Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Sri Harsha: The Reader over your Shoulder


If the reader over your shoulder is a type of Sri Harsha (12th.C). be very afraid because you are going to be found out. I would defend the right of Sri Harsha to controvert everything and offer no positive teaching of his own unless you regard what he impugned as an limning by way of negative space. His positive thesis may be in a book now lost. In the particular book that I am referring to, the Khandana Khanda the scrutiny of his eagle eye has lit on the Nyaya school often referred to as 'the logicians'. Their programme as stated by Ganganath Jha in his introduction to the translation of the work - KhKh

The things, or categories, whose correct knowledge leads to the attainment of the highest aim of human existence, are (according to the Nyaya), the following sixteen—The Instruments of Right Cognition, the Objects of Right Cognition, Doubt, Motive, Example, Doctrine, Factors of Inference, Hypothetical Reasoning, Demonstrated Truth,. Discussion, Disputation, Wrangling, Fallacious Reason, Perversion, Casuistry and Clinchers. (Gautama’s Sutra 1-1-1). The most important among these are the Instruments of Cognition*and the Objects of Cognition; all the rest are of subordinate importance, being aids to the Instruments-of Cognition.

One of the points at issue is whether it is necessary for fruitful dialogue that both parties should admit the existence of the valid means of knowledge ie. the pramanas. That may not be necessary for in fact for without that, incoherence, inconsistency and self-contradiction could be found in the definitions of the opponent. Reductio ad absurdum can proceed without any commitment to the existence of the means of valid knowledge. Sri Harsha would hold that we can prescind from a committment to the existence of pramanas and still offer therapy to the holder of faulty definitions of experience, memory, perception, and recognition.

Sri Harsha states:
Not at all. We do not say that debate is to be undertaken having admitted that the means of valid knowledge do not exist, but that debate may be undertaken by individuals who are indifferent to the question whether the means of valid knowledge do exist or whether the means of valid knowledge do not exist, and yet carry on just as you do having admitted their existence. Were this not the case, even this fault adduced by you, having misconstrued our viewpoint to be that the means of valid knowledge do not exist, could not be stated.
(trans. by Phyllis Granoff from Philosophy and Argument in Late Vedanta: Sri Harsha's KhKh)

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