Thursday, April 27, 2017

Science is ontology free

priyedarshi jetli Apr 27, 2017
Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for the clarity of your writing. I am not a physicist but as a working scientist you have clarified the issues raised by Vinod. Terms like 'reductionism' are definitely in the domain of philosophers. Even philosophers of science today, who pay a great deal of attention to what scientists do, shy away from such terms. Science is ontology free: it is neither materialist nor dualist nor idealist not mechanist; as you say, it is concerned with explanation. It is a simple truism to say that science cannot explain what is beyond it, that is, assuming that there is something beyond the domain of the explanations of science. There may or may not be. One gross error that the non scientist perception of science makes is to say that whatever the science of the day says is the final word and if something is left unexplained by science then it is beyond science. If we just look at medical science we see how misguided this conception is.

Even philosophers of science like Karl Popper wrote about the progress of science. Many call the logical positivists reductionists. The Vienna Circle consisted of many physicists. They had a common agenda of the unity of science but they were a diverse group that do not even fit under the label of 'positivists' and they would not have called themselves 'reductioinists'. But all of this does not matter for common perceptions in which those with these perceptions are neither scientists nor are they familiar with the history of philosophy of science going back to physicists Mach and Helmholtz who began the subdiscipline of philosophy of science.

Thanks again!


priyedarshi jetli Apr 27, 2017

The matter here is not of shallow or deep view but about what is plausible or not. I am happy being a shallow person as long as I don't make implausible conjectures. I am no better a person by becoming deeper. You keep using the word "consciousness" as if there is a consensus on whether there is consciousness or what consciousness is. There is no consensus on either. And it is very shallow and narrow minded of you to think that there is consensus on both. It is an unsupported dogma. 

As for Samadhi, meditation and spiritual experience, all of these are done by the body within the body. There are a lot of empirical studies on meditation which show how some of the activity of the brain is shifted from one lobe to another which causes less stress. However, one cannot remain in such a state permanently, otherwise day to day functioning will become difficult. This is why we have the grahasti stage of life.



What you say establishes the exact opposite of what you want to claim. We do not experience the "I" in deep coma because our body has virtually stopped functioning. This shows that the "I" is nothing beyond the body. You start with the unestablished premise, which you repeat hundred times like a gospel that without consciousness there is no existence. I don't accept this premise and many don't. This actually has to be established not stated like I am right now typing on my laptop. That  is where you are begging the question. You are assuming as true what needs to be proved. All of this is based on your definition of "consciosness" as something beyond the body.



As Jonathan has aptly pointed out in a reply to you, science does not claim to understand or rather explain everything. However, it continues to progress. In medical science, less than 50% is known. Yet it keeps striving to know more. First of all, you need to make a distinction between what is explainable now and what is in principle explainable. To substantiate your claim you need to demonstrated those regions of what you call 'mind' and 'consciousness' that are in principle not explainable. This will not be an easy task at all except for just saying it and repeating it, which is what you always do. 

Why are mind and brain distinct? Why just adopt the dualism or rather trialism of cosciousness, mind and brain? Why not say there is mind, legs, arms, ..., brain and so on? Why reduce everything to the three holy substances of mind, body and consciousness, especially when you do not like reductionism. Leave the world of nature as it is, the beauty of diversity, of birds chirping in the morning, the sound of the water reaching the shores of the beach, and so on! Let science explain whatever it can and whatever it cannot explain now is not beyond explanation.


Apr 27, 2017
The map of issues to be solved! Great task ahead!
Such interconnected islands of problems exist within the cell biology, within our brain, within psyche, within society, within universe and especially within our language. How our knowledge of consciousness can solve all such problems is  the task of this group. How all-pervading consciousness clears all such issues from our cognitive territory will be nice to watch!
A.K. Mukhopadhyay, MD.
Prof. & Head, Department of Laboratory Medicine
All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi 110 029

Savitri Era: Marxists knew they can't argue with Sri Aurobindo
Savitri Era Learning Forum: Science is business of finding the most parsimonious or consistent explanation or reason
Savitri Era Learning Forum: The Reality is one and not a sum or concourse #SriAurobindo
Savitri Era Learning Forum: Leibniz understood process and is a richer source than Whitehead #SriAurobindo

[Sri Aurobindo and the Revolution of India: Luc Venet has written a new biography of Sri Aurobindo’s life 1893-1910]

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mind in man poses new evolutionary challenges for the body

Dr Alok Pandey

Let’s take the example of a typical stress response. It is designed to prepare the body for fight or flight. Thus faced with any stress, the animal body reacts spontaneously and automatically with the release of chemicals that activate the muscles and redirect blood in ways and to organs that would be useful to undertake the flight or fight. The heart beats faster, the brain and the muscles fill with blood while the skin becomes pale as blood is redirected. Our breath becomes heavy to draw more oxygen, the sphincters contract, there is a shot of adrenaline from within the body leading to heightened alertness, glucose is rapidly transferred to the blood as it is the energy provider – the whole body is in a state of heightened activity ready to act in a moment. This remains for a while and once the danger is passed the response relaxes. If stress continues for long then other sets of hormones come into play, the foremost of them being steroids. Now this is very useful in the animal world where the danger and the response are largely physical and usually short-lived. 
However with the advent and development of mind in man, new situations arise that are very different from the animal world. In addition, new possibilities of intervention also begin to take shape. Thus, human beings can get stressed by the mere anticipation of a distant event that is still in the realm of a remote possibility only. They harbour grudges and make friends and foes for life leading to an escalation of stress with time. Many of these stresses cannot be solved simply by an increased blood flow to the heart and the muscles. We need to think and plan and act, find solutions through mental processes rather than pure physical ones. Nevertheless the atavistic reactions continue just as in the animal world. Even anticipatory stress leads to a heightened state of alarm, an increase in blood glucose, loss of sleep leading to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cardiac arrhythmias, mental imbalance and all the rest. The very past habit of the body, the highly beneficial response of the animal world becomes a source of problem and disease in the human world. 
It is in this sense that we can truly say that disease is indeed an evolutionary challenge. Indeed we can see today how certain meditative practices have come into mainstream modern medicine due to the stress disorders. Passing through the doors of a crisis that he alone can face, thanks to his mind, he discovers new ways and modes of life, again thanks to his mind! But the human body has still higher and deeper possibilities than we can envisage. 
A methodical programme of physical exercises can turn our muscles into steel, our legs into powerful wheels and our heart into an extraordinary pumping machine. But that would not really be a forward march but a sliding back to a left behind past. The physical consciousness has however not only the imprints of the past but also and more importantly the blueprints of the future. 

It is in this evolutionary direction that we need to develop the hardware of the body. This would need a twofold effort. First, an awakening and development of the body to its own highest human possibilities, that is, to bring the now automatic functions under a wilful, conscious and voluntary control. Next, to further sublimate the possibilities by the pressure of higher and higher energies accessible to us. The body consciousness has first to be awakened out of its animal sleep and next opened to the spiritual influences from above.

Manas: the Basic Sense Mind and Its Action All of the sense impressions delivered along the nervous pathways from the physical senses are delivered to the basic sense mind, called “manas” in yogic parlance. Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and touching are functions that utilize physical organs of sense, but only can be organized and interpreted through this sense mind. Without the attachment to the mind, the organs may mechanically record vibrations, but this does not constitute any form of observation or knowledge. Western psychology, starting from the external senses, has at times believed that the physical senses are primary and determinative, but as the science developed it began to recognize that mechanical “seeing” is not the same as observation. It takes the interpreting mind to observe.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The superficial and outward action of the senses is physical and nervous in its character, and they may easily be thought to be merely results of nerve-action; they are sometimes called in the old books pranas, nervous or life activities. But still the essential thing in them is not the nervous excitation, but the consciousness, the action of the Chitta, which makes use of the organ and of the nervous impact of which it is the channel. Manas, sense-mind, is the activity, emerging from the basic consciousness, which makes up the whole essentiality of what we call sense. Sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch are really properties of the mind, not of the body; but the physical mind which we ordinarily use, limits itself to a translation into sense of so much of the outer impacts as it receives through the nervous system and the physical organs.”

Because the inner instrument of mind is actually the observer, not the physical senses, the speculation naturally arises as to whether it is possible to cognize without reliance on the outer physical sense organs. A considerable amount of effort has been made to experiment with powers of mind that perceive and know without reliance on the sense organs. Clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, and other occult powers are actions of the manas without intervention of the physical senses. Both Western and Eastern traditions have established the factual basis for these powers. Raja Yoga makes it clear that such powers exist and can be developed and harnessed through various forms of practice and concentration. 

“Mind is able to alter, modify, inhibit the incidence, values, intensities of sense impacts. These powers of the mind we do not ordinarily use or develop; they remain subliminal and emerge sometimes in an irregular and fitful action, more readily in some minds than in others, or come to the surface in abnormal states of the being.” “Mind physical, mind supraphysical,–we have and can use this double sense mentality.” Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 5, The Instruments of the Spirit

Key words: Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga, Savitri, Veda

Thursday, October 06, 2016

French Enlightenment vision of a universal civilization vs. Romantic German notion of an authentic nation

Death, Contemplation and Schopenhauer - Page 16
R. Raj Singh - 2016 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
In Yama's instruction to Naciketas, there is nothing comparable to Milton's descriptions of hell in Paradise Lost or Dante's details of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradise in Divina Commedia. Yama for the most part expounds on the atmanjnana (“soul-knowledge”) and its relevance to authentic human existence in “this life.” There ...

Transcultural Encounters between Germany and India: Kindred ...
Joanne Miyang Cho, ‎Eric Kurlander, ‎Douglas T McGetchin - 2013 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Image-makers Schopenhauer often escapes the Saidians and post-colonialists who investigate the image of India in European thought. ... image ̄ of India in German Romanticism, but beyond Schopenhauer«s admiration of the UpaniÒads and the doctrine of metempsychosis, Willson does not see why and how he might ...

P. Myers - 2013 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
The Science of the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern. Baltimore, MD: Johns ... University Press. 1998. Walsh, Judith E. Growing Up in British IndiaIndian Autobiographers on Childhood and Education under the Raj. ... A Mythical Image: The Ideal of India in German Romanticism. Durham, NC: Duke ...

Romantic Representations of British India - Page 17
Michael J Franklin - 2006 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
The years 1780–1850 witnessed the synchronous growth of imperialism, Romanticism and Orientalism, together with the emergence of ideas of nationhood in both ... on the sphere of European intelligence.69 The rapturous and idealizing response of German Romanticism to the representations of India communicated by the ...

German intellectuals used this Indian material to argue for their own cultural superiority over the Greco- Roman world and its French inheritors. In this way, ancient Indian Sanskrit literature proved useful for German Romanticism and Nationalism, and therefore the study of Sanskrit established a dedicated following in ...

The following quote from Johann G. Herder shows not only that the conduit metaphor can be traced back at least to 18thcentury German Romanticism, but also that it was a ... 1989: 105) As another example of the use of the conduit metaphor, consider Pennycook's (1998) discussion of British colonial language policy in India.

Sakuntala: Texts, Readings, Histories - Page 209
Romila Thapar - 2011 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Romanticism preferred the less orderly aspect of the Graeco-Roman past and looked for the exotic, the unusual, the irrational, the emotional and the imaginative ... The creation of what has been called the ideal of India in German Romanticism was also conditioned by a simmering of ideas rooted in early Greek views of India, ...

Shaswati Mazumdar, ‎Claudia Wenner, ‎Sharmistha Lahiri - 2007 - ‎Snippet view
Schlegel himself considered the religion of Christianity an essential part of Romanticism. A religious element was more dominant in German Romanticism. In comparison, Indian Romanticism, Tagore, Nirala are more secular than what one ...

Hybridity, OR the Cultural Logic of Globalization - Page 45
Kraidy - 2007 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Both the French Enlightenment vision of a universal civilization predicated on human rights, scientific rationalism, and material progress (the utopian version) and the Romantic German notion of an authentic national culture threatened by the spread of soulless global forms (the dystopian variant) are outdated. Taking their ...

Dante and the Orient - Page 94 - Google Books Result › books
Brenda Deen Schildgen - 2002 - ‎Literary Criticism
Following Augusune, Dante acknowledges the existence in India of moral and religious practices, like asceticism and contemplation, similar to Christian observances. Yet the poet conceived of this world as beyond ...

Aida Audeh, ‎Nick Havely - 2012 - ‎Art
arguing in favour of 'universal humanity' and against a selfish pursuit of nationalist goals in India that would stupidly spurn the West and not free India from its social ills.36 We can see, then, that 'Narakvas ...

DanteSchopenhauer, and Joyce are obvious examples; Proust is a later addition. Perhaps Beckett was less a pessimist than a skeptic, insofar as the two positions can be separated. Certainly he retained a skepticism about the validity of his own judgments and understandings. Perhaps a skeptic requires judgments, ...

Middle Is Muddle - Page 91
Perhaps Schopenhauer might have taken the aid of the hyperbole or showed the worst side of human existence in a magnifying glass. Schopenhauer gave us a demonstration with a devastating effect, Citing Dante, at the height of his argument. True, very much true indeed Dante's inferno leads us through a thousand twists ...

CHAPTER EIGHT “A WORLD WITHOUT GOD”: EMERSON AND ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER In May 1873, Charles Eliot Norton met the seventy-year-old Emerson on board the steamer Olympus, which was sailing from Liverpool to Boston. Norton encountered a vigorous Emerson who seemed quite recovered from the ...

Nietzsche's Postmoralism: Essays on Nietzsche's Prelude to ...
of Schopenhauer's doctrines; and the essay ends, after criticizing Schopenhauer by praisingEmerson."" Why is it that an essay whose ostensible purpose is to hold up Schopenhauer as an exemplar ends by replacing his name with that of Emerson? The antepenultimate paragraph approvingly quotes a passage from ...

Nietzsche and the Problem of Subjectivity - Page 262
João Constâncio, ‎Maria João Mayer Branco, ‎Bartholomew Ryan - 2015 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Individuals are no exception to this law and their character, as “a self-evolving circle”, passes “from a ring imperceptibly small, ... to new and larger circles, and that without end” (Emerson 1883: 304). Contrary to Schopenhauer's crab, Emerson's shellfish escapes its shell when it becomes too small to contain it. In other words ...

On Emerson - Page 17
Emerson's optimism had an unshakable basis in his intuition: physical facts and logic were secondary matters with him. ... end of his life Melville read sympathetically certain passages in the works ofSchopenhauer.68 An admirer of Schopenhauer — a philosopher whom Emerson called "odious"69 — would hardly approve.

Emerson's influence on Nietzsche was enormous and can be compared to that of Schopenhauer in depth and extent. Both Emerson and Schopenhauer were important in forming Nietzsche as a philosopher and thinker, and effects of this early influence, reinforced by later reading, reverberated throughout his whole life and ...

Nietzsche and Emerson: An Elective Affinity - Page 29
George J. Stack - 1992 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
Like SchopenhauerEmerson was receptive to the influence of oriental philosophy. In "Illusions" in particular, he comes close to an aspect of the former's thought by counseling a liberation from the "kingdom of illusions," a liberation from ...