Early Nyāya Logic: Pragmatic Aspects

  • Jaspal Peter Sahota
Living reference work entry


This chapter sets out and explains the discussion of inference (anumāna) in the Nyāya Sūtra of Akṣapāda Gautama and the Nyāya Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana Pakṣilasvāmin. Affinities with the pragmatic method of Charles Peirce and modern scientific method are presented. Specifically, the procedural methodology of reasoning to form beliefs and the scope for legitimate doubt are shown to have a pragmatic character.

An initial definition of inference in NS 1.1.5 is followed by an objection in NS 2.1.37 and a response to the objection in NS 2.1.38. There is scope to read these either as a progressive refinement of a deductive schema or as a sequence of stages in a procedural logic of rational inquiry involving abductive and deductive elements. Accordingly, the definition, objection, and response are presented and analyzed according to a deductive syllogistic schema and according to an open-ended abductive-deductive schema. The extent to which either of these schemas conforms to the intentions of the early Nyāya authors is considered, with reference to Vātsyāyana’s remarks in the Nyāya Bhāṣya in particular. Although the deductive schema is found to capture an important aspect of how Vātsyāyana understands correct inference, nevertheless the abductive schema more clearly demonstrates how the inference processes described by the early Nyāya authors are driven by pragmatic considerations, whereby the scope for belief adoption, suspension, and revision are constrained by observable evidence.


Anumāna Abduction Deduction Hetu Monotonic logic Non-monotonic logic Nyāya Bhāṣya Nyāya Sūtra Oetke, Claus Peirce, Charles Sanders Pragmatism Pūrvavat Śeṣavat Taber, John 


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© Springer (India) Pvt. Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inavya Ventures LtdLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jonardon Ganeri
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKing’s College London; School of Oriental and African Studies, University of LondonLondonUK

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