Classical Indian Philosophy Nyaya: Anumana and Inference as a Pramana

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Anumana or Inference

  • Anumana or inference is the second means of knowledge or pramana accepted by the school.

  • It is also called inferential or relational knowledge.

  • It is called so because the word Anumana etymologically means Anu means after and mana means knowledge.

  • As a result, it is defined as the knowledge where the cognition presupposes some other cognition.

  • It is mediate and indirect in nature.

  • Anumana arises through a mark, the middle term or the Hetu or the Linga is invariably connected with the major term or the Sadhya.

  • Vyapti or invariable relation is the nerve of the inference.

  • For example, all cases of smoke are cases of fire - here; vyapti exists between the smoke and fire. Or smoke is invariably related with fire.

  • In other words, it is the universal, invariable relationship between the middle and the major term.

  • Vyapti is also known as avinabhavaniyama.

  • The knowledge of Pakshadharmata as qualified by vyapti is called Paramarsha.

  • In other words, it is the knowledge of the presence of major in the minor through the middle which arises in the minor or the Pakshadharmata and is invariably associated with the major.

  • Like the Aristotelian logic, in the Indian logic, inference has three terms; major term, middle term and the minor term. They are also known as Sadhya, Hetu or Linga and Paksha.

  • Indian logic does not differentiate between deduction and induction. In other words, it does not separate the two, like the western logic.

  • According to them, inference is a complex process which involves both, deduction and induction.

  • It also rejects the verbalistic view of logic. It studies thought and not the forms of thought alone.

  • So, the formal and the material logic are both blended in Indian logic.

  • According to Nyaya, inference is both for the self and others. Meaning, it is both, svatah-Anumana and paratah-anumana.

  • The former is psychological in nature and needs no logic.

  • The latter is formal in nature and in-order to tell to the other or for others to know, logic and language is needed.

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The Concept of Panca-Avayava or 5 Members of Indian Logic

  • According to Nyaya, there are five members or panca-avayava of Indian Logic. They are;

    • The hill has fire (this proposition needs to be proved). It is also called Pratijna or proposition.

    • Because it has smoke (the reason for the establishment of the proposition). It is also called Hetu.

    • What has smoke has fire (the example of the relation of universal concomitance). For example, oven, etc. It is called Udharana.

    • The hill has smoke which is invariably associated with fire. This is also known as application or Upanaya.

    • Therefore, the hill has fire. This is the conclusion, also called Nigamana.

  • Unlike Aristotelian logic, Indian logic accepts 5 premises and not three.

  • The three premises of the former are; major premise, middle premise and minor premise.

Classification of Anumana

According to Nyaya, inference is of three kinds;

Purvavat Anumana:

  • This inference is based on causation.

  • It occurs when we infer unperceived effect from perceived cause.

  • For example, we infer rain from dark clouds.

  • It is based on previous experience of vyapti or universal relation between two things.

Sheshvat Anumana:

  • This inference is based on causation.

  • It occurs when we infer unperceived cause from perceived effects.

  • For example, we infer rain from seeing flooded roads, rivers, etc.

  • This is based on inference by elimination or parisesha.

Samanyatodrshta Anumana:

  • It is based on co-existence and not causation.

  • It occurs or it is based on the premise of mere-coexistence.

  • For example, when we infer cloven hoofs of an animal by its horns.

  • In other words, it is based on analogy

MCQ

1. Anumana is _________ means of pramana.

A. Immediate and Direct

B. Mediate and Indirect

C. Incomplete and invalid

D. Both B and C

Answer: B

2. The knowledge of Pakshadharmata as qualified by vyapti is called

A. Anumana

B. Paramarsha

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: B

3. _______ inference is based on causation

A. Purvavat

B. Sheshvat

C. Both A and B

D. Samanyatodrsta

Answer: C

4. ______ Anumana is based on inference by elimination or parisesha.

A. Purvavat

B. Sheshvat

C. Both A and B

D. Samanyatodrsta

Answer: B

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