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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Perception can of course invalidate inference


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style="text-align: justify;">could be perceived by the senses, and if inference and s'ruti (scriptures) did not point the other way. Perception can of course invalidate inference, but it can do so only when its own validity has been ascertained in an undoubted and uncontested manner. But this is not the case with our perceptions of the world-appearance, for our present perceptions cannot prove that these will never be contradicted in future, and inference and s'ruti are also against it. The mere fact that I perceive the world-appearance cannot prove that what I perceive is true or real, if it is contradicted by inference. We all perceive the sun to be small, but our perception in this case is contradicted by inference and we have hence to admit that our perceptions are erroneous. We depend (_upajivya_) indeed for all our transactions on perception, but such dependence cannot prove that that on which we depend is absolutely valid. Validity or reality can only be ascertained by proper examination and enquiry (_parik@sa_), which may convince us that there is no error in it. True it is that by the universal testimony of our contemporaries and by the practical fruition and realization of our endeavours in the external world, it is proved beyond doubt that the world-appearance before us is a reality. But this sort of examination and enquiry cannot prove to us with any degree of satisfaction that the world-appearance will never be contradicted at any time or at any stage. The Vedanta
also admits that our examination and enquiry prove to us that the world-appearance now exists as it appears; it only denies that it cannot continue to exist for all times, and a time will come when to the emancipated person the world-appearance will cease to exist. The experience, observation, and practical utility of the objects as perceived by us cannot prove to us that these will never be contradicted at any future time. Our perception of the world-appearance cannot therefore disprove the Vedanta inference that the world-appearance is false, and it will demonstrate itself to be so at the time when the right knowledge of Brahman as one dawns in us. The testimony of the Upani@sads also contradicts the perception which grasps the world-appearance in its manifold aspect.

Moreover we are led to think that the world-appearance is false, for it is not possible for us to discover any true relation between the consciousness (_d@rk_) and the objects of consciousness (_d@rs'ya_). Consciousness must be admitted to have some kind of

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connection with the objects which it illumines, for had it not been so there could be any knowledge at any time irrespective of its connections with the objects. But it is not possible to imagine any kind of connection between consciousness and its objects, for it can neither be contact (_sa@myoga_) nor inherence (_samavaya_); and apart from these two kinds of connections we know of no other. We say that things are the objects of our consciousness, but what is meant by it is indeed difficult to define. It cannot be that objectivity of consciousness means that a special effect like the jnatata of Mima@msa is produced upon the object, for such an effect is not admissible or perceivable in any way; nor can objectivity also mean any practical purpose (of being useful to us) associated with the object as Prabhakara thinks, for there are many things which are the objects of our consciousness but not considered as useful (e.g. the sky). Objectivity also cannot mean that the thing is the object of the thought-movement (_jnana-kara@na_) involved in knowledge, for this can only be with reference to objects present to the perceiver, and cannot apply to objects of past time about which one may be conscious, for if the thing is not present how can it be made an object of thought-movement? Objectivity further cannot mean that the things project their own forms on the knowledge and are hence called objects, for though this may apply in the case of perception, it cannot be true of inference, where the object of consciousness is far away and does not mould consciousness after its own form. Thus in whatever way we may try to conceive manifold things existing separately and becoming objects of consciousness we fail. We have also seen that it is difficult to conceive of any kind of relation subsisting between objects and consciousness, and hence it has to be admitted that the imposition of the world-appearance is after all nothing but illusory.


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