Thursday, February 23, 2006

True knowledge is available only through true cognition

In any study of Buddhist philosophy there is a paradox that John Dunne describes in the introduction to his book Foundations of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy. He discusses the Buddhist notion of “beginninglessness” that is present in the sacred texts and beliefs of the tradition. For a Buddhist philosopher to choose a starting point almost seems as though it would already disprove the system of Buddhism as a whole. He writes: “if a beginning occurs, there must be some moment, some “now,” in which it occurs. For the present to exist however there must be a past and a future, for what would “now” mean if there were no time other than now? (Dunne 1-2)”
I would suggest that the most useful solution to this problem lies in the nature of literature itself. It is impossible for a philosophical work to be on an unending loop. Instead for a successful Buddhist philosophy to be unveiled it must not suggest that there is a point at which to start. There should be what Dunne calls a “Point of Departure”. In his work Nayaya-Bindu Dharmakirti chooses a careful analysis of his Pramana Theory as his foundation.To correctly analyze Dharmakirti’s philosophy it is prudent to first examine foundational components of his thought. As with most Indian thinkers the discourse in which he operates focuses on Pramana Theory. Dunne describes Pramana Theory as “the determination of what constitutes indubitable or indisputable knowledge and the reliable means of attaining it (Dunne 16).”
J.N. Mohanty offers a different interpretation in stating “Pramana means “that by which true cognition is arrived at (2001 5)”. Though at first glance these two definitions may seem to drive a wedge in the understanding of Pramana Theory, upon careful examination they highlight an important feature of Indian thought. Using the Mohanty notion of cognition, true knowledge is available only through true cognition.
According to Mohanty every sect that investigated Pramana Theory (Lokayatas, Buddhists, Vaisesikas, Samkhyas, Nyayas, Vedantas, Bhatta Mimamsas, and Prabhakara Mimamsas) ascertain that perception is a pramana, though they often disputed the nature of perception. All of the aforementioned sects other than the Lokayatas accept inference as another pramana. The other pramanas are “Comparison, Word, Postulation, and Nonperception (Mohanty 16-17).” posted by Tucker Brennan I AM THE WINTERNET! Friday, December 9 @ 11:43 AM

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