Conceptions of knowledge, Lecture two

Conceptions of knowledge, Lecture two

Introduction to Matilal

Basic questions in Matilal’s work

When discussing early Indian philosophical traditions, Matilal asks four basic questions:

Nyāya realism

Nyāya philosophers hold that perception is direct contact with the outside world trough our senses. And that language is not necessary for comprehending reality. Furthermore, they claim that language is a human invention.

(Buddhist) idealism

Madhyamaka Buddhists contend that conceptual pairs are empty. In other words, it makes no sense to speak of an object without a subject. Thus referring to something absolutely independent of all other things is nonsense. This results in the concept of interdependence. Language in this system is interrelated and co-dependant on experience.

Yogacāra is similar to Madhyamaka, but yogacāra contends instead that conceptual pairs are manufactured by consciousness. Both reality and language are completely manufactured, leading us to the doctrine of consciousness-only.

Linguistic Holism

In this philosophy, all cognitions are structured by language. Even children structure the worlds with grammar.

(phenomenalist) Dināga Buddhism

Structure found in cognition and language is analysable in terms of the quality and the qualified.

According to Matilal, all of these systems are a form of reductionism. And all of them are (by virtue of being reductionist) insufficient. Therefore, Matilal want to make the move to logical empiricism. Putting the focus on experiential objects requiring a robust system of perception, knowledge and language.