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Nyaya Theory Of Inference

Inference, Anuman in Hinduism, literally means ‘that which follows (anu) another established knowledge (mana). Inference arises on the basis of an earlier knowledge of vyapti (an invariable concomitant) between a hetu (perceived mark) and the Sadhya (object inferred through it). For example, on perceiving smoke, the presence of fire is inferred, on the basis of the earlier knowledge of smoke always being caused by fire in other places. The Naiyayika thinks that inference has five members. For concrete example –

  1. On yonder hill, there is fire (pratijna or thesis)
  2. Because there is smoke (hetu or reason)
  3. Wherever there is smoke there is fire, as in a kitchen (vyapti or Major Premise).
  4. On yonder hill, there is such smoke (upanaya or subsumption)
  5. Therefore, on yonder hill there is fire (nigamana or conclusion)

The drishtanta (illustrative evidence) is corporated in the vyapti (general proposition) makes it inductive and is based on experimental observation. Thus, the Nyaya syllogism is both inductive and deductive. This five-member syllogism is for parathanumana (the explicit purpose of demonstrating to others) – the necessary steps for the inference. Svarthanumana (inference for one’s own knowledge), however, need not have these successive five steps of syllogism.