Science of the Absolute Chapter 1 - Prologue

 
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AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE

 

1. COSMOLOGY

PROLOGUE

 

Humanity remains as much unknown to itself as the universe to which it belongs. This is true of the cosmonaut in outer space as it is of the yogi meditating under a tree. This double strangeness in which man has found himself and still finds himself placed, is the justification for a Science of the Absolute. Ironically the mystery of the universe has become evermore deepened in proportion to the aids to vision or observation that modern science has made available. Whether this twin mystery is attributed to the observer or to the observed, together they present a master problem to be solved intelligently, now as ever before.
 

After classical science gave place to modern notions, one would have expected some of the mystery attached to the universe to have been reduced. Yet judging from the vast amount of scientific literature that is now being produced in the post-Einsteinian world of science, such a vast range of variety of points of view about the universe is presented that the world in which we live at present is becoming more complex than the one known to our forefathers. This is because the Relative and the Absolute have not yet been put together into a common unitary form.


Note: For Text in transiliteration and with commentary pp. 227-238.
 

 

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If the classical physicists were rejected because of their tendency to be rigidly absolutist in their conception of space and time, the present attitude to the same universe can be said to have fallen into an opposite error of a loose relativism more confounding still. This is a note of warning that has been sounded even by some of the most modern physicists, such as Heisenberg. One of the striking features of post-Einsteinian science is the fact that the observer and the observed now belong to one and the same structural context. The implications of such a structuralism have not yet been fully worked out. The present study is meant to be a contribution in this direction.

 

Certitude, whether scientific or philosophical, consists of relating causes with their proper effects. As far as the physical universe is concerned it is out of fashion for a modern physicist to think in terms of a total cause corresponding to a total effect which must be the visible universe. When asked to explain scientifically even a simple effect such as the colour green, the scientist is satisfied when he can give us the number of vibrations per second which to him is the cause of such an effect. He will also fit the colour green into its total context as belonging to the spectrum resulting from the spectral analysis of white light. While he is thus interested in fragmentary aspects of the phenomenal universe, sometimes analytically and sometimes synthetically, the totality of universal phenomenalism is normally outside his world of research.
 

 

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Even so, "cosmology" still comes within the scope of science, being defined in the Dictionary as "the science of the universe as a whole: a treatise on the structure and parts of the system of creation." (1)

 

Outside of sometimes referring to God as a Mathematician, no scientist, strangely enough, seems to be interested in specifying a causal principle for the universe. We have elsewhere referred to Bertrand Russell as an advocate of this kind of fragmentary or trial-and-error approach to science. A.S. Eddington himself goes one step further than this modern leader of Empiricism. He reveals himself as fully conscious of the claims of a Unitive Science (2), yet seems keen to hold the hands of his fellow scientists. He is the first to be able to state the case for a Unified Science as follows:
 

 

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"It seems to me that the 'enlarged' physics which is to include the objective as well as the subjective is just science." (3)
 
And yet he is hesitating when soon after he seems to take notice of the grudging acceptance from his fellow scientists of the claims of such an extended science when he writes:
 
"I expect I shall be accused of exaggerating the epistemological element in modern physical theory .... Thus although scientific epistemology has always been part of the domain of physics, the physicist had left it so long uncultivated that, when at last he turned attention to it, his right-of-way was questioned .... My impression is that the general attitude (among leading physicists) might be described as grudging acceptance." (4)
 

Even Bertrand Russell, whom Eddington sometimes quotes approvingly, wavers between the rival claims of metaphysics and physics even when revised in the light of an epistemology. A revision of epistemology, now agreed upon as necessary by scientists, is now allowed to encroach from nowhere as it were, into the strict preserves of experimental thinking. Without discussing the general basis of such revision we find Russell uncompromisingly taking his stand on a piecemeal approach, while accepting the possibility of a correspondence between domains as removed from each other as quantum physics and cosmology.

 

 

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This hesitation to take into account total causes or effects in respect of the microcosm can therefore be traced to the same source of scientific conservatism or orthodoxy referred to as "grudging acceptance" by Eddington above. This is not less objectionable than the religious orthodoxy of the superstitious believer who is the dialectical counterpart of this kind of grudging sceptic.

 

We can gather from these hesitations that an absolutist approach to wholesale problems is repugnant to the closed loyalties that still prevail within the scientific world at present. One would have expected this world of science to be more open than religion in adopting a bolder and more dynamic line of thought. Here it is that we are obliged to part company with scientific orthodoxy insofar as it insists on taking a partial or asymmetrical position, however slight it might be, between the worlds of perception and conception into which. we have divided the respective domains of physics and metaphysics.

 

Sir Edmund T. Whittaker was an eminent scientist of England and a close admirer and teacher of Eddington as well as a fully accredited representative of his philosophy of Science. As a Fellow of the Royal Society, his awareness of the full requirements of normalized or standardized scientific thinking is beyond suspicion, although the favours which he accepted from the Pope, who appointed him a member of the pontifical Academy of Science as well as conferring on him the Cross "pro Eccelesia et Pontifice", might make us suspect in him a religious bent of mind.
 

 

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All the same, his attitude to the way in which even theology could be brought into relation with scientific thought is particularly interesting to us as it supports our own view of theology and science as capably of unitive treatment. Whittaker, writing on this subject, says the following:
 
"In the laws of nature, known and unknown, we recognize a system of truth, which has been revealed to us by the study of nature, but which is unlike material nature in its purely intellectual and universal character and which, if the conclusion we have reached are correct, is timeless in contrast to the transitory universe of matter. Material nature has made manifest to our understanding realities, greater than itself, realities which. point to a God, who is not bound up with the world, who is transcendent and subject to no limitation. The principle that matter exists not for its own sake but in order to help us in bridging the gulf that separates us from the divine, may be expressed in theological language by saying that nature has a sacramental quality, a principle that has long been recognized in religion and can now be admitted to be not alien to the philosophy of sciences." (5)
 

 

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1. INNER AND OUTER COMPATIBILITIES

We have already quoted Hilbert's definition of mathematics as a game played according to rules or conventions. God has been sometimes compared to a mathematician by modern philosophers of science. The mathematical cause of the universe has therefore to respect all that belongs to the game of mathematics. If God is placed on one side of the question, what he created and what is produced should be jointly placed on the other side. The rules of the game of transposing factors from one side to the other, or in removing plus or minus signs to replace them with others, or even including or excluding sets or elements under different grades of brackets, involve not only the rules of the basic computing operations of addition, subtraction multiplication and division; but also of the distribution and association of mathematical elements. Abstract generalized elements must belong to the same homogeneous grade even as such. Apples cannot be multiplied by pears.
 

When thought of realistically, the God responsible for painting the wings of a butterfly or designing the tail feathers of a peacock could not be a mere mechanistic mathematician. He would rather correspond to an artist. Even as an artist, we have still to distinguish the different attitudes of God when he created a rhinoceros or a hippopotamus and then a lotus flower or a butterfly. The tiger "burning bright" with his "fearful symmetry' in a dark jungle must have been in the mind of a God who understood not only lyric but fully tragic effects as well.

 

 

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Thus we have to match each kind of maker with what he can reasonably be expected to make. Modern instrumentalists like Bergson, as we have been, turn the tables on the notion of a creator and reverse the equation by daring to say that "the essential function of the universe .... is a machine for the making of gods. (6)

 

All the implications of groups (ensembles) of one-to-one correspondence between structural aspects, topological axioms, and axioms of projective geometry as belonging to correlates in vectorial or tensorial contexts, have to be kept in mind when we try to explain cosmogony or cosmology. A man who plays a game of tennis inside a court meant for such sport cannot behave as if on the football field. Two rival players have a status as belonging to ensembles or groups, involving an either-or relation. Two forwards on the same side in football are not allowed to kick the ball forward between them. There are other varieties of ifs and buts constituting the whole range of propositional calculi entering into the structure of the game. When we think of cosmogony we have to think of a cause, maker, or God as outside the Creation, as an inventor of a game must be thought as distinct from the game itself. He must be thought of as fully enjoying the spirit of the game of Creation without necessarily participating in it. He can also take part as one of the many players on either side. In cosmology we think more
 

 

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With the mind of the man who is himself in the game. Cosmology and cosmogony together represent a total situation in which all the structural peculiarities, whether inside the mind of man or inside the cosmos itself, have to be kept in mind together.

 

Besides this kind of compatibility which is structural or mathematical, we have also to think of grades of abstraction or concreteness. Vedantic writers are sometimes in great difficulties when trying to derive an actual world from an absolute creator made of the thin stuff of pure consciousness. The problem here is to explain how the hard material "thing" can grow out of something so logically thin or subtle. We see in some Vedantic textbooks how the difficulty is explained away by an analogy of grass and herbs growing from the hard earth, or even of hair growing on the body. Sometimes they even rely on a more ingenious example, of a spider and its web, both of which are solid, the latter being said to be reabsorbed when dissolved by the saliva of the same spider be made again into a liquid within its stomach. Whether this alternating process is strictly correct biologically or not, the intention of the Vedantin is to be respected. He only wants to say that the process of creation involves a reversible reaction, and the projection of the universe alternates with its reabsorption, taking place between the creator and the created, both being situated in the total overall structure at the core of the Absolute. Time can absorb space. Thus such ideas, though antiquated, are seen even in physics compatible with the most modern version of the origin of the universe. The gravitational red shift belonging to what is called the 'Doppler effect" implies a reciprocal complementarity.
 

 

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The recent conference of top-ranking scientists in New York even seriously envisages the possibility of reversing the direction of time's arrow, hitherto considered fully irreversible. Some of the questions asked by the learned members of the American Physical Society were, "Does time flow only "forward"?" Dr. John A. Wheeler, Professor of physics at Princeton university and incoming President of the American Physical Society, said:
 
"This expansion may ultimately reverse itself. The universe would then fall back together, drawn into a mass of incredible density by its own gravity," and asked: "Will time reverse its direction of flow once the expansion shifts to contraction? Will biological processes run in the other direction? Will the dissipation of energy reverse itself? This is one of the greatest mysteries." (7)
 

 

The expanding universe is here thought of as possibly capable of contracting into a central mass of high density. Thermodynamics has given to cosmology, through Carnot and the consequent equations attributed to Boltzmann, this idea permitting us to think of a universe where forces of order or disorder alternate in psychic rather than in physical terms, along a kind of logical parameter, passing through the universe conceived quantitatively, as a whole. The will as a positive factor is implied in the vertical plus side of this structural scheme of the universe. We now quote Olivier Costa de Beauregard from his book "The Second Principle of the Science of Time" as follows:
 
"Observation, as we said, is related to the causal laws of the universe of Carnot. The finalized law of anti-Carnot, that of putting back into order, cannot be attained except through action. They are therefore hidden within the cognitive-consciousness and could not be evident except to the volitional-consciousness." (8)
 

 

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He continues:
 
"It would seem to me that everything is passing as if the universe were a gigantic cybernetic machine in which psychic factors draw elements of information which would permit them to reorganize the world on another plan, orienting them in directions which are more and more improbable. And the most surprising of the final states would be exactly the contrary of a causal explosion, that is to say, a final implosion, analogous to a swarm of small planets engendering a big one. For me the end of the world so solemnly announced in the Gospel should evidently be a formidable implosion of finality which is the reabsorption of the world at an "Omega Point" of a spatio-temporal order. It is in this sense that the excellence of the heavens shall be shaken up, that each one would feel his biological life dissolving itself in terms of its own absolute opposite, while the heavens will be folded up like a cloth of a tent." (9)
 

Here the great physicist of Paris envisages even the possibility of what he calls an integrating "implosion" taking place in the universe, by which the disintegrating explosion or even expansion is revealed as taking place peripherally, in the outermost space where galaxies recede further away as demonstrated by the red shift. This red shift, through its indirect and inferential status, tends to be more conceptual than perceptual. This is now fully accepted by physicists and cosmologists. Even anterior to present day physics, the Big Bang cosmological theory was seen to exist side by side with the de Sitter model as well as the Steady State or Continuous Creation theory of Hermann Bondi and Thomas Gold. (10)

 

 

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In all this we see how important it is to respect inner and outer compatibilities in cosmological and cosmogonic theorization. Creation and creator could belong together to the same context of cosmology or cosmogony. Looked at from an axiological perspective, a good God cannot be responsible for the problem of Evil, the existence of which no scientific philosopher can easily explain away. Leibniz put forward the theory that we live in the best of possible worlds as the corollary of his theory of sufficient reason. This dictum finally became the butt of ridicule when Voltaire referred to the Lisbon earthquake where innocent women and children, created by God, were consumed in the flames, while the "good" God looked on as the universal Benefactor of mankind. A scientific God must be responsible for both good and evil or be beyond both. Likewise, a scientifically conceived cause of the universe cannot escape the charge of being as much responsible for bad as for good. God must be good and bad at the same time to have a fully absolutist status, and this point comes into view strikingly, perhaps for the first time in Verse 8 of the first chapter of the Darsana Mala, where God is referred to as capable of creating even a world full of tragedy. Even so, the God of this chapter is represented as being as wonderful mysterious as His own creation is meant to be.
 

 

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2. THE COMMON PARAMETER PASSING THROUGH COSMOGONY AND COSMOLOGY

The osmotic interchange of liquids is a double process known as exosmosis and endosmosis respectively. This permits us to think of a process like cosmic respiration used figuratively in the Upanishads. Such a cosmic respiration finds its modern counterpart in the universe of the red shift where physicists sometimes imagine an alternating process of recession or concentration of elements constituting the universe. Such elements are light or heavy, but in spite of their further complications, they always have hydrogen as a basic element, which might have particular surrendering of energy at different levels within a scheme not unlike that of the solar system. Microcosm and macrocosm can be thought of under the same structural pattern when we forget the measurable space between them.

 

The Schrodinger equation refers to a geometrical pattern revealing the same broad structural outlines, which are also implied in Cantor's theory of groups and its further implications, as worked out in modern mathematics. The visual image which is the structural form and the theoretical invisible pattern of proper and improper elements belonging to different groups, belong together to one and the same schematic unit. We should keep in mind all the different departments or disciplines referred to in our preliminary remarks in order to be able to apply the implications of absolutist structuralism to cosmology and cosmogony. Both these disciplines are dialectical counterparts referring inclusively and reciprocally to each other as mathematical ensembles
 

 

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To bring out further details of the structural reciprocity here, let us once again refer to an analogy taken from the world of sport, and take as an example a Master Sportsman, representing the inventor and player of all forms of organized sport, such as football. Let us also think of a kind of guiding line, reference, current or string, or just a parameter of a logical order passing from one goalpost to the other, and continuing on both sides to infinity. We place the inventor, the Master Sportsman, beyond the top Omega point on this line or vertical axis, and imagine him as facing towards the plus side of infinity, where Cantor would place the product of all numbers possible as one class of all classes or ensembles. For purposes of clarification we have established an analogy here between God as the Creator and the Master Sportsman. Now imagine the man turning right about from the plus side to the minus side, which is the opposite goalpost. Let us suppose for convenience that this latter goalpost is more interesting or real to us than the one on the plus side. Such an imaginary Sportsman would come first to the goalkeeper of the plus side of the situation, then to the full back and then to the centre forward. Here he would attain a neutral point between the two opposing centre forwards. Finally he could continue in the same direction until he passed the minus side goalkeeper. We can further imagine this Master Sportsman passing beyond the goalpost even out of the field. It is the parameter or "Ariadne's thread," which this Sportsman would have traversed. As we have already said, such a logical parameter could belong equally to the world of thermodynamics or cybernetics, from both of which we have seen modern physicists and even evolutionary paleontologists like the theologically-minded Teilhard deriving so many idioms such as Omega point, Alpha point etc.
 

 

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When the Master Sportsman is outside the field and not participating in it, but just passing through, he can be compared to a cosmogonist; otherwise he would be considered a cosmologist, belonging more directly inside the cosmos or field. The world of machines, unitively treated at the logical parameter, passes untouched through such a world vertically, in thin and pure terms of information with the status of a Logos or Nous depending on whether it passes from the world of concepts to the world of percepts. It thus bears a strict analogy to the same parameter that we have related to the game of football. As cybernetics distinguishes vertical information from horizontal "noise", we have to distinguish the pure principle from the actualities of the game. God as the Creator of the universe can be considered as an effect of all possible effects. Beyond the Omega point of the vertical line, as the Master Sportsman descends nearer and nearer to the goalkeeper of the plus side, we can imagine him able to conceive mentally of the game into whose field he is about to enter. Creation in a strictly cosmological sense does not yet exist for him. As soon as he reaches the goalpost he is at the Omega Point of the situation, where his status gets changed from that of a cosmogonist to a cosmologist. When after this point he proceeds downwards in the same direction, he attains to different degrees of involvement in the actualities of the game. This involvement becomes most actual, both vertically and horizontally, when he stands between the two rival centre forwards.
 

 

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In the Brahma-Vidya-Pancakam (Five Verses on the Science of the Absolute) by Narayana Guru, there is a pointed reference to creation taking place first in nature: this refers to the minus side of the football field which is that of the home team. Such a home team in nature has to be created first with all its natural ontological and existential implications in order for God to breathe life into the pluralistic elements constituting the actual or horizontalized versions of the universe. From between the rival centre forwards the Master Sportsman can be imagined as entering into his own creation backwards, in the same way as a motorist would back his car into his own garage. If he pushes further in the same negative direction the parameter will lead him to the domain of the square root of (-1) of complex numbers. This, like Brahman in the Upanishads, resides at the tail-end of Bliss when structurally analyzed in terms of the Quaternion. The reality here is more concentrated, though in finite terms, than at any other point in the field. The home goalkeeper is all important. God himself can be made to take his position whether at the Omega, Neutral (Zero), or Alpha points: the last being that of the home goalkeeper in the total situation that we are here examining by using the analogy of the football field.
 
Some analogies are more suitable and fit certain contexts better than others. In the theological context, Narayana Guru, when composing by request a set of ten verses to be used as a common prayer for the inmates of his ashram, stated the relation of interdependence between God and man in as simple terms as possible. Even so, we find him resorting to an analogy that fits well into a modern cybernetic context, involving the same logical and actual parameters as in the case of the football game that we have just examined.
 

 

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 The Brahma-Vidya-Pancakam describes the relation between the captain of a ship and the passengers seeking to cross the sea of phenomenal being (samsara-sagara), which refers to uncertainty in the process of life progress through which the relational reference passes. The passengers are linked together by a subtle reciprocity. They depend collectively for their safety on the captain and thus the prayer fulfils the requirements that a revalued piety and theology might make desirable. What is most important here is the vertical bipolar relationship between the Captain and the passengers.

 

In another analogy of a world regulated by a pragmatic philosophy, God can be the foreman. Each worker with his horizontalized relation with the other workers gains primacy over the more conceptual parameter in the previous analogy.

 

Each type of philosophy could have its own analogy without violating sound structural requirements. If we now scrutinize all the ten verses of the first chapter of Narayana Guru's work we find that only in the first and last verses are there any theological implications. The other verses fit into logical, psychic, aesthetic or even simple biological pairs of counterparts, with each pair having a bipolar reciprocity in the overall context of cosmogony or cosmology. We notice in the very centre of the chapter, at the end of the fifth verse, that the two counterparts belong together to almost the same aesthetic context of pure phenomenology. On the other hand, when we reach the last verse the degree of reality becomes very pronounced. The seed and the fig tree are both tangible actualities in nature, they are not mathematical abstractions or entities of a merely logical order, as is the case when we consider the very first verse. In the first verse the pure mathematical vision of God as pre-existing creation looms large over his own creation, which epistemologically has only the status of the stuff of dreams.
 

 

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Such a creator must himself have the same epistemological status as his creation because we cannot violate the overall law of parity, homogeneity or one-to-one correspondence between origin and product. In Vedanta this principle is called samana-adhikarana. The same God visualized in the realistic terms natural to the last verse is compared to a tiny seed, after the manner of the mustard seed of the Bible. Ramanuja's Vedanta, which admits all specific plurality of qualities representing the Absolute, can easily be fitted into the realism applicable to both the counterparts, homogeneously as in the case of the seed and the tree. There is also a vertical symmetry of structure between the first and last verses, as well as a bilateral symmetry as found in a simple mirror image in the actual world.

 

The characteristics of the other verses not referred to here will be discussed in the commentary shortly to follow. We shall also reserve some other cosmological aspects referring to the source, cause or beginning of the world in our concluding remarks, so as to keep what is strictly acceptable to modern scientists on one side, while on the other side referring to scriptural or other theories where a priori reason prevails and scepticism gives place to belief.

 

Before entering into the scrutiny of the text it is in place here to refer to the position of cosmology as understood by some modern writers like Hermann Bondi, who has summed up admirably the full bearings and implications of both cosmology and cosmogony treated together. Inevitably, as in all sciences, the a priori and the a posteriori have to correct each other. Theories have to be verified by observations and vice versa. Bondi refers to the four basic assumptions of the German astronomer and so-called founder of modern cosmology, Heinrich Olbers:
 

 

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"Olbers made the following four assumptions about the nature of distant regions:  
  1. Viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the universe is the same everywhere, i.e. it is uniform in space.
  2. Similarly it is unchanging in time.
  3. There are no major systematic motions.
  4. The laws of physics as we know them, apply everywhere through out the universe." (11)
According to Bondi, Olbers' assumption 1. is known as the "Cosmological principle" and assumptions 1. and 2. together are the "perfect cosmological principle. Bondi continues, showing the difference between the Big Bang or evolutionary theory and the Steady State or continuous creation theory:
 
"The difference between the two theories arises from the attitude they adopt towards Olbers 'assumption 2. The so-called steady-state theory accepts this assumption of the unchanging appearance of the universe and considers the pair of assumptions 1. and 2. (also known as the perfect cosmological principle) as fundamental. Even assumption 4. (the applicability of the laws of physics) is regarded as secondary compared with the perfect cosmological principle. In the other theory assumption 2. is dropped, assumption 4. being considered the basis of the theory." (12)

 

When the Steady State theory is scrutinized it is not difficult to see that the adherence to Olbers' "perfect cosmological principle" must have an absolutist status, while the second theory gives primacy to mechanical events within a universe governed by physical laws but does not think of any "perfect cosmological principle". This second theory must be considered relativistic.
 

 

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Thus there are at present in the cosmology of modern science two complete positions both of which are respectable in the eyes of physicists, mathematicians and cosmologists. The former is fully speculative and a priori, while the latter tends to be observational and a posteriori, although it does recognize a universal law of physics. There is no violation of principle when we put these cosmological visions into a unitive scheme treating the one as being complementary to the other.

 

3. THE MERITS OF MATHEMATICAL LANGUAGE

The professional language of the modern physicist is filled with letters of the Greek alphabet put together by means of an ever-increasing number of signs for operations or functions with which mathematics tries to explain the nature of the physical world. Every advanced physics lecture room is provided with successive large blackboards, with pulleys making it easy to push them up each time one gets filled with equations. Although experts beyond geographical frontiers are able to decipher such a highly complex language it has now been pushed to such limits that the language of mathematics meant for public precision has become esoteric. Thus communication between the expert and the laymen is completely ruptured. Eddington's figure representing the number of protons and the same number of electrons in the universe runs into eighty digits. (13)

 

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This number evidently makes no meaning to the common person, or even to the unsophisticated outsider interested in science. Meaningless expressions can be considered as good as not being expressed at all. In making this statement we are glad to find at least one modern cosmologist, Hermann. Bondi, who says:
 
"Intuitive reactions, such as the difficulty of imagining various strange and remarkable features of a theory (in astronomy and cosmology these include temperatures of millions of degrees, creation of matter, enormous velocities, etc.) and are of secondary importance." (14)
 

It is also important to point out that in the domains of both physics and cosmology it is particularly true that the failure of experiments gives more information than their success. A striking example of this is the Michelson-Morley experiment which, by its failure to confirm the existence of a ponderable ether, gave room for Einstein's theory of relativity to get its initial impetus. Generally experiments cannot be conducted in outer space and when possible turn out to have only an indirect and inferential status as in the case of the red shift, proving Hubble's Law and the recession of the galaxies. In all other matters, theorization in cosmology strangely resembles metaphysical speculation rather than empirical validity, Herman Bondi admits the negative value of experimentation, especially in cosmology, when he writes:

"Of course this step does not imply that the perfect cosmological principle is correct; but its fruitfulness is self-evident, since the principle leads without further assumptions to predictions susceptible of observational disproof." (15)
 

 

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Further on, Bondi continues: "Theories must not only agree with the facts; they must be so constructed as to facilitate attempts at empirical disproof." (16)
 

The merits of mathematical and scientific language when pushed to extreme limits can defeat the purpose of language altogether. Eddington points out in an admirable paragraph how common sense has necessarily to part company with a scientist when he begins to describe even simple events in strict scientific language:

"I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun - a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away .... To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies. Shall I not slip through? No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me and gives a boost up again; I fall again and am knocked upwards by another fly; and so on ....
Verily it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door." (17)
 
 
We have said enough here to show that there is nothing much to choose between the old fashioned language of mythology, in which most cosmological statements are made in many of the wisdom texts of the world, and the strictly scientific jargon now emerging into view in scientific literature. Except for its communicability to serve experts across frontiers, it has an irritating feature. Edna Kramer speaks of this when she refers to the "spinners of popular-science yarns in the early days of relativity,"  (18) who were recognized to be wrong later, in the light of revised epistemology. Thus the myth-making instinct in man is never at rest even within the so-called preserves of science.
 

 

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As for our own attitude in this study, we always refer to a normative notion, whether we examine a scientific statement claiming to use mathematical language, or when we find a statement in some ancient text which happens to be wearing a mythological garb. How to distinguish between these two languages we shall explain presently.

 

 

4. THE PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE OF EACH CHAPTER DISTINGUISHED

As promised at the end of the Preliminaries, we have here to explain how we intend to draw the line of demarcation between what we propose to include as properly belonging to the Prologue and Epilogue of each chapter. Our own position is to give equality of status to both the a priori and the a posteriori.

 

We know that Francis Bacon and Auguste Comte insisted on a certain new attitude in the ordering of modern progress in human understanding. The very name Novum Organum is meant to support Bacon's claim that he takes a different point of view from the Organon of Aristotelian Philosophy and science. Accordingly, Comte on the continent of Europe felt the same need for revising an approach into what he called "positivistic" thought or philosophy By the term "positive" he meant that the merely theological and metaphysical methods of previous generations must give place to a more scientific attitude. This attitude would permit one to formulate laws, not necessarily absolutist in character, but which nevertheless would include analytically within their own scope many phenomenal aspects of the universe. A "matter-of-fact", a posteriori and analytical approach is implied in the protest made by these two more modern thinkers. We concede that there is some justification for their feelings in the matter, but we cannot agree that one can afford to be completely new or "positive" in the sense claimed by both Bacon and Comte.

  

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The greatest name in cosmology of the last 250 years is that of Isaac Newton. Newton is in some respects a positivist, breaking away from his classical scholastic background, when he boldly takes a revised stand of his own. Yet we find in his formulation of the theory of gravitation that all his originality in cosmology depends merely on the fact that he happened, one day, to be sufficiently stimulated by the simple event of an apple falling from a tree. The event enabled him to make use of the astronomical and mathematical tradition he had inherited from Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, and others. Newton once remarked that in formulating his theories and laws, he was helped by "standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past."

  
His own share in the discovery of the infinitesimal calculus along with Leibniz gave a highly abstract mathematical picture of the universe, whose implications he visualized and also calculated so as to be able to offer attractive theories about questions such as how the moon could keep to its orbit around the earth instead of flying off at a tangent. A large body of mathematical knowledge pre-existed in the mind of Newton. Newton could also be said to be a positivist even before Comte, if his mathematics were to be considered as having a positivist character. In our own days we know that if one should take away the framework of mathematics, modern cosmologists would find themselves completely helpless. Mathematics has now attained an elaboration, complication and perfection of its own, sufficient to lend itself to be the basis of epoch-making is theories of the universe, whether macrocosmic or microcosmic, such as those of Einstein and Max Planck.
 

The structure of the universe outside the consciousness of man is now seen to conform to the same structure within the observer.

 
 
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Thus the observer and the observed belong epistemologically to one and the same unified or unitary context. Mathematics as a science tends to be, at least implicitly, a model for all sciences, thus tacitly attaining to the status of a Science of Sciences. When, side by side with this, we consider that mathematics is essentially a logic or a language with full semantic implication, it is not hard to see how the language proper to a Unified Science of the future has necessarily to be built around, or at least with the help of, mathematical scaffoldings. Such an edifice is still to be erected but at present we could assert that the basement of it has already been laid.
 
 
As previously mentioned, we have elsewhere devoted a monograph to this possibility of an integrated language wherein visible and intelligible mathematical elements can characterize each other so as to make a language for science possible. This was the unaccomplished dream of Leibniz. Such a mathematical language when fully explained and elaborated would help us to discriminate properly between the domain of scientific literature, which has been subjected to mathematical and thus truly positivist analysis or synthesis, and the large body of extant traditional and "negative" or scriptural literature proper to different cultural backgrounds, whether Semitic, Greek, Chinese, or Hindu.

 

Each of these growths has its own favourite idioms and ideograms, often coloured by myths, fables, allegories or parables of their own. Comte would naturally not call such mythology "positive", in fact he condemned it as primitive and as belonging to the infantile stage in the progress of human understanding. We do not, however, agree with him completely because it is possible to interpret even the most complicated of primitive myths in the light of their own pure intentions necessarily having a common human origin. What is natural to humankind cannot be wholly untrue or unscientific.
 

 

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Comte himself indirectly admitted such a possibility, as we see from his biography, showing how he established a church dedicated to Humanity with his own ecclesiastical order, and a ritualism closely resembling that of the Roman Catholic Church. (18)
 

 Blind ritualism cannot be more excusable than reliance on mythological language. Both might call for sympathetic intuitive understanding. It is possible to fit rare specimens of speculative cosmological descriptions or visions into the same normative frame of reference which we ourselves recommend here. Thus there is a positive and a negative side recognizable in philosophical literature within whose rival limits a strict scientific language could properly belong. We shall, for our purposes at least, consider such a scientific language as positive. To the extent that a literature or its language relies on the figurative language of parables or allegories we can characterize it as negative. We have to remember however, that even these forms of expression could be interchanged and understood as belonging to a revised proto-linguistic context. This context would recognize the four possibilities implied in the total structural situation of a new scientific language based on the ancient notion of the quaternion, which was known even to Milton, who referred to it as running through all the elements when he wrote: 

"Ye elements, the eldest birth of nature's womb, that in quaternion run"
 

 When we say that mythological language is negative, we have to bear in mind how it is so only in a fully verticalized immanent-transcendent context as in the Transcendental Aesthetic of Kant.

 

 224

 

 

The positive side of the horizontal axis, on the other hand, refers to the actual, as in the world of simple experiments, in terms of which Francis Bacon begins to explain scientific method when he reduces all fruitful scientific activity to the simple pattern of taking apart or putting together two objects. We read from Bacon: 
 
"Towards the effecting of works, all that man can do is to put together or put asunder natural bodies. The rest is done by nature working within." (20)
 

Einstein distinguishes the gravitational field from the inertial field and has for the former a verticalized version of reality including time. This was not necessary for his limited theory of relativity which concerned itself only with the inertial field. Thus both the Aristotelian and Newtonian notions have been bypassed by him, making the position for scientific thinking not as simple as Bacon or Comte imagined.

 

Further, why should humanity deprive itself of its own rich heritage of wisdom merely because it happens to be only superficially clothed in a language that does not at present suit the taste of the modern mind? Taste might swing back again to older models, but the basic reality that should interest true scientists who are able to see behind the incidental externals must always be the same. It is therefore only for convenience based on linguistic considerations that we propose to divide our comments on each chapter into a Prologue and an Epilogue. When we pass the middle of the work the positivism of the earlier part will yield place to negation, giving primacy to the a priori which has to depend upon a general wisdom heritage mainly coming to us from a scriptural context, sometimes referred to as "Perennial Philosophy." In every case we shall be careful throughout our citations to apply our own precise normalized standard in judging the validity of the truth or fact that is stated. This standard is implied from the standpoint of a unified language of sciences, which favours no particular variety of language, whether mythological or mathematical, if it does not conform to normal requirements.

  
 
225
 

 

The main object of this Prologue has been merely to draw the attention of the modern reader to some of the latest features of cosmology such as the Big Bang and Steady State theories which exist side by side with more general ones depending on the red or violet shift, indicating a universe that extends or contracts on a neutral basis or field of modern physics.

 

Before beginning to examine the actual verses of this chapter on cosmology, as written and commented upon by Narayana Guru, the reader will do well to note how in this, as well as in every chapter to follow, Narayana Guru adopts a strict and structurally perfect order with an inner structural symmetry of its own. In each chapter the numerator aspect cancels out with its own denominator aspect. A mathematical god implied in the first verse has thus a creation with the status of a dream as its normal counterpart. God as an artist of whom creation is the art, is a similar self-consistent analogy given a central place in the series. The last pair of analogies touches the point where realism vertically understood passes into horizontal pluralistic actualities.
 

 

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FOOTNOTES

 

[1] "Chamber´s Twentieth Century Dictionary", Bombay: Allied Publ., Rev. Indian Ed., 1966.

 

[2] On this matter we quote Russell: "I believe, however, that the elimination of ethical considerations from philosophy is both scientifically necessary and -- though this may seem a paradox -- an ethical advance. Evolutionism ... fails to be a truly scientific philosophy .... A truly scientific philosophy will be more humble, more piecemeal ....". From: "Mysticism and Logic", pp.29 & 32, resp., quoted in our article., "Search for a Norm" (Ch.l. "Some Background Aspects" Values, Vol.11: no.3 (Dee.1965), p.89 n.4.

 

[3] Eddington, Phil. Phys, Sci., p.68. Eddington,

 

[4] Phil. Phys. Sci., pp.52-53,( our words in parentheses)

 

[5] Whittaker, pp.34-36.

 

[6] Bergson, Two Sources, p.275.

 

[7] The Hindu (Newspaper) Madras: 10 Feb. 1966, P.8.

 

[8] From "Réalités", Paris: June 1965, p.79, our translation.

 

[9] "Réalités", p.79, our translation.

 

[10] We read the following about the Big Bang or Evolutionary Theory of Continuous Creation from J.A. Coleman, "Modern Theories of the Universe", New York: New American Library, 1963, p.204: 
 
"The major question in cosmology today is which of the two theories is the correct one - the evolutionary theory or the theory of continuous creation. The history of science has shown that the speculation of one age is the scientific theory of the following age and the common scientific knowledge of the succeeding one. Cosmology and cosmogony, too, are not without their speculative ideas. We should not, then, assume that either one of the two contemporary theories is necessarily the correct one, at least in its present form."

 

[11] H. Bondi, "Astronomy and Cosmology," from: "What Is Science?" edit. J. Newman, New York: Washington Square Press, 1961, p.89.

 

[12] Bondi, pp.94-96.

 

[13] Eddington's number is
15,747,724,136,275,002,577,605,653,961,181,555,468,
044,717,914,527,116,709,366,231,425,076,185,631,031, 296. From: Phil. Phys. Sci., p.170. 
 
Also, Isaac Asimov states that: "A proton's width is about 0,000000000001 centimeter. Flying mesons are travelling at almost the speed of light, which is 30 billion centimeters a second .... The pi-meson will be within the influence of the nuclear force for only about 0.0000000000000000000001 second (.a hundred billionth of a trillionth of a second." From: The Intelligent Man's Guide to the Physical Sciences, New York- Pocket Books Inc., 1964, p.230.

 

[14] Bondi, P.101.

 

[15] Bondi, p.96.

 

[16] Bondi, pp.100-101.

 

[17] Eddington, Nat. Phys. World., p.328.

 

[18] Kramer, p.298.

 

[19] For a short summary of Comte's "Worship of Humanity", see B.A.G. Fuller, "A History of Philosophy", New York: Henry Holt,

 

[20] J. L. M. Robertson (edit.), "The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon", London: Routledge, 1905.