"The Nyaya on True Cognition (prama)" Visvabandhu Tarkatirtha’s
A discussion of the Nyaya concept of truth (pramatva), which is a property of cognition. Relationship of mutual determinant and defined (paraspara-nirapya-nimpaka). The existence of a defect called sankarya. Knowledge of the truth in Navya-Nyaya.
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The second type of relational absence refers to an object after its destruction. It may be called `the no-more type of absence' (dhvamsa'). The absence of a particular table when it is destroyed is present in its parts. Since the destruction of a particular table does not imply the destruction of all tables, the property of being the counterpositive is limited, not by a generic property, but by a specific property of the table which has been destroyed. As regards the limiting relation, here also there is difference of opinion among the Nyaya philosophers. The followers of the Navya-Nyaya do not accept any limiting relation, while the followers of the old Nyaya have accepted a temporal relation as the limiting relation. If the destruction of a particular table is the separation of its parts, then the whole table ceases to exist at time, say, tn, when it is destroyed. If `ceases to exist at time tf is explained as `existent at time tn-f, then the parts are related to the table by the relation of previous existence. For this reason it is claimed that the property of being the counterpositive is limited by the temporal relation of previous existence. Apart from this temporal relation the property of being the counterpositive is not limited by any other relation. A no-more type of absence has a beginning, but no end.
The third type of relational absence is the never type of absence (atyantabhava), for example, the absence of colour in air, or the absence of a jar on the ground. Some of the followers of the old Nyaya do not consider the absence of a jar on the ground as a case of never type of absence. Since a never type of absence has neither a beginning nor an end, and since the absence of a jar on the ground has both a beginning and an end, these philosophers think that there is a need to accept a fourth type of relational absence. But the followers of the Navya-Nyaya as well as some of the followers of the old Nyaya think that the acceptance of the fourth type of relational absence would lead to the postulation of innumerable absences of a jar on the same ground. Each time the jar is removed, a new absence is created, and each time the jar is brought back, the previous absence is destroyed. To avoid this consequence, it is claimed that what ceases to exist when the jar is brought back is not the absence of it, but the relation of this absence to the ground. An absence is related to its locus by a self-linking relation which is to be identified ontologically with its locus. Now the followers of the Navya-Nyaya believe that this self-linking relation in the case of the absence of a jar on the ground is to be identified not with the ground as such, but with the ground when a jar is not present. Since this selflinking relation ceases to exist when a jar is brought on the ground which had an absence of a jar, we cannot perceive this absence when a jar is present on the same ground. So on the ground of parsimony these philosophers have included such examples under the third type of relational absence.
The property of being the counterpositive of a never type of absence is limited by both a property-limitor and a relation-limitor. But the limiting relation is an occurrence-exacting one. (For a detailed discussion as well as for double negation, see ).
The Nyaya use of the word `limitor' requires some explanation. The predominant use of the term may be defined in the following way:
x is limited by y iff
both x and y are properties,
x is a relational property, and
the property y is a mode of presentation of the object where relation property x resides.
In this context it is to be noted that the expression `mode of presentation' is used in such a way that it determines the referent(s) of a term.
Here the author refers to a pervader-pervaded relation. If x is pervaded by y, then x is the pervaded and y is the pervader. For example, smoke is pervaded by fire. In other words, wherever there is smoke there is fire. In this case the contact with the monkey characterizes the top of the tree. So the top of the tree becomes the limitor and the contact with the monkey is the limited. Since the top of the tree is the pervaded of the contact with the monkey, it becomes the limitor.
In the cognition, these are silvers, both the piece of silver and the mother- of-pearl are qualificands. As regards the qualificand -- qualifier (visesya -- visesana) distinction, the Nyaya philosophers claim that it is applicable to every qualificative or relational cognition (savikalpaka--jnana). Only non-qualificative cognition (nirvikalpaka -- jnana) is excluded from its scope. A qualificative cognition has the form aRb, where a is the qualificand, b is the qualifier and R is the qualification relation which relates b to a.
The qualifier plays the role of a distinguisher. Hence it distinguishes something from other things or a collection from other collections. That which is distinguished by it is the qualificand. (For a detailed discussion on this topic, see ).
Here the author uses the technical term `aprakarakatva', which requires some explanation. The qualifier is called `visesana', but the qualifier presented under the mode of the relation is called `prakara'. When cognition is related to this type of qualifier, it has the relational property called `prakarata'. The converse of this relation that characterises the cognition is called `prakarakatva'. Hence it is a relational property of a cognition. So aprakarakatva is the property of not cognising this type of qualifier.
Here the author uses the word `pratiyogi' which is the second term of a relation whose first term is called `anuyogi'. This category applies to any relation between two entities. Now let us define these terms. Suppose a and b are related by the relation R.
a anuyogi (the first term) iff b is related to a by the relation R. At the level of cognition the relation R is cognized in a, but not in b. The other term of the relation R, namely b, is pratiyogi (the second term). The relation of our cognition to this aspect of a is expressed by the term `anuyogita' (`the property of being the first term'). Hence anuyogita (the property of being the first term) is a relational property of a. Similarly, b haspratiyogita (the property of being the second term).
In the true cognition this is silver, there is use of truth whose second term is silverness. Similarly, in the true cognition this is nacre, there is the use of truth whose second term is nacreness.
Here an objection has been raised from the nature of identity relation. If truth is one indivisible entity, then the truth qualified by silverness would be identical with the truth qualified by nacreness, as both the cognitions are true.
In this context, it is to be noted that although the relation of inherence is one, the relation of inherence to its loci are different. If a colour is related to its locus by the relation of inherence, then the relation is the property of being the locus of the inherence qualified by colour which is its second term. Hence the locus is the first term and the colour is the second term, and relation is the specification of inherence.
Here the author uses the expression `bheda', not `bhinna'. If x is different from y, then x has the property being different from y. Hence difference from y becomes a property of x. The word `bheda' refers to a property, but the word `bhinna' refers to the property-possessor.
It is to be noted that the limitor consists of the property of being qualified by being other than a quality (gunanyatvavisistatva) and the property of being existence (sattatva).
It is claimed that existence is a property of a quality, and the property of being qualified by being other than a quality is a property of existence. Since we do not cognise this type of complex property in a quality, it lacks this complex property. It has existence, but not the property of being qualified by being other than a quality.
This cognition has the form a is F, where `a' stands for a true cognition of a nacre. In the technical language of the Nyaya `the true cognition having nacreness as its second term'. `F' stands for `truth whose second term is silverness'. It is claimed that there is no cognition of this type.
It is claimed that as existence resides in different objects such as substance, quality and action, so does truth reside in true cognitions. In the previous paragraph the author has discussed whether a qualified existence such as the existence qualified by being other than a quality resides in a quality. Here the author is discussing whether the truth which has nacreness as its second term resides in another true cognition.
The following remark of Gangesa: tadvati-tatprakaraka-anubhavah prama
has been interpreted as taddharmavadvisesyakatve sati tatprakaraka- anubhavahprama. A true cognition may be defined in the following way:
The cognition a is F is true if and only if a is F is an apprehension, and the F, which is the qualifier of this apprehension (prakaraka), resides in a which is the qualificand of this apprehension (visessyaka).
Here the category dharma-dharml (property-property possessor) has been used to emphasize the relation of cognition to fact. Hence in the true cognition of a is F, the cognition is related to a which is the possessor of F. In other words, the visesyaka of this cognition is due to a and the prakaraka is due to F. The cognition is characterized by a relational property which is due its relation to a and by another relational property which is due to its relation to F.
The Nyaya use of the word `anubhava' (`apprehension') does not apply to memory (or memory-cognition). According to the Nyaya, perception, inference, comparison, and testimony (or verbal cognition) are sources of valid cognitions. If a cognition is derived from, or caused by, perception, inference, comparison or verbal cognition (i.e. from the cognition of words which have occurred in a sentence), then it is characterized by the property of being apprehended (anubhavatva). Since a memory-cognition lacks the property of being apprehended, it is not a case of apprehension, although it rests upon some previous apprehension derived from, or generated by, perception, inference, comparison, or verbal cognition. A memory- cognition is due to mental (thought) disposition which is again due to some previous apprehension. Since cognitions are divided into apprehension and memory, `apprehension' may be defined as `a cognition different from memory'.
Since there are four types of apprehension depending upon their causal conditions, each of them is characterized by a property which signifies whether it is derived from perception, inference, comparisons, or verbal cognition. Hence the apprehension due to perception (or sense-organ) is characterised by the property of being perceptual (darsanatva), the apprehension due to inference is characterised by the property of being inferential (anumititva), the apprehension due to comparison is characterised by the property of being comparison (upamitityq), and the apprehension due to verbal cognition is characterized by the property of being verbal (sabdatva). The property of being the verbal cognition is the property of being the understanding of the relation of the (primary or secondary) referent of a word to the (primary or secondary) referent of another word.
Consider the sentence `a is F'. The property of being the verbal cognition charactrises the relation F to a. Hence this understanding presupposes the cognition of the referent(s) of an atomic expression. According to the Nyaya the properties of different types of cognition are cognized at the level of mental perception or higher order cognition.
Validity (pramatva) is to be defined in terms of the property of being apprehended (anubhavatva) and truth. A memory-cognition will be true if the previous apprehension which is its causal condition is valid. Hence the truth of a memory- cognition presupposes the truth of a previous apprehension. If the previous apprehension does not correspond to a fact, the memory-cognition corresponding to it would be false. Hence a memory-cognition is either true (yathartha) or false (ayathgrtha). Since the memory-cognitions do not have the property of being apprehended, they are called `invalid', whether true or false. Hence the Nyaya use of the word `invalid' (`aprgma') cannot be equated with `false'.
The word `pramana' consists of the words `pra', `ma', and `anat', where `pra' is the prefix, `ma' is the verbal root, and `anat' is the suffix. The word `pra' means `excellence', and `ma', means `apprehension'. But the suffix `anat' has two uses. In its impersonal voice (bhava-vacya), it is simply used to change the form of a verb. Hence it does not signify anything more than the verb `ma'. If we take this interpretation, then the word `pramana' means `the apprehension which has excellence or truth'. In other words, it means a true apprehension.
But the instrumental use (karana-vacya) of the word `anat' signifies the special instrumental cause of a true apprehension. Since the word `pramana' has two meanings, the word `pramanya' also has two meanings. One of them is truth (pramatva) or the property of being true apprehension, and the other one is the property of being the special instrumental cause (karanatva) of a true apprehension.
There is a 3rd or a secondary meaning of the word `pramana'. In this sense, it refers to the locus of a true apprehension. 
In this context it is to be noted that the Nyaya philosophers are defining the truth of a cognition in terms of the following three properties:
tat-prakarakatva (the property of having that as its qualifier at cognitive level)
The relation of cognition to a (relational) property (prakara) is called `prakaratva'. The converse of this relation i.e. the relation of aprakara to cognition is called `prakarakatva''. Hence it refers to a relational property of a cognition. Consider x is F in the relation R, where x is the qualificand (visesya), F is the qualifier (visesana), and R is the qualification relation (samsarga). According to the Nyaya, when F is presented under the mode R it is called `prakara'. For example, the table has a book in the relation of conjunction. Here the table is the qualificand (visesya), and the book presented under the mode of conjunction is the relational qualifier (parkara), in short, qualifier. The relation of the cognition to the qualificand is called `visesyata', the relation of cognition to the prakara (relational qualifier) is called `prakarata', and the relation of cognition to the visesana (qualifier) is called `visesanata'. The converse of these relations are called `visesyakatva', `prakarakatva' and `visesanakatva' respectively. Since the definition of `truth' is given in terms of the relational properties of the cognition, it refers to visesyakatva and prakarakatva. In this respect the Nyaya definition is to be contrasted with the Western definitions, as they refer to propositions, statements, or sentences.
tatvad-visesyakatva (the property of having the qualificand qualified by that at cognitive level).
tatvad-visesyakatva nirupita tat-prakarakatva (The latter being determined by the former).
It is to be noted that the first two conditions are applicable to true as well as to a type of false cognition called `viparita-bhrama' (a type of false conjunctive cognition). For this reason, the third condition has been used to distinguish true cognitions from a type of false ones (viparita-bhramas).
The determiner-determined relation (nirupya-nirupaka sambandha) holds between the correlatives. Hence it can be defined in the following way:
x is determined by y if they are correlative properties.
In this context it is to be noted that some Nyaya philosophers have claimed that the latter is limited by the former. Hence tadvad-visesyakatva-avacchinna-tat- prakarakatva is the defining property of truth.
Now it may be asked whether we can define truth in terms of tat- prakarakatva- avacchinna-tadvad-visesyakatva. Since there is mutual limitor-- limited relation between tat-prakarakatva and tadvad-visesyakatva, if one holds, then the other will also hold.
Now the Nyaya philosophers claim that if truth is defined in terms tat- prakarakatva- avacchinna-tadvad-visesyakatva, then the limitor includes both the qualifier and the relation which is the mode of presentation of the qualifier. But if it is defined as tadvad-visesyakatva-avacchinna-tat-prakarakatva, then the limitor will be the qualificand only. Hence on the ground of simplicity, the latter is preferable to the former.
Now let us discuss why truth cannot be defined in terms of tadvad- visesyakatva (the property of having the qualificand qualified by that at cognitive level) only. It is to be noted that this property is present in a false cognition as well. This is due to the fact that the referent of `taf (`that') has not been specified. Consider the cognition of the lake has fire. If we substitute lakeness for `that', then the cognition has the lake qualified by lakeness as its qualificand. Since this property characterises a false cognition, it suffers from over coverage (ativyapti). For this reason, the word `taf cannot be used as a variable for any qualifier. It stands for the chief qualifier of a cognition.
In the cognition of a blue table, the word `that' refers to a blue colour which is the chief qualifier. Hence it satisfies the condition tat-prakarakatva (the property of having that as its qualifier at cognitive level). Since this cognition has tadvad- visesyakatva (the property of having the qualificand qualified by that), which resides in the cognition of the table, it satisfies both the conditions of true cognition.
As mentioned before, these two conditions are not sufficient to define truth, as both of them are present in an opposite false conjunctive cognition, such as the mountain has water, and the lake has fire. To eliminate this type of false cognition, the Nyaya introduces the third condition in the definition of truth.
Now let us discuss whether pramatva (truth) can be defined in terms of prakaravat-visesyakatva (the property of having the qualificand possessing the qualifier at cognitive level). According to this view a true cognition is qualified by the converse of the property of being the qualificand possessing the qualifier. Consider the cognition of a is F. This cognition is related to the complex object or fact a possessing F. Hence the object of this cognition, namely, a possessing F, has visista-visayata, which is a relational property. The converse of this relational property called `visista-visayita' would qualify this cognition. If we define truth as prakaravat-visesyakatva, then we have to accept visista-visayita, in addition to prakarakatva (the converse of the property of being the qualifier) and visesyakatva (the converse of the property of being the qualificand.
It is to be noted that the visista-visayita is present in desires which can be fulfilled (samvadl-iccha). Most Nyaya philosophers have accepted visista- visayita', which is the converse of visista-visayata, but not as a defining property of truth. This is due to the fact that the definition of truth would violate the principle of simplicity, as we have accepted an additional property in the definition of truth. Moreover, this definition would suffer from over coverage, as it is present in desires which can be fulfilled.
As regards the (T) sentences of Tarski, such as `p' is true = p, the Nyaya claims that the meaning of “ `p' is true” is not the same as that of `p', although they are equivalent. In other words, `p' would simply generate the cognition of p, but the cognition generated by “ `p' is true” would include both the sentence `p' and the meaning of `true' as its objects. The meaning of `true' would be the qualifier (visesana) of the sentence `p'. Hence it means `the cognition generated by the sentence `p' has the property of having things or objects as they are (yatharthatva) cognised to be'.
In Western philosophy, the supporters of the correspondence theory define truth in terms of correspondence with a fact. Hence the questions are asked about the nature of this correspondence and the nature of propositions or statements which are truth-bearers. But the Nyaya philosophers would avoid these questions as they have defined truth in terms of three properties of a cognition.
As regards the relation between a true cognition and the fulfilment of our desire (iccha) or mental effort (krti), the Nyaya philosophers claim that every true cognition has the property of being a cause for the fulfilment of our desire or effort (samvadJ-pravrtti-janakatva). But this property cannot be equated with truth, although we infer the truth of a cognition utilizing this property. For example, we have a true cognition of water. Then we have a memory cognition of a general proposition, such as, if it is water, then it will quench our thirst. So we remember a sentence of the form `(x) (Fx з Gx)'. Then there will be cognition that this object, і. e., water, would also quench our thirst.
Now the following questions may be asked: How do you know the truth of the universal proposition? How do you know that water had quenched our thirst in the past?
According to the Nyaya philosophers the truth of the universal proposition or the truth of the previous cognition would be known by some other cognitions which are non-dubious. In other words, the truth of a cognition, say p, is known by the non-dubious cognition of q, and the truth of the latter by some other doubt-free cognition, say r, and so on. There is a regress, but not opposed to the relation of cause and effect. This type of argument is free from circularity, although there is a causal regress, which stops at non-dubious cognition. It avoids the following two extreme views: i) the truth of p cannot be known unless we know the truth of q. Similarly, the truth of q cannot be known unless we know the truth of r, and so on. ii) To know the truth of p we have to know the truth of q, and in order to know the truth of q we have to know the truth ofp or some cognition which will entail p.
From this discussion it follows that the Nyaya view is more plausible than many other views in philosophy, as it avoids both circularity and skepticism.
From the above discussion of the Nyaya philosophers it follows that truth is a complex divisible imposed property (sakhanda upadhi) consisting of three properties. It is neither a class character nor is it a simple indivisible-imposed property. There are as many truths as there are true cognitions. In this respect it is similar to the semantic conception of truth, as the word `true', according to Tarski, refers to a set of true sentences. But the Nyaya philosophers can explain the truth of each of the true cognitions in terms of three properties of the cognition. The Nyaya concept may be presented in the following way:
The cognition x is F is true if and only if (i) F is cognised as the qualifier (along with its relation to a), (ii) x as the possessor of F is cognised as the qualificand, and (iii) the latter is the limitor of the former. Since `x' and `F' are variables, ranging over relational properties of a cognition, we can explain the truth of cognitions which are substitution instances of the above definition.
In this context it is to be noted that the Nyaya philosophers have applied the definition of truth to the entire conjunctive cognition, not to each of its conjuncts separately.
It is to be noted that the category of determiner-determined holds between correlative properties. Hence if x is determined by y, theny is also determined by x. If there is mutual determiner-determined relation, then there is mutual limitor-- limited relation as well. But the limitor-limited relation does not imply the determiner-determined relation. Consider the cognition of a jar. In this cognition jarness is the limitor of the jar as well as the property of being the qualificand residing in the jar. But there is no relation of determiner-determined between jarness and jar, or between jarness and the property of being the qualificand.
Here the author has used the category of determiner-determined relation, but other authors, including the author of Bhasaparicchedah, have used the category of limitor-limited. The latter category signifies the qualificand-qualifer relation (visesya-visesana sambandha) between them, but not the former.
The Nyaya conception of truth cannot be equated with the Western correspondence theory of truth. This is because the Nyaya philosophers define truth in terms of certain properties of a cognition, not in terms of the relation of correspondence between a cognition and a fact. Since it is different from the classical correspondence, coherence and the pragmatic conception of truth, as well as all the varieties of deflationary conception of truth, here we come across a new animal in our zoo.
1. Shaw J.L. The collected Writings of Jaysankar Lal Shaw. London: Bloomsbury; 2016.
2. Shaw J.L. Cognition of Cognition Part II. Journal of Indian Philosophy. 1996;24(3):231-- 264. doi: 10.1007/BF01792025.
3. Shaw J.L. The Nature of Nyaya Realism. In: Shaw J.L. The collected Writings of Jaysankar Lal Shaw.
4. Shaw J.L. The Nyaya on Double Negation [reprinted]. In: The collected Writings of Jaysankar Lal Shaw. London: Bloomsbury; 2016. pp. 224--237.
5. Shaw J.L. Navya-Nyaya on Subject -- Predicate and Related Pairs [reprinted]. In: The collected Writings of Jaysankar Lal Shaw. London: Bloomsbury; 2016. pp. 179--189.
6. Bharatiya Darsana Kosa. Vol. 1. Pandit Dinesh Chandra Shastri. Calcutta: Sanskrit College Research Series; 1978.
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