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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Was with us a matter of inference


The place of sense organs in perception.

We have just said that knowledge arises by itself and that it could not have been generated by sense-contact. If this be so, the diversity of perceptions is however left unexplained. But in

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face of the Nyaya philosophy explaining all perceptions on the ground of diverse sense-contact the Mima@msa probably could not afford to remain silent on such an important point. It therefore accepted the Nyaya view of sense-contact as a condition of knowledge with slight modifications, and yet held their doctrine of svata@h-prama@nya. It does not appear to have been conscious of a conflict between these two different principles of the production of knowledge. Evidently the point of view from which it looked at it was that the fact that there were the senses and contacts of them with the objects, or such special capacities in them by virtue of which the things could be perceived, was with us a matter of inference. Their actions in producing the knowledge are never experienced at the time of the rise of knowledge, but when the knowledge arises we argue that such and such senses must have acted. The only case where knowledge is found to be dependent on anything else seems to be the case where one knowledge is found to depend on a previous experience or knowledge as in the case of memory. In other cases the dependence of the rise of knowledge on

anything else cannot be felt, for the physical collocations conditioning knowledge are not felt to be operating before the rise of knowledge, and these are only inferred later on in accordance with the nature and characteristic of knowledge. We always have our first start in knowledge which is directly experienced from which we may proceed later on to the operation and nature of objective facts in relation to it. Thus it is that though contact of the senses with the objects may later on be imagined to be the conditioning factor, yet the rise of knowledge as well as our notion of its validity strikes us as original, underived, immediate, and first-hand.

Prabhakara gives us a sketch as to how the existence of the senses may be inferred. Thus our cognitions of objects are phenomena which are not all the same, and do not happen always in the same manner, for these vary differently at different moments; the cognitions of course take place in the soul which may thus be regarded as the material cause (_samavayikara@na_); but there must be some such movements or other specific associations (_asamavayikara@na_) which render the production of this or that specific cognition possible. The immaterial causes subsist either in the cause of the material cause (e.g. in the case of the colouring of a white piece of cloth, the colour of the yarns which

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is the cause of the


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