Samkhya Epistemology

The only three sources of information recognized by the Samkhya school of Indian philosophy are perception, inference and reliable tradition (In that order!). Inference is used when perception is impossible and tradition is accepted where both of these are unavailable. Perception is understood as direct sense-perception of the sort acquired by the five senses, and these are understood as mediating cognition of the fundamental elements of existence. These senses are understood as objects of the cognition of the psyche, which itself consists of the three faculties of the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara).

The mind produces a representation of objects in space-time once it is provided with data from the senses and the ahamkara contributes its own personal knowledge to the data. The intellect contributes its analytic distinctions and purusha adds intuitive consciousness to the result. According to one analogy, the purusha is the lord, the three-part psyche is the door-keeper and the senses are the doors. Perception is understood by this school as more or less reliable for practical purposes but cannot contribute philosophically important data. Philosophical speculation is used as a function of inference where direct perception is not available.

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