International Seminar on Epistemology and Indian Logic

Country: India

City: Katra

Abstr. due: 23.03.2015

Dates: 03.06.15 — 05.06.15

Area Of Sciences: Philosophy;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University


CONCEPT NOTE: The rationality of the theme “epistemology and Indian logic” lies in the fact that logic in India has been part and parcel of different systems of philosophy and therefore has been inseparably linked to their epistemological and metaphysical beliefs. As there is no single system called ‘Indian philosophy’, Indian logic is also studied in a systemic form such as the Nyāya logic, the Buddhist logic and the Jaina logic. Despite a wide range of differences in the metaphysical beliefs of different systems, there are some recognizable similarities in epistemological thinking. For example, there are focused debates on the nature and function of knowledge, number of the sources of knowledge, the conditions leading to illusory cognition and the role of reasoning and testimony in dispelling the ignorance—a sine qua non to the attainment of the ultimate objective. These debates drove the attention of thinkers to the patterns of reasoning as early as in the second century B.C.E. The modern sense of logic is traced back into the intellectual activity called anvīkṣā (investigation) which consists in the reviewing (anu-īkṣaṇa) of a thing previously apprehended (īkṣita) through perception or verbal cognition. The science that makes this activity as the subject matter of its study is variously named ānvīkṣikī, nyāyavidyā, or hetuvidyā, the ‘science of reasoning’ (logic). Anumāna (‘anu’ means ‘after’ and ‘māna’ means ‘knowledge’) thus becomes a natural term to refer to the process of reasoning.   What is significant in the above definition of logic is the nuptial link of inferential knowledge to a previously acquired knowledge, perceptually or otherwise. Logic, in the classical Indian philosophy, is therefore discussed as a part of epistemology, not as an independent discipline. And, the manifest goal of inference is to generate true cognition or knowledge whether for oneself or for other, and not to prove validity or invalidity. What is crucial to the production of inferential knowledge is the necessary relationship between the reason (hetu) and the claim (sādhya). A careful and elaborate discussion on ascertaining and apprehending this relationship is seen in the Indian logical tradition. It is also observed that a great amount of energy is invested by the Indian logicians in establishing the universal proposition (udāharaṇa—the statement of necessary relation between the hetu and the sādhya along with actual instance) than developing formal techniques of reasoning. This is not to suggest that the discussions do not involve any structure. The logical section of the Carakasaṁhitā (c. first century C.E. text on health care) delineates the methods of discussion. It is not surprising to see the elaboration of the technique in this text given the urgent nature of the medical profession. On the basis of the symptoms (hetu) the medical professionals ascertain the presence of a particular disease (sādhya) in a body. The certainty of their inferential knowledge enables them to prescribe suitable treatment.   The pragmaticity of the above kind however has not hindered the Indian logicians to delve deeply on various issues pertaining to generation and authenticity of inferential knowledge. After particularly 4th or 5th century C.E., a plethora of texts can be seen undertaking logical issues for separate discussions. There has not been a concerted effort to explore the insights available in the Indian logical thinking. The discussion is required from not only historical perspective but also in relation to the concepts developed in rational sequence. For example, whereas the ancient thinkers relied on the analogical method of reasoning, the later thinkers engaged in hetu-centric discussion, the Navya-nyāya method being the latest one. Similarly, whereas the non-Buddhist thinkers adopted primarily the technique of demonstration, the Buddhist thinkers opted primarily for the technique of refutation. What could have been the reason for such development? An answer to this question may reaffirm the close ties between the logical thinking and epistemological and metaphysical beliefs. The participants of the seminar are expected to stimulate the discussion of theoretical and/or practical relevance. The following are the suggestive themes:   The Concept of Pramāṇa Analgocal Reasoning in Ancient Debates The Question of Truth, Validity and Soundness with regard to Anumāna The Nature of Necessity between Hetu and Sādhya Anupalabdhi and Abhāva Reducibility of the Sources of Knowledge The Navya-nyāya Concept of Negation The Issue of Psychologism in Indian Logic The Jaina Synthesis of the Logical Structure The Nature of Universal Proposition The Concept of Prasaṅga The authors are expected to choose any topic from the wide range of Indian logical thinking.

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