Competitive Exams: Parmanyavada Theories of Validity of Knowledge

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Parmanyavada relates to validity of knowledge in Indian philosophy as to whether knowledge is itself valid, or requires some extraneous sources to validate itself. Its two forms are: Svatah-Parmanyavada and Pratah-Parmanyavada. The problem of validity of knowledge in Indian philosophical systems is bifurcated into two issues

  • Origin and source of validity (utpatti)
  • The ascertainment of the same (jnapti) .

While Mimamsa agrees with the Nyaya-Visheshika in its view of invalidity of knowledge (apramanya) , it disagrees with it in respect of the view it takes of its validity (pramanya) . By admitting knowledge to be intrinsically valid, Mimansa dispenses with the need of testing it like Nyaya which takes recourse to test the knowledge by seeing if it leads to fruitful activity (samvadi pravriti) or not. Truth in Nyaya is correspondence with facts, the fruitful activity is the test to it. That is why, Nyaya upholds the theory of Pratah-parmanyavada.

Pratah-parmanayavada is the theory which maintains that knowledge becomes validated only when extraneous sources validate it. They define knowledge as apprehension which reveals both subject, object and itself also. Valid knowledge is right apprehension of objects. It is the manifestation of the object as it is. Knowledge in order to be valid must correspond to reality. It is produced in the soul when it comes into contact with no-soul. It is an adventitious property of soul. If the generating condition is sound, knowledge is valid. If the they are defective, it is invalid. Like in conch-yellow illusion. It is the defect in the eye of the beholder which leads him to the conclusion that conch is of gold. A jaundiced eye sees everything yellow, not that everything really is yellow. Invalid knowledge does not correspond to its object, and thus leads to failure and disappointment. To know what whether the knowledge so given is true or not, we require an additional means viz fruitful activity or samvadi pravriti.

Fire must burn for it to be fire. Truth and falsity are lateral and extrinsic characteristics of knowledge. Knowledge is generated first. Question of validity and invalidity arises later. That is, when we know knowledge, we do not know its logical worth. It is known only subsequently as the result of an appeal to facts, which is what fruitful activity means. Thus correspondence to the objects is the content of knowledge and samvadi pravriti or successful activity the test of truth. Thus, for Nyaya, validity of knowledge depends, in respect of its origin (utpatu) and ascertainment (jnaptu) upon the fulfillment of an extra condition.

Svatah-parmanyavada is the theory of self-validity of knowledge advocated by Mimamsa. It advocates svatah-parmanyavada both in respect of the origin of knowledge (utpattu) and ascertainment (jnanptu) . According to Mimansakas, if a, b and c, say, account for the genesis of knowledge, those causes themselves explain its validity also. Similarly, the validity of knowledge is known when the knowledge itself is known; and no additional means is required therefore. All knowledge is presumably valid and an explanation is called for only where any particular knowledge fails to do so. We proceed to act always on the supposition that the knowledge we get is true; but if any part of it is discovered to be not so, we seek for the cause of its invalidity in extraneous circumstances that must have interfered with the free functioning of its means. The cause of invalidity is some defect in the means or source of knowledge (karana-dosa) . Thus a person may think that he sees a particular thing, silver, while it is only shell because his eyesight is defective. This is how wrong knowledge arises. It is found out by its incompatibility with subsequent experience (badhaka-pratyaya) . When the person, who fancies that he sees a serpent, at a distance, approaches it and discovers it to be rope, he concludes that his previous knowledge was erroneous. The one kind of knowledge that is out of the purview of svatah-parmanyavada is memory.

According to Kumaril, recollection is not valid, for novelty is the necessary condition of validity. Truths should not only be not contradicted by subsequent knowledge (abadhita) ; it should also point to something not hitherto known (anadhighata) . Prabhakar however, does not accept this condition for all experience (anubhuti) , whether the object be already known or not, is valid for him.

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