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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Suhotra Dasa Tapovanachari > Uses of Argument

*THE USES OF ARGUMENT*

by

Stephen Toulmin

(Cambridge University Press 1993 reprint, originally

published in 1958)

 

ADAPTED FOR USE IN VAISNAVA DISCOURSE
by Suhotra Dasa Vanachari

 

 

I. Fields of argument

   A. Essence of most arguments: assertation vs. challenge

      1. I say "Krsna is God."

      2. You say, "Why should I believe you?"

      3. I give evidence for my assertation, and establish conditions

         where they apply.

   B. The *field* of an argument is its "logical type:"

      1. The type of assertation;

         a. Imperative and attitude assertation.

         b. Empirical assertation.

         c. Analytic assertation.

         d. Value assertation.

         e. Supramundane assertation.

      2. The kind of evidence employed;

      3. The qualifications that impinge upon the conclusion.

   C. Aspects to be considered in assessing the field:

      1. The mode of argument (modal terms).

         a. Are we arguing possibilities? ("It could be.")

         b. Are we arguing necessities? ("It must be.")

         c. Are we arguing that something is good?

         d. Are we arguing that something is bad?

      2. The evidence (sources of valid knowledge, or pramana):

         a. Sense perception;

         b. Logical doubt;

         c. Authoritative testimony (guru, sastra, sadhu).

         d. The above (a-c) are used in formulating the reason,

            factual example and the backing of the assertation.

            i. The reason of the assertation "Krsna is God" is,

               "Because the Vedic scriptures define God as the source

               of everything" (then "Krsna is God").

            ii. The factual example of the assertation is, (Because--

                then--) "since all things--both matter and spirit--

                emanate from Krsna."

            iii. The backing of the assertation is, (If--then--

                 because--) "it is confirmed in *Bhagavad-gita* 18.8,

                 *aham sarvasya prabhavo*."

      3. Refinement of the assertation.

         a. Time?

         b. Place?

         c. Circumstances?

 

Toulmin's terms compared to nyaya terms:

 

"Every theme must necessarily be explained with reference to pratijna,

or a solemn declaration of the purpose of the treatise. The solemn

declaration given in the beginning of the Vedanta-sutra is athato

brahma-jijnasa, which indicates that this book was written with the

solemn declaration to inquire about the Absolute Truth. Similarly,

reasons must be expressed (hetu), examples must be given in terms of

various facts (udaharana), the theme must gradually be brought nearer

for understanding (upanaya), and finally it must be supported by

authoritative quotations from the Vedic sastras (nigamana)." (Adi

7.106)

 

Assertation--pratijna (fact)

Reason--hetu

Factual example--udaharana (factual example)

Refinement of the assertation--upanayana (bringing the theme nearer

                                  for understanding)

Backing--nigamana (authoritative quotations)

 

"It is completely useless to try to understand God by our limited

knowledge, and an intelligent man understands this. We should become

submissive and try to understand that our position is that of a very

insignificant segment in this creation. The words namanta eva indicate

that we are just to become submissive in order to understand the

Supreme from a reliable source.  And what is that source? San-

mukharitam: from the lips of realized souls. Arjuna is understanding

God directly from the lips of Krsna, and we have to understand God

through the lips of Arjuna or his bona fide representative. We can

understand the transcendental nature of God only from a reliable

source. That source may be Indian, European, American, Japanese,

Hindu, Muslim, or whatever. The circumstances are not important. We

just have to try to understand by hearing and then try to put the

process to practice in our daily lives. By becoming submissive,

hearing from the right source, and trying to apply the teachings in

our daily lives, we can become conquerors of the Supreme."

(Path of Perfection, Chapter 9)

 

Assertation: We can understand the transcendental nature of God only

from a reliable source.

 

Reason: It is completely useless to try to understand God by our

limited knowledge, and an intelligent man understands this.

 

Factual example: Arjuna is understanding God directly from the lips of

Krsna, and we have to understand God through the lips of Arjuna or his

bona fide representative.

 

Refinement of the assertation: That source may be Indian, European,

American, Japanese, Hindu, Muslim, or whatever. The circumstances are

not important. We just have to try to understand by hearing and then

try to put the process to practice in our daily lives. By becoming

submissive, hearing from the right source, and trying to apply the

teachings in our daily lives, we can become conquerors of the

Supreme.

 

Backing: The words namanta eva indicate that we are just to become

submissive in order to understand the Supreme from a reliable source.

And what is that source? San-mukharitam: from the lips of realized

souls.

 

IT IS A FACT THAT

 

We can understand the transcendental nature

of God only from a reliable source.

 

BECAUSE

 

It is completely useless to try

to understand God by our limited

knowledge, and an intelligent

man understands this.

 

SINCE

 

Arjuna is understanding God directly from the lips

of Krsna, and we have to understand God through

the lips of Arjuna or his bona fide representative.

 

TO CLARIFY,

 

That source may be Indian, European, American, Japanese,

Hindu, Muslim, or whatever. The circumstances are not important.

We just have to try to understand by hearing and then try to put

the process to practice in our daily lives. By becoming submissive,

hearing from the right source, and trying to apply the teachings

in our daily lives, we can become conquerors of the Supreme.

 

IT IS CONFIRMED THAT

 

The words namanta eva indicate that

we are just to become submissive

in order to understand the Supreme from

a reliable source.  And what is that source?

San-mukharitam: from the lips of realized souls.