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v t e

Dignāga
Dignāga
(a.k.a. Diṅnāga, c. 480 – c. 540 CE) was an Indian Buddhist scholar and one of the Buddhist founders of Indian logic (hetu vidyā). Dignāga's work laid the groundwork for the development of deductive logic in India and created the first system of Buddhist logic and epistemology (Pramana).[1] According to Georges B Dreyfus, his philosophical school brought about an Indian "epistemological turn" and became the "standard formulation of Buddhist logic
Buddhist logic
and epistemology in India and Tibet."[2] Dignāga's thought influenced later Buddhist philosophers like Dharmakirti
Dharmakirti
and also Hindu thinkers of the Nyaya
Nyaya
school. Dignāga's epistemology accepted only "perception" (pratyaksa) and "inference" (anumāṇa) are valid instruments of knowledge and introduced the widely influential theory of "exclusion" (apoha) to explain linguistic meaning.[3] His work on language, inferential reasoning and perception were also widely influential among later Indian philosophers.[4] According to Richard P. Hayes "some familiarity with Dinnaga's arguments and conclusions is indispensable for anyone who wishes to understand the historical development of Indian thought."[5] Dignāga
Dignāga
was born in Simhavakta near Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram
and very little is known of his early years, except that he took as his spiritual preceptor Nagadatta of the Pudgalavada school before being expelled and becoming a student of Vasubandhu.[6]

Contents

1 Philosophy

1.1 Pratyaksa 1.2 Anumana 1.3 Apohavada and language

2 Works 3 Tradition and Influence 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Philosophy[edit]

Buddhist epistemology holds that perception and inference are the means to correct knowledge.

Dignāga
Dignāga
mature philosophy is expounded in his magnum opus, the Pramāṇa-samuccaya. In chapter one, Dignāga's explains his epistemology which holds that there are only two 'instruments of knowledge' or 'valid cognitions' (pramāṇa); "perception" or "sensation" (pratyaksa) and "inference" or "reasoning" (anumāṇa). In chapter one, Dignāga
Dignāga
writes:

Sensation and reasoning are the only two means of acquiring knowledge, because two attributes are knowable; there is no knowable object other than the peculiar and the general attribute. I shall show that sensation has the peculiar attribute as its subject matter, while reasoning has the general attribute as its subject matter.[7]

Perception is a non-conceptual knowing of particulars which is bound by causality, while inference is reasonable, linguistic and conceptual.[8] This conservative epistemic theory was in contrast to the Nyaya
Nyaya
school who accepted other means of knowledge such as Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy). Pratyaksa[edit] Pratyaksa is a kind of awareness that acquires information about particulars, and is immediately present to one of the senses. This is the topic of the first chapter of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya.[9] For Dignāga, perception is pre-verbal, pre-conceptual and unstructured sense data. In chapter two of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya he writes:

Sensation is devoid of structure. That cognition in which there is no structure is sensation. What kind of thing is this so-called structure? Attaching a name, a universal and so forth.[10]

According to Dignāga
Dignāga
our mind always takes raw sense data or particulars and interprets them or groups them together in more complex ways, compares them to past experiences, gives them names to classify them based on general attributes (samanyalaksana) and so forth. This process he terms kalpana (arranging, structuring).[11] This cognitive process is already different than sensation, which is a simple cognition based only on the immediately present. Thus pratyaksa is only awareness of particular sense data such as a patch of green color and the sensation of hardness, never awareness of a macroscopic object such an apple which is always a higher level synthesis.[12] For Dignāga, sensation is also inerrant, it cannot "stray" because it is the most basic and simple phenomenon of experience or as he puts it:

"it is impossible too for the object of awareness itself to be errant, for errancy is only the content of misinterpretation by the mind."[13]

Also, for Dignaga, pratyaksa is mostly phenomenalist and is not dependent on the existence of an external world. It is also inexpressible and private.[14] Anumana[edit] Anumana (inference or reasoning) for Dignāga
Dignāga
is a type of cognition which is only aware of general attributes, and is constructed out of simpler sensations. Inference can also be communicated through linguistic conventions.[15] A central issue which concerned Dignāga
Dignāga
was the interpretation of signs (linga) or the evidence (hetu) which led one to an inference (anumana) about states of affairs; such as how smoke can lead one to infer that there is a fire.[16] This topic of svārthānumāna (reasoning, literally "inference for oneself") is the subject of chapter two of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya while the topic of the third chapter is about demonstration (parārthānumāna, literally "inference for others"), that is, how one communicates one's inferences through proper argument.[17] According to Richard Hayes, in Dignāga's system, to obtain knowledge that a property (the "inferable property", sadhya) is inherent in a "subject of inference" (paksa) it must be derived through an inferential sign (linga). For this to occur, the following must be true:[18]

The inferential sign must be a property of the subject of the inference. That is, there exists in the subject of inference a property, which is different from the inferable property and which is furthermore evident to the person drawing the inference; this second property may serve as an inferential sign in case it has two further characteristics. The inferential sign must be known to occur in at least one locus, other than the subject of inference, in which the inferable property occurs. The inferential sign must not be known to occur in any other loci in which the inferable property is absent.

Richard Hayes interprets these criteria as overly strict and this is because he sees Dignāga's system as one of rational skepticism. Dignāga's epistemology, argues Hayes, is a way to express and practice the traditional Buddhist injunction not become attached to views and opinions.[19] According to Hayes, for Dignāga, the role of logic is:

to counter dogmatism and prejudice. As a weapon in the battle against prejudice that rages in every mind that seeks wisdom--in minds of the vast majority of people who do not seek wisdom, prejudice simply takes full control without a contest-there is nothing as powerful as the kind of reason that lies at the heart of Dignaga's system of logic. For it should be clear that very few of our judgments in ordinary life pass the standards set by the three characteristics of legitimate' evidence. Taken in its strictest interpretation, none of the judgments of any but a fully omniscient being passes. And, since there is no evidence that there exist any fully omniscient beings, the best available working hypothesis is that no one's thinking is immune from errors that require revision in the face of newly discovered realities.[20]

Apohavada and language[edit] Dignāga
Dignāga
considered the interpretation of conventional and symbolic signs such as the words and sentences of human language to be no more than special or conventional instances of the general principles of inference or anumana.[21] He takes up several issues relating to language and its relationship to inference in the fifth chapter of his Pramāṇa-samuccaya.[22] During Dignāga's time, the orthodox Indian Nyaya
Nyaya
school and also Hindu Sanskrit
Sanskrit
grammarians (such as Bhartṛhari) had discussed issues of epistemology and language respectively, but their theories generally accepted the concept of universals which was rejected by most Buddhist philosophers. Influenced by the work of these thinkers as well as by Buddhist philosophers of the Sautrantika school who rejected Hindu theories of universals in favor of nominalism (prajñapti), Dignāga
Dignāga
developed his own Buddhist theory of language and meaning based on the concept of "apoha" (exclusion).[23] Hattori Masaaki explains the doctrine thus:

a word indicates an object merely through the exclusion of other objects (anyapoha, -vyavrtti). For example, the word "cow" simply means that the object is not a non-cow. As such, a word cannot denote anything real, whether it be an individual (vyakti), a universal (jati), or any other thing. The apprehension of an object by means of the exclusion of other objects is nothing but an inference.[24]

Works[edit] As noted by Hayes, the difficulty in studying the highly terse works of Dignāga
Dignāga
is considerable, because none of them have survived in the original Sanskrit
Sanskrit
and the Tibetan and Chinese translations which do survive show signs of having been done by translators who were not completely certain of the meaning of the work.[25] This difficulty has also led scholars to read Dignaga
Dignaga
through the lens of later authors such as Dharmakirti
Dharmakirti
and their Indian and Tibetan interpreters as well as their Hindu Nyaya
Nyaya
opponents. Because of this tendency in scholarship, ideas which are actually innovations of Dharmakirti
Dharmakirti
and later authors have often been associated with Dignaga
Dignaga
by scholars such as Fyodor Shcherbatskoy and S. Mookerjee, even though these thinkers often differ.[26] Dignāga's magnum opus, the Pramāṇa-samuccaya (Compendium of Valid Cognition), examined perception, language and inferential reasoning. It presents perception as a bare cognition, devoid of conceptualization and sees language as useful fictions created through a process of exclusion (Apoha).[27] Other works include:

Hetucakra (The wheel of reason), considered his first work on formal logic. It may be regarded as a bridge between the older doctrine of trairūpya and Dignāga's own later theory of vyapti which is a concept related to the Western notion of implication.

Alambana-parīkṣā, (The Treatise on the Objects of Cognition) and its auto commentary (vrtti).

Abhidharmakośa-marma-pradīpa – a condensed summary of Vasubandhu's seminal work the Abhidharmakosha A summary of the Mahayana
Mahayana
Aṣṭasāhasrika-prajñāpāramitā sūtra

Trikāla-parikṣa, (Treatise on the tri-temporality)

Nyāya-mukha (Introduction to logic).

Tradition and Influence[edit] Dignāga
Dignāga
founded a tradition of Buddhist logic, and this school is sometimes called the "School of Dignāga" or the "Dignāga- Dharmakīrti
Dharmakīrti
school". In Tibetan it is often called “those who follow reasoning” (Tibetan: rigs pa rjes su ‘brang ba); in modern literature it is sometimes known by the Sanskrit 'pramāṇavāda', often translated as "the Epistemological School"[28] or "The logico-epistemological school." Buddhist philosophers who wrote on pramana include:

Dharmakīrti
Dharmakīrti
(c. 7th century) Jinendrabuddhi Dharmapala of Nalanda Santabhadra Śāntarakṣita
Śāntarakṣita
(725–788) Dharmottara (8th century) Prajñakaragupta Samkarananda Ratnākaraśānti (c.1000) Jñanasrimitra
Jñanasrimitra
(975–1025) Ratnakīrti
Ratnakīrti
(11th century)

This tradition of logic and epistemology continued in Tibet, where it was expanded by thinkers such as Cha-ba (1182–1251) and Sakya Pandita (1182–1251). Dignaga
Dignaga
also influenced non-Buddhist Sanskrit
Sanskrit
thinkers. According to Lawrence J. McCrea, and Parimal G. Patil, Dignaga
Dignaga
set in motion an "epistemic turn" in Indian philosophy:

In the centuries following Dignāga’s work, virtually all philosophical questions were reconfigured as epistemological ones. That is, when making any claim at all, it came to be seen as incumbent on a philosopher to situate that claim within a fully developed theory of knowledge. The systematic articulation and interrogation of the underlying presuppositions of all knowledge claims thus became the central preoccupation of most Sanskrit
Sanskrit
philosophers."[29]

See also[edit]

Buddhist logic Critical Buddhism

References[edit]

^ Zheng Wei-hong; Dignāga
Dignāga
and Dharmakīrti: Two Summits of Indian Buddhist Logic. Research Institute of Chinese Classics; Fudan University; Shanghai, China ^ Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti’s Philosophy and its Tibetan Interpretations, (Suny: 1997), page 15-16. ^ Arnold, Dan. The Philosophical Works and Influence of Dignāga
Dignāga
and Dharmakīrti, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0085.xml ^ Dunne, John. "Dignaga" in Buswell (ed.) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUDDHISM. Volume One A-L ^ Hayes (1982), p. ix. ^ Karr, Andy (2007). Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner's Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Shambhala Publications. p. 212. ISBN 9781590304297.  ^ Hayes (1982), p 133. ^ Tom Tillemans (2011), Dharmakirti, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ^ Hayes (1982), p 132. ^ Hayes (1982), p 134. ^ Hayes (1982), p 135. ^ Hayes (1982), p 138. ^ Hayes (1982), p 139. ^ Hayes (1982), p 143. ^ Hayes (1982), p 143. ^ Hayes (1982), p 1. ^ Hayes (1982), p 132-33. ^ Hayes (1982), p 146, 153. ^ Hayes (1982), p 146, 167. ^ Hayes (1982), p 167. ^ Hayes (1982), p 1. ^ Hayes (1982), p 132. ^ Hayes (1982), p 27-28. ^ Hayes (1982), p 26. ^ Hayes, (1982), p. 6. ^ Hayes, (1982), p. 15. ^ Arnold, Dan. The Philosophical Works and Influence of Dignāga
Dignāga
and Dharmakīrti, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0085.xml ^ Tillemans, Tom, "Dharmakīrti", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/dharmakiirti/>. ^ Lawrence J. McCrea, and Parimal G. Patil. Buddhist Philosophy of Language in India: Jnanasrimitra on Exclusion. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. p 5.

Further reading[edit]

Chu, Junjie (2006).On Dignāga's theory of the object of cognition as presented in PS (V) 1, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 29 (2), 211–254 Frauwallner, Erich, Dignāga, sein Werk und seine Entwicklung. (Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Süd- und Ostasiens 2:83–164, 1959) Hattori Masaaki, Dignāga, On Perception, being the Pratyakṣapariccheda of Dignāga's Pramāṇasamuccaya from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
fragments and the Tibetan Versions (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968) Hayes, Richard, Dignāga
Dignāga
on the Interpretation of Signs (Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing Company, 1982) Katsura Shoryu, Dignāga
Dignāga
and Dharmakīrti
Dharmakīrti
on apoha in E. Steinkellner (ed.), Studies in the Buddhist Epistemological Tradition (Vienna, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1991), pp. 129–146 Mookerjee, S. The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux, an Exposition of the Philosophy of Critical Realism as expounded by the School of Dignāga
Dignāga
(Calcutta, 1935) Sastri, N. Aiyaswami, Diṅnāga's Ālambanaparīkṣā and Vṛtti. Restored with the commentary of Dharmapāla into Sanskrit
Sanskrit
from the Tibetan and Chinese versions and edited with English translations and notes with extracts from Vinītadeva's commentary. (Madras: The Adyar Library. 1942)[1] Tucci, Giuseppe, The Nyāyamukha of Dignāga, the oldest Buddhist Text on Logic after Chinese and Tibetan Materials (Materialien zur Kunde des Buddhismus, 15 Heft, Heidelberg, 1930) Vidyabhusana, S.C. A History of Indian Logic – Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Schools (Calcutta, 1921)

External links[edit]

Dignaga's Logic of Invention, by Volker Peckhaus Vidhabhusana, Satis Chandra (1907). History of the Mediaeval School of Indian Logic. Calcutta University.

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