Diagrams for Navya-Nyāya

Jim Burton

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    Although a number of authors have used diagrams extensively in their studies of Navya-Nyāya, they have done so to explain and illustrate concepts, not with the goal of reasoning with the diagrams themselves. Adherents of diagrammatic reasoning have made claims for its potential by pointing to key structural correspondences between diagrams and logical concepts, arguably lacking in sentential representations, and describing these relations using concepts such as “well matchedness” and “iconicity”. A canonical example of this iconicity is the use of Euler diagrams to depict categorical syllogisms. Since the meaning of expressions in Indian logic differs in so many important ways from logic in the Western tradition, the use or adaptation of diagrams developed in the latter would seem to preclude iconicity. Thus, the development of diagrams which reflect the nature of inference in Navya-Nyāya, which centres on the anumāna inference schema, is motivated. In this paper we extend Ganeri’s method of depicting the Vaiśeṣika ontology with graphs to include syntax intended to expose the nature of anumāna. The diagrams are given a formal basis: i.e. abstract syntax, inference rules defined abstractly and a graph-theoretic semantics. These are the first formalised logical diagrams that aim to reflect the nature of the anumāna inference. This paper lays the way for further work in extending the formalism to cover more of Navya-Nyāya, and in exploring a dialogue between properties of the formalism and of Navya-Nyāya.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-254
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Indian Philosophy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020

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    • Indian logic
    • Logical diagrams
    • Navya-Nyāya


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