A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 2

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1932 | 241,887 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of application of the dialectic to the different categories and concepts: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the seventeenth part in the series called the “the shankara school of vedanta (continued)”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 17 - Application of the Dialectic to the Different Categories and Concepts

Śrīharṣa first takes for his criticism the definitions of right cognition. Assuming the definition of right cognition to be the direct apprehension of the real nature of things, he first urges that such a definition is faulty, since, if one accidentally guesses rightly certain things hidden under a cover and not perceived, or makes a right inference from faulty data or by fallacious methods, though the awareness may be right, it cannot be called right cognition[1]. It is urged that cognition, in order to be valid, must be produced through unerring instruments; here, however, is a case of chance guesses which may sometimes be right without being produced by unerring instruments of senses.

Nor can correspondence of the cognition with its object (yathārthānubhavaḥ pramā) be regarded as a proper definition of right cognition. Such correspondence can be defined as meaning either that which represents the reality of the object itself or similarity to the object. The real nature of an object is indeterminable, and so correspondence of awareness with the object may rather be defined as similarity of the former to the latter. If this similarity means that the awareness must have such a character as is possessed by the object (jñāna-viṣayīkṛtena rūpeṇa sādṛśyam), then this is clearly impossible; for qualities that belong to the object cannot belong to the awareness —there may be an awareness of two white hard marbles, but the awareness is neither two, nor white, nor hard[2].

It may be urged that the correspondence consists in this, that the whiteness etc. belong to the object as qualities possessed by it, whereas they belong to awareness as being qualities which it reveals[3]. But that would not hold good in the case of illusory perception of silver in a conch-shell; the awareness of “before me” in the perception of “before me the silver” has to be admitted as being a right cognition. If this is admitted to be a right cognition, then it was meaningless to define right cognition as true correspondence; it might as well have been defined as mere cognition, since all cognition would have some object to which it referred and so far as that only was concerned all cognitions would be valid.

If, however, entire correspondence of thought and object be urged, then partial correspondence like the above can hardly be considered satisfactory. But, if entire correspondence is considered indispensable, then the correctness of the partial correspondence has to be ignored, whereas it is admitted by the Naiyāyika that, so far as reference to an object is concerned, all cognitions are valid; only the nature of cognition may be disputed as to right or wrong, when we are considering the correspondence of the nature of the object and the nature characterized by the awareness of the object. If entire correspondence with the object is not assured, then cognition of an object with imperfect or partial correspondence, due to obstructive circumstances, has also to be rejected as false. Again, since the correspondence always refers to the character, form or appearance of the thing, all our affirmations regarding the objects to which the characters are supposed to belong would be false.

Referring to Udayana’s definition of right cognition as samyak paricchitti, or proper discernment, Śrīharṣa says that the word samyak” (proper) is meaningless; for, if samyak means “entire,” then the definition is useless, since it is impossible to see all the visible and invisible constituent parts of a thing, and no one but an omniscient being could perceive a thing with all its characters, properties or qualities. If right discernment means the discernment of an object with its special distinguishing features, this again is unintelligible; for even in wrong cognition, say of conch-shell as silver, the perceiver seems to perceive the distinguishing marks of silver in the conch-shell.

The whole point lies in the difficulty of judging whether the distinguishing marks observed are real or not, and there is no way of determining this. If, again, the distinguishing features be described as being those characteristics without the perception of which there can be no certain knowledge and the perception of which ensures right cognition, then it may well be pointed out that it is impossible to discover any feature of any cognition of which one can be positively certain that it is not wrong. A dreamer confuses all sorts of characters and appearances and conceives them all to be right. It may be urged that in the case of right perception the object is perceived with its special distinguishing features, as in the case of the true perception of silver, whereas in the case of the false perception of silver in the conch-shell no such distinguishing features are observed.

But even in this case it would be difficult to define the essential nature of the distinguishing features; for, if any kind of distinguishing feature would do, then in the case of the false perception of silver in the conch-shell the distinguishing feature of being before the eyes is also possessed by the conch-shell. If all the particular distinguishing features are insisted on, then there will be endless distinguishing features, and it would be impossible to make any definition which would include them all. The certitude of a cognition which contradicts a previous wrong cognition would often be liable to the same objection as the wrong cognition itself, since the nature of the special distinguishing features which would establish its validity cannot be established by any definition of right knowledge.

Arguing against the definition of right cognition as “apprehension which is not incorrect or not defective” (avyabhicārī anubhavaḥ), Śrīharṣa says that “not incorrect” or “not defective” cannot mean that the cognition must exist only at the time when the object exists; for then inferential cognition, which often refers to past and future things, would be false. Neither can it mean that the cognition coexists in space with its objects; nor can it mean that the right cognition is similar to its object in all respects, since cognition is so different in nature from the object that it is not possible that there should be any case in which it would be similar thereto in all respects. And, if the view that an awareness and its object are one and the same be accepted, then this would apply even to those cases where one object is wrongly perceived as another; and hence the word “avyabhicārī” is not sufficient to distinguish right knowledge from wrong cognition.

Arguing against the Buddhist definition of right cognition as “an apprehension which is not incompatible (avisaṃvādi) with the object known,” Śrīharṣa tries to refute the definition in all the possible senses of incompatibility of cognition with object which determines wrong knowledge. If the definition is supposed to restrict right cognition to cognition which is cognized by another cognition as being in agreement with its object, then a wrong cognition, repeated successively through a number of moments and found to be in agreement with its object through all the successive moments until it is contradicted, would also have to be admitted as right, because in this case the previous cognition is certified by the cognition of the succeeding moments. If, again, right cognition is defined as a cognition the incompatibility of which with its object is not realized by any other cognition, then also there are difficulties in the way.

For even a wrong cognition may for some time be not contradicted by any other cognition. Moreover, the vision of the conch-shell by the normal eye as white may be contradicted by the later vision by the jaundiced eye as yellow. If it is urged that the contradiction must be by a faultless later cognition, then it may be pointed out that, if there had been any way of defining faultless cognition, the definition of right cognition would have been very easy. On the other hand, unless right cognition is properly defined, there is no meaning in speaking of faulty or wrong cognition. If right cognition is defined as a cognition which has causal efficiency, that in fact is not a proper definition; for even the wrong cognition of a snake might cause fear and even death. If it is urged that the causal efficiency must be exercised by the object in the same form in which it is perceived, then it is very difficult to ascertain this; and there may be a false cognition of causal efficiency also; hence it would be very difficult to ascertain the nature of right cognition on the basis of causal efficiency.

Śrīharṣa points out again that in a similar way Dharmakīrti’s definition of right cognition as enabling one to attain the object (artha-prāpakatva) is also unintelligible, since it is difficult to determine which object can be actually attained and which not, and the notion that the thing may be attained as it is perceived may be present even in the case of the wrong perception of silver in the conch-shell. If right cognition is defined as cognition which is not contradicted, then it may be asked whether the absence of contradiction is at the time of perception only, in which case even the wrong perception of silver in the conch-shell would be a right cognition, since it is uncontradicted at least at the time when the illusion is produced. If it is urged that a right cognition is that which is not contradicted at any time, then we are not in a position to assert the rightness of any cognition; for it is impossible to be certain that any particular cognition will never at any time be contradicted.

After showing that it is impossible to define right cognition (pramā) Śrīharṣa tries to show that it is impossible to define the idea of instruments (karaṇa) or their operative action (zyāpāra) as involved in the idea of instruments of cognition (pramāṇa). Śrīharṣa attempts to show that instrumentality as an agent cannot be separately conceived as having an independent existence, since it is difficult to determine its separate existence. It would be a long tale to go into all the details of this discussion as set forth by Śrīharṣa, and for our present purposes it is enough to know that Śrīharṣa refuted the concept of “instrumentality” as a separate agent, both as popularly conceived or as conceived in Sanskrit grammar. He also discusses a number of alternative meanings which could be attributed to the concept of “karaṇa” or instrument, and shows that none of these meanings can be satisfactorily justified[4].

In refuting the definition of perception he introduces a long discussion showing the uselessness of defining perception as an instrument of right knowledge. Perception is defined in the Nyāya as cognition which arises through the contact of a particular sense with its object; but it is impossible to know whether any cognition has originated from sense-contact, since the fact of the production of knowledge from sense-contact cannot itself be directly perceived or known by any other means. Since in perception the senses are in contact on the one hand with the self and on the other hand with the external objects, Śrīharṣa urges by a series of arguments that, unless the specific object with which the sense is in contact is mentioned in each case, it would be difficult to formulate a definition of perception in such a way that it would imply only the revelation of the external object and not the self, which is as much in contact with the sense as is the object. Again, the specification of the object in the case of each perception would make it particular, and this would defeat the purposes of definition, which can only apply to universal concepts.

Arguing against a possible definition of perception as immediateness, Śrīharṣa supposes that, if perception reveals some specific quality of the object as its permanent attribute, then, in order that this quality may be cognized, there ought to be another attribute, and this would presuppose another attribute, and so there would be an infinite regress; and, if at any stage of the infinite regress it is supposed that no further attribute is necessary, then this involves the omission of the preceding determining attributes, until the possibility of the perception is also negatived. If this immediateness be explained as a cognition produced by the instrumentality of the sense-organs, this again is unintelligible; for the instrumentality of sense-organs is incomprehensible. Śrīharṣa takes a number of alternative definitions of perceptions and tries to refute them all more or less in the same way, mostly by pointing out verbal faults in the formulation of the definitions.

Citsukha Ācārya, a commentator on Śrīharṣa’s Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya , offers a refutation of the definition of perception in a much more condensed form. He points out that the definition of perception by Akṣapāda as an uncontradicted cognition arising out of sense-contact with the object is unintelligible. How can we know that a cognition would not be contradicted? It cannot be known from a knowledge of the faultlessness of the collocating circumstances, since the faultlessness can be known only if there is no contradiction, and hence faultlessness cannot be known previously and independently, and the collocating circumstances would contain many elements which are unperceivable. It is also impossible to say whether any experience will for ever remain uncontradicted.

Nor can it again be urged that right cognition is that which can produce an effort on the part of the perceiver (pravṛtti-sāmarthya); for even an illusory knowledge can produce an effort on the part of the perceiver who is deceived by it. Mere achievement of the result is no test for the rightness of the cognition; for a man may see the lustre of a gem and think it to be a gem and really get the gem, yet it cannot be doubted that his apprehension of the ray of the gem as the gem was erroneous[5]. In the case of the perception of stars and planets there is no chance of any actual attainment of those objects, and yet there is no reason to deny the validity of the cognitions.

Passing over the more or less verbal arguments of Śrīharṣa in refutation of the definitions of inference (anumāna) as liga-parā-marśa or the realization of the presence in the minor term (pakṣa, e.g. the mountain) of a reason or probans (liga, e.g. smoke) which is always concomitant with the major term (sādhya, e.g. fire), or as invariable concomitance of the probans with the probandum or the major term (sādhya, e.g. fire), and its other slightly modified varieties, I pass on to his criticism of the nature of concomitance (vyāpti), which is at the root of the notion of inference. It is urged that the universal relationship of invariable concomitance required in vyāpti cannot be established unless the invariable concomitance of all the individuals involved in a class be known, which is impossible.

The Naiyāyika holds that the mind by a sort of mental contact with class-concepts or universals, called sāmānya-pratyāsatti, may affirm of all individuals of a class without actually experiencing all the individuals. It is in this way that, perceiving the invariable concomitance of smoke and fire in a large number of cases, one understands the invariable concomitance of smoke with fire by experiencing a sort of mental contact with the class-concept “smoke” when perceiving smoke on a distant hill. Śrīharṣa argues in refutation of such an interpretation that, if all individual smoke may be known in such a way by a mental contact with class-concepts, then by a mental contact with the class-concept “knowable” we might know all individual knowables and thus be omniscient as well.

A thing is knowable only as an individual with its specific qualities as such, and therefore to know a thing as a knowable would involve the knowledge of all such specific qualities; for the class-concept “knowable” would involve all individuals which have a specific knowable character. It may be urged that knowability is one single character, and that things may be otherwise completely different and may yet be one so far as knowability is concerned, and hence the things may remain wholly unknown in their diversity of characters and may yet be known so far as they are merely know-able. To this Śrīharṣa answers that the class-concept “knowable” would involve all knowables and so even the diversity of characters would be involved within the meaning of the term “knowable.”

Again, assuming for the sake of argument that it is possible to have a mental contact with class-concepts through individuals, how can the invariable concomitance itself be observed? If our senses could by themselves observe such relations of concomitance, then there would be no possibility of mistakes in the observation of such concomitance. But such mistakes are committed and corrected by later experience, and there is no way in which one can account for the mistake in the sense-judgment. Again, if this invariable concomitance be defined as avinābhāva, which means that when one is absent the other is also absent, such a definition is faulty; for it may apply to those cases where there is no real invariable concomitance. Thus there is no real concomitance between “earth” and “possibility of being cut”; yet in ākāśa there is absence of earth and also the absence of “possibility of being cut.”

If it is urged that concomitance cannot be determined by a single instance of the absence of one tallying with the absence of the other, it must be proved that universally in all instances of the absence of the one, e.g. the fire, there is also the absence of the other, e.g. the smoke. But it is as difficult to ascertain such universal absence as it is to ascertain universal concomitance. Again, if this concomitance be defined as the impossibility of the presence of the middle term, the reason or the probans, where the major term or the probandum is also absent, then also it may be said that it is not possible to determine such an impossibility either by sense-knowledge or by any other means.

Now tarka or eliminatory consideration in judging of possibilities cannot be considered as establishing invariable concomitance; for all arguments are based on invariable concomitance, and such an assumption would lead to a vicious mutual interdependence. The great logician Udayana objects to this and says that, if invariable concomitance between smoke and fire be denied, then there are strong arguments (tarka) against such a denial (bādhakas tarkaḥ), namely, that, if smoke is not regarded as concomitant with fire, then smoke would either exist without any cause or not exist at all, which is impossible. But Śrīharṣa says that there is room for an alternative proposition which Udayana misses, namely, that smoke is due to some cause other than fire. It may be that there are smokes which are not caused by fire.

How can one be sure that all smokes are caused by fire? There may be differences in these two classes of fire which remain unnoticed by us, and so there is always room for the supposition that any particular smoke may not be caused by fire, and such doubts would make inference impossible. Udayana had however contended that, if you entertain the doubt, with regard to a future case, that it is possible that there may be a case in which the concomitance may be found wrong, then the possibility of such a doubt (śankā) must be supported by inference, and the admission of this would involve the admission of inference. If such an exaggerated doubt be considered illegitimate, there is no obstruction in the way of inference.

Doubts can be entertained only so long as such entertainment of doubts is compatible with practical life. Doubts which make our daily life impossible are illegitimate. Every day one finds that food appeases hunger, and, if in spite of that one begins to doubt whether on any particular day when he is hungry he should take food or not, then life would be impossible[6]. Śrīharṣa, however, replies to this contention by twisting the words of Udayana’s own kārikā, in which he says that, so long as there is doubt, inference is invalid; if there is no doubt, this can only be when the invalidity of the inference has been made manifest, and until such invalidity is found there will always be doubts. Hence the argument of possibilities (tarka) can never remove doubts[7].

Śrīharṣa also objects to the definition of “invariable concomitance” as a natural relation (svābhāvikaḥ sambandhaḥ). He rejects the term “natural relation” and says that invariable concomitance would not be justifiable in any of its possible meanings, such as

  1. depending on the nature of the related (sambandhi-svabhāva-śrita),
  2. produced by the nature of the related (sambandhi-svabhāva-janya),
  3. not different from the nature constituting the relatedness, since, as these would be too wide and would apply even to those things which are not invariable concomitants, e.g. all that is earthen can be scratched with an iron needle.

Though in some cases earthen objects may be scratched with an iron needle, not all earthen objects can be so scratched. He further refutes the definition of invariable concomitance as a relation not depending upon conditional circumstances (upādhi). Without entering into the details of Śrīharṣa’s argument it may be pointed out that it rests very largely on his contention that conditionality of relations cannot be determined without knowledge of the nature of invariable concomitance and also that invariable concomitance cannot be determined without a previous determination of the conditionality of relations.

Śrīharṣa’s brief refutation of analogy, implication and testimony, as also his refutation of the definitions of the different fallacies of inference, are not of much importance from a philosophical point of view, and need not be detailed here.

Turning now to Śrīharṣa’s refutation of the Nyāya categories, we note that he begins with the refutation of “being” or positivity (bhāvatva). He says that being cannot be defined as being existent in itself, since non-being is also existent in itself; we can with as much right speak of being as existing as of non-being as existing; both non-being and being may stand as grammatical nominatives of the verb “exists.” Again, each existing thing being unique in itself, there is no common quality, such as “existence” or “being,” which is possessed by them all. Again, “being” is as much a negation of “non-being” as “non-being” of “being”; hence “being” cannot be defined as that which is not a negation of anything. Negation is a mere form of speech, and both being and non-being may be expressed in a negative form.

Turning to the category of non-being (abhāva), Śrīharṣa says that it cannot be defined as negation of anything; for being may as well be interpreted as a negation of non-being as non-being of being (bhāvābhāvayor dvayor api paraspara-pratikṣepātmakatvāt). Nor again can non-being be defined as that which opposes being; for not all non-being is opposed to all being (e.g. in “there is no jug on the ground” the absence of jug does not oppose the ground in respect of which the jug is denied); if non-being opposes some existent things, then that does not differentiate negation; for there are many existent things which are opposed to one another (e.g. the horse and the bull).

In refuting the Nyāya definition of substance (dravya) as that which is the support of qualities, Śrīharṣa says that even qualities appear to have numeral and other qualities (e.g. we speak of two or three colours, of a colour being deep or light, mixed or primary —and colour is regarded as quality). If it is urged that this is a mistake, then the appearance of the so-called substances as being endowed with qualities may also be regarded as equally erroneous. Again, what is meant by defining substance as the support (āśraya) of qualities? Since qualities may subsist in the class-concept of quality (guṇatva), the class-concept of quality ought to be regarded as substance according to the definition. It may be urged that a substance is that in which the qualities inhere.

But what would be the meaning here of the particle “in”? How would one distinguish the false appearance, to a jaundiced eye, of yellowness in a white conch-shell and the real appearance of whiteness in the conch-shell? Unless the falsity of the appearance of yellow in the conch-shell is realized, there can be no difference between the one case and the other. Again, substance cannot be defined as the inhering or the material cause (samavāyi-kāraṇa), since it is not possible to know which is the inhering cause and which is not; for number is counted as a quality, and colour also is counted as a quality, and yet one specifies colours by numbers, as one, two, or many colours.

Furthermore, the Nyāya definition of quality as that which has a genus and is devoid of qualities is unintelligible; for the definition involves the concept of quality, which is sought to be defined. Moreover, as pointed out above, even qualities, such as colours, have numeral qualities; for we speak of one, two or many colours. It is only by holding to this appearance of qualities endowed with numeral qualities that the definition of quality can be made to stand, and it is again on the strength of the definition of quality that such appearances are to be rejected as false. If colours are known as qualities in consideration of other reasons, then these, being endowed with numeral qualities, could not for that very reason be called qualities; for qualities belong according to definition only to substances. Even the numerals themselves are endowed with the quality of separateness. So there would not be a single instance that the Naiyāyika could point to as an example of quality.

Speaking of relations, Śrīharṣa points out that, if relation is to be conceived as something subsisting in a thing, then its meaning is unintelligible. The meaning of relation as “in” or “herein” is not at all clear; for the notion of something being a container (ādhāra) is dependent on the notion of the concept of “in” or “herein,” and that concept again depends on the notion of a container, and there is no other notion which can explain either of the concepts independently. The container cannot be supposed to be an inhering cause; for in that case such examples as “there is a grape in this vessel” or “the absence of horns in a hare” would be unexplainable. He then takes a number of possible meanings which can be given to the notion of a container; but these, not being philosophically important, are omitted here. He also deals with the impossibility of defining the nature of the subject-object relation (viṣaya-viṣayi-bhāva) of knowledge.

In refuting the definition of cause Śrīharṣa says that cause cannot be defined as immediate antecedence; for immediate antecedence can be ascribed only to the causal operation, which is always an intervening factor between the cause and the effect. If, on the theory that what (e.g. the causal operation) belongs to a thing (e.g. the cause) cannot be considered as a factor which stands between it (cause) and that which follows it (effect), the causal operation be not regarded as a separate and independent factor, then even the cause of the cause would have to be regarded as one with the cause and therefore cause.

But, if it is urged that, since the cause of the cause is not an operation, it cannot be regarded as being one with the cause, one may well ask the opponent to define the meaning of operation. If the opponent should define it as that factor without which the cause cannot produce the effect, then the accessory circumstances and common and abiding conditions, such as the natural laws, space, and so forth, without which an effect cannot be produced, are also to be regarded as operation, which is impossible.

Further, “operation” cannot be qualified as being itself produced by the cause; for it is the meaning of the concept of cause that has still to be explained and defined. If, again, cause is defined as the antecedence of that which is other than the not-cause, then this again would be faulty; for one cannot understand the “not-cause” of the definition without understanding what is the nature of cause, and vice-versa. Moreover, space, being a permanent substance, is always present as a not-cause of anything, and is yet regarded as the cause of sound.

If, again, cause is defined as that which is present when the effect is present and absent when the effect is absent, this would not explain the causality of space, which is never known to be absent. If, again, cause is defined as invariable antecedence, then permanent substances such as space are to be regarded as the sole causes of effects. If, however, invariable antecedence be understood to mean unconditional antecedence, then two coexistent entities such as the taste and the colour of an earthen pot which is being burnt must mutually be the cause of the colour and the taste of the burnt earthen pot; for neither does the colour condition taste, nor does the taste condition colour.

Moreover, if mere invariable antecedents be regarded as cause, then the invariably preceding symptoms of a disease are to be regarded as the cause of the disease on account of their invariable antecedence. Again, causality cannot be regarded as a specific character or quality belonging to certain things, which quality can be directly perceived by us as existing in things. Thus we may perceive the stick of the potter’s wheel to be the cause of the particular jugs produced by it, but it is not possible to perceive causality as a general quality of a stick or of any other thing.

If causality existed only with reference to things in general, then it would be impossible to conceive of the production of individual things, and it would not be possible for anyone to know which particular cause would produce a particular effect. On the other hand, it is not possible to perceive by the senses that an individual thing is the cause of a number of individual effects; for until these individual effects are actually produced it is not possible to perceive them, since perception involves sense-contact as its necessary condition. It is not necessary for our present purposes to enter into all the different possible concepts of cause which Śrīharṣa seeks to refute: the above examination is expected to give a fairly comprehensive idea of the methods of Śrīharṣa’s refutation of the category of cause.

Nor is it possible within the limited range of the present work to give a full account of all the different alternative defences of the various categories accepted in Nyāya philosophy, or of all the various ways in which Śrīharṣa sought to refute them in his Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya. I have therefore attempted to give here only some specimens of the more important parts of his dialectical argument. The chief defect of Śrīharṣa’s criticisms is that they often tend to grow into verbal sophisms, and lay greater stress on the faults of expression of the opponent’s definitions and do not do him the justice of liberally dealing with his general ideas. It is easy to see how these refutations of the verbal definitions of the Nyāya roused the defensive spirit of the Naiyāyikas into re-stating their definitions with proper qualificatory phrases and adjuncts, by which they avoided the loopholes left in their former definitions for the attack of Śrīharṣa and other critics.

In one sense, therefore, the criticisms of Śrīharṣa and some of his followers had done a great disservice to the development of later Nyāya thought; for, unlike the older Nyāya thinkers, later Nyāya writers, like Gaṅgeśa, Raghunātha and others, were mainly occupied in inventing suitable qualificatory adjuncts and phrases by which they could define their categories in such a way that the undesirable applications and issues of their definitions, as pointed out by the criticisms of their opponents, could be avoided. If these criticisms had mainly been directed towards the defects of Nyāya thought, later writers would not have been forced to take the course of developing verbal expressions at the expense of philosophical profundity and acuteness. Śrīharṣa may therefore be said to be the first great writer who is responsible indirectly for the growth of verbalism in later Nyāya thought.

Another defect of Śrīharṣa’s criticisms is that he mainly limits himself to criticizing the definitions of Nyāya categories and does not deal so fully with the general ideas involved in such categories of thought. It ought, however, in all fairness to Śrīharṣa to be said that, though he took the Nyāya definitions as the main objective of his criticisms, yet in dealing with the various alternative variations and points of view of such definitions he often gives an exhaustive treatment of the problems involved in the discussion. But in many cases his omissions become very glaring. Thus, for example, in his treatment of relations he only tries to refute the definitions of relation as container and contained, as inherence, and as subject-object relation of cognitions, and leaves out many other varieties of relation which might well have been dealt with.

Another characteristic feature of his refutation is, as has already been pointed out, that he has only a destructive point of view and is not prepared to undertake the responsibility of defining any position from his own point of view. He delights in showing that none of the world-appearances can be defined in any way, and that thus, being indescribable, they are all false. But incapacity to define or describe anything in some particular way cannot mean that the thing is false. Śiīharṣa did not and could not show that the ways of definition which he attempted to refute were the only ways of defining the different categories. They could probably be defined in other and better ways, and even those definitions which he refuted could be bettered and improved by using suitable qualificatory phrases.

He did not attempt to show that the concepts involved in the categories were fraught with such contradictions that, in whatever way one might try to define, one could not escape from those inner contradictions, which were inherent in the very nature of the concepts themselves. Instead of that he turned his attention to the actual formal definitions which had been put forward by the Nyāya and sometimes by Prabhākara and tried to show that these definitions were faulty. To show that particular definitions are wrong is not to show that the things defined are wrong. It is, no doubt, true that the refutation of certain definitions involves the refutation of the concepts involved in those definitions; but the refutation of the particular way of presentation of the concept does not mean that the concept itself is impossible. In order to show the latter, a particular concept has to be analysed on the basis of its own occurrences, and the inconsistencies involved in such an analysis have to be shown.

Footnotes and references:


E.g. when a man rightly guesses the number of shells closed in another man’s hand, or when one makes a false inference of fire on a hill from a fog looking like smoke from a distance and there is fire on the hill by chance—his judgment may be right though his inference may be false.


dvau ghaṭau śuklav ityatra rūpa-saṃkhyādi-samavāyitvaṃ na jñānasya guṇatvād ataḥ prakāśamāna-rūpeṇa artha-sādṛśyaṃ jñānasya nāsti—asti ca tasya jñānasya tatra ghaṭayoḥ pramātvam.
on Khaṇḍana, p. 398.


arthasya hi yathā samavāyād rūpaṃ viśeṣaṇībhavati tathā viṣayabhāvāj jñānasyāpi tad-viśeṣaṇam bhavaty eva.
p. 399.


Among many other definitions Śrīharsa also refutes the definition of karaṇa as given by Uddyotakara yadvān eva karoti tat karaṇam. Khaṇḍana, p. 506.


dṛśyate hi maṇi-prabhāyāṃ maṇi-buddhyā pravartamānasya maṇi-prāpteḥ pravṛtti-sāmarthyaṃ na cāvyabhicāritvam.
p. 218.
      Nirnaya-Sāgara Press, Bombay, 1915.


Śaṅkā ced anumāsty eva
na cec chañkā tatastarām
vyāghātāvadhir āś
tarkaḥ ś
aṅkāvadhir mataḥ.
III , 7.
      Chowkhambā Sanskrit Book Depot, Benares, 1912.


vyāghāto yadi śaṅkāsti
na cec chañkā tatastarām
vyāghātāvadhir āś
tarkaḥ ś
aṅkāvadhiḥ kutaḥ.
p. 693.

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