Kumarila Bhatta’s (660CE) Foundationalism (or Intrinsic Reliability)

The 7th century Indian philosopher and proponent of Purva Mimamsa (realistic view based on the pre-upanisadic Vedas) argued in favor of Vedic fideism in lines similar to what the Reformed Epistemologists, especially the Foundationalists, are arguing. Following is an excerpt from an article on this philosopher in Standford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:

…if it is thought that any cognition finally counts as a reliable doxastic practice only insofar as it can be demonstrated to be such (for example, by appeal to a subsequent cognition of the causes of the initial one), infinite regress ensues; for the subsequent, justifying cognition would, as itself a cognition, similarly require justification, and so on. Or, as Kumārila here suggests, if the initial cognition isn’t credited with the intrinsic “capacity” for conferring justification, then no further cognition could be able to bestow that, either—unless, of course, the further cognition is itself credited with immediately having that capacity, in which case, why not simply allow this with respect to the initial cognition? As Kumārila’s commentators like to put it, if it is thought that we must await second-order justification before thinking we are justified in crediting first-order cognitions, then “the whole world would be blind.”

Alvin Plantinga’s “basic beliefs” Foundationalism may find significant affinities in Kumarila’s arguments, though the latter argued in favor of the Vedic ordinances. 

The basic principle seems to show the limit of skepticism, whether evidence is warranted on every belief one holds, or whether it is necessary to start with doubt before coming to believe. The answer, obviously, is no. Humans do not usually start with doubts; they start with faith. And, certainly much of our “knowledge” acceptance is based on this.

However, this does pose problems for contradictory positions and this is where one needs to recognize the importance of proofs and the varieties of verification criteria.


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