Abhava (Sanskrit abhaāva – non-existence) – in Indian philosophy, non-existence, absence, denial both ontological and epistemological aspects. The reflections of the Indian thinkers about the abhava were the answer to the question about the object of negative judgments. In the Mimma under the abhava, it was understood not just the absence of such an object, but also a special cognitive ability that allows it to comprehend.

Supporters of the Mimansak Kumarila Bhatta argued that negative judgments are not associated with any other pramana (the source of reliable knowledge): with perception, since there is no contact of the object with the sense organs, with a logical conclusion, since non-perception of the object cannot serve as the basis for (hatu) withdrawal anumana). This proved from their point of view that the abhava represents a special pramana (called anupalabdhi – non-perception).

The syncretic Nyaya-Vaisheeshika endowed the abhava with a real existence, but not as a separate pramana, but in the form of a special ontological category (padartha), which was interpreted as a concrete negation, presupposing an adjunct – that which is denied (pratiyogin), and at the same time an attitude, from which the negated is excluded, that is, the place where it is not, is a subjunct (anuyugin). The most important types of abhava in Nyaya-Vaisheesh:

  • sansarga-abhava – the absence of one thing in another (for example, the smell of a flower);
  • anonyon-abhava – one thing is not another thing (for example, a flower pot);
  • prag-abhava – the previous non-being, that is, the absence of a thing before its emergence;
  • dhvansa-abhava – the absence of a thing after its destruction;
  • atyant-abhava – the absence of a relationship between things during their entire existence (for example, the absence of horns in a hare).

To this basic list is sometimes added apeksha-abhava – limited absence and samarthya-abhava – lack of potency. In contrast to Kumarila Bhatta, the nyaya-vaiseeshika rejects the existence of a special source for the knowledge of negative entities, while stressing that the knowledge of the abhava is essentially the same as the knowledge of positive existence, except that in this case the sense organs come into contact not with object, but with a place characterized by its absence. Thus, the absence of a pot serves as a real property of a rug on which it does not exist, like the color, size and other qualities of the latter. All negative judgments are in the Nyaya-Vaisheshika to the heading of the logical inference. For Buddhists, the perception of the abhava is, in fact, a perception of an empty place on which there is no harmful object. The followers of Prabhakara Mishra are also close to this position.

In Navajya, the question is raised about the possibility for one negation to be an adjunct of another negation. Unlike the “old” Nyaya, who believed that the non-being of non-being gives a positive result, Navyanaya argues that the negative cannot be identically positive, therefore the negation of the negation of the first negation will be equal to the first negation. Navya-nyaya also develops questions of the structure and classification of negative judgments and the semantic analysis of the negative part of “not” (especially Gangesh and Raghunath).

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Tags: Indian Philosophy
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