A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 4

Indian Pluralism

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1949 | 186,278 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of various considerations regarding inference: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the sixth part in the series called the “madhva logic”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 6 - Various Considerations regarding Inference

Inference is of three kinds:

  1. of cause from effect (kāryānumāna), as the inference of fire from smoke,
  2. of effect from cause (kāraṇānumāna), as the inference of rain from gathering clouds,
  3. inference of a different order from cause-effect types (akārya-kāraṇānumāna), as the inference of colour from taste (rase rūpasya).

From another point of view inference is of two kinds:

  1. dṛṣṭa, where the inferred object is perceivable (pratyakṣa-yogya), as of fire from smoke, and
  2. sāmānyato-dṛṣṭa, where it is not perceivable (pratyakṣāyogya), as of the existence of the sense of vision from the perception of colours.

This division of inference into dṛṣṭa and adṛṣṭa may be made from another point of view. Thus, when an inference is made on the basis of the concomitance directly observed between two entities (e.g., fire and smoke), it is called dṛṣṭa ; but, when an inference is made on the basis of similarity or analogy, it is called sāmānyato-dṛṣṭa, as the inference that, just as ploughing, etc., lead to the production of crops, so sacrifices also produce heavenly enjoyments, since they have this similarity that both are results of effort.

Inference may again be considered as being of two kinds:

  1. inference of one right knowledge from another right knowledge (sādhanānumāna), e.g., of fire from smoke,
  2. the inference of false knowledge (dūṣaṇānumāna), e.g., “this cannot prove its conclusion, since it is contradicted by experience.”

Again, some hold that inference is of three kinds:

  1. by absolute agreement in presence (where no case of absence is possible),
  2. by absolute absence (where no outside positive instance is possible), and
  3. by combination of agreement in presence and absence;

in accordance with this it is

  1. kevalānvayi (impossible-negation),
  2. kevala-vyatireki (impossible-position)
  3. and anvaya-vyatireki (joint positive-negative).

Thus the proposition “all objects of knowledge are expressible” is an example of the first type of inference, since no negative instance is possible of which we could say that this is not an object of knowledge and is not also expressible; the proposition “all living bodies are endowed with souls, since they have lives” is an example of inference of the second type. This can only be proved by an appeal to negative instances such as “all those who are not endowed with souls are not living”; for, since the proposition comprehends all positive instances, no positive instances apart from the proposition under consideration are available. The third type is the ordinary one of inference where concomitance is experienced through both positive and negative instances.

Inference is said again to be of two kinds: first svārtha, where the knowledge of the reason with its concomitance rises in one’s own mind of itself, and secondly parārtha, where such a knowledge is for the instruction of others. As regards the constituent propositions (avayava) of inference, Vyāsa-tīrtha discusses the ten-proposition view of older Nyāya writers (jaran-naiyāyika), also the five-proposition view of the later Nyāya writers[1], the three-proposition view of the Mīmāṃsā, and also the two-proposition view of example and the application of reason (udāharaṇopanayaṛ) of the Buddhists. Vyāsa-tīrtha urges that, since the value of these constituent propositions consists in reminding persons of a particular concomitance or in rousing an enquiry in those who did not know it before, there is necessity only for as many propositions as are necessary for the purpose, in accordance with the circumstances under which the inference is being made or the state of mind of the person who makes it—so that there may be cases where only the enunciating proposition, reason and example are necessary, there may be cases where only the enunciating proposition combined with the reason is necessary (agni-vyāpta-dhūmavān parvato’gnimān iti hetu-garbha-pratijñā), or, when in certain cases the discussion presupposes the enunciating proposition, only the reason may be necessary, and so on[2]. So there is no fixed rule as to the number of constituent propositions necessary for inference; it all depends upon the nature of the case whether two, three or more propositions are necessary.

Both Jaya-tīrtha and Vyāsa-tīrtha devote a long discussion to the division of fallacies (upapatti-doṣa) and criticize the Nyāya division of the same; but, as these have but little philosophical bearing, I feel inclined to omit them[3].

Footnotes and references:


jijñāsā-saṃśaya-śakya-prāptiḥ prayojana-saṃśayanirāsāḥ pratijña-hetūdāha-raṇopanaya-nigamanāni iti daśāvayavā iti jaran-naiyāyikā āhuh.


vivādenaiva pratijñā-siddhau kutaḥ parvato’gnimān iti praśne agni-vyāpta-dhūmavattvād iti hetu-mātreṇa vā.
(MS., p. io).


See Pramāṇa-paddhati, pp. 48-79; also Tarka-tāṇḍava (MS., pp. 114 et seq.).

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