There in only ‘Philosophy:’ The case of Testimony

Bhaṭṭa Jayanta: Comprehension, Knowledge, and the Reduction of Testimony to Inference


Abstract


The present paper is an analysis of the defense of the epistemological autonomy of verbal testimony (śabda), against its reduction to inference, as found in Bhaṭṭa Jayanta’s Nyāyamañjarī. The article identifies the Vaiśeṣika, Buddhist and Sāṅkhya positions hinted at in the Nyāyamañjarī, and it analyses the reuse by Jayanta of the arguments conceived by the Mīmāṃsā philosopher Kumārila. Unlike for Mīmāṃsakas, according to Jayanta the relation between language and reality is established by convention, but in its day-to-day usage it is clear that an a priori connection is a necessary condition for linguistic communication, so that the distinction between a fixed connection and a conventional one weakens. The analysis of Jayanta leads to two general conclusions: 1. In ancient Nyāya as attested by Jayanta there is no distinction between non-committal understanding and committal knowledge from words. Consequently, 2. in ancient Nyāya as attested by Jayanta the language is primarily examined from an epistemological viewpoint, as the conveyer of true statements. There are no “neutral” statements, and false statements are in fact inappropriate uses of language.

Keywords

Jayanta; Nyāya; Mīmāṃsā; epistemology; epistemology of testimony; non-committal understanding

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/1825-263X/2270

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