnow, and that they can be perceived. Absences are said to qualify theirsubstrata, and are perceived indirectly, by the perceiver seeing thesubstratum. The Buddhist Dharmakīrti argued that this is reallyan inference from non-apprehension (anupalabdhi-hetu) runningthus: I perceive the walls of the room; ; if there were an elephant, Iwould not see it, and my perceptual faculties are working normally;therefore, there is no elephant”.

7.3 Gaṅgeśa’s Criticisms and New Definition

Gaṅgeśa criticises Principle 1 on three grounds: (a)it entails that every awareness is perceptual since every awareness isproduced by the instrumentality of the ‘inner’ sensefaculty or manas; (b) it fails to include divine perception,which involves no sensory connection; and (c) there is no one type ofsensory connection, nor anything obviously in common to the ad hoc listof six types. Gaṅgeśa therefore offers a newdefinition:

Principle 3: A perceptual experience is a cognitionwhich has no other non-mnemonic cognition as its ‘special’instrumental cause (karaṇa).

Two objections to this definition are countered. Objection 1: Sinceevery qualificative cognition is produced by a prior awareness of thequalifier, the definition under-extends. Reply: No. The awareness ofthe qualifier is merely an auxiliary causal factor, the‘special’ instrumental cause is a sense-object contact.Objection 2: Since recognition, which is a type of perception, doeshave the prior awareness of the qualifier as its ‘special’instrumental cause, the definition under-extends. Reply: No. The‘special’ causal factor is the memory of the qualifiertriggered by the dispositional trace produced by the prior awareness,not the prior awareness itself.

Gaṅgeśa’s definition has the virtue ofcapturing the sense in which perceptual experience is more‘immediate’ than other types of experience, and is alsoapplicable both to human and to divine perception. Restricted to humanperception, it turns into the previous definition(Gaṅgeśa says that the ‘inner’ sense shouldnot be regarded as perceptual after all).

8. Logical Theory and Gaṅgeśa’s Analysis of Inferential Warrant (vyāpti)

8.1 Overview of Logical Theory

Gaṅgeśa’sTattvacintāmaṇi is divided into four parts, onefor each of the four knowledge-sources orpramāṇas recognised by the Nyāya school.The post-Gaṅgeśa scholars focused more and moreexclusively on the second part, concerning inference, and wroteincreasingly detailed commentaries on a comparatively small portion ofthe book, namely the part where Gaṅgeśa examines therelation between inferential sign and property-to-be-inferred, which iscalled the vyāpti, ‘pervasion’ or‘inference-warranting’ relation (Ingalls 1951, Goekoop1977, Wada 2007). Even today, in a traditional Indian education, studyof these sub-commentaries on various subsections of thevyāpti section of Gaṅgeśa forms anessential part of the curriculum.

The general structure of a properly formulated Nyāya inferencehas three components: thesis, reason (hetu) and example(dṛṣṭānta). The thesis, again, has twocomponents: the ‘locus’ (pakṣa) or place ofthe inference, and a property (sādhya) whose presence inthe locus is to be inferred. Thus every Nyāya argument exhibitsthe same pattern: p has S, because ithas H; e.g. d. For example, “The mountain (= p) has fire (= S), because it has smoke (= H); e.g. the kitchen ( = d). A sound argument mustfulfil at least three criteria: (i) the reason property must beuncontroversially present in the locus; (ii) the reason property andthe inferred property must be appropriately related, roughly such thatwherever the reason is present, so is the inferred property; (iii) theexample must be an uncontroversial place where both the reasonproperty and the inferred property are present.

Certain topics concerning this account are addressed in TheManual of Reason and other Navya-Nyāya texts. Among themare: the conditions under which inference can take place, and theconditions under which the result is a knowledge-episode (TS 49, 54);the correct account of the inference-warranting relation, between theinferential sign and the property-to-be-inferred, called the‘pervasion’ or ‘vyāpti’relation (TS 50); the distinction between inference and demonstration(svārtha- and parārtha- inference) (TS52, 53); the three-fold classification of inference types, those whichare ‘universally positive’ (kevalānvayin),those which are ‘universally negative’(kevala-vyatirekin), and those which are combined positive andnegative (anvaya-vyatirekin) (TS 55); the types of inferentialfallacy (hetvābhāsa) (TS 57-64).

I will discuss mainly the definition of the ‘pervasion’relation. First, however, a brief note on how the causal model ofknowledge is applied to inference. The ‘special’instrumental cause (karaṇa) of an inferential cognitionis said to be the inferrer’s knowledge of the relevant pervasionrelation. The ‘operative condition’(vyāpāra) is said to be an awareness that the locusof inference (p) possesses such an inferential sign(h) as is pervaded by the property inferred(s). This is, in effect, an awareness which combines the twopremises of the argument together immediately prior to the conclusionbeing derived, and is called the‘parāmarśa’ or‘consideration’. The ‘guṇa’ or‘causal factor responsible for the truth’ of theinferential cognition is the condition that this‘consideration’ be true, i.e. that the locus does in factpossess such a sign as is pervaded by the inferred property. Anotherauxiliary causal factor is that the inferrer must either not yetalready know the conclusion or else must have a particular desire toinfer (i.e. given, knowledge of the premises, the inference wouldnormally take place mechanically, but if the conclusion is alreadyknown e.g. perceptually, then the inferrer has to have a special wishto re-establish it inferentially). This condition is known as‘pakṣaṭā’, and should not to beconfused with ‘pakṣadharmatā’, whichis the name of condition (i) above.

8.2 Definitions of the Pervasion (vyāpti) Relation

Vyāpti or pervasion, is that relation between theinferential sign (hetu) and the inferred property(sādhya), which legitimises the inference. It wouldtypically be expressed by a sentence such as “wherever there issmoke there is fire”, or “whatever exists istransitory”. Knowledge of this relation, according to theNyāya, is the instrumental cause in the inferential process—itis that relation knowledge of which, when combined with observation ofthe inferential sign, will permit us to make a sound orknowledge-yielding inference. Gaṅgeśa therefore attachesgreat importance to the precise definition of this relation. He notesas many as twenty-one definitions all of which he rejects for somereason or other, and then he goes on to give seven furtherformulations, each of which he considers acceptable. Of the definitionshe rejects, the first five came to be known as the‘vyāpti-pañcaka’, and inspired ahuge literature both among the Sanskrit commentators and their moderninterpreters. These definitions are traceable to the earlier Buddhistand Nyāya literature. Two more rejected definitions, known asthe ‘Lion and Tiger’ definitions, are apparently due toGaṅgeśa’s Navya-Nyāya predecessors (Wada2007, ch. 5). The definition Gaṅgeśa finally accepts iscalled his‘siddhānta-lakṣaṇa’.

8.3 The ‘No Counter-Example’ Definition

The five definitions which make up Gaṅgeśa’s‘vyāpti-pañcaka’ are all varieties ofwhat we might dub the ‘no counter-example’ definition ofthe pervasion relation. This states that the inferredproperty S pervades the reason property H just incase there is no place/entity where H is locatedbut S is absent. Formally:

V1Pervades (S, H) iff ¬(∃x)(Hx & Sx).

where S′ is used to denote the complementof S. This definition is traceable both to the earlyNyāya notion of a ‘deviating’ pseudo-reason (i.e. onewhich occurs somewhere where the inferable property S isabsent), and to Diṅnāga’s‘triple-condition’ theory of the inferential sign, histhird condition being that H must not be located in any“disagreeing case” (cf.‘vipakṣa’), i.e. a place where Sis absent. In either case, the intuition is that a relation expressedby “where there is smoke there is fire” obtains just incase there is no place where fire is absent but smoke is present, counter-example. The first definition which Gaṅgeśaconsiders is of just this form. It is that Spervades H iff H has “non-occurrence in theloci of absence of S”(sādhyābhāvavad-avṛttitvam), i.e.V1.

Why is this plausible-seeming interpretation of the notion ofpervasion rejected in Navya-Nyāya? There are two reasons:

(Video) Early Analytical Philosophy of Language

The Problem of Partially Locatable Properties. The firstproblem with the ‘no counter-example’ definition dependson the Navya-nyāya notion of partial location(avyāpya-vṛtti). A property is said to occurwholly or completely in an object if it occurs in every part of thatobject. For example, the property of being golden occurs completely ina piece of (pure) gold; the object is ‘saturated’(abhivyāpya) by the property, just as sesame oilsaturates a sesame seed. Some properties, however, occur in some partsof the object but not others—these are called “partiallylocatable”. For example, the property of being molten occurs atthe centre of the Earth but not at the periphery. Note that the sameproperty can be wholly located in some loci and partially located inothers—e.g. redness occurs wholly in a ruby but partially in ared snooker ball. The distinction concerns two modes ofproperty-possession, not two types of property. An important point isthat, if a property is partially located in an object, then so is itsnegation. The Naiyāyikas’ standard example of a partiallylocatable property, viz. “…is in contact with amonkey” (kapi-samyoga), illustrates the point. If themonkey is sitting on a branch of a tree, then the following statementsmay be true:

  1. The tree is in-contact-with-the-monkey at time t, and
  2. The tree is not-in-contact-with-the-monkey at time t,

(2) being true because there are parts of the tree with which themonkey is not in contact. Nyāya avoids the threatened violationof the law of non-contradiction by relativising the notion ofoccurrence. (1) is thus analysed as “the occurrence, of theproperty being-in-contact-with-the-monkey in the tree, is delimitedby (avacchinna) the branch”. Since a different delimitorappears in (2), there is no inconsistency between the two statements.

The main effect of admitting partially located properties into thesystem is that it is no longer the case that a property, P,and its complement, P′, are disjoint: they may nowintersect. If the inferred property is partially located, then theclass of “agreeing cases” (sapakṣas -places where the inferred property is present) and the class of“disagreeing cases” (vipakṣas—placeswhere the inferred property is absent) overlap rather than beingdistinct classes. To put it another way, a property P shouldbe thought of as having both a “presence range”(P+) and an “absence range” (P−),and the two may overlap. Consider now the standard inference“The mountain has fire, because it has smoke”. Suppose wefind a place where smoke is present, and fire is both absent and alsopresent, e.g. the kitchen. Does this show the inference to be faulty?According to definition V1, it does, because the kitchenwill be a counter-example, a place where smoke is present and fireabsent. But this is wrong: since fire is also present there, it is nota real counter-example to the rule “where there is smoke thereis fire”. The upshot is that we must examine the “presenceranges” of the reason property and inferred properties, nottheir “absence ranges”. A real counter-example to rule isa case which is in the presence-range of the reason property but notin the presence range of the inferred property.

Gaṅgeśa’s second definition is designed to solve thisproblem: H’s “non-occurrence in the loci of absenceof S which are different from locus of S”. Inother words, a locus of absence of S which is also not alocus of S should not be a locus of H:

V2Pervades (S, H) iff¬(∃x)(Hx & Sx & ¬Sx).

The effect of the new clause is precisely to rule out the problem ofpartially locatable properties, by specifying more restrictively whatconstitutes a counter-example.

The Problem of Universally Positive Inference. There are,claim the Nyāya, patterns of legitimate inference in which theproperty inferred has as its extension the entire domain. Suchinference are called ‘kevalānvayin’ or‘universally positive’ (cf. TS 55). The stock Nyāyaexample is the inference “This is nameable, because it isknowable”, nameability being regarded as a property ofeverything. Another example would be “This exists because it isproduced”. If such an inference is sound, then its reasonproperty and inferred property must exemplify the pervasionrelation. According to the above definition, to say that nameabilitypervades knowability is to say that any locus of the propertyabsence-of-nameability is not a locus of knowability. The problem isthat, since nameability is a universal property,absence-of-nameability is an uninstantiated (aprasiddha)property, and the Nyāya claim that such properties areontologically suspect. To put it another way, the statement “anylocus of the property absence-of-nameability is not a locus ofknowability” includes a non-referring expression,“locus-of-absence-of-nameability” or “unnameablething”, and hence is not truth-evaluable. The problem does notarise for all uninstantiated properties, for some, e.g. being asky-lotus, or being a square circle, can be shown to be constructsmade out of simpler instantiated properties. Thus, the statement“The square circle is circular” can be taken not ascontaining a non-referring expression, but as meaning “Thecircle is square and circular”. However, ‘unnameable(thing)’ is not decomposable into two distinct properties thisway.

None of the interpretations of the ‘no counter-example’definition considered by Gaṅgeśa can solve the problemof universally positive inferences, and Gaṅgeśaaccordingly rejects them all. His own definition uses a trick to getround the problem.

8.4 Gaṅgeśa’s Definition: the ‘siddhānta-lakṣaṇa

The Manual of Reason reproduces with slight simplificationGaṅgeśa’s new definition. It says that S andH are related by the pervasion relation just in case there iscollocation of H with S and S is not aproperty the absence of which is collocated with H(hetusamānādhikaraṇātyantābhāvāpratiyogi-sādhyasāmānādhikaraṇyamvyāptiḥ; TS 50). Almost the same formulation is foundin other Navya-Nyāya texts, such as theSiddhānta-muktāvali. This definition is supposed tobe applicable even if the inferred property S is‘universally positive’. The idea, roughly, is that ifS pervades H then no property whose absence iscollocated with H can be identical to S. If we canfind an instance of a locus of smoke which is also a locus of theabsence of some property, coldness say, then coldness cannot beidentical with fieriness. That is:

Pervades (S, H) only if(∃x)(Hx& Px) → (PS).

(There is an implicit quantification over P here). What thissays is that there is no place where H is collocated with theabsence of S, but it does so without actually using thepotentially non-referring phrase “absence of S”, and itthereby avoids the problem of universally positiveproperties. However, although this condition is necessary forpervasion, it is not sufficient, for it is consistent with H(or S) being uninstantiated. So Gaṅgeśa insiststoo that H and S must be collocated:

Pervades (S, H) iff
i.x (Hx& Px) → (PS), and
ii.x (Hx & Sx).

Gaṅgeśa’s trick implicitly trades on the theorem“AB ≡ ¬ (AB)”. Thus clause (i) is virtually equivalent toV1. This shows too that we do not yet have a definitionwhich can deal with the partially locatable properties, for which weneed something more like V2. HenceGaṅgeśa’s final definition is:

V3Pervades (S, H) iff
i.x (Hx &Px & ¬Px) →(PS), and
ii.x (Hx & Sx).

This definition of pervasion is able to handle both universallypositive properties and partially located properties appearing asinferred property.

One may wonder why it is that, since a pervasion relation is of theform “all Hs are S”, the Naiyāyikasdid not simply use the notion of universal quantification in theirdefinitions. The answer, perhaps, is that they were in fact trying todefine this notion, and to do so only in terms of certain othernotions which they took to be primitive, especially the notion ofco-location and absence. If this is correct, however, then we mustshow how to reconstruct the definition without its implicitquantification over a property P (cf. Goekoop 1967).

9. Meaning, Understanding and Testimony

9.1 The Language Processing Mechanism

Just as perception and inference are described, in thepramāṇa system, as knowledge-yieldingfaculties, so too is language. This leads the Nyāya to formulatea description of the mechanism by which a competent language-user isable to decode noise-utterances and derive language-based knowledge.The description The Manual of Reason gives of this‘language processing mechanism’ is as follows (TS 67, 68).The input to the process is the hearer’s auditory perception of aspoken utterance qua uninterpreted noise, and this is identified as the‘special’ instrument cause (karaṇa). Forexample, hearing the noise-string

[*]“The” “cat” “is” “on”“the” “mat”.

The ‘operative condition’(vyāpāra) is the hearer’s (tacit)knowledge of the meaning (śakti-jñāna)of each of the words in the utterance. This is what marks off a personwho understands the language in question from one who does not (but whomay, nevertheless hear the words spoken, without having the capacity tointerpret them). For example, knowledge that

[M1]“the cat” means the cat,
[M2]“the mat” means the mat, and
[M3]“is on” means the substratum-superstratum relation.

The output of the process, i.e. the effect of the combined causalfactors, is the hearer’s forming a belief, for example beliefthat

[P]The cat is on the mat.

Just as, in the case of perception, a number of auxiliary causalfactors, such as there being adequate lighting, the perceiver’ssense-faculty being in good condition, the perceiver paying attention,etc., so here too. Nyāya isolates four such factors for specialattention, namely: spatio-temporal ‘contiguity’(sannidhi) of the uttered words; the speaker’s intention(tātparya); ‘syntactic expectancy’(ākāṅkṣā); and‘semantic fitness’ (yogyatā) (cf.TS 67). The first is self-explanatory: if the words in the utteranceare uttered one at a time over a long period of time, or mixed in withthe words of a distinct utterance, it will be impossible form a properauditory perception of the utterance. The second,‘speaker’s intention’ is appealed to when thesentence contains an ambiguous word—disambiguation proceeds viaconsideration of the speaker’s intended meaning. The Manualof Reason defines ‘syntactic expectancy’ as ‘theinability of one word to produce, without another word, an awareness ofthe relation between them’, and it cites, as an example of anutterance which fails to possess such expectancy, the sentence“horse man elephant”. Clearly the idea is at least that theutterance must be grammatically correct. More than that, there is asuggestion that it is in virtue of the syntactical rules that theunarticulated semantic relations between the words are expressed. Whatmakes it the case that someone who understands the utterance “thecat is on the mat” grasps a united proposition, and not just alist of items [the cat, the on-relation, the mat]? The idea here,perhaps, is that (knowledge of) the syntactical rules generates anawareness of the connecting relations between each of these items.

‘Semantic fitness’ (yogyatā) is anintriguing concept. The Manual of Reason defines it as‘the absence of incompatibility among what is signified by thewords’, and illustrates its definition by contrasting thesentence “He sprinkles the field with water” with “Hesprinkles the field with fire”. The idea is that the activity ofsprinkling is ‘compatible with’ (i.e. can only be donewith) a liquid like water, and not with a substance like fire. It wouldbe like saying “Cathood is on the mat” or perhapsChomsky’s “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously”.Such sentences, though grammatically correct, do not make sense. Thiscausal factor, then, is that an utterance is intelligible only if theproposition expressed is ontologically possible, by the light of apreconceived ontological system, such as the Vaiśeṣikasystem of categories. Some Naiyāyikas, however, impose a moredemanding requirement, that to be ‘semantically fit’ theutterance must be true, i.e. that ‘fit’ =‘true’, not merely ‘possible’, and consequentlythat an utterance is intelligible only if it is true! In effect, theyidentify ‘semantic fitness’ with the‘guṇa’ or ‘causal factor leading totruth’, in the language-processing mechanism. We will return tothis dispute a little later.

9.2 Semantic Power and the Reduction of Semantic Properties

The Manual of Reason’s definition of a word iscelebrated and often quoted. It says (TS 66) that a word is that whichhas semantic power (śaktaṃ padam). A sentence(vākya) is defined as a collection of words. So TheManual of Reason’s definition fits with the modern one,according to which a word is a semantically significant sententialconstituent. Semantic power is that knowledge of which enables thecompetent hearer to interpret the word, and this, for theNaiyāyikas, consists in the word’s standing for an object.Thus, someone who understands the word “cat’ knowssomething of the form <“cat” means cat>, where“means” is a relation between words and objects of sometype. The Manual of Reason raises three questions about thisrelation: (i) Is it a new and irreducible type or relation, notreducible, that is, to any of the relations already admitted (TSD 66a)?(ii) What is the relatum, i.e. with what type of entity are wordssemantically related (TSD 66b, k)? (iii) How do we learn the meaning ofa word (TSD 66c, d).

(i) The Mīmāṃsakas and Grammarians were‘essentialists’ about meaning, arguing that the Sanskritlanguage is a natural entity, independent of human convention or usage,whose words possess intrinsic semantic powers to signify objects, justas fire has the intrinsic capacity to burn. The Naiyāyikastraditionally opposed this view, arguing instead that language is aproduct of convention, and that it is possible to account for aword’s semantic power in terms of stipulations governing its use.The claim is that we can define (and hence analyse) themeaning-relation thus:

x means y iff there is a decree/stipulation(saṅketa) of the form “Let utterancesof x generate cognitions of y”.

Now a stipulation or decree is claimed to consist in thedecree-maker’s having a certain mental state, viz. a‘desire’ or ‘will’ (icchā) ofthe form specified. Thus, the meaning relation is analysed in terms ofmental states and their contents, and not as a new type of relation.Who is the decree-maker? The Manual of Reason states that itis God, but most later Naiyāyikas drew a distinction betweenwords which have belonged ‘endlessly’ in the language(introduced by God) and words introduced by an explicit humanstipulation (e.g. the technical terms in Pāṇini’sgrammar).

(ii) What is the meaning-relatum of a word like “cow”, ageneric nominal expression? Here again The Manual of Reasoncontrasts the Nyāya view with that of theMīmāṃsakas. One sub-school ofMīmāṃsakas (the Bhātta) claim that themeaning of “cow” is the universal cowhood, since sentenceslike “(The) cow is an animal”, or injunctive laws like“Never kick a cow”, say something about the entire class ofcows, not about any one individual. Thus:

(Bh)“cow” means cowhood.

In reply to the obvious objection, that in many other sentences,such as “The cow is in the garden”, a particular cow isreferred to, these Mīmāṃsakas appeal to the ideathat a sentence can carry an ‘implication’(ākṣepa) other than its literal meaning. Thusthe sentence “The cow is in the garden” may mean literallythat cowhood is collocated with occurrence-in-the-garden (i.e. thatthere exists a cow in the garden), but carries the implication that acertain particular cow is in the garden. The principle here is that aprior awareness of the qualifier(viśeṣaṇa) leads to an implicatedawareness of the thing qualified (viśeṣya) (TSD66b). The Nyāya reply to this argument proceeds by way ofrejecting the principle cited, for, they say, awareness of a qualifieror universal is possible only via an awareness of the thing qualified.

The Manual of Reason states the modern Nyāya view:the meaning of an utterance of the word “cow” is aparticular individual as qualified by cowhood(jāti-viśiṣṭa-vyakti):

(Ny)“cow” means a-cow-as-qualified-by-cowhood.

The idea is this. Anyone who understands an utterance of thesentence “(The) cow is in the garden” does so by (a)identifying a certain object as the referent of the word“cow”, and (b) grasps that that individual is qualified bythe property occurrence-in-the-garden. However, one can only identifyan object by distinguishing it from others, and this involves the useof a distinguishing feature. So the individual is grasped in awarenessas distinguished/qualified by the feature cowhood. Since the meaning ofa word is, by definition, its contribution to the final beliefgenerated by hearing the utterance containing the word, the meaning of“cow” is an individual as qualified by cowhood. Note that,on such a theory, token utterances of “cow” vary withrespect to the individual to which they refer, but every tokenutterance nevertheless shares a common semantic property, viz. “…—qualified-by-cowhood”. The Naiyāyikas in thisway draw a distinction between type- and token- meaning (or, as somesay, between meaning and reference).

The other Mīmāṃaka sub-school(Prābhākara) claim that, in order to explain the factthat, on hearing a sentence, we grasp a unified proposition and notjust a list of entities, the meaning-relatum of a word like“cow” is ‘an object connected with another’(itarānvita). The meaning-relatum is a cow along with a‘hook’ to link it with other meaning-relata. Moreprecisely, the meaning of the word would be something like

(Pr)“cow” means a cow-individual, which is ……

So the sentence “The cow is in the garden” does not justmean the list <cow, being in the garden>, as it would if eachword simply designated an object, but rather the connected proposition<cow-which-is in-the-garden>. The idea, in effect, is that allmeaning-relata, are, in Frege’s terminology,‘unsaturated’. To this ingenious suggestion, The Manualof Reason replies (TSD 66k) that it is superfluous, for“since it is possible for the relation [between meaning-relata]to be apprehended as what is signified by the sentence [as a whole], itis not necessary to postulate a semantic power with reference to therelation”. In other words, The Manual of Reason claimsthat general (presumably syntactic) features of the sentence are enoughto connect the meaning-relata, without needing to claim that thosemeaning-relata themselves do the connecting.

(iii) The Naiyāyikas offer the following account (TSD 66c) oflanguage acquisition. The child makes a series of observationsconcerning the linguistic behaviour of adults. She hears adult A uttera certain noise “Bring the cow” say, and sees adult Bperform a certain action, bringing of the cow. Again, she hears A utterthe noise “Bring the horse”, and sees B bring the horse,and hears “Feed the cow” and sees the cow being fed. Then,by a twin inductive process, of (a) “agreement in presence”(anvaya) and “agreement in absence”(vyatireka)—i.e. noticing the correlation between A makingor not making an utterance and B performing or not performing anaction, and (b) ‘collection’ (āvāpa)and ‘rejection (udvāpa)—i.e. noticing theregularities between utterances of “cow” and eventsconcerning the cow, utterances of “bring” and bringingevents, etc., the child understands that the word “cow” islinked with objects belonging the class of cows, etc.

This is an empiricist account of language learning reminiscent ofthe account attributed by Wittgenstein to Augustine, and severelycriticised by him. Apart from the superhuman inferential powersattributed to the child, the problem highlighted by Wittgenstein isthat no amount of observation can show, for example, that the relevantcorrelation is between “cow” and cow-individuals, and notbetween “cow” and B’s cow-directed-actions, theuniversal cowhood, heifers rather than cows, etc. (cf. TSD 66d).

9.3 Testimony

The Manual of Reason says that statements are either Vedicor secular. It adds that (hearing a) Vedic statement is apramāṇa, a means of knowing that which isstated, because Vedic statements are originally uttered by God. (TheMīmāṃsakas dispute this. Not believing in God,they say instead that a Vedic statement is a means of knowing preciselybecause it has no personal origin, and error in testimony is always aresult of human error in the source!) Hearing a secular statement is ameans of knowing only if the speaker is an ‘authoritativeperson’ (āpta). An authoritative person isdefined as one who speaks the truth(yathārthavaktā). There is an ambiguity here: isan authoritative person one who is speaking the truth with respect tothe particular utterance in question, or one who is generally truthful?Another question here is: must the testifiee know that the testifier isan authority in this sense or not?

To confuse matters further, The Manual of Reason says thatthe ‘guṇa’, causal factor responsible forthe truth of the testifiee’s belief, is‘yathārtha-yogyatā-jñāna’,which can mean either (i) veridical cognition of semantic fitness, or(ii) cognition of veridical semantic fitness. In either case, the‘guṇa’ has nothing to do with thespeaker’s credentials, it seems. Option (ii), however, must bewrong, for it cannot be a condition upon testimony that thehearer already knows that what was said is true. Option (i), however,would not guarantee that the final hearer’s belief is true,unless by ‘fitness’ The Manual of Reason nowintends a rather stronger notion, according to which the meaning-relata‘fit’ together iff they are in fact connected, i.e. if theutterance expresses a truth. This is, indeed, how some otherNaiyāyikas understand the notion of yogyatā, butdoes not accord with The Manual of Reason’s owndefinition.

I propose the following resolution. The language processingmechanism was described above as one which issues in the testifieebelieving that which the testifier says. The truth of thetestifiee’s belief will therefore depend upon whether or not thetestifier is speaking truly, and so this should be called the‘guṇa’ here. However, we do not alwaysbelieve what we hear, especially if we have reasons to suppose that thespeaker is not likely to be speaking the truth. It is possible, then,that the output of the language processing mechanism is not simplybelief in what was said, but rather belief simplythat it has been said. There are, roughly, two sorts of casewhen this can happen: (1) if the testifiee judges that the testifier isdeceitful or unreliable or simply uninformed about the topic, and (2)if the testifiee knows on independent grounds that what the testifieris saying is false (which is consistent with the testifier believing itand testifying sincerely), perhaps on a priori groundsconcerning the plausibility of the assertion. With a littleinterpretative licence, we might think that these two conditionscorrespond to the two conditions imposed by The Manual ofReason on testimony: that the testifier must be an‘authority’ (āpta), and that the sentencemust be ‘semantically fit’ (yogya).

10. The Vaiśeṣika Concepts of Universal, Inherence, and Basic Differentium

10.1 Universals

The Manual of Reason reports the standardNyāya-Vaiśeṣika definition of a universal(sāmānya, jāti):

A universal is something which is (i) eternal, (ii) unitary, and(iii) located in a plurality of things (substances, qualities ormotions). (TS 82)

Universals are thus conceived of as unstructured, objectiveproperties which necessarily reside in individuals. The postulation ofsuch entities in the Vaiśeṣika schema has explanatoryforce, accounting for the distinction between ‘natural’ and‘conventional’ classifications. Intuitively, this is thedistinction between groupings such as the class of cows or horses,which reflect natural divisions (“cut nature at thejoints”), and those such as the class of Cabinet Ministers or theclass of endangered species, which reflect anthropocentric concerns.The Naiyāyikas mark this distinction by calling naturalproperties “universals” (jāti) andanthropocentric properties “imposed” or“nominal” properties (upādhi).Correlatively, a semantic distinction is drawn between “naturalkind terms” (naimittikī), i.e. terms the basisfor whose application is a universal, and “imposed kindterms”, terms whose basis for application is an anthropocentricproperty. Udayana tried to make this distinction more precise by givinga list of criteria for a property to count as natural. Examination ofhis list (which are called the“jāti-bādhakas”—impedimentsdistinguishing natural properties) will reveal something further aboutthe nature of the natural properties according to Nyāya.

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The six impediments are (1) ‘non-plurality’—a genuineuniversal must be plurally instantiated; (2) ‘equipollence’(tulyatva)—two co-extensive properties cannot both begenuine universals; (3) ‘cross-connection’(saṃkara)—two genuine universals must not partiallyoverlap; (4) ‘regress’—a property like universalitycannot itself be a universal, on pain of infinite regress(universality-hood, etc. etc.); (5) a property like differentia-hoodcannot be a genuine universal, for by definition the basic differentiashare no common universal property; (6) a property like inherence-hoodcannot be a universal, since it does not inhere in its loci. Of thesesix, the last three are there basically to maintain the internalconsistency of the Vaiśeṣika system, and the first is astraightforward consequence of the definition of a universal. It debarsa singly-instanced properties such as space-hood from the status ofgenuine natural kind, perhaps motivated by the thought that the verynature of a universal consists in its grounding judgements of the form“x is of the same kind as y”, whichpresuppose that there are at least two entities.

The second and third criteria are the most important, and can bestated more formally as follows. If P and Q aredistinct properties, then (equipollence, tulyatva):

[P] = [Q] → either P or Q (orboth) is not a universal,

where ‘[P]’ denotes the extensionof P. The contraposed form is:

P and Q are universals →[P] ≠ [Q].

Note that this does not entail that universal properties areextensionally individuated or equivalent to classes, as some havemaintained. It shows only that corresponding to each class, there is atmost one universal. Although, within the domain of universals, auniversal is uniquely determined by its extension, the distinctionbetween a universal and a co-extensive imposed property (e.g. pothoodand conch-shell-like-neck-hood) is an intensional distinction.

As for the third impediment (sāṃkarya),if P and Q are distinct properties, then

[P] partially overlaps [Q] → either Por Q (or both) is not a universal.

The contraposed form is:

P and Q are universals → [P] ⊂[Q] or [P] ⊃ [Q] or [P] ∩[Q] = ∅.

(The inclusion is strict because of the ‘equipollence’constraint.) In other words, genuine universals are arranged in ahierarchy: given two universals, either they are related as genus andspecies, all instances of one being instances of the other, or elsethey are completely disjoint, having no instance in common (e.g.cowhood-animalhood, cowhood-treehood). The Nyāya say that, ifone universal is thus subsumed by another, the former is‘lower’ (apara) and the latter is‘higher’ (para) (cf. TS 6). The‘highest’ universal of all is ‘existentness’(sattā), into whose extension falls every substance,quality and motion. The demand that universals be organisedhierarchically shows that the Nyāya took as their paradigm thebiological species, which tend to exhibit this structure. Bearing inmind that the term for “universal”, i.e.“jāti” is also the word for caste, Matilal(1971: 76) speculates that

[O]ne might discover in the Nyāya doctrine of genericproperty a remote influence of the socio-religious ideas of theBrahmins. Translated into biological terms, the … principle of‘non-overlapping’ becomes a principle which opposescross-breeding. There is thus some evidence that the Nyāya biasfor real generic properties was partly influenced by the Brahmanicalconcept of an ideal social order where intermixture of classes is notto be permitted.

Some Naiyāyikas, especially Bhāsarvajña andRaghunātha, reject the ‘cross-connection’impediment, pointing out the problems encountered trying to applyit to non-biological natural kinds (e.g. redness and greenness overlap,as do pothood and goldhood). Raghunātha suggests that consistentapplication of this principle would eliminate virtually all universalsfrom the ontology. Udayana’s criterion of a property to be‘natural’ is thus not a necessary one, and neither is itsufficient: none of his impediments shows why the pair‘blue-green’ is more natural than Goodman’s pair‘grue-bleen’ (where x is grue iff x is green and examinedbefore time t, and is blue otherwise, and vice versa for bleen.)

The idea that universals are, in some sense, ‘located’in particulars generated two distinctive objections to the theory.Diṅnāga trades on the spatial metaphor to argue that theNyāya conception of universals is incoherent. For, if auniversal is ‘unitary’, it can be located in at most oneplace, and thus not ‘plurally instanced’. If, conversely,if is located simultaneously at many places, that can only be becauseit has parts, each located at a different place, and hence is not‘unitary’. This argument plays on the ambiguity of thenotion of ‘being located’, and pretends that a universallike cowhood is located in individual cows in just the same sense thata cow is located in a field. Nevertheless, it forces the Nyāyato be more careful in its account of the universal-particular relation.As The Manual of Reason notes (TS 84), a universal is said toreside in its instances by the relation of ‘inherence’(samavāya), defined as an “inseparability”(ayutasiddhi) relation. Of two entities, x andy,

x is inseparable from y iff x cannotexist unless y exists.

The idea is that a cow cannot exist unless the universal cowhoodexists, and that it is in this sense that cowhood is located in thecow. (The same relation is claimed to occur between non-repeatable‘qualities’ (guṇa) and substances, a wholeand its parts, and the basic differentia and the atoms.) Spatiallocation, on the other hand, involves a quite different relation,namely contact (saṃyoga). In this way, the term‘location’ is disambiguated.

The other problem is the classic one: what happens to a universal ifall its instances are destroyed? Can universals exist without beinginstantiated? The definition of the inherence relation permits this,for the requirement is that cows cannot exist without cowhood, not viceversa. We might say that the cow’s existence supervenes on thatof the universal cowhood. However, it is not so clear that we can sayin the same way that the parts (of a car, say) cannot exist unless thewhole (car) exists.

10.2 The Basic Differentia (viśeṣa)

The Vaiśeṣika traditionally and uniquely accept into theirontology a category of item called ‘basic differentia’(viśeṣa), from which, some claim, they derivetheir name. The Manual of Reason defines these items asfollows (TS 83): “those entities which reside in the eternalsubstances [i.e. the atoms] and function as their differentiators arecalled viśeṣa”. The idea is that, just as acow and a horse are distinct entities, as they have distinctproperties, so too even two atoms of the same substance, e.g. earth,must differ with respect to at least one property. Each atom,therefore, possesses a ‘differentium’ unique to itself,which serves to distinguish it from any other atom of the sametype. The assumption, then, is that any two non-identical items aredistinguished by virtue of possessing distinct properties. This is thecontraposed version of Leibniz’ Law that Indiscernibles areIdentical, that (∀P)(PxPy) → (x = y), where“P” ranges over properties. The principle facestriviality unless certain constraints are placed on the range ofproperties quantified over. For example, if the property“… = y” is permitted, the principle statesvacuously that identicals are identical. The Vaiśeṣikasimplicitly restrict the principle to intrinsic, non-relationalproperties of the objects concerned, ruling out, for example,‘being at a certain spatial or temporal location’ as beinga property capable of discriminating two otherwise identicalobjects. Thus, the claim seems to be that no two objects, includingatoms, can be intrinsically identical. This is how Leibniz himselfappears to have understood his Law, saying that “It is alwaysnecessary that beside the difference of time and place there beinternal principles of distinction….thus although time andplace serve in distinguishing things, we do not easily distinguishthem by themselves,” and that “There is no such thing astwo individuals indiscernible from each other. Two drops of water, ormilk, viewed with a microscope, will appear distinguishable from eachother”.

The principle is, admittedly, as strong one. Wittgenstein(Tractatus 5.5302) points out that it entails the logicalimpossibility of a universe containing two identical spheres; Wigginsnotes that it implies the logical impossibility of even a single sphere(or any other symmetrical object), since it entails the identity of thetwo hemispheres (and so on until one reaches a geometrical point). Moreto the point, as the Vaiśeṣikas implicitly realised, itimplies the logical impossibility of more than one atom of a givensubstance (having a certain velocity, spin, etc.). Rather than rejectthe principle, however, they instead introduced new intrinsicproperties, the basic differentia, thereby avoiding the unpalatableconsequence.

11. The Ontology of Nonexistence (abhāva) and the Semantics of Negative Statements

11.1 Motivations

The later Naiyāyikas develop a remarkable theory ofnonexistence. According to them, the absence of an object orfeature at a particular spatial or temporal location is a state ofaffairs just as objective as the presence of the object orfeature there. To Kanāḍa’s original list of sixcategories (padārtha) or types of existent, theytherefore add a seventh, ‘absence’(abhāva). This ontological doctrine is underpinned by(i) phenomenological and (ii) semantic considerations.

(i) The phenomenological point was that a negative awareness, saythat a certain person is not in the room, is a kind of awarenessphenomenally distinct from any awareness about what is in the room.Cognition of what is not has an autonomous phenomenology (this idea isnotably articulated by Sartre). The principle appealed to is thus:

P1Experiences of nonexistence are phenomenally distinct from, and irreducible to, experiences of existents.

The idea emerges in the Nyāya epistemology with their claimthat absence is perceived, and that this perception is a suigeneris type of perceptual experience, not reducible to acombination of ordinary perception and inference (cf. the sixth type ofsensory connection in Uddyotakara’s list).

(ii) The semantic point is that the Nyāya espouse a versionof the correspondence theory of truth, according to which truesentences correspond to facts. It is alleged that true negativesentences (e.g. “The pot is not on the ground”) correspondto ‘negative facts’. Facts, however, are all, for theNyāya, of the same basic relational form, ‘bRa’(they are said to have a qualificand-relation-qualifier structure; i.e.they are complexes of existing entities). This restriction on whatconstitutes a fact is expressible via the following semanticalprinciple:

P2Sentences correspond to facts constructed out of simple or complexentities (i.e. entities like ‘a’, ‘absence ofa’, ‘a-&-b’, ‘a-or-b’).

The principle entails that one cannot use the truth-functionalconnectives to construct facts, except where they are equivalent toterm-logical connectives. (For example, the sentence “Rama andSita are righteous” is equivalent to “Rama is righteous andSita is righteous”, but the term-connective in “Rama andSita are married” is not similarly eliminable in favour of thetruth-functional conjunction “Rama is married and Sita ismarried”.) The point is that a sentence like “The pot isnot on the ground” cannot correspond to a fact of the form‘¬bRa’ (as there are no such facts according toP2), but must rather correspond to a fact of the form‘bRā’. Hence the introduction into one’sontology of negative entities.

11.2 Temporally and Spatially Located Absence

The Manual of Reason (TS 85–88) reports the usualNyāya view that there are four types of absence: priornonexistence (prāgabhāva); posterior nonexistenceor ‘destruction’ (dhvaṃsa);‘constant’ or ‘absolute’ absence(atyantābhāva); and difference(anyonyābhāva). Of these, the first two refer topossible temporal states of a transient object. Suppose we representthe temporal duration of a person A by the following line(assuming that he lived between 1650 and 1750):


At any time t1 prior to 1650, A does notyet exist, and at any time t3 later than1750, A no longer exists. In accordance with the aboveprinciples, Nyāya reformulates these negative existential claimsas positive existential statements about negative entities, namely,the ‘prior absence of A’,‘<A’ say, and the ‘posterior absenceof A’, ‘A>’ say. Thus, thefirst reads:

<A exists at t1,

or, since, in the Nyāya idiom, objects are said to be locatedin time as well as in space,

  1. <A is located at t1.


  1. A> is located at t3.

What happens at times such as t2? These are times atwhich A exists or is present (is located). Note, furthermore, that, att2, there is a posterior absence of <A(for the prior absence of A is destroyed when Acomes into existence), which we designate by‘(<A)>’. There is also a prior absenceof A> (for the posterior absence of A does notyet exist), i.e. ‘<(A>)’. The Manualof Reason (TSD 89E) records the older Naiyāyikas’claim that these double absences must be identical with the originalentity, on pain of an infinite regress. Thus:

(<A)> = <(A>) = A.

Later Naiyāyikas apparently disputed this natural identity(which corresponds to the Law of Double Negation in classical logic),on the ground that double negative constructions contain the concept ofnegation, and hence are logically more complex.

A third type of absence, called ‘constant’ or‘absolute’ absence (atyantābhāva) isillustrated by constructions of the form “The pot is not on theground”. The Manual of Reason states (TS 87)that what distinguishes this type of absence is that it is located inthe three times—past, present and future. This seems odd, as it mightbe that the pot is on the ground at some times but not others. Perhapsthe point is that the locus of the absence here is a spatial entityrather than a temporal one. For example, the construction “Heatis not in ice” illustrates this kind of absence. Perhaps,furthermore, the force of this negation is that the pot isnever located on the ground—hence we cannot speak of theprior or posterior absence of the pot (for these concepts are definedin terms of times when the pot is present). (E.g. Udayana’sdefinition of a substance as that which does not have a constantabsence of qualities.)

The fourth type of absence, ‘difference’(anyonyābhāva), is illustrated by the sentence“The pot is not (the) cloth”. This is to be read as anon-identity statement.

The Naiyāyikas thus say that every negative sentence is thenegation of a sentence of the form“aRb”, and they distinguishbetween cases where the relation R is the identity relation and caseswhere it is a relation other than identity. The objecta is called the locus of the absence, and the objectb is called the ‘counterpositive’ or‘negatum’ (pratiyogin) of the absence, i.e. it isthe object whose presence in the locus is being denied. Thishighlights the fact that absences are thought of as a kind of propertyor ‘locatable’, rather than as a kind of‘location’ (at least when the relation is not identity).For example, the absence of A is located in many places atonce. It is not said that there is a distinct absence-of-A ateach and every place where A is absent. We can now see howthe Nyāya parse negative sentences without using a sententialnegation. Take the sentence “The pot is not blue”. Thefirst-order paraphrase of this would be: It is not the case that thepot is blue (¬Fa). The Nyāya strategy isfirst to say that every property, such as blueness, has both anextension F (places where it is located) and acounter-extension F′ (places where its absence islocated), and then to paraphrase the sentence as: The pot hasabsence-of-blue. Note that a partially locatable property is one forwhich the extension and counter-extension overlap—it is possiblefor a feature to be collocated with its absence.

11.3 The Logic of Negation

The Manual of Reason (TS 89) makes some very interestingobservations about the logical properties of absence or negation.

Reference versus description. It is claimed thatthere is a distinction between a qualified absence(viśiṣṭābhāva) and a mere absence(kevalābhāva). Consider the following pair ofsentences:

  1. Annambhaṭṭa is not in the room, and
  2. The author of The Manual of Reason is not in the room.

The idea is that in (3) the ‘mere’ absence ofAnnambhaṭṭa is located in the room, whereas in (4) aqualified absence (of Annambhaṭṭa as qualified byauthorhood) is located in the room. Do (3) and (4) really have distinctlogical forms? Perhaps we find here a realisation that nominalexpressions such as “The author of The Manual ofReason” have two distinct logical functions, namely those ofreferring to an individual and describing anindividual via his properties. (4) can thus be read either asasserting the same as (3), that Annambhaṭṭa is not inthe room, or as saying that the author of The Manual ofReason, whoever it or she is, is not in the room, i.e. that theproperties ‘being the author of The Manual ofReason” and “being in the room” are notcollocated. If that is the sense in which (4) involves a qualifiedabsence, then (3) and (4) do have different logical forms.

Universal Quantification. The Manual ofReason draws another very important distinction, between aspecific absence (viśeṣābhāva) and ageneric absence (sāmānyābhāva). These areillustrated by the following sentences:

  1. (This) pot is not in the room, and
  2. (Any) pot is not in the room

(N.B. they would be expressed by the same sentence in Sanskrit;hence the brackets). To say that there is a specific absence of pot inthe room is to say that some particular pot is not in the room, but tosay that generic absence of pot in the room is to say that any pot isnot in the room (i.e. no pot is in the room). The distinction is thuslinked to the formulation of universally quantified constructions.Indeed, in Nyāya logical theory, generic absences are used toformulate the pervasion (vyāpti) relation: “wherethere is smoke there is fire” is contraposed to give “wherethere is no fire there is no smoke”, and this is expressed bysaying that there is a generic absence of smoke in places where thereis a generic absence of fire (cf. Ingalls 1951: 54–5). It isclear that (5) and (6) do have distinct logical forms. In theNyāya technical language, the distinction is made out by sayingthat the property which delimits the counterpositiveness of the absence(i.e. the pratiyogitāvacchedaka) is this-pot-hood in(5), but pothood in (6).

Logical Connectives and De Morgan’sLaws. The Manual of Reason touches on the meaning ofconjunctive and disjunctive absence, i.e. absence of (both Aand B) (ubhayābhāva) and absence of(either A or B)(anyatarābhāva). It observes that an awareness thattwo pots are absent is consistent with an awareness that one pot ispresent (and the other absent). In fact, as Ingalls shows (1951:63–67) the Nyāya recognised the validity of two generalequations:

(Video) Analytical Philosophy

absence of (both A and B) = (absence of A)or (absence of B), and

absence of (either A or B) = (absence of A)and (absence of B).

These are recognisably versions of De Morgan’s Laws, that¬(A & B) ≡ ¬A ∨¬B, and that ¬ (AB) ≡¬A & ¬B. As an example of the second ofthese laws, consider Mathuranātha’s remark (1951: 66) thata ‘heap’ of (specific) absences(abhāva-kūṭa) is equivalent to a genericabsence. A place which is the locus of generic absence of fire is aplace at which every particular fire is absent, and conversely, ifevery specific fire is absent, then fire is generically absent. Thusthe ‘heap’ (conjunction) of specific absences of fire, isequivalent to the absence of any fire at all (the disjunction ofspecific fires).


What is modern analytic philosophy? ›

Analytic Philosophy (or sometimes Analytical Philosophy) is a 20th Century movement in philosophy which holds that philosophy should apply logical techniques in order to attain conceptual clarity, and that philosophy should be consistent with the success of modern science.

When was analytic philosophy started? ›

Analytic philosophy underwent several internal micro-revolutions that divide its history into five phases. The first phase runs approximately from 1900 to 1910. It is characterized by the quasi-Platonic form of realism initially endorsed by Moore and Russell as an alternative to Idealism.

What is analytic philosophy of history? ›

analytic philosophy, also called linguistic philosophy, a loosely related set of approaches to philosophical problems, dominant in Anglo-American philosophy from the early 20th century, that emphasizes the study of language and the logical analysis of concepts.

Who is the father of analytic philosophy? ›

Moore. Moore is generally regarded as one of the founders of analytic philosophy, yet his own early conception of analysis is surprisingly traditional.

What is the example of analytic philosophy? ›

Analytic philosophy means using common experience and ordinary language to analyze concepts and language in philosophy. Linguistic analysis, which studies the way words are used, is an example of analytic-philosophy.

What is analytic philosophy in simple words? ›

Definition of analytic philosophy

: a philosophical movement that seeks the solution of philosophical problems in the analysis of propositions or sentences. — called also philosophical analysis. — compare ordinary-language philosophy.

What is the nature of analytic philosophy? ›

analytic philosophy, Philosophical tradition that emphasizes the logical analysis of concepts and the study of the language in which they are expressed. It has been the dominant approach in philosophy in the English-speaking world since the early 20th century.

What are the characteristics of analytic philosophy? ›

Analytic philosophy is characterized by an emphasis on language, known as the linguistic turn, and for its clarity and rigor in arguments, making use of formal logic and mathematics, and, to a lesser degree, the natural sciences.

Why is analytic philosophy important in education? ›

Studying analytic philosophy, which provides systematic analysis of the concepts at hand, can provide this prerequisite clarity about the meaning of the concepts central to ordinary questions. A possible critique of this role for conceptual analysis is that philosophers do not agree on the meaning of concepts.

What are the types of 20th century philosophy of analytic philosophy? ›

Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy
  • The Solera System.
  • Philosophical Logic.
  • Logical Positivism and the Tractatus.
  • G. E. Moore: A Ton of Bricks.
  • Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy: "The Stream of Life"
  • Ryle and Austin: The Golden Age of Philosophy.
  • W. V. O. Quine.
  • Direct Reference Theories.

What real life situation can apply analytic method? ›

You can apply analytical thinking in just about every situation, such as developing or improving programs or products, relational issues, processes, identifying audience and client needs and more.

Is Wittgenstein an analytic philosopher? ›

Contrary to currently popular ''irrationalist'' interpretations, Wittgenstein was an analytic philosopher in all phases of his career, albeit an exceedingly exotic one whose style transcends the limits of academic philosophy in general.

What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? ›

So analytic philosophy is concerned with analysis – analysis of thought, language, logic, knowledge, mind, etc; whereas continental philosophy is concerned with synthesis – synthesis of modernity with history, individuals with society, and speculation with application.

What is analytic philosophy of religion? ›

For instance, analytic philosophy of religion deals with the question of whether this world is the product of a supernatural creator, and whether the amounts and kinds of evil found in this world are compatible with the existence of a loving God.

Why is analytic philosophy important? ›

In general, the goal in analytic philosophy is to discover what is true, not to provide a useful recipe for living one's life. This is the self-conception of Analytic philosophy that we wish to combat.

What is the nature of analytic philosophy? ›

analytic philosophy, Philosophical tradition that emphasizes the logical analysis of concepts and the study of the language in which they are expressed. It has been the dominant approach in philosophy in the English-speaking world since the early 20th century.

What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? ›

So analytic philosophy is concerned with analysis – analysis of thought, language, logic, knowledge, mind, etc; whereas continental philosophy is concerned with synthesis – synthesis of modernity with history, individuals with society, and speculation with application.

Who invented modern philosophy? ›

Descartes is often called “the father of modern philosophy”, and understandably so. Many of the metaphysical and epistemological questions that have come to dominate philosophy since the early twentieth century are expressed, quite beautifully and some for the first time, in his works.


1. 44 Early Analytical Philosophy Of Language
(e-Content:Social Science)
2. Canons and the History of Analytic and Chinese Philosophy
(Daria Drozdova)
3. Analytic philosophy
4. 20th c philosophy
(Paula Droege)
5. Intro to Bertrand Russell 2 Symbols Facts Names Analytic Philosophy
(Chad A Haag Ecological Hermeneutics)
6. Russell Feels Sense Data Speaks With Pure Certainty: Empirical Analytic Philosophy & OR Formal Logic
(Eric Gerlach)

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