Sunday, September 30, 2018

The comparatively early (in global terms) appearance of sophisticated Nyāya logic, epistemology, and empiricism in Indian/Indic philosophy

Apologia: As part of my research on Lokāyata/Cārvāka philosophical views, for which there is a comparative paucity of textual evidence (several possible and plausible reasons have been proffered for this state of affairs), and thus the knowledge of which is often gleaned from the descriptions and arguments of other—and opposing—philosophical schools in India, I am reading Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti’s “erudite” (Jay Garfield) exploration of aspects of Nyāya logic and epistemology in his book, Classical Indian Philosophy of Induction: The Nyāya Viewpoint (Lexington Books, 2010).

“While Aristotle, the Stoics and the Epicureans made great contributions to the study of induction, there is no firm evidence to show that in the Western tradition [of philosophy] the problem of induction was explicitly recognized and elaborately discussed as a serious problem before Hume. But clearly the Indian logicians have done that long before that time. Again, in the Western tradition (notwithstanding the good work done by Whewell, Herschel and Mille earlier in the nineteenth century) it was left to [Charles Sanders] Peirce in the late nineteenth century to bring out the value of the method of hypothesis (calling it abduction and distinguishing it from deduction and induction). Even after that philosophers in this century took time to warm up to the idea as can be gathered from the relative lack of any substantial discussion of this method in the first decades of the twentieth century. The same is true of the link between causation and counterfactual conditionals. Although some traces are found in Hume, no detailed and systematic study of them is found in any Western writing before the twentieth century. The same, further, applies to the principle of economy. While the principle is very old and sometimes called … Occam’s razor, no Western philosopher has systematically and explicitly studied different kinds of economy before the twentieth century. Similarly, a systematic study of inference to the best explanation is emerging only in some recent publications. As an epistemological theory Nyāya empiricism, though older, appears to be more developed than the modern European empiricism of Locke, Berkeley and Hume. The powerful defense of causality, the careful analysis of circularity, the sophisticated arguments from counter-factual conditionals and belief-behavior conflict appear to give Nyāya empiricism the decisive edge.” — Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti, Classical Indian Philosophy of Induction: The Nyāya Viewpoint (Lexington Books, 2010): 67-68.
Suggested Reading (basic and largely secondary material in English):
  • Chakrabarti, Kisor Kumar. Logic of Gotama [Akapāda Gautama]. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1978.
  • Chakrabarti, Kisor Kumar. Classical Indian Philosophy of Mind: The Nyāya Dualist Tradition. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1999.
  • Chakrabarti, Kisor Kumar. Classical Indian Philosophy of Induction: The Nyāya Viewpoint. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010.
  • Ganeri, Jonardon. The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Gangeśa (Stephen H. Phillips and N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya, trans. and philosophical     commentary) Epistemology of Perception—Gangeśa’s Tattvacintāmai: Jewel of Reflection on the Truth (about Epistemology), The Perception chapter (pratyaksa-khanda). New York: American Institute of Buddhist Studies (with Columbia University’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Tibet House US), 2004.
  • Krishna, Daya. The Nyāyasūtras: A New Commentary on an Old Text. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 2004.
  • Krishna, Daya, ed. Discussion and Debate in Indian Philosophy: Vedānta, Mīmāsā and Nyāya. New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 2004.
  • Matilal, B.K. [Bimal Krishna] The Navya-Nyāya Doctrine of Negation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968.
  • Matilal, B.K. Perception: An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Matilal, B.K. (Jonardon Ganeri and Heeraman Tiwari, eds.) The Character of Logic in India. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998.
  • Phillips, Stephen H. Classical Indian Metaphysics: Refutations of Realism and the Emergence ofNew Logic.” Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing Co., 1996/Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.
  • Phillips, Stephen H. Epistemology in Classical India: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyāya School. New York: Routledge, 2012.
  • Potter, Karl H., ed. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 2. Nyāya-Vaiśeika up to Gageśa. Delhi: Motilal Barnarsidass, 1977.
  • Potter, Karl H. and Sabijiban Bhattacharya, eds. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 6. Indian Philosophical Analysis: Nyāya-Vaiśeika from Gageśa to Raghunātha Śiromai. Delhi: Motilal Barnasidass, 1993.
  • Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi. “Nyāya: Suffering, Detachment and Peace,” in Ram-Prasad’s Knowledge and Liberation in Classical Indian Thought. New York: Palgrave, 2001: 57-108.


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