Science of the Absolute Chapter 7 - Prologue

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AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE

 

7. AWARENESS

 

PROLOGUE

When the ends and means of a full knowledge of the Absolute are thought of as participating with each other through the reasoning process we have the result called awareness. The Self and the non-Self, here treated dualistically, have a more intimate homogeneous parity between them. The resulting awareness is a process linking the two counterparts in terms of intuitive thought, producing various positive, negative or neutral states of consciousness.

 

Reasoning covers the same ground in a more mechanistic, conceptual and positivistic context. Positivism has to presuppose its negative counterpart; otherwise the term will have no precise meaning. The steps of ratiocination mark out the gap between the goal to be attained by thinking and the mechanical means available to thinking man. There are an infinite number of stages whereby the reasoning process moves inductively forward or deductively backward through syllogistic thinking and logical argumentation. The process becomes very complicated when all the halting places between the a priori and a posteriori aspects of thought are given separate recognition. Dialectical thinking abolishes these intermediary steps in favour of a purer intuitive process where the extremities of higher or lower value counterparts are brought unitive together.



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All these subjects belong to epistemology. We have called this chapter "Awareness" (1) because the term correctly refers to the neutral attitude proper to the context of the Science of the Absolute. Every type of reasoning is meant to agree with its purpose. In educational psychology the type of reasoning depends upon whether an idealistic, pragmatic, natural or negative result in the education of a child is desired. The proper methods vary according to the purpose. Here, however, it is easy to see that the end is the attainment of the wisdom of the Absolute.


Generally it is taken for granted that such a high aim, by its abstraction and generalization of content, abolishes all need for thinking in terms of any recognized active or passive type of intermediate reasoning. A flight of the alone to the Alone need not be marked out with any stopping places. Ends and means are abolished and the content and principle merge with each other. Although this is fully accepted by Narayana Guru, he also indicates the main intermediate phases of this two-sided process. Like the two sides of a coin or the two aspects of consciousness placed back to back, the Self and the non-Self are treated side by side or together while passing from more positive to more negative points within the total range.


We saw how Maya and its negative incertitude still had to be countered by a positive appeal from the instrument to the highest value in the previous chapter. Here this one-sidedness is not in evidence. In terms of pure reason the counterparts come together more intimately to fuse or participate with each other, yielding a unitive awareness comparable to the white glow of wisdom without any alternating mystical emotion or vibration. The unitive treatment of the counterparts is always kept in mind by Narayana Guru in each and every chapter of this series of visions. According to the normative content under reference in each chapter, different words or expressions pertaining to the Science of the Absolute are meant to be integrated here. Narayana Guru proposes to bring them together in every chapter so as to make of them a homogeneous methodology and epistemology without contradiction or gap between the concepts employed. For this reason we find usual logical terms such as perception (pratyaksha) used side by side with terms implying dialectical notions belonging to the final intuition of the Absolute.

 

Awareness is thus treated in a direct and simple manner without too much activity or passivity in its operations. It refers to a uniform value present from beginning to end, irrespective of the subjectivity or objectivity which generally divides reasoning into idealist or realist schools of philosophy. These different schools are so numerous that it is impossible to bring all of them into one inclusive group except by a Science of the Absolute where such a generalization is legitimate and advantageous.

 

We notice that the treatment by Narayana Guru keeps the positive and negative aspects of reason together in each verse so as to pass from the extreme limits of reasoning at the plus side of the vertical axis and by an imperceptible and graded descent to arrive at the negative limit proper to its total range. This is where Narayana Guru attains to an equation of the Self with the non-Self through the use of the same Upanishadic dictum found in the last verse of the fifth Chapter, sad-eva tat (the existent is even that). Here he bridges the gap between the ontological existent and its subsistent counterpart.
 

 

1. APODICTIC, DIALECTIC AND INTERMEDIARY CERTITUDE

Science as we have said at the very beginning, seeks certitude. Absolute awareness in the total context of reason must contain all the elements of certitude needed for making our inquiry of truth fully scientific. It is the global approach, taken as a whole and without getting lost in its ramifications, that can lay bare the main lines of scientific reasoning in the context of the Absolute. No kind of reasoning need be excluded from its scope; but we should not lose sight of the forest because of the trees. In so far as they can be fitted into a total whole, structural details should be included and given their legitimate place. Such details of logical or even syllogistic reasoning, yielding only a feeble degree of truth may, however, be profitably left out. The same holds true for quibbling, equivocation and eristic and sophistic argumentation serving no fruitful purpose. Verbosity should also be minimized.



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To avoid error in thinking, the main structural features should be kept in mind. The choice between the innumerable possibilities and a singular impossibility on the converse side should be envisaged together. In guiding human thought between the experimental and axiomatic poles of the total knowledge-situation, empirical control, rational method, critical scrutiny and intuition in matters of pure possibility must all cooperate together. In this chapter Narayana Guru presents his case for logic in his own way. He neither includes all the elements of logical reasoning known in the West, nor all those known in India. Instead he applies the principle of elimination of the extraneous with a drastic love of order and simplicity.

 

Syllogistic reasoning in the context of Aristotelian logic has a certain element of feeble certitude when it proceeds deductively from the general to the particular or inductively from the particular to the general. From starting premises or postulates allowing for incertitude in themselves, the major, minor and middle terms, when properly manipulated, can prove many things that are highly questionable. Such a logical approach is only a feeble instrument for a fully scientific method of reasoning.



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There are two verses in the "Atmopadesa Satakam" (28-29) confirming the same standpoint in respect of ratiocination caught between the full certitude of the a priori and the axiomatic and the a posteriori and experimental. There is a no man's land between these two certitudes: the former being either ascending or descending dialectics and the latter of an apodictic nature. Narayana Guru honours almost all such intermediate forms of reasoning by their omission from his own enumerated list of norms of awareness or certitude. For the purposes of a Science of the Absolute, feeble certitude is not good enough for him. We read in these two verses (28 & 29) this clear statement of what constitutes proper certitude:

"Bereft of bottom as of top from bottom to the crest
What transparent awareness has, turiya consciousness that is.
The inert no knowledge has! What it cogitating tells

From in-between, is no knowledge at all, do mark.
The inert, no awareness can have, awareness no cogitation needs
Nor does it hold discourse; knowing awareness to be all
And giving up all, transparency of spirit one gains,
And in body bonds confined, one suffers nevermore indeed!"

 

2. THE CORRECT POSITION OF PURE REASON

At the end of the last chapter it was indicated that the wise man was one whose Self was eternally lifted above all action belonging to the world of things and their relations. It was further pointed out that such a Self was not ultimately real, but had only a superimposed status like the false lustre of mother-of-pearl, Instrumentalism has the end result of revealing such a hypostatic Self. In this chapter, Self-knowledge is again extolled and referred to as the means of complete Self-absorption in the Absolute reached in the last chapter. It is further to be noticed that awareness belongs to the context of consciousness, and it is natural to suspect that it has already been comprised within the fifth chapter.



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But the "awareness" of the present chapter is not mere consciousness. It has to be given its proper place among the other chapters where it is also treated as serving as the means of attaining the highest goal of wisdom. The very fact that it comes after action, which is a positive state of mind, needs some explanation. Reason is always to be given a higher place than action. Here we have the indication given in the Bhagavad Gita (XII.12) where we find a gradation of items starting with abhyasa (practice) and ending with santi (peace). We read as follows:

"Better indeed is knowledge than practice; than knowledge meditation is superior; than meditation, renunciation of the benefits of action - after renunciation - peace". (2)

 
An ontological study of consciousness in its double aspect where the instrument and its activity are more intimately brought together and a more functional treatment of the same as a white glow of pure reason, is what distinguishes this chapter from Chapter 5.

 

We have to consider here the position occupied by pure reason in this scheme as seen in the graded series presented by the Gita above. The chapters of the second half of this work respect the same principle that underlies this gradation. To miss the over-all structure is to miss the true import of the chapters to follow for which it supplies the key. Immortality is promised by means of the wisdom of the Self. This is underlined in Verse 3 by Narayana Guru in order to direct our attention to the perspective proper to wisdom of the highest order and not merely to ordinary reason and intelligence.



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We have already explained how even works like the Brahma Sutras with Sankara´s commentary give ample room for ambiguity of interpretation in the name of a higher and a lower brahman (Absolute). A correct student might often feel as if he is sitting in a carriage swaying from one side of the road to the other. The speculation of Sankara moves between two alternating positions and rarely reaches finality. Such a postulation of two Absolutes, para and apara, can only detract from Sankara's own pure advaita (non-duality) and causes much confusion to those who try to follow him. The Bhagavad Gita (VI. 46) is a successful revaluation of such ambiguities arising in the commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. It introduces the important concept of yoga (dialectical unification) as a linking device bridging the duality between the rival positions by treating them as dialectical counterparts instead of as contradictory positions.
We read:


"The yogi is greater than men of austerity, and he is thought to be greater than men of wisdom and greater than men of works; therefore become a yogi, 0 Arjuna" (3)

 
Wisdom unilaterally conceived as the end result of spiritual aspiration loses itself in the world of mere effects. It is the aim of Yoga to equate causes with effects in the name of a neutral or central wisdom properly belonging to the context of the Absolute, with a dialectical reason and not just any reason unilaterally conceived. In the ninth chapter on Yoga, Narayana Guru revalues Patanjali Yoga where ends and means are kept apart and the final attainment of spiritual aloneness (kaivalya) is still vitiated by some duality. In spite of the efforts of commentators on the "Yoga Sutras" like Vyasa and Bhoja Raja, there lingers a persistent duality which the method of Advaita can abolish and banish completely. We shall come to this question in due time.

 

Even here it is important to recognize in advance this subtle distinction between a dualistic and a unitive approach so that major errors in the understanding of the final teaching of this work as a whole may be avoided. We shall therefore approach the question of pure reason in this unitive way in both the Prologue and Epilogue, referring to Kant, Hegel, Plato and others in the former and to Buddhism and other Indian sources in the latter section.



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3. KANT´S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

In a series of articles (4) already published by us we have traveled from the notion of empirical human understanding to the methodic approach of the speculative reasoning of Rationalism. This critical approach belongs to Kant where it touches an epoch-making phase in European thought. We have traced this impetus of thought further onwards into the present century where it has suffered a setback, lapsing into ways of instrumentalist thought prolonged on the lines of evolutionism such as that of Bergson and others.

 

This same impetus has finally been followed up into the philosophy of modern physics, touching its latest developments in Eddington's structuralism, subjectivism and selectionism, implying a full epistemological revision of the philosophy of science. Eddington for the first time was bold enough to say: "it is the concept that matters". In physics a direct relation to physical objects only is normally to be supposed, but with this admission of concepts, a philosophy of science may be said now to have joined hands with speculative philosophy proper or metaphysics itself.
 
 
 
We are interested in Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" because his contribution to Western thought reveals for the first time the possibility of innate ideas. His particular way of using the a priori method of synthesis as included in the scope of pure reason is another contribution of Kant´s.



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We have also to think of the acceptance of the conceptual by modern physicists after Einstein in order to keep in view the whole scope of modern thought from the scepticism of David Hume to the absolutism of Hegel which touches belief once again. The constant use by Kant of the term "transcendental" is evidence of the same point of belief, although in his eagerness to remain a critical philosopher he prefers to be called a critic, with doubting as a natural starting point, rather than a believer in the usual theological sense.

 
Scepticism and belief mark the extremities of modern thought which in Kant's Pure Reason fully reveal the two-sided affiliation to the antinomies, such as immanent-transcendent, phenomenal-noumenal, synthetic-analytic, a priori - a posteriori, etc. They all belong together "architectonically" to a total or global schematic whole. The thing-in-itself (ding-an-sich) has to be accommodated within the antinomies of pure reason. This notion of pure reason is perhaps as vague as 'human understanding', which it is supposed to replace. Nowhere do we find a clear definition of pure reason in Kant's "Critique". We are left guessing, and this is only to be expected, because any mention of the Absolute would have made Kant into a believer rather than a scientific sceptic. This leads us to believe that he must have deliberately left this question vague. Essentially, the "Critique of Pure Reason" consists in resolving some of the major problems of philosophy and science of Kant's time which called for a philosophical answer. Kant says in his philosophy that nobody can discern that anything has been left out.

 

Claiming for his philosophy a unity, totality and wholeness, he proceeds to examine the content of pure reason as having an "architectonic" unity. His preferred terms such as "schematismus" and "architectonic" apply to this global entity called pure reason which is none other than the structural normative notion of the Absolute. In fact Kant's method has been the one single encouragement we have received from the West in the matter of integrating and presenting a Science of the Absolute. The scientific character of any body of thought or discipline depends upon its unitively integrated totality



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It is when the creative mind of a philosopher is able to see the structural features of his total vision that he can systemize them through a critical examination and revision of speculation. The "thinking substance" and the "absolute substance" of Descartes and Spinoza have been carried ever into Kantian philosophy. The two aspects of res extensa and res cogitans are retained by Kant within the structure of pure reason understood without any substance as such. The transcendental moral censor at the one pole and the immanent a priori synthetic consciousness at the other together give us a pure vertical reference within the scope of which all natural sciences could be comprised at the bottom, and all pure mathematical relations at the top. Although Kant prefers not to refer to an Unmoved Mover, his "a priori synthetic" touches the same ontological, immanent and negative pole, while the moral censor corresponds to a high semi-personified factor of goodness in the world of the Intelligibles. These are some of the leading thoughts to be kept in mind when reviewing the Critique of Pure Reason.

 
We shall now begin our analysis of Kant's notion of the architectonic: First the distinction is made by Kant between pure transcendental Philosophy and its practical aspects as follows:

"Transcendental philosophy is the wisdom of pure speculative reason. Everything practical, so far as it contains motives, has reference to sentiments, and these belong to empirical sources of knowledge". (5)



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Revealing the overall structure of reason, Kant says further:

"By architectonic I understand the art of constructing systems. As systematical unity is that which raises common knowledge to the dignity of a science; that is, changes a mere aggregate of knowledge into a system, it is easy to see that architectonic is the doctrine of what is really scientific in our knowledge, and forms therefore a necessary part of the doctrine of method.
 
By system I mean the unity of various kinds of knowledge under one idea. This is the concept given by reason of the form of the whole, in which concept both the extent of its manifold contents and the place belonging to each part are determined a priori.
 
This idea requires for its realization a schema, that is an essential variety, and an order of its parts, which are determined a priori, according to the principles inherent in its aim." (6)

The claims of the a priori are now clearly stated whereby all realities belong to it:

"Now what we call a science, the schema of which must have its outline and the division of the whole into parts devised according to the idea, that is, a priori, and keep it perfectly distinct from everything else according to principles, cannot be produced technically according to the similarity of its various parts of the accidental use of knowledge in concrete for this or that external purpose, but architectonically only, as based on the affinity of its parts and their dependence on one supreme and internal aim through which alone the whole becomes possible." (7)

 
Kant is optimistic about a future Science of the Absolute when he writes:

"Hence, not only is each of them articulated according to an idea, but all may be properly combined with each other in a system of human knowledge, as members of one whole, admitting of an architectonic of all human knowledge which in our time, when so much material has been collected or may be taken over from the ruins of old systems, is not only possible, but not even very difficult." (8)



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Again a structural, all-comprehensive philosophy is envisaged by him in the following words:

"In this manner philosophy is a mere idea of a possible science which exists nowhere in concrete, but which we may try to approach on different paths, until in the end the only true path, though overgrown and hidden by sensibility, has been discovered, and the image, which has so often proved a failure, has become as like the original type as human power can ever make." (9)

The reader must recognize now the division that Kant wants to make between the perceptual a priori entering as given data, and the same a priori entities having a conceptual status. The line of demarcation is not as definite as we might wish, but it is clearly implied between the second and third metaphysical principles. The two subdivisions of immanent (a posteriori) and transcendent (a priori) aspects of pure reason are also more clearly indicated:

"Thus the whole system of metaphysic consists of four principal parts. 1.Ontology, 2. Rational Physiology, 3. Rational Cosmology, 4. Rational Theology. The second part, the physiology of pure reason, contains two divisions, namely physica rationalis and psychologia rationalis.
 
The fundamental idea of a philosophy of pure reason prescribes itself this division. It is therefore architectonical, adequate to its essential aims, and not technical only, contrived according to any observed similarities, and, as it were, haphazard. For that very reason such a division is unchangeable and of legislative authority. There are, however, a few points which might cause misgivings and weaken our conviction of its legitimate character". (10)



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Kant now goes on to explain the difference in the a priori and the a posteriori ways of arriving at knowledge:

"First of all, how can I expect knowledge a priori , that is metaphysic, of objects so far as they are given to our senses, that is a posteriori, and how is it possible to know the nature of things according to the principles a priori, and thus to arrive at a rational physiology? Our answer is, if we take nothing from experience beyond what is necessary to give us an object either of the external or of the internal sense. The former is done by the mere concept of matter, the latter through the concept of a thinking being (in the empirical internal representation, I think).

Secondly, what becomes of empirical psychology....? Empirical psychology, therefore must be entirely banished from metaphysic and is excluded from it by its very idea." (11)

He now treats of the "cosmical concept of philosophy" and a little later brings in a vertical-horizontal scheme, the vertical being "pure" and the horizontal "empirical":

"But there is also a universal, or if we may say so, a cosmical concept (conceptus cosmicus) or philosophy, which always formed the real foundation of that name, particularly when it had, as it were, to be personified and represented in the ideal of the philosopher, as the original type. In this sense philosophy is the science of the relation of all knowledge to the essential aims of human reason (teleogia rationis humanae), and the philosopher stands before us, not as an artist, but as the lawgiver of human reason.
 

"The legislation of human reason (philosophy) has two objects only, nature and freedom, and contains therefore both the law of nature and the law of morals, at first in two separate systems, but combined at last in one great system of philosophy. The philosophy of nature relates to all that is; that of morals to that one that ought to be" (12)



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Next, Kant outlines metaphysic in its absolute and all-embracing sense, as well as the other, a more limited metaphysics:

"All pure knowledge a priori constitutes, therefore, according to the special faculty of knowledge in which alone it can originate, a definite unity; and metaphysic is that philosophy which is meant to represent that knowledge in its systematical unity.

Metaphysic, in the more limited sense of the word, consists of transcendental philosophy and the physiology of pure reason. The former treats only of understanding and reason themselves ... the latter treats of nature, that is, the sum total of the given objects." (13)

 
We now come to an eliminating censorship or regulator wherein error is kept away from philosophy by descending on speculation to control it without ever losing sight of the highest aim which is 'the general happiness of the world':

For the same reason metaphysic is also the completion of the whole culture of human reason, which is indispensable, although one may discard its influence as a science with regard to certain objects. For it enquires into reason according to its elements and highest maxims, which must form the very foundation of the possibility of some sciences, and of the use of all.



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That, as mere speculation, it serves rather to keep off error than to extend knowledge does not detract from its value, but on the contrary, confers upon it dignity and authority by that censorship which ensures general order and harmony, by the well-being of the scientific commonwealth, and prevents its persevering successful labourers from losing sight of the highest aim, the general happiness of the world." (14)

Kant's pure reason thus refers to a concrete and systematic unit reality. It has an inner architectonic or schematic unity of structure comprising both concepts and percepts within its scope. When looked upon as a regulating factor in philosophical speculation in general it can even spell the happiness of mankind through its harmony. Such are some of the perspectives that come to view when we think of Kant's Pure Reason. Percepts and concepts linked together in thousands of monadic entities can disperse themselves into the nothingness of pure space if the human spirit does not put a controlling or encircling limit around what it can possibly encompass. This limit when once accepted in principle can shrink or expand its circumference in the same way as in the universe of the red or violet shift. According to the choice of a unit of measurement it could be big or small, subjective or objective, cosmological or psychological.

 

The person who exercises his choice of selection or "censorship" as to what is significant to his moral or contemplative life tries to counteract the diffusion of mental elements and their dispersion into nothingness. The ontological pole thus interacts with teleological interests as dialectical counterparts. A meditation of the Absolute is then possible in the full context of pure reason.



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This is foreshadowed in Verse 96 of the "Atmopadesa Satakam":

"The atom and the infinite thus as being and non-being
Loom from either side; this experience too
Of being as well as non-being shall thereafter extinction gain
And devoid of any basis, shall forever cease to be."


 
A further paragraph from another of Kant's works, the "Critique of Judgement", unmistakably supports this same contraction or limitation of the plus side of our spiritual life to prevent it from running away with us. For the purposes of the first verse and the dialectics implied in both the first and the last verses of this present chapter it might be helpful to keep in mind the architectonic principle. Kant says:

".....understanding is as well served and as satisfied whether imagination selects for the unit a magnitude which one can take in at a glance, e.g. a foot or a perch, or else a German mile or even the earth´s diameter ... In each ease the logical estimation of magnitude advances ad infinitum with nothing to stop it. The mind hearkens now to the voice of reason which, for all given magnitudes .... requires totality....and does not exempt even the infinite .... from this requirement, but rather renders it inevitable for us to regard this infinite .... as completely given (i.e. given in its totality)." (15)



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4. THE NON-DIALECTICAL LOGIC OF THIS CHAPTER

After grasping the basic features of Kant´s architectonic of pure reason where its essential feature represents the same normative absolute as with us; we have now to place in the same context certain types of reasoning recognized by Narayana Guru in this chapter. Ordinary ratiocinative reasoning of a syllogistic or logistic order, pertaining to a propositional or other calculus, should strictly be considered as falling outside the scope of the Awareness of this chapter. Although it is a global overall structure of pure reason on the same lines as Kant´s that interests Narayana Guru, he departs slightly from what is expected. The usual inferential and empirical modes of judgement, as well as analytic reasoning are seen included within the scope of pure reason. These latter are the normal instruments for non-absolutist speculation. Even in Indian logic the strict use of ways of reasoning such as direct empirical evidence, inference, and induction are considered to belong to the more natural or objective disciplines. The Vaiseshika philosophy, whose methods are extended into the heart of Purva Mimamsa philosophy, give more recognition to such pramanas (instruments). Strict Vedanta relies on such instruments only in a secondary fashion. It is the axiomatic and the a priori that gains primacy in Vedanta.

 

Dialectics is the verticalized equation of counterparts applied to the purpose of the full certitude of a Science of the Absolute. Dialectical reason solves the most significant and subtle problems for Vedanta and like pure mathematics its operations move up and down a vertical axis. Pre-Socratic dialectics moves in the world of existent hylozoic entities, while post-Socratic dialectics beginning with Plato moves in the world of general ideas. The former is negative while the latter is positive. These two do not however exhaust all processes of thinking. Neutral reasonings have to be legitimately included under awareness. Neutral awareness includes within its scope the awareness of simple reality as such. In this case "a spade is a spade" and nothing else. Such a judgment refers to the hub of the whole mechanics of the reasoning structure. On the minus side of this central point of origin from where awareness radiates, there is the type of reasoning which does not need any special effort on the part of the reasoner. A child counting with its 9 fingers to find out the notion of 4 is exercising its reason at almost an automatic level where the empirical data and the calculated conclusion co-exist, occupying the same negative level.



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Instead of treating pratyaksha (perception i.e. reasoning by sense data) and aparoksha, which is epistemologically the same because of being ontological, we find in Verse 6 that Narayana Guru treats these two together as belonging to each other without any difference. He is also seen to omit all references to sabdapramana (the validity of the Word). By this simple omission he places himself altogether outside any closed Vedic orthodoxy.

Both the Mimamsas are slavishly dependent on this pramana and their scientific attitude suffers because they are apparently limited by their closed affiliations. For this reason Narayana Guru is satisfied with the claims of axiomatic reasoning which by its a priori self-certitude fulfils the same role as sabda-pramana for Vedism.


 
Instead of using analogies limited to the range of Vedic and Vedantic literature considered together as a whole, Narayana Guru further emancipates the Science of the Absolute from its dependence on artificial crutches of a local and fixed character. In Verse 8, upamiti or analogy covers the same ground as indirect or figurative meaning in any science or metaphysics irrespective of its source.

 
Exegetic complications called arthavada are thus avoided. Analogy is now used even in the sciences and is coming more and more into vogue when micro- and macrocosmic structures reveal parities or mirror-image correspondences between counterparts or ensembles. The language of analogy need not be limited to the rhetorical or the figurative. Structural models and scientific equations also employ analogy for purposes of certitude. Analogy covers all the remaining requirements for certitude other than the strictly empirical and is thus fully adequate for a Science of the Absolute.



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Thus we find Narayana Guru giving a legitimate place to both pure and practical reason as forms of positive activity, bringing together the counterparts of instrument and product more intimately than in the last chapter. Pure reason is the Absolute implied in Kantian philosophy. It covers the thing-in-itself and the categorical imperative and both pure and practical reason meet in it. In Verse 5 the term yathartha (that which is) is no other than the knowledge of a thing as it is and this central certitude is the same as in Kant's "thing-in-itself". The first verse covers the vertical dialectical approach, pointing its arrow downwards, while the last verse closes the bracket from the negative limit with an equation pointing upwards. Between these two limits all varieties of helpful operations of reason originate and all are kept in their correct structural places. Perfect knowledge results when the two brackets enclose the content of the Absolute more and more firmly in the mind.
 

 

5. FOURFOLD ABSURDITIES OF NON-NORMALIZED REASON

Pure reason, as we have said, is a totality enclosed within its own plus and minus tendencies. On final analysis, it has its rightful place only within the unconscious of man. As a value it refers to aesthetics or ethics, which must control its final shape, as it were, from above, in the same way as a sculptor arrives at his perfected image by the double process of eliminating the extraneous and keeping the essential.



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Absurd reasoning, whether positive or negative, must be kept normalized by four different references. Existence has to attain an ontological a priori status belonging to absolute reason. Subsistence has to submit itself to a censorship from above where a census tends to disperse itself as meaninglessness. Reason has to hold its centralized position as referring to subsistence normalized in terms of the Self. There is a mutual double-sided correction to be applied with the transcendent and immanent factors involved. This is a precaution difficult to keep in mind, but without it our search for certitude in regard to the Absolute and its existent, subsistent and value implications can easily defeat its purpose. A rider has to sit on a horse correctly and centrally. Likewise the architectonic implications of pure reason have to be fully understood together with all possible perceptual and conceptual errors. When immanence gains, transcendence fails, and when transcendence is secured as within the grasp of dialectics the validity of immanence as truth eludes the grasp. Referring to such fourfold error we find this striking instance in Narayana Guru's "Advaita Dipika", Verse 15:

"Happiness exists, it looms within, it is one alone
As one apart, nothing is, nor looms at all.
Mirage-water, sky-blue would be unreal thus
And sky-flower, mirage sky gain ultimate reality."


 
In the domain of pure reason both scepticism and belief can be productive of their characteristic errors. Willingness to believe and earnestness to question can at times defeat the true purpose of reason. This is evident with modern logistic, the propositional calculus and mathematical reasoning with its symbolic logic, as all finally lead up a blind alley. Scepticism and analysis are the two watchwords of positivism, an approach based on empirical or demonstrable facts. Those who are ready to believe support evident superstitions offering a fecund field to fakes and charlatans. Unscientific reasoning spoils the case for both the believer and the sceptic.



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Examples of errors in the domain of belief are too many and too tragic to contemplate. History is marred by such major and minor errors. The error of sceptics, on the other hand, who claim to be strictly scientific is a more natural one and therefore less dangerous. This verity is brought out in the "Isa Upanishad" (Verse 9) when it says:

"Into blind darkness enter they
That worship ignorance;
Into darkness greater than that, as it were,
That delight in knowledge." (16)


 
We have already discussed the question of correctly placing logical positivism and allied disciplines in their true perspective in the Science of the Absolute. Even mathematicians like Tobias Dantzig discountenance such an approach as found in the logic of the "Principia Mathematica". (17) Other thinkers like S. Korner help to show that when we discredit such works as unreadable and unprintable we are not alone. S. Korner writes:

"Russell would not claim for the vicious-circle principle, and its supplementary assumptions, that it had the immediately-obvious and intuitively-undeniable character of a principle of logic; and neither would Quine claim this for his more elegant version. The logicist account of logic is philosophically inadequate beyond its mere obscurity. The original logicism of Frege and Russell becomes a thoroughgoing pragmatic logicism. In this compound name "logicism" expresses no more than a pious historical memory" (18)



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Russell's own disciple, Wittgenstein, trained along the same lines of positivistic thought, has only faint praise for the findings of his early mentor. Wittgenstein has the following interesting words:

"6.123. Clearly the laws of logic cannot in their turn be subject to laws of logic. (There is not, as Russell thought, a special law of contradiction for each 'type'; one law is enough, since it is not applied to itself). (19)

 
Wittgenstein says this about the superficiality of logical propositions:

"6. 1232. The general validity of logic might be called essential in contrast with the accidental general validity of such propositions as "All men are mortal". Propositions like Russell's 'axioms of reducibility' are not logical propositions, and this explains our feeling that, even if they were true, their truth would only be the result of a fortunate accident." (20)

 

6. THE CLAIMS OF THE AXIOMATIC AND THE DIALECTICAL

Awareness and ratiocination should not be mixed up. The exercise of pure reason takes place subtly between two of its counterparts belonging together in an intimate relationship like two sides of the same coin. They are subject to a double correction and a back-to-back position, while their reasonings take higher or lower positions within the range of conceptual or perceptual entities categorically or schematically understood.

This subtle interaction in the domain of pure reason has been compared to the process of the osmotic interchange of essences. A magnet can be treated as a whole, or when broken up into smaller lengths exhibit the same double-sided polarity. This polarity, ambivalence or dichotomy expresses itself independently of the actual length of the magnet.



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Likewise, the intensity of the attraction of a magnet considered quantitatively does not interfere with the structural pattern. Even when pure reason works within an overall context of the positive or negative side of the vertical axis, its counterparts still remain distinguishable and can be mathematically extrapolated in reference to the different physical or mental problems presented. Conditioned and unconditioned reason can thus be placed anywhere in relation to the fourfold correlates. When it is given a specific structural position at the centre or the periphery, it begins to be distinguished under inference having either a theoretical hypothetical value or a value capable of being experimentally tested in the laboratory.

 

Newton's law of universal gravitation, as we have more than once pointed out, has its experimental basis in the simple falling of an apple. The boldest of theories pertaining to the universe as a whole had thus its scientific basis unquestionably accepted, without any need for any laboratory demonstration. Newton never had to take a physicist to the farthest corners of the universe to test his theory experimentally. By common consent it was good science in itself. We have also used elsewhere the example of the Pythagorean theorem, where we find two approaches to scientific certitude: one from the experimental and a posteriori, and the other from the mathematical demonstrability through a sign language structurally dependent on a priori reason, which is in turn the essence of all axioms, yielding one and the same certitude. Thus, reason proves itself from two sides.



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Axiomatic thinking has always been an integral part of scientific thinking. It is strange to see many modern intelligent people look surprised when one makes the statement that a priori reason, which is at the heart of scientific thinking, is necessary and that otherwise no mathematical demonstrations could ever occur. This same a priori principle is present in diluted form in postulates, propositions, theorems, riders, lemmas, etc. in whatever way the proof may be found. Spinoza´s whole philosophical system employs this Euclidean approach. It is not the less conducive to certitude because of its axiomatic basis. Axiomatic thinking is in fact recognized more and more, not only by applied scientists but by all who are interested in intuitively recognizing the underlying structural features of a scientific discipline, as we have just shown in the case of Kant. The architectonic of pure reason is a global and real entity giving to the process of pure reason a power to make all the chaotic collections of judgments or predictions into a systematic and global unit. The modern trend to give greater recognition to axiomatic thinking has been alluded to by us in the preliminaries. Vedantins would say that one cannot keep one half of a chicken to lay eggs and fry the other half for eating. This is intended to bring out the fact that in any reasoning process partial reasoning has always to imply the whole. Such considerations refer to pure reasoning of a fully absolutist content. When used by Sankara and his followers this way of reasoning profits best when it employs such features as impossibility (anupalabdhi) etc., which come into the scope of pure reason from the side of what Kant calls practical reason. Such reasoning belongs, according to us, to the plus side of the vertical axis where speculation moves cautiously between the limits of the cogito ergo sum of Descartes, and Kant's censor, supporting itself on notions in the most general and difficult context of the Intelligibles which may include God. When thus totally subjected to a priori axiomatization pure reason yields a pattern into which the various kinds of awareness or pure reasoning reviewed by Narayana Guru in this chapter find their proper and legitimate places.



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To note this self-consistency in this chapter is a task most profitable for the careful reader. The resulting certitude is the very truth that makes us free. This has been underlined by Narayana Guru at the end of Verse 3, where immortality is virtually promised.

 

The intuitive status of axiomatization in the context of pure reason is exactly what brings into the same picture, as it were by an equal right, the claims of dialectical thinking. Dialectical reason is called 'pure' because the counterparts belong to the same self-sufficient and axiomatic context.

 

7. THE TOGETHERNESS OF THOUGHT IN PURE REASON

There are more intuitive versions of the same architectonic of pure reason as critically understood by Kant found in post-Kantian philosophy. Though not a Kantian, Hegel used many Kantian notions in his philosophy. Even in Aristotle and Plato there was the similar idea of the structure and the ascending and descending dialectics possible within the function or operation of pure reason in the form of absolute awareness. Reasoning by inference and analogy refers to the existent and high value aspects of pure reason when it functions in solving the most significant of human problems. On the other hand the scientific method as understood in the context of inductive-hypothetical logical calculations is full of incertitude as indicated by such terms as if, but, either-or, neither-nor, etc. Problems marked with such hesitating syllogistic reasonings can solve minor or miscellaneous problems. They serve their purpose when secondary interests prevail. In more significant wholesale matters the function of logic refers more directly to the non-utilitarian love of truth.



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Ends and means come closely together and the ascending and descending steps of reasoning glide up or down, joined as it were, back to back like the movement of an elevator with an inner reciprocity. Thought becomes fluid or more intuitional and here transcends the mechanistic steps of its own cross-sections. Pure movement is a flux. We need not go over these oft-repeated aspects here, but in order to make clear the implications of these later chapters it is necessary to examine the togetherness and the modus operandi of the elements of pure reason, functioning always as a unit organon or absolute thinking substance.


Some of these elements of impure reason are tainted with more horizontalization than others. For example, a hypothesis never attains to a full dialectical status. It could approximate at best to analogic reasoning by ascending dialectics corresponding to the upamiti (comparison or analogy) of Verse 8. The more ordinary form of inferential reasoning is called anumiti (inference) and is found in Verse 7. Here the movement is based on the association of abstract causes and effects whereby ontological varieties of existence are revealed by a descending process. Smoke is associated with fire by our familiarity with such a connection. Even when we are not present on the spot where it is directly given to the senses, we infer one from the other. This is the nature of 'inference' as explained in Narayana Guru's definition. This is not to be confused with an inference belonging to a more positivist-empirical order. It comes under the same category of awareness, characterizing the chapter as a whole. 'Human understanding' is a term referring to a weaker form of 'pure reason', when the negative empirical weight of experience is not properly balanced by a full exercise of the critical faculty. It is thus an 'incidental' certitude that could result. Absolute certitude places itself neutrally between the "incidental"' and the "accidental" probables and possibles.



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We have thus to fit all the structural aspects of pure reason together as belonging to the context of the Absolute. The most abstract horizontal implications have to be understood first and the four rival aspects or error comprising four possible non-Selfs have to be vertically and horizontally equated to the same normative Self. This is what the chapter proposes to accomplish. The Self and its four non-Self aspects are seen to be brought together as counterparts for dialectical treatment, sometimes ascending sometimes descending, and sometimes neutrally abolishing the horizontal factors, whether actual or virtual. Much penetration is required to visualize or understand the implications of this twofold and double correction.



Instead of entering into these subtleties directly we shall rely on Aristotle, Plato and Hegel who sufficiently reveal the most important features of the functioning of pure reasoning. Knowledge is stated by Narayana Guru in Verse 1 to be "one alone", while the knowledge of the absolute Self is stated in the last verse. The term yathavat found in Verse 5 is a form of apodictic reasoning fully absolutist in its certitude. Although neither Indian nor Western logic have yet given apodictic knowledge a position among forms of pure reason or awareness, they have so far remained outside the scope of absolute certitude. The term yattat-yathartha-vijnanam in Verse 5 is a function of pure awareness often found in the Upanishads. It is more than a judgement or proposition and yields a conviction helpful for arriving at final certitude about the Absolute. It is therefore a form of reasoning important for the Science of the Absolute.



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Apodictic certitude is a form of certitude which is essentially dialectical in character inasmuch as it is pure and independent of sense data. In pre-Socratic philosophy this form of negative dialectics was used by Zeno and Parmenides for resolving paradox in the world of motion and things. Aristotle, who was concerned with prime matter and the Unmoved Mover, is more interested in this form of negative dialectics than in the higher form used by Plato belonging more properly to the world of the Intelligibles. The following quotation is from Aristotle and sufficiently reveals the main characteristics of this search for certitude at the negative ontological level:

"And thinking in itself deals with that which is best in itself, and that which is thinking in the fullest sense with that which is best in the fullest sense. And thought thinks on itself because it shares the nature of the object of thought; for it becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and thinking its objects, so that thought and object of thought are the same. For that which is capable of receiving the object of thought, i.e. the essence, is thought. But it is active when it possesses this object. Therefore the possession rather than the receptivity is the divine element which thought seems to contain, and the act of contemplation is what is most pleasant and best. If God is always in that good state in which we sometimes are, this compels our wonder; and if in a better state this compels it yet more. And God is in a better state. And life also belongs to God for the actuality of thought is life and God is that actuality; and God's self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal, We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God." (21)

 
On the other hand, the ascending dialectical process portrayed by Plato reveals its main features and speaks for itself:

"And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible, although in the search after it the soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not ascending to a first principle, because she is unable to rise above the region of hypothesis, but employing the objects of which the shadows below are resemblances in their us turn as images, they having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a greater distinctness, and therefore a higher value. And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge, which reason herself attains by the power of dialectic, using the hypotheses, not as first principles, but only as hypotheses that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends." (22)



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Hegel has carried over the notion of dialectical reasoning into his philosophy. Although his dialectics do not contain all the elements of pre-Socratic and Socratic method it is still possible to see how the broad outlines are retained and employed to full advantage by this great thinker. These features were employed by the post-Hegelian philosophers but, judging by the results of their dialectics, our trust in this way of reasoning is by no means heightened. Nonetheless Hegel knew dialectics, as we see from the following:

"The whole course of philosophy is based on its own dialectical logic, whose categories unfold all ontological distinctions which pervade the life of nature and of mind. Philosophy moves from immediate or irrational experience, through rational and objectifying experience, to the realm of the absolute spirit in art and religion, wherein philosophy sees the counterpart of its own Concept in intuitive and mythical symbols. This whole way of liberation is not only a preparation for, or a way toward, philosophy; but is also within philosophy. What it works out, its own Concept, is nothing apart from the process of its continuous self-relation. Ground and end, absolute finality and absolute movement are the same.

The Concept of philosophy is truth knowing itself, the idea thinking itself, the spirit living its thought. Dialectic, the logic of philosophy, is the explication (Ur-Teil) of the Concept of all essential shapes of life, in nature, soul, mind and spirit. The movement of these living contents and the movement of dialectical thought is one and the same movement. In space and time it shines through disappearing appearances, founding, transcending, and preserving them in their true meaning.

The Concept and its self-division (Ur-Teil) terminates in three essential "conclusions" in which the three basic metaphysical spheres - the Absolute, nature, mind mediate each other.
 
Nature as a whole may be the mediating link or metaphysical 'middle term' pre-supposing ontology and making spirit possible.
Spirit, in working out the logic of its objects, makes or produces itself, and discovers its ground in the Absolute.

The idea of the Absolute as the 'middle' prevents reason from cutting the whole into separate entities. Nature and spirit are aspects of the whole in their mutual interpenetration." (23)



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The togetherness and the process involved in pure reason and awareness should be sufficiently clear from the above quotations and help in understanding not only the verses of this chapter but the rest of the work. The subtle principle of the horizontalized version of reasoning which is not brute activity, but instead refers to the same tendency in spirituality as a whole is referred to by Narayana Guru as vritti ("Activity" in Verse 2).



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This is a technical term of Vedanta applicable even to the most generalized and abstract of pure reasoning in the Self. Even when a concrete factor called avarana (a factor veiling full spiritual vision) has been successfully abolished, the negativity of Maya can persist in consciousness as its own extraverted positivistic counterpart. This form of positivity can compromise the full vision of the Absolute in a final sense. Function or vritti, even when it has a merely logical status, can be the enemy of wisdom. It can infinitesimally separate subject from object as the eternal enemy of the wise according to the Bhagavad Gita (III.39):

"Wisdom is enveloped by this which is the eternal enemy of the wise, remaining in the form of desire... which is a fire that is difficult to satiate".

 
In the second verse here it is profitable to note the backward reference to bhana darsana (Chapter 5) because of the more subtle and neutral interaction implied there between positive and negative structural aspects of consciousness. Unconditioned awareness, however, conforms to pure reason and is not therefore studied under the double aspect of subject and object, but conforms more to positive awareness than what is found in the fifth chapter where it was a form or interaction with a more ontological context. The intimacy between the counterparts of the last three chapters have also to be noted separately in the light of the reciprocity of counterparts of pure reason as analyzed by us in this chapter.



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It is always important to distinguish clearly the vertical and horizontal implications and to recognize the degrees of bipolarity, complementarity or cancellability of the counterparts to be properly envisaged by us in each of the succeeding chapters that we are to cover hereafter.



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FOOTNOTES

 

[1] Note: The verses of Narayana Guru to which reference is made, will be found on pp. 982-989.

 

[2] Bhagavad Gita, p. 522

 

[3] Bhagavad Gita, p.314

 

[4] See "Search for a Norm in Western Thought," Values, Vol. XI :3 (12/65) to XII:2 (11/66).

 

[5] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", pp. 33-34

 

[6] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.486

 

[7] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.487

 

[8] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.488

 

[9] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.489

 

[10] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.494

 

[11] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.494-495

 

[12] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.490-491

 

[13] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.493

 

[14] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", p.496

 

[15] Kant, "Critique of Judgement", trans. J. Meredith, p.26.

 

[16] Hume,p.363

 

[17] See p.387 above for Danzig's comment.

 

[18] Korner, pp.56 and 58, resp.

 

[19] Wittgenstein, "Tractatus", P.127.

 

[20] Wittgenstein, "Tractatus", P.127.

 

[21] Aristotle, P. 222

 

[22] Plato, "Republic", trans. Jowett, New York, p.252

 

[23] Hegel, pp.284-286