RAIG, EDWARD (1998). Metaphysics.
(In E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. London: Routledge. Retrieved September 27, 2012, from http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/N095) Metaphysics is a broad area of philosophy marked out by two types of inquiry: 1. The most general investigation possible into the nature of reality: are there principles applying to everything that is real, to all that is?
if we abstract from the particular nature of existing things that which distinguishes them from each other, what can we know about them merely in virtue of the fact that they exist?
2. The uncovering of what is ultimately real, frequently offering answers in sharp contrast to our everyday experience of the world.
Understood in terms of these two questions, metaphysics is very closely related to ontology, which is usually taken to involve both ‘what is existence (being)?’ and ‘what (fundamentally distinct) types of thing exist?’.
Metaphysics is not a uniquely ‘Western’ phenomenon. Classical Indian philosophy, and especially Buddhism, is also a very rich source. The important subjects of metaphysics include inquiry of categories, properties, particulars, universals, substance, facts etc. and related underlying issues. These inquiries can hardly be isolated from those of the nature of being and existence.
Common sense percives existence in space and time. These two though somewhat elusive in their own nature, are further obvious candidates for being features of everything that exists. But that is controversial, and there is much debate about the existence of abstract objects. We commonly speak as if we thought that numbers exist, but not as if we thought that they have any spatio-temporal properties. Kant regarded his things-in-themselves as neither spatial nor temporal; and some have urged us to think of God in the same way. There are accounts of the mind which allow mental states to have temporal, but deny them spatial properties (Dualism). Be all this as it may, even if not literally everything, then virtually everything of which we have experience is in time. Temporality is therefore one of the phenomena that should be the subject of any investigation which aspires to maximum generality. Hence, so is change. In considering change, and asking the other typically metaphysical question about it (‘what is really going on when something changes?’) we are faced with two types of answer:
1. One type would have it that a change is an alteration in the properties of some enduring thing (Continuants).
2. The other would deny any such entity, holding instead that what we really have is merely a sequence of states, a sequence which shows enough internal coherence to make upon us the impression of one continuing thing (Buddhist doctrine of Momentariness).
The former will tend to promote ‘thing’ and ‘substance’ to the ranks of the most basic metaphysical categories; the latter will incline towards events and processes. It is here that questions about identity over time become acute, particularly in the special case of those continuants (or, perhaps, processes), which are persons. It is here that Jain phlosophy through Anekantvad has provided a way of reconcilation.
Two major historical tendencies in metaphysics have been idealism and materialism, the former presenting reality as ultimately mental or spiritual, the latter regarding it as wholly material (Buddhism, Yogācāra school of; Idealism; Materialism; Materialism in the philosophy of mind; Indian Monism; Phenomenalism). In proposing a single ultimate principle both are monistic. They have not had the field entirely to themselves. A minor competitor has been neutral monism, which takes mind and matter to be different manifestations of something in itself neither one nor the other (Neutral monism). More importantly, many metaphysical systems have been dualist, taking both to be fundamental, and neither to be a form of the other (see Sāmkhya). Both traditions are ancient. In modern times idealism received its most intensive treatment in the nineteenth century ( Absolute; German idealism). In the second half of the twentieth century, materialism has been in the ascendant. A doctrine is also found according to which all matter, without actually being mental in nature, has certain mental properties (see Panpsychism).
The relationship with metaphysics is, however, particularly close in the case of science and the philosophy of science. Aristotle seems to have understood his ‘first philosophy’ as continuous with what is now called his physics, and indeed it can be said that the more fundamental branches of natural science are a kind of metaphysics as it is characterized here. For they are typically concerned with the discovery of laws and entities that are completely general, in the sense that everything is composed of entities and obeys laws. The differences are primarily epistemological ones, the balance of a priori considerations and empirical detail used by scientists and philosophers in supporting their respective ontological claims. The subject matter of these claims can even sometimes coincide: during the 1980s the reality of possible worlds other than the actual one was maintained by a number of writers for a variety of reasons, some of them recognizably ‘scientific’, some recognizably ‘philosophical’. Everywhere in metaphysics there is a debate over whether claims should be given a realist or an antirealist interpretation (Realism and antirealism), in the philosophy of science we find a parallel controversy over the status of the entities featuring in scientific theories (Scientific realism and antirealism).
It is true that there has been considerable reluctance to acknowledge any such continuity. A principal source of this reluctance has been logical positivism, with its division of propositions into those which are empirically verifiable and meaningful, and those which are not so verifiable and are either analytic or meaningless, followed up by its equation of science with the former and metaphysics with the latter (Demarcation problem; Logical positivism; Meaning and verification). When combined with the belief that analytic truths record nothing about the world, but only about linguistic convention, this yields a total rejection of all metaphysics – let alone of any continuity with science. But apart from the fact that this line of thought requires acceptance of the principle about meaninglessness, it also makes a dubious epistemological assumption: that what we call science never uses non-empirical arguments, and that what we regard as metaphysics never draws on empirical premises. Enemies of obscurantism need not commit themselves to any of this; they can recognize the continuity between science and metaphysics without robbing anyone of the vocabulary in which to be rude about the more extravagant, ill-evidenced, even barely meaningful forms which, in the view of some, metaphysics has sometimes taken.
Even the philosopher with a low opinion of the prospects for traditional metaphysics can believe that there is a general framework which we in fact use for thinking about reality, and can undertake to describe and explore it. This project, which can claim an illustrious ancestor in Kant, has in the twentieth century sometimes been called descriptive metaphysics, though what it inquires into are our most general patterns of thought, and the nature of things themselves only indirectly, if at all. Though quite compatible with a low estimate of traditional metaphysics as defined by our two primary questions, it does imply that there is a small but fairly stable core of human thought for it to investigate. Hence it collides with the view of those who deny that there is any such thing (see Postmodernism).
Mind in Indian Buddhist Philosophy
First published Thu Dec 3, 2009; substantive revision Fri Sep 23, 2011
Perhaps no other classical philosophical tradition, East or West, offers a more complex and counter-intuitive account of mind and mental phenomena than Buddhism. While Buddhists share with other Indian philosophers the view that the domain of the mental encompasses a set of interrelated faculties and processes, they do not associate mental phenomena with the activity of a substantial, independent, and enduring self or agent. Rather, Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of no-self (Pāli anatta, Skt. anātma), which postulates that human beings are reducible to the physical and psychological constituents and processes which comprise them. plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-indian-buddhism/
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Non-Western Logic *
C. K. Raju
It is believed in the West that logic began with Aristotle, and that logic is universal. The core of Western thought—including present-day formal mathematics and the philosophy of science—is premised on the belief that logical truths are universal, that they are necessary truths, and that logical deduction is certain and infallible. These beliefs about logic however are untenable, both historically and philosophically, in a larger picture which takes the non-West into account.
Philosophically, present day formal logic, like the 12th c. CE text, *Organon*, attributed to Aristotle, supposes that deduction relates to two-valued logic. In such a logic, an affirmation A conjoined with its negation (A) makes a contradictory pair, from which any conclusion B whatsoever can be validly inferred by the rule of inference known as
*reductio ad absurdum*: (A ∧ Ã⇒ B), to put it symbolically, with “~” denoting “not”, “∧” denoting “and”, and “⇒” denoting the usual (material) implication. For example, A could be the proposition “This pot is red”, so that its negation A would be the proposition “this pot is not red”. From the contradictory pair (A∧Ã) infer something completely unrelated like B: “The age of the cosmos is 8000 years”.
Such proofs by contradiction are common in present-day mathematics. However, such a deduction would be invalid with a variety of logics that one can conceive of. The alleged certainty of deduction, therefore, rests on the *belief *that two-valued logic is universal or at least special in some way.
However, the various logics used for inference in India, prior to even the historical Aristotle, were neither two-valued nor even truth-functional. The *Dīgha Nikāya *provides an example. As the Buddha explains in the *Brahmajāla Sutta*, there are
(1) The world is finite, this is one case.
(2) The world is not finite, this is another case.
(3) The world is both finite and infinite, this is the third case.
(4) The world is neither finite nor inifinte, this is the fourth case.
(5) There are no other cases.
The semantic interpretation of the third case is that the world may be finite in one direction, but infinite in another. This presents no inherent absurdity, and could conceivably be in the nature of things.
The meaning of the fourth case, not so well brought out in the English translations of the *Dīgha Nikāya*, may be better understood as follows. Consider a person who refuses to take a position, and denies that he affirms any of the first three cases above. His position can only be described by the fourth case.
The need for such a fourth case is apparent from the thinking then prevalent. Likewise, the absence of any further cases is a reference to further negations used by pre-Buddhist thinkers like Sañjaya the Sceptic, who tried to wriggle out of even this fourth position, and whose comprehensive refusal to take any position whatsoever was described by the Buddha as being like the “wriggling of the eel”.
These four cases are systematically used by later-day Buddhist thinkers like Nāgārjuna and Dinnāga who taught at the University of Nalanda. The latter developed a theory of (logical) quantifiers, “for all”, “for some” etc., based on this sort of logic. From the perspective of present-day formalist treatments of logic, it should be noted that Buddhist logic is not a multi-valued but is rather a quasi truth functional logic.
The Jains had a related but different logic called the logic of *syādavāda * (“perhaps-ism”), based on the idea of *anekāntavāda *(no-one-point-of-view-ism). Attributed to Bhadrabāhu, instead of four alternatives, this logic has a seven-fold judgment (*saptabhangīnaya*) based on seven possible combinations of three primary values:
*nāsti *(is not),
taken one, two, and three at a time.
*Syad asti*. (“Perhaps it is.”)
*Syad nāsti. *(“Perhaps it is not.”)
*Syad asti nāsti ca. *(“Perhaps it both is and is not.”)
*Syad avaktavya. *(“Perhaps it is inexpressible.”)
*Syad asti ca avaktavya ca. *(“Perhaps it is and is inexpressible.”)
*Syad nāsti ca avaktavya ca. *(“Perhaps it is not and is inexpressible.”)
*Syad asti nāsti ca avaktavya ca. *(“Perhaps it is, is not, and is
Haldane sought to interpret the Jaina logic of *syādavada *by temporalizing the three primary values. Thus, consider an experiment in which a person is asked to judge whether or not a sensory stimulus, at the threshold of perception, is present. If this experiment is repeated several times, a person might in one case judge the stimulus as present, in another as absent, and may remain undecided sometimes.
Combining these possible experimental outcomes in all possible ways gives us the seven different judgments used by *syādavāda*. Thus, it is quite possible that a person may, at one time say that a stimulus is present, but may, on a later repetition of the same experiment, say, about the same stimulus, that it is absent, and on a third occasion say that he is unable to decide. Haldane’s interpretation of *syādavāda*, making it intelligible in a mundane context, seems, however, not to be correct. It is one thing to say that “This cat is now alive, and will be dead some time later”. This is true of most known cats, and presents no difficulty: A is true at one time, and A is true at another time. However, it is altogether another thing to say that “this cat is both alive and dead at this moment of time”. That sort of thing happens only to Schrödinger’s famous cat (or its kittens). It is the latter sort of statement that is meant in Buddhist and Jaina logic, as is clear from the meaning explained by the Buddha. In fact, on Buddhist thought, as further elaborated by Nāgārjuna, a thing—anything—does not persist for more than an instant of time. Therefore, a statement about a cat, for instance, must refer to that cat at a given instant of time, for an identical cat does not exist at two different instants of time.
In terms of the present-day formal semantics of logical worlds, one might put things as follows. The different possibilities visualized in Buddhist and Jaina logic refer not to multiple logical worlds assigned to different instants of time, but to multiple logical worlds assigned to a *single *instant of time. In other words, Buddhist and Jaina logics relate to a world-view in which time is perceived to have a non-trivial structure, an (atomic) instant of time is perceived not as a featureless geometrical point but as a microcosm. Hence, members of a contradictory pair can well be *simultaneously *true.
This can be understood at the mundane level as follows. Consider the statement “This pot is both red and black”. We could rewrite this, less informatively, as “This pot is both red and not red”. Since earthen pots made by hand are rarely of a single color, this is a statement about a naturally prevailing state of affairs that is commonly observed. The statement, as framed, seems like a contradiction. But, it could be argued, this is an imprecise natural-language statement which should actually be written more carefully as, “This part of the pot is red, and that part of the pot is not red”.
However, such a reinterpretation raises some issues. First, there is the well-known issue of the whole not being the sum of its parts. It is being assumed that the pot can be subdivided into parts. If the pot is physically shattered to carry out this subdivision, one can continue to speak of parts of the pot, but one cannot continue to speak of the pot.
Therefore, the reinterpretation does not capture the exact sense of the natural language statement. Thus, the idea of a thing being both true and false is not such an odd idea, and
no catastrophic consequences need follow from it.
Secondly, how can we be sure that the apparent contradiction can always be resolved by suitably shattering the identity of the pot? Thus, a certain part of the shattered pot may continue to be both red and black, so one may want to divide the pot in a particular way.
Now it may happen that, in a certain part of the pot, red and black are so entangled, that it may not be clear how to separate them. The remedy obviously seems to be to make a finer division of the pot, and a still finer division, and so on, until the pot is suitably atomized. However, there is an assumption here. The assumption is that the entanglement and the resulting contradiction will somehow eventually resolve themselves with this process of reduction; that the entanglement cannot persist at the atomic level, where a thing either is, or is not. Apart from the fact that atoms are neither red nor black, there are several problems with such an assumption. For example, this assumption is contrary to what our most sophisticated theories of physics tell us. The behaviour of physical systems at the atomic level is described by quantum mechanics, which tells us that there may exist entangled states that cannot be disentangled without fundamentally altering the system. The existence of such entangled states, incidentally, provides the hope today for future technology based on quantum computing, and it has various physically measurable consequences.
On the structured-time interpretation of quantum mechanics, these entangled states are interpreted to arise because time really has a microphysical structure (in the sense explained above, in the context of Buddhist and Jain logic) so that the logic of the microphysical world is quasi truth-functional. (In the structured-time interpretation of quantum mechanics, such a quasi truth-functional logic is related to the postulates of formal quantum mechanics.) To summarise, the logic of the empirical world may well be quasi truth-functional: i.e., we might have a situation where a proposition is both true and false at a single instant of time. Hence, we cannot automatically assume that the “contradictory” properties of a pot can be made to disappear by atomizing the identity of the pot.
Theoretically, from the viewpoint of present-day formal logic, one can conceive of an infinity of different logics, such as 2, 3, …, *n*-valued logics, or non truth-functional logics.
Among the infinity of logics that are available how can we be sure that two-valued truth- functional logic is the correct and universal choice? Suppose the choice is made culturally; that is, suppose we say that two-valued logic is what has been conventionally used in the West, and this is the logic that should be chosen since the West is culturally dominant. (A similar argument was given against intuitionists; it was argued that they were not adequately socially dominant among mathematicians, *hence *they were incorrect!) However, if such a weak argument is the ultimate basis of deduction, then deduction can at best give us a local cultural truth. On the other hand, suppose the choice is made empirically, then, as we have already seen above, we might end up with the logic of quantum mechanics, which need not be two-valued. Therefore, it is not clear that there is any way the existing choice of logic in the West can be justified.
The possibility or necessity of determining logic empirically however strikes at the root of another fundamental difference between Western and non-Western perceptions of logic. In the West, logical truths are regarded as necessarily true, and are privileged over empirical facts, regarded as being only contingently true. *Hence*, present-day mathematical proof is required not to involve the empirical, since that would diminish the sureness attached to a mathematical theorem. Hence, also, the present-day
belief in the philosophy of science, that when the conclusions of a physical theory are refuted by experiment it is the hypotheses that stand refuted, and not the process of inference which led from hypothesis to conclusion. (Here it is necessary to distinguish between validity and correctness. The point is that it is believed that no empirical fact can invalidate a correct mathematical proof.) Therefore, even if one were to go about trying to settle the nature of logic empirically, this would have consequences, startling from a Western perspective. Empirical observations are fallible, and subject to revision. So if the nature of logic is decided empirically, logical truth would have to be regarded as *more *fallible than empirical truth: deduction would have to be regarded as *more *fallible than induction, since the nature of the logic used for deduction could only be decided inductively. This would
stand much of Western thought on its head.
This would, however, leave much of non-Western thought unaffected. The belief, that metaphysical (e.g. mathematical) truths are privileged over empirical truths, is not necessarily shared by the non-West. In traditional Indian thought, for example, logical truths are ranked below empirical truths. Thus, the empirically manifest (* pratyakşa*) is regarded as the first *pramāņa *(proof), and this is a means of proof accepted by *all* traditional Indian schools of thought, without any known exception. Inference (*anumāna*) or deduction is regarded like estimation as an *inferior *means of proof by the Lokayata school and rejected, just as analogy is regarded as an inferior means of proof by Buddhists, and rejected in comparison with the empirically manifest and inference. Thus, there appears to be no serious way out of this dilemma about the nature of logic, and most of Western thought would hence need to be reworked in the future to avoid this incorrect assumption that two-valued logic is somehow universal.
From a historical perspective we can understand how this Western myth about the universality of logic developed. The word “logic” derives from “logos” meaning “word” or “reason”—a term imbued with deep religious significance by the (“Neo-platonist”) philosophers of Alexandria, like Proclus, who refer to it as “divine”. The reason for this, as sated by Plato, was that geometrical truths based on reason were thought to be eternal—like the soul, and unlike empirical things (like the body) that are by nature perishable. Proclus explains that mathematics derives from the Greek word *mathesiz*, meaning learning, so that mathematics is the science of learning. According to the Socratic belief all learning is recollection of knowledge already in the soul; hence it was thought that mathematics, since it embodies eternal truths, and stirs the soul reminding it of its past lives, thus justifies its name as “the science of learning” or the “science of the soul”. This belief in eternal truths was also understood quite literally as implying a world which existed eternally, a subject on which Proclus wrote a book.
After the Christian church revised its doctrines of creation and apocalypse in the 4th c. CE, it found this belief in eternal truths, past lives, and an eternal world, implicit in mathematics and logic, contrary to the revised doctrines. The church hence viciously persecuted the philosophers of Alexandria, burning their books, smashing their temples, lynching them, and eventually making a law declaring a death penalty on them. The philosophers, found a more congenial base in Jundishapur in Iran. This religious significance of logic or reason however remained part of early Islamic rational theology (aql-i-kalām), and it received a big boost when the philosophers moved from Jundhishapur to the Bayt al Hikmā (House of Wisdom) in Baghdad, with the support of Caliph al Māmun. The belief in reason then acquired such force in Islam, that even key opponents of the philosophers, like al Ghazālī, conceded that God was bound by logic and could not create an illogical world, or a world in which something might have contradictory properties.
Though incidental to al Ghazālī’s primary objective, this concession about logic marked a fundamental shift which has gone unnoticed. Plato and Proclus had thought that logical and mathematical truths were necessary truths in the sense that they were eternally true or true for all time. In al Ghazālī ‘s vision, Allah continuously created the world afresh each instant, therefore nothing could last eternally. With al Ghazālī’s concession that Allah could not create an illogical world, the notion of necessary truth acquired a new meaning.
That is, al Ghazālī regarded logical (and mathematical) truths as necessary truths in the sense that they were true in all conceivable worlds (that Allah could create), and not in the sense that logical truths were eternally true. It is well known that Western thought developed in European universities from 12th c. CE onwards under the influence of hundreds of Arabic texts translated to Latin, at Toledo etc. Particularly important among these were the texts written by al Ghazālī’s Islamic opponent Ibn Rushd (Averroes). For Ibn Rushd, the term “Aristotle” was a generic term for “the Greek sage”, linked to the book called the *Theology of Aristotle*, one of the translations of the Baghdad House of Wisdom. Thus, for Ibn Rushd reason and religion continued together. This Arabic knowledge flowing into Europe naturally alarmed a section of the church and was naturally regarded as spreading heresy at the time of Crusades and Inquisition. Aquinas and the Schoolmen, however, undertook to make this knowledge theologically correct. The first step in this process of theological purification was to deny any Arabic-Islamic
contribution whatsoever in these 11th c. CE Arabic texts, and to attribute wholesale to Aristotle, or some other Greek, the authorship of any desirable part of these works. (Theologically unacceptable parts were attributed to various others, like Plotinus.) Since the church could hardly acknowledge publicly that all its knowledge came from Islamic sources, so it had to be pretended that the heathen were mere carriers of what formerly was Western knowledge. The evidence linking these late and obviously accretive texts to the historical Aristotle is expectedly slight, and requires a giant leap of faith, but church history is no stranger to such leaps of faith. This concocted story based on flimsy evidence has been uncritically accepted and repeated innumerable times also by chauvinistic Western historians, for centuries, but hardly stands up to the slightest critical scrutiny. In the process of denying the Arabic-Islamic contribution, the Indian contribution from the Nyāya school, which used a similar system of syllogisms (with two valued logic), and was probably translated in the Bayt al Hikmā, may also have been denied. The point here is not the priority for the syllogism—priority does not have the same importance in the non-West as it has in the West—the point is to understand the historical process by which the syllogism developed. In India, given the wide-ranging non-violent debates between clashing traditions, it was important to evolve a systematics of argumentation. It is easier to believe that the syllogism developed in response to some such social need than to believe the tale that a single individual called Aristotle apparently created a complex theory *ex nihilo*.
Could the similarity between the Indian and the “Aristotelian” syllogism be due to transmission? Certainly, there were regular contacts between India and Greece from before the time of Aristotle, as recounted by Herodotus or as evidenced by Alexander’s attempt to find the sea route to India after his army mutinied at the frontiers of India. Secondly, as a key beneficiary of Alexander’s loot of Egyptian, Persian and Babylonian books, Aristotle also had the benefit of access to a wide variety of world literature. Thirdly, we know from the rock edicts of Ashoka the Great that he sent an envoy to Ptolemy II to teach righteousness (Dhamma) to the Alexandrians and Macedonians. Fourthly, India had a roaring trade with Alexandria at the time of the Roman empire, and Roman historians complained that this trade was draining a major part of the surplus of the empire. Fifthly, the Alexandrian philosophers were taunted by Augustine for being interested in “the mores and disciplines of Inde”. So, transmission of
knowledge between India and Alexandria certainly *could *have taken place (in either direction) over a wide- ranging period.
Whether such transmission involved the syllogism is another matter. Thus, the syllogism seems not to have been much used in “Hellenic” tradition. Therefore, it lacks credibility to imagine the pre-Hellenic existence of a syllogistic logic, from 11th c. CE Arabic or later Byzantine Greek texts. The known facts are that the use of the syllogism among Arabs does not begin before the 9th c. CE, and among Europeans not before the 12th c. CE; everything else is conjecture, often motivated for the reasons already stated.
Apart from denying the slightest credit to the non-West in all the accumulated knowledge in the 11th c. Arab texts, the second step in the Christianization process of thesetexts was to revise the significance of logic and reason: reason was no longer the window to the soul, but reason was promoted in Christendom as a means of argument used to persuade the infidel who would not listen to arguments from the scriptures, butwould accept arguments based on reason. Hence, reason (and the logic used by “Aristotle”) was declared to be “universal”. It is in this way that it historically come to be believed in the
West that logic began with “Aristotle”, and that it is universal, though both beliefs are incorrect when a larger picture including the non-West is taken into account. In India itself, the Nyāya tradition was attacked by the Advaita Vedantist Sriharsa, in the 9th c. CE using arguments similar to those of Nāgārjuna. The Navya-Nyaya (new Nyaya) logic emerged subsequently.
*Dīgha Nikāya*, (Hindi trans.) Rahul Sānkrityāyana and Jagdish Kāshyapa, Parammitra Prakashan, Delhi, 2000. (English trans.) Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publication, Boston, 1995.
For Nāgārjuna’s use of the logic of four alternatives, see, *Mūlamādhyamakkārikā*, trans.
David J. Kalupahana, *Nāgārjuna*, SUNY, New York, 1986; trans. Kenneth K.
Inada, Sri Satguru Publications, New Delhi, 1993. *Page 8*
Dignaga’s Hetucakra (The Wheel of Reason) is in D. Chatterji (trans.), *‘Hetucakranirnaya’*, *Indian Historical Quarterly*, *9*, 1933, pp. 511–14. For a different translation using Chinese texts, see R. S. Y. Chi, *Buddhist Formal Logic*, The Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1969; reprint Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1984,
For a quick exposition of the various other logics that were prevalent at the time of the
Buddha, a good secondary source is B. M. Baruah, *A History of Pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy*, Calcutta, 1921; reprint Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1970.
Haldane’s account is in a journal of statistics, because of the attempt to relate syādavāda to the foundations of probability theory.
J. B. S. Haldane, “The Syadavada System of Predication”, *Sankhya, Indian Journal of **Statistics **18*: 195–200 (1955).
An interesting account of some attacks on the syādavāda position in Indian tradition, and how this helps to distinguish between the positions of syādavāda and Sañjaya the Sceptic, see Vijaya Pandya, “Refutation of Jaina Darsana by Sankaracarya…”, in *Jain Logic and * *Epistemology*, ed. V. N. Jha, Satguru Publications, New Delhi, 1997.
Various books attributed to Aristotle are in *Organon*, in *The Works of Aristotle*, vol 1. Trans. E. Edghill et al. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago, 1995.
The standard accounts of many-valued and temporal logics are in:
N. Rescher, *Many-Valued Logic*, McGraw Hill, New York, 1969.
N. Rescher and A. Urquhart, *Temporal Logic, *Springer, Wien, 1971.
A.N. Prior, *Past, Present and Future*, Clarendon, Oxford, 1967.
On the role of the empirical in mathematics, see: C. K. Raju, “Computers, Mathematics Education, and the Alternative Epistemology of the Calculus in the Yuktibhâìâ”, *Philosophy East and West*, *51*(3), 2001, pp. 325–62.
Proclus, *A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements*, trans. G.R. Morrow. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1970. (The original source is in G. Friedlein, *Procli Diadochi in primum Euclidis Elementorum commentarii*. B.G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1873.)
The concession about logic while dealing with the notion of cause is in: Al Ghazālī, (1958) *Tahāfut al-Falāsifā*, trans. S.A. Kamali, Pakistan Philosophical Congress, Lahore, 1958.
For the structured-time interpretation of quantum mechanics, see C. K. Raju, ‘Quantum Mechanical Time’, in: C. K. Raju, *Time: Towards a Consistent * *Theory*, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994.
The standard, but somewhat dated, account of Indian logic is in: S. C. Vidyabhusan, *A History of Indian Logic*, Calcutta, 1921, reprint Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi, 1977.
A good starting point for the Navya-Nyaya logic is: B. K. Matilal, *The Navya-Nyaya Doctrine of Negation*, Harvard University Press, 1968.
The fundamental basis of Aurobindo’s Integral philosophy is the assertion that matter and spirit both are real. His philosophy is integration of Idealism and Materialism.
Absolute Idealism views phenomenonal world as merely illusion, mirage or at best a representation of the Ultimate reality (Spirit or Archetypal Idea) seeming ‘real’ due to ignorance. On the other hand, Materialism views material world as the only reality and mental/spiritual experiences as mere epiphenomena. It proposes true reality is only a mechanical, unitelligible substance or energy (Nature).
Aurobindo asserted that both viewpoints are parts of the truth needing neither contradiction nor compromise. True reconciliation is to ”admit both the claim of the pure Spirit to manifest in us its absolute freedom and the claim of universal Matter to be the mould ans condition of our manifestation”,
He affirms that the absolute One is the Omnipresent Reality; One without a second; All this (both Spirit and Matter) is Brahman. It has three aspects transcendent, cosmic and individual; all have reality but primacy remains with transcendent. He then posits that Divine Reality has two aspects
1. It is stable and motionless, Being, supreme omnipresent real principle Sacchidananda (Sat=Existence, Chit=Consciousness, Ananda=Bliss/Delight) 2. It is dynamic and moving, Becoming (Mind, Life, Matter).
Reality is an integration of Being and Becoming. Another principle that he calles Supermind (Truth-Consciousness), the directive principle of knowledge, links these two by acting as the creative agency in forming the phenomenal world. Supermind though unity itself, potentially contains all the multiplicity. It is both knowledge and will and the the our world is its self-manifestation.
Aurobindo sees the essence of reality in a supreme Being that transcends the manifested universe and our world, yet it is involved in all the multiplicity and the universe. Thus, the world is real as it has manifestation of Divine Unity in it. This manifestation is ‘involution’ of higher planes in the Inconscient and these planes subsequently ‘evolve’ out of it. the Inconscient unfolds in ‘evolution’ its potentialities. Grades/planes emerge successively and simultaneously corresponding powers of the uninvolved free planes above descend, helping the lower ones to rise upward. The first descending or emerging plane is nearest to the Inconscient and so on. Aurobindo distinguishes the planes in this manifestation of Divine Unity in ascending order of Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind, 8liss/Delight, Consciousness and Existence.
This process is postulated to be going on in nature unconsciously since the begining of this manifested cycle. However, appearance of human beings is most significant in it because with this has emerged a conscious choice and will. The process has become self-aware and our conscious cooperation with nature is now possible to fulfill the Divine purpose in the evolution.
Refer: Dr. joan Price (II ed. 1982, IV Impression 2001): An Introduction to Aurobindo’s Philosophy. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. Pradeep Garg
”At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way.”
-Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library: Vol. 19; p. 1053
”All that is there is a chaos of clashing mental ideas, urges of individual and collective physical want and need, vital claims and desires, impulses of an ignorant life-push, hungers and calls for life satisfaction of individuals, classes, nations, a rich fungus of political and social and economic nostrums and notions, a hustling medley of slogans and panaceas for which men are ready to oppress and be oppressed, to kill and be killed, to impose them somehow or other by the immense and too formidable means placed at his disposal, in the belief that this is his way out to something ideal.”
-Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library: Vol. 19; p. 1054.
”The attempt of human thought to force an ethical meaning into the whole of Nature is one of those acts of wilful and obstinate self-confusion, one of those pathetic attempts of the human being to read himself, his limited habitual human self into all things and judge them from the stand-point he has personally evolved, which most effectively prevent him from arriving at real knowledge and complete sight.” Sri Aurbindo Birth Centenary Library: Vol. 18, p. 96.
Vaisheshik system is earlier and excersized considerable influence on the Nyaya system. Both systems aim at critical analysis of the universe by logical methods i.e. are yukti-pradhan. In the opinion of Surendranath Dasgupta (A History of Indian Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 282), Vaisheshik system is pre-Buddhistic. Its founder or the first known exponent was Ulook, better known as Kanada who systematized his system in Vaisheshik Sutras. The name Vaisheshik derives from vishesha, which refers to the particularity or individual character of thing emphasized by this system. Nyaya primarily means logic, the process of inference. The system is based on Nyaya sutras of Gautam who is supposed to have lived around 3rd BC.This system investigates into both physical and metaphysical subjects by the syllogistic method. Thus, it includes metaphysics as well as the science of logic.
Though Nyaya and Vaisheshik are separate systems, they have more similarities than dissimilarities. Later Nyaya school, Navya Nyaya, developed as a result of the blending of the two. Swami Prabhavanand has pointed out that the two systems differ mainly in their approach to the central problems of philosophy. The Vaisheshik begins with the conception of being and develops its ideas from that while Nyaya begings with knowing. Vaisheshik acknowledges two pramanas- perception (pratyaksha) and inference (anuman) while Nyaya adda two more to these- Verbal testimony (shabda) and comparison (upaman). These two are included in inference by Vaisheshik.
Both these systems are realistic and pluralistic. Basic postulates of the two systems are:
God is the efficient cause of the universe.
Physical objects exist independently of the mind, although their perception depends on the mind aided by the sense organs.
Seven categories (padarthas) are ultimately real. These are substance (dravya), quality (guna), activity (karma), generality (samanya), particularity (vishesha), inherence (samavaya) and non-existence (abhava).
Only substance (dravya) is independent entity, the rest belong to it.
Nine fundamental substances are- earth (prithvi), water (jala), air (vayu), fire (agni), ether (akasha), time (kala), space (dik), self (atman) and mind (manas). First seven substances compose thephysical universe.
Each Earth, water, fire and air are atomic in their original state and four different types of atoms are their basic constituents.
Ether, time and space are infinite and pervasive.
Self is eternal and pervasive but mind is eternal but infinitesimal.
There are innumerable selves ever distinct from one another and consciousness is neither an intrinsic quality of self nor its essence. In its disembodied state, the self will have no knowledge or consciousness.
The self is bound being associated with the mind, organs and body through ignorance.
Only true knowledge dissociates the self from these adjuncts and leads to attainment of liberation (apavarga). It is a state of complete release from all sufferings without any positive attainment.
Righteous deeds and contemplation on truth conduce to true knowledge.
Samkhya system is supposed to be given by sage Kapil (6th century BC) in his Samkhya-pravachana-sutram consisting of 527 aphorisms in six chapters. Most celebrated works of Samkhya are Samkhya-karika (seventy verses) of Ishwar Krishna (3rd century AD) and commentary on it by Vachaspati Misra (850 AD) The Tattvakaumudi.
Samkhya is a realistic-dualistic system in that it maintains two ultimate principles: (1) Purusha and (2) Prakriti. Purusha is the self-intelligent subject and changeless. There are many Purusha. Prakriti is the changeful, non-intelligent, potential cause of the objective universe. Prakriti is one, though manifold. Prakriti is trigunatmaka i.e. has three basic attributes Satva, Rajasa and Tamasa. The whole objective universe- both physical and psychical- evolves from Prakriti when it comes in association with Purusha. This association results in evolution of twenty four categories, including subordinate ones. Thus, Sakhya recognizes twenty-five categories (tattvas) or principles including Purusha. These are:
Mahat (lit. the great principle, also called ‘Buddhi’, the universal intellectual principle underlying self-consciousness)
Ahamkara (the ego-principle)
Five tanmatras (the subtle elements: sound, smell, touch, colour and taste)
Five drvayas (the gross elements: akasha, vayu, agni, jala and prithvi)
Five gyanendriyas (the sense organs of hearing, smell, touch, sight and taste
Five karmendriyas (the organs of the actions of speech, prehension, movement, excretion and reproduction)
According to the dualistic Samkhya system, the self-intelligent purusa and the non-intelligent prakriti are two distinct fundamental principles. Purusas are many but prakritiis one. The nature of purusa is consciousness pure and simple and changelessness.Prakriti is the origin of all psychical and physical elements, is altogether devoid of consciousness and is subject to change in the proximity of purusa.
The Samkhya, to a large extent, forms the philosophical basis of Yoga as a method of self-realization. In the Samkhya-Yog view, all psychical and physical objects from mahat tokarmendriyas are successively evolved transformations (parinama) of prakriti. Thus, there are twenty-four categories of objects, including prakriti. The first and finest product of prakriti is mahat also called buddhi-satva, the pure mind-stuff in which the principle ofsattva is predominant. It is transparent and pervasive in nature. Purusa, being reflected inmahat is identified with it and both take up the characteristics of each other because of this association. Thus the intrinsically non-intelligent mahat (buddhi-sattva) appears to be intelligent and conscious while intrinsically changeless, pure, free, luminous consciousness that is purusa undergoes changing states like pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, vice and virtue, freedom and bondage etc., which are the modes of buddhi-satva. Due to this association the purusa turns out to be ‘the seer’ or experiencer (drishta) while prakritito e ‘the seen’ or the experienced (drishya). However, all the transformation of prikriti is for the experience and the liberation of ‘the seer’.
Thus, the erroneous identification of the self with the non-self is the primary cause of the miseries, according to Samkhya-Yog and also Vendanta. Like a pure crystal appearing red in the proximity of red flower, the ‘seer’ (drishta) appears and assumes itself to be bound toprakriti and its modifications in association with them, the closest association being withbuddhi-sttva. The liberation of the self thus, means its complete withdrawl and aloofness from prakriti and its transformations, gross and subtle. This is achieved through sharp distinction of self from the non-self, particularly from buddhi-sattva. Preparatory practices followed by keen introspection and intense meditation lead to this end. Vedanta agrees with Samkhya-Yog as far as the necessity of distinction between self and non-self for the liberation is concerned. However, the Vedantic has quite different view of liberation and the proximate method of its attainment.
The most important difference between Samkhya and Yog is regarding the view of God. Samkhya does not recognize any ever-free, eternal, Creator God because existence of anything like this can not be established by logical proof. The only God it admits is ‘Kalp-niyamaka-Ishvara’ that is a nearly perfect being temporarily in-charge of a cycle of creation. When the association of Purusha and Prakriti is destroyed, the Purusha is liberated and the objective universe created for that Purusha automatically returns to undifferentiated state of inactive Prakriti. Only the knowledge brings about liberation. In contrast to Samkhya, Yoga admits a Personal God, a special Being untouched by any kind of misery, having infinite knowledge and unlimited by time. Such a God is the teacher of even the earliest teachers.
References to the practices of Yoga are found in Upanishadas, Bhagwata-gita and also in Jain and Buddist literature. However, Panini is credited with giving the first systematic exposition of Yoga in his Yoga-sutras. Most widely known commentary on Panini’s work are Vyasa-bhashya (4th century AD) and Bhojadeva’s Raj-martanda.
The practice of concentration on the gross physical objects develops the capability of fixing mind on finer and finer entities, the finest being prakriti. The three main stages of meditation mentioned by Patanjali are:
Meditation on the grahya (the sensible objects to be known)
Meditation on the grahana (the instruments of knowledge, sense-organs and mind)
Meditation on the grahita (the knowing self, the experiencer)
By concentration on any single object of the triad, when all other thoughts are eliminated, the mind-stuff becomes absorbed in it and is imbubed with it like a pure crystal that assumes the colour of whatsoever object it is set on. Thus, the practitioner enters into different states of ‘samprajnata samadhi’ in which the object of meditation is known definitely, free from doubts and misconceptions. In this samadhi, a single thought prevails in the mind, which is not therefore, content-less like in the samprajnata samadhi. Patanjali thus, distinguishes between meditation (dhyan) and samadhi:
‘Meditation is the uninterrupted concentration of thought on its object. This itself turns into samadhi when the object alone shines and the thought of meditation (and the meditator) is lost, as it were.’
As aresult of intense meditation on subtle entities (prakriti and its finer transformations, except the five gross elements), when the mind goes beyond contemplation (vichara) becoming refined and transparent, the practitioner develops intuitive knowledge. In that state, knowledge is said to be “truth-bearing”. This knowledge is of a different order than the knowledge gained from inference and the scriptures because it being supra-conscious experience, is definite.
The cause of the identification of the self with buddhi-sattva is avidya (wrong perveption). In deep meditation on grahita, the experiencer, the distinction between them is discerned. A clear and steady perception of the distinction between self and buddhi-sattva is calledvivek-khyati (discriminating knowledge). This vivek-khyati counteracts avidya and with the eradication of avidya, the idenfication of self with non-self ceases. The self becomes aloof i.e. reinstated in its innate freedom. At the seventh stage of such discriminating knowledge, practitioner reaches the highest level.
Even then the self is not realized and to become firmly established in samprajnata samadhi, power to enter into asamprajnata samadhi is to be developed. Supreme detachment leads to foregoing even the knowledge that the self is altogether different from buddhi-sattva because it is realized that this discriminating knowledge, howsoever high, is only a mode ofbuddhi-sattva to which self has no relation at all. Complete withdrawl from buddhi-sattvaand the knowledge manifest in it results in buddhi-sattva becoming absolutely free from all modes and contentless. Now it becomes perfectly calm and is restored to its pristine purity. This is complete withdrawl of the self from buddhi-sattva, the state of asamprajnata samadhi, in which there is no cogition of any kind whatsoever. The self, being detached from buddhi-sattva, is no longer the ‘seer’ (drishta). On complete dissociation of self, thebuddhi-sattva becomes ‘seedless’ and resolves itself into its origin, the prakriti’. The final liberation, i.e. complete aloofness or isolation of purusha from prakriti is achieved.
Mimamsa is founded on Jamini’s Purva-Mimamsa-sutra, Vedanta on Badarayana’s Uttara-Mimamsa-sutras. The name Mimamsa common to both, usually means pujita-vichar i.e. proper or rational investigation. In this context, it means Vedartha-vicara i.e. proper or rational investigation into the meaning of the Vedic texts. Purva-Mimamsa (prior investigation) dwells on the anterior portion of Vedas, particularly the Brahmans and is mainly concerned with Vedic ritualism. Therefore, it is also called Karm-Mimamsa or simply Mimamsa. On the other hand, Uttara-Mimamsa (posterior investigation) dwells on the Upanisads and is mainly concerned with Vedic metaphysics, primarily an inquiry into Ultimate Reality or Truth, the Brahman. Therefore, it is also called Brahman-Mimamsa or simply Vedanta.
The philosophy of Mimamsa attempts to uphold Vedic ritualism by a rational interpretation. The Vedas, being the only source of suprasensuous knowledge, are considered the sole authority on religious and righteous deeds (dharma). Survival of soul after death, merits and demerits accruing from actions (karmas), retribution in heaven and hell and the existence of ethical order in the universe are recognized as suprasensuous truths. Performance of rites and duties enjoined by the Vedas rests on these truths. Metaphysical questions regarding the nature of the universe, nature of soul, the laws of karma and the final release from the bondage of karma are discussed to form rational basis of Vedic ritualism.
Mimamsa philosophy has dwelt at length on epistemological and other allied topics for establishment of the infallibility of Vedic testimony. The nature, different methods, validity, falsity, criterion and objects (prameya) of knowledge have been investigated in detail. Kumaril school of Mimamsa and Advaita school of Vedanta agree on the same six means of valid knowledge (pramanas) but differ regarding self-manifestedness of knowledge.
The primary source of Mimasa philosophy is the Mimamsa-sutras of Jamini (circ. 300-200 BC). Later works are mainly commentaries on it and commentaries on commentaries. The earliest known commentary on Mimamsa-sutra is by Sabara Swami (second century AD). Two different interpretations of this commentary by Kumaril Bhatta (AD 620-700) and his pupil Prabhakar Misra (AD 650-720) led to the development of two main branches or schools of Mimamsa philosophy.
Mimamsa is similar to Nyaya and Vaisesika in being realistic and pluralistic in its view of the self and the universe. The realistic view unlike empiricism, recognizes the suprasensible facts. However, Mimamsa while accepting the existence of Isvara, unlike Nyaya and Vaisesika does not accept Ishvara as the efficient cause of the Universe. It considers the laws of karma adequate for maintaining the cosmic order. It further holds that the ultimate goal of life, which is freedom from miseries and attainment of the ultimate happiness called heaven, can not be achieved by self-knowledge but by performance of proper karmas as enjoined by the Vedas. Mimamsa maintains that the purpose of entire Vedas, comprising Karma-kanda (work-section) and Jnana-kand (knowledge-section) is to advocate action and not knowledge.
The term Vedanta (Veda+anta) denotes the end or the culmination (anta) of knowledge (veda), specifically the suprasensuous knowledge (the Veda). Secondarily, it sefers to the concluding parts of the Vedas (the Upanishadas) that embody that knowledge. The Upanishadas, embodying the revealed truths, are the primary source of the Vedanta philosophy. The Vedic seers only revealed the suprasensuous truths. They did not give reasons or arguments. Thereofore, the need to systematize the Upanishadic teaching was felt. Among several attempts, the earliest one available now is Badrayana Vyasa’s Brahma-sutras (circ. 550 BC). It is highly esteemed as authoritative by all schools of Vedanta and every school has a commentary on it to corroborate its views. Brahman-sutras form the basis of Vedanta as a rational philosophy and the term ‘Uttara-Mimamsa’ strictly applies to this treatise. The third stage of Vedanta is marked by the Bhagvad-gita. It particularly dwells on the application of the Upanishadic teachings to the practical life enunciating spiritual and moral disciplines for different types and grades of seekers and points out the way to conform normal life to the highest ideal. The Upnishadas, Brahma-sutras and Bhagvad-gita form the triple basis of Vedanta (Prasthan-tray). They are respectively called the Sruti-prasthana, the Nyaya-prasthana and the Smriti-prasthana Vedanta as they follow the course of Revelation (Sruti), reason (nyaya) and regulation of life (smriti).
Vedanta philosophy is realistic but not pluralistic. It has two main divisions and their classification into different schools is as follows:
Monoistic (Non-dualistic) Advaita Vedanta
Vishishtadvaita (qualified nondualism) School of Ramanuja
Shuddhadvaita (pure nondualism) School of Vallabhacharya
Achintya-bhedabheda (incomprehensible difference-nondifference)) School of Sri Chaitanya
Dvaita (dualism) School of Madhvacharya
Dvaitadvaita (dualism in nondualism) School of Nimbarka
Each system of Vedantic philosophy is essentially an interpretation of the Brahamn-sutras supported by commentaries on Upanashidas and Bhagvad-gita. Each school has original writings also to elaborate on the teachings of the three primary works to confirm to its views.
In contrast to Mimamsa, the Vedanta, particularly Advaita Vedanta, maintains that the ultimate goal of life is to attain liberation (Moksha) i.e. freedom from the state of separation of self (Jivatma) from the uncaused, eternal and universal consciousness (Brahma). The heaven attainable by karma can not be final, for whatsoever is produced must come to end. The eternal, uncaused can not be the product of karma. Vedanta maintains that the work-section of the Vedas is preparatory to knowledge-section that leads to Self-knowledge, which is the direct means to liberation (Moksa) and the purport of both the sections.
Gaudapada ( circ. 7th century AD) is the earliest known Vedanta philosopher who reconciled the authority with logic and established nondualism on a rational footing. His Mandukya-karika is the first available presentation of the cardinal truths of Advaita Vedanta. He was teacher of the legendary Adi-guru Shakaracharya whose commentary on Brahman-sutras and commentaries on principal Upanishadas gave the firm basis of Advait philosophy. The two main schools of Monistic nondualistic Vedanta were founded on his commentary on Brahman-sutras.
According to Monistic Vedanta, the sole Reality is attributeless (Nirguna) Brahman that is Pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss, the One without a second. It is Nirguna (without any attribute) and Nirvishesha i.e. without differentiation of any kind whatsoever, without even the distinction of substance and attribute. On the other hand, Monotheistic Vedanta maintains that the fundamental Reality is attribute-having (Saguna) Brahman that is the repository of all blessed qualities. It is the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent Supreme Being. The individual selves (the jivas) and the inanimate world (jagat), though ever distinct from the Supreme Ruler (Ishvar), have no existence apart from Him. Thus in the Vedanta philosophy, there is no absolute dualism as maintained by Samkhya philosophy. Even the monotheistic Dvaita school of Madhavacharya is not dualistic in the sense in which Samkhya is. All the schools of Vedanta hold that the individual self (jiva) is intrinsically conscious. Monotheistic Vedanta holds that the jiva is distinct yet akin to Brahman, thus emphasizes their relationship. On the other hand, Advaita Vedanta though recognizes the monotheistic position, does not recognize it as ultimate. It maintains that the Jive and Brahman are essentially identical and the distinction between the two is adventitious not absolute.
The monotheistic schools of Vedanta are better known as schools of Vaishnavism. The metaphysical distinctions among the five monotheistic schools consist of subtle differences in their conceptions of the relationship between the jiva (individual self) and Brahman (the Supreme Self). All the schools recognize the difference between jiva and Brahman but hold that the difference does not mean that the two are separate or altogether dissimilar. All maintain the position that it a difference in the presence of non-difference. Ramanuja (1017-1137 AD), Vallabha (1479-1531 AD)and Sri Chaitanya (1485-1533 AD) have emphasized the non-difference while Madhava (1199-1276 AD) emphasizes the difference. Nimbarka (11th century AD) balances the difference and non-difference.
Ramanuja accepts that ultimate reality is the unity of Brahman. However, he views Brahman as differentiated (savishesha) and characterized by internal distinctions. Conscious selves and non-conscious nature belong to Him as integral parts. He is the sole reality inclusive of them all, being their innermost Self and Ruler. According to Vallabha’s pure nonduailsim, the Supreme Being (Brahman) is unassociated with maya is, therefore, pure. Brahman creates the manifold out of Himself by His inherent knowledge and power without undergoing any change whatsoever,. Consequently, the individual selves (jivas) are non-different from Supreme Being (Brahman). The Chaitanya’s school holds that the relation between the jiva and Brahman is inexplicable like the relation of the power and the possessor of power. The two are distinct but inseparable. The world and jiva are manifestations of the power of Brahman. Being the manifestation of His power, jiva is neither one with Him nor different from Him. According to Madhavacharya, God (Pramatman) the individual selves and prakriti (the potential cause of physical and psychical iniverse) with their fivefold differences are ultimately real. The difference between God and the individual self, between individual self and prakriti, between two individual selves and between tow categories of prakriti endure forever. However, God is the only independent entity. Individual selves and prakriti have no independent existence apart from Him. Nimbarka maintains that ultimate reality is God who remains unchanged in Himself and only undergoes transformations through His energies as conscious and unconscious. He manifests itself as the jiva without losing His fullness and perfection. The relation between the two is somewhat like that between the sun and its radiance. The relation between God and the world is like that of a snake and its coiled existence. The coiled condition of a snake is neither different from it nor absolutely different from it.
Thus, monotheistic views are in contrast to Shankara’s simple nondualism (Kevala-advaita). This tradition of Advaita maintains that jiva and manifold are the result of Brahman becoming associated with maya. In order to explain the nature of jiva and its relation to ajnana, various theories, based on the authority of Sankara’s commentary on Brahma-sutras, have been propounded by later Advaita philosophers.
Broadly, Advaita philosophy views knowledge in its empirical and metaphysical aspects. Its epistemology is inseparable from metaphysics. It asserts that consciousness is self-luminous, self-existent and prior to every form of existence. Fundamentally, knowledge is Pure Consciousness beyond the relativity of knower and the known. The non-relational, nondual Pure Consciousness is the ultimate Reality. Being is identical with Pure Consciousness. Advait views relational knowledge as an expression on Pure Consciousness through a mental mode of the cognizer, the knowing self. It may be psychological through internal cognition or psychophysical through sense perception. The same Pure Consciousness is individualized as the knowing self, being manifest through a particulaaar mode of mind characterized by ‘I-ness’.
The Advaita explains the appearance of the splitting of Nondual Consciousness that is self into cognizer, cognition and the object cognized as being apparent and the work of Maya. This really says that the situation is inexplicable. The empirical situation that demands the distinction of cognizer, cognition and the cognized object, does not admit of a satisfactory explanation. Adviata shows that the problem is inexplicable at the level of relative experience. This problem vanishes by itself when this level is transcended in the nondual experience. Advaita maintains that any epistemological analysis can be useful in so far it makes us aware of this truth. It holds that the aim of an exposition of the pramanas (means of valid knowledge) is to demonstrate their insufficiency and relative nature.
The classical mannual of Advaita epistemology is Vedanta-paribhasha of Dharmaraja Adhvarin. In empirical matterns, Advaita follows the Bhatta school of Mimamsa and recognizes six means of valid knowledge (pramanas):
Verbal testimony (Shabda)
Among these six methods, perception is considered of special importance as it is supposed to give immediate knowledge while others give only mediate knowledge. However, in sense perception there is intervention of a sense organ between the subject and the object. Thus, the knowledge gained is really not so immediate. Even in internal perception through the mind, the situation is not so straightforward. Bhamati tradition of Advaita considers mind a sense organ while Vivarna tradition holds that the mind is not a sense organ but an auxillary to all types of knowledge. According to Advaita the knowledge of self that is liberation from the illusory bondage of duality is only similar to perceptual knowledge as even perceptual knowledge is not so immediate as the knowledge of self.
According to Bhamati tradition, even in internal perception there is operation of the sense organ of mind. The final release is achieved only when mind has taken on the mode of the impartite self (Akhandakara-vritti) through continued meditation. However, this mode subsides after having accomplished its aim and then only nondual self remains. Vivana tradition, on the other hand, holds that the final release is gained by the knowledge obtained through the verbal testimony (Shabda) of major texts of Upanishadas that teach nondifference of the so-called individual self from the Supreme Self. The verbal testimony gives mediate knowledge if the object of knowledge is remote but gives immediate knowledge if the object is immediate. Since there is nothing more immediate than the self, the verbal testimony gives immediate knowledge of self. Other means of valid knowledge are useful only in so far they can render intelligible the mediate knowledge of the self.
The intuitive experience called ‘Self-realization’ is considered not infra-rational but supra-rational. Reasoning is necessary aid in the process of inquiry. Rational reflection occupies a strategic place during study (sravan), reflection (manana) and meditation (nididhyasana). Advaita maintains that unreasoned belief or acceptance of authority is useless. Even scripture becomes authoritative only when its truth gets corroborated in personal experience.
According to Vedanta, there are two approaches to ultimate goal of life i.e. liberation (1) Jnana-yoga- the path of onowledge and (2) Bhakti-yoga- the path of devotion. The Karma-yoga or the path of performing necessary work without being attached to the result of work is preparatory to both of these. The path of knowledge is search of Nirguna Brahman and is characterized by the aspirant’s awareness of the identity of the self with Brahman. The path of devotion, on the other hand is search of Saguna Brahman and is characterized by the aspirant’s awareness of his relationship with Brahman. All schools of Vedanta recognize the path of devotion as the direct way to the realization of Saguna Brahman. While monotheistic Vedanta considers it to be the final stage, Nondualistic Vedanta maintains that this stage leads further to the path of knowledge that is the only direct means of realization of Nirguna Brahman.
Lord Buddha appeared as a great teacher in India during that period, and his teachings profoundly affected both religious and moral ideas of that time and thus, acted as a powerful catalyst in transforming the then existing social conditions. These teachings were such a powerful humanist force that within 1000 years of Buddha’s death, the Buddhism had spread throughout India, Central Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Although not widespread in India today, Buddhism is still the living force from China to Southeast Asia, and its underlying principles have assumed new significance in the strife-torn world of today. In fact, the concept of world peace based on kindness, humanity and equality, which United Nations speaks of today, are the beliefs embodied in Buddhism.
Buddhism was not a phenomenon arising out of vacuum. It arose out of the prevailing social conditions, intellectual atmosphere and philosophy. These were based on the view points that human salvation can only be achieved by
Either resorting to sacrifices, eg, animal or human sacrifices
Or resorting to self-mortification, eg, giving excessive hardships to own body.
Buddha examined both, exercised the later one for 6 years, and found both of them as imperfect, incomplete, not conducive to the welfare of man, and so, incapable of serving the purpose.
Gautam Buddha was born in 623 BC as a son of the ruler of Kapilavastu, a Shakya republic in the Himalayan foothills. As Siddharth, he was brought up in extreme luxury, away from all the miseries and pains of life, and had a beautiful princess Yashodhara as his wife and a lovely son Rahul. Only in his late twenties, that too by sheer coincidences, he came across the inherent truths of life, viz, pain and misery of old age, illness and death. Deeply troubled with all this, one night at the age of twenty-nine he left his comfortable life to find out the true way for achieving freedom from pains and miseries of life.
Gautam met all contemporary philosophers and teachers, and even practiced different kinds of extremely rigid self-mortification and physical torture for six years. At the end, he concluded that nothing of this sort was the way to achieve enlightenment or freedom from miseries. During this period, he however realized that he was getting closer to Truth. So, one day he sat in meditation under a Banyan tree (now known as Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya) with a resolution not to leave without attaining the complete Truth. In the night, he discovered a ‘cycle of twelve causes and effects’ that make the Universe as it is. No philosopher had ever thought off this law, and bringing it to the knowledge of mankind elevated Gautam to the status of Buddha.
Gautam Buddha contemplated further under the Banyan tree (now known as Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya) and came out with ‘four noble truths of the condition of Universe’, and ‘noble eight-fold path that leads to freedom from suffering’. With this, he then left for Sarnath near Varanasi and preached all this to his five earlier companions who had denounced him when he had left the path of self-mortification. This first preaching by Buddha set the ‘wheel of Dhamma’ in motion to end the suffering. This also was the start of Buddhism.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHA
Buddhism is not a religion. It is a philosophy on the nature and reality of life, and thinking on the real nature and truth of human existence. Buddha recognized the actual condition of existence of everything in the world including the human beings.
He first established Four Noble Truths (Arya Satya) to describe this condition.
Like a doctor, he then established the cause through Dependent Origination (Pratitya Samutpada).
Lastly he established the remedy as Noble Eight-fold Path (Arya Ashtang Marg), which is also called the Middle Path (Madhyam Marg).
These are the three fundamental aspects of the teachings of Buddhism.
FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS (Arya Satya)
As the first fundamental teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths are as follows.
All existence is full of suffering (dukkha): To some, this Truth may appear to be a pessimistic view of life. It must be understood that it is not so, since pessimistic view of life can only be an individual’s psychic disorder, and so, cannot be a universal view or concept. The suffering (dukkha) mentioned here is a ‘philosophical concept’. One is aware of the commonly perceived sufferings like old age, disease, decay, death, etc. Buddha clarified that even the ‘pleasures and worldly happiness’ also is a form of suffering since their end is certain, thus producing suffering. What this Truth comprehensively communicates is that everyone who exists is bound to have suffering (dukkha), irrespective of who is he or where he is. According to Buddhism, the cessation of suffering is nirvana. This state is beyond logical reasoning or description. It is not a negative condition but a positive one in which mind is totally unconditioned.
All suffering has a cause: Buddha clarified that the cause of all suffering is craving (trishna), especially for happiness – a unique concept.
Suffering can be ended: Buddha assured that anyone’s suffering (dukkha) can be ended, but the only way is to remove the cause, i.e. craving (trishna). This is just contrary to the general belief that some other ‘appropriate’ actions or accomplishments can remove the suffering. Buddha tells that this is just not possible, since the desired effect can not be achieved without handling its cause.
There is a way to end the suffering: As the last Truth, Buddha told that the craving (trishna) can be eliminated to end the suffering (dukkha) and attaining supreme peace (nirvana) by taking the eight-fold path (madhyam marg). This approach of middle path is to avoid the two extremes of ‘ascetism’ and ‘materialistic hedonism’.
DEPENDENT ORIGINATION (Pratitya Samutpada).
According to second fundamental teaching of Buddhism, the continuous existence of a being is like a wheel of causes and effects. The ignorance gives rise to actions, then in turn come consciousness, phenomena, the six senses (viz. contact, feelings, craving, grasping, becoming, birth), and lastly the suffering. Thus, the teaching of Dependent Origination tells us that that ignorance is the primary root-cause of all suffering.
So, if the last effect (i.e. suffering) is to be destroyed, the primary cause (i.e. ignorance) must be destroyed, and the way for this is the Eight-fold Path.
NOBLE EIGHT-FOLD-PATH (Arya Ashtang Marg) or MIDDLE PATH (Madhyam Marg).
Buddhism teaches us eight steps that remove the suffering and lead to nirvan. Each of these paths is prefixed by the word samyak that is translated in English as ‘right’. It must be noted that this word does not mean ‘righteous’ in Buddhism. Rather, it connotes ‘correct’ and ‘total’. It is a direction towards being open and attentive to the present. Moreover, each of these ‘rights’ implies and requires the other seven, in the sense that all of these are interdependent.
The Noble Eightfold Path is also called Middle Path because Buddha taught the avoidance of two extremes of self-mortification as well as self-indulgence. He maintained that neither extreme lead to the end of suffering and enlightenment. Only the avoidance of extremes or the Middle Path led to knowledge, vision, tranquility and nirvana.
The eight steps of Middle Path are:
Right view (samyak drishti): It enjoins one to get rid of all superstitions, views, notions, etc that are forced onto oneself, and instead being reasonable, open and flexible.
Right mental resolve (samyak sankalp): With right view, one moves on to acquire right mental resolve, which comprehensively involves ones body, feelings, thoughts, and mind-objects.
Right speech (samyak vachan): Right speech is important since every action is preceded by speech. Words free from lies, anger, abuse, calumny, frivolity and slander are the right speech that is followed by right resolve.
Right action (samyak karma): Abstinence from killing, stealing, indulgence in passions and intoxication is the negative aspect of right action while charity, truth, service and kindness constitute its positive aspect.
Right livelihood (samyak jeevika): As the outcome of right action, earning the livelihood without causing suffering to anybody and through the goodwill of everybody is right livelihood.
Right effort (samyak vayam): Endeavor for mental and moral elevation is right effort. This means discarding the existing evils, preventing the oncoming of fresh evils, developing the good that has not yet arisen and promoting the good that has already risen.
Right mindfulness (samyak sati): It is the constant attention paid to the activities and weaknesses of one’s body, feelings, thoughts and mind. Any slackness towards this invariably leads to some or the other slip.
Right concentration (samyak samadhi): This last step enjoins one to fix all the mental faculties on a single object, which is the chosen path of oneself.
First two steps are grouped under WISDOM, next three under MORALITY and last three under CONCENTRATION.
In addition to the Dependent origination, Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, Buddha also elaborated on practice of the modes of sublime states (Brahma Vihars) and theory of karma and rebirth.
MODES OF SUBLIME STATES (Brahma Vihars)
Buddha pointed out that anger, cruelty, jealousy, attachment to the pleasurable and aversion to non-pleasurable are the vices inherent in man. These cause individual as well social suffering destroying peach and harmony. In order to subdue these vices and promote peace and harmony in individual as well as social spheres, he taught practice of the modes of sublime states i.e. four Brahma Vihars. These are:
Loving-kindness (Metta) : To subdue anger, loving-kindness towards all without exception should be developed and nurtured with sincere effort. This leads to abolition of fear and establishment of peace and harmony among all. Practice of absolute non-violence is essential for this Brahma Vihar.
Compassion (Karuna) : The vice of cruelty can be removed by cultivating compassion all without exception. Selfless service for removing the woes of others is the chief characteristics of karuna.
Joy (Mudita) : Jealousy is the vice that leads to unnecessary competition and rivalry resulting ultimately to conflict. Cultivation of the habit of joy in everything and every situation destroys this vice. This brahma vihar requires greater personal effort as compared to metta and karuna.
Equanimity (Upekka) : Attachment to pleasurable and aversion to non-pleasurable are also universal vices. For the removal of these, Buddha advised practice of equanimity towards everything including pleasure and pain. As all the things and conditions in the world are transient and impermanent, wise one totally disregards attachment or aversion these.
THEORY OF KARMA AND REBIRTH
The theory was established since ancient times in India. Buddha accepted both these concepts. The theory lays down that the deeds (karmas) of this life determine the state of life in the next rebirth. A karma or deed may be mental, oral or physical. Its nature is judged by its accompanying volition. Involuntary or unconscious acts are not treated as karma. However, theory of karma was highly developed by Buddha and later by his followers. Unlike ancient conception, Buddhist doctrine of karma holds that a being possesses the freedom to act irrespective of his acts in his previous births. Existence in any conditions, good or bad, in this life is impermanent. Although existence in good conditions is better and can be achieved by good karma, best is freedom from karma i.e. naishkarmya leading to Arhatship and consequently to nirvana.
Buddha was opposed to caste distinctions by birth supposed to be established divinely according to the karmas of previous birth. He also opposed elaborate rites, ceremonies and sacrifices associated with religious practice. Such acts were not included in the category of good karma by Buddha.
Buddha taught everyone to be virtuous and wise without any distinction of any kind whatsoever. His Dhamma is not a dogmatic, elaborate system of rites, rules or methods of prayer but a way of life enjoining purity of thought, speech and action.
All the teachings of Buddhism are an evidence of logical reasoning and practical wisdom of Buddha. These teachings have philosophical, moral and ethical components intricately and inseparably interwoven into a composite whole. It is difficult to understand one aspect of these teachings without understanding the others.
It would not be wrong to conclude that Buddha was the first rationalist of the world who asserted that one was one’s own saviour through actions and master through the will and volition without reference to any outside power. For the last 2500 years, his teachings enshrined in Buddhism have shown the path towards enlightened human life, both at personal and social levels. In the modern world of increasing personal, communal and social disharmony, teachings of Buddhism may be the only hope of future.