Author Topic: navya nyAya analysis Part 4  (Read 4995 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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navya nyAya analysis Part 4
« on: February 17, 2010, 10:57:23 PM »
navya nyAya analysis Part 4

We are re-examining some of the vedAnta paribhAshA statements, in the light of navya nyAya. Some background to this is being provided in this post and the previous one, based on my understanding of D.H.H. Ingalls’ ‘Materials for the study of navya-nyAya Logic’, published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.

We are looking at how these navya nyAya concepts relate to Inferential knowledge. In the last post several concepts were introduced, beginning with their seven ‘fundamental categories’ (padArtha-s). Of these, descriptions of substances (dravya), generic character (jAti), ultimate difference (visheSha), and absence (abhAva) were provided. jAti is the generic abstract qualifier that inheres with the qualificand to make the qualificand belong to a genus. For example, potness in a pot is an abstract qualifier qualifying the pot so that the pot belongs to the family of ‘pots’ or the pot genus. Other examples would be ‘manness’ in man, ‘horseness’ in a horse or ‘cowness’ in a cow.

In contrast to this generic quality, there are particular, abstract qualities qualifying a particular specimen (vyakti) of a genus. Thus, in a statement such as ‘this man is Devadatta’, Devadatta has two qualifiers: one is a generic qualifier – ‘man-ness’, since Devadatta is a man; and the other qualifier is ‘Devadatta-ness’. ‘Man-ness’ will differentiate him from, say, animals or inert objects, and ‘Devadatta-ness’ differentiates him from other men, who also have ‘man-ness’. The latter is called a ‘relational qualifier’.

The generic characteristics, such as man-ness, pot-ness, etc are arrived at after observation of many men (and also many not-men) and many pots (also many non-pots). Similarly, the abstract quality of Devadatta-ness is also arrived at after observing him and his qualities in relation to other men who are not-Devadattas. Particular qualifiers are specific to a given specimen (as in Devadatta-ness) and require careful consideration in relation to other specimens of the same genus. We have discussed that ‘absence’ is also one of the fundamental categories of navya nyAya. We have ‘mutual absence’, (anyonyAbhAva) where identity is denied, as in A ≠ B and vice versa; and we have ‘relational absence’ consisting of (a) ‘prior absence’ (prAgAbhAva), involving absence of a thing before it is created, (b) ‘posterior absence’ (pradhvamsAbhAva), involving absence of a thing after it is destroyed and (c) ‘constant absence’ (atyantAbhAva), involving absence of a thing somewhere independent of time (e.g. there is constant absence of fire in the lake). These absences are in relation to others.


Relation involves two entities. There are many possible types of relation. The most common is ‘contact relation’ or saMyoga, where A is in contact with B. Fire or smoke on the mountain is a contact relation. Here, fire or smoke is qualified by its contact with the mountain which is its locus. It is a fiery or smoky mountain. Other examples are a pot which is on the table or a table with a pot on it, where the qualifier and qualificand keep changing depending on the subject. Another type of relation between two entities is samavAya or ‘relation of inherence’. The generic characters, jAti, have inherent relations with their loci, e.g. man-ness in a man or horse-ness in a horse, etc. These are inherent characteristics that are not separable from their loci, unlike the case of smoke and mountain.

Taking the example of fire on the mountain there are several relations embedded in the statement. We have fire-ness in the fire and mountain-ness in the mountain, where both inhere with their loci. In addition fire and mountain have ‘contact relation’ since the fire is in contact with the mountain; but they do not inhere with each other. Similarly with the relation between smoke and fire, but in this case one is dependent on the other – the existence of the smoke depends on the existence of the fire (not the other way), even though the smoke does not inhere with the fire. Every object, being made up of parts, inheres in its parts. Thus cloth inheres in the threads, threads inhere in the cotton, and cotton inheres in its molecules, etc. Ultimately, according to nyAya, the atoms are self-dependent, and have ultimate qualities that differ for each atom.

Limiting relations: Other important technical terms in navya nyAya are limited (avachChinna) and limiter (avachChedaka). All relations are limiting relations, in which one locus can be differentiated from the other. Consider a generic qualifier, pot-ness. Obviously pot-ness is present in all pots but it is limited to only pots. Similarly the particular qualifiers like Devadatta-ness are limited to Devadatta, because of which Devadatta can be recognized from other men.

Adjunct (pratiyogi) and subjunct (anuyogi): Relations can be expressed in terms of adjunct (pratiyogi) and subjunct (anuyogi). Adjunct normally means something additional to the substantive. In contact (saMyoga) relations, adjunct is one wherein the relation is expressed as ‘one is in or on the other’. The superstratum is adjunct (pratiyogi) and the substratum is termed subjunct (anuyogi).

In the case of smoke with fire, smoke is the adjunct and fire is the subjunct. For fiery mountain, fire is the adjunct and mountain is the subjunct. In the case of non-contact relations, the qualificand is adjunct and the qualifier is subjunct. The word pratiyogi is also used for absence and, since absence cannot be called contact, its meaning in that case will be different. Adjunct and subjunct are used to express relations while superstratum and substratum are expressed in contacts. The superstratum is called adheya in Sanskrit and the substratum is called adhAra. In the case of pot and clay, clay is adhAra and pot is adheya. In this case the relation is not of contact. vidyAraNya uses these terms to denote the ontological difference between the two. Ontologically, clay is more real than pot since the pot can change while the clay remains changeless. In navya nyAya this is expressed by saying that the pot ‘inheres’ in the clay as it is made up of clay.

In the analysis of inference connecting hetu (smoke) to sAdhya (fire,) navya nyAya is very specific in terms of the relations between the two. For example, in the conclusion that the mountain possesses fire because it possesses smoke, it is to be understood that the relation between smoke and fire is not of inherence but only of contact. The smoke and fire have limiting relations in term of contact only. Similarly the relations between the smoke and mountain, and fire and mountain, are limited by contact. On the other hand, the relations between smoke-ness and smoke, and between fire-ness and fire, and mountain-ness and mountain, as well as pot and clay, cloth and threads, etc are inherent relations.

Counterpositive-ness: We discussed the use of adjunct, pratiyogi, and subjunct, anuyogi, in relations involving both contact (saMyoga) and inherent (samavAya) relations. In the case of knowledge involving contact relation, such as fire is on the mountain, fire is adjunct and mountain is subjunct, anuyogi. This knowledge can be expressed in negative format as in ‘there is constant absence of fire in a lake.’ Here, the fire may be called the ‘absential adjunc’t (abhAvIya pratiyogi), since fire is not present at anytime in the lake. This is in contrast to the presence of fire on the mountain. This constant absential adjunct can be referred to as antyAtAbhAva pratiyogini and can be called the counterpositive adjunct. Thus, absence of fire in a lake is the ‘counterpositive-ness’ of the fire in the locus, lake. In principle, any entity which is negated in a locus by the absence x is a counterpositive of the absence x on the locus defined.

We use this example later to state that the absence of silver in nacre is a counterpositive of the absence silver in the locus, nacre. Simply put, this means the negation of the presence of silver in the shell in the past, present or future or its constant absence independent of time, even though momentarily I mistake its presence when I see from a distance. The mistake, of course, arises due to the dominant quality of silveriness present in the nacre, since knowledge is based on attributive content. The silveriness is a necessary and dominant quality of silver but that is not sufficient quality to define the silver, just as sweet-ness is a necessary quality of sugar but is not sufficient to define sugar. The reason is that there are other objects that are not sugar, but are sweet like sugar (e.g. aspartame). Similarly, when I pick up an object thinking that it is silver, based upon the dominant attributive knowledge, I now gather other attributes that are counter to silver, thus negating the presence of silver in the object. This absence is counterpositive absence of silver (antyantAbhAva pratiyogi) since silver was constantly absent (in the past, present and future) in the locus, nacre.

We have used the term counterpositive-ness as an abstract quality of fire in a lake or of silver in nacre. In general, the counterpositive-ness could be the specific or generic absence of the thing in or on the locus specified. It could be absence of specific fire or silver in the locus specified or it could be generic absence of fire or silver in that locus. Similarly the locus could be specific or generic as in a particular lake or a particular nacre, or in any lake or in any nacre. Thus, counterpositive-ness of absence of silveriness in any nacre-ness becomes the generic statement that there is absence of silver in any nacre at all times. The generic absences have the effect of negating all particulars of given class. Thus, the above generic statement implies that for all x, if x is a silver, x is not in any y, if y is any nacre. We should note that it is not the absence of silveriness in any nacre, but the absence of silver in any nacre. I.e. one can have silveriness without having silver, since silveriness (as with sweetness in the case of sugar) is only one of the necessary qualifications of silver but is not sufficient qualification of silver. I.e. it is not a svarUpa lakShaNa of silver. Thus, by changing from specific to generic, one can change the limiting conditions for the counterpositive-ness; i.e. whether a specific silver is absent at all times in a specific nacre, or silver in general is absent in that particular nacre, or silver in general is absent in any nacre, not necessarily in this particular one.

As discussed before, the negation of the previous knowledge that ‘there is silver’ occurs only after the additional attributive knowledge of the object perceived takes place. When I picked up the object thinking that it is silver, I came to know that it is nacre and there is no silver there. In fact, the silver is counterpositive (absent at any time) in the nacre and it is not the case that the silver that I saw was there before and has now disappeared. Similarly, the snake is the counterpositive adjunct or atantAbhAva pratiyogini in the rope that is actually present. This knowledge is gained when I discover that it is a rope. Likewise, the world is the counterpositive adjunct on Brahman as the scripture says, like a ring on gold. I.e. there is never a world where Brahman is, even though I am seeing it.