Verse 5: What is right cognition?

prati-viṣaya-adhyavasāyaḥ dṛṣṭaṃ tri-vidham-anumānam-ākhyātam |
tat-liṅga-liṅgi-pūrvakam-āpta-śrutiḥ āpta-vacanaṃ tu ||

viṣaya – an object of attention
adhyavasāya – apprehension / mental effort
dṛṣṭa – seen
anumāna – inference
liṅga – sign, indicator, manifest, effect
liṅgi – indicated, unmanifest, cause
śruti – hearing
āpta – credible source
vacana – speaking

Perception, inference and valid testimony.

  1. Direct perception is actual contact of the senses with the objects of perception. I see the fire in the hearth and the smoke that rises from it.
  2. Inference relies on direct perception in the past: I recognize a fire on the hill because I’ve seen a fire in the hearth.
  3. An inference is a relationship between a minor object (liṅga) and a major object (liṅgi). I can infer fire (major object) from the presence of smoke on the hill (smoke & hill are minor objects).
  4. There are three kinds of inference.
    1. Apriori – this inference relies on direct perception in the past. The minor object has been perceived in the past and the major object is inferred from it: having directly perceived the fire in the hearth (minor object) I can infer, from the smoke on the hill, the universal fire (major object).
    2. Aposteriori – this inference relies on deduction. A deduction is the removal of all other possibilities until only one possibility remains. I infer that the effect of oil (minor object) is present in the cause of a seed (major object) because I cannot extract oil out of a grain of sand … or anything other than a seed. This gives rise to Causality.
    3. Familiarity – this inference reaches into what has not and cannot be perceived: from the direct experience of color (minor object) I infer the sense of seeing (major object). I and no one else has or ever will directly perceive “seeing”.
  5. Valid testimony comes from trusted teachings and teachers. Valid testimony relies on Inference: I infer that if I hear knowledge (minor object) from a reliable teacher (major object ) it is valid.

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