Nyaya-Vaisheshika Epistemology and Metaphysics

I. The Problem of Knowledge
A. Knowledge versus Opinion
B. Appearance and Reality Problem
C. In Nyaya Vaisheshika the analysis of knowledge claims breaks down into: 1. The knowing subject.
2. The object to be known.
3. The object as known.
4. The means of knowledge whereby the object comes to be known. II. The Means of Knowledge
A. Perceptual Knowledge
1. Perception yields genuine knowledge and presupposes the existence of external objects.
2. Perceptions are either determinate or indeterminate. An indeterminate perception yields no judgment about the nature of the perceived object. Thus, indeterminate perceptions yield no error, revealing a distinction between ignorance and error.
3. Perceptual knowledge is characterized as a perception what really is, whereas error is the perception of something as other than it really is (correspondence theory of truth).
4. The ultimate criteria for testing perceptual knowledge claims are pragmatic (sugar versus salt example).
5. Types of perceptual knowledge [I] The Five Senses, which yield indeterminate perceptions, [ii] internal judgment of the mind applied to sensory input. This yields ordinary perceptual knowledge. [iii] Extraordinary perceptual judgments involving (a) conceptual categories that go beyond sensory input, (b) mixed sensory judgments: ice looks cold (c) Perceptions of past or future, or microscopic, the perceptual powers gained through yogic practice.
B. Inference: Inference is recognized as a valid source of knowledge.� One can infer things about reality independent of perception. The vehicle for such knowledge is reason. The inferences in question are causal, going from what is perceived to what is not. 1. Standard syllogistic form:
[1] Prove that object A (paksha) has property P (sakhya).
[2] A has property Q (hetu)
[3] Whenever property Q exists, property P exists.
[4] A has Q which is always accompanied by P.
[5] It is proved that object A has property P
2. Difficulty: How can universal claims (3) be known to be true (black crow example and the problem of induction)?
Reply: One must know something about the nature or essence of the objects in question. It is not the essence of crows such that they must always be black. But smoke, for example, is essentially connected to fire.
The distinction between accidental and essential properties is determined by perceptions of the extraordinary type involving categories of sense objects.
3. Inferences involving universals are of two types: [i] Unperceived effects can be determined from perceived causes, [ii] Unperceived causes can be determined from perceived effects. Other inferences that are noncausal or do not have necessary uniformity cannot be shown to be true. 4. Fallacies of Inference: Rules for avoiding error.
a. The reason must be present in the paksha and all other objects containing sadhya, i.e., if Q then P.
b. The reason must be absent in objects not containing sadhya, i.e., if not P, then not Q. c. The inferred claim must not contradict a valid perception.
d. The reason should not make possible a conclusion contradicting the inferred claim. C. Comparison: Combines perception with inference and is reducible to neither.
D. Testimony (shabda): Hearing the word of another can produce knowledge if the following conditions are met: 1. Reliability of witness.
2. Person speaking must have knowledge of what is being communicated.
3. The hearer must understand what is being heard.III. The Objects of Knowledge (Vaisheshika Categories)
A. Substance: Something that exist in itself, a substratum for qualities (attributes) and actions.
1. The physical substances: earth, water, light, air, and ether. Such things are known via the senses and are considered composed of indivisible atoms.
2. The inferred substances: time, space, self, and mind. We perceive, e.g., sound, a quality or attribute that must inhere in something, which is space. We perceive change, which is a quality of things that must inhere in time.� Knowledge is an attribute of a self, and sense-experience an attribute of mind.
B. Quality: The basic list includes color, odor, contact, sound, number, measure difference, connection, separation, duration, distance, knowledge, happiness, sorry, volition, hatred, effort, heaviness, fluidity, potency, merit, and demerit.
C. Motion: Five types include upward, downward, contraction, expansion, and locomotion. D. Universals: These are essences or classes of things.
E. Particularity: While things are in some universal class or another, they nevertheless exist as discreet particular objects.
F. Inherence: The unity of properties of a thing that permit perception a single discreet object, rather than a collection of properties.
G. Nonexistence: This is recognized as a genuine object of knowledge! This makes negation possible. H. The Knower
1. The knowing subject is a unique substance, which can have such qualities as knowledge, feeling, and volition. Since none of these are physical qualities (they are not objects of sense perception), they are qualities of a non-physical substance, the self.
2. Since the self can have knowledge of physical objects, sensations, consciousness, and the mind, it follows that self must be distinct from all these. Objects cannot be identical to the subject for whom they became objects.
3. Since consciousness is a quality of the self, the self does not depend upon consciousness in order to exist. Indeed, liberation is seen as liberation from consciousness. Consciousness is consciousness of something or other and thus presupposes a duality of subject and object. The elimination of suffering requires the elimination of duality, and thus the elimination of consciousness. The self continues to exist purely as self.


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