Journal of Indian Philosophy

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 557–579 | Cite as

A Monstrous Inference called Mahāvidyānumāna and Cantor’s Diagonal Argument

  • Nirmalya GuhaEmail author


A mahāvidyā inference is used for establishing another inference. Its Reason (hetu) is normally an omnipresent (kevalānvayin) property. Its Target (sādhya) is defined in terms of a general feature that is satisfied by different properties in different cases. It assumes that there is no (relevant) case that has the absence of its Target. The main defect of a mahāvidyā inference μ is a counterbalancing inference (satpratipakṣa) that can be formed by a little modification of μ. The discovery of its counterbalancing inference can invalidate such an inference. This paper will argue that Cantor’s diagonal argument too shares some features of the mahāvidyā inference. A diagonal argument has a counterbalanced statement. Its main defect is its counterbalancing inference. Apart from presenting an epistemological perspective that explains the disquiet over Cantor’s proof, this paper would show that both the mahāvidyā and diagonal argument formally contain their own invalidators.


Mahāvidyā Kulārka Paṇḍita Mahādeva Bhaṭṭavādīndra Counterbalancing Cantor Diagonal argument 



Daśaślokīmahāvidyāsūtram by Kulārka Paṇḍita (eleventh century)


Mahāvidyāvivaraṇam, a commentary on DM by an unknown author


Mahāvidyāvivaraṇaṭippanam, a commentary on MV by Bhuvanasundarasūri (fifteenth century)


Mahāvidyāviḍambanam by Mahādeva Bhaṭṭavādīndra (thirteenth century)


Mahāvidyāviḍambanavṛtti, a commentary on MVD by Bhuvanasundarasūri


Laghumahāvidyāviḍambanam, a summary of MVD by Bhuvanasundarasūri


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fulbright-Nehru Fellow, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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