Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby Individual » Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:02 am

If scientists didn't believe in śabda-pramāṇa, there would be no scientific journals.

Also, does the Tathagatha rely on śabda-pramāṇa?
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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby ground » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:51 am

Individual wrote:If scientists didn't believe in śabda-pramāṇa, there would be no scientific journals.

No valid comparison. You do not have to believe that what is written there is true. In contrast it is an appeal to validate or negate.

The hidden phenomena described in buddhist scriptures are significant for the path but cannot be validated through perception.

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby tobes » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:30 pm

I suppose I am among the ranks of those idiot westerners who want more robust epistemic grounds.

If the Buddha was to say something directly to me, it would be easy to accept the validity of sabda-pramana.

But I was not there to hear him speak. What we have are texts, languages, interpretation: can we talk about knowledge before we talk about hermeneutics?

Then there is the possibility of hearing the discourse of someone contemporary who claims yogic insight: but how do I know that they have yogic insight?

I can assume. I can be open to the possibility. But can I really know? I do not have access to their mind. I do not have the refined abilities to discern. So how can I really know this?

The only way I could really know would be if I also had yogic insight: the yogic insight which can perceive when others have yogic insight! Without such a thing, there can be receptiveness, there can be openness, there can be learning, but I do not think that there can be adequate grounds for knowledge.

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:25 pm

tobes wrote:If the Buddha was to say something directly to me, it would be easy to accept the validity of sabda-pramana.

But on what grounds? On grounds of your faith that he is a Buddha? You cannot directly perceive his Buddhahood but just believe in it.

tobes wrote:But I was not there to hear him speak. What we have are texts, languages, interpretation: can we talk about knowledge before we talk about hermeneutics?

Really ... what is the difference between seeing a person and having faith in what he says and reading words and having faith that those are true? What makes the alleged difference a valid one? I tell you: Your will.

tobes wrote:Then there is the possibility of hearing the discourse of someone contemporary who claims yogic insight: but how do I know that they have yogic insight?

Exactly, how can you know ... how can you know anthing at all?

tobes wrote:I can assume. I can be open to the possibility. But can I really know? I do not have access to their mind. I do not have the refined abilities to discern. So how can I really know this?

The only way I could really know would be if I also had yogic insight: the yogic insight which can perceive when others have yogic insight! Without such a thing, there can be receptiveness, there can be openness, there can be learning, but I do not think that there can be adequate grounds for knowledge.

:namaste:



I assume that you are actually mixing up categories. Perhaps you think that sabda-pramana must be pratyakşa. But actually it is a form of anumāna and as such the validity it may have is depending on the conventional logic you are following.
But you also have to follow the conventional belief that someone is a "Buddha" and have faith in the conventional meaning of "Buddha" in order to believe in his words if you hear them directly.

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby zerwe » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:51 pm

Keep in mind sabda is one part of pramana and itself can be dependent on pratyaksha, anumana, or a combination of these three.
Unless, we are ourselves have direct perception then sabda alone may not be enough to lead us to the truth. It should be tested and made experiential and when combined with pratyaksha and anumana, or any combination of these, our convictions are strengthened and faith is developed.

Quote; from Tashi Nyima a preceptor in the New Jonang tradition--

' When we rely on valid testimony (sabda) --i.e., Dharma teachings pointing at truths of which we may not (yet) have direct perception (pratyaksha)-- such testimony may have been originally established through:

1. direct perception (pratyaksha),
2. valid inference (anumana), or
3. the testimony (sabda) of a previous Dharma Teacher.'

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:13 pm

zerwe wrote:Keep in mind sabda is one part of pramana and itself can be dependent on pratyaksha, anumana, or a combination of these three.

Yes of course.
1. you have to perceive the word (pratyaksha)
2. you have to infer its meaning considering the context of utterance (anumana)


zerwe wrote:Unless, we are ourselves have direct perception then sabda alone may not be enough to lead us to the truth.

"To be lead to the truth" stands for "directly perceive the truth after having trodden the path to the truth" which is eventually confirming directly what has been validly but indirectly inferred so far.

The success of all human aims is preceded by right cognition. Therefore this (cognition) is here taught.

Right cognition is twofold:

Direct perception and inference.

Among them, direct cognition is free from constructive thought and is non-delusory.

Constructive thought is the cognitive dawning of an image able to coalesce with verbalism.

Cognition free from such (constructive thought), when not subject to disturbances such as eye-caul, whirling motion, embarking in a boat, and agitation is direct perception.

It is fourfold -

(1) Sense-organ cognition

(2) Mental perception (which) is engendered by the immediately preceding condition, to wit, the cooperating sense-organ cognition as an object that immediately follows its own (partite) sense object.

(3) Introspection (which) is of every thought and mental.

And (4) yogin's cognition (which) is born of the vivid fulfilment from contemplating the true end.
...
Nyayabindu, Dharmakirti (A. Wayman)



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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby tobes » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:11 am

TMingyur wrote:
tobes wrote:If the Buddha was to say something directly to me, it would be easy to accept the validity of sabda-pramana.

But on what grounds? On grounds of your faith that he is a Buddha? You cannot directly perceive his Buddhahood but just believe in it.

tobes wrote:But I was not there to hear him speak. What we have are texts, languages, interpretation: can we talk about knowledge before we talk about hermeneutics?

Really ... what is the difference between seeing a person and having faith in what he says and reading words and having faith that those are true? What makes the alleged difference a valid one? I tell you: Your will.



The difference is that if one hears the direct speech of a person, be they a Buddha or not, there can be no doubt about the content of what is said. That is, one could doubt the validity (truth or untruth of the content), but not that the person actually said what they said.

If that person writes then I would grant that this is quite similar, although, it depends upon how much time passes between their writing and you reading. If they write many centuries earlier and in a different language, then there are already significant hermeneutical issues, which present certain epistemological challenges.

In our case here, the Buddha did not write. Nor did he speak directly to me. The discourses which he did give where in other languages than what has been recorded in writing. The writing itself is in other languages than my own.

How can it be refuted that we need to engage in the question of interpretation before we consider the validity of sabda-pramana?

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby ground » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:15 am

tobes wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
tobes wrote:If the Buddha was to say something directly to me, it would be easy to accept the validity of sabda-pramana.

But on what grounds? On grounds of your faith that he is a Buddha? You cannot directly perceive his Buddhahood but just believe in it.

tobes wrote:But I was not there to hear him speak. What we have are texts, languages, interpretation: can we talk about knowledge before we talk about hermeneutics?

Really ... what is the difference between seeing a person and having faith in what he says and reading words and having faith that those are true? What makes the alleged difference a valid one? I tell you: Your will.



The difference is that if one hears the direct speech of a person, be they a Buddha or not, there can be no doubt about the content of what is said. That is, one could doubt the validity (truth or untruth of the content), but not that the person actually said what they said.

Hmh ... yes, but on what grounds is it of relevance whether something has been said by a specific person or by another?
Is the assessment of the content (words) based on the knowledge who said it? If so what does this knowledge add to the validity of the said?


tobes wrote:In our case here, the Buddha did not write. Nor did he speak directly to me. The discourses which he did give where in other languages than what has been recorded in writing. The writing itself is in other languages than my own.

How can it be refuted that we need to engage in the question of interpretation before we consider the validity of sabda-pramana?

Interpretation of meaning is based on inference considering the overall context of the words, the overall context being the mark/evidence for the inference. So the question actually is one of coherence. The question of coherence is applied to every collection of transmitted text. Once this coherence is established (if not refuted) then there is sabda-pramana with reference to specific statements extracted from the collection of texts.
Again: the question simply is whether one's system of logic accepts sabda-pramana as a means for indirect valid cognition. That indirect cognition (inference in general) is not direct cognition is nothing special. However special about inference applying sabda-pramana may be that an instance of the inferred is not accessible to direct cognition at the time the inference is conducted (which is different in the case of inferred objects that are in principle accessible to ordinary sense perception even though they are not so accessible at the time the inferrence is conducted due to not being in the ken of the senses at that moment).

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Re: Knowing through authoritative testimony (śabda-pramāṇa)?

Postby tobes » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:56 pm

TMingyur wrote:

Hmh ... yes, but on what grounds is it of relevance whether something has been said by a specific person or by another?
Is the assessment of the content (words) based on the knowledge who said it? If so what does this knowledge add to the validity of the said?


tobes wrote:In our case here, the Buddha did not write. Nor did he speak directly to me. The discourses which he did give where in other languages than what has been recorded in writing. The writing itself is in other languages than my own.

How can it be refuted that we need to engage in the question of interpretation before we consider the validity of sabda-pramana?

Interpretation of meaning is based on inference considering the overall context of the words, the overall context being the mark/evidence for the inference. So the question actually is one of coherence. The question of coherence is applied to every collection of transmitted text. Once this coherence is established (if not refuted) then there is sabda-pramana with reference to specific statements extracted from the collection of texts.
Again: the question simply is whether one's system of logic accepts sabda-pramana as a means for indirect valid cognition. That indirect cognition (inference in general) is not direct cognition is nothing special. However special about inference applying sabda-pramana may be that an instance of the inferred is not accessible to direct cognition at the time the inference is conducted (which is different in the case of inferred objects that are in principle accessible to ordinary sense perception even though they are not so accessible at the time the inferrence is conducted due to not being in the ken of the senses at that moment).

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I see, so the hermeneutical question is resolved by the translators and scholars: where there is coherence, authenticity is granted to the text or collection of texts, and on that basis, we can deal with statements as if they were direct speech.

On what grounds is it relevant who says what? Well, that's the question isn't it. My position is that it really doesn't matter who says what; it makes no difference to me that the Prajnaparamita sutras appeared many centuries after the Buddha's passing, despite purporting to be the word of the Buddha. Because it is the efficacy of the ideas being transmitted which really matter in terms of knowledge of understanding, not who who says them and what kind of authority is attributed to the subject who engenders a discourse.

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