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An Introduction Boyd – 2010 (East-West IASP Project)

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1 An Introduction Boyd – 2010 (East-West IASP Project)

2 Context of this presentation (Slide titles in red indicate the slide will not be part of the actual class presentation. When the content, below is in red, it indicates that the details need to be worked out and what is shown only outlines a direction to be taken.)  Introductory type course in philosophy that focuses on theories of knowledge (epistemology) and reality (metaphysics)  We read two primary texts  Russell, The Problems of Philosophy  Strawson, Analysis and Metaphysics  This presentation will take place about a month into the semester  Russell after a couple of introductory chapters turns to the issue of the nature of matter. A central part of this discussion is his “refutation” of idealism, which was a prominent approach to philosophy in 1912.  Primarily focuses on G. Berkeley (1685-1753) and F.H. Bradley (1846-1924)

3 Idealism reviewed  Idealism (?)  “Idealism consists in the assertion that there exist none but thinking entities; the other things we think we perceive in intuition being only presentations of the thinking entity to which no object outside the latter can be found to correspond.” Kant, Prolegomena)  Reality is spiritual (Dasgupta)  All existence has its core or foundation and being in the mind  G. Berkeley – Does a tree falling in a forest where no one is there make a sound? (theistic idealism)  F.H. Bradley – Reality is one; there are no real separate things; reality consists solely of idea or experience (non-theistic idealism)

4 Bibliographical sources for further work  Two Philosophers of Idealism  F.H. Bradley (1846-1924)  Appearance and Reality (1893)  Essays on Truth and Reality (1914)  Writings on Logic and Metaphysics – Bradley, ed. Allard & Stock (1994)  Studies in the Metaphysics of Bradley, Saxena (1967)  An Introduction to Bradley’s Metaphysics, Mander (1994)  Shankara (c. 788-820 CE)  Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, 3 rd edition. {(Prabhavananda, Swami and Isherwood, Christopher. (Trans.). (1978). Vedanta Press}  The Vedānta Sūtras of Bādarāyaņa with the Commentary by Śańkara, Parts 1 and 2. {Thibaut, George. (Trans). (1962)}  Indian Idealism, Dasgupta (1962)  Philosophies of India, Zimmer (1974)  An Introduction to Śańkara’s Theory of Knowledge, Devaraja, (1962)  “Idealist Refutations of Idealism,” Chakrabarti, Idealistic Studies (1991)  Focus: Shankara, but first a quick look at some of the relevant texts

5 Three (selective) passages from the Upanishads  Chāndogya Upanishad  Dialogue between one who is learned, and a student  Monistic World-Soul, Ātman, is that immanent reality found in all things  Aitareya Upanishad  The Self is in all – a pantheistic position  Para-Brahma is the source or means of empirical knowledge as well as that which is not empirical – all that exist owes their existence to Para-Brahma.  Finally, “Brahma is intelligence.”

6 Selective passages cont’d  Māņdūkya Upanishad  Om!—This syllable is this whole world. Its further explanation is: – The past, the present, the future – everything is just the word Om. And whatever else that transcends threefold time – that, too, is just the word Om. For truly, everything here is Brahma; this self is Brahma. … This is the lord of all. This is the all-knowing. This is the inner controller. This is the source of all, for this is the origin and the end of beings. Not inwardly cognitive, not outwardly cognitive, not both-wise cognitive, not a cognition-mass, not cognitive, not non-cognitive, unseen, with which there can be no dealing, ungraspable, having no distinctive mark, non-thinkable, that cannot be designated, the essence of the assurance of which is the stating of being one with the Self, the cessation of development, tranquil, benign, … He is the Self. He should be discerned. This is the Self with regard to the word Om, with regard to its elements. … Thus Om is the Self indeed. He who knows this, with his self enters the Self – yea, he who knows this!  Passage can be seen to present an absolute monism

7 Commentaries on Upanishads  Upanishads do not contain a systematic philosophy or theology, hence sutras were developed by subsequent thinkers  These sutras pull together the various ideas taught in the Upanishads, and one of the greatest sutras is by Bâdarâyana  However, because of the nature of a sutra and the fact that they seldom identify the Upanishad they are dealing with, commentaries were developed to clarify a sutra  Shankara is credited for writing such a commentary and developing a systematic philosophy that reflects the monism we saw in the selective passages above  While Shankara advocated an absolute monism or strict non-dualistic philosophy, he acknowledges two levels of “reality”

8 Shankara  In the second sutra Bâdarâyana states “(Brahman is that) from which the origin, &c. (i.e. the origin, subsistence, and dissolution) of this (world proceed).” (Thibaut, 15)  According to Shankara this sutra means that “[t]hat omniscient omnipotent cause from which proceed the origin, subsistence, and dissolution of this world – which world is differentiated by names and forms, contains many agents and enjoyers, is the abode of the fruits of actions, these fruits having their definite places, times, and causes, and the nature of whose arrangement cannot even be conceived by the mind, that cause, we say is Brahman.” (16)  He acknowledges that this world, the world of sense experience, exists, but its existence is different than the existence of Brahman, which has no place for empirical data.  The reality of ‘this’ world should not blind us to an even greater reality, and this latter reality is greater because it is true reality – a reality that is not based on or found in the empirical

9  Shankara continues, “wrong knowledge itself is removed by the knowledge of one’s Self being one with the Self of Brahman.” (30)  This ‘oneness’ is nothing less than complete identity – an absolute monism.  This reality is greater than the reality of the empirical world because the latter is based upon wrong knowledge whereas the former is based upon truth – the teachings of revelation found in the scriptures

10 Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination  The first qualification attaining liberation is the ability to distinguish between the eternal and the non-eternal. “Brahman is real; the universe is unreal. A firm conviction that this is so is called discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal.” (35)  Furthermore, Brahman and Atman are one:  “Atman is pure consciousness … The Atman is the witness, infinite consciousness, revealer of all things but distinct from all … It is the eternal reality, omnipresent, all-pervading, the subtlest of all subtleties. It has neither inside nor outside. It is the real I, hidden in the shrine of the heart. … He is the truth. He is existence and knowledge. He is absolute. He is pure and self-existent. He is eternal, unending joy. He is none other than the Atman. The Atman is one with Brahman: this is the highest truth. Brahman alone is real. There is not but He. … He is pure consciousness, free from any taint. He is tranquility itself. … He does not change. He is joy forever.” (69-71)

11 Shankara’s system as idealism  Two questions:  While the passages above show that Shankara was an absolute monist, how is Shankara’s system a form of idealism?  Do the objections that Russell raises concerning the idealism of Berkeley and Bradley affect Shankara’s form of idealism?

12 Shankara as idealism: overview  “Idealism consists in the assertion that there exists none but thinking entities; the other things we think we perceive in intuition being only presentations of the thinking entity to which no object outside the latter can be found to correspond.” (Dasgupta, 23)  Shankara starts with consciousness defined ultimately as Brahman  This concept of Brahman is adequate to give an explanation for our empirical evidence of a physical world, i.e., illusion (m āyā) due to ignorance  Because his metaphysics is an absolute monism, real reality consists of one thinking entity – Brahman; hence Shankara avoids a subjective form of idealism

13 Shankara’s argument  P1 – Brahman, a conscious entity, is all reality;  P2 – Brahman is the cause of all, including māyā, and is present in all our cognitions  P3 – All experience begins and continues due to an erroneous belief that the “self” is identified with the body or the objects of the senses  P4 – Individual things, including matter, are only appearance  Concl – Matter does not exist; hence the world “only phenomenally exists as mere objects of name and form” (Dasgupta, 165) This conclusion is a form of idealism

14 Sub-arguments  Each premise of the previous argument is supported by its own set of evidence  However, premise 1 is foundational to his sub-arguments for premises 2 through 4  His evidence for premise one is the self- revelation of Brahman in the sacred texts  These sub-arguments need to be developed and presented

15 Russell’s criticism of idealism revisited  Table - example  Sense-data  Acknowledges limitations in our knowledge, but claims we all agree that something is there  Russell’s criticism needs further development

16 Shankara’ Position untouched  1st approach: Shankara & the Principle of Non-Contradiction  Embraces the principle of contradiction for all levels except that ultimate reality of Brahman  The law does not apply at this level of absolute monism, which embraces sat (Being) and asat (non-Being) equally and at the same time  Similar to the intuitionalists (logical) move of embracing the three laws of thought, except in cases that involve the infinite where they may reject Law of Non-Contradiction {~(P & ~P)} and Law of the Excluded Middle {P v ~P} [Law of Identity has other problems]

17 Russell and Shankara cont’d  2 nd approach: Developed argument (Arindam Chakrabarti)  Three-level theory of unreality  Unreality of the absolutely unappearable nonentities (the absurd)  Unreality of the individually subjective illusions (the illusory)  Unreality of the empirical that is more real than a dream but less real than pure undifferentiated consciousness (the phenomenal)  Shankara’s deeper metaphysical ideal – a never- negated pure consciousness is really real

18 Russell and Shankara cont’d: Best approach  3rd approach: Category Mistake  Given Shankara’s starting point, it appears that his position is isolated from Russell’s object that there must be a table there even if we do not “know” the table  In some way for Russell, the object presents the sense-data, but for Shankara the sense-data is not presented by the object  Sense-data objection by Russell seems to be a category mistake when applied to Shankara

19 The rest of the story  The Vedantic School of Indian philosophy is not the only story told, nor is Shankara the only story told within the Vedantic school; hence the rest of the story must address individuals such as Ramanuja (1017-1137), a modified monist - but not an idealist, as well as those other schools as they say something about matter and reality, e.g., Aśvaghosha’s Buddhism  Built into syllabus for the fall 2010  Three class periods to present some of these other schools as regards matter  Latter in the semester – three more class periods will address issues such as methodology and reasoning in Indian philosophy

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