Philosophy Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 11 - Question 3

90 Days Philosophy Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 23-Jan-2019

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23-Jan-2019 - Question 1

Explain the theory of validity of knowledge (pramanyavada) according to Mimamsakas.How did they criticize the Nyaya theory of validity? (2017)

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Model Answer

The Mimamsakas uphold the theory of Svatahapramnyavada i.e., the theory of intrinsic validity of knowledge. They hold that All apprehensions and all knowledge is valid in and by itself. It does not need any eternal (or) subsequent knowledge to validate itself. They give arguments based on Utpatti (Origin) and Jnati(Ascertainment).

  1. “pramanyam svataha utpadyate”

It says, validity of knowledge arises from the essential nature of the causes of the knowledge. No external conditions are required here.

  1. “pramnyam svataha Jnayate cha”

It says, the validity of knowledge is known as soon as the knowledge has arisen. It does not demand any external verification.

On the other hand, Nyaya advocates parataha pramnyavada, i.e., the theory of external validity of knowledge. According to Naiyayikas, knowledge is neither valid nor invalid in itself. It is neutral cognition and the question of validity and invalidity arises only after knowledge has arisen and not with it. It is only subsequent knowledge of external conditions that gives knowledge its validity or invalidity as knowledge produced by its cause is the bare apprehension of an object.

Moreover, Naiyayikas expound that, the validity of knowledge is inferred from its capacity to produce successful activity (pravrtti samarthya) e.g., when we perceive something as water, we approach it, drink it and quench our thirst. Owing to this successful  activity, the knowledge of water is valid.

But as per Mimamsa, if knowledge is not valid in itself, if it depends on some external conditions then it can never be made conclusively valid. As for these external conditions must be validated by other external conditions and there again by still other conditions and so on “ad infinitum”. And we cannot establish the validity of knowledge conclusively.

Mimamsa further says, that the very true nature of knowledge is to reveal its objects. It cannot be neutral cognition whose validity is confirmed through subsequent knowledge. Validity is inherent in knowledge. Whenever any knowledge arises, it carries with it an assurance about its own validity.

[Excerpt taken directly from CD Sharma]

Mimamsakas agree with Naiyayikas so far as the invalidity of knowledge is concerned, because both regard it as due to extraneous conditions. But they criticize Naiyayika in regard to the validity of knowledge. All knowledge is intrinsically valid. If the validity of knowledge also depends on extraneous conditions, no knowledge would ever become valid. Mimamsakas points out that the so-called “neutral” knowledge is an impossibility, as we can never experience neutral knowledge. To say so is to maintain the absurd position that knowledge when it arises is devoid of all logical value. Hence neutral knowledge is no knowledge at all. Nothing can validate knowledge if knowledge it not self-valid.

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