[Advaita-l] knowledge and the Means of Knowledge - 25
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 13 10:01:55 CDT 2008
We are discussing Vedanta ParibhASha of Dharmaraja Advarindra, based on my understanding.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Knowledge and the Means of Knowledge – 25
We have discussed thus for the knowledge through perceptual process. This is direct and immediate means of knowledge of objects and thus the world. Five senses forms the means through which the external world is perceived. Similarly the perception of internal emotions also happens directly and immediately. Since it is immediate and direct, the perceptual knowledge occurs in the present. However, present is not in time, it is actually beyond the time concept as discussed earlier. One can ‘ride’ on the present, live in the present, work in the present and enjoy in the present only, but yet, there is no ‘time’ in the present. It is a dynamic present and not static. Life involves movement. Movement involves a reference. That which is static in the dynamic is one’s presence. For time to be conceptualized one needs two sequential events or sequential experiences, present and past, translated as ‘now’ and ‘then’. Hence living all the time
in the present is same as going beyond the ‘time’ concept, which requires tremendous discipline of the mind for it to get detached from attachments to the past and anxieties about future. That can be done more easily if one surrenders the past and the future at the alter of devotion, while acting in the present as an offering to that Lord. That forms the essence of surrender or sharaNAgati. Perceptual process then becomes living with the world in the present. The static that is behind the dynamic present involves the conscious presence. In that understanding, the Lord and the subject is understood as one and the same. Then what is perceived, the means of perception, as well as the knowledge of perception, all the three (tripuTi) are recognized as either His vibhuuti or the glory of the consciousness itself.
In the perceptual process we reduce the existence that which is one without a second into a binary format. That is, there are only two things – the subject I, a conscious entity, who is present all the time and changing objects of perception, that is the world. This reduces to ‘I thought’ aham vRitti and ‘this thought’ idam vRitti; also as perception and apperception, in terms of the pot expressed as knowledge of ‘this is a pot’ and cognition of that knowledge as ‘I know this is a pot’ – knowledge of the known and knowledge of the knower knowing known. Known keeps changing with changing ‘this’ or idam, while the knower, the subject remains the same.
Coming back to the means of knowledge of ‘this’, according to Advaita, which follows closely Bhatta Schollo of Miimaamsa, there are six means of knowledge of which the perception is direct and immediate. The other means of knowledge are anumaana (inference), shabda (verbal testimony), upamaana (simile), arthaapatti (postulation), and anupalabdi (non-apprehension). In contrast to perception, other pramANas are considered as indirect and mediate knowledge. According to Advaita, shabda can be also direct and immediate under certain circumstances. That is when the object of knowledge is immediately available, and is being directly pointed out, as in the case of the 10th man story. That which is indirect and mediate knowledge rests on pratyaksha or direct perception for its validation. In science, we follow closely the anumaana or inferential knowledge based on perceptual data. Based on the effects that we perceive we deduce the cause for the effects
where deductive and/or inductive reasoning is employed to arrive at the knowledge. Here, the perception of the data or observations is the direct knowledge, and deductive cause for the observed effects perceived is indirect knowledge. Thus inferential knowledge follows the perceptual knowledge – Hence it is called anumaana meaning knowledge that follows perceptual knowledge. In understanding the inferential process, NaiyAyikas have taken the lead by providing a systematic study of the inferential knowledge. Indian philosophers closely follow NaiyAyikas in this regard, although they deviate from NaiyAyikas in details. VP discusses extensively the deviations from the Advaitic perspective.
The basic ingredients in anumaana are the effects that are perceived, technically called hetu, and based on which a conclusion that one arrives at, which is the inferential knowledge and is called saadhya. There has to be some basis for the deduction and that is the relation between the effects and the cause; that relationship is called vyaapti, which must have been established a priory by previous direct perceptual process. Hence the inferential knowledge is essentially based on the vyaapti, the relation between the cause and the effects, which western epistemologists call it as invariable concomitance. Vyaapti means pervasion or inherence – here it is the inherence of saadhya with hetu. That is, wherever saadhya is there hetu should be there or universal inherence of one with the other. This forms the core of inferential knowledge. The simple example is wherever there is smoke there must be fire. Here smoke is the hetu and fire is saadhya. This
vyaapti or concomitant relation between smoke and the fire is established by perceptual knowledge in the past, as in the kitchen. Here the relation between the hetu and saadhya is direct, while the converse relation is not true, that is wherever there is fire there need not be smoke, as in red hot iron ball. Hence the pervasiveness of hetu and saadhya are not necessarily reciprocal. This we will establish later by logic called anvaya and vyatireka, which provides the relation between two things. Once this vyaapti jnaanam or the knowledge of the concomitant relation between smoke and the fire is established, then whenever I see smoke, I can infer that there must be fire, even if I do not see the fire. Hence vyaapti forms the basis of the interferential knowledge. Thus the basic ingredients of the inferential knowledge are hetu, perceptual data based on which the inferential knowledge is drawn, saadhya, the inferential knowledge or conclusion that is
made and vyaapti, the basis on which this conclusion is made that is the inherent relation between the hetu and saadhya.
In the example of smoke and fire, the relation between them is not reciprocal. It is only unidirectional and not bidirectional – this is called asama or unequal vyaapti. In establishing these relation NaiyAyikas have developed anvyaa and vyatireka relations between two entities. These logical deductions are based on Navya Naaya developed extensively by Gangesha UpAdhyAya of 11th century. There are cases where reciprocity is valid. For example let us examine the proposition – whatever is namable is knowable - and conversely, whatever is knowable is namable. Here the vyaapti is called sama vyaapti since reciprocity is valid means of knowledge. Coming to anvyaa, it refers to the affirmative relation where one is, the other is. In the case of smoke and fire, we have the case – smoke is, the fire is. Here one is dependent and the other is independent. Hence independent can exist independently of the other – hence vyatireka vyaapti does not hold
here - this is expressed as smoke is not, but fire is. That is, fire can exist independent of having smoke – and the example we have is Red hot iron ball where there is fire but no smoke. The independent variable is called vyaapaka or principle concomitant and in our example it is ‘fire’. The dependent variable, in the example it is smoke, is called vyaapya or subordinate concomitant.
According to Nyaaya, starting from a vyatireka vyApti or negative invariable concomitance one can infer the presence of one thing due to the presence of the other. Negative invariable concomitance means their agreement in absence of one due to the other. In the case of fire and smoke, the vyatireka vyaapti could be – If there is no fire there is no smoke, as on the lake. Adviatins do not subscribe for this. For them the abover is a postulation (arthaapatti), which we will take up later, and not anumaana. Anumnaana is based on anvaya vyaapti or positive concomitant relation between saadhaka (hetu) and saadhya. That is knowledge of a positive entity, the perception of smoke from which the presence of fire is inferred. It becomes round about to infer that when there is no fire there will not be smoke, and since there is smoke now there should be fire. Inference is not just cause – effect relations either, as some Buddhists subscribe. In the
cause-effect relation there is taadatmya or identity in essence. That is the effect is nothing but cause itself in different form. Hence perception of effect is perception of cause itself in a different form. However inference is different in the sense that there is no taadaatmaya or indentity in their essence between hetu and saadhya. For example, there is no identity in essence between smoke and fire. With this background, we are ready to examine the Vedanta ParibhASha text on inference.
anumaana: VP defines anumaana as the instrument of inferential knowledge called anumiti (anumiti karaNam anumAnam). Anumiti as we explained above is the knowledge that follows (anu = after and miti = knowledge). That is, it follows another knowledge i.e. knowledge of data. The knowledge that follows has to have a bearing with the knowledge that proceeded. Hence the later knowledge that is gained is only because of the inherent relation with the former knowledge. If the inherent relation is not known then the later knowledge will not take place. Hence the later knowledge is produced by the knowledge of the invariable concomitance or vyaapti. The nature of the later knowledge therefore depends not only on the knowledge of the data that is perceived but also on the exact knowledge of the vyaapti or the invariable concomitance. Hence the knowledge that follows, anumiti, is not an attributive objective knowledge but knowledge that is purely based on logical
deduction, which in turn is based on the knowledge of the invariable concomitance. Invariability involves the universality of the relation implying that there is no exception to the rule. Taking the example of smoke and the fire, perception of the smoke is direct objective knowledge which is attributive. That is the vRitti that is formed has in its contents the attributes of the smoke and smoke is recognized directly and immediately. That is the based on pratyaksha pramaaNa. anumiti follows if we have the knowledge of vyaapti that relates smoke to the fire. That is, wherever there is smoke there must be fire, and is a universal invariable concomitance or vyaapti. Hence the inferential knowledge that follows depends on the exact knowledge of this invariable concomitance. We concluded based on the vyaapti that there must be fire. Fire is not an objective knowledge like that of smoke. Just as a supposition, if smoke is related to dust, we can say
there is dust there based on the invariable concomitance that wherever there is smoke there is dust. Thus the knowledge that it is fire or dust depends on the nature of vyaapti. These examples illustrate the fact that the inferential knowledge is as good as or as valid as the knowledge of the invariable concomitance and nothing more. Validity of the inferential knowledge depends on the validity of vyaapti only. Hence vyaapti or the invariable concomitance forms the core of the inferential knowledge.
When the perception of the smoke occurs, as we discussed before, a vRitti forms based on perception of the attributes of the smoke. The resulting knowledge of the smoke is direct and immediate. Along with knowledge of the smoke there is immediate cognition of the knowledge that ‘I know this is smoke’ – thus we have first ‘this is smoke’ through vRitti and followed by what is known as apperception that ‘I know this is smoke’ follows. We mentioned that according to Advaita apperceptual knowledge occurs because knowledge is self revealing. That is, we do not need another means to know that I know. If another means is required then we will end up with infinite regress problem, since knowing that again we need another means, etc. Apperception is not an inferential knowledge, but it is self-revealing knowledge. VP says even in the case of inferential knowledge that ‘there is fire there since I see smoke’, that inferential knowledge of the
fire is self revealing and does not depend again on another vyaapti since it will lead again to infinite regress. Hence, VP says once inferential knowledge through vyaapti is known that inferential knowledge is self-revealing and does not depend on another concomitant relation. Similarly the recollection of the vyaapti – that wherever there is smoke there must be fire – that vyaapti again is not based on another concomitant relation.
Vyaapti is based on previous experience of the cause effect relationship established by pratyaksha pramaaNa only. That the vyaapti ‘wherever there is smoke there must be fire’ is established by direct observation of the relation between the smoke and fire. The knowledge of the vyaapti has to be known from the past observations. Now when I see smoke on a distant hill, the vyaapti or the concomitant relation between the smoke and fire comes from recollection from memory. VP says that recollection of the vyaapti between smoke and fire is again not based on anther vyaapti or another relation, since such requirement would lead again to infinite regress. Hence it is said that vyaapti is not based on another vyaapti for operation.
We can however have a sequential logical deduction before inferential knowledge can takes place. The vyaapti chain can be of the form A is related to B and B is related to C and C is related to D and therefore A is related to D. Here each one is definite and precise relation. Ultimately A is related to D and that vyaapti involves interlinking to B and C via secondary vyaaptis or concomitant relationships, each being universally applicable in order for a doubt-free knowledge to take place. From hetu A to arrive at saadhya D, one has to have complete knowledge of the vyaapti chain. If any missing link in the chain would not result in inferential knowledge of D. Ultimately A to D relation forms one compound vyaapti involving interlinking logical deductions which are needed to arrive at the inferential knowledge of D from A. vyaapti is not a postulation; but universal concomitant relation between two things. In addition ambiguity in the knowledge
resulting in doubt formation can arise if the concomitant relation is not universal. That means if there many exceptions to the relation then the inferential knowledge is not free from doubts. As we discussed before doubts are different from errors. For example if I am not sure it is rope or a snake then it is considered as doubt. However, if I am sure that is a snake where there is a rope, then it is an error. In the case of a doubt the knowledge is subject to verification by the doubter. However if one has concluded that error is the truth, there is no desire to enquire about the real truth. We have concluded that what I perceive is real and therefore the world is real. Hence there is no desire to inquire about the absolute the reality of the world. Scripture points out that our conclusion about the world is in error, which we will discuss with reference to shabda pramaaNa.
Coming back to the anumaana, both Adviatins and NaiyAyikas agree that inference as a means of knowledge operates at two levels; a) swaartha, inferring for oneself and b) paraartha, logically deducing for others. In inferring for oneself, he remembers the concomitant relation between what he sees and deduces what he does not see. When he sees the smoke, he remembers that smoke cannot exist without fire, and therefore infers that there is fire there although he cannot see the fire. But when presenting these facts to the others, he has to provide a formal statement of reasoning (syllogism) in order to convince them of the fact there is fire even though they cannot see the fire. The syllogism involves three steps, according to Adviatins while Naiyayikas feel five steps are required to convince the others. A detailed discussion of this can be found in Methods of Knowledge by Swami Satprakashananda of Adviata Ashrama. The direct and necessary parts consist of
a) proposition or pratijnaa as in, there is fire on the hill, although we do not see, b) the reason (hetu) this proposition is made – Because we see smoke on the hill and c) justification with example – vyaapti with dRiShTanta – wherever there is smoke there must be fire, as in the kitchen. Using the western logic, vyaapti is considered as major and current premise or observation is called minor based which a conclusion is made. That the major promise is – wherever there is smoke there must be fire - and the minor premise is that the hill has smoke and conclusion is therefore the hill is on fire. Naiyayikas subscribe to five step process and how they differ from Advaitins will be discussed next. VP highlights these differences.
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