Reliability of a Speaker and Recognition of a Listener: Bocheński and Nyāya on the Relation of Authority
In the Nyāyasūtras (NS), the fundamental text of the Nyāya tradition, testimony is defined as a statement of a reliable speaker (āpta). According to the NS, such a speaker should possess three qualities: competence, honesty and desire to speak. The content of a discourse, including the prescriptions, is also considered reliable due to the status of a given author and the person that communicated it.
The Polish philosopher J.M. Bocheński similarly stresses the role of a speaker; he holds that an authoritative source (whose discourse is called testimony) should be competent and truthful. The conditions of trust and superiority also apply. According to Bocheński, being an authority entails a special relation—it has a subject, object and field. Notably, Bocheński develops his own typology of testimony by distinguishing between what he calls epistemic and deontic authority. He asks questions such as: Who can be the subject of an authoritative statement? Which features should the speaker possess? How is authority recognised? Is there a universal or an absolute authority? What is the field of authority? Moreover, which qualities should the listener possess?
The Nyāya philosophers, both the ancient ones, like Akṣapāda Gautama, Vātsyāyana, Vācaspati Miśra, and the contemporary scholars of Nyāya, such as B. K. Matilal and J. Ganeri, were also concerned with these issues.The aim of this paper is to discuss the above points in a comparative manner. I will argue that both Bocheński’s and the Nyāya accounts share very similar perspectives and encounter analogous problems.
Bocheński, Joseph Maria. 1974. Was ist Autorität? - Einführung in die Logik der Autorität, Freiburg: Herder. French translation: Qu’est-ce que l’autorité? Introduction à la logique de l’autorité, Présenté et traduit de l’allemand par Philibert Secretan, Fribourg Suisse: Editions Universitaires 1979. Polish translation: Co to jest autorytet? In Logika i filozofia: Wybór pism [Logic and Philosophy: Selected Writings], edited by J. Parys, pp.187-324. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN 1993.
Bocheński, Joseph Maria. 2000. Rady Starego Filozofa [Advice of the old philosopher]. In Logika & filozofia logiczna. Edited by J. Perzanowski, A. Pietruszczak [submitted to print by Perzanowski]. Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika.
Bocheński, Joseph Maria. 1994. Sto zabobonów [One hundred superstitions]. Kraków: Philed.
Bocheński, Joseph Maria. 1965. The Logic of Religion. New York: New York University Press.
Dasti, Matthew. 2008. “Testimony, Belief Transfer and Causal Irrelevance: Reflections from India’s Nyāya School.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 25.4: 281–299.
Freschi, Elisa and Alessandro Graheli. 2005. “Bhāṭṭamīmāṃsā and Nyāya on Veda and Tradition.” In Boundaries, Dynamics and Construction of Traditions in South Asia, edited by Federico Squarcini, 287–323. Firenze: Firenze University Press.
Fricker, Elizabeth. 1994. Against Gullibility. In Matilal and Chakrabarti, 125–161.
Ganeri, Jonardon. 2001. Philosophy in Classical India. The proper work of reason. London, New York: Routledge.
Ganeri, Jonardon. 1999. Semantic Powers: Meaning and the Means of Knowing in Classical Indian Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Matilal, Bimal Krishna and Arindam Chakrabarti, eds. 1994. Knowing from Words. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Matilal, Bimal Krishna. 1986. Perception. An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Matilal, Bimal Krishna. 1990. The Word and the World, India’s Contribution to the Study of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pariser, Eli. 2011. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. New York: Penguin.