Philosophy Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 9 - Question 1
90 Days Philosophy Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 07-Jan-2019
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07-Jan-2019 - Question 1
How do the Buddhists and the Nyaya philosophers explain our knowledge of 'the absence of the jar on the table'? Answer in detail (2018)
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The example used here: ‘Absence of the jar on the table’ – refers to the philosophical debate surrounding the concept of ABHAVA. Abhava refers to the absence of object, and various schools in Indian philosophy hold different views on it.
Naiyayikas are of the view that absence can be known through perception or pratyaksa, and hence there is no need of admitting anupalabdhi as a separate pramana. Nyaya-Vaisesika has accepted Abhava as an independent category, and its knowledge is possible only through perception and not anupalabdhi.
The Buddhists think that absence can be known through inference with the hetu in the form of anupalabdhi
Anupalabdhi literally means “absence of cognition” that is, absence of any positive modes of knowledge which becomes a medium to know the absence of an object.
Two questions arise here:
- How does one understand a negative fact?
- How does one become aware of absence?
Some schools, do not even accept Abhava (non-existence) as a category, some accept, but do not accept Anupalabdhi as a pramana. For example, Kumarila Bhatta accepts the role of non-cognition in knowing the absence. But Prabhakara and Buddhists deny any objective status to absence and therefore suggest that cognition pertains only to existent things.
The statement “There is no Pot on the ground”.
Buddhists are concerned with the explanation of this non-cognition. Whereas, Naiyayikas raise the question of how can we perceive this absence (as they have already accepted Abhava).
Naiyayikas hold that non-cognition is not only inferred but also perceived. For instance, when one enters the room he sees a pot on the table and when the pot is removed, the absence of pot is also perceived. (cognition of absence of pot). They are of the opinion that anupalabdhi cannot be considered an independent pramana in order to know absence. To them, absence is known either by perception or by inference, as the absentee (pratiyogi) of the absence is subject to perception or inference.
Whereas, Kumarila holds that non-cognition is a separate pramana, Buddhists hold that non-cognition is not a separate pramana, they believe that this non-cognition has an instrumental value.
To Buddhists, Non-cognition plays the role of HETU in the process of inferring “the absence of x” i.e., “There is not pot on the ground”, here we are inferring there is not pot because it is not cognized.
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