An ongoing effort, exemplified though happily not exhausted in the work of B. K. Matilal, is to present the best of classical Indian philosophy in a way that speaks to contemporary philosophical concerns, while still being historically and philologically responsible. Epistemology in Classical India: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyāya School by Stephen Phillips is expressly this kind of work. Phillips begins by explaining that his book is “for philosophers and students of philosophy, not for specialists in classical Indian thought” (...) (p. 1). His project is to engage with a range of classical texts and contemporary philosophy, in order to offer the Nyāya theory of knowledge as a coherent system. A welcome feature of .. (shrink)
From the early modern period, Western epistemologists have often been concerned with a rigorous notion of epistemic justification, epitomized in the work of Descartes: properly held beliefs require insulation from extreme skepticism. To the degree that veridical cognitive states may be indistinguishable from non-veridical states, apparently veridical states cannot enjoy high-grade positive epistemic status. Therefore, a good believer begins from what are taken to be neutral, subjective experiences and reasons outward—hopefully identifying the kinds of appearances that properly link up to (...) the world and those that do not. Good beliefs, beliefs that are justified (warranted, etc.), are those that a believer has .. (shrink)
This paper examines of the intersection of theism and philosophy in classical Indian thought, focusing on the rational theology of Nyaya and the revealed theology of Vedanta. I also consider anti-theistic arguments, primarily by classical Buddhists.
In classical India, debates over rational theology naturally become the occasion for fundamental questions about the scope and power of inference itself. This is well evinced in the classical proofs for God by the Hindu Nyāya tradition and the opposing arguments of classical Buddhists and Mīmāsā philosophers. This paper calls attention to, and provides analysis of, a number of key nodes in these debates, particularly questions of inferential boundaries and whether inductive reasoning has the power to support inferences to wholly (...) unique entities (like God). (shrink)
Recent studies of Nyäya’s account of testimony have illustrated its anticipation of contemporary testimonial antireductionism, the position that testimony cannot be reduced to a more fundamental means of knowledge like inference or perception. This paper discusses another relevant but less discussed anticipation of current debate, involving the status of speaker belief in testimonial exchange. Is a speaker’s veridical apprehension of the content of his utterance a necessary condition on testimonial exchange? This was a source of much disputation among Indian epistemologists, (...) particularly Naiyäyikas (adherents of the Nyäya, or “Logic” school) and Mimamsakas(adherents of the Mimamsa, or “Exegete” school). (shrink)