Arthāpatti ‘postulation’ is the instrument of knowledge through which we know that Devadatta is out given that he is alive and not home. In Classical India, just like among contemporary scholars, several thinkers (especially of the Nyāya school) have tried to show that it is only a subset of inference.
Within the weekly reading group facilitated by Malcolm Keating, we are reading the section on arthāpatti of the Mānameyodaya by the Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsaka Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa. This week, we read the part on the difference between inference and postulation according to the Prābhākaras.
It is often the case that neighbours hate each other, and Nārāyaṇa does in fact attack the members of the rival school of Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā much more violently than the Naiyāyikas. The Prābhākaras agree with the Bhāṭṭas against the Naiyāyikas that the arthāpatti is distinguished from inference, but they disagree as for why this is the case.
Nārāyaṇa uses various arguments, the last of which is that the invariable concomitance between what one knew before and what one discovers during that cognitive process is already available only in the case of inference. In other words:
- inference: one knows already that smoke is invariably concomitant with fire
- postulation: one knows only at the end of the process from “Devadatta is alive and not home” to “Devadatta is out” that “being alive while not being home” is invariably conomitant with “being out”
By contrast, the Prābhākaras use a different argument to distinguish the two, namely that the hetu ‘logical reason’ in the case of inference is firmly established, whereas it is doubted in the case of postulation. In other words:
- inference: one infers that there is fire on the mountain because of smoke (firmly established)
- postulation: one ascertains that Devadatta is out because he is possibly alive (doubted reason)
This being said, please enjoy the depiction of these positions and most of all the witty refutation of the Prābhākara one by Nārāyaṇa:
Before having ascertained that [Devadatta] is outside [his] home, the conjunction of being alive and not being home could not be known. […]
This has been said in [Kumārila’s] Bṛhaṭṭīkā*:
Therefore, the absence from home which is understood in regard to one who is present (i.e., alive) |
this [would be] the probans (if the postulation were a case of inference), but this is not seized before seizing that [the alive person] is out of his home || 143 ||
(tasmād yo vidyamānasya gṛhābhāvo ‘vagamyate | sa hetuḥ sa bahirbhāvaṃ nāgṛhītvā ca gṛhyate)
Therefore the postulation is indeed distinguished [from the inference].
By contrast the Guru (Prabhākara), who does not known this (mentioned above) tool to destroy the Naiyāyikas, has prattled on the doubt about the being alive in this case [as the trigger of postulation]: || 144 ||
“The being alive indeed has been known before as being home |
Thereafter, there must be doubt about his being alive due to the fact that one has not seen [Devadatta] in his home || 145 ||
But the doubted fact of being alive can convey the fact that he (Devadatta) is out of his home |
This is the advantage [over inference] of the postulation, that although it is doubted it conveys [something] || 146 ||
In this way, if there is a doubt regarding the fact of being alive the probans would have a doubted qualification. In this way the refutation of the status of inference is very easy for us! || 147 ||”
[Bhāṭṭa:] That is ridiculous! To elaborate:
If the fact of being alive were doubted because one has noticed that one is not home |
then the ascertainment of that (being alive) would be done, on the basis of assertions of reliable speakers and so on || 148 ||
or by means of considering signs such as the auspicious necklace (worn by married women who are not widows, so that its presence on the neck of Devadatta’s wife would be a clear sign of his being alive) of his beloved one |
But this is not desired at all [by the Prābhākara] (who in fact does not undertake any of these things). Therefore [in reality] there is no doubt at all [even in the Prābhākara’s mind] || 149 ||
Moreover, one does not seize that [Devadatta] is out on the basis of a doubtful idea that he might be alive |
for, if one doubts that he might also be dead, how could the idea that he is out [originate]? || 150 ||
“Since he is alive or not, he is out” |
who else apart from the Guru (Prabhākara) would be able to postulate that? || 151 ||”
*By the way, do you happen to know this verse from some other source? (Or do we have to imagine that Nārāyaṇa Bhaṭṭa still had access to the then lost Bṛhaṭṭīkā?)
For more on postulation, on Nārāyaṇa’s Mānameyodaya and on our reading sessions, please see this post.