This volume provides a detailed resume of current knowledge about the classical Indian Philosophical Systems of Nyaya and Vaisesika in their earlier stages, i.e. covering the literature from their inception in the sutras of Gautama and Kanada before the time of Gangesa (about A.D. 1350). The summaries are arranged in relative chronolo-gical order to assist the reader in tracing the development of the syncretic school's thought. Scholars around the world - India, Japan, America - have collaborated in the undertaking. The summaries in the volume serve us a tool for introducing Indian thoughts into their courses on problems of philosophy, history of thought, etc. and guide the students for further study. The index appended will enable the reader to identify all the passages summarized here on a particular topic.
The many competences of the authors of summaries include the Indian collaborators' knowledge in depth of Indian thoughts and the western points of view of the Western scholars.
Karl H. Potter is Professor of Philosophy and south Asian Studies at the University of Washington, and is General Editor of the present series, which attempts to summarily present the thought of all the great philosophical systems of India.
The present volume provides a detailed resumé of current knowledge about the classical Indian philosophical system of Nyaya-Vaisesika in its earlier stages. Specifically, it covers the literatures of Nyaya and Vaikika from their inception in the respective sutras up to the time of Gangesa, that is, about A.D. 1350. This dividing point is regularly accepted in the tradition, since with Gangea it is felt that a new start is made within the systems, the result coming to be known as Navyanyaya, “new” Nyaya. We hope that a volume will follow covering the remainder of the Nyaya-Vaiseika literature from Gangesa to the present.
A volume already published, Bibliography of Indian Philosophies (New Delhi Motilal Banarsidass, 1970), provides a useful guide to the literature, both primary and secondary, on the Nyaya-Vaisika school, and citations in the present book make constant references to the Bibliography, such references usually appearing in the form of “B” followed by the number of entry cited.
The form of this book features an extended introductory section followed by summaries of works belonging to the system’s literature. These summaries are arranged in relative chronological order to assist the reader in tracing the development of the school’s thought. Summaries have been solicited from scholars around the world— Indian, Japanese, and American scholars have collaborated in the undertaking. This international aspect of the book is one of its pleasantest features, serving to put philosophers and Indologists around the world in closer touch with one another.
A few words of explanation and advice as to how to use this book may be in order. Perhaps the first and foremost thing that needs to be said is that this volume is not intended to be analytically definitive: it invites the attention of philosophers and scholars rather than making such attention unnecessary. The thinking behind the preparation of this volume has been that philosophers without tended training in Sanskrit and Indian studies are not in a very good position to appreciate the contributions made by classical Indian philosophy toward the solution of perennial philosophical problems. This is partly due to the fact that the tradition in which the Indian schools arise and grow is foreign to Western philosophers, but our thinking is that this fact is an avoidable hazard. It is also partly due to the type of translations that have been produced by Indian and Western Sanskrit scholars; these translations, while usually accurate, are not always philosophically perspicuous, which is to say that they do not always bring out what a professional philosopher will find most interesting and identifiable in the material. The production of an acceptable translation is, and ought to be, a serious and extensive scholarly problem, and the summaries in Part II of this book are in no way intended as surrogates for such translations. Nevertheless, we think that philosophers should be provided with a tool for introducing Indian thought into their courses on problems of philosophy, history of thought, etc., and that the translations and other materials currently available to them do not make it really possible for them to work up Indian thought without more training than most philosophers are willing or able to expose themselves to. Our aim here, then, is to provide the philosopher with an account of the systematic thought of India which is less detailed than an accurate translation, but more detailed than the standard introductory textbook on Indian philosophy.
It is to be stressed that the work is addressed to philosophers primarily, and Indologists secondarily. Of course we hope that the materials here presented will, within the limits of our intent, be adjudged sufficiently accurate in terms of scholarship. The editor has endeavored to obtain the work of some of the leading scholars of the system to furnish summaries. However, these summaries omit large portions, may well omit sections which others deem of primary importance, and will otherwise deviate from the evaluations likely to be made by the Sanskritist. In order that there be no misunderstanding it is well to mention these points here. These summaries, then, are not substitutes for scholarship, but guides and markers for further study on the part of trained scholars.
In studying the philosophy of the Nyâya-Vaiesika school one finds that a fair amount of the literature occurs in the sütra or commentary form so well known in India. The reader should bear in mind that, in the summary of one of the sütras, say, what is summarized is no more than what is actually said there; if the summary seems imprecise and laconic, that is because (if we have done our work well) the sutra has those features. It is characteristic of this tradition that the commentators spell out what they believe to be the intent of the authors of the sutras; thus the reader should, if he is tracing the thought of the school on a given topic, be careful to read the summaries of the commentators in conjunction with that of the sutra. The index provided is intended to enable the reader to identify all the passages summarized here which bear upon a given topic and he is advised to use it frequently. Sometimes too an author will comment on a topic in a part of his work unrelated to any logical development that the ordinary reader can discern here again the reader may well miss this contribution unless he uses the index.
This volume has been in preparation for a number of years. Work on it began in the early 1960s. The editor wishes to thank the American Institute of Indian Studies for awarding him a follow ship in 1963-64 which enabled him to visit prospective contributors and utilize the resources that India provided for furthering his work, later on in the summer of 1967 he received a summer session grant form the University of Minnesota which enabled him to use the widener library to locate out of the way secondary materials in preparing his introductory section. He is extremely grateful for both these opportunities.
A full scale philosophical system is generally expected to speak to problems in the following areas metaphysics epistemology, ethic and theory of value logic and philosophical method. The system of Indian philosophy known as Nyaya Vaisesika is such a full scale system. Its contribution en each and every one of these areas is extensive interesting and usually of fundamental importance as this introduction will attempt to show.
Metaphysics: Nyaya-Vaisesika offers one of the most vigorous efforts at the construction of a substantialist, realist ontology that the world has ever seen. It provides an extended critique 0f eventontologies and idealist metaphysics. It starts from a unique basis r ontology that incorporates several 0f the most recent Western insights into the question of how to defend realism most successfully. This ontology is “Platonistic” (it admits repeatable properties as Plato’s did), realistic (it builds the world from “timeless” individuals as well as spatiotemporal points or events), but neither exclusively phvsicalistic nor phenomenalistic (it admits as basic individuals entries both directly known and inferred from scientific investigations)’ Though the system has many quaint and archaic features from a modern point of view, as a philosophical base for accommodating scientific insights it has advantages: its authors developed an atomic theory, came to treat numbers very much in the spirit of modern mathematics, argued for a wave theory of sound transmission, and adapted an empiricist view 0f causality to their own uses.
Epistemology: Whereas in “modern” philosophy of the West the idealist critique 0f substance initiated by Berkeley has never been curiously challenged, the philosophers of the Nyaya-Vaikika school entered the controversy very early in its history against Buddhists who used Berkeley an arguments. The resulting polemical battle may well represent the most important confrontation in philosophical literature between so-called naive realism and the threats to it from idealist sources. Nyaya offers an account of perception which makes sense of our belief in an external world, yet promises to explain the fact of perceptual error without allowing that opening wedge of idealism, the admission that the mind creates certain parts of our world (and so why not all of it ?). The intricacy of this discussion between Nyaya and Buddhism brings out many fascinating and little understood aspects of the two views and what they require from their adherents.
Ethics and Theory of Value: The Nyaya-Vaisesika system provides no startling new ideas over and beyond what is generally acceptable to Hindus, but it presents many carefully gauged arguments for the standard position, involving belief in transmigration, karma, and the possibility of liberation from future rebirths. It does not discuss questions of “ethical theory” as we understand that term in contemporary philosophy, since that was the business of others (Mimamsakas) in the peculiar division of labor adopted by the ancient Indian thinkers. However, it endorses many of the general ethical attitudes of Hindu sages, questioning some in passing. On one point Nyaya is recognized by Hindus to have provided a definitive treatment, and this is on arguments for the existence of God.
Logic: Nyaya grew in part as a theory of philosophical debate, and among Hindus has been accepted as the system which specially studies the theory of arguments good and bad, in keeping with the division of labor principle alluded to in the previous paragraph. This does not mean that all Hindu philosophers accepted every point in the Nyaya account, but they certainly tended to look to Nyaya for definitive treatment and detailed discussions of intricate points. Nyaya had its great rival, however, in the logic developed by the Buddhists, and from this controversy developed one of the mast comprehensive logical theories the world has known. Indian logic is never conceived as “format” in the Western sense, but as an account of sane processes of reasoning it has few equals in the West for attention to detail.
Philosophical Method: Topics in this area are of the greatest current interest to philosophers in the Anglo-American tradition. Western philosophers sometimes seem to suppose that the “linguistic turn” in recent philosophy is a unique phenomenon, a turning- point in the history of philosophy. Perhaps it is, but if so it took place many centuries ago in India, where attention to grammar was commonplace by the 4th century B.C. The Nyaya theory 0f language, 0f meaning and the meaningfulness of words and sentences, shows subtly at the levels of syntax semantics and pragmatics Nyaya also gave prolonged attention to defense of the empirical theory of validity and truth opposing uncritical use of introduction and authoritarian appeals to revelation.
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