For the logicians among you

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Wed Dec 3 15:08:50 CST 1997

On Mon, 24 Nov 1997 MC1 at AOL.COM wrote:
> Vedic testimony and perception are at odds concerning the non-duality versus
> the plurality of this world. How to reconcile?
> Sureswara argues (reference supplied on request) that perception does not
> reveal difference! Difference is determined by the non-existence of one
> object in another -- there is non-existence of a horse in a cow and vice
> versa. Difference then, is about non-existence and perception requiring an
> object has nothing to do with non-existence -- it can only manifest objects,
> not draw conclusions about them. Inference, which can draw conclusions, being
> dependent upon perception also cannot determine non-existence.

Another issue that I missed, owing to my absence. The argument that
perception does not reveal difference is also found in Mandana Misra's
Brahmasiddhi, and before him, in the grammatical tradition followed by
Bhartrhari. The particular section of Suresvara's Naishkarmyasiddhi where
this argument is given, has much in common with the Brahmasiddhi. In later
times, a number of philosophers have developed this argument, one
important author being NrsimhASrama. Far from being an angular argument,
the reasons for saying so have already been given in great detail, the
thrust of the argument being that a conclusion that difference exists
rests on an assumption that difference exists. Another important author is
Sriharsha, who does not go much into Vedic testimony, but hammers away the
logical basis of the argument that perception reveals difference.

I don't think NrsimhASrama's works have been studied in great depth by
modern scholars, but there are quite good analyses of Suresvara, Mandana
Misra and Bhartrhari. The identity of Suresvara and Mandana Misra is a
disputed issue, but that is not important here. I would recommend S.
Kuppuswami Sastri, R. Balasubramanian and Allen Thrasher for Mandana
Misra's Brahmasiddhi, and Ashok Aklujkar for Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya. As
for Suresvara, there are a number of good authors. The only English
language publication regarding SrIharsha, that I've been able to find, is
by Ganganatha Jha.


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