Indian philosophical systems have recognised ‘tarka’ or ratiocination as an important aspect of the mental process which helps us to determine the truth and to counter the arguments of the opponents. The latter is a necessary component of the former.
While countering the arguments of the opponents, the fallacies in their arguments have to be pointed out. Five such fallacies have been listed: ātmāśraya (self-dependence), anyonyāśraya (mutual dependence), cakraka (circle), anavasthā (vicious infinite) and pramāṇa-bādhitār-thaka-prasaṅga (contradictory experience).
Ātmāśrayatva, the first of these, has been defined as that undesirable state in which something is dependent only on itself. This can happen in three different ways depending upon whether we are trying to explain ‘utpatti’ or origination, ‘vṛtti’ or functioning and ‘jñapti’ or know-ledge.
If X is the product of X, then X, the cause could not be present at the instant of time before the one at which X the product came into existence. The principle of causality requires that the cause should precede the product in time. Hence to say that X is the product of the same X is a fallacy.
If X is a function of X, then the cause X must have a larger extension than the function X. But here, being the same thing, the two are coextensive. Hence, to say that X is a function of X (which is identical with the cause X) is a fallacy.
If X is not different from the knowing of X, then, it would be a product of the constituents of knowing and hence be different from X, which is obviously a fallacy.
In all these cases, that which is sought to be proved, depends upon the very same object, and hence a fallacy.