This is a hosted post by Matthew Dasti.
I would argue that when they are not arguing past each other, Nyāya’s view is similar to Mīmāṁsā’s, insofar as they both accept that cognition may be unreflectively justified when it is “free from defeaters”.
Vātsyāyana and Gaṅgeśa suggest that in the absence of review or certification, pramāṇas provide cognition with positive epistemic status. Vātsyāyana indicates the status of such cognition by claiming that it is nirṇaya, a definitive ascertainment or conclusive determination. In the Nyāya-sūtra (1.1.41), nirṇaya has a technical meaning, referring to the desideratum of philosophical inquiry, a conclusive determination regarding an object at issue (artha-avadhāraṇa). Uddyotakara defines it as artha-paricchedaḥ avadhāraṇam, the determination which is a definitive ascertainment of an object (NV 1.1.41). In the context of philosophical dispute, a judgment is deemed nirṇaya only after a final settlement is reached, having examined reasons for and against a position. But Vātsyāyana notes that in perception (for example), an immediate, unreviewed cognition born of the contact between sense faculty and object is nirṇaya. Uddyotakara is more explicit: “some claim that definitive ascertainment is simply inferential; that it is nothing more. We deny this. . . in the absence of [inference], definitive ascertainment may be produced as the result of the [mere] functioning of a pramāṇa” (NB 1.1.41). . . In further support of this reading of the Nyāya view, we may note that Gaṅgeśa suggests that cognitions that are certain (niścaya) are provided by the deliverances of putative pramāṇas. Gaṅgeśa stresses the deep tie between cognitions which are certain and unhesitating action, niṣkampa-pravṛtti, suggesting that the former is a condition on the latter. That cognition is fundamentally conceived of as a guide to action is a characteristic feature of Nyāya. Gaṅgeśa repeatedly argues that certainty about an object, provided by an initial, putatively veridical cognition, is required for unhesitating action, but not certainty about the high-grade epistemic status (prāmāṇya) of the original cognition itself (see, e.g., Phillips/Ramanuja Tatacharya 2004: 130, 588).
Gaṅgeśa notes that “a cognition whose own veridicality is in fact not grasped makes certain another’s veridicality, since it is itself not blemished by any suspicion about its non-veridicality” (Trans. by Phillips in Phillips/Ramanuja Tatacharya 2004: 131). Matilal (1986: 168) summarizes this point: “If c2 [cognition2, and so on] ascertains the knowledge-hood of c1, and no doubt about the falsehood of c2 arises, there is no need to look for c3, etc. to ascertain the knowledge-hood or otherwise of c2.”
The game of certification may go on so long as legitimate doubt or challenge exists, but in its absence, a cognition stands on its own.
So, while I would suggest that Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya differ over the theoretical reasons for default trust in cognition (and this, I think is a big part of the svataḥ/parataḥ dispute), default trust is very important to both systems.
This post is a reaction to the discussion initiated in this post.
On svataḥ prāmāṇya in Mīmāṃsā, check this post.
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