This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Nyaya as logic

Nyaya is concerned primarily with logic, which is to say it deals with things treated as ‘objects of proof,’ in terms of the discursive faculty of the reason. This is why we say that it proceed analytically, and this is legitimate because it is concerned with the individual, rational order. It recognizes sixteen padarthas, which are similar to what for Aristotle were called ‘categories’ or ‘predicaments.’ The first of these is called pramana, and may be translated as ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ but its primitive sense is ‘measure.’ Taking it in this third sense, it denotes the legitimate means of knowledge within the rational order. This padartha then contains subdivisions that enumerate these various means of knowledge. The second padartha is called prameya or ‘that which is to be proved,’ or in other words that which can be known by one of the means enumerated in the first padartha. Within its subdivisions prameya includes a classification of everything that the human understanding in the individual state can reach. The complementary nature of the first two padarthas is obvious, the relation between them being that between means and end, how one is to know something and what one may know. We will now enumerate the remaining fourteen padarthas, although we will only discuss one of them due to its centrality. These are: samsaya (doubt), prayojana (aim), drstanta (example), siddhanta (conclusion), avayava (members of syllogism), tarka (hypothetical reasoning), nirnaya (settlement), vada (discussion), jalpa (wrangling), vitanda (cavilling), hetvabhasa (fallacy), chala (quibbling), jati (sophisticated refutation), and nigrahasthana (point of defeat). These deal with the various modalities of reasoning and demonstration, and we will comment further only on avayava, which concerns the ‘members of syllogism’ of which there are five.

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