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Monday, June 28, 2010

On falsification in Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and some contemporary philosophers

I found a further interesting hint of similarity between Roderick M. Chisholm, as depicted by his detractors, and Kumārila. At p. 252 of his critique of Chisholm's epistemology (Chisholm on Empirical Knowledge, discussed in this post), in fact, Bruce Aune writes:

Thus, the moral of a good share of my argument [against t-C] is fundamentally the same: the epistemic status (or value) of a contingent belief always depends on facts extrinsic to it –on contingencies involving both the agent and the subject-matter of the belief.
This immediately strikes everyone who has ever studied Kumārila's epistemology since one of its chief tenets is, in fact, the svataḥ prāmāṇya (lit. "validity by itself") theory. That is, all cognition drives from itself alone the reasons why it is valid. It does not need an external, additional piece of evidence. From the outside can, instead, come evidences to the opposite, i.e., elements falsifying that piece of cognition. But unless and until this happens, that piece of cognition is on its own right valid, and does not need anything else in order to be accepted. In Kumārila's thought, this tenet is deemed to avoid a regressus ad infinitum (which piece of evidence would then justify the validity of the piece of evidence justifying the validity of the initial cognition?) and, more in general, to make empirical knowledge fully valid (until proven to be wrong). In sum, Kumārila and Chisholm share a similar concern in taking care of all our knowledge-lore. Invalidity, even as far as ordinary knowledge is concerned, is not the rule. Validity goes by default.

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