Author Topic: navya nyAya analysis Part 3  (Read 4132 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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navya nyAya analysis Part 3
« on: February 17, 2010, 10:58:08 PM »
navya nyAya analysis Part 3

We can also distinguish the qualifications as ‘sensory’ or ‘abstract’:

‘Sensory’ qualifications are based on the five senses that function via the sense organs or j~nAnendriya-s, these five senses being sense of sight, sense of hearing, sense of touch, sense of smell, and sense of taste. Forms and colors are measured by the sense of sight, using the eyes as the instrument. Similarly the other senses. The mind perceives the world of objects through the five senses.

Abstract qualities, whether generic or particular, cannot be measured by senses directly but are inferred. ‘Man-ness’ is a generic quality that all men have, but it is an abstract quality that cannot be measured by any particular sense. ‘Man-ness’ is what man has or, alternatively, man is the one that has ‘man-ness’. The definition must necessarily be circular, since it cannot be specifically defined – all of those minimum essential qualities that are together required in order for a man to be a man, constitute the ‘man-ness’ quality.

Similarly, ‘Devadatta-ness’, although defined as svarUpa sambandha, is an assemblage of all those minimum essential qualities that make Devadatta to be Devadatta, and that distinguish him from the rest of men. Devadatta is the one who has ‘Devadatta-ness’, and ‘Devadatta-ness’ is that essential quality which Devadatta has.

Thus, an entity may be differentiated by ‘particular quality’ and ‘generic quality’. As a rule, a quality that further qualifies the generic quality is also treated as a particular quality. For example, pot-ness is a generic quality of all pots. One can define pot-ness-ness further qualifying the pot-ness. This is a second order quality and is treated as a particular or imposed qualification rather than a generic one. One could make a statement: ‘The pot-ness-ness of these pots is different from the pot-ness-ness of the other batch of pots’. Or the sweet-ness-ness of these cakes is different from the sweet-ness-ness of the cakes from another company. It is obvious that we are particularizing the generic quality to specific units to differentiate one unit from the other, within the same genus. To differentiate pot-ness-ness for individual units one has to have knowledge of the generic quality, pot-ness, which is common to all pots.

How do we come to know the pot-ness of the pot? It is only as a result of observation of several pots that one can come to know the general characteristics of those qualities that are common to all pots and are also not present in entities that are ‘not-pots’. Some of the characteristics or qualities that are present in a pot, and that make up the generic characteristic of pots in general, may also be present in non-pots but, in order for us to be able to assign a thing to the genus of ‘pot’, all the minimum characteristics have to be met. Although these generic qualities may be based on qualities that our senses can measure, because it is a combined package, it remains an abstract quality only. Also, pots have to be physically present in order to be able to define ‘pot-ness’. It has to be inferred based upon the experience of actual observation of many pots. If there is only one pot in the universe, there cannot be a genus (jAti) for the pot. This the reason why Brahman, being one of a kind, does not have the jAti characteristic (jAti niiti kula gotra dUragam …brahma tatvam asi bhAvayAtmani, says Shankara in vivekachUDAmaNi).

All classifications in Science are essentially based upon the principle of codifying and quantifying these generic qualities that differentiate one class from another. Cognition and recognition in the perceptual process involves perception of the qualities of the object through the senses, followed by recognition based on prior knowledge of the jAti of the object. Thus, if I see an object on the table, I can say it is a pot, since the perceptual qualities that I see match the ‘pot-ness’ of a pot based upon my memory. Thus, I must have knowledge of pot-ness, in order for me to be able to say that the thing I see is a pot. If I see a new and therefore unfamiliar object, there is cognition but not recognition. I may be able to recognize that there are some qualities similar to objects that I do know, but there will also be other qualities that separate the object from the objects that I know. I may say: ‘it looks like that but it is not that’. (We will discuss this further when we analyze upamAna pramANa.) Hence, any recognition of an entity involves prior memory of the object or its jAti.

Dominant property

There are certain dominant properties that some entities have, which distinguish them from others. For example, the glitter of gold, silveriness of silver or brilliance of a diamond differentiate gold, silver and diamond. (Although all that glitters is not gold, everything that has silveriness is not silver and there are many look-alike diamonds that are so realistic that experts are required to differentiate them.) These ‘dominant’ properties are not the same as generic qualities or jAti-s but may be part of the assemblage of qualities that constitutes their jAti. Thus, glittery-ness is essential for it to be gold but not sufficient to say it must be gold. (We are reminded of the story in which Archimedes discovers the property of density while in his bath and is subsequently able to use this to differentiate real from from apparent gold.) These are dominant properties in the sense that they are immediately visible and conclusions may be made about the related substances based on those properties. (This, in fact, can lead to errors in perception, and therefore in inference as well, since inference is based on perception.)

The fundamental limitation in all objective knowledge comes from two aspects.
1)  No object has both a necessary and sufficient quality to distinguish it from others. We can say that they have svAbhAvika lakShaNa (dominant necessary qualifications, such as sweetness for sugar) but not svarUpa lakShaNa (sufficient qualification – for sufficiency the converse should apply. E.g. If it is sweet, it must be sugar, i.e. sweetness would have to be both necessary and sufficient qualification, which is not the case.) Objects do not have svarUpa lakShaNa because they are made up of parts. navya nyAya gets around this problem by stating that there is an ultimate difference between the atoms that make up the parts and atoms themselves are not made up of parts. But we know that the properties or qualities also depend on how they are packed. For example, the same carbon atoms packed differently gives rise to both the brilliant diamond and the dull, black charcoal. Thus, lack of necessary and sufficient qualification is one aspect.

2) Perception relies upon sense input. Only those dominant or otherwise qualities that the senses can grasp are involved in perceptual knowledge. In addition, the senses can only grasp qualities and not substantives. Hence, if I do not have knowledge of the substantive, and the senses have grasped only limited qualities due to adventitious defects, erroneous knowledge can occur.