[Advaita-l] Apaurusheyatva of Vedas.

Omkar Deshpande omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 15 15:55:10 CDT 2011

> What errors do you see in the epistemology where pratyakSha is the
> foundational pramANa even for shabda (whose validity is not intrinsic but
> dependent on pratyakSha)?

From: श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <lalitaalaalitah at gmail.com>

<<<yoga-sUtra, etc. talk of dependency of anumAna, shabda, etc. on pratyaxa;
and not of dependencies of prAmANya-s they have in them. So, this view is
baseless.I think you can understand difference of words used.>>>

Ok, let's say that for argument's sake, I accept that the above epistemology is not what Yoga Sutras say (I will quote from the Sutras separately to argue on what they say). How would that show that the above epistemology itself has errors?

<<<Second, even if I accept your view anyway, as anumAna, etc. depend on
pratyaxa, so pratyaxa depends on eyes, etc. Is this any offence to need
things essential for your birth ? - This is said according to your line of
thinking, i.e., without discriminating words.>>>

Sorry, I couldn't follow the above paragraph. Were there typos in it?

<<<Third, One can not say 'because this knowledge is pratyaxa, so it is
essentially pramANa', because pratyaxa-bhramas are seen. So, pratyaxa also
needs other pramANas to verify it's validity. I don't see any cause for
rewarding only pratyaxa with intrinsic validity, as that will make
perception of snake in rope valid.>>>

Sure, I agree with you. But that doesn't imply that shabda should be considered svataH-pramANa. It actually leads to what you have said next:

<<<So, this view ends in 'validity of every pramANa depends on other pramANa',
i.e., prAmANya-paratastva-vAda.
Now, you know that it is not observed in our lives. We don't test every
knowledge, whether it is born of eyes or shabda. We just have
faith=determination that 'this knowledge is valid'. So,
prAmANya-paratastva-vAda is opposed to experience.>>>

Here is where neuroscience has something interesting to say (for details on what follows, please see Robert Burton's book: "On Being Certain: Believing You're Right Even When You're Not"). According to neuroscience, the feeling of validity ("this knowledge is valid") is an involuntary sensation that is generated by the brain independent of our voluntary will. It is something that "happens" to us. It is not something that we "decide" on our own. Secondly, logic is something we follow in our conscious mind. It's the unconscious that primarily governs our decisions (such as when to be satisfied with the truth value of some claim) because the calculations in our brain are mainly happening in the unconscious, and it's the unconscious that's primarily responsible for generating the "feeling of validity". In fact, most people employ logic "after" they already have a "feeling of validity" in favor of some claim, and the role of logic is mainly to rationalize
 that feeling after-the-fact. At least in the West, philosophers who have tried to strictly pursue logic to arrive at metaphysical claims have ended up in a zone of uncertainty because logic actually does not point to a clear metaphysical truth.

So even if one 'logically' followed prAmANya-paratastva-vAda, one would still be subject to the 'feeling of validity' generated by the brain which will make one stop at the point when it's generated (and the rules in the brain's neural network for its generation are not the precise, formal rules of logic that we follow when consciously arguing). Even those who follow prAmANya-svatastva-vAda are convinced not because the logic itself is perfect. They are convinced because their brain generates a 'feeling of validity' based on their own training.

So there is no 'pragmatic' danger of the sort that you refer to here:

<<<prAmANya-paratastva-vAda will lead you to get your whole life in knowing a
single thing. You know a pot with eye. Now for validity of knowledge of pot
you will need some other knowledge originating from shabda or li~Nga to
confirm. Now you will need some other pramANa to confirm validity of second
knowledge, because validity of any knowledge is not intrinsic. And so on>>>

The brain will continue to generate a feeling of certainty even when there is epistemic uncertainty. 

<<<We only test validity of knowledge when we confront conflicts with another.
Without any conflict we just accept them as true and behave accordingly.
This observation is basis of svataH-prAmANya-vAda.>>>

This observation merely indicates the external behavior of people, which is governed by the internal workings of their brain (that generates a 'feeling of validity'). The observation in itself does not prove that svataH-prAmANya is the 'right' epistemology. That's why I go back to my general question - how does one ascertain the 'right' epistemology?



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