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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Effort and other minds

Someśvara explains that every bodily movement (śarīraparispanda) is caused by an effort (prayatna). In Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika texts, this link was used in order to prove the existence of a Self, insofar as prayatna was believed to be a quality of the Self (and, hence, inseparable from it). Hence, by seeing other people moving one could infer the existence of their Selves (in contemporary terms: the existence of other minds).
Someśvara develops an inference to the same purpose in the following way. In fact, one knows through mental awareness (mānasapratyakṣa, the kind of direct perception allowing one to seize one's own inner states) that one's bodily movements while going, sacrificing, cooking, etc., are caused by the self's effort. So:
1. all movements of one's body (svaśarīraparispanda) are caused by the self's effort (ātmaprayatna), as one knows through mental awareness (mānasapratyakṣa),
2. other bodies also move,
3 hence, their movements (paraśarīraspanda) are also caused by a self's efforts, just like in one's own case (Nyāyasudhā 1909, p. 577).
The rationale behind it is that one is aware of something else beyond the movement one performs in sacrificing, etc. (which are expressed, according to Mīmāṃsā authors, by the verbal root).

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