Science of the Absolute Chapter 3 - Prologue







From the theological and cosmological aspects of the first chapter through its first degree of revaluation in terms of life-energy in the second chapter, we now arrive at a more definite subjective notion of mind. Manas or mind is a more strictly conceived term in Vedanta than the term "mind" in English. In French the word esprit is more commonly used, but this has a much wider and subtler meaning than the more ordinary concept of "mind". To fix the meaning of manas as used in this chapter we have to rely on the precision brought to bear upon this ordinary notion by modern phenomenologists, who view it under two different perspectives The disciples of Hegel use the word geist, (1) having its nearest corresponding term in "esprit". We sometimes see the term "mind-stuff" as we ourselves have translated the Sanskrit term cit. For lack of any corresponding English term denoting its essential meaning we use this phrase. Modern phenomenologists have relied on the Greek term epoché (self-restraint) and when understood it is meant to be more scientific than philosophical, unlike the use of Hegel's term geist.


Manas in the Vedantic context is the seat of nescience (avidya), misdirected volition (vikalpa) and even pure volition (sankalpa). It is a factor to be abolished by anyone who aspires to a full vision of the Absolute. It has both a transcendental and an immanent content which can be finally abolished in favour of fuller vision of absolute truth or reality.


Modern phenomenologists however are not in favour of the terminology used by conventional metaphysicians. They do not seem to care for terms like a priori and a posteriori. Vedanta has no need for such reservations and limitations because of the difference of the background of historical thought which is not the same in the East and West. This we have explained elsewhere. (2)


The repugnance of many modern European thinkers for certain terms is quite understandable, but prejudices pertaining only to limited regions of the world need not hinder us from making free use of such convenient terms if we only make our own meaning clear and keep out of our mind all the confusing connotations of terms employed in philosophical and scientific literature. About the nature and peculiarities of phenomenology, we quote from its most important exponent Edmund Husserl:

"Pure or transcendental phenomenology will be established not as a science of facts, but as a science of essential Being (as "eidetic" Science); which aims exclusively at establishing "knowledge of essences" (wesenserkenntnisse) and absolutely no "facts." The corresponding reduction which leads from the psychological phenomenon to the pure "essence" or, in respect of the judging thought, from factual ("empirical") to "essential" universality, is the Eidetic Reduction.

In the second place, the phenomena of transcendental phenomenology will be characterized as non-real (irreal). Other reductions, the specifically transcendental, "purify" the psychological phenomena from that which lends them reality, and therewith a setting in the real "world". Our phenomenology should be a theory of essential Being, dealing not with real, but with a transcendentally reduced phenomena." (3)


The above quotation will not by itself reveal to the student of modern phenomenology exactly what this branch of "science" is supposed to represent. One reads pages and pages of the writings of Husserl and others meant to explain what it should not be taken to be, and also that it should not be considered a strict discipline. On the other hand, it also should not be considered as having anything to do with objective or real entities which positivists admit into their philosophy. Phenomenology openly revels in a world of appearances only given to the mind, while at the same time does not absolutely deny the real world. Yet it seems to take from the total knowledge-situation only a portion, wishing to annex it into a new discipline which strangely claims itself to be an a priori "Science of Essences," although such a title seems at first sight to be a contradiction in terms. Husserl does not use the term "real" in the ordinary sense, because his reality has a special status of its own which is hard to explain. Besides Husserl there is a wide range of modern writers who are generally included as belonging in various degrees to the same school. Some, like Sartre and Heidegger, are marginal instances, and C.G. Jung definitely has some affiliations when he calls the approach to his analytical psychology and also his own philosophy "phenomenological" (4), although his domain does not cover the same ground as Husserl who fixes and delimits it in his own way.


When experts who belong to this school find it difficult to state their case clearly, we will not dare attempt here to do the same any better.


All that we can do is to indicate broadly the frontiers or boundaries here and there so that this new movement in modern thought, which is gaining many important adherents, may be recognized by us in relation to our own interests in this chapter as representing a legitimate field of enquiry in the context of the totality of absolute knowledge. Let us first quote from Jean Paul Sartre to show how scepticism may be said to mark a certain negative limit in the progress of modern phenomenological thought. Sartre, who is famous for saying, "The essence of man is his existence," has this to say:

"Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. That being is man, or, as Heidegger has it, the human reality.

Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is. Not that he is simply what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he wills, and as he conceives himself after already existing - as he wills to be, after that leaps towards existence." (5)


Although he is not a regular phenomenologist, he can safely be considered a camp follower of the modern impetus in thought represented by phenomenology, although strict phenomenologists might not openly reveal their affiliation to religion or scepticism. However, scepticism in the case of Sartre excludes theological notions of an Absolute or a God, but not a psychological absolute, as is seen from the following:

"In order to define the probable one must possess the true. Before there can be any truth whatever, then, there must be an absolute truth, and there is such a truth which is simple, easily attained and within the reach of everybody: it consists in one's immediate sense of one's self." (6)


If we take Sartre as a kind of rearguard representative of this modern offshoot of a tradition in thought shared by Hume, Berkeley and Hegel, we are not far wrong in fixing one of the limits within which modern phenomenology moves.



One of the striking features of phenomenology which interests us is putting it into relation with the Science of the Absolute. The methodology proper to phenomenology, as we have so far shown, is the fact that there are two points of reference in it. It never loses sight of the mind or something equivalent to it, whether called self, wesen, geist, or epoché. Full absolutism and its implications, as with Hegel's notion of the mind (7), is repugnant to pure phenomenology on the one side; and on the other, uncompromising scepticism which denies all basis of belief in something non-empirical, as with Hume, is also an extreme position not favoured by phenomenologists. As with Einstein's relativity, which includes observer and observed in one and the same context for developing its theory, and as with the general Vedantic approach which relates the Self and the non-Self together into a bipolar relationship, phenomenology is an approach in which it is conversant about the mind, as Sir William Hamilton called it:

"If we consider the mind merely with the view of observing and generalizing the various phenomena it reveals, - that is, of analyzing them into capacities or faculties, - we have one mental science, or one department of mental science; and this we may call the Phenomenology of Mind." (8)


Whether the mind is given a central place as the reality with which phenomenology is concerned, or whether reality is transferred from the mind to the various phenomenal effects of which the mind is the cause, is not a question completely clear to modern phenomenologists. They tend to treat both of them as equally real. As a result, we find in the writings of Husserl much vagueness about the nature of the reality that phenomenologists are interested in. Hume would not have given any reality at all to the appearances which his phenomenology represents. Others give some sort of reality to the mind, and relate appearances to it, unilaterally stressing the unity of mind above appearance. In order to give some sort of content to pure phenomenology Husserl is seen to adopt in his writings many subtle devices so that phenomena which are illusive mental stages belong to a kind of stream of consciousness with some sort of content. Thus he refers to the epoché, which itself does not mean anything real, but can be made to refer to some elusive element in the so-called stream of consciousness. This he fixes by a process called "bracketing." When bracketed it contains an eidetic intentional epoché, which is a kind of reality as near as could be for the phenomenologist to work with. We read the following:

"This 'fact-world,' as the world already tells us, I find to be out there, and also take it just as it gives itself to me as something that exists out there. All doubting and rejecting of the data of the natural world leaves standing the general thesis of the natural standpoint. 'The' world is as fact-world always there; at the most it is at odd points 'other' than I supposed, this or that under names as 'illusion,' 'hallucination,' and the like, must be struck out of it, so to speak; but the 'it' remains ever, in the sense of the general thesis, a world that has its being out there.
We put out of action the general thesis which belongs to the essence of the natural standpoint, we place in brackets whatever it includes respecting the nature of Being: this entire world therefore which is continually 'there for us', 'present to our hand', and will ever remain there; is a 'fact-world' of which we continue to be conscious, even though it pleases us to put it in brackets." (9)


Thus we find the accent shifting from the subjective mind to the objective epoche considered as real. In the minds of those who originated the word, an epoché presents a delimited and fixed aspect as something independent of the mind. Hegel's geist or wesen still does not suggest anything of this bracketed reality which becomes definitely formulated only in later phenomenology. Brentano is considered to be the father of modern phenomenology, although all the elements of Husserl's phenomenology are not discernible in his writings. But in Brentano's theory of 'intentionality', which modifies the epistemological status of a percept or a thing by admitting it into its proper context, we have the beginnings of the modern phenomenological view:

"Only three forms of psychic activity, representation, judgment and phenomena of love and hate, are just three modes of 'intentionality', i.e., of referring to an object intended. Judgments may be self-evident and thereby characterized as true and in an analogous way love and hate may be characterized as "right". (10)


We know that Husserl and the ethical humanist Nicola Hartmann were disciples of Brentano, and Heidegger and Sartre were directly influenced by him through Husserl. Brentano, although a kind of doyen of the phenomenological school, never pushed the implications of pure phenomenology to their ultimate limits as did Husserl. Much of this hesitancy and vagueness of Husserl is lacking in Brentano who is satisfied with deriving three modes of "intentionality".


It is not hard to recognize in these modes three kinds of relations or tendencies in the domain of psychic or psychological processes. Of these, the phenomena of love and hate are axiological and belong structurally to the vertical dimension if we try to fit them into our own structural pattern. Representation is a mere horizontal movement in thought. In the act of judgment there is a choice between one or more alternatives as real, and ratiocination or logic enters into this mode of activity. This is the zone where facts and doubts about facts are involved.



To what Brentano began with as the first principles of phenomenology indicated in his three modes of intentionality, Husserl in later years gave more complete form. He has this to say about Brentano:

"This old tendency finds its most modern impress in Brentano's separation of the 'psychical' from 'physical phenomena'. It is particularly important, since it blazed a fresh trail for the development of phenomenology - although Brentano himself remained a stranger to phenomenological ground, and although with his sharp distinction, he failed to reach that for which he sought, namely, the separation of the empirical of psychology and physical natural sciences." (11)


While Husserl does not consider Brentano a phenomenologist in the strict sense, he does acknowledge the debt he owes to him, particularly on the problems of reason in the spheres of feeling and will. He writes:
"A first impulse in this direction was given through Brentano's brilliant work. "On the Origin of Social Knowledge" (1889), a work to which I am most gratefully indebted." (12)


Husserl has vaguely seen the outlines of a fourfold structural pattern, which he was able to formulate as two sets of antitheses:

"Two antitheses are involved, however: eidetic versus factual, and transcendental versus psychic. Rightly, they yield a four-fold classification." (13)


It is not hard to see how the two distinct axes of reference which we have treated as corresponding to Cartesian correlates are adopted by the science of phenomenology. The vertical is that between the transcendental and eidetic, while the horizontal corresponds to the factual and psychic. These two sets of antitheses are not, however, treated in Husserl's writings as clearly pertaining to Cartesian correlates, but references are made to correlates of some sort whenever a distinction is made between two aspects of the fourfold division. Much of the verbosity, vagueness and apparent need for coining more terms special to the science of phenomenology might have been avoided and the structural features discussed in a more geometrically finalized form. As it is at present, Husserl's writings are hard and exacting for the lay reader unfamiliar with the subtle nuances with which technical terms are sometimes bandied about. The use of some kind of structuralism as we have suggested becomes evident here. We have so far been able to recognize in Brentano and Husserl the two correlates intersecting at right angles and the three intentional zones, in terms of our own structuralism. Let us now continue with the examination of the structural dynamic features of phenomenology. The intricate language becomes evident from the quotations.



If the reader has now formed for himself even a rough idea of what intentionality means, as also the term "eidetic" as used in phenomenology, and if he has also understood what phenomenological reduction of the natural 'world about us' means, he is in a position to enter more or less correctly into the special aspects of the total knowledge-situation which is epistemologically separated as specially pertaining to this new a priori science.


To explain this in our own terminology, phenomenological reduction merely means the verticalization of the factual and empirically objective world 'about us' or 'given to us' in its horizontalized version. The intentional world is a more fluid one, or at least a finer and subtler one, with a thin and pure schematic status hidden behind fully factual appearances and brute realities. The phenomenologist retains within brackets the essential realities underlying facts. If the world of facts has a horizontal reference, the world proper to phenomenology gives primacy to a vertical reference. Husserl takes care to explain that even this horizontal reference finally belongs to the same phenomenological world:

"Sciences of experience are sciences of 'fact'. The acts of cognition which underlie our experiencing posit the Real in individual form, posit it as having spatio-temporal existence ..." (14)

As for the nature of the phenomenological reduction, we have in the previous chapter given a very elaborate sample of this method employed by Bergson to the relativity theory. The various stages of the methodology involved therein have been examined by us. The phenomenological reduction into eidetic and intentional terms of a brute horizontal version of empirically given facts is not unlike Bergson's revaluation of the factual aspects of relativity into more intuitively given aspects. The term "eidetic" refers to the pole of the mind which sees in appearances more than mere emptiness. The phenomenon of colour for example can belong to the mind or the empirical world "out there". Locke makes a distinction between primary and secondary qualities of an empirical reality corresponding to just these primary and secondary aspects when they are both put together and enclosed in brackets.


Such an enclosure is an epoché given to a psycho-physical rather than a merely physical basis in the stream of consciousness. Bracketing is a subtle process by which a simplified given reality as such is enclosed as a segment of the vertical axis taken at various levels. The object is to avoid both unnecessary factual implications and unnecessary constructions being added to facts. A simplified and colourful real world in a special sense as abstracted from the world of the facts of natural science results as a residue signified by the term "epoché".

If this bracketing is understood we can think of an epoché being bracketed at immanent and transcendental levels of the vertical axis. The immanent has ontological richness while the transcendental is richer in essences. The ontological is the noetic and the transcendental is the noematic. This free way of structural interpretation might not correspond in every respect with what Husserl has in his own mind but at least the broad outlines of what he wants to say is covered here for the purposes of our present study. We shall take care to cite below from Husserl's words so that the reader may form his own opinion in this difficult matter. Let us first begin with the noetic:

"For simplicity's sake let us limit ourselves to noetic experiences of the lowest level.
By way of illustration let us take a sensory perception, the simple perception of a tree, which we get as soon as we glance out into the garden, when, in a unitary act of consciousness, we see this tree there, at one moment appearing to be motionless, then stirred by the wind, and presenting also modes of appearance which differ greatly insofar as during the course of our continued observation we shift our spatial position in regard to it, stepping to the window may be, or changing the position of head or eyes, and at the same time perhaps relaxing the mechanism of accommodation or tightening it up.


In this way the unity of single perception can include in itself a great variety of modifications, which we, as observing from the natural standpoint, attribute now to the real object as its changes, now to a real (realen) and positive (wirklichen) relationship to our real (realen) psycho-physical subjectivity, and lastly to this subjectivity itself." (15)

Now Husserl goes on to describe what remains over as phenomenological residuum:

".... when we effect the reduction to 'pure immanence,' and what in the case should count as a real (reelles) integral part of the pure experience." (16)


Husserl now contrasts the above with the noematic factors:

"The colour of a tree-trunk, as we are aware of it under the conditions of pure perception, is precisely 'the same' as that which before the phenomenological reduction we, (as 'natural' human beings, at any rate, prior to any admixture of physical knowledge) betook to be that of the real (wirklichen) tree. Now this colour, as bracketed, belongs to the noema. But it does not belong to the perceptual experience as a real (reelles) integral part of it, although we also find in the experience a colour-like something, namely, the sensory colour, the hyletic phase of the concrete experience in which the noematic or 'objective' colour manifests itself in varying perspectives." (17)

He concludes:

"All considered, it is also quite beyond doubt that 'unity' and 'variety' here belong to totally different dimensions, and indeed that every hyletic element has its place as a real (reelles) integral part in the concrete experience, whereas that which 'exhibits' itself in its variety and 'varies perspectively' has its place in the noema." (18)



Although phenomenology deals with pure appearances, the entities with which it deals have a fully existential status. These entities do not however become statically fixed objects in the ordinary sense and whatever dynamism exists between objects is of a mechanistic order. But the interchange of essence in the heart of the real belonging to the phenomenological sphere is subject to a subtler form of dynamism, almost resembling the vital osmosis between organisms understood in more structural terms. Although to some extreme adherents of phenomenology and existentialism, such as Martin Heidegger, there is no duality between being and becoming because of the final absolutist emphasis on what really exists, Heidegger says:

"The being that exists is man. Man alone exists, rocks are, but they do not exist. Trees are, but they do not exist. Angels are, but they do not exist, God is, but he does not exist. The proposition 'man alone exists' does not mean by any means that man alone is a real being while all other beings are unreal and mere appearances or human ideas." (19)

While Heidegger only deals with what really exists, Husserl rather speaks of the dynamic process of interchange between the noetic and the noematic. A reciprocity between epochés at different levels is capable of being visualized by him. The process is not unlike the interchange between entropy and negentropy in thermodynamics, which is a favourite with those who want to represent subtle reciprocities taking place in the heart of absolute reality as was seen in the case of Costa de Beauregard. Exosmosis and endosmosis belonging to the context of the élan vital are favoured by Bergson in the name of creative evolution.


In phenomenology we see the same process represented in the language of Husserl, as follows:

"All the types of presentational modifications of which we have so far treated are always capable of being reformed on new levels in such a way that the intentionalities in noesis and noema rest on one another in descending levels, or rather dovetail into one another in a peculiar way. 
There are simple forms of representations, at further stages, at a second or third, or on essential lines, at any desired level. Memories 'in' memories may serve as an example. Living in memory we bring before us into consciousness a connected experience. We can bring this explicitly before us by first reflecting 'in' memory (which on its side is a representative modification of a primordial act of reflecting), and then finding the connected experience characterized as 'having been lived' under the form of memory. Among the experiences so characterized, whether we reflect upon them or no, memories themselves may now appear, characterized as "memories that have been lived", and we can glance through and past them on to remembered matter of the second level. And then within the connected experiences modified in this secondary way memories can once more appear, and so idealiter in infinitum." (20)

Here we are concerned with a descending dialectical process and because memory is dealt with, we can safely say that this process, which is called change of signature until it arrives at a limit, is concerned only with the negative side of the vertical axis. After the signature has been changed, then, according to us, the plus side of the vertical axis emerges. There are even "fancies of fancies" of the second degree as there are "memories within memories". This is not unlike the mathematical operations of extracting square roots or multiplying a number by itself, The former is negative in principle while the latter is positive. The change of signature implies the difference in the orientations of the process.


The implications of this are further elaborated:

"A mere change of signature (the precise nature of which we will presently learn to understand) translated all these events into the type of free fancy; we have fancies in fancies and so from one level to another the dovetailing can be indefinitely carried on.

On similar lines we may also have mixtures. Every representation essentially implies in its own procedure in respect of the stage just below its representative modifications or percepts, which through reflection - which functions so wonderfully in this process of representation, are brought to the focus of conscious apprehension; within the unity of the phenomenon of representation we may find the production of memories, expectations, fancies, and so forth, adjoining those of perceptions, and the acts of representation involved in the whole process may themselves belong to any one of these types, and all this at different stages." (21)

There is also a third variety which is important. Here it is not merely one movement which is implied, but a complex of vertical and horizontal movements. The two kinds of presentation called copy and sign must necessarily refer to the horizontal and vertical aspects respectively out of the four kinds of realities or entities that result from the two sets of antitheses already explained, Here we have to add on our own, that what is not explicitly stated by Husserl; the possibility of the horizontal aspect prevailing and dominating the vertical aspects out of all proportion. The natural world given to the usual physical sciences results from such a horizontal accentuation, belonging to the world of "copies" rather than "signs." We draw attention to this because in the text to follow there is a pertinent reference which we shall have occasion to explain more completely in the Epilogue. When causes and effects are thought of as absorbing each other and clinging together in the form of apperceptive masses, we understand something of these phenomenological entities.


Sankara calls this nama-rupa-krita-karya-karana-samghata, or "the complex consisting of names and forms and causes and effects treated together". He describes the human body as consisting of such complexes. Husserl explains these same complexes as follows:

"This also holds good of the complex types, presentation as copy and presentation as sign. Let us take an example which shows very complicated and yet lightly grasped constructions of perceptions out of perceptions of a higher level. A name on being mentioned reminds us of the Dresden Gallery and of our last visit there: we wander through the rooms, and stand before a picture of Teniers which represents a picture gallery. When we consider that pictures of the latter would in their turn portray pictures which on their part exhibited readable inscriptions and so forth, we can measure what interweaving of presentations, and what links of connection between the discernible features in the series of pictures, can really be set up. But for the illustrating of our insight into essences, in particular of our insight into the ideal possibility of carrying on the dovetailing processes indefinitely, we do not need to consider such complicated cases as these." (22)

After reading above of the individual aspects of the upward, downward and complex processes, there arises the natural necessity of giving them a general basis or formulation on which these different movements trace themselves. This brings us to the idea of the norm which is also referred to as follows by Husserl:

"With these new reflections we do not really leave behind us the problem of method. The discussions on method which we have so far undertaken were determined by the most general insight into the essential nature of the sphere of phenomenology.


It goes without saying that a deeper-reaching knowledge of this sphere - not in its details, but in its sweeping generalities - must also furnish us with standards of method of richer capacity, with which all special methods will have to link themselves up. We do not and cannot bring method to any field from beyond its boundaries. Formal Logic, or Noetics, does not give method, but the form of possible method, and useful as the knowledge of form can be in methodological matters, determinate method - not after the pattern of mere technical specializations, but after the general type of method - is a norm which springs from the main regional division of the sphere in question and its general structural forms, and therefore, in its epistemological aspect is essentially depending on the knowledge of these structures." (23)

If we now add to the picture we have so far formed another more subtle feature, we attain to a sufficiently clear idea of the implications of the mode of operation and general dynamism pertaining to phenomenology. This refers to an interesting methodological feature which is that of "cancellation" of counterparts. Here we attain to something highly dialectical in import, which we have to understand in the same light as when Hegel speaks about thesis and antithesis cancelling out into a synthesis. Hegel got lost in his own attempt to give content to the resultant synthesis and it was only in historical imagery that he visualized such a synthesis. In the purer context of a Science of the Absolute it is not difficult to see that the cancellation implied here between two elements fixed in the vertical parameter on the plus and minus sides, when fully and legitimately cancelled out, results in a central normative notion of the Absolute. Such a notion acts as a common reference for all disciplines. This cancellation need not necessarily be without some sort of residue.


It is only when the numerator of a fraction finds its own equivalent counterpart in the denominator that complete cancellation is legitimate. Otherwise when the noetic and noematic aspects are cancelled there will be a remainder of one or the other, giving a revised status to what finally results. The mechanism is very subtle and hard to imagine. The following quotation helps to clarify the matter:

"If now noematic form of service is the 'cancelling' of the corresponding positing character, its specific correlate is the cancellation character we designate as 'not'. The cancelling mark of negation strikes out something posited, or, to speak more concretely, a posited meaning' (satz), and indeed through the cancelling of its specific positional character, i.e., its ontological modality. Thereby this character and the posited statement itself appear as a 'modification of something else. Or to state the same thing differently: through the transformation of plain consciousness of Being into the corresponding consciousness of negation, the plain character 'being' (sein) turns in the noema into that of 'not being'." (24)



It is necessary to explain here how phenomenology is relevant to the subject-matter treated by Narayana Guru in this chapter. It is also necessary to examine some of the varieties of phenomenology that have come into vogue in modern philosophical thought. The first question we will discuss in the Epilogue after examining more closely the text of Narayana Guru. Now we proceed to go into the second.


Phenomenology is not a subject with strict delimitations nor one with a cut-and-dried content readily thought of as something presented with clear outlines. As a new and original branch of modern thinking, each author who engages in phenomenological writing chooses to fill the gap naturally existing in the present world of thought.


Theology, philosophy and scientific thinking have had to be divorced from each other in European thought. The scientific spirit for historical reasons had to be sceptical in content and the philosophy conforming to the same spirit was obliged to deal with God in its own original way, giving him some kind of place in a revised frame of reference. In such a revised frame ontology gained primacy over teleology and the intricacies of scholastic thought were eliminated or eased out so as to accommodate the notion of a transcendent being who participated in the pure essences of which his main attributes were to be his natural expressions.


Aristotelianism has a complementary or even rival line of speculation in both Platonism and neo-Platonism. Its subsequent offshoot was more suited to the scientific spirit than the merely theological. Aristotle thought in terms of prime matter and pure motion, and what was prior to the visible world interested him as the Unmoved Mover or the First Cause, his thought, unlike that of Plato, descended into the core of matter and reached to such notions as entelecheia (the potency that can manifest matter) and to more basic notions of the prius nobis (what is prior to knowledge). Unlike the Platonic Highest Good which is a kind of result to be attained in the possible and distant future, Aristotle brought up the rear end of the opposite pole in the progress of classical thought. Aquinas gave primacy to Aristotelianism over Platonism as represented by Augustine. He really started a revolution within the heart of theology, making it perhaps a bit more compatible with the spirit of science.

With Descartes the ontological status of God became fully established, although he had to exercise great caution in effecting such a transition and was exposed to great dangers from the Papacy.


This is sufficiently evidenced by the fact he had to suppress certain of his ideas and writings for fear of official condemnation. There is also the case of Spinoza who had to face persecution not only from his Jewish co-religionists who ultimately excommunicated him, but also from Church Christianity. In those days when closed religious tendencies ran high a philosopher always had to be on his guard.


This is roughly the background against which we have to trace the origin of phenomenology. It is really a post-Hegelian product, although when Hegelian phenomenology first comes to mind, we have to connect it with Kantian notions such as the ding-an-sich (thing-in-itself) which itself cannot be known. The epistemology of Kantian phenomenology may be summed up as follows:

"Still less can phenomenon (erscheinung) and illusion (schein) be taken as identical. For truth or illusion is not to be founded in the objects of intuition, but in the judgements upon them, so far as they are thought. It is therefore quite right to say that the senses never err, not because they always judge rightly but because they do not judge at all. Truth therefore, and error, and consequently illusory appearance also, as the cause of error, exist in our judgments only, that is, in the relation of an object to our understanding. No error exists in our knowledge, if it completely agrees with the laws of our understanding, nor can there be an error in a representation of the senses, because they involve no judgment, and no power of nature can, of its own accord, deviate from its own laws." (25)

We can even trace the origins of phenomenology to the heart of empiricism, for it is in the secondary qualities of Locke and in the phenomenalism attributed to Hume who dismissed the reality of the world of mere appearance by placing the accent on the mind. This is also the position taken by Berkeley in whom we find a phenomenological outlook. The very sources of phenomenology ultimately take us back to the pre-Socratic hylozoist philosophers who have influenced phenomenologists like Heidegger.


Although Heidegger takes care to eliminate many superficial aspects of pure Being in his own notion of the ontological essence of matter, he still retains a certain affinity with this ancient school of thought.


When the tradition of phenomenology is seen in its fullest perspective, it is not surprising to find among its representatives thinkers who are also religious like Kierkegaard, himself, and even the Zionist Martin Buber. As we have already pointed out, there are also fully convinced atheists like Sartre who have use for phenomenology. Husserl, though hardly a believer in the ordinary sense of the term, refers to God as a "necessary limiting concept". We read:

"Therefore God Himself is subject to this absolute and transparent necessity, just as surely as He is to the insight that 241=142. Even He could win a knowledge of His consciousness and its content only through reflection." (26)


In a footnote on the same page he adds:

"We are not here carrying over the conflict into the domain of theology: in epistemological reflection the idea of God is a necessary limiting concept, or an indispensable pointer in the construction of certain limiting concepts which even the philosophical atheist cannot dispense with."


Heidegger stresses the importance of establishing an under- standing once again with the Greek notion of doxa, called "glory" by him:

"For the Greeks glory was not something additional which one might or might not obtain; it was the mode of the highest being. For moderns glory has long been nothing more than celebrity and as such a highly dubious affair, an acquisition tossed about and distributed by the newspapers and radio - almost the opposite of being.


Thus glory is the fame (ruf, call, reputation, fame) in which one stands. Heraclitus says (fragment 29): 'for the noblest choose one thing before all else: glory, everlastingly abiding over against things mortal; but the many are glutted like cattle.

But to this there comes a limitation, which at the same time indicates the full richness of the context. Doxa is the regard (ansehen, looking-at, esteem) which every essence conceals and discloses in its appearance (aussehen) (eidos, idea)" (27)

Heidegger reverts back to the ancient Greek notion of glory, adding his own revaluations as he thinks fit. Marcel, a definite believer in the Christian context, is on the side of belief in an "ontological mystery."

He writes:

"To sum up my position on this difficult and important point, I would say that the recognition of the ontological mystery, in which I perceive as it were the central redoubt of metaphysics, is no doubt only possible through a sort of radiation which proceeds from revelation itself and which is perfectly well able to affect souls who are strangers to all positive religion of whatever kind; that this recognition, which takes place through certain higher modes of human experience, in no way involves adherence to any given religion; but it enables those who have attained it to perceive the possibility of a revelation in a way which is not open to those who have never ventured beyond the frontiers of the problematical and who therefore never reached the point from which the mystery of being can be seen and recognized." (28)

Marcel, earlier in his work defines being as:

"What withstands - or what would withstand - an exhaustive analysis bearing on the data of experience and aiming to reduce them step by step to elements increasingly devoid of intrinsic or significant value." (29)
Heidegger is much closer to Sartre in his definition of being:
"The essence of being there lies in its existence." (30)


Although Heidegger gives a legitimate place to the idea of God, his contribution to philosophy lies at the opposite pole of any notion of a teleological God. His pure and penetrating powers of analysis are seen to be best applied where he brushes aside all notions of Being hitherto existing in metaphysics.

Such notions according to him are not "Being as such" which always lies below and beneath metaphysical Being which eludes the grasp of the analysis of the ordinary metaphysician or philosopher. This unrevealed aspect, when rid of even the implications of such classical notions as ousia (essence) reveal a straight vertical line of light which is neither subjective nor objective, but instead leads on to the idea of Time discussed in his great work "Being and Time". This Time goes to the heart of Being itself.

He says:

"In Being and Time, Being is not something other than Time: 'Time' is called the first name of the truth of Being, and this truth is the presence of Being and thus Being itself.

 But the Time of which we should think here is not experienced through the changeful career of beings. Time is evidently of an altogether different nature which neither has been recalled by way of the time concept of metaphysics nor ever can be recalled in this way. Thus Time becomes the first name, which is yet to be heeded, of the truth of Being, which is yet to be experienced." (31)


When Being in itself is thus attained, his further analysis does not stop there. He pushed it to the very last limits of absolutist thinking when he says that Being has to imply existence as well as the Nothing. The Nothing is a dialectical counterpart of existence. Such a meeting of antinomies is fully justified in Heidegger's way of thinking.


When confronted with Nothingness, reality again gains ground in a strange way:

"How did it come about that with Being it really is nothing and that the Nothing really is not? Is it perhaps from this that the as yet unshaken presumption has entered into all metaphysics that 'Being' may simply be taken for granted and that Nothing is therefore made more easily than beings? That is indeed the situation regarding Being and Nothing. If it were different, then Leibniz could not have said in the same place by way of an explanation: 'Car le rien est plus simple et plus facile que quelquechose' (For the nothing is simpler and easier than any thing)." (32)


In tiding over the final objection of infinite regression Heidegger is able to attain the Absolute given to fundamental phenomenological ontology. Pure existence is pure Being and as established by him is beyond the taint of any possible duality.




In Kierkegaard we have an instance of a phenomenologist who in many respects transcends the bounds of phenomenology as commonly understood. In the first place he is a person given to highly mystical feelings and sentiments. His interest in ontology does not just concern itself with something real, but reveals itself in the fundamental limit of ontological analysis as also in the case of Heidegger where Being and Nothingness meet.


Kierkegaard is concerned more directly with truth and falsehood in a highly generalized and personalized context. There is a definite sense of frustration and anguish at the basis of his philosophical thinking, and which deeply colours his writing. This gives it a bold and out-of-the-way character. There is a strange absolutist note in his writing, making it very appealing to other thinkers who see in him a representative of what they want to say, and who is able to say it in a more thorough-going fashion. He is thus indirectly the inspirer of many phenomenologists and existentialists like Jaspers, Heidegger and Sartre. Paul Tillich says this about Kierkegaard:


"When Kierkegaard broke away from Hegel's system of essences he did two things: he proclaimed an existential attitude and he instigated a philosophy of existence. He realized that the knowledge of what concerns us infinitely is possible only in an attitude of infinite concern, in an existential attitude." (33)


Although Kierkegaard is not strictly an ontological phenomenologist, he could be included in the general overall context of phenomenology, in that he tacitly and even overtly adopts a completer frame of reference than what phenomenology normally requires for its upward and downward movements. A careful examination of Kierkegaard, taken together with the personal, general and overall manner of arriving at his subject-matter, reveals to us some aspects of a structural frame of reference worked out in greater detail and tacitly assumed in his writings.


The strange and moving epitaph he wished over his grave, "That individual", sufficiently indicates the master thought and key concept he had in his mind throughout his life. It was his own personality he tried to lay bare with some of its deep-seated peculiarities, especially belonging to what we might describe as the negative vertical. This is the very aspect of phenomenological ontology which others like Heidegger have tried to show. This part of the structure does not so easily reveal itself and trying to make it do so requires a certain attitude of mind and spirit which is called "anguish" by existentialists. To understand this anguish one has to think of the loneliness of the individual existing apart from the crowd which represents in formal terms the horizontal and false counterpart of the negative vertical where anguish properly belongs. The process of revealing such an anguish is like dissecting a deep-seated nerve. Only here in the present case such revealing of deep-seated tendencies has become evident to oneself subjectively and not as if on a dissecting table.


It is this subjective factor that makes the discussion difficult to accomplish in the normal metaphysics such as that of Hegel of which Kierkegaard disapproved. Another feature of Kierkegaard's approach to phenomenology is his treatment of the individual as if related at one and the same time to the sphere of politics, religion and metaphysics.


This synthesis is a new departure and very far from the academic. The individual is at once to be understood as the centre of a subtle structural scheme as also in the context of public life, both in the world of newspapers and the church-going world of ordinary Christian believers and missionaries. The strong language in which he condemns conventional Christians and group-minded political demagogues and party leaders is enough to estrange people in many official and religious quarters. Strong language is both his recommendation and his drawback, and makes him most interesting:

"The reader will also remember that here the word 'crowd' is understood in a purely formal sense, not in the sense one commonly attaches to 'the crowd' when it is meant as an invidious qualification, the distinction which human selfishness irreligiously erect between 'the crowd' and superior persons, etc. Good God! How could a religious man hit upon such an inhuman equality! No, 'crowd' stands for number, the numerical, a number of noblemen, millionaires, high dignitaries etc. - as soon as the numerical is involved it is 'crowd,' 'the crowd'. (34)

The various peculiarities of Kierkegaard's phenomenology can be examined in the light of his own words. He is fond of adopting a very intimate and informal style in order to reveal some fundamental feature of his philosophical thought. The individual is revealed globally as well as in piecemeal fashion by him. As an example of his global treatment of some of the deep seated peculiarities of the personality we read the following:

"For the truth consists precisely in that conception of life which is expressed by the individual. The truth can neither be communicated nor be received except as it were under God's eyes, not without God's help, not without God's being involved as the middle term, He himself being the Truth. It can therefore only be communicated by and received by 'the individual' which as a matter of fact can be every living man." (35)


The reference to God as "the middle term" has to be understood with all its logical, metaphysical, religious and other implications of general life, all treated together. In the light of other piecemeal analyses of structure which we shall presently quote, this reference to a "middle term"' has its definite structural implications. It is not merely to be taken as the middle term of an Aristotelian syllogism. The total human situation, when structurally understood as Kierkegaard wishes us to understand it, has a centralized point of origin where all worthwhile communicability of truth takes place between its positive and negative counterparts and can be imagined as included in a vertical axis of reference. God as the overall Witness and Supreme Judge of all Truths is an onlooker, supervisor or regulator of the communicability of truth. This is the point of apperception where the stale and conventional come to neutralize their partiality and the falsehoods inevitable to life in a crowd. The reference to the bipolar condition for truth to be communicated by one individual to another reveals how the process can only take place in a vertical axis having its positive and negative counterparts, one conceptual and public and the other felt as personal and unrevealed. The latter unmistakably refers to the negative side of the vertical axis.


Other examples of a piecemeal analysis of structure are unmistakably present when some of Kierkegaard's analogies and references are closely scrutinized . We may take the one where he imagines himself to be at a banquet and at the point where he is at maximum surfeit. In this analogy one of the butlers represents the negative and the other the positive side of the situation.

We read:

"When at a banquet, where the guests have already overeaten, one person is concerned about bringing on new courses, another about having a vomitive at hand, it is perfectly true that only the first has interpreted correctly the requirement of the guests, but I wonder whether the other might not also say that he is concerned about what the requirement might be." (36)


The structural analysis is unmistakable. This same kind of structure is found in the following quotation:

"Here one does not miss what is generally lacking, viz. a decisive categorical definition and a decisive expression for the situation: to preach Christianity .... in Christendom. Everything is put in terms of reflection. The communication is qualified by reflection, hence it is indirect communication. The communicator is characterized by reflection, therefore he is negative – not one who says that he himself is a Christian in an extraordinary degree, or even lays claims to revelations .... but, on the contrary, one who even affirms that he is not a Christian. That is to say, the communicator stands behind the other man, helping him negatively - for whether he actually succeeds in helping someone is another question. The problem itself is a problem of reflection: to become a Christian .... when one is a Christian of a sort." (37)

The zeal of Christian missionaries to communicate the "true" Christian verities to another person involves a subtle irony. The man who is most keen on communicating Christian doctrines is not necessarily the man who feels any interest in propagating Christianity from motives which are (not) truly spiritual. The true believer and man of faith is, as it were silent and stands behind the man. who pretends. The irony of this situation is brought out as follows:

"For a 'crowd' is untruth. In a godly sense it is true, eternally, Christianity, as St. Paul says "only one attains the goal" - which is not meant in a comparative sense, for comparison takes others into account. It means that every man can be that one, God helping him therein – but only one attains the goal. And again this means that every man. should be chary about having to do with 'the others' and essentially should talk only with God and with himself - for only one attains the goal." (38)


Kierkegaard's oft-repeated phrase that whatever belongs to the crowd is false reveals him to be like Plotinus who speaks about the flight of the alone to the Alone. True spirituality moves up and down in a vertical reference, although it has quite clearly a positive aspect where a congregation is present. The congregation is false, but each individual represents the truth in himself. We read the following:

"For the crowd is untruth. Hence where there is a multitude, a crowd, or where decisive significance is attached to the fact that there is a multitude, there it is sure that no one is working, living, striving for the highest aim, but only for one or another earthly aim; since to work for the eternal decisive aim is possible only where there is one and to be this one which all can be is to let God be the helper the 'crowd' is the untruth. 
The falsehood first of all is the notion that the crowd does when in fact only the individual in the crowd does, though it be every individual. For 'crowd' is an abstraction and has no hands: but each individual has ordinarily two hands. 
No, when it is a question of a single individual man, then is the time to give expression to the truth by showing one's respect for what it is to be man." (39)

The whole approach of Kierkegaard to the crowd as representing falsehood is not to be taken as factual or realistic in any sense. It is intended to have only a formal status as he already explained.


We see that although Kierkegaard does not conform to the pattern of ordinary ontological phenomenology he is unconsciously using the modes of subjectivism, selectionism, and structuralism, and even the schematismus of Kant. He is more directly interested in locating truth on the negative side of the total knowledge-situation. In this manner he is in conformity with the verses of Narayana Guru in the present chapter. The further implications of such a correspondence between Kierkegaard's negativism and the negativism of this chapter will be examined in the Epilogue, where we will appraise the individual verses.



The phenomenological impetus in modern thought reaches its culmination and its finality with the existentialism of Jean Paul Sartre. To appraise and estimate the significance of his existentialism correctly we have to think of three important circumstances.


Firstly, the brutality and suffering caused by the two world wars has sufficiently shocked the complacent mind of the European steeped in the opulence and comfort of life. There was finally a rude awakening and a search for a more firm and steady reality than what Sunday church-going religion offered. The promise of future salvation no longer appealed and idealistic Platonic realities were also too airy and thin to satisfy the needs of the age. Reality was therefore approached in all its harsh aspects including agony or anguish in actual life.


Secondly, together with these overall circumstances we have also to think of the fact that scientific theories had failed to give a definite answer to the average person's search for some stable reality on which he could regulate his life.


Matter, according to Einstein, could change its mass by its motion and space could retract and finally disappear, being absorbed into an amalgam of Time-Space. The Cartesian Correlates offered a neutral point of origin where both Time and Space went into a central reality. The vague structuralism thus offered, although it suggested something of a thin and logical or mathematical order, could not firmly hold together aspects of reality so as to offer the human spirit something easy to grasp.


Phenomenology had its distant origin in history as an urge to seek for some kind of ontological basis. On the other hand the Platonic world of intelligibles was no longer acceptable as a sufficient basis for guiding one in the search for truth. The essences constituting the best attributes of God had to be put in relation to a here-and-now existence. Post-Kantian and Hegelian philosophers had preferred such absolutist notions as the thing-in-itself, giving to such a notion a vague and questionable kind of content. Hume's phenomenology was one of mere appearances without content and value in human life. Thus philosophical thought traveled downwards from the essences in God and Goodness on High to some kind of fundamental ontology. We can guess at these successive stages by the very names applied to reality by phenomenological and existential writers. "Fundamental ontology" is the name used by Husserl, while the Christian, Marcel, speaks of the Ontological Mystery. When we come to Sartre however all the vagueness and mystery vanishes. Sartre fixes and finalizes his phenomenological ontology with the apodictic name of 'existence.' This bold statement that 'The essence of man is his existence´ has become a kind of great dictum in modern existentialism.

The negative estrangement and descent into the ontological ground of existence which offers the human being the chance of involvement comes face to face with nothingness on its opposite side as it reaches the paradoxical core in its search for stability.


This marks the point to which Heidegger´s thought finally reached. Sartre however has been able to resolve this. He says:

"Its nothingness of being is encountered only within the limits of being, and the total disappearance of being would not be the advent of the reign of non-being, but on the contrary the concomitant disappearance of nothingness. Non-being exists only on the surface of being." (40)

We know how Sartre's existentialism caught the imagination of the public and impressed youth in an out-of-the-way fashion. The wild enthusiasm that existentialism received among the youthful thinkers and creative artists of Europe gave it a form which discredited it in the eyes of respectable ecclesiastical, academic and other official philosophers. Sartre himself recently refused the Nobel Prize because he preferred to remain in the company of the so called non-bourgeois world. In a certain way this act marks the culmination of the triumph of this movement, whether more conventional and respectable philosophers look upon it with approbation or not.


One who closely examines the writings of Sartre cannot fail to recognize a philosopher who is in every respect a serious and fully trained thinker. Even his academic skill is not lacking in any way. An example of his philosophical thought is "Being and Nothingness". Nowhere in this work, which is over 600 pages long, can any discredit be given to him. Sartre fully deserves all the recognition he receives as one of the great thinkers of existentialism.


In correctly estimating the phenomenological ontology of Sartre, the third factor which we have to keep in mind is the overall demand of our times for philosophy to conform to the requirements of some sort of normative scientific thinking.


Phenomenology has sometimes been called an a priori science. Even the possibility of such a science arriving at certitude was unthinkable before Einstein's relativity theory broke into the classical notions of rigid time and space, making the universe into a kind of refined space-time continuum. Mathematical equations with long rows of digits began to enter into the "factual" calculations of Physics. Such equations and numbers could no longer be realities in the classical sense. They should only belong to another world of physics where the mind of the observer and the thing observed could enter through mathematics into a sort of intimate communion. Such a refined double-sided ground offered to phenomenology a favourable climate and soil in which to strike root and affirm itself. Although Einstein stood for universal relativity it was not hard to discover in his relativity a relativism that is the dialectical counterpart of an absolutism belonging to the same epistemological context.


Sartre does not seem to find it difficult to brush aside the implications of relativity and look upon reality in absolutist terms. The ease with which he accomplished this is unlike that of Bergson whose painful labours in reducing the real implications of relativity into absolutist terms is evident in Durée et Simultanéite. Here is an example of Sartre's approach to the subject:

"It is believed that motion is a simple affection of being because after the motion the moving body is discovered to be just as it was before. It has so often been posited as a principle that transfer does not distort the figure transferred that it has appeared evident that motion is added to being without modifying it. It is certain, as we have seen, that the quiddity of the 'this' remains unaltered. Nothing is more typical of this conception than the resistance which has been encountered by a theory like that of Fitzgerald concerning 'contraction,' or like Einstein's concerning 'the variations of mass,' because they seem particularly to attack what makes the being of the moving body.


Hence evidently comes the principle of the relativity of motion, which is marvelously agreeable if the latter is an external characteristic of being and if no intra-structural modification determines it. Motion becomes then a relation so external to the being of its setting that it amounts to saying that being is in motion and its environment at rest or conversely that the environment is in motion and the being considered is at rest. From this point of view motion appears neither as a being nor as a mode of being but as an entirely desubstantialized relation." (41)

He also makes this interesting observation:

"Man can no longer encounter anything but the human; there is no longer any other side of life, and death is a human phenomenon; it is the final phenomenon of life and is still life. As such it influences the entire life by a reverse flow. Life is limited by life; it becomes like the world of Einstein, finite but unlimited." (42)

As an ontologist and existentialist Sartre leads us to a final position in his philosophical reasonings where he refrains from going any further, saying that if he did he would be entering metaphysics. Metaphysics can afford to indulge in mere abstractions for its own sake but the existentialist, although he attains to an absolute existent reality, will not get lost in abstractions which are not real enough so as to offer to man a ground for 'involvement.' In such 'involvement' the person's deep sense of anguish still finds scope for engaging his personality within here-and-now reality.


This is where Sartre fully accepts the absolutist position. Hence he can be described as an absolutist who wants to limit himself to the real problems of life. His other dramatic and literary works develop an ethics and a value-theory related to life, wherein the anguish so pronounced in Kierkegaard also finds its place.


The following shows how Sartre is prepared to go the whole length in the direction of absolutism in his search for the fully existent in his ontology:

"Thus by abandoning the primacy of knowledge, we have discovered the being of the knower and encountered the absolute, that same absolute which the rationalists of the seventeenth century had defined and logically constituted as an object of knowledge. But precisely because the question concerns an absolute of existence and not of knowledge, it is not subject to that famous objection according to which a known absolute is no longer an absolute because it becomes relative to the knowledge which one has of it. In fact the absolute here is not the result of a logical construction on the ground of knowledge but the subject of the most concrete of experiences. And it is not at all relative to this experience because it is this experience.

Thus we have attained the ontological foundation of knowledge, the first being to whom all other appearances appear, the Absolute in relation to which every phenomenon is relative. This is no longer the subject in Kant's meaning of the term, but it is subjectivity itself, the immanence of self in self." (43)

The Absolute is not an empty word without an existential content. Sartre is a realist who wishes to look at reality with the eyes of a man firmly planted in the here-and-now. He wants to bridge the gap between a real vision of existence in the absolutist context of consciousness and its own schematic representation for serving as an aid to help in intuiting this reality. In the three dimensions of time we find that he gives full recognition to this schematic requirement:


"Temporality is evidently an organized structure. The three so-called 'elements' of time, past, present, and future, should not be considered as a collection of 'givens' for us to sum up - for example, as an infinite series of 'nows' in which some are not yet and others are no longer - but rather as the structured moments of an original synthesis. Otherwise we will immediately meet with this paradox: the past is no longer; the future is not yet; as for the instantaneous present, everyone knows that this does not exist at all but is the limit of an infinite division, like a point without dimension .... The only possible method by which to study temporality is to approach it as a totality which dominates its secondary structures and which confers on them their meaning. We will never lose sight of this fact. Nevertheless we cannot launch into an examination of the being of Time without a preliminary clarification of the too-often obscure meaning of the three dimensions by means of pre-ontological, phenomenological description. We must, however, consider this phenomenological description as merely a provisional work whose goal is only to enable us to attain an intuition of temporality as a whole." (44)

We further see evidence of this structural language in the following:

"Also the ens causa sui remains as the lacked, the indication of an impossible vertical surpassing which by its very non-existence conditions the flat movement of consciousness; in the same way the vertical attraction which the moon exercises on the ocean has for its result the horizontal displacement which is the tide. (45)

The language of Cartesian correlates is not a stranger to Sartre's phenomenological ontology. We are, therefore, fully justified in taking it for granted as a linguistic help to understand some of his intricate paragraphs in which the constant interplay of such expressions as "being-in-itself", "for itself" and "in-itself" make it very difficult for untrained readers to get at the bottom of what he means, stated in such original and unfamiliar terminology. He further uses such expressions as "being is opaque to itself precisely because it is filled with itself" and speaks of being "glued on" to itself.


Such language may be considered metaphorical and figurative only in a structural sense. In the following quotations we shall be able to recognize the structural implications which we shall ourselves take care to point out. We read as follows:

"Being is equally beyond negation and beyond affirmation. Affirmation is always affirmation of something; that is, the act of affirming is distinguished from the thing affirmed. But if we suppose an affirmation in which the affirmed comes to fulfill the affirming and is confused with it, this affirmation can not be affirmed - owing to too much of plenitude and the immediate inherence of the noema in the noesis .... But being is not a connection with itself. It is itself. It is an immanence which cannot realize itself, an affirmation which can not affirm itself, an activity which can not act, because it is glued to itself." (46)

A fully normalized notion of absolute Being is here implied. There are two aspects glued together and these are none other than the vertical plus and the vertical minus referred to as noema and noesis. Sartre continues:

"But if being is in itself, this means that it does not refer to itself as self-consciousness does. It is this self. It is itself so completely that the perpetual reflection which constitutes the self is dissolved in an identity .... This can be better expressed by saying that being is what it is. This statement is in appearance strictly analytical. Actually it is far from being reduced to that principle of identity which is the unconditioned principle of all analytical judgments. First the formula designates a particular region of being, that of being in-itself. We shall see that the being of for-itself is defined, on the contrary, as being what it is not and not being what it is. The question here then is of a regional principle and is as such synthetical. Furthermore it is necessary to oppose this formula - being in-itself is what it is - to that which designates the being of consciousness. The latter, in fact, we shall see, has to be what it is." (47)


The ontological notion of Being is here finally fixed between double negation and double assertion. It is not to be understood in terms of consciousness which bypasses Being as such. The distinction of this particular region is of structural importance. Sartre now brings contingency and possibility into the picture:

"An existing phenomenon can never be derived from another existent qua existent. This is what we shall call contingency of being-in-itself. But neither can being-in-itself be derived from a possibility. The possible is a structure of the for-itself; that is, it belongs to the other region of being. Being-in-itself is never either possible or impossible. It is." (48) 
Here the region of the possible is distinguished from what has finalized existence. Possibility refers to the horizontal axis of the for-itself, and not the vertical in-itself.

Continuing, we read:

"Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is. These are the three characteristics which the preliminary examination of the phenomenon of Being allows us to assign to the being of phenomena. For the moment it is impossible to push our investigation further. This is not yet the examination of the in-itself - which is never anything but what it is - which will allow us to establish and to explain its relations with the for-itself." (49)


This is a preliminary to the structure of Being, distinguishing Being-in-itself from just Being which refers to the totality. "Being is what it is" refers to anything outside the vertical and horizontal element Being for-itself . Sartre now speaks about the need for a unitary synthesis:

"We must take into account what is required of an existent if it is to be considered as a totality, it is necessary that the diversity of its structures be held within a unitary synthesis in such a way that each of them considered apart is only an abstraction.... The phenomenon of in-itself is an abstraction without consciousness but its Being is not an abstraction." (50)

Here Sartre wishes to stress the distinction between structure, which is an abstraction and which might have many aspects to it, and Being which can be directly intuited with the help of structural abstraction. Ontology will suffer if both structure and being are treated as belonging to the same epistemological order. We conclude with the following: 
"As for the totality of the for-itself and the in-itself, this has for its characteristic the fact that the for-itself makes itself other in relation to the in-itself but that the in-itself is in no way other than the for-itself in its being; the in-itself pure and simple is." (51)


The subtle epistemological difference of status between the "in-itself", representing the vertical and the "for-itself", the horizontal, is brought out here. They belong to two subdivisions of the same class, as between genus and species. Genus can cover species but not the converse. In other words the vertical has a more comprehensive ontological content and presupposes and includes the horizontal, as when electric current includes a magnetic field, or multiplication covers addition



It remains for us to speak about a few of the other known representatives of the phenomenological and existential standpoint. What we must note in the first place is that the original phenomenological impetus culminated in its most striking, effective and popular form in Sartre's existentialism, where it received its final outlines attaining to an almost absolutist status. The structural implications of phenomenology became quite clear and complete in this form. Ontology lost all its ambiguity and vagueness by referring directly to existence. Sartre as well as Heidegger, gave great clarity to phenomenology and existentialism as a legitimate review of Absolute Reality.


Unfortunately, the clarity of such a position. has become compromised and weakened in the hands of other existentialist spokesmen. The ontological movement which was uncompromising in its estrangement with essentialism and which clearly expressed itself by the great dictum, "Man's essence is his existence," began to be slowed down. The radical note of heterodoxy which both Heidegger and Sartre had inherited from Nietzsche and Kierkegaard (and to a lesser degree from such creative artists as Dostoevsky, Hölderlin, and Rilke) was watered down considerably in favour of considerations which were more teleological than ontological. The structural outlines became less clear and a vague form of belief took the place of a thorough-going existentialism. This has happened in such a manner that one suspects official religion and perhaps even politics of having some hand in this compromising attitude. This, however, does not directly concern us in our present study. We are not interested in taking sides with either orthodoxy or heterodoxy in such matters, but only wish to present an integrated Science of the Absolute. Such a science has first and foremost to clarify modern phenomenology and existentialism.


Of the three representatives of phenomenology and existential that we are going to pass in quick review, Karl Jaspers may be said to fulfil most sufficiently the requirement of presenting a clear and unambiguous philosophy. He is able to push the structural features and implications to further comprehensive horizons, with clearly defined limits and outlines. The ontological verity that phenomenology seeks is given its central place in a structural notion clearly emerging from his writings. He is not only interested in the vertical descent into the heart of existence, but he wishes to put the notion of existence in a total context of its own. He possesses clarity of thought and definiteness of expression. These are rare gifts of Jaspers, who is not interested in speaking for any particular religious group. One of his main achievements is his elevation of psychology and history to a more important place in existentialist philosophy. He has postulated for his theory of history a principle called the "Axial Period.' While actually Jaspers is a non-denominational Christian his generous attitude to all religious expressions is unmistakable:

"The Christian faith is only one faith, not the faith of mankind." (52)

His methodological classification of philosophy into three disciplines is most striking. These three disciplines all deal with the structural aspects of his method; they are: (1) philosophical world orientation, (2) clarity of existence, and (3) the path of metaphysics. The first one refers to the overall structural feature within which his major contribution called the Encompassing has its reality. The second refers to existence and marks the beginning of the negative descent from its point of origin. The third, which is another term for the "never-ending search for truth," clearly points to the plus side of vertical axis. As for the Encompassing, its structural implications are sufficiently clear from the following quotation:


"The Encompassing appears and disappears for us in two opposed perspectives; either as Being itself, in and through which we are - or else as the Encompassing which we ourselves are, and in which every mode of Being appears to us. Our knowledge of objects in the world has the form of relating them to one another and deriving them from one another. What appears to us is understood by understanding its relation to something else. But where, in philosophizing, we are concerned with the Encompassing, it is clear that we are dealing with something which can not be understood like some object in the world; more especially, we find that the modes of the Encompassing cannot be derived from some particular which appears in them. For example: if we call the Encompassing "Thought", we cannot derive Thought itself from anything which can be thought of. Or if the Encompassing is our consciousness, it cannot be derived from anything which appears to this consciousness. Or if it is the Whole, it cannot be derived from any individual, be it ever so comprehensive. Or if it is empirical existence, then as such it can never be derived from any determinate, objectively known empirical thing. If it is reason, then we cannot derive it from the non-rational; if it is existence it cannot be derived from any mode of the Encompassing, let alone one of its contents. In short, our being can never be derived from anything which appears to us; I myself can never be understood through anything which I encounter.

In thinking about temporal existence, one must continually run through the circuit of the modes of the Encompassing. We cannot remain static in one of its modes. Each demands the others. The loss of one mode lets all the others become false. The philosopher seeks to omit none." (53)

We see from the above that the Encompassing is Jasper's normative notion. He also thinks in dynamic terms rather than static ones.


With Gabriel Marcel, we find that he characterizes his phenomenology as an ontological "mystery," although he explains how such a thing is not to be mixed up with orthodox mysticism. It is clear that Marcel is a believer and not a heterodox nor unconventional thinker. The efforts he makes to derive from the teleological side what he wants to be ontological are sometimes artificial and forced. He uses terms like "radiation which proceeds from revelation," which the human being is supposed to experience as a reality without going outside the realm of Phenomenological thinking. Marcel's difficulties in reconciling these two points of view are evident from the following:

"Speaking more particularly to Catholics, I should like to note that from my own standpoint the distinction between the natural and the supernatural must be rigorously maintained. It will perhaps be objected that there is a danger that the word 'mystery' might confuse the very issue. 
I would reply that there is no question of confusing those mysteries, which are enveloped in human experience as such, with those mysteries which are revealed, such as the Incarnation or Redemption, and to which no effort of thought bearing on experience can enable us to attain. 
Supernatural life must, when all is said and done, find a hold in the natural - which is not to say that it is the flowering of the natural. On the contrary it seems to me that any study of the notion of created Nature, which is fundamental for the Christian, leads to the conclusion that there is in the depth of Nature, as of reason which is governed by it, a fundamental principle of inadequacy to itself which is, as it were, a restless anticipation of a different order." (54)


Marcel in trying to define ontological existence, reduces it to something of no ontological value or significance. Here he reveals himself as standing firmly on the side of belief in some sort of hypostatic value-factor. His phenomenology thus becomes acceptable to the Church. We read:
"As for defining the word 'Being,' let us admit that it is extremely difficult. I would merely suggest this method of approach: Being is what withstands - or what could withstand - an exhaustive analysis bearing on the data of experience and aiming to reduce them step by step to elements increasingly devoid of intrinsic or significant value." (55)

The last example we shall take is of Martin Buber. His background is Hebraic and he often refers to the Biblical prophets in his writings, inspired by such a non-European source, he applies Biblical standards and norms to European philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche, whose shortcomings he points out, especially by way of detracting their estimate of man as falling short of conferring a full spiritual stature to him by what he distinguishes disparagingly as their "philosophical anthropology." He traces the origins of this failing to some out-of-the-way lecture notes of Kant by an admirer of his, published in the form of a handbook. Even the Superman of Nietzsche does not come up to the expectations of Buber, because it fails to correctly give to man a central place in nature. The Superman rises above the natural context and asserts himself, and when the negative prevails he falls into a state of anguish. Such a picture presented by Nietzsche as representing man's predicament and how to rise above it is not fully satisfactory to Buber, who wants man to be given a more central place in a kind of Biblical ontological context of his own, from which position alone man could, according to him, be directly related to the world around him. Thus he is able to place man as a being among the world of things in which he is placed. Philosophical anthropology enables Buber to further analyze the broad divisions and structural implications of the relation of man with the world. Whether such an analysis belongs properly to the phenomenological and existential spheres or goes beyond into the domains of theology and religion is an open question.


But it is sufficiently clear that Buber makes an effort to approximate his anthropological philosophy as nearly as possible to conform to the requirements of phenomenological and existential standpoints. To this extent, Buber may be said to be scientific and not merely a dean of Hebraic culture, politics, and religion. The following quotation gives us some idea of the analysis of man's relation to his environment, wherein we see in the I-you and I-that principles the vertical and horizontal correlates.
We read:

"The word-principle I-you cannot be stated except by the whole of being, The my-principle I-that cannot be stated at all by the whole being.
And if you would like that I should tell you in all seriousness about what is true: man cannot live that, but he who lives only with that is not a man." (56)


Before concluding, it is necessary to explain why the title of Phenomenology is given to this chapter. The reader might notice at first glance that Narayana Guru uses the term asatya (non-existence) in this third chapter as the subject-matter, as will be seen to be indicated in the title. We have ourselves chosen phenomenology as the nearest understood expression in the context of Western thought. Phenomenology refers to a science of appearances or phenomena, and this means the same thing as asatya. It is evident, on the other hand, that this chapter concerns itself with ontology, which is reality viewed from an existential or fundamental standpoint. How the limits of this chapter tally with the scope of phenomenology will become more evident in the Epilogue. Western phenomenology, on which we have relied to find support for Narayana Guru's own vision of appearance and reality treated together on the basis of mind and its functioning, is an approach which is unilateral in that it treats of the overall phenomenon for its own sake without its natural counterpart, which is the mind.


In his treatment of this same world of appearances, Narayana Guru, as we shall presently see, approaches the same subject bilaterally as a dialectical, reciprocal, or reversible equation between the mind which is the cause and the phenomenon which is the effect. One sees in the following ten verses the dialectical methodology proper to the Science of the Absolute in full operation. An absolutist Ontology is what finally results.



[1] Hegel's own definition of the term is found in his "Encyclopaedia of Philosophy", trans. G.E. Mueller, New York: Philosophical Library, 1959, p.191: "This Mind or Spirit (Geist) is the concrete universal and substantial core of human existence....Mind-spirit (Geist) unites its own essential unity with its equally essential many partial and individual manifestations."


[2] "Search For a Norm in Western Thought" (Ch.l: Some Background Aspects), Values, Vol.11: no.3 (Dec.1965).


[3] Husserl, p. 40.


[4] Jung states: "Notwithstanding the fact that I have often been called a philosopher, I am an empiricist and adhere to the phenomenological standpoint" ."Psychology and Religion", Yale Univ. Press, 1938, p. l.


[5] J. Sartre, "Existentialism and Humanism", London: Methuen & Co. 1959, p. 27, trans. P. Mairett.


[6] Sartre, B & H., P.31.


[7] Hegel´s definition of the mind is as follows: "The subjective mind is simultaneously aware and certain of its conscious self as well as of its natural soul which it now opposes to itself as its own object and material to be shaped. The 'I am', thus, is one side of this relation and at the same time the whole relation; in being aware of myself as my own object I am self- reflection. In the world of nature light is an analogy to this: by manifesting itself it makes a visible world evident to sight."


[8] W.Hamilton, "Lect. On Metaph.", Ed. &Lon., Blackwood, 1877, Vol.I, p. 121


[9] Husserl pp. 96, 99-100


[10] Runes´ Dict., p. 41


[11] Husserl, p.229


[12] Husserl, p.359


[13] Rune's Dict.,p. 233.


[14] Husserl, p. 46.


[15 - 18] Husserl, pp.260-261.


[19] M. Heidegger, "Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre: The Way Back to the Ground of Metaphysics", edit. W. Kaufmann New York: Meridian Books, 1962, p.214.


[20] Husserl,pp.269-270


[21] Husserl, p. 270.


[22] Husserl, p.270


[23] Husserl, p.196-197


[24] Husserl, p. 278


[25] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", trans. F. Max Muller, New York: Doubleday Anchor ed., 1966, p.221 (B:349-50).


[26] Husserl, p. 210.


[27] Heidegger, "An Introduction to Metaphysics", New York: Doubleday, 1961, pp. 87-88.


[28] G. Marcel, "The Philosophy of Existence", New York: Philosophical Library, 1949, p.29.


[29] Marcel, p.5


[30] Heidegger, Exist., p.213


[31] Heidegger, Exist., p.215-216


[32] Heidegger, Exist., p.221


[33] P.Tillich, "The Courage to Be", Yale Un. Press, 1948, p.76


[34] Heidegger, Exist., p.318.


[35] Heidegger, Exist., p.97


[36] S. Kierkegaard, "Concluding Unscientific Postscript", Princeton Un. Press, 1948,p.166


[37] S. Kierkegaard, "The Point of View", trans. W. Lowrie. Oxf. Univ. Press, 1950


[38] Heidegger, Exist., p.92


[39] Heidegger, Exist., p 93-95


[40] Sartre, "Being and Nothingness, an Essay on Phenomenological Ontology", trans. HE. Barnes, London: Methuen, 1957, p.16 (1: Ch. l: 3 end).


[41] Sartre, B & N, pp.209-210


[42] Sartre, B & N, p. 532


[43] Sartre, B & N, & vii resp., (author´s intro.)


[44]Sartre, B & N, p.107 (2: Ch.II:1)


[45] Sartre, p.520 (conclusion: 1)


[46] Sartre, B & N, pp. lxv., (author´s intro.)


[47] Sartre, B & N, p.lxv (author´s intro)


[48] Sartre, p.lxvi


[49] Sartre, p.lxvi


[50] Sartre, B & N, p 622 (conclusion: 1)


[51] Sartre, B & N, p 624


[52] C. Jaspers, "The Origin and Goal of History", London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953, p. l.


[53] Jaspers, "Reason and Existence", Noonday Press, 1955. trans. W. Earle, New York:


[54] Marcel, "The Phil. Of Existence", N.Y. 1949, p.56


[55] Marcel, "The Phil. Of Existence", N.Y. 1949, p.59


[56] M. Buber, "La vie en Dialogue", pp. 7 & 29, resp. , Paris: Editions Aubier, 1960, our translation.