Author Topic: Mechanism of anumAna Pt. 1  (Read 1693 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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Mechanism of anumAna Pt. 1
« on: February 17, 2010, 11:03:32 PM »
Mechanism of anumAna Pt. 1

We are discussing the anumAna pramANa as a means of knowledge. Inferential knowledge follows (anumiti – comes after) some other knowledge, usually perceptual. The classical example is: I see smoke on the distant hill, and I infer that the hill on fire, even though I do not actually see the fire. Here, the knowledge of the smoke and the distant hill occur through the perceptual process. Hence, they are objective knowledge based on attributive content. This knowledge is immediate and direct as we discussed before.

However, knowledge of the fire is not immediate and direct since I do not perceive it. I infer that the distant hill is on fire based upon the concomitant relationship between smoke and fire, which is called vyApti. The inference depends on this relation or vyApti; and if I do not know the relation, I cannot infer that there is fire on the distant hill. Technically, the terms used in formulating this means of knowledge are as follows:

hetu, li~Nga, mark or middle term - refers to the smoke on the distant hill;
sAdhya, character or major premise - refers to the fire on the distant hill.
The hill itself is called pakSha, the minor term.
The conclusion or inference, however, is based on the concomitant relation between the smoke and the fire and is called vyApti.

The vyApti in this case is: wherever there is smoke there is fire, as is observed in the kitchen. The kitchen provides a dRRiShTAnta [instance, example] for establishing the concomitant relation between smoke and fire. We have mentioned that the vyApti is asama, meaning it is unidirectional; i.e. wherever there is smoke there is fire but not the other way round. Wherever there is fire there need not be smoke. For example we do not see smoke with a red-hot iron ball.

The invariable concomitance or vyApti between the middle term or hetu (smoke) and the major term, sAdhya (fire) is the back bone of the inferential knowledge or syllogism. It provides a universal proposition showing the connection between the two. It has to be acquired by observation and generalization. The observation used refers to a kitchen (in olden days where fire-wood was commonly used for cooking), that smoke is always seen whenever a fire is present; and this observation is now generalized to: ‘wherever there is smoke there must be fire’. This forms the vyApti or invariable concomitant relation.

As per Indian logic, the universal proposition is supported by at least one observation, if there are no contradictory observations. Hence inferential knowledge, according to India logic, involves deductive and inductive reasoning; and there is no separation between the two, as in western logic. anumAna or inferential knowledge is therefore, an inductive generalization with deductive particularization. The particular observation is: I see smoke when there is a fire in the kitchen. The deductive reasoning is: whenever there is smoke in the kitchen there must be a fire there. Generalization of this is then made to conclude that, wherever there is smoke there must be fire – i.e. independent of any condition. This generalization is by induction, that smoke cannot exist independently of fire.

The advaitic position differs from that of the naiyAyika-s in several aspects as outlined by VP. According to the naiyAyika-s, inferential knowledge involves several steps. With reference to the fire example, the steps involved are as follows:

First we see smoke in a kitchen, etc. Second, we recollect that smoke is never without a fire. Third, we consider that the smoke is on the distant hill where fire has to be inferred by the process of ‘parAmarsha’, which involves reflection and consideration. Thus this third step, involving parAmarsha, is instrumental for the inferential knowledge. VP dismisses these procedural processes. It says we cannot establish that this parAmarsha is required for the inferential knowledge. parAmarsha involves brooding over the observations and vyApti to arrive at the conclusion that the distant hill is on fire. VP says that it takes place by vyApAra and not parAmarsha [i.e. something actually happening rather than mere thought]. vyApAra is related to vyApti. It involves immediate recollection or transaction with the concomitant relation between the hetu and sAdhya. Hence, as soon as I see the smoke on the distant hill, I remember the universal relation that smoke cannot exist without a fire and therefore immediately infer that there is fire on the distant hill. There is no need to reflect on the matter. The vyApti is already a universalized relation based on prior particular observation. Hence VP says that, when the vyApti is available in the mind, then VyApAra (here connecting the smoke to the fire via the vyApti) can take place in the mind without any parAmarsha being required.

In order for the inferential knowledge to take place, one should have knowledge of the concomitant relation. The knowledge should be available with the person as a latent impression in the mind, ready for its immediate operation, vyApAra or use, as soon as the hetu is observed. ‘Latent impression’ is not the same as ‘recollection’, but is a source for it. It is similar to saying that, when I go into the deep sleep state, all the knowledge I have goes into a latent form, which can be materialized as soon as I wake up.

Hence, ‘recollection’ for the advaitin is not the same as is understood by the naiyAyika-s. For the naiyAyika-s, recollection involves two aspects: its non-existence in the mind before a thing is recollected and its non-existence later after the operation of inferential knowledge. This means that the recollected information was not present in the mind before or after. It is produced when it is needed and destroyed when its function is over. These are called prAk abhAva and pradhvamsa abhAva, i.e. its non-existence before and non-existence after. The reason they subscribe to this is due to their belief in asat kArya vAda, that existence comes from its non-existence. E.g. in the example of a pot, the pot came into existence from its prior non-existence and it returns to non-existence when it gets destroyed. Thus, non-existence of a thing forms the ‘cause’ for its later existence. In the current example, the recollection of the vyApti involves its coming into existence in my mind (so that I become aware of it) from its prior non-existence. And, after the inferential knowledge has taken place, it goes back to its non-existent state.

VP rejects these arguments. If existence came from non-existence, this would violate the fundamental law that non-existence can never become existence (nAsato vidyate bhAvaH). Besides, there is no particular reason why a specific vyApti that happens to be needed should come into existence, since any vyApti might arise from its non-existence. In addition, there is no reason to have a prior vyApti to be established by dRRiShTAnta or observation. Advaita does not subscribe to asat kArya vAda. The vyApti is in potential or latent form in the mind, and comes into existence when needed. When there are many types of vyApti-s stored in a latent or potential form, only that which is relevant will come up for recollection. In the example, it is the vyApti that relates the smoke to fire. ‘Latent impression’ means that it exists as latent, just as a pot exists in potential form in the clay. This is called saMskAra or latent impression in the mind about the concomitant relation.