Is Cognition an Attribute of the Self or It Rather Belongs to the Body? Some Dialectical Considerations on Udbhatabhatta’s Position against Nyāya and Vaisesika
Krishna Del Toso
DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2011.12009   PDF    HTML     4,788 Downloads   7,457 Views   Citations


In this article an attempt is made to detect what could have been the dialectical reasons that impelled the Cār-vāka thinker Udbhatabhatta to revise and reformulate the classical materialistic concept of cognition. If indeed according to ancient Cārvākas cognition is an attribute entirely dependent on the physical body, for Udbhatabhatta cognition is an independent principle that, of course, needs the presence of a human body to manifest itself and for this very reason it is said to be a peculiarity of the body. Therefore, Udbhatabhatta seems to de-scribe the cognizing faculty according to a double ontology: it is both a principle and a characteristic, both inde-pendent and dependent. Two philosophical contexts—Vaisesika and Nyāya schools—are here taken into account as possible anti-Cārvāka fault-finding points of view that spured Udbhatabhatta to reconsider the Cārvāka per-spective. Although we do not have so much textual material on this particular aspect of the ancient and medieval philosophical debate in India, it nonetheless can be supposed that Udbhatabhatta’s reformulation of the concept of cognition was a tentative response to the Vaisesika idea that cognition is not an attribute of the body, rather of the mind (which is here supposed to be eternal), and to the Naiyāyika perspective according to which cognition would be an attribute of an everlasting self. In the case of the Nyāya school, fortunately we have at our disposal the criticism put forward by Vātsyāyana against the materialistic conception of cognition during this time. By examining some Vātsyāyana’s objections, it will emerge that Udbhatabhatta’s idea of cognition really seems to have the aspect of a consistent answer to them, from a renewed materialistic point of view.

Share and Cite:

Toso, K. (2011). Is Cognition an Attribute of the Self or It Rather Belongs to the Body? Some Dialectical Considerations on Udbhatabhatta’s Position against Nyāya and Vaisesika. Open Journal of Philosophy, 1, 48-56. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2011.12009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Bhāviveka, Praj?āpradīpamūlamadhyamakav?tti (Glosses on the Root stanzas on the middle called The lamp of wisdom). dBu ma’i rtsa ba’i ’grel pa ?es rab gron ma, sDe-dge bsTan-’gyur, dBu-ma, TSHa, foll. 97, 45b4-259b3.
[2] Candrānanda, Vai?e?ikasūtrav?tti (Glosses on The Vai?e?ika aphorisms). Jambuvijayaji (1961). Vai?e?ikasūtra of Ka?āda with the commentary of Candrānanda. Baroda: Oriental Insitute.
[3] Dharmottara, Paralokasiddhi (The Proof of Re-birth). Steinkellner, E. (1986). Dharmottaras Paralokasiddhi: Nachweis der Wiedergeburt, zugleich eine Widerlegung materialistischer Thesen zur Natur der Geistigkeit (Dharmottara’s Paralokasiddhi: The proof of re-birth, being at the same time a refutation of the materialistic theories of the nature of spirituality). Wien: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Bud- dhistische Studien Universit?t Wien (Vienna: Association for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of V
[4] Gautama, Nyāyasūtra (The Nyāya aphorisms). Chandra, S., Sinha, N. (1930). The Nyaya Sutras of Gotama. New Delhi: Ajay Book Ser- vice.
[5] Gu?aratnasūri, Tarkarahasyadīpikā (The lamp of subtle points on reasoning). Jain, M. K. (1981). ?a?dar?anasamuccaya of Haribhadra Sūri (with the commentaries Tarka-rahasya-dipikā of Gu?aratnasūri and Laghuv?tti of Somatilaka Sūri and an Avacūr?i) (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith.
[6] Kamala?īla, Tattvasa?grahapa?jikā (Running commentary on The collection of philosophical principles). ?āstrī, D. (1968). The Tatt- vasa?graha of ācārya ?āntarak?ita with the “Pa?jikā” commentary of ācārya Kamala?īla, Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati, 2.
[7] Ka?āda, Vai?e?ikasūtra (The Vai?e?ika aphorisms). Chakrabarty, D. (2003). Vai?e?ika Sūtra of Ka?āda. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld.
[8] Ka?āda, Vai?e?ikasūtra (The Vai?e?ika aphorisms). Gough, A. E. (1873). The Vai?eshika Aphorisms of Ka?ada with Comments from the Upaskara of ?a?kara-Mi?ra and the Viv?tti of Jaya-Naraya?a- Tarkapa?chanana. Benares: E. J. Lazarus & Co., London: Trübner & Co.
[9] Ka?āda, Vai?e?ikasūtra (The Vai?e?ika aphorisms). Sinha, N. (1923). The Vai?e?ika S?tras of Ka?ada with the commentary of ?a?kara Mi?ra and extracts from the gloss of Jayanaraya?a and the Bha?ya of Chandrakanta. Allahabad: Vijaya Press.
[10] Vādidevasūri, Syādvādaratnākara (The jewel mine of the doctrine of “may be”). Osval, M. L. (1988). Syādvādaratnākara of Vādideva Sūri. Delhi: Bharatiya Book Corporation.
[11] Vātsyāyana, Nyāyasūtrabhā?ya (Commentary on The Nyāya apho- risms). Nyaya-Tarkatirtha, T., Tarkatirtha, A. (1936-1944). Nyāya- dar?anam: with Vātsyāyana’s Bhā?ya, Uddyotakara’s Vārttika, Vācaspati Mi?ra’s Tātparya?īkā and Vi?vanātha’s V?tti. Calcutta: Me- tropolitan Printing & Publ.
[12] Vātsyāyana, Nyāyasūtrabhā?ya (Commentary on The Nyāya aphorisms). Sastri Tailanga, G. (1984). The Nyāyasutras with Vātsyāyana’s Bhāsya and extracts from the Nyāyavārttika and the Tatparyatika (2nd ed.). Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications.
[13] Bhattacharya, R. (2009). Studies on the Cārvāka/Lokāyata. Firenze: Società Editrice Fiorentina, Manohar.
[14] Bhattacharya, R. (2010a). Commentators on the Cārvākasūtra: A cri- tical survey. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 38, 419-430. doi:10.1007/s10781-010-9088-6
[15] Bhattacharya, R. (2010b). What the Cārvākas originally meant. More on the commentators on the Cārvākasūtra. Journal of Indian Philo- sophy, 38, 529-542. doi:10.1007/s10781-010-9103-y
[16] Bronkhorst, J. (1994). Once again Vai?e?ika Sūtra 3.1.13. Asiatische Studien / études Asiatiques, 48, 665-681.
[17] Chakravarti, A. (1982). The Nyāya proofs for the existence of the soul. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 10, 211-238. doi:10.1007/BF00240665
[18] Comba, A. (2001). Carakasa?hita, ?ārīrasthāna I and Vai?e?ika philosophy. In G. Jan Meulenbeld and D. Wujastyk (Eds.), Studies on Indian Medical History, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 39-55.
[19] Halbfass, W. (1991). Tradition and reflection. Explorations in indian thought. Albany: SUNY Press.
[20] He, H. (2011). Bhavya’s critique of the Vai?e?ika theory of liberation in the Tarkajvālā. Studies in Indian Philosophy and Buddhism, 18, 23-37.
[21] Matilal, B. K. (1977). Nyāya-Vai?e?ika. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
[22] Solomon, E. A. (1972). Aviddhakar?a—A forgotten Naiyāyika. Proceedings of the All-India Oriental Conference (Twenty-fifth Session, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, October 1969), 25, 337-352.
[23] Solomon, E. A. (1977-1978). Bha??a Udbha?a. Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 58-59, 986-987.
[24] Thakur, A. (2003). Origin and development of the Vai?e?ika system. New Delhi: Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy, and Culture, Center for Studies in Civilizations.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.