Reply To: The separation of logic and epistemology in western logic systems

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Ashish Dalela

Yes, in the West, they have the mind-body distinction, as two kinds of substances. In Vedic philosophy, mind and body are two kinds of meanings. Just like if you see a red light on a street, and then you stop at the red light. The ‘redness’ is a meaning and ‘stop’ is a meaning.

The body is similarly the meanings of taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. There is no ‘substance’. It is meanings all the way. But some meaning can be perceived, some meaning can be conceived, some meaning can be judged, some meaning is intended, and some meaning is valued. So, taste and smell are perceptions; table and chair are conceptions; the idea that something is better than the other thing is a judgment; the notion that I want or desire the better thing is a intention, and whether that intention conforms to an ideal choice is valuation.

So logic applies to everything–the perceptions, conceptions, judgments, intentions, and values. As a result, we can speak of a “science” of the mind contiguous with a science of a body. The whole truth, or the Absolute Truth, is also meaning. Hence it is called jnanam-advayam. It is non-dual knowledge in the sense that it has both hot and cold, big and small, etc. And it is devoid of certain opposites like costs associated with profits, the effort associated with output, etc. Everything else that is a part of this knowledge has this duality because it is incomplete.

A good book to read in this regard is “Conceiving the Inconceivable”. There I have described and demonstrated what we mean by Nyaya or “logic”. Logic is not the derivation of premises to conclusion. Rather, every premise leads to a question, and from that question comes an answer. These answers can be true, right, and good, so truth, rightness, and goodness are a relation between question and answer. So, three kinds of judgments emerge out of logic, when questions are added into the reasoning process, whereas, in the premise to conclusion method, only the truth is implied from the use of logic. That book I mentioned above, uses this model of “logic” in the sense that we begin by asking a question, and then the sutra answers that question. But that answer now leads to a new question, a new answer, a new question, and so the process goes.

The premise is the chit. The question is the ananda. The answer is another chit. And the connection between the question and answer is the sat. In Western logic, they remove sat and ananda, and only consider the chit or concepts. So, one concept leads to another concept, and there is no free will in logic. But we redefine logic as questions and answers, so there is a choice in what question you ask, and there is a choice in what answer is provided to a question.

So, this is a ‘dialectical’ model of logic, in the sense that all logic is a conversation between two persons. The progression of this conversation is logic, but it is not the Western-type of logic. Creation is the result of this dialectical logic. Both Purusa and Prakriti are capable of asking questions and answering them. So, sometimes, the Purusa asks a question, and Prakriti responds. Then the Prakriti asks a question and Purusa responds. This dialectic is their ‘love affair’. It’s a game, a play, and it is logical and scientific, but it is also a personalistic science.

The six systems of philosophy have been corrupted over the ages, due to a lack of understanding of the big picture, and due to malicious commentaries. So, I’m trying to produce English translations and commentaries for these six systems. I have done Vedanta Sutra commentary, and others will probably follow one after another. All the systems are discussed in each system, and they focus on different things, but they are not contradictory systems. I will do a commentary on Nyaya Sutra at some point in time, but for now, even Vedanta Sutra is called nyaya-prasthan, in the sense that it progresses logically through a question-and-answer mechanism.

Which answer leads to which question, and which question is answered in which way, requires a deeper view of Nyaya. I have described some of these nuances in the post “The Principles of Beauty” where the progression occurs because there is a tradeoff between effort and output, between cost and value, between simplicity and parsimony, between consistency and completeness, between change and stability, between long-term and short-term, etc. Due to these tradeoffs, different things are said in different contexts, and that is the choice. This type of logic is very complex, but if we can understand this logic, then we can describe everything using a new kind of logic and mathematics. That is, by far, the most ambitious goal I have.