Types of Proofs

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Proofs are something what we rely on in our quest for truth. But what is a proof? What all shall we consider as a proof? Why a proof is to be considered as proof? Answers to these very fundamental questions are some of the foundational elements which constitutes the foundation of science and philosophy.

“That’s an interesting question, why a proof has to be considered as a proof. Because behind any proof there is always a set of axioms, which we believe in”, added Upyog.

Yes. So it is basically boils down to what belief system we want to setup, and then prove according to it. And accordingly, the proofs can be classified as 1) Direct (pratyakṡ), and 2) Indirect (parokṡ).

I guess direct would include what we observe with our sense organs.

Not really. Even that is not direct but indirectly through our sense organs, because the proof is finally for our self – the soul.

But aren’t we – the souls – getting the proof directly through our sense organs?

In day to day language and usage, yes – but not in the real sense, as sense organs are not the real “we”. That’s why the direct proof is further divided into two parts: 1) Ultimate (pārmārthik) Direct, 2) Transactional (sānvyavahārik) Direct. The one which takes the help of sense organs and mind is transactional direct, as it is direct only from our day to day usage / transaction perspective. And it is a four step process.

Isn’t it that as soon as something contacts our senses, it is a proof (of truth) of its existence? Why four steps?

Contacting is not even the first step of the proof. It is the zeroth step. First step is that the something is detected (avgrah) by our sense organs, which could be clear or unclear detection. Second step involves mind to estimate (īhā) that something, as what all could it be. Third step is the final decision after all analysis (avāy), as to what is that something.

Once analyzed & decided, it is proved, right? Why the fourth step?

Till now it is a temporary proof. Fourth step makes it permanent by storing it in the memory (dhāraṅā).

Okay. After this level of detailing, now what is left for the ultimate direct.

Don’t forget that with this transactional direct, we can only perceive the observables, and that also not all of them, only the gross ones. So, the ultimate direct proof deals with the minute observables and the non-observables. It is by virtue of the soul itself, directly knowing them, and that’s why the ultimate direct.

How and when does that happen?

It is attained by clearing off knowledge hindering (jyānāvaraṅiya) karm particles typically using deep meditation & study. Depending on the levels, the ultimate direct ways of knowing and hence proving can be broadly classified into three varieties: 1) Awadhi, 2) Manh Paryav, 3) Kewal.

“O Yes! I remember, we already talked about five types of knowledge in one of our previous sessions“, exclaimed Sharīr.

Yes. And out of the five, the above three types of knowledge comes under the purview of ultimate direct. As discussed earlier, awadhi and manh paryav knowledge are still limited to observables though extended to really minute observables, which may not be observed even by science. Various levels of awadhi knowledge are defined based on the amounts of pudgal (matter & energy) known, and by the bounds of space, time, and properties, in which it is known.

And manh paryav is knowledge of knowing the thought particles – mind reading.

Absolutely correct.

And kewal knowledge is the ultimate infinite knowledge of everything – observable and non-observable, in all forms, of anywhere, of anytime.

Yes. Excellent. And the other two, mati & shrut knowledge are the two (means & hence) classifications of the indirect proofs. Just to refresh, mati knowledge is what one self perceives through sense organs and analyzed by mind. And shrut knowledge is the one which lets us exchange our knowledge with others, again through senses organs and mind. Hence, both are indirect means for the soul.

So, exchanging knowledge through books, discussions, speaking, etc fall under mati or shrut knowledge? I guess shrut.

Yes. Note that mati knowledge is limited to oneself. It can be classified into four varieties of intellect, to understand it better: Intuition (outpattikī), Knowledge due to Studying (vainayikī), Knowledge gained by Practice (kārmikī), and Experience (pariṅāmikī).

What about our knowledge of our past lives?

That is also a form of mati knowledge, though it could be a combination of more than one of the above four.

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Anil Kumar Pugalia (123 Posts)

The author is a hobbyist in open source hardware and software, with a passion for mathematics, and philosopher in thoughts. A gold medallist from the Indian Institute of Science, Linux, mathematics and knowledge sharing are few of his passions. He experiments with Linux and embedded systems to share his learnings through his weekend workshops. Learn more about him and his experiments at https://sysplay.in.

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4 thoughts on “Types of Proofs

  1. Pingback: The Ultimate Atom | Playing with Systems

  2. Chris Lynch

    This post is very interesting, because I have been thinking about this a lot, lately. My background includes Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, and religion (I am Catholic, in the Thomist tradition).

    I have long recognized that there are different levels of “proof”, and that in technical fields when interacting with other people one may need to (a) recognize and (b) employ different levels of proof, depending on many factors.

    And yes, in the final analysis it depends on the soul assenting to the truth of the proposition. I have noticed that people (including myself, on occasion) will raise or lower the “bar” the other person has to get over, depending on how much they want to believe (i.e., assent to) the implied conclusion.

  3. Pingback: Pathway to Moksh | Playing with Systems

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