Is cognition an attribute of the self or it rather belongs to the body? Some dialectical considerations on Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa’s position against Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika

Open Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):48-56 (2011)
Abstract
In this article an attempt is made to detect what could have been the dialectical reasons that impelled the Cārvāka thinker Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa to revise and reformulate the classical materialistic concept of cognition. If indeed according to ancient Cārvākas, cognition is an attribute entirely dependent on the physical body, for Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa cognition is an independent principle that, of course, needs the presence of a human body for manifesting itself. Therefore, he seems to describe cognition according to a double ontology: it is both a principle and a characteristic, both independent and dependent. Two philosophical contexts – Vaiśeṣika and Nyāya – are here taken into account as possible anti-Cārvāka fault-finding points of view that spured Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa to reconsider the Cārvāka perspective. Although we do not have so much textual material on this particular aspect of the ancient and medieval philosophical debate in India, it nonetheless can be supposed that Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa’s reformulation of the concept of cognition was a tentative response to the Vaiśeṣika idea that cognition is not an attribute of the body, rather of the mind (which is here supposed to be eternal), and to the Naiyāyika perspective according to which cognition would be an attribute of an everlasting self. In the case of the Nyāya school, fortunately we have at our disposal the criticism put forward by Vātsyāyana against the materialistic conception of cognition during this time. By examining some Vātsyāyana’s objections, we will see that Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa’s idea of cognition really seems to have the aspect of a consistent answer to them, from a renewed materialistic point of view.
Keywords cognition  Cārvāka  philosophical materialism  Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa  Vaiśeṣika  Nyāya  Vātsyāyana
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PhilPapers Archive Krishna Del Toso, Is cognition an attribute of the self or it rather belongs to the body? Some dialectical considerations on Udbhaṭabhaṭṭa’s position against Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika
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Sadananda Bhaduri (1947). Studies in Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika Metaphysics. Poona, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
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