restricted access CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Hindu Logic and Physics: Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika
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333 CH APTER T W ENT Y-FOUR Hindu Logic and Physics Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika The Supreme Good results from the knowledge, produced by a particular dharma, of the essence of the categories: substance, attribute, action, genus, species, and combination, by means of their resemblances and differences. —Vaiśeṣika Sūtra I,1,4 The Vaiśeṣika Sūtras, ascribed to Kaṇāda, are, in the words of S. N. Dasgupta, “probably the oldest that we have and in all probability are pre-Buddhistic.”1 That does not entitle us, however, to make any statement about the age of the system itself, which is known particularly for its interesting early atomistic theory and its classification of categories. Vaiśeṣika may initially have been a school of Vedic thought, as its emphasis on dharma and its traditional opinion on adṛṣṭa as its fruit would suggest.2 The work, which besides the sutras contains the most complete representation of the system, the Daśapadārtha Śāstra, is no older than the sixth century ce.3 Several recent works deal with Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika as if it were one single system .4 Though they have much in common and supplement each other in many areas, they began as separate systems with quite different aims. Professor Kuppuswamy Sastri has this to say on the conjunction of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika: “That Indian logic is usually described as the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system is not because it is the result of the syncretism of the two opposing systems, Nyāya realism and atomistic pluralism; rather it is so described because at a very early stage in the history of Indian logic, the Vaiśeṣika stress on the inductive phase of inference came to be synthesized with its deductive phase in the Nyāya theory of syllogistic reasoning.”5 Recent Western philosophical preoccupation with logic, especially under the influence of the Anglo-American school of linguistic analysis, brought 334 PART III: THE STRUCT UR A L SUPPORTS OF HINDUISM about an extensive and intensive study of Nyāya texts during the last few decades . Much of it is far too technical and too difficult to summarize to find a place in this survey. The interested reader is asked to consult the more specialized books available.6 The beginnings of the Nyāya systems may go back to the disputations of Vedic scholars; already in the times of the Upaniṣads debating was cultivated as an art, following certain rules in which the basic elements of logical proofs were contained.7 The Nyāya Sūtras, ascribed to Gautama, the main text of the school, have received very important commentaries. It cannot be assigned to a definite date. All scholars agree that a considerable part of the sutras consists of additions to an original work, additions that suggest early Buddhist interpolations and later Hindu insertions to invalidate the Buddhist arguments. From the probable identification of nyāya with the anvīkṣikī in Kauṭilīya’s Arthaśāstra8 we may assume that the Nyāya system already existed in some form in the fourth century bce. Professor Kuppuswamy Sastri mentions some more references that prove that “these two schools should have appeared in a fairly definite form with their characteristic methods of reasoning and metaphysics by the middle of the fourth century bce, though the chief doctrines of these schools came to be systematized and redacted in their basic sutras at a relatively later date.”9 Followers of the Nyāya system have produced a large amount of important works, and of all the Hindu systems Nyāya enjoys the greatest respect on the part of Western philosophers, who are coming to discover the enormous subtleties and intricacies of Indian logic. A BR IEF SUM M ARY OF VAIŚEṢIK A “Now an explanation of dharma,” begins the Kaṇāda Sutra. “The means to prosperity and salvation is dharma.” The attainment of salvation is the result of the cognition of the six categories of substance, quality, action, class concept, particularity, and inherence.10 The substances are: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space, ātman, and mind. The qualities are: taste, color, odor, touch, number , measure, separation, contact, disjoining, prior and posterior, understanding , pleasure and pain, desire and aversion, and volitions. Action (karma) is explained as upward movement, downward movement, contraction, expansion, and horizontal movement. The feature common to substance, quality, and action is...