Vaisheshika

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Vaisheshika or Vaiśeṣika (Sanskrit : वैशेषिक) is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy (Vedic systems) from ancient India. In its early stages, the Vaiśeṣika was an independent philosophy with its own metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and soteriology. [1] Over time, the Vaiśeṣika system became similar in its philosophical procedures, ethical conclusions and soteriology to the Nyāya school of Hinduism, but retained its difference in epistemology and metaphysics.

Hindu philosophy various systems of thought in Hinduism

Hindu philosophy refers to philosophies, world views, and teachings that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (ṣaḍdarśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. These are also called the Astika (orthodox) philosophical traditions and are those that accept the Vedas as an authoritative, important source of knowledge. Ancient and medieval India was also the source of philosophies that share philosophical concepts but rejected the Vedas, and these have been called nāstika Indian philosophies. Nāstika Indian philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, Ājīvika, and others.

Historical Vedic religion Religious ideas and practices among most Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE

The historical Vedic religion refers to the religious ideas and practices among most Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE. These ideas and practices are found in the Vedic texts, and they were one of the major influences that shaped contemporary Hinduism.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Contents

The epistemology of Vaiśeṣika school of Hinduism, like Buddhism, accepted only two reliable means to knowledge: perception and inference. [2] [3] Vaiśeṣika school and Buddhism both consider their respective scriptures as indisputable and valid means to knowledge, the difference being that the scriptures held to be a valid and reliable source by Vaiśeṣikas were the Vedas.

Epistemology A branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Vedas Ancient scriptures of Hinduism

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".

Vaisheshika school is known for its insights in naturalism. [4] [5] It is a form of atomism in natural philosophy. [6] It postulated that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to paramāṇu (atoms), and one's experiences are derived from the interplay of substance (a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence. [7] Everything was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces. Ajivika metaphysics included a theory of atoms which was later adapted in Vaiśeṣika school. [8]

In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the world." Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

Atomism is a natural philosophy that developed in several ancient traditions.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

According to Vaiśeṣika school, knowledge and liberation were achievable by a complete understanding of the world of experience. [7] .

Vaiśeṣika darshana was founded by Kaṇāda Kashyapa around the 6th to 2nd century BC. [9] [10] [11]

Darśana human settlement

Darśana is the auspicious sight of a deity or a holy person. The term also refers to six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy and their literature on spirituality and soteriology.

Kanada, also known as Kashyapa, Uluka, Kananda and Kanabhuk, was an ancient Indian natural scientist and philosopher who founded the Vaisheshika school of Indian philosophy that also represents the earliest Indian physics.

Overview

Although the Vaisheshika system developed independently from the Nyaya school of Hinduism, the two became similar and are often studied together. In its classical form, however, the Vaishesika school differed from the Nyaya in one crucial respect: where Nyaya accepted four sources of valid knowledge, the Vaishesika accepted only two. [2] [3]

The epistemology of Vaiśeṣika school of Hinduism accepted only two reliable means to knowledge – perception and inference. [2]

Vaisheshika espouses a form of atomism, that the reality is composed of five substances (examples are earth, water, air, fire, and space). Each of these five are of two types, explains Ganeri, [6] (paramāṇu) and composite. A paramāṇu is that which is indestructible, indivisible, and has a special kind of dimension, called “small” (aṇu). A composite is that which is divisible into paramāṇu. Whatever human beings perceive is composite, and even the smallest perceptible thing, namely, a fleck of dust, has parts, which are therefore invisible. [6] The Vaiśeṣikas visualized the smallest composite thing as a “triad” (tryaṇuka) with three parts, each part with a “dyad” (dyaṇuka). Vaiśeṣikas believed that a dyad has two parts, each of which is an atom. Size, form, truths and everything that human beings experience as a whole is a function of parmanus, their number and their spatial arrangements.

Parama means "most distant, remotest, extreme, last" and aṇu means "atom, very small particle", hence paramāṇu is essentially "the most distant or last small (i.e. smallest) particle".

Vaisheshika postulated that what one experiences is derived from dravya (substance: a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), guna (quality), karma (activity), samanya (commonness), vishesha (particularity) and nsamavaya (inherence, inseparable connectedness of everything). [7] [12]

Epistemology

Hinduism identifies six Pramāṇas as epistemically reliable means to accurate knowledge and to truths: [13] Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāna (inference), Upamāna (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances), Anupalabdhi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof) and Śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts). [2] [3] [14] Of these Vaiśeṣika epistemology considered only pratyakṣa (perception) and anumāna (inference) as reliable means of valid knowledge. [15] Nyaya school, related to Vaiśeṣika, accepts four out of these six. [2]

Syllogism

The syllogism of the Vaiśeṣika school was similar to that of the Nyāya school of Hinduism, but the names given by Praśastapāda to the 5 members of syllogism are different. [26]

Literature

The earliest systematic exposition of the Vaisheshika is found in the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra of Kaṇāda (or Kaṇabhaksha). This treatise is divided into ten books. The two commentaries on the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra, Rāvaṇabhāṣya and Bhāradvājavṛtti are no more extant. Praśastapāda’s Padārthadharmasaṁgraha (c. 4th century) is the next important work of this school. Though commonly known as bhāṣya of Vaiśeṣika Sūtra, this treatise is basically an independent work on the subject. The next Vaisheshika treatise, Candra’s Daśapadārthaśāstra (648) based on Praśastapāda’s treatise is available only in Chinese translation. The earliest commentary available on Praśastapāda’s treatise is Vyomaśiva’s Vyomavatī (8th century). The other three commentaries are Śridhara’s Nyāyakandalī (991), Udayana’s Kiranāvali (10th century) and Śrivatsa’s Līlāvatī (11th century). Śivāditya’s Saptapadārthī which also belongs to the same period, presents the Nyāya and the Vaiśeṣika principles as a part of one whole. Śaṁkara Miśra’s Upaskāra on Vaiśeṣika Sūtra is also an important work. [27]

The Categories or Padārtha

According to the Vaisheshika school, all things that exist, that can be cognized and named are padārtha s (literal meaning: the meaning of a word), the objects of experience. All objects of experience can be classified into six categories, dravya (substance), guṇa (quality), karma (activity), sāmānya (generality), viśeṣa (particularity) and samavāya (inherence). Later Vaiśeṣikas (Śrīdhara and Udayana and Śivāditya) added one more category abhava (non-existence). The first three categories are defined as artha (which can perceived) and they have real objective existence. The last three categories are defined as budhyapekṣam (product of intellectual discrimination) and they are logical categories. [28]

  1. Dravya (substance): The substances are conceived as 9 in number. They are, pṛthvī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vāyu (air), ākaśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space), ātman (self or soul) and manas (mind). The first five are called bhūtas, the substances having some specific qualities so that they could be perceived by one or the other external senses. [29]
  2. Guṇa (quality): The Vaiśeṣika Sūtra mentions 17 guṇas (qualities), to which Praśastapāda added another 7. While a substance is capable of existing independently by itself, a guṇa(quality) cannot exist so. The original 17 guṇas (qualities) are, rūpa (colour), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sparśa (touch), saṁkhyā (number), parimāṇa (size/dimension/quantity), pṛthaktva (individuality), saṁyoga (conjunction/accompaniments), vibhāga (disjunction), paratva (priority), aparatva (posteriority), buddhi (knowledge), sukha (pleasure), duḥkha (pain), icchā (desire), dveṣa (aversion) and prayatna (effort). To these Praśastapāda added gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscosity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), śabda (sound) and saṁskāra (faculty). [30]
  3. Karma (activity): The karmas (activities) like guṇas (qualities) have no separate existence, they belong to the substances. But while a quality is a permanent feature of a substance, an activity is a transient one. Ākāśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space) and ātman (self), though substances, are devoid of karma (activity). [31]
  4. Sāmānya (generality): Since there are plurality of substances, there will be relations among them. When a property is found common to many substances, it is called sāmānya. [32]
  5. Viśeṣa (particularity): By means of viśeṣa, we are able to perceive substances as different from one another. As the ultimate atoms are innumerable so are the viśeṣas. [33]
  6. Samavāya (inherence): Kaṇāda defined samavāya as the relation between the cause and the effect. Praśastapāda defined it as the relationship existing between the substances that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation of the container and the contained. The relation of samavāya is not perceivable but only inferable from the inseparable connection of the substances. [34]

The atomic theory

According to the Vaiśeṣika school, the trasareṇu are the smallest mahat (perceivable) particles and defined as tryaṇukas (triads). These are made of three parts, each of which are defined as dvyaṇuka (dyad). The dvyaṇukas are conceived as made of two parts, each of which are defined as paramāṇu (atom). The paramāṇus (atoms) are indivisible and eternal, they can neither be created nor destroyed. [35] Each paramāṇu (atom) possesses its own distinct viśeṣa (individuality). [36]

The measure of the partless atoms is known as parimaṇḍala parimāṇa. It is eternal and it cannot generate the measure of any other substance. Its measure is its own absolutely. [37]

The early Vaiśeṣika texts presented the following syllogism to prove that all objects i.e. the four bhūtas, pṛthvī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire) and vāyu (air) are made of indivisible paramāṇus (atoms): Assume that the matter is not made of indivisible atoms, and that it is continuous. Take a stone. One can divide this up into infinitely many pieces (since matter is continuous). Now, the Himalayan mountain range also has infinitely many pieces, so one may build another Himalayan mountain range with the infinite number of pieces that one has. One begins with a stone and ends up with the Himalayas, which is a paradox - so the original assumption that matter is continuous must be wrong, and so all objects must be made up of a finite number of paramāṇus (atoms).

See also

Notes

  1. Amita Chatterjee (2011), Nyāya-vaiśeṣika Philosophy, The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy, doi : 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195328998.003.0012
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 DPS Bhawuk (2011), Spirituality and Indian Psychology (Editor: Anthony Marsella), Springer, ISBN   978-1-4419-8109-7, page 172
  3. 1 2 3
    • Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN   978-0815336112, pages 245-248;
    • John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, ISBN   978-0791430675, page 238
  4. Dale Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, ISBN   978-8120812932, pages 227-246
  5. Kak, S. 'Matter and Mind: The Vaisheshika Sutra of Kanada' (2016), Mount Meru Publishing, Mississauga, Ontario, ISBN   978-1-988207-13-1.
  6. 1 2 3 Analytical philosophy in early modern India J Ganeri, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. 1 2 3 Oliver Leaman, Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy. Routledge, ISBN   978-0415173629, 1999, page 269.
  8. Basham 1951, pp. 262-270.
  9. Jeaneane D. Fowler 2002, pp. 98-99.
  10. Oliver Leaman (1999), Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy. Routledge, ISBN   978-0415173629, page 269
  11. J Ganeri (2012), The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0199652365
  12. M Hiriyanna (1993), Outlines of Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   978-8120810860, pages 228-237
  13. P Bilimoria (1993), Pramāṇa epistemology: Some recent developments, in Asian philosophy - Volume 7 (Editor: G Floistad), Springer, ISBN   978-94-010-5107-1, pages 137-154
  14. Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN   978-0521438780, page 225
  15. Chattopadhyaya 1986 , p. 170
  16. 1 2 MM Kamal (1998), The Epistemology of the Carvaka Philosophy, Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, 46(2): 13-16
  17. B Matilal (1992), Perception: An Essay in Indian Theories of Knowledge, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0198239765
  18. 1 2 Karl Potter (1977), Meaning and Truth, in Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 2, Princeton University Press, Reprinted in 1995 by Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   81-208-0309-4, pages 160-168
  19. Karl Potter (1977), Meaning and Truth, in Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 2, Princeton University Press, Reprinted in 1995 by Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   81-208-0309-4, pages 168-169
  20. Karl Potter (1977), Meaning and Truth, in Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 2, Princeton University Press, Reprinted in 1995 by Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   81-208-0309-4, pages 170-172
  21. W Halbfass (1991), Tradition and Reflection, State University of New York Press, ISBN   0-7914-0362-9, page 26-27
  22. Carvaka school is the exception
  23. 1 2 James Lochtefeld, "Anumana" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A-M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN   0-8239-2287-1, page 46-47
  24. Karl Potter (2002), Presuppositions of India's Philosophies, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   81-208-0779-0
  25. Monier Williams (1893), Indian Wisdom - Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Doctrines of the Hindus, Luzac & Co, London, page 61
  26. Radhakrishnan 2006 , p. 75ff
  27. Radhakrishnan 2006 , pp. 180–81
  28. Radhakrishnan 2006 , pp. 183–86
  29. Chattopadhyaya 1986 , p. 169
  30. Radhakrishnan 2006 , p. 204
  31. Radhakrishnan 2006 , pp. 208–09
  32. Radhakrishnan 2006 , p. 209
  33. Radhakrishnan 2006 , p. 215
  34. Radhakrishnan 2006 , pp. 216–19
  35. Chattopadhyaya 1986 , pp. 169–70
  36. Radhakrishnan 2006 , p. 202
  37. Dasgupta 1975 , p. 314

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Further reading