The validity of Anumana (inference) in Nyaya system

by Babu C. D | 2018 | 44,340 words

This thesis is called: The validity of Anumana (inference) in Nyaya system. It tries to establish the validity of Anumana through citing its application either consciously or unconsciously in every sphere of human life. Anumana in Nyaya system is the knowledge of any object not by direct observation but by means of the knowledge of a liṅga or sign ...

Chapter 3.7 - Fallacies of Inference

Fallacies occur when there is inconsistency in the minor, middle and major terms. The non-logical reasoning results in erroneous conclusions and fallacies. As it is already seen in the previous sections, inference involves the five members of pratijna, hetu, udaharana, upanaya and nigamana. Accordingly, the validity of inference relies on the validity of these members. When something goes wrong with the members inference becomes invalid.

There are five characteristics of a valid middle term; they are as following

1. It must be present in the minor term (Pakshadharmata); e.g., smoke must be present in the hill.

2. It must be present in all positive instances in which the major term is present; e.g., smoke must be present in the kitchen where fire exists (sapakshasattva).

3. It must be absent in all negative instances in which the major term is absent; e.g., smoke must be absent in the lake in which fire does not exist (vipakshasattva).

4. It must be non-incompatible with the minor term; e.g., it must not prove the coolness of fire (abadhita).

5. It must be qualified by the absence of counteracting reasons which lead to a contradictory conclusion; e.g., ‘the fact of being caused’ should not be used to prove the ‘eternity’ of sound (aviruddha).

When one of the above mentioned characteristics is violated, the fallacies take its place. It ultimately tells that validity of an inference depends on the validity of hetu or reason.[1] It is because of this that Naiyayikas consider fallacies of inference as fallacies of the reason (hetvabhasa). Fallacies of inference thus are all material fallacies. Fallacies of reason are of five types viz., savyabhicara, viruddha, prakaranasama, sadhyasama and kalatita.[142]

a) Fallacy of Savyabhicara or the irregular middle

This fallacy occurs when the middle term due to its wrong positioning does not lead to any one conclusion but to different opposite conclusions. Here the middle term breaks the rule that it should be related to the major distributively. Savyabhicara fallacy is of three kinds i.e., sadharana, asadharana and anupasamhari. If the middle term refers to the presence in some cases and absence in other cases to the major it is called Sadharana or ordinary fallacy.[2] For e.g. All knowable objects are fiery, The hill is knowable and therefore hill is fiery. Here it will be wrong to conclude that since one knows an object whether it be hill or lake that it will be fiery. It can be fireless too. Hence, the reasoning becomes invalid. Asadharana form of fallacy occurs if the middle term is related neither to things in which the major exists nor to those in which does not exist.[3] For instance, potness being universal is eternal. However in the reasoning it is related only to the minor term pot. It cannot be seen in other non-eternal things. Anupasamhari or indefinite[4] form of the fallacy of savyabhicara arises when the middle term is related to minor term that stands not for any definite individual or class of individual but indefinitely for all subjects. For instance, all objects are eternal because they are knowable. Here, the validity of inference relies on the validity of the major premise ‘all knowables are eternal.’ However, it is impossible to prove this premise. This leads to invalid reasoning or fallacy.

b) Fallacy of Viruddha

It is the contradictory middle. The middle term, instead of being pervaded by the presence of the major term is pervaded by the absence of the major term. Instead of proving the existence of the major term in the minor term, it proves its non-existence therein; e.g., ‘sound is eternal, because it is produced’. Here ‘Produced’, instead of proving the eternity of sound, proves its non-eternity. Here it is not inferential fallacy instead it is fallacy of selfcontradiction. It disapproves the very proposition which is meant to prove.[5]

According to Jain school, contradictory (Viruddha) hetvabhasa is a concomitance with the opposite of the major term. It proves not the existence but the non-existence of the major in the minor. For instance, sound is not perishable because it is caused.[6] In this statement the hetu caused is not concomitantly related with not perishability, but to its opposite. Therefore it is viruddha hetvabhasa.

c) Fallacy of Asiddha or unproved middle (Sadhyasama)

Sadhyasama means middle term similar to the sadhya or major term. The middle term or sadhya is what to be proved in relation to the minor or paksha. This infers that sadhyasama middle is not a proved fact but an unproved proposition.[7] The fallacy of asiddha is thus a fallacy of false premises. It is of three types: Ashrayasiddha which is a middle term that has no locus stand. The minor term is the locus of the middle term. But if the minor term is an unproved fact, the middle term cannot be present in it; e.g., ‘the sky-lotus is fragrant, because it is a lotus, like the lotus of a lake’. Here the sky lotus is unreal minor.[8] Svarupasiddha: It is a middle term which is not found in the minor term.[9] Here the minor term is not unreal. But the middle term cannot be in its very nature be present in the minor term; e.g., ‘sound is eternal, because it is visible’. Here visibility cannot belong to sound which is audible. It is wrongly assumed. Vyapyatvasidha - If a middle term is not known to be universally concomitant with the major it becomes invalid.[10] Here, the Vyapti or universal relation between the middle and major terms becomes false. ‘All real are momentary, sound is real; therefore sound is momentary. Here, there is no relation between real and the momentary. It leads to fallacy. Fallacy of this nature can also happen due to the presence of an upadhi or condition. One cannot say, for e.g., ‘wherever there is fire there is smoke’. Fire smokes only when it is associated with wet fuel. A red -hot iron ball or clear fire does not smoke. Here, since the vyapti is conditioned, the middle term becomes fallacious.

Siddhasena of Jain School states that “the asiddha hetvabhasa is that which is always found detached from the sadhya and which is not definitely established.”[11] According to Hemachandra, the reason expressed by them is nonexistent not because it is not the attribute of the subject, but because it lacks necessary concomitance which is the characteristic of valid probans.[12]

Asiddha hetvabhasa is of two kinds viz., self-contradictory unproved (svarupasiddha) and doubtful unproved (sanddighasiddha). The former is a middle term that cannot be proved true in relation to the minor. E.g., “sound is perishable because it can be seen by the eyes.” The latter sanddighasiddha is where there is no certainty whether what is seen is smoke or vapour. In this state of uncertainty hetvabhasa is apparent. [13]

d) Fallacy of Satpratipaksha / prakaranasama or the counteracted middle

The term prakaranasama means reason which is similar to the point at issue. This form of fallacy arises if the middle term is contradicted by another middle term. That is, if one reason tries to prove the existence of the major in the minor, some other reason tries to prove its non-existence. The reason is counter -balanced by another reason. Due to this, it is also called satpratipaksha or that which is opposed by an equally strong hetu or middle term.[14] For e.g., ‘sound is eternal, because it is audible’ and ‘sound is noneternal, because it is produced’. Here ‘audible’ is counter-balanced by ‘produced’ and both are of equal force.

e) Fallacy of Kalatita and Badhita /mistimed and contradicted middles

This fallacy happens when the middle term consists of two or more events which succeed one another in time. Under this condition of successive events, instead of simultaneity of the middle term it is impossible to prove the conclusion leading to invalidity of reason.[15] Here, the middle term is contradicted by some other pramana and not by inference. It can also occur due to the wrong order of the five members of the syllogism, i.e., premises and conclusion. Once any of the above happens, it cannot prove the major term which is disapproved by another stronger source of valid knowledge; e.g., ‘fire is cold, because it is a substance’. Here, the middle term ‘substance’ is directly contradicted by perception. Kalatita and Badhita are treated one for another by several writers, however a few makes a distinction between them. Kalatita is referred for a middle term vitiated by a limitation in time; badhita meant a middle term that is contradicted by some other source of knowledge.

Siddhasena of Jain School mentions of anaikantika or uncertain hetvabhasa as that which occurs when there is irregularity in the middle. Here, hetu resides in vipaksha in addition to being in paksha and sapaksha.[16] This is the cause which may occur even in the absence of porbandum and happens when the needed vyapti is either nonexistent or subject to doubt.[17] Anaikantika is divided into two: a) niscita vipaksha vritti -where it is certain that the hetu resided in the vipaksha. E.g., ‘sound is perishable because it is knowable.’ In this case, the hetu is knowable and is also imperishable; and b) the shamkitavipaksha vriitti where the matter is involved in doubt. E.g., “Watches are fragile because they are manufactured with machinery.” Here, fallacy lies in the fact that it is not sure whether the quality of the make with machinery does or does not reside in things which are not fragile that is the vipaksha.[18]

Akinchitakara hetvabhasa is propounded by Manikyanandi in his famous work Pariksha mukham. It states that “akinchitakara (hetvabhasa) consists of hetu in connection with sadhya (major term) which had already been established and which is opposed by pratyaksha”.[19] The self-confessed its superfluity saying that these faults come only in the definition for, in use by those conversant with causing, the fault is proved by fault of paksha.77

Besides, the five fallacies of reason, Naiyayikas mention three other fallacies viz., chala, jati and nigrahasthana. Chala refers to using the same word to mean different objects in the course of debate; whereas jati is fallacy of irrelevance, i.e., arguments based on irrelevant considerations that do not lead to valid conclusion. It is of twenty four kinds like sadharmyasama, utkarshasama, apakarshasama, varnyasama, avarnyasama, etc.. Nigrahasthana fallacy on the other hand meant fallacy due to misunderstanding or want of understanding. It is of twenty two types some of which are pratijnahani, pratijnantara, pratijnasannyasa, hetvantara, nirarthaka, etc.[20]

In addition to the above fallacies, there are fallacies of subject (pakshabhasas) and fallacies of example (Drishtantabhasas). The former refers to reasoning with faulty subjects. Jayanta mentions about eleven faulty subjects such as pratyakshaviruddha, anumanaviruddha, agamaviruddha, lokaprasiddhi viruddha, upamanaviruddha, aprasiddhavisheshana etc. The latter on the other occurs due to faulty examples which comprise faulty homogenous and heterogeneous. Both are of three kinds each. Homogenous type include: sadhyavikala, sadhanavikala and ubhayavikala. Heterogeneous types are: sadhavyavritta, sadhanavyavritta and ubhayavyavritta.[21]

Naiyayikas, however, bring fallacies of inference under hetvabhasa because fallacies mainly arise out of invalid reasoning. Due to this, they consider fallacies of pratijnabhasa or paksabhasa and dristantabhasa as unnecessary and superfluous.

Footnotes and references:


S.C. Chatterjee, Nyaya theory of knowledge. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, New Delhi. 2008, p. 281.

Nyayasutra.1.2.4;Tattvacintamani II.p.778.


- Nyayasutravritti (Nyayasutravritti), 1.2.5.




Nyayavartikam (Nyayavarttika), Nyayavarttika, 1.2.6.


Purva Mimamsa, 2.1. XXI.38.


Nyayasutra, 1.2.8.


TBP. p.103


Tarkabhasha, pp.34-35




Purvamimamsa. 2.1. XVII.38.


ibid. p.172, Edited by Dr. Ghoshal.


‐ Nyayasutravritti, 1.2.6


Nyayasutra, 1.2.9.


Pariksa Mukham, 6.35.


ibid., 6.39.


- Nyayasutra, 1.2-5.


S.C. Chatterjee, Nyaya theory of Logic, p.31277 Nyayasutra, 1.2-9.


S.C., Chatterjee, Nyaya theory of Knowledge. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 293-295.


Arbind. K. Jha. Nyaya Philosophy Epistemology and Education, Standard publishers:

New Delhi, 2005, p.153.

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