by Nataraja Guru


"The Self indeed is below. The Self is above. The Self is behind. The Self is in front. The Self is to the south. The Self is to the north. The Self, indeed, is all this world. Verily, he who sees this, who thinks of this, who understands this, he has pleasure in the Self, he has delight in the Self, he has union in the Self, he has joy in the Self; he is the Self-ruler; he has unlimited freedom in all the worlds. But they who think differently have others for their rulers. They live in perishable worlds. In all the worlds they cannot move freely at all."
Chandogya Upanishad 7. 25. 2






Theology and Philosophy part company  2

Upanishads nearer to modern science 3

The amplitude of philosophical speculation  4

What is a complete scientific philosophy?  5

Occidental and Oriental philosophies  6

Modern mistrust of metaphysics   10

Modern philosophy begins with scepticism  11



Some specific traits of modernism  15

Science and speculation  16

Varieties of certitude  19

Two proofs for the Pythagorean Theorem  20

Logical and mathematical certitudes  21



Inadequacy of the analytic approach  26

Philosophy must rise above slogans and “isms”  30



The content of the term "Absolute"  34

The implied paradox in the Absolute  37

The relational structure of the Absolute  40

A normalised epistemology needs structure to be recognized  44

Vertical and horizontal aspects of the Absolute  46




An overall epistemology  50

The revised philosophy of science  51

Normalisation and re-normalisation of the Absolute 54

Normative axiology  55

Science and wonder  56

Science resembles Vedanta  57



Hegel's Absolute Idea  60

The Bergsonian Absolute of change and becoming 62

Absolutism suffers a setback  63



Locke's "tabula rasa" as the Absolute  71

The theological and philosophical Absolute in Berkeley  74



Cartesian Rationalism  77

The Absolute Norm implicit in Spinoza    80

Monadology and the normative Absolute 84

Monadic and schematic thought distinguished  89



Pre- Kantian and post- Kantian schematisms  92

From Bergson's schema to Eddington's structure  96

Eddington's conceptual view of physics  97

Selective subjectivism and structuralism  99



The schéma moteur   103

Bergson employs his own schematic language  108

Concluding remarks  113



Advance outline of the normalised scheme  117

The Guru-position summarised  118


Index  124





Philosophy, which means "love of wisdom", refers to knowledge in general about ultimate truth, reality or value. Such knowledge must help man to lead an intelligent life. This consists of correct thinking, the cultivation of good taste, and of acting in the best interests of one and all, for life here and hereafter. Although the word philosophy only suggests "love" of wisdom, it is generally taken to cover the subject matter of wisdom itself as a whole.


Aristotle was known as "the Philosopher", and the word itself came into vogue in the West generally after Pythagoras, who called himself "a lover of wisdom"1. In India, a philosopher is called a jnanin, "one who knows" and not one who is merely interested in wisdom at second-hand, or who just loves it. The Sanskrit word tattva-jnanin (a knower of first principles), as referring to the Absolute or Ultimate Reality, would correspond to the meaning of the word "philosopher" as used in the West.


Some branches of science such as biology used to be treated as Natural Philosophy, and only recently were annexed into the domain of science proper.




Ethics and aesthetics were naturally taken to be within the scope of philosophy, although they refer to value-factors in life and thus must belong to axiology (the study of values) instead of having to do with logical reasoning or being a part of speculative metaphysics.


Aristotle was the first to use the word 'metaphysics', which is even now treated as if it were interchangeable with philosophy. From its etymology in Aristotle's own writings, we can see that he put it after physics, and meant it to cover all aspects of thinking that refer to abstractions in reasoning.


Philosophy, as we understand it here, is not limited by any genetic or etymological considerations. We mean it to cover the whole field of speculation, omitting neither Existence, Subsistence or Value.






Theology is considered outside the scope of philosophy in the West, but in the East theology and philosophy come closer together for treatment. Eschatology (a theological term for what happens after death) too enters into Indian Philosophy by right; but in Europe, after the Middle or Dark Ages when belief was given so much primacy because of excesses practised in its name, philosophers were compelled to part company with theologians and join hands rather with the speculative theorists of science and astronomy. Philosophy could not continue undivorced from theology or eschatology as in the ancient regime.2




India did not have to pass through such periods in its history of thought. It might have had other problems such as the primacy of ritual over reason, of Vedic orthodoxy over rationalism, etc. Although the status of a God in Europe after the Age of Scholasticism changed its position epistemologically (through ways of knowing) from that of a teleological (with final end or purpose) to an ontological (pertaining to existence or being) God, theological dogma in India did not suffer any such abrupt change. Orthodoxy stressing Vedic ritualism, and heterodoxy stressing reason without acts, alternated, passing from one side of the road to the other many times during its history of three or four millennia rather than of centuries as in Europe.


Theology and dogma are found in both the philosophies of the East and the West, but differing aspects were stressed at different times in both regions, so that we cannot generalise and say that one was dogmatic and the other was not.






Oriental philosophy is not theological in the scholastic sense. It admits of a large degree of belief in the authority of scriptures such as the Upanishads. These are more philosophical than theological in character. Such beliefs as they tacitly uphold do not detract from their fully philosophical status.


On the other hand, beliefs enhance philosophy by treating it more wholeheartedly and in a complete form by omitting none of its normal or natural branches. Philosophy has to cover all speculation about ultimate truth. It has common ground with science in its cosmological and psychological aspects, and when systematically presented with an ontology, epistemology and axiology, it may be said to include all knowledge or wisdom as a Science of sciences.


The natural curiosity of every thinker, as a member of the species Homo Sapiens, to understand himself correctly in relation to the physical world, may be said to cover the whole range of philosophy, whether in the East or the West. Understanding the Absolute in terms of the universe and the universe in terms of the Absolute is the supreme task of philosophy anywhere and for all time.




Among modern philosophers it was given to Giordano Bruno to state the case of post-Scholastic philosophy in this very way. Although Bruno believed in God in a more correctly philosophical, rather than theological sense, he had to suffer martyrdom. His name remains, however, as one who gave to modern philosophy its new orientation and impetus after the Dark Ages. 3






A glance at the pages of any dictionary of philosophy will reveal the astonishing number of "-isms" comprised under the term "philosophy". Beginning from broad divisions such as between Eastern and Western philosophies, one reads of Nordic or Southern varieties. However, increased communications are abolishing such sharp distinctions, and East and West, which a century ago were supposed never to meet, are now believed, by some at least, to be coming closer together so as to yield finally what will be the integrated world-philosophy of tomorrow.


Further, philosophies can vary in the problems they pose as most important and in the methods adopted to solve them. They can belong to different cultural contexts and have in their contents different aspects of reality presented as central subject matter. Some like to face philosophical problems piecemeal while others prefer to face problems generally in a wholesale manner. Bertrand Russell, for example, is for the piecemeal approach and for excluding ethical considerations from philosophy and, in fact, anything which involves evolutionism or time. 4






Some philosophers give importance to the positive and the practical, while others emphasise the abstract and the implied aspects. A philosophy with an axe of special interest to grind can hardly be called philosophy, but nowadays it is normal to hear of officially accepted philosophies of countries with political motives behind them. Some put the limits of philosophising in favour of actualities or the given data of an empirical nature, while others admit a great deal of a priorism (a doctrine whose principles and findings are independent of the senses) into their speculations. Teleological and ontological approaches may each yield their own varieties in philosophising. Between the extreme limits of materialism and idealism we can imagine a series of possible philosophies which give primacy to bodily or mental aspects in their types of speculation. To prefer any one type to another is wrong.


In certain textbooks it is also usual to differentiate between races and to classify philosophy according to climatic or geographical conditions. For example, we read of a "robust" philosophy as opposed to a "passive" kind, of some that have an "active" as against a "dreamy sentimental"' outlook, and of others that harmonise different elements to make philosophy perfect or beautiful.


If this kind of classification is to be accepted seriously, we have finally to concede one type of philosophy for each philosopher, making as many philosophies as there are philosopher-types.


Solipsism and syncretism give certain philosophies little value, and eclecticism and cyclopaedism do not face the problems but only give information about them. A metaphysics which is too axiomatic also fails at the other extreme.




What we wish to underline by listing the possible varieties of philosophy here, is that philosophy must be treated as a science of sciences with a central neutral normative notion for its reference. When a strictly conceived methodology, a complete epistemology, and an axiology are all brought to bear upon the subject of philosophy, then and only then can it be called scientific. All its normal limbs must be left intact. The lopping of its main branches, which some modern thinkers propose, is disastrous to the whole prospect of the philosophy of the future, which has necessarily to rid itself of all parochialisms, cultural prejudices and confusion of tongues.


The emergence in modern times of a new branch of knowledge called the "Philosophy of Science" suggests already how the two branches are bound to overlap and encroach upon each other's domains as science becomes more theoretical and philosophy tends to adopt the strict methods of the positive sciences called "operational" or "demonstrable". In the process of such a rapprochement of the two disciplines from the poles of the a priori and the a posteriori we can even expect a “Science of sciences” to emerge. Philosophy, science and even theology can then be included under one integrated, normalised and re-normalised way of thinking in unified world-terms and not from the Babelized standpoint which prevails at present.






In his “Introduction to A History of Philosophy”, John Edward Erdmann wrote as his opening sentence:

"The task of apprehending his own nature in thought can only tempt the human mind and indeed it is only then equal to it when it is conscious of its intrinsic dignity - and as in the East, except among the Jews this point is not reached, we must not be induced to talk of a pre-Hellenic philosophy or worse still, of pre-Hellenic systems."


Frederik Uberweg also wrote in a similar strain in his “History of Philosophy”:


"Philosophy as a science could originate neither among the people of the North, who were eminent for strength and courage, but devoid of culture, nor among the Orientals who, though susceptible to the elements of higher culture, were content simply to retain them in a spirit of passive resignation - but only among the Hellenes who harmoniously combined the characteristics of both. The so-called philosophy of the Orient lacks the tendency to strict demonstrations and hence in scientific character." 5




Hegel, even in spite of the fact that his absolutist standpoint has much in common with Indian philosophy both in matter and method, reveals a more definite prejudice against Indian Philosophy when he writes: “The Hindu mentality is pre-adolescent” and that its temperament is “sunk in childish dreaming”, concluding his appraisal with the words, “All in all, the character of spirit in a state of dream is the generic principle of Hindu nature.” He further refers to the “infantilism of China with its language like baby-talk,” and after admitting that Greek philosophy attained some maturity he goes as far as to say: “In the Germanic culture, the spirit at last becomes fully conscious of its freedom and freely wills the identification of the individual, the eternal and the universal.” 6


Such easy generalisations, when they hold high one's own culture or country, cannot be taken seriously, especially because we find on the other side, ranged against these very European philosophers, others of such high standing as Schopenhauer, not to mention scholars like Paul Deussen, Monier Williams and Max Müller, who were disposed to speak of Indian Philosophy in another key of unstinted praise. On first reading the Upanishads in Latin translation, itself taken from a Persian translation, Schopenhauer considered it "the most rewarding and the most elevating reading which (with the exception of the original text) there can possibly be in the world. It has been the solace of my life and will be of my death".7


Dr. Paul Deussen visited India in 1893 and wrote of the high philosophical value of the Vedanta:


"On my journey through India I have noticed with satisfaction that in philosophy till now our brothers in the East have maintained a very good tradition, better perhaps than the more active but less contemplative branches of the great Indo-Aryan family in Europe, where Empiricism, Realism and their natural consequence, Materialism, grow from day to day more exuberantly, whilst metaphysic, the very centre of the heart of serious philosophy, is supported only by a few, who have learnt to brave the spirit of the age."8




It can be said that Deussen was favourably prejudiced to Vedantism, but it cannot be denied that he was fully informed about the nature and requirements of the philosophy of India or Europe, We are, therefore, tempted to quote further from his 1893 address at Bombay, before he said farewell to India, when he made pointed reference to Western philosophers who had affinity with Indian thought, as he continued:


“Eternal interests are higher than the temporary; and the system of the Vedanta as founded on the Upanishads and the Vedanta Sutras and accomplished by Sankara's commentaries on them - equal in rank to Plato and Kant - is one of the most valuable products of the genius of mankind in its search for the eternal truth.” 9


He concluded by saying that Vedanta was "the strongest support of pure morality and is the greatest consolation in the sufferings of life and death," 10


Such recognition coming from a professor of a European university cannot be brushed aside as insignificant, especially when we remember that the original texts of the Vedanta were only beginning to be known in the West at that time. In the opinions of Hegel and others who minimise the status of Indian philosophy, it is not hard to discern that most of what they said was due to ignorance combined with their own pan-Germanic or other personal loyalties. It cannot be gainsaid, however, that in the West there still lingers a large body of ill-informed opinion, amounting to prejudice against Oriental philosophy in general and in respect of Vedanta in particular. At the same time it must be admitted that there is also a growing body of persons who go in the opposite direction by being too ready to admire even some of its weak points.




Max Müller and Josiah Royce were other philosophers who avoided any prejudices but who still valued Vedanta. Max Müller, in admiring Vedanta whole-heartedly, first takes the precaution to shelter himself behind Schopenhauer, so as to be in good company, when he says:


"Schopenhauer was the last man to write at random, or to allow himself to go into ecstasies over so-called mystic or inarticulate thought. And I am neither afraid nor ashamed to say that I share his enthusiasm for the Vedanta, and feel indebted to it for much that has been helpful to me in my passage through life… for fitting men to lead contemplative or quiet lives, I know no better preparation than the Vedanta. A man may be a Platonist, and yet a good Christian, and I should say the same of a Vedantist." 11


We have quoted philosophers and professors of the subject to set at rest once and for all the usual charges levelled at all Oriental philosophies. Some condemn it by a sort of faint praise and when they do enumerate the charges, they can be brought under the designation of sentimentalism, dogmatism, or of being mythological, theological or even mystical, as against being positive, demonstrable, operational, critical or rational.


These charges will seem quite natural when we look at philosophy as connected with its own history in the West, whose peculiarities we have referred to already. But once freed from prejudices, one is sure to see in Vedanta a noble monument of human speculation, quite in keeping with the dignity and maturity of human understanding. Speculation about the Absolute cannot be expected to soar any higher.


The objection to a priorism in the West is a reaction due to the exaggeration of aspects of belief during the Middle Ages, as already pointed out. But pure philosophy, when complete, cannot omit its normal speculative core nor favour a posteriorism against a priorism. Both have to be given their legitimate places in a common, whole or global epistemology and methodology.




Instead of belief and heresy, as in Europe, India has been torn between rituals and reason, but the rivalry has lasted uniformly throughout its history, extending three or four thousand years from the days of the heterodox Vedic Guru Brihaspati to the most orthodox of pontiffs of some of the existing Vedic maths (scholastic institutions) of the present day. Normalised philosophy has to be one integrated subject. One and the same humanity cannot afford to have more than one philosophy which is in keeping with its nature and dignity.






Modern philosophy starts with a general sceptical attitude towards beliefs of the ancient regime. The horrors of the Inquisition and the nightmare of a witch-hunting attitude of mind still haunted the minds of people when the Age of Reason was ushered into existence by the Renaissance. Human nature demanded a life of truth, dignity and freedom. The invention of the telescope and what is called the Copernican Revolution mark the period wherein wonder about God was displaced by wonder about the physical universe. Facts got primacy over ideas at one stroke. With each triumph of scientific discovery in what was called “progress”, men began to take their stand more confidently on facts and not on theories or beliefs. This tendency became accentuated in geometric progression through the decades after the Renaissance. Today, all a priorism and the speculation depending on it tends to be discredited more and more.


Scholastic speculation itself seemed to have gone beyond the limits of strict logical or empirical validity. The laws of rational validity and the use of intuition as an instrument of higher dialectical reasoning were matters ill-understood or only beginning to be understood after the days of the classical philosophers of pre-Christian Europe. They too depended for such matters on the philosophical tradition justly belonging to the pre-Socratic philosophers.


To engage in philosophical speculation became a preserve of the select few. Popular imagination took an interest only in whatever could be "proved" experimentally or at least by the use of understandable, though conventional and arbitrary, mathematical operations.




The French Revolution marks the period when the common man began to hold a central place in public life in a modern sense, and he preferred encyclopaedias to treatises, and information to speculation.


The combined influence of the vitriolic pen of Voltaire and of Rousseau’s appeal to deeper contemplative ways won the masses over to the side of rationalism and natural spiritual values. But these individual writers could not stem the tide of "technocracy" and "progress" which flooded over to the detriment of deeper human values.






Descartes came out with a philosophy in which God still had a place; not however, as a hypostatic entity, but as a power which had its being at the core of the phenomenal universe itself, ontologically, from whose new centre occasionalism could bring about the interaction of mind and matter. Descartes had to present such a scientifically valid God with great caution because of fear of the Church, which he is said to have revised one of his writings so as not to offend. He still had to fear persecution.


So, instead of a theological God, we come in sight of a cosmological deity to which a first-rate scientist like Newton in England and a first-rate philosopher like Descartes in France both contributed. These contributions were both philosophical and scientific at once, because speculation and science had observables and calculables implied in them. A priori or axiomatic calculations went hand in hand with a posteriori inferences. Astronomy was the science wherein the blending with philosophy could conveniently take place. The Newtonian-Cartesian cosmos has held the field up to our own time and still holds its ground despite the spread of the ideas of relativity.


On the other side, theology became more and more subtle from the time of Thomas Aquinas, slowly removing itself from the everyday life of the common man and his day-to-day problems. The natural reaction to this was the rise of Empiricism, particularly on English soil.




The burning of Bruno at the stake in 1600 may be said to mark the point in time when new ideas, tending to be sceptical, empirical or scientific began to prevail in the West. Astronomy and the Renaissance had made Bruno a heretic in the eyes of the Church, but he believed in God and was essentially a religious man. It was only the approved theological God of the Church that he rejected and thereby suffered martyrdom.


Philosophical Scepticism had to wait till the days of the British Empiricists, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Although David Hume (1711-76) came later than John Locke (1632-1704), his Empiricism made it impossible for him to accept any innate ideas, which were properly those of Locke. Locke's treatment of the mind as a tabula rasa (a blank tablet) was a reaction against the tendency of the Middle Ages to give primacy to such matters as the soul and sin, and thus implied the same Scepticism which Hume later was able to formulate more boldly and in fully philosophical terms.


Although George Berkeley, an Irish Protestant Bishop (1684-1753), comes under the definition of an Idealist by the primacy he gave to the mind over matter, he accepted the same epistemological frame of reference as Locke. He spoke of primary and secondary qualities, one more internal than the other, and because of his method of starting with perception, he is grouped with the British Empiricists in textbooks, to be treated together with both Locke and Hume.


If we do not think chronologically, the extreme sceptic of that period may be said to be Hume, whose Phenomenology and Scepticism gave the impetus to what we recognise now as the chief feature of modern Western philosophy. Even in the twentieth century, Hume's way of looking on reality is the same which the so-called Logical Positivists or Logicists of our own time have also to a large extent approved of and adopted for themselves.


Hume wrote scathingly about the Scholastic theologians and vain metaphysicians of his time, as follows: “Chased from the open country, these robbers fly to the forest, and lie in wait to break in upon every unguarded avenue of the mind and overwhelm it with religious fears and prejudices.




The stoutest antagonist, if he remit his watch a minute, is oppressed. And many, through cowardice and folly, open the gates to the enemies, and willingly receive them with reverence and submission as their legal sovereigns.”


Although Berkeley was an ecclesiastical dignitary, his philosophical starting point is empirical in character. Instead of distinguishing primary and secondary qualities in perceived objects given to the senses, he argued just at the point of generalising that esse est percipi or percipere (nothing exists except perceiving or being perceived). In other words he traced the reality of sensations to the mind and no further. How far his idealism was carried beyond into the domain of the a priori analytically or synthetically, is not clear; and whether he agreed with Duns Scotus or with Peter Abelard or went into further subtleties of Christian doctrine, adopting a classical Platonic, Aristotelian or Neo-Platonic approach, like Augustine or Thomas Aquinas, is difficult to determine from his writings. All we can say is that he differed sufficiently from the sceptics and empiricists of Britain, but in his method and in the epistemology that he accepted for his reasoning, he had enough in common with the other two philosophers to justify his being bracketed with them for our purposes. When we remember that Hume had great influence on Kant and others, it is not wrong to say that Hume's scepticism in particular and the empirical and objective standpoint which went with it, was in reality the starting point and the initial impetus for what is distinguishable as modern philosophy, ranging from Realism at one end and extending, at least until the time of Hegel, to Idealism at the other end.






1.Pythagoras invented the term Philosophos to distinguish himself as a dedicated follower of wisdom, from a mere sage or Sophos, i.e. as one who lived the life of a wise man, rather than a merely academic orator or lecturer on the subject.


2. We read (p 57 in “A History of Western Thought”, J.B. Bury, Home University Library, London):
"The organized system of searching out heretics known as the Inquisition, was founded by Pope Gregory IX about CE 1233, and fully established by a bull of Innocent IV (CE 1252), which regulated the machinery of persecution...This powerful engine for the suppression of the freedom of man's opinions is unique in history. The Emperor Frederick II, who was undoubtedly himself a freethinker, made laws for his extensive domains in Italy and Germany between 1220 and 1235, enacting that all heretics should be outlawed and those who did not recant should be imprisoned, but if they relapsed they should be executed; that their property should be confiscated, their houses destroyed, and their children to the second generation be ineligible to positions of emolument unless they had betrayed their father or some other heretic. England...repressed heresy by the stake under a special statute (CE 1400), repealed 1533, revived under Mary, repealed CE 1676.”


3. Giordano Bruno (1548-1603):
"A Dominican monk eventually burnt at the stake for his opinions, He was converted from Christianity to a naturalistic and mystical pantheism by the Renaissance and particularly by Copernican astronomy. For him God and the Universe were two names for one and the same reality. The culmination of the outgoing creative activity is reached in the human mind, whose rational philosophical search for the one in the many, simplicity in variety, and the changeless and eternal in the changing and the temporal, marks also the reverse movement of the divine nature, re-entering itself and regaining its primordial unity, homogeneity and changelessness."
B.A.G. Fuller, under "Bruno" in Rune's “Dictionary of Philosophy”. (Jaico, Bombay 1956)


4. Russell writes, "I believe that the elimination of ethical consideration from philosophy is both scientifically necessary and - though this may seem a paradox - an ethical advance." p 29 Mysticism and Logic (Allen and Unwin, London.
And "Evolutionism...fails to be a truly scientific philosophy. A truly scientific philosophy will be more humble, more piecemeal." p 32 Ibid.


5. pp 14, 16, (trans, G.S. Morris, Scribner, NY).


6. p 325, “History of Philosophy”, B.G. Fuller (Holt, NY).


7. pp 3, 4, R.E. Hume, “The Thirteen Principal Upanishads”, Oxford, London ed. 1951.


8. p 323, “The Elements of Metaphysics”, Paul Deussen (Macmillan, London).


9. p 324, Ibid.


10. p 337, Ibid.


11. p 79, “Indian Philosophy”, by Max Mueller, Vol. II (Susil Gupta, Calcutta, 1952).


12. p 313, Hume's “Essays”, (Routledge, London).






Modern philosophers in the West claim to be critical, well reasoned, or positive and non-dogmatic. This means that they are not ready to believe too easily, as in the Middle Ages; that they are scientific in method and are free from mythological or theological trimmings and elaborations.


They claim their philosophy to be "objective" or to have "demonstrable" proofs, with an "operational" character: They tend to avoid too much reliance on the a priori, the imaginary or the "sentimental". Practical utility also characterises this outlook.


These traits can be seen to be linked with technocracy and the expansion of the power of the dominant nations of Europe and America. Great cities like London, Rotterdam and New York, which stand today as visible monuments of Western civilisation, neither represent nor accentuate any contemplative value. We have already seen how pan-Germanic enthusiasms affected the outlook even of otherwise sound philosophers like Hegel, making them look down upon anything of the nature of quiet contemplation with mistrust and contempt. It goes without saying that philosophy can thrive best on contemplative soil.


That all was not well with Western civilisation at the time of Voltaire (1694-1778) is sufficiently reflected in his writings and in the literature of his time. Colonial expansion, money-worship and mercantilism characterised the age, none of which aims can be said to be favourable to that calm philosophical outlook which needs dispassionateness in inquiry. The East had it and still retains this mental climate. There is a certain irony or even a touch of humour, when we come to think of it, when Westerners speak of eastern philosophy with contempt.






The formative period of what we distinguish as "modernism" in philosophy extends from Bruno to Hume (or to Hegel). The sceptical starting-point of this modernist tendency was accentuated by different distinguishing features, which could be described as “rational”, “critical”, “intuitive”, or “pragmatic”. These traits marked the outlook of those who followed in the trail of this modernist impetus. It continues through Descartes (1596-1659), Spinoza (1632-77), Leibniz (1646-1716) and Kant (1724-1804), culminating in the idealism of Hegel (1770-1831). This brought modernism, as it were, to a natural impasse which it could not overcome without changing, sub-dividing and dispersing in the different directions of Materialism and Spiritualism.


Hegel had a dialectical method and an epistemology, both of them inseparable, as he himself said, from his notion of the Absolute, which he placed at the centre of his philosophy. After Hegel, modernism in England and America went in the directions of Pragmatism, Instrumentalism and other varieties of philosophising, wherein the tendency was, as its philosophers said, "analytic", with the rejection of everything pertaining to the a priori domain, such as the notion of the Absolute.


Thus Materialism, Existentialism, Phenomenology and that Philosophy of Science which concerns itself with the nature of the physical world rather than with the metaphysical; with percepts rather than concepts; came into vogue.


The strong group of modern philosophers in Western Europe and America whose voice rings dominantly above all others today consists of representatives of this broad "analytic" division in philosophy, as they prefer to call themselves - whatever might be the precise meaning to be attached to this term. Perhaps it is because they discard the a priori position and the absolutist synthetic approach of Kant. As against Kant they want to distinguish their approach as a posteriori and "analytical”.


Besides celebrating "the decline and fall of the Absolute," a slogan of this group is "metaphysics is nonsense," They insist on truth being demonstrable - which, strictly speaking, would mean that the axioms of mathematics are myths.




This position is clearly untenable, and even reduces philosophy to absurdity. Such a lopsided approach to truth stems from the absence of any normative central notion for philosophy.


The Vienna Circle of Scientific Empiricism founded by Moritz Schlick (1882-1936) and the Logical Empiricism or Logical Positivism group, led by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and his articulate camp-followers like Prof. A. J. Ayer (1910 - ), see the future trend of scientific philosophising as the discrediting of speculations which do not apply directly or indirectly to the visible or perceptual world of modern physics. To accept this position would be tantamount to the suspension of all truly metaphysical speculation, and rejecting it as belonging to the limbo of the merely verbose and absurd. This is too great a sacrifice to make in the name of science, especially during the present century, when even in science, as considered by Eddington (1882-1944) and others, physics is primarily concerned with "concepts" rather than "percepts."


We shall have occasion to return later to this subject of the conceptual character of science. Meanwhile, we consider the a priori approach to philosophy as legitimate as the a posteriori and, if the former is objected to in the name of modernism, it is not only Oriental Philosophy which will have no future, but speculation itself will lose its significance and thus defeat the whole purpose of philosophy. Future speculation must answer at one and the same time to the requirements of mathematical calculations as well as to a more direct intuition of truth.






Physics comes first to mind when the word "science" is mentioned, and it is supposed to deal with hard facts. It often starts with the measurement of objects and the observation of properties. When we pass from such items as colour, size, and so on, to the weight of the object under study, we come upon a notion of a new order which is no longer as simple as those given to the senses. In weight, which is due to gravity, another order of deeper reality becomes evident, where our five senses do not help us directly.




When we lift an object from the ground our muscles resist the gravitational pull to the centre of the earth. We can shut our eyes and cut off the other senses from connection with the object, but still have left a kinaesthetic sense by which we appreciate inwardly, as if with the mind. The transition from the notion of weight to that of inertia seems natural enough, but in the notion of momentum resulting from the multiplication of mass by velocity, we come upon a notion depending for its reality on something which is not sensible at all to any of the five senses.


We attain in fact to the domain of the calculables in the metaphysical world, which are away from the domain of simple observables. We cannot see, smell, touch, hear or taste weight. We have to form a vague notion of it to be standardised by reference to something arbitrarily fixed by some outside scientific or civil authority as the unit of weight. We can also have an indirect notion of weight from specific gravity, which implies the logical formula of things equal to the same thing being equal to one another.


Thus, by imperceptible gradations of procedure, we move from the examination of the properties of a simple object into the world of axioms, arbitrarily fixed standards, and pure calculables such as “m x v = M” (Momentum is Mass into Velocity).


Where exactly the observables are left behind and the calculables enter in the strictest and simplest of methods involved in problems of physics is thus hard to fix. In fact, observable and calculable elements enter so intimately into the structure of scientific knowledge that it is impossible to think of one without the other being taken as an integral part of such knowledge.


For proof that understanding the observable in terms of the calculable is of the very essence of scientific knowledge, we have only to look at any professor of physics, teaching with his blackboard full of equations, using mostly the letters of the Greek alphabet, intermixed with other relational signs of mathematics. All speculation may be seen to move between the limits of observables and calculables, between tautology and contradiction.




Let us examine the Law of Gravity and that of Universal Gravitation. Both were implied by Newton in his observation of an apple falling in his orchard. The gap between this simple event, and the universal law which he derived from it, was filled by a series of mathematical calculations following on the method of Kepler. As we know, mathematics in its turn is based on axioms, which do not call for demonstration or proof. They are given or a priori in character. The falling of an individual apple as an isolated event is treated as being related to the whole situation involving the entire physical universe. What is true of the part is also to be treated as true of the whole. This is a metaphysical dictum attributed to Aristotle and is fully a priori and metaphysical in status.


Thus through the mathematical calculus, where much logic resides, we arrive at what is called speculation. When common-sense examples of less than experimental value are employed with a logistic that is not strict but uses analytical and synthetical judgements without any methodic doubt involved, we have a loose kind of metaphysics.


This, however, is not the fault of metaphysics itself, but rather of the person who handles this instrument of knowledge. There are good and bad rules to be kept in mind in speculation, and it is the task of correct methodologists to lay them down strictly. For science as well as philosophy a methodology is important, because common experience and experiment are not fundamentally different. The a priori and the a posteriori enter into both in inverse proportion, reciprocally, as it were, from opposite poles of a total knowledge situation.


Hume's scepticism which, as we have said, marks the extreme position taken by modern philosophy in respect of speculation in general, is really directed against the Scholasticism and theology of the Middle Ages, and not against any methodic speculation as such. There is valid speculation which is verifiable, demonstrable, or both, and there is loose speculation which violates fundamental rules and always fails to convince the common man, even by experience.


Hume himself reduced all speculation to two categories, which are the same as the "observables" and the "calculables" which we have introduced.




He wrote:
"When we run over libraries persuaded of these principles, (distinguishing such subjects as Theology and Morals etc.) what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance - let us ask: does it contain any abstract reasoning containing quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." 1


 All speculation in philosophy, whether of the sceptic or the believer, is full of examples which are strictly neither of apodictic validity nor of the degree of certitude of common experience. When taking any philosopher seriously, it is a matter needing the greatest caution to see how strict he is in the use of his examples.






All science is a search for certitude: Metaphysics is the same. What is the kind or degree of certitude that we should expect from the different branches of knowledge?


In the domain of values, dialectical reasonings yield overall axiomatic certitudes valid in the context of the wisdom of the Absolute. Experiments, on the other hand, yield another kind of certitude, which might be called apodictic. In between these two limits - one pertaining to unseen values and the other referring to something that operates in the physical world - there are other logical and factual certitudes ranging between these limits which yield mere tautology or sheer contradiction. Factual, logical, and value certitudes may be said to make up the three steps which man can take in the progress of his reasoning in order to have certitude about even the meanest of significant factors or interests in life, up to the highest ideals of goodness or beauty.


We admit that these statements, made here in passing, require a great deal of elaboration to be fully convincing.




This we cannot do for the present. At this stage in our discussion we are interested only in showing that whatever the kind of certitude of which we might be speaking, it contains two regulative factors - an observable element and a calculable. Fact and intuition explain truth absolutely, yielding the maximum possible certitude.






Every schoolboy knows that the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem can be revealed or proved in two different ways. In the lower classes, where pupils still think in concrete terms of the visible, there is the method of cutting out squares of paper and pasting them onto the sides of the triangle that go to make up the square of the hypotenuse. In the higher classes we arrive at the same degree of certitude by starting from geometrical axioms without physical measurements. If we think of the certitude arrived at by one method and the same certitude reached by the other, we can get the notion of a central neutral certitude which is both apodictic and dialectically convincing.


There is thus a positive, a negative and a neutral certitude involved in the two proofs plus the neutral conviction. That the conceptual certitude arrived at by the Euclidean method and the perceptual certitude arrived at by practical geometry lead to a central neutral and normative certitude, which is not wholly dependent either on the visible or the calculable only, is what we wish to underline here as an overall general rule applicable to both physics and metaphysics. There is no worthwhile certitude, whether practical, pure or intermediate (neutral), which does not combine these three elements, proportionately or disproportionately, in its essential resultant composition.






Let us take another everyday example. A man calls in a carpenter to make a stool for him. The carpenter asks him what kind of stool he means. Then the man shows him the wood with which it is to be made and gives the carpenter the measurements. Here the kind of wood to be used is of the visible or the observable order, whereas the measurements, being arbitrary and based on units that we keep in the mind, belong to the order of calculables.




All further details that the carpenter would be likely to ask for fall under one or the other of these two categories, and it is only when these two categorical determinatives have been given that the agreement or certitude between the two men takes place, and not when one of the factors predominates over the other. Allowing for personal variations, they both understand the same thing, and certitude results from both the observables and the calculables coming together into one central notion.


Thus, whether it is universal gravitation, the Pythagorean theorem or a stool about which we seek certitude, we have to approach the same central notion from the two poles of an epistemological order from which, when they neutralise, absolute certitude results. It is neither induction nor deduction which gives the central or scientific certitude to physics or metaphysics. It is the meeting of the a priori and the a posteriori approaches. Speculative and experimental approaches to physics or metaphysics should be treated as complementary and not contradictory in yielding certitude in the context of an integrated or unified science of the future.






Definitions and proofs which relate or equate two groups which are views of the same central truth, constitute the essence of certitude in mathematics and its sister discipline, logic or logistic as it is coming to be known.


All mathematical proofs also become reduced in terms of the two limbs of an equation. The answers to all problems in mathematics are capable of being completely stated in the form of an equation, and when such an equation is followed by the letters QED (quod erat demonstrandum - which was to be proved) the demonstration is supposed to be complete. Thus certitude resides within the pure perceptual-cum- conceptual domain of mathematics and the greater part of speculation consists of an effort to arrive at such equations.




The nature of mathematics as a science and its relation to metaphysical speculation have been the subject of much discussion in recent years. Although opinions still differ, it is just possible for us, even at present, to make some simple basic generalisations. M. Edouard le Roi, an eminent professor and member of the French Academy, who has recently devoted a whole volume on the subject of the philosophical status of pure mathematical thinking, sums up his position as follows:


“Finally and perhaps above all, mathematics taken in itself, independently of its applications, is, at the highest point to which we are permitted to attain, a work of pure thought, an invention of the spirit left to its own resources. If there exists a science which proceeds a priori by reason alone and which all the same shows itself to be solid, consistent, positive, and capable of indefinite extension - that it certainly is. One calls it science of reasoning for signifying that it presents itself as a creation of the rational faculty operated, if not ex nihilo, at least after the first impetus without ultimate recourse to any exercise at all of the perceptive faculties.” 2


To avoid going into the merits of such a claim we must be content merely to state that the science of mathematics, by grouping and juxtaposing, whether for defining or proving in its search for speculative metaphysical or pure certitude, relies on equating groups of realities or facts of two distinct or different orders. Thus it is that mathematicians arrive at certitude from two poles of reality.


Professor le Roi, whom we have just quoted, relies on his predecessor, Poincaré, for two further important generalisations, which are relevant to what we have said above. Each definition, according to Poincaré, is a classification: "It separates the objects that satisfy the definition and those that do not satisfy and it ranges them in two distinct classes.3




Poincaré makes another generalised statement about mathematics which also depends on relating two different classes, when he writes: "Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things:" 16


The equation of classes of things on the operational to the purely conceptual levels in physics or metaphysics is the function of mathematics, and metaphysical speculation is fundamentally no other than this.


While it is true that speculation without a strict method and which violates laws of the theory of knowledge would give us questionable speculations; nevertheless, when there is a normative regulative principle and when the aims of philosophy are properly defined, a speculation which makes room equally for scepticism as for belief will result. Eastern philosophy excels in the a priori aspects of speculation, while Western science gives primacy to the a posteriori approach. Both can be used correctly in the name of an integrated science or philosophy. After the Middle Ages, Western philosophy started its history anew with scepticism as its keynote. Rationalism and Criticism are only milder versions of the initial scepticism, and from Bruno to Hume (or Hegel) we have the "unbelievers'" standpoint influencing the course of Western thought. Scepticism has as much wisdom to give as belief, and the contributions made by the rationalists and the idealists are here equally significant.






1. pp 384-385, “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, Hume's “Essays”, Essay XXXIX, (Routledge, London).


2. p 3, “La Pensée Mathématique Pure” (P.U.F., Paris 1960) Translated.


3. p 97, Ibid.


4. p 85, Ibid.








For two hundred years, from the time of David Hume to Bertrand Russell among British philosophers, we are able to see one and the same sceptical attitude, like a lengthening shadow, influencing the history of modern thought in the West.


At the start such scepticism had a legitimate cause, but whether it is justified forever is another question. The same influence prevailed also on the Continent, but in a less evident form, as the spirit of the experimental sciences became established. Only those problems which were capable of being demonstrated in the laboratory, at least on a small scale, in other words, that "worked," were considered to be certain or proved.


The educational system has given an experimental or mechanistic bias to knowledge at the expense of the study of its humanistic aspects. The three features of the scientific method, namely experiment, observation and inference, were given prominence in valid thinking. The calculable aspects of thinking were only tacitly taken for granted. For anything to have the flavour of dogma was enough for it to be discredited.


But by a strange nemesis the objection to dogmatism reached a degree of rigidity as great as the insistence on the side of belief of the days of Inquisition. It is enough to say that an idea belongs to or savours of the Middle Ages to have it condemned. Neither Hume nor Russell has been able to shake off altogether the nightmarish memory of the Inquisition from their attitudes.


In Russell we see a confirmed sceptic and empiricist who admits into his methods only those elements of logistic and mathematical principles which are derived plainly, without any element of wonder or mystery.




In spite of this fact he lays down categorically that, "A philosopher who uses professional competence for anything except a disinterested search for truth is guilty of a kind of treachery"1. But at the end of the same chapter in his book, in which this statement occurs, he contradicts himself without admitting it when he refers to "the philosophical school of which I am a member"2


A member of a particular school cannot be fully open-minded. He cannot treat rival schools as the same as his own except in the larger integrated context of philosophy. There is sure to be a closing of frontiers against some rival point of view in philosophy and this is against the spirit of an open-minded scientific attitude. There can be the orthodoxy of a believer and also the orthodoxy of a sceptic. Both can be over-emphasised with equally disastrous results for the future of philosophy as a whole.


Russell's writings show that he was against theology and dogmatism, and thought philosophy should not include a "higher" way of knowing. By this he would exclude most of the fundamental questions of philosophy, shutting out anything a priori or based on intuitive or axiomatic truth. He would have philosophy advance piecemeal, i.e., "by successive approximations to truth".


In other words, if we are to be convinced that A=A, we must have a method by which the conviction will grow within us stage by stage, and not immediately or at once all together. A deep-seated prejudice against anything of the nature of the a priori seems to persist in making Russell a sceptic for scepticism's own sake, just in the same way as some dogmatic and orthodox people insist on their own belief as being the most important. They forget that axiomatic certitude at one pole and the apodictic character of simple experiments, which work with a certain amount of inductive certitude, at the other pole, are both complementary aspects of an epistemological and methodological frame of reference in which speculation, whether called physical or metaphysical, has necessarily to live and move.




That such a prejudice against a priorism is entertained by serious thinkers is astonishing to impartial observers who are themselves not influenced by its historical and geographical causes. Russell states his position regarding what he considers to be scientific philosophy as follows:
"A scientific philosophy such as I wish to recommend will be piecemeal and tentative like other sciences; above all it will be able to invent hypotheses, which even if they are not wholly true, will yet remain fruitful after the necessary corrections have been made. This possibility of successive approximations to the truth is more than anything else the source of the triumph of science, and to transfer this possibility to philosophy is to ensure a progress in method whose importance it would almost be impossible to exaggerate."3
The axioms and postulates of mathematics are not hypothetical approximations to truth, and yet they are widely employed in the methods of arriving at certitude in the simplest of scientific investigations. To exclude the axiomatic and the a priori would be to limit the scope of philosophy very drastically indeed.






Bertrand Russell is one of a large group of present-day philosophers who are sceptics in their general outlook. They believe in experimental proof. What savours of the a priori is wholly repugnant to them. They are for a piecemeal approach to truth through successive hypotheses which are only approximations to truth, but which they think will one day be established as empiricism and logic gain ground. They also distinguish and limit themselves by labelling their philosophical attitude "analytic". It is not clear what precise meaning this term has. It is probably because they oppose Kant's a priori synthetic approach that they call themselves analytic. Russell explains as follows:




"The essence of philosophy as thus conceived (as in the quotation above) is analysis not synthesis. To build up systems of the world is not, I believe, any more reasonable than the discovery of the philosopher's stone. What is feasible is the understanding of general forms, and the division of traditional problems into a number of separate and less baffling questions. "Divide and conquer" is the maxim of success here as elsewhere. "4


A careful study of the above paragraph reveals that, in spite of his love of dividing philosophy into bits, Russell does refer to something which he does not explain but only vaguely alludes to as "general form". This seems to provide a safety valve for him through which he can escape the charge of limiting the method, scope and content of philosophy altogether as generally understood in the world. By "general forms" he must be alluding to some structural overall peculiarity of truth, whether factual, logical, or both. This overall structural peculiarity referred to as "general forms", whatever this may be, cannot be anything within reach of the empirical and analytical approach. That this might be of a logical order is to be surmised from an article by Russell entitled "On the Importance of Logical Form" in which he says:

"The importance of logical form may be illustrated by what may be called the principle of the dictionary: given two sets of propositions such that by a suitable dictionary, any proposition of either set can be translated into a proposition of the other set, there is no effective difference between the two sets. Suppose - to take a hypothesis that I neither affirm or deny - that all scientific propositions can be tested in terms of physics, and can also be stated in Berkeleian principles in terms of psychology; then the question as to which of these forms of statement is more correct has no meaning, since both or neither must be correct. Such dictionaries which can, as a rule, only be constructed by the help of modern logic, suffice to dispose of a large number of metaphysical questions, and thus facilitate concentration upon genuine scientific problems." 5




For the first time we find Bertrand Russell, the strict empiricist, using approvingly expressions like "the principle of the dictionary", which must consist of propositions or predications with a one-one correspondence between them. They belong to two distinct domains, one of them physical and the other psychological or mental. One of these can be understood in terms of the other, whichever it may be that will finally be considered valid.


Such a structural form, based on logic or thought, will yield some kind of certitude which will help us to distinguish the scientific from the unscientific aspects of what at present passes for metaphysics. The simple question that naturally arises in the mind of anyone after reading and taking seriously such vague statements is whether the whole of this problem treated together is of a physical or of a metaphysical order. The Berkeleian world at least, being mental, must be fully metaphysical in status. In the parenthetical clause above we can see the unwillingness of a confirmed sceptic and empiricist to commit himself to giving primacy to the mind or to matter. But in spite of this hesitation, it is not hard to see that the whole of the double-sided structure has its basis in something which is not merely of a physical order, and that the only context into which both can be fitted is that of a notion of the Absolute where the two aspects can exist without contradiction.


How this view can be tenable in itself requires a more detailed epistemological discussion to prove. We shall not enter into such a discussion, because aspects of the same problem will become clear as we go on with the present line of inquiry, step by step. Further on we shall come to a fuller discussion of the implications of subjective-selective structuralism in the light of the modern philosophy of science. What we want to underline at present is that even strict empiricists and sceptics are being led inevitably by the developments of modern science to accept more than what is "analytical" and a posteriori. They are beginning to admit metaphysics again into their thought by the back door. A priorism and absolutism thus come to find a place, though still unofficially, in the writings of modern sceptical empiricists. Thus they begin to resemble the believers, against their own declared intentions.




The analytic approach for which Russell stands becomes evident in his writings. What he is really up against is the synthetic a priorism of Kant. But Kant takes care to explain in great detail the "Division of General Logic into Analytic and Dialectic."6


He also has an overall epistemological scheme into which all his philosophy fits consistently. In spite of all this trouble taken by Kant, Russell finds no difficulty in calling him confused. When we look for justification for this in Russell, we find he relies on a favourite phrase only, (which we have italicised in the quotation below) which is enough to show how a priorism can be employed by philosophers quite casually and unconsciously. The relevant paragraph reads:


"Suppose we are confronted with the problem of space as presented in Kant's “Transcendental Aesthetic”, and suppose we wish to discover what are the elements of the problem and what hope there is for obtaining a solution for them? It will soon appear that three entirely distinct problems, belonging to different studies, and requiring different methods for their solution, have been confusedly combined in the supposed single problem with which Kant is concerned. There is a problem of logic, a problem of physics and a problem of the theory of knowledge. Of these three, the problem of logic can be solved exactly and perfectly; the problem of physics can probably be solved with as great a degree of certainty and as great an approach to exactness as can be hoped in an empirical region; the problem of theory of knowledge, however, remains very obscure and very difficult to deal with...". 7


It will be seen from these quotations from the writings of the dean of the sceptical and empirical school which persists to the present, that he wishes to curtail drastically the scope, content and methods of philosophy to suit his own partial pet notions of what it should be. His final position on philosophical method or a theory of knowledge remains exceedingly vague and questionable. How far mental factors are to enter his analytical domain of a demonstrable or visible world remains a mystery.




If unified science, which is the dream even of Russell and his followers of the Vienna Circle, is to be realised, the synthetic approach through the a priori of Kant and the analytic approach which discredits the a priori, must be integrated as two complementary standpoints in philosophy on the basis of an absolutist norm for all thought or speculation. The "principle of the dictionary" or rather of two dictionaries with a one-one correspondence between them, seems to us to suggest only in a distant way the lines of such an integration of physics and metaphysics. Russell and his followers cannot accept such principles and still remain empiricists.






A scientific philosophy must have a normalised reference with a strictly conceived methodology, a correct epistemology and with a scale of values which must be capable of referring to such a norm, implicitly or explicitly conceived. At the present time such a norm does not prevail. Instead, as in politics, the philosophical domain is torn into rival camps. We hear slogans such as "metaphysics is nonsense" 8, with which a London professor kicks off the ball, as it were, in his recent book, and in a volume called “The Age of Analysis, The Twentieth Century Philosophers”, the title of the opening article is "The Decline and Fall of the Absolute." 9

To celebrate the fall of the notion of the Absolute has become a fashion because, even in the domain of science, relativism has come into prominence. There is also a repugnance towards absolutism of any kind in politics in the post-Hitlerian mentality of Europe. Whatever the reasons, political or scientific, they are continuations of the same long shadow of scepticism to which we have already referred.


The Vienna School of philosophers dreams of a unified science as well as of a language through logistic. They stand for analysis as against synthesis, for the a posteriori against the a priori. They further support a variety of logic of their own which they claim to be positive, demonstrable or "operational".




This is based on observations and experiments with a scientific method which admits of hypothetical approximations to truth, rather than any wholesale approach to absolute truth given a priori.


Such a limitation of the scope of philosophy and its methods too, they believe, would be conducive to philosophical progress. If a group of sportsmen preferred outdoor games, that would not mean that indoor games were not legitimate. In a unified body of knowledge of which such philosophers dream, it is unthinkable why they should limit the scope of philosophy itself in this manner. Analysis and synthesis, the a posteriori and the a priori, must all be given their legitimate places in philosophical speculation. All that anyone can insist on is to ask philosophers to conform to a stricter methodology, a more correct epistemology, and to have some normative principles to regulate the axiological (value) aspects of speculation. Even if we should think of the philosophical attitude of the West as a whole, it cannot be considered as anything more or less than a variety of world philosophy in which we have to see the co-existence of all possible "isms" that distinguish individual schools.


If, instead of including all under an overall scheme of integration, some insist on excluding others, the dream of a unified science or philosophy will never be realised. To make statements about Oriental philosophy as being no philosophy at all, or that Kant is not a philosopher in the true sense of the term, as some are doing, can only be attributed to parochialisms and closed loyalties in the name of philosophy. Actually philosophy, whether of the East or the West, should be looked upon as one of the basic consolations of human beings anywhere in the world at any time. The scope, contents and methods of philosophy need to be properly defined and delimited.




It is in this respect that it is important to determine a normative central notion for philosophy. Whether called truth, fact, reality, or the highest good, some regulative central notion must be understood before we begin the task of integrating branches of knowledge, irrespective of their belonging to the physical or the metaphysical order. In short, philosophy must rise above the stage of partial loyalties expressed by slogans and "-isms", however justified in themselves they might happen to be in their respective limited spheres.






1. “The Age of Analysis” by Morton White (Mentor, NY) 2. p 203, Ibid.


3. “Mysticism and Logic”, (Allen and Unwin, London 1959).


4. p 113, Ibid.


5. p 41, “The International Encyclopedia of Unified Science”, Vol 1, part 1. (Chicago University, USA, 1955).


6. pp 58-60, “The Critique of Pure Reason”, by I. Kant, trans. Max Mueller.(Doubleday and Co., New York, 1959).


7. p 114, “Mysticism and Logic”.


8. p 1, “Language, Truth and Logic”, by A.G. Ayer (Gollancz, London 1946).


9. p 13, “The Age of Analysis”, by Morton White (Mentor, NY).






As a department of knowledge, philosophy must refer to something definite. All branches of science which have been systematised or formulated with any precision have implied in them a central unit or norm. The notion of the living cell is central in biology. Heat is thought of in terms of calories, and each kind of electrical energy has its unit by which that particular kind is fixed and normalised for purposes of discussion, definition or measurement.


In philosophy we find that each school or each individual system is distinguishable by a central notion around which it is built. Existentialism is built around the notion of existence and not of essence. In the philosophy of Spinoza the notion of substance occupies a central and normative position. In theology God occupies a similar position. Whether in science or philosophy we are required to have some central notion for reference, both for normalisation or re-normalisation of speculations or inferences. They must go too far neither in a plus or a minus direction from the norm.


When we think of philosophy as a whole there is the notion of the Absolute. This can be defined and normalised for the purpose of serving as a regulative principle around which all speculation can turn as its pivot or locus. Such a notion has to be necessarily of the nature of an extreme abstraction and generalisation. A certain amount of arbitrariness must attach to it in the same way as the arbitrarily chosen name 'rose' refers to the real on the one side, and on the other to the idea of a rose.




Similarly the notion of the Absolute must have the capacity of referring to the actual or visible physical world on the one hand and on the other to the conceptual aspect of the same world as found in the terms of a dictionary. When we approach the notion of the Absolute from the side of the notion of the relative on which it must depend for meaning, we have to make some allowances for structural, subjective and selective details which correspond to the categories of philosophy.


From the side of the Absolute, which is self-sufficient and does not depend on any relativistic notion at all, we require a pure notion of the same Absolute treated in itself.


When one of these aspects is equated to the other a neutral notion results. This neutral Absolute, at least for the purposes of language and semantics, must be considered as the normative reference for all speculation: philosophical, scientific, or both.


Broadly, it is in these terms that we must think of an integrated philosophy or of a unified science. The further implications of such a normative notion, with its structural peculiarities based on the categories of thinking, will be developed stage by stage in the present study, and particularly in the next part, where it will be re-examined from the standpoint of Vedanta philosophy.






When Kant says that we cannot know the "thing-in-itself", he refers to the purest ultimate which does not depend for its meaning on any other notion that we already know. If its meaning should depend, even to a faint degree, on another notion; as for example in the way that the notion of light depends on darkness, it cannot strictly be called the Absolute. A notion of the Absolute which is empty of all content would signify nothing to the human mind. In spite of this difficulty the human mind is able to give some meaning to the term "Absolute", and tries to fill it with a content which depends on the various contexts in which thought concerning the Absolute becomes necessary.




In conversation we often hear the expression "absolutely" when a person wants to affirm or deny something with the fullest possible emphasis. Other uses of the word, as in "absolute zero temperature" and so on, point to an ultimate quality limit of some kind. When we use the word as a noun with a definite article and speak of "The Absolute" we find that it becomes a fully philosophical notion and is actually used in this sense by various great thinkers, in the East as well as in the West, ancient and modern. The wide range of the use of this term is itself sufficient reason for us to adopt it, even with its varied connotations, as the one word which can conveniently refer to a central normative notion for all philosophy.


We have only to glance at the paragraphs under which the notion has already been examined, for example, in any modern philosophical reference book, to be convinced of the suitability of the use of the term "The Absolute" as the central norm of all philosophy. Except in the case of those leaders of schools already referred to, who have set their minds against anything savouring of the notion of the a priori for their partially conceived reasons, we find that there is a general acceptance of the term among representative philosophers the world over. We read the following extracts from Wilbur Long's article on “The Absolute”: 1

"ABSOLUTE, THE: (In Metaphysics) Most broadly, the terminus or ultimate referent of thought. The Unconditioned. The opposite of the Relative (Absolute)."


There is a singular and a generic use of the term. Under the singular usage he states:

"While Nicholas of Cusa referred to God as "the Absolute" the noun form of this term came into common use through the writings of Schelling and Hegel. Its adoption spread in France through Cousin and in Britain through Hamilton. According to Kant, the Ideas of Reason seek both the absolute totality of conditions and their absolutely unconditioned ground. For Hegel the Absolute is the all, conceived as a timeless, perfect, organic, whole of self-thinking thought. In England the Absolute has occasionally been identified with the Real.




The specific emphasis given to this all-inclusive perfection varies considerably, i.e., logical wholeness or concreteness (Hegel), metaphysical completeness (Hamilton), mystical feeling (Bradley), aesthetic completeness (Bosanquet), moral perfection (Royce)…"


As the years pass, we note that the connotation of the term gathers to itself more and more aspects of philosophical verities, realities or values. It should be noted here that Kant uses the notion of the Absolute for a double reference, both from the relative as well as from the fully absolutist side. We shall have more to say on this later. Here we shall note the growing use of the term in various senses and in various countries as an indication to show that, when the notion has been properly determined with its double aspect, both structurally and non-structurally, we have already available the possibility of finding a central normative reference for all philosophy.


The inclusive nature of the notion is sufficiently clear from the following further remarks by the same writer:
"More recently the term has been extended to mean also (a) the All or totality of the Real, however understood, and (b) the World Ground, whether conceived idealistically or materialistically, whether pantheistically, theistically or dualistically. It thus stands for a variety of metaphysical conceptions that have appeared widely and under various names in the history of philosophy."


As regards the notion as it prevails in different regions of the globe, we read further:
"In China the Wu-Chi (non-Being), Tai Chi (Being) and on occasion, Tao. In India, the Vedantic Atman (Self) and Brahman (the Real), the Buddhist Bhutatathata (indeterminate Thatness), Viñaptimatra (the One, pure, changeless eternal consciousness, grounding all appearances) and the Void of Nagarjuna; in Greece the cosmic matrix of the Ionians, the One of the Eleatics, the Being or Good of Plato, the World Reason of Stoicism, and the One of Neo-Platonism. In patristic and scholastic Christianity, the creator God; the Ens Realissimum, Ens Perfectissimum, Sui Causa, and the God of mysticism generally (Erigena, Hugo of St. Victor, Cusa, Boehme, Bruno).




In modern thought: the Substance of Descartes and Spinoza, the God of Malebranche and Berkeley, the Energy of materialism, the Space-Time of realism, the Pure Experience of phenomenalism and the ding-an-sich of Kant."


We have quoted at length here because this article brings together all aspects of the content of the term "The Absolute" from as wide a range as could be expected, both regionally and ideologically, omitting neither modern nor ancient philosophical and cultural growths. Even mysticism and religion are covered, and the void (sunya) of the Madhyamika School of Buddhism is also included under the category of the Absolute.


It is true that as presented in a dictionary this review of the content of the term "The Absolute" requires to be further revised, corrected and co-ordinated to yield a fully normalised notion for our purposes. Some of the additions or subtractions will be found in the further remarks we shall have to make. In the meantime a rough idea of what to expect for inclusion within the wide range of connotations of the term can be gathered from the above extracts. We must add here, though in passing only, that the Absolute can be approached from the side of the Relative-Absolute or from the side of the Absolute-Absolute. This is due to innate epistemological limitations of the human understanding. We must look for the clarification of such a double-sided approach in the next and following sections.






Modern scientists after Einstein are never tired of saying that Newton and Euclid were absolutists in their outlook, while they themselves, on the contrary, are relativists. This relativism is not just relativism in the ordinary context, but Relativism with a capital letter, having a rival status with the Absolutism which it opposes. Both of these rival terms have to be written with a capital letter. In other words, one of these depends for its meaning on the other, so that there is a paradox implied as between the two notions.




This brings us face to face with one of the most knotty epistemological problems in the domain of pure speculative philosophy. Transcending paradox is the same as the problem of rejecting the principle of the excluded middle and of contradiction. Like the thesis and antithesis of Hegel resulting in a synthesis, we have to imagine that "the Relative" which depends on its own Absolute counterpart, and "the Absolute" which depends on its own counterpart, "the Relative", cancel each other out into the neutrality of a central Absolute that knows no second.


In Sankara's Vedanta, as we shall see, the same problem of having to resolve the two Brahmans, the higher and the lower, the qualified and the unqualified, into the unity of the final Absolute, presents itself again and again in his commentaries, although the arguments remain at least baffling and unconvincing. A delicate form of dialectical methodology is implied here which we shall not discuss at present. In the domain of modern relativistic theories this same difficulty appears in a very acute form, as evidenced in the following quotation:

"The paradox of the situation is this. On the one hand Newton professes a doctrine of absolute space and time but in his doctrine of dynamics there is implicit a principle of relativity. On the other hand the nineteenth century physicists of whom we may take Maxwell as a shining example professed a sort of relativity, but Maxwell's electromagnetic theory employs an absolute space and time. Here we have a paradox on paradox, and the purpose of the special theory of relativity is their resolution." 2


How the special theory of relativity of Einstein resolves this paradox is not easy to follow without full training in the mathematical and other technicalities of modern physics. All that we are able to say is that the notion of the Absolute, which must be implicit in the solution of the paradox, is viewed unilaterally: not from the philosophical side, but strictly from the operational or behaviouristic aspect only. Professor Temple explains further this operational principle:




"The second thing which I think is worthy of consideration (concluding the special theory of relativity) is the operational principle that we, as physicists, are not concerned with philosophical discussions of the nature of space and time, but the behaviour of measuring rods and clocks." 3


Thus it is to an Absolute of a relativistic order that Einstein as a physicist limits himself. For further light on the question, we have to turn to Eddington, who does not hesitate to call himself a philosopher and a scientist at the same time. In his book “Space, Time and Gravitation” he has the following remarks to make on the relation between the Absolute and the Relative:

"All physical knowledge is relative to space and time partitions; and to gain an understanding of the Absolute it is necessary to approach it through the relative. The Absolute may be defined as a relative which is always the same no matter what it is relative to. Although we think of it as self-existing, we cannot give it a place in our knowledge without setting up some dummy to relate it to. And similarly the absolute differences of space always appear to be related to some mesh-system, although the mesh-system is only a dummy and has nothing to do with the problem."4


Here we find a new development: instead of confining himself to the physical absolute of space and time, Eddington admits a Pure Absolute which is the subject matter of philosophical speculation. He uses one as a corrective to the other. A neutral Absolute would be the resultant of the two factors, the dummy and the original cancelling each other out into a central notion of the Absolute. In order to justify this last statement fully, we must approach the same paradoxical problem of the relation between the Relative and the Absolute in greater detail.


Suffice it here to sum up and say that there are three positions which it is possible to take: first, there is the Relative-Absolute which is that of the dummy of Eddington in the quotation above; second, there is the pure Absolute given to philosophy; and third, there is the neutral Absolute which knows no second.








The Absolute would be an empty word if we did not fill it with some content derived from the relative aspect of Reality, from which our experiences and thoughts have their starting point. The content of Reality as understood in the context of the Absolute has to contain both abstraction and concrete objects. They can be referred to broadly as predicables. All predicable entities will have something that stands for them in the dictionary. This is the domain of the nominal or that of the word. The word must have as its counterpart what corresponds to its meaning.


Generally, if we say "chair" or "rose," we have the word on one side and the object on the other. Words like "'knowledge" and "love" will also have these two sides, so that we can generalise and say that Reality is filled with names and forms. These predicables are causes or effects, substances or attributes, generic or specific entities - or, in most generalised terms, they represent some relation or relata.


The human mind is capable of thinking of all these predicables as particulars or universals; or in different groups, classes or sets; serially in contiguity or in continuity. Analytic and synthetic thought can move among these predicables in a priori or a posteriori fashion, linking them into ramified clusters of various kinds of togetherness or separateness. There can be a one-one correspondence between them and some might by association or habit suggest others as antonyms or synonyms.


Without elaborating this, we can stop here with an initial generalisation about such a system of predicables as being a complex of relations and relata. When the time factor is introduced into this, the idea of order of succession is added to the static picture of relations and relata, and thus a process or a flux characterises the resulting phenomenological picture. Thought circulates between the poles of analysis and synthesis within the limits of the a priori and the a posteriori.




There is a rhythmic alternation according to life interests, and consequent attention to some items of greater interest at one given time than to other items at other times, as life unravels in individuals.


The actual world becomes supplemented by dream or imaginary worlds, and possible worlds, depending on mere hearsay, get added to the total situation. If we give primacy to the subject or the observing self, we witness a passing show: but if we fix our attention on each predicable individually, our field of consciousness may be pictured as being filled merely with relation-relata complexes.


When we open our eyes we see the relata, and when we think with closed eyes we have the relations given to the mind. All relations and relata refer to existents. These can be subjected to reasoning of a logical order, and since they must have some human significance or value, they must come under the category of the Good. Existence, subsistence or value-factors enter into the predicables. Sometimes conceptual aspects may dominate and at other times perceptual ones.


When all these are made to fit into one scheme it tends to become too complicated, and therefore our aims should be to eliminate the extraneous. When this is done systematically we arrive at the fundamental remaining categories constituting a residue which cannot be further eliminated without the pure Absolute, as the substratum of the structure, showing itself transparently through the relativist mesh or dummy. When the bare categories of thought, such as time, space, or causation, are retained, the structure becomes more convenient as a reference, in our discussion of the Absolute and its content, than if we were to elaborate and fit all sorts of details, however legitimate, into the picture. We are therefore obliged to apply the principle of Occam's Razor and cut down to the minimum the items we want to include. Thus the pure Absolute and the Absolute with the structural aspects included in it may help each other in throwing light on the normative Absolute which we have to delimit and fix as clearly as possible.




We find to our advantage here that Eddington has himself tried to present a simplified picture of the relation-structure of the totality of reality which is not other than the Absolute. This happens to be sufficiently suitable for our purposes although, as Eddington himself admits, some of the assumptions are arbitrary and adopted only in the name of simplicity. He says:

"Relation structure: We take as building material relations and relata. The relations unite the relata; the relata are the meeting points of the relations. The one is unthinkable apart from the other. I do not think that a more general starting point of structure could be conceived. To distinguish the relata from one another we assign them monomarks. The monomarks consist of four numbers ultimately to be called co-ordinates. But co-ordinates suggest space and geometry, and as yet there is no such thing in our scheme; hence for the present we shall regard the four identification numbers as no more than an arbitrary monomark. Why four numbers? We use four because it turns out that ultimately the structure can be brought to better order that way; but we do not know why this should be so. We have got so far as to understand that if the relations insisted on a threefold or a fivefold ordering it would be much more difficult to build anything interesting out of them, but that this is perhaps an insufficient excuse for the special assumption of the fourfold order in the primitive material." 5


Coming from such a well-known scientist and philosopher, the above relation structure, built on what he calls "the primitive material" (which cannot be anything other than the Absolute), affords for our purposes in this study a sufficiently firm springboard to arrive at the normalised notion that we are seeking to establish. From other aspects derived from other philosophers like Kant and Spinoza, we shall have more to add later regarding this structural aspect of the content of the Absolute, so as to make it philosophically as well as scientifically self-consistent and complete.




But before we pass from the structure as presented by Eddington, we must add the remark that any relations and relata are not to be looked upon as static and fixed for all time, or to be the same with all persons anywhere, irrespective of their interests or temperaments. Depending on our axiological goal, certain interests prevail which accentuate certain relations or relata aspects as more important than others. In spite of this and also because of this personal element of the thinker or observer, whatever is of interest to the individual self gains primacy over merely objective or mathematical aspects. There is a vertical relation which links the self and the non-self aspects of a relation-relata complex organically and dialectically, giving primacy alternately and in living terms, to one or other interest at a given time.


Reserving such further considerations for future discussion and elaboration, Eddington's structure may be considered acceptable as a basis for our discussion, as far as it goes for our present purposes. We have to add that Eddington's hesitation to speak in terms of the co-ordinates of analytical geometry for the reason that this would suggest space, need not be respected in the light of modern developments in the relationship between geometry and algebra and of the contributions of topology and vectorial and projective geometry (inclusive of the Euclidean as a particular instance among them). Herein Hilbert's contributions are noteworthy.


Space can be treated as gross as well as intuited as space spatialized and as space spatializing. These are further considerations in whose light we shall have to revise and supplement the relation-structure presented by Eddington. The physical, mathematical, logical, personal, ethical, and phenomenological versions of the Absolute are bound to differ in structural details of a specific kind suitable for each context, but the overall features of the structure will remain the same in all cases. Eddington himself admits that the scheme offered by the physicists is still of a relativistic order, and that an absolute scheme which would satisfy the requirements of both physicists and metaphysicians has still to be worked out:




"The relativity of the current scheme of physics invites us to search deeper and find the absolute scheme underlying it, so that we may see the world in a truer perspective." 6


In a later work Eddington refers to his "selective subjectivism and structuralism" which is more philosophical, as the title of the book indicates. Here he improves on the relation structure, and boldly sums up as follows: "In our view the physical universe is neither wholly subjective nor wholly objective - nor a simple mixture of subjective and objective entities or attributes".7






There are three aspects of speculation or investigation which must be kept in mind if philosophy is to become more scientific, or if science is to admit a more correct philosophy as its inevitable counterpart. Our last quotation from Eddington points to the fact that even the physical world is not wholly objective but is also subjective. How much more then should metaphysics be more subjective than physics, although in its turn, metaphysics cannot be without an objective reference? The total knowledge-situation, understood unitively or in an all-inclusive, self-sufficient or absolutist context, has thus to be considered as being both subjective and objective at once.


We should not just think of a promiscuous mixture of subjectivity or objectivity. These have a subtle reciprocity of one-one correspondence. The categories of the one enter into relation with schematic aspects of the other in the pure domain of what is called human understanding. Certain innate or fundamental laws, rules, or necessities prevail in the domain of causes and effects, relations and relata, calculables and observables, facts and logical validities, which refer to the epistemological, methodological, or axiological considerations: thus making of philosophy a complicated field in which problems have to be solved by thought or research to secure the best human interests in matters big or small. Each tree has its seed, from which alone there is the possibility of its growing, and not from any other.




Thus a subtle law of necessity or possibility links certain causes with their effects, and there is also a world of chance or probability where certain results predominate and not others. We are therefore obliged to think of a fundamental structure of the total knowledge-situation, which in reality is none other than the normative notion of the Absolute implied in what is vaguely referred to by sceptic philosophers as human understanding. The empirical, logical, dialectical and purely mathematical or axiomatic ways of thinking refer to different aspects of what this vague term "human understanding" implies. There are levels of abstraction or generalisation possible within the overall domain of understanding.


How a perceptual, an actual, a conceptual, and a nominal entity such as the word "chair" can all co-exist in one common human understanding, without contradiction and with or without an excluded middle ground, is a problem requiring separate and careful elaboration. Equally so is how what is "fact true" need not be logically so, and how a philosophy which has utility as a goal… and how the self and the non-self enter into the structure of the normative notion of philosophy that we are seeking. Ontology, teleology, realism and all other "isms", too numerous to mention, have all to be accommodated within such an integrated normative notion. At the end of our studies in these essays we hope to be in a better position to undertake this task.


The epistemological structure or the limitations of knowledge require recognition of rules, laws or necessities belonging intrinsically to categories and schematic structural peculiarities to which all thinking or speculation has to be subjected.


Methodology too has to follow the lines or axes of reference, frames or forms implicit in such a scheme. Where axiology prevails in philosophical speculations, higher intuitive and value factors must be dialectically treated. Thus, whether philosophical or scientific; subjectivism and structuralism count in speculation.




In the integration of thought this kind of schematism or structuralism plays an important part. It is in recognition of such a necessity that we shall follow in these pages the implications of this aspect, which has been hitherto neglected or given inadequate attention in the domain of philosophical speculation.






Now, after grasping the significance of the relation-structure as presented by a scientist - Eddington - and the schematisation as presented by a philosopher - Kant - if we keep in mind that modern geometrical postulates have corresponding to them valid algebraic axioms or theorems which are making for an exact discipline now known as the algebra of geometry, we shall be sufficiently justified here in taking one step beyond what both the above eminent authorities have suggested. This is to say that the total knowledge situation, which is the subject matter and the object matter at the same time, has always two complementary sides which are related to each other in the form of a one-one structural and complementary relationship.


Whether we call these two reality and appearance; noumenon and phenomenon; quality and quantity; time and space; the conceptual and the perceptual; the self and the non-self; cause and effect; etc., these two aspects are always present. They constitute the central problem that philosophy in general is called upon to solve.


With a little practice in scrutinising these and other such pairs, which different philosophers employ in stating their positions clearly, we shall soon be enabled to see that where the principle of contradiction and excluded middle are admitted, and all is included, we have another aspect of such a dual pair.


Two things or bodies cannot occupy the same space, or in other words, matter in space has the property of impenetrability. Conceptually, however, one circle can be contained in another. This latter we can appreciate with the eyes shut, while the former needs the eye to be kept open.




The visible and the intelligible worlds, referring to the body and the mind, belong therefore to these distinct twin orders which co-exist in the common substance of the Absolute. Space and time, one objective and the other subjective, co-exist in the pure being of the substance of the Absolute.


This participation and separation implies a structure which can be represented by two intersecting lines like Cartesian co-ordinates, with four limbs. The point of intersection is where the two aspects have common ground in the Absolute. If we think of relations and relata we have to put relations of contiguity in the horizontal and those of continuity in the vertical. At each point of intersection we have to relate schematically and structurally a plurality of relata with its component limbs at each point. Each of these complexes can pass for a monad.


This representation offers us the barest skeleton of the schematic structure with whose help the normative notion of the Absolute required for the integration of knowledge can tentatively be arrived at, even at the present stage of our inquiry. Further justification and elaboration will be found in the light of other authoritative writings such as those of Spinoza, which resemble this scheme, as we have once mentioned.


Further, such a scheme offers us a nuclear notion combining characteristics of thought processes, which should enable us to build round it a language common to all sciences and from local or traditional limitations of linguistic frontiers.8 This itself would be a great advantage, merely by the de-Babelisation which would result.




1. Following quotations are from Rune's “Dictionary of Philosophy”, (Jaico, Bombay, 1956).


2. p 70, “Turning Points in Physics - From the Relative to the Absolute”, Lecture by G. Temple. (Harper, NY, 1961).


3. p 82, Ibid.


4. p 82, “Space, Time and Gravitation”, by A.S. Eddington. (Harper, NY, 1959).


5. pp 225, 226, “The Nature of the Physical World”, by A.S. Eddington. (Dent, London,1947).


6. p 43, Ibid.


7. p 27, “The Philosophy of Physical Science” (Michigan University Press, 1958).


8. The author has devoted a separate monograph to this subject.








Speculative philosophy and experimental science each have their methods proper to the problems that they have to solve, and belonging to whichever aspect of total or absolute reality is their proper domain.


In each case the method must depend on the kind of knowledge and its structure in each branch of knowledge. Methodology thus depends on epistemology and vice versa. Hegel's methodology is specially suited to the extremely idealistic position that he takes; but, in the domain of the physical sciences, Hegelianism or even Socratic methods would have no applicability because these sciences give primacy to empirical aspects of reality and not to any subtle essence of reality. Bacon pointed out that scientific method depends on experiment, observation and inference. Inference in science is inductive in character. The truths of science are the laws that are tentatively and hypothetically arrived at within the limits of the empirical world of so-called positive realities. When we go beyond the limits of the empirical we leave laws of nature and turn inwards into the world of cogitation, reasoning, logical or mathematical calculations and the like, so as to arrive at solutions, convictions or certitudes in respect of problems of truth.


Fact-truth is not the same as logic-truth. Here again we could confine ourselves to a form of syllogistic reasoning, which would admit of the principle of contradiction and of the excluded middle. Or we could use still higher reasoning called the dialectical. This consists of equating counterparts which give us certitude by revealing that one set of facts, truths or realities are the same as another, thus disclosing some fundamental relational aspect having significance in human life.




Between a posteriori inferences from experimental data, we pass thus into the domain of such propositions as the famous Cartesian dictum, cogito ergo sum, and build rational or theoretical speculations upwards till we touch a region in pure higher reasoning which employs dialectics, called by Plato the highest instrument of reasoning, independent of all visible or sensible facts.
This kind of reasoning, the dialectical, which takes us to the threshold of higher idealistic values in life, is the third and the last step in philosophical methodology taken as a whole. The laws of nature refer to the world of existence. Rules of thought, whether axiomatic or based on postulates, refer to the world of subsistence. The third step of reasoning lives and has its being in the pure domain of human values, those referring to the True, the Good or the Beautiful, which are values in life and thus belong to the domain of axiology.


The visible, the intelligible, and the value worlds - which we can mark out on a vertical line - represent levels of higher and higher reasoning culminating in the dialectical. It is like soaring or resorting to ascending dialectics, as spoken of in certain circles. This level has, just inferior to it, the world of formal or syllogistic reasoning admitting of the limits of contradictions at its lower limit, and of tautology at its higher limit, where logistic and propositional calculi are employed.


At the lowest level in this vertical axis, where empirical or at least ontological factors prevail, referring to existent aspects of the physical world, actually, perceptually, or even conceptually understood, we have a region where certitudes naturally take the form of laws such as that of gravitation or the conservation of matter or energy. When the observer and the observed, the operator and the operated, are treated together, we have the method of modern relativism. Otherwise stated, these are methods which are more absolutist in outlook. In fact these terms seem to be used interchangeably at present, being used against each other as between Newtonians and Euclideans on the one side and Einsteinians on the other. Relativism must presuppose absolutism, as everyone can guess independently.




Electromagnetic and thermodynamic laws belong to the Einsteinian physical world, whether treated epistemologically as real or ideal. Thus existential, subsistential and value aspects of the Absolute have three different methodological approaches proper to and compatible with each.


A normal methodology applicable to integrated knowledge, whether philosophical or scientific, has to accommodate within its scope these three kinds of approaches to certitude, each in its proper domain. The experimental method suits existent aspects of the Absolute; the logical suits the subsistential; and the dialectical suits the value aspects of the Absolute. Interest in the physical world gives place in the second stage of ascent to logical psychology or phenomenology, where ratiocination plays its part. Finally we ascend higher into the third aspect of the Absolute where value relations hold good and the instrument or methodology used is that of dialectics.


As in mathematical equations where the terms are interchangeable, the dialectical counterparts in the context of the Absolute refer to the Self or the non-Self aspects and cancel each other out in favour of the Absolute Self, where we reach the term of all speculation or reflexive contemplation. The so-called Socratic or the synthetic; the ascetic or the mystical; the psychological; the critical or the transcendent; the dialectical or the intuitive; the reflexive or the eclectic; and the axiomatic, inductive, or deductive methods could all be given their legitimate places in a total overall schematic view of the normative notion that we should keep mind here.








Epistemology is a Greek word often translated into English as "theory of knowledge". It is a fairly recent branch of philosophy. Epistemology may be said to be a more global and conceptualised view of reality. Instead of saying "I know", we seem to take a step backwards here and say, "I know that I know". The subject matter and the object-matter of knowledge are both comprised within it.


Now if we put the questions of "how", "why" and "what" to the person who claims to "know that I know" we arrive at a rough understanding of the scope and limits of this new way of philosophy. When we consider the status of this department of philosophy we see that it belongs to the order of self-introspection. Thus it belongs to the contemplative context. As epistemology examines the Self in terms of the non-Self, and vice versa, covering not only the origin, methods, and validity of knowledge, but also the structure of knowledge which can exist only on something which is behind, as a basis of the structure, we come nearer than ever in epistemology to the norm of the Absolute, neutrally conceived, with its plus and minus sides treated together. The structure needs teaching on some tabula rasa, which can only be human understanding in its most ultimate, abstract, or general sense.


The normative Absolute must be accepted here again as a regulative notion. The rival claims of other branches or other divisions of epistemology should not distort or minimise the importance of this overall view of the knowledge-situation. Both the Self and the non-Self have to be within the scope of the epistemological view. Whether we call these aspects of the Self and the non-Self subjective or objective; observer or observed; operator or operand; psychological or cosmological - a balance has to be struck between them to avoid the egocentric or extreme forms of solipsism. The a priori and the a posteriori aspects also have to be correctly equalised in a normalised epistemological outlook proper to philosophy as a whole. When epistemology becomes thus properly normalised and renormalised from both the poles of the total knowledge-situation it can easily become the foundation of a Science of all sciences, including both the physical and the metaphysical.








Among philosophers of science it is Eddington again who has recognised the need for normalisation through epistemological revision of the status given to scientific knowledge. He paves the way for an integrated or unitive science which is neither subjective nor objective, nor a mere promiscuous mixture of the two, but a science having a correct neutral epistemological status of its own, normalised and re-normalised as between the a priori and the a posteriori. The following extract from Eddington's writings will show how even physicists resort to epistemological revisions in respect of the reality which is their subject:

"Selective subjectivism, which is the modern scientific philosophy, has little affinity with Berkeleian subjectivism, which if I understand rightly, denies all objectivity to the external world. In our view the physical universe is neither wholly subjective nor wholly objective - nor a simple mixture of subjective and objective entities or attributes."1


Striking the norm between the subjective and the objective is a problem for absolutist epistemology. It depends on the fact that both these counterparts have a common structural correspondence. The thesis and the antithesis, the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the Self and the non-Self - have between them a relationship which, when subjected to a dialectical treatment as counterparts, as both true or both false, yields by cancellation of numerator and denominator or by plus and minus annihilation, the neutral Absolute which is the common central reference for both. This is an overall epistemological law which both physicists and idealists are beginning to formulate, though not as yet in finalised terms. In Indian Vedanta, as we have already seen, there is again the ever-unsettled question of unity or duality between the saguna brahman (the relative Absolute) and the nirguna brahman (the absolute Absolute). The reduction of this duality in terms of the unitive central neutral Absolute is even there, as in the domain of the philosophy of science, still an unresolved problem. A fully absolutist approach with a more consciously developed dialectical methodology inevitable and inseparable from it, can alone be expected to clear the way for integrated knowledge or unified science.




How Hegelian dialectics and the absolutism that went with it lost its way in the sands of extraneous political fervour is what we have already seen. As for Eddington's attempts to bring about a drastic epistemological revision, he unfortunately died before he could fully establish his case, and even when living he was conscious of the odds against which he had to fight. This is evident from what he wrote:

"I expect I shall be accused of exaggerating the epistemological element in modern physical theory…From the time of Newton until recently, the epistemology of science was stationary: for two hundred years the extending and ordering of our knowledge of the physical universe continued without modifying it...


Generally, he (the physicist) prided himself on being a plain matter-of-fact person...
Thus, although scientific epistemology has always been part of the domain of physics, the physicist has 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." 2


The three epistemological features that Eddington wishes to apply to the theory of physics are put in the words "subjectivism", "selectionism", and "structuralism", to which he has devoted a whole book with many chapters. It is not easy for us to form a complete idea of what he wished to say. For our purpose it is not necessary to go into the technical details of the physicist. All that we can do is to take a peep into his study through a door left ajar, as it were, so that we might have at least a rough idea of what normalisation and renormalisation from the a priori and the a posteriori aspects of the Absolute mean, so that we can in such a light follow modern trends in thought more intelligently.




In order to clarify what we might have to say in the next two works of this series 3 and in the comments on the “One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction” of the Guru Narayana, for which this is an introduction, we shall extract from the writings of Eddington just a few more lines on this topic of epistemology:

"The epistemological method of investigation leads us to the study of the nature of the frame of thought, and so be forewarned to its impress on the knowledge that will be forced into it. We may foresee a priori certain characteristics which any knowledge contained in the frame will have simply because it is contained in the frame. These characteristics will be discovered a posteriori by physicists who employ that frame of thought, when they come to examine that knowledge they have forced into it. Procrustes again."4






The allusion to Procrustes in the above quotation brings us to the question of the norm and how it is the resultant of the correction of the experimental in the light of the theoretical, and of the theoretical in the light of the experimental, so that what agrees from the side of both at once is the neutrally or absolutely right in the final sense. Eddington calls this double process of correction for requirements of epistemology "the Procrustean treatment."5


Procrustes was a giant of Greek fable who was said to have stretched out or chopped down his guests to fit the bed he had constructed, to which story Eddington added a supplement to say that "He measured them up before they left next morning, and wrote a learned paper 'On the Uniformity of Stature of Travellers' for the Anthropological Society of Attica.' "


What Eddington did not explain by reference to the fable was left for Sir Edmund Whittaker to clarify further, giving the name "Re-normalisation" to the treatment. He explained it thus:

"The development of quantum electro-dynamics has in fact shown the necessity for what is called re-normalisation, which is precisely a recognition of the difference between the observed and the theoretical values of e and m...Although Eddington did not live to see the development of the modern practice of re-normalising e and m, he saw that a situation of the kind must arise, and he uttered a warning against expecting too close an agreement between his theoretically calculated values and those obtained by measurement."6




Those who came after Eddington, including Prof. S. R. Milner and others, have made further progress on the same lines, and shown beyond doubt that predications made through theory have been verified by practice. This fact is enough to prove that there is a norm in the domain of science, common to theory and practice, which has a neutral or central status of its own. In other words, it is absolute in its status in the context of science conceived as a whole, experimentally or non-experimentally, which is the same as saying quantitatively or qualitatively. If we extrapolate and apply this principle to the domain of thought in general, whether called physical or metaphysical in a unified sense, we have the same absolute norm emerging into our view quite clearly and unequivocally.






Methodology and epistemology are natural and necessary presuppositions to an absolutist or normative axiology for all philosophy or unified science. The word "method" naturally suggests scientific method first and perhaps dialectical method last. Epistemology moves within the limits of reasoning where metaphysics resides, and only by extended or extrapolated application does it refer to the ontological aspects of reality. Science gives primacy to existence and reason to subsistence, and what is existent and substantial must needs have a value-significance for man for whom all knowledge may be said to have any significance at all
The True, the Good and the Beautiful refer to the world of values, preferences or desirables. God, the final cause, is also most good according to Aristotle, and the summum bonum of classical philosophy is also a value factor.




Hedonistic, pragmatic and utilitarian values, besides aesthetic and religious values, and science itself as a means as well as an end in axiology, are familiarly known to different philosophies. The Self and the non-Self equated yield absolute value in the normative Self. All knowledge of the Self being for the sake of the Self, and the Self itself being of the nature of consciousness which is essentially of the stuff of knowledge, there is no duality of ends and means when axiology is conceived unitively. Vedanta recognises this verity in the great dicta, the maha-vakyas, representing the final doctrine of that kind of thinking. A scale of values from the most earthy to the most pure, ranging between the dark and the bright poles of personal life, which fits in with its corresponding cosmology, is also permissible in the context of absolutist axiology.


When knowledge and the self meet and cancel each other out in the neutrality of the experience of the Absolute in the Self, we have the term or goal of all axiology. The Absolute becomes the adorable or the most loveable or dearest value. A hierarchy of values resulting from the dialectical cancellation of lower and higher values is also legitimate in the context of the normative or absolutist principle in which we can examine all possible values significant to human life.


There is a cosmological wonder about the physical world and about God who is thought to be its origin and source. The former belongs to the visible and the latter to the intelligible. A series of wonders could be ranged, graded from terra firma to the subtlest of mental abstractions, containing the same element of wonder. The sense of wonder is the basis of adoration or poetic ecstasy. Thus, value verges on the mystical.






Scientists, like the matter-of fact people they want to be considered to be, never display attitudes of wonder and its allied feelings about truth or reality. Usually they tend to dismiss such matters as sentimental. This axiological factor, against which orthodox scientists shut their front doors, seems however to be entering the strict preserves of the scientific house by the back door when we find Sir Edmund Whittaker exclaiming:




"We stand in awe before the thought that the intellectual framework of Nature is prior to Nature herself; that it existed before the material universe began its history; that the cosmos revealed to us by science is only one fragment in the plan of the Eternal." 7
Such language is not unlike that of the pulpit which one may hear any Sunday; but this time it refers to the nature of the physical world and not to God. The word 'Eternal' which must refer to the Absolute, scientifically understood, is the common integrating normative link between theology and science, though perhaps not consciously so employed by the eminent scientist here. Even if so used, there would be a number of more orthodox scientists who might, as Eddington has put it, "question his right of way".






Prof. Erwin Schroedinger is another eminent scientist who is heterodox enough to refer to Vedantic doctrines, such as atman = brahman. In the epilogue of “What is Life?” he writes:
"1) My body functions as a pure mechanism according to the Laws of Nature.
2) Yet I know, by incontrovertible direct experience that I am directing all motions, of which I foresee the effects that may be fateful and all-important, in which case I feel and take full responsibility for them.


The only possible inference from these two facts is, I think that I - I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that has ever said or felt 'I' - am the person, if any, who controls the motion of the atoms according to the Laws of Nature." 8


Further remarks on similar lines but more elaborate can be found in Schroedinger's later book, “My View of the World” (Cambridge University Press, 1964).
This quotation from an up-to-date scientist resembles the text of the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII, 61) where it is stated:




"The Lord dwells in the heart region of all beings, 0 Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve through the principle of appearance (maya) (as if) mounted on a machine". .9


Even Dr. Robert Oppenheimer is reported to have remembered his studies of the Gita, and was forced to exclaim about the terrific white light produced by the atomic explosion, repeating the words of Arjuna, "It was as if it were the glory of a thousand suns" (compare the Bhagavad Gita XI, 12 which reads - "If the splendour of a thousand suns were to rise together in the sky, that might resemble the splendour of that great Self.").


The wonder of absolute Reality evidenced in nature or in God can thus claim equally the admiration of the greatest scientists as well of the mystics, without detracting from their proper status or dignity as fully intelligent humans.


Wholesale wonder about life or the nature of the split atom thus brings open-minded scientists near to the value-aspects of science such as the wonder of the Absolute, when they approach it from the side of the relative. A normalised version of the same value-factor will bring us as near as possible to the notion of the neutral Absolute as an existent, a subsistent, and a high value. In a scale of values it will occupy the top position as the summum bonum. Ends and means meet in all values viewed under the aegis of the Absolute.






1. p 27, “The Philosophy of Physical Science” (Michigan University Press, 1958).


2. pp 52, 53, Ibid.


3. See “Vedanta Revalued and Restated” and “The Philosophy of a Guru”, by Nataraja Guru.


4. p 109, Ibid.


5. p 116, Ibid.


6. p 25, Eddington's “Principle in the Philosophy of Science”. (Cambridge University Press, 1951).


7. p 131, Ibid.


8. p 89, “What is Life?” (Cambridge University Press, 1951).


9. See Prof, O.F.Reiser of the University of Pittsburgh, USA, in his project "Prometheus and Krishna".








Implicitly or explicitly all philosophy must refer to the Absolute. Although the open recognition and use of the term has been of recent origin, we have already seen how, ranging from theology to science, many schools of philosophy have had the Absolute implied in their systems.


A cosmological, a psychological, and a theological Absolute, besides a scientific one, have all been in vogue for some time, and the distinction between what is a relativistic and an absolutist approach has come to the forefront of thought ever since Einstein's relativism began to be talked about. But even before Einstein, philosophers such as Hegel and Bergson have stood for their own kind of absolutist approach, different though their definitions of the Absolute might be. Philosophy needs a revised epistemology and methodology before we can say which of the definitions is the more correct.


Even when philosophy and science have been standardised or normalised there is another more important presupposition which both of these subserve. This is that, unless we have an idea of the purpose of life, and give to the least and the greatest of values in life a graded position in an absolute scheme, mere absolutism can easily carry us to explosive extremes when applied to group life.


Pan-Germanism, Marxism, and various forms of Fascism in politics, or charlatanism in spiritual walks of life, are not unknown dangers to modern generations. Of those who openly called themselves absolutists in philosophy, whether it was an approach or an "ism" to which their philosophies may be justly said to conform, two names stand out - Hegel and Bergson.




So before we pass on to see how even those who were not labelled absolutists openly were still absolutists tacitly or unconsciously, we shall here examine briefly these two philosophers. They were the first to be bold enough to recognise openly the absolutism in their respective outlooks.






In his annotation to Hegel's “Encyclopaedia of Philosophy”, Gustav Emil Mueller, the translator, annotating Section 5 of the preliminary note on “The Theories of Knowledge”, correctly explains the usual mistake of calling Hegel's philosophy a form of "idealism". It is true that when we stress the notion of his "idea", those who call Hegel an "absolute idealist" might at first seem to be right; but the epistemologically understood "idea" of Hegel is characterised by a certain comprehensiveness which is an absolutist quality, by virtue of which the label "idealism" would not be justified. Dr. Mueller explains this clearly as follows:

"Historians have labelled Hegel's philosophy 'absolute idealism' - this is just as pointless as any other '-ism', even though the 'idea' is a central term, equivalent to and exchangeable with 'reality as such', 'world itself,' 'universe,' 'comprehensiveness,' the 'Absolute'. His 'absolute idealism' might just as well be called 'absolute realism' but is neither because any standpoint which has an opposite is not the Absolute."


If we add a few words from Hegel himself where he underlines the all-comprehensive epistemological nature of the notion of the Absolute as he intended it to be, we shall have for the present enough of an idea of Hegelian absolutism for our purposes:

"S 160...Intelligent objectivity and objective intelligibility in process are particular expressions of the idea.
S 161. All previous determinations of the Absolute are absorbed in this definition: The Absolute is Idea. They all participate in its truth and are true only as far as they participate in it…




The Absolute Idea is not the idea of something or other; rather it differentiates itself in many concrete systems of life and remains the One all-embracing process and activity in all of them…
The idea is freedom: The Absolute determines itself and is determined by nothing outside itself. Its eternal presence is one with its restless creativity. It never stands still; it leaves standing no seemingly finished manifestations of its life". 2


Here the notion of the Absolute has an essentially epistemological status, and its methodological aspect is supplied by the dialectical approach. The all-comprehensiveness of the "Idea" is seen to be dialectically conceived when he refers to it above as being both "intelligible objectivity" and "objective intelligibility" at one and the same time. It is like saying "this is the son of the father" and "this is the father of the son", both of which refer centrally to one and the same reality.


The process that is stressed above covers the same ground as the Absolute to be comprehended by Bergson, whose ideas we shall also examine. When Hegel says the Absolute's "eternal presence is one with its restless creativity" (our italics), we have two aspects of the Absolute brought very close together. One of them may be said to refer to "being" and the other to "becoming." Between them, being and becoming present a paradox. How they can coexist is an enigma that has not been fully examined either by Hegel or Bergson. Even Sankara, the Vedanta philosopher, as we shall see, is hard put to resolve the implied paradox between what he calls the qualified or effected Absolute (saguna brahman), and the Absolute that is fully real (nirguna brahman) according to him. "Transcending duality" as they say in India, presents the same problem as "resolving paradox" in the linguistic context of Western philosophy.


Although Hegel and Sankara come very close to each other in discovering the norm of thought in philosophy, there is some retouching still necessary in methodology, epistemology, and axiology, if the normative notion that we are seeking in this study is to emerge fully into view.




By stressing merely the epistemological or idea aspect at the expense of the two others, Hegel falls short of what is required for the complete notion of the Absolute that is necessary. Moreover, he underscores the aspect of restless activity of the Absolute as he conceives it when he says above that "It never stands still; it leaves standing no seemingly finished manifestations of its life". Here his pan-Germanic "will to power" becomes already evident. This is the factor that warped and distorted his approach to absolutism, as we have already said. His approach needs axiological reorientation so that the pure creativity of the Absolute may not give justification for partial egoistic distortions of the will, and its miscarriage into undesirable and disastrous channels, which happened, as later history records. The ego in man is an ever-present danger which will distort any normative notion and bend it to its own prejudices. Only on the soil of absolute detachment and dispassionateness can the right kind of absolutism flourish, as history and individual lives have amply shown.






The Hegelian notion of the Absolute more or less ended in a blind alley, losing itself in politics and sociology, where some action or conquest was the dominant consideration. But Bergson broke off from both his Classical and Relationist predecessors in philosophy to whose line, starting from Descartes, even Hegel may be said to belong.


Bergson gave fresh impetus to philosophical speculation based, not on conceptualisation (even in such grand outlines as the Hegelian Idea), but in living and experienced terms stemming from biology and not from geometry and physics. According to Bergson the latter were mechanistic non-living stills or moulds into which the molten liquid of thought was solidified. The mechanistic intelligence can attain only the relative, but it needs the intuitive approach to questions about time, duration or motion from inside the situation instead of from outside, so that thought can attain the Absolute. Bergson was thus not interested in the Absolute directly, but found a method by which one could attain it from the relative.




For him, intuition was the instrument by which man is able to attain the Absolute in actual living experience and not as a mere Idea, however metaphysically or mathematically sound it might be. He explains:

"From the overlooking of this intuition proceeds all that has been said by philosophers and by men of science themselves about the 'relativity' of scientific knowledge. What is relative is the symbolic knowledge by pre-existing concepts, which proceeds from the fixed to the moving, and not the intuitive knowledge which installs itself in that which is moving and adopts the very life of things. This intuition attains the absolute. (Our Italics) ".3


The relative and the Absolute are two aspects of reality, one given to mechanistic and the other to intuitive thinking. The world of mechanistic thinking is a machine which, when it works properly, Bergson says, produces men of intuition who will resemble gods. This idea of the Absolute as opposed to the relative has a structural secret enshrined within it (which we shall examine later), by which paradoxes like that of Zeno transcended by the capacity to think intuitively, and by overcoming the natural tendency to see the world mechanistically.






If Bergson found an instrument of thought which could attain the Absolute, Hegel went into the content of the Idea of the Absolute and worked out its conceptual implications. Bergson's approach was methodological while Hegel's was epistemological. The axiological implications were not properly worked out by either of them, and to that extent their notions of the Absolute were incomplete. Hegel's Absolute was a culmination of the original sceptical impetus in modern thought, which began with Descartes and continued with Hume as a philosopher and with Newton as a scientist. Because Hegelianism caught up again with the idea of God, which had been discarded, at least in its classical, scholastic or theological sense, with the dawn of the age of Reason, Hegelian Absolutism ended in a blind alley.




Modern minds still fought shy of anything that sounded like dogmatism or belief. Hegel's absolutism could find a place for belief in God: and so may be said to have completed the cycle which began with the extreme of the absolute belief in the idea of a World Spirit and its affinities, with a theological idea of God as representing the Absolute. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all capable to being fitted into the notion of the Absolute of Hegel. Thus theology entered the domain of philosophy by the back door after the front door had been slammed against it by sceptics like Hume.


No wonder then that a reaction set in at the very heart of modern philosophy after it had become developed as far as the Absolute of Hegel. Empiricists and sceptics such as Bertrand Russell, who in many cases began as admirers of Hegel, finally turned their faces against him. They called themselves Positivists, Empiricists or Analytical Philosophers, and there is at present a whole line of them who stand for something far different from the absolutism implied in Hegel. Moore, Croce, Santayana, Whitehead, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre, James, Dewey, Ayer, and Russell make up a long line of modern thinkers who are considered as ranged against absolutism as a philosophical doctrine. Morton White examines their philosophies in a volume called “The Age of Analysis”. In his very first essay called "The Decline and Fall of the Absolute" we have an opening paragraph which states the case against the idea of the Absolute:
"It is a remarkable tribute to an enormously muddled but brilliant German professor of the nineteenth century that almost every important philosophical movement of the twentieth century begins with an attack on his views. I have in mind Hegel, whose philosophy is more fully presented in another volume of this series, but without whom we cannot begin a discussion of the twentieth century. Not only did he influence the originators of Marxism, Existentialism and Instrumentalism - now three of the most popular philosophies of the world - but at one time or other he dominated the founders of the more technical movements, Logical Positivism, Realism and Analytic Philosophy.




The point is that Karl Marx, Kierkegaard the Existentialist, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, and G. Moore were at one time or other close students of Hegel's thought and some of their most distinctive doctrines reveal the imprint or the scars of previous contact or struggle with this strange genius." 4


Analytical Philosophers are those who direct their minds away from the general a priori to the particular that can be verified by measurement or experimentally by scientific inferences or methods. If Hegel gives us a notion of the one Ultimate Absolute, the Analytical Philosophers lead us to the discovery of the pluralistic atomic reality by thinking of the particulars implied in the general.


That analysis and synthesis are two processes that have to be combined in any absolutely conceived or unified epistemology or methodology is sufficiently evident to impartial philosophers who have no axe of their own to grind. To raise slogans such as those implied in the attitude quoted above would not therefore be in keeping with a correct philosophical spirit. The excesses of the Middle Ages, as we have pointed out, were lengthening shadows which made modern philosophy travel from Hume's Absolute Scepticism to Hegel's form of Absolute Belief.


One must place in a graded order in the total scheme: the Rationalists, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza and Kant, each of whom wrote respectively in terms of Occasionalism, Monadism, Substance, and the Thing-in-itself. Their positions contained elements of scepticism or belief, the former yielding place to the latter. The totality on which this Rationalism traced its impress was called Human Understanding, the Thinking Substance, the Pure Critical Reason, or the Principle of Sufficient Reason etc. All of these implied elements of the Absolute from the side of the subjective agent of reasoning. If Bergson was able to write of "attaining the Absolute" through intuition; and Hegel able to put the notion of the Absolute at the very centre of his philosophy; the other philosophers may be seen to place the Absolute tacitly in the fore or aft of the knowledge-situation implied between the subject and the object.




Some recognition of the Absolute was tacitly or overtly given by all philosophers, whether they said it in so many words or not. How this was so, we shall show in the next section.


Although absolutist philosophy suffered a setback, it still had prominent adherents. The names of eminent philosophers such as Hamilton, Bradley, Bosanquet, and Royce can be included among those who have taken their stand on some aspect or other of the absolutist position, whether in the context of metaphysics, mystical feeling, aesthetic completeness or moral perfection. Both analysis and synthesis have to find their respective places in absolutist methodology. The introduction into philosophy of value-factors and of moral perfection as an ideal makes absolutism an inevitable part of any philosophy claiming completeness or comprehensibility. Some may be described as methodological absolutists and others as epistemological absolutists, with a third group, who treat of value-factors and who are the most complete philosophers, being axiological absolutists. When we include all these partial absolutisms into a unitary plan we begin to have a full view of the normative notion which we seek. Presently we shall see how Empiricists and Rationalists also had absolutist notions whether in the background or foreground of their schemes.


The various extant modes in which philosophers of the West have made efforts to fix the notion of the Absolute have been masterfully reviewed by Sir William Hamilton. The following extract from his writing shows exactly how far speculation in the West a century ago has gone in this respect. In a letter to H. Calderwood, who attacked Hamilton's idea of the Infinite, which is a notion allied to that of the Absolute, there are three points that Hamilton takes care to underline which are also of great value to us to remember in this present inquiry. The three points are:
"1) The Infinite that I contemplate is only as in thought.
2) If I deny the Infinite can by us be known, I am far from denying that by us it is, must, and ought to be believed.
3) There is a fundamental difference between the Infinite and a relation to which we might apply the term infinite." 5




After stressing thus the purely conceptual, contemplative, and independent status of the notion, he gives a list under six heads in which Western philosophers absorbed the Absolute, as follows:
"1) Some carry the Absolute by assault - by a single leap - place themselves at once in the Absolute - take it as a datum. Others climb to it by degrees - mount to the Absolute from the conditioned - as a result. Former - Plotinus, Schelling; latter - Hegel, Cousin are examples.
2) Some place cognition of the Absolute above condition or limitation (Plotinus, Schelling). Others reach... it through contrast, difference... giving when sifted a cognition of identity (absolute) (Hegel, Cousin).
3) Some...abolish the logical laws of Contradiction and the Excluded Middle (as Cusa, Schelling, and Hegel). Plotinus is not explicit. Others do not (as Cousin).
4) Some hold that to know the Absolute is to be the Absolute - to know the Absolute is to be God. ... others hold the impersonality of reason in holding that we are conscious of eternal truths as in the divine mind (St. Augustine, Malebranche, Price and Cousin).
5) Some carry up man into the Deity (as Schelling), others bring down the Deity to man...
6) Some think the Absolute can be known as an object of knowledge others that to know the Absolute we must be the Absolute (Schelling, Plotinus)". 6
When we remember here that Schelling influenced Hegel and figures in more than one context in the above analysis by Hamilton, and that in Germany at that time Vedantic ideas prevailed, it might not be too far-fetched to suppose that the Upanishadic notion of the Absolute influenced European thought.




The great Orientalist Max Müller studied under the Sanskritist Prof. Bopp in Berlin about 1845. Schopenhauer's admiration of the philosophy of the Upanishads is well known, and the affinities of Kantian a priorism in respect of categories of time, space and causality, which helped Schopenhauer to treat the world as will and presentiment, are all aspects of absolutism quite familiar in the context of Advaita Vedanta. The “thing-in-itself” touches the absolute reality, although it was left at that and not developed into its own status as the Absolute, which it was given to Hegel to formulate. This was a concession of Kant's to the spirit of scepticism, which was the initial impetus for modern philosophy, which had passed through Cartesian Rationalism and reached a more mature form under the label of critical reason instead of merely methodic doubt.


How the Absolute of Vedanta resembles modern notions of the Absolute is seen also in writers and thinkers of more recent years, like Royce (1855-1916). We shall see this more clearly when the position of Vedanta has been discussed in the next section. We can state here, however, that in Royce the notion of the Absolute receives more finished concreteness or transfiniteness (as Royce himself would prefer to say) than in Hegel, and comes nearest to the notion of the Absolute which is implied in the Upanishads themselves.




1. “The Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, by G.W.F. Hegel, trans. by G.E.Mueller, “Philosophical Library”, NY, 1952.


2. p 152, 152, Ibid.


3. p 53, “An Introduction to Metaphysics”, by H. Bergson, trans. by T.E. Hulme, Library of Liberal Arts, Bobbs-Merrill Co., NY, 1955.


4. p 13, “The Age of Analysis”, by Morton White, Mentor Paperback, NY, 1955.


5. p 530-531, “Lectures on Metaphysics”, (Appendix Vol. II) by Sir William Hamilton, Blackwood, Edinburgh, 1877.


6. Ibid.








In textbooks of philosophy, Locke, Hume and Berkeley are usually labelled empiricists, sceptics, or both. But Berkeley at least must be included among idealists, since he gave primacy to mind over matter. Locke himself believed in a God, and could be called a good believer, but he did give primacy to perceptual over innate aspects. Hume was a more thoroughgoing sceptic who was willing, most uncompromisingly, to put all scholastic ideas into the melting pot.


Although thus classified as sceptics in superficial textbooks, the British trio of philosophers who, like Voltaire and Rousseau of the European mainland, were the forerunners of the Age of Enlightenment, can be seen, on closer scrutiny, to hide their own absolutism and variety of what might be called belief. So an examination of their position will help us to fix the normative notion that we are trying to define.


As a dignitary of the Church and at the same time a philosopher of the Age of Reason, Berkeley built his views round the formula esse = percipi and was not as much of a sceptic as to offend the Church. Locke too was a believer in God, but his God was part and parcel of his own philosophy rather than a God who conformed strictly to the theological or scholastic standards of the age that he was leaving behind. Hume was more uncompromising, and even modern empiricists and sceptics look upon him for some leadership in their own ways of thinking. Because of his extreme or absolute scepticism and phenomenalism, we shall discard chronological order and examine his position first, to see if he had any tacit absolutism hiding behind his front of total disbelief.








In the religious and theological sense Hume is known as an extreme sceptic who did not believe in any deity as a necessary source of phenomenal reality. Did he believe in anything at all? That would be the natural question for us to put if we wanted to find the absolutist element which must be lurking at the core of any philosophy worth the name, and to which Hume cannot be an exception. That he himself kept an open mind in this matter is evident from the conclusion of his “Dialogues of Natural Religion”, where he says, "To be a philosophical sceptic is in a man of letters the first and most essential step towards being a sound believing Christian." This reveals an open mind. It is the scholastic notion of deity that did not appeal to him. When, in spite of such disbelief, Hume still thinks in terms of such a factor as "Human Understanding," we arrive at a notion where he touches, consciously or unconsciously, on some factor of an absolutist status.


No one has experienced human understanding as such. It is a total or generalised supposition, which he accepts as a priori, that all humans treated collectively have this common faculty or quality of consciousness in general which he prefers to call "understanding". He goes further than just referring to this "understanding", which is a kind of ultimate reference of an epistemological order, and fills it with two items or final categories of content. He categorically states that either "quantity or number" or "experimental reasoning" are the only two items of significance in any book one might pick up in any library. If a book does not contain one or other of these items, he asks us to commit it then to the flames."


It is legitimate to ask how he arrived at these two final categories which have significance in the context of human understanding. Thus it is not difficult to see how even Hume gives some a priori content to what he calls "Human Understanding", which to him is an ultimate reference in the background of his system, tacitly taken for granted. Such a notion touches the Absolute, whether expressly stated as such or not. The content of such a notion perhaps requires to be further elaborated.




When Kant, who was influenced by Hume, actually did this in terms of space, time, and causality, these Kantian categories in fact contained similar elements such as the "thing-in-itself", which could not be known and as such represented the Absolute of Kant. It was not different either from the tabula rasa of Locke, or from the mind of God of Berkeley, where primary and secondary qualities of perception and powers attached to them resided.


We shall see later that these very same absolutist elements were to be recognised as observables and calculables by scientists. Whatever the name given to these categorical items in the ultimate absolutist background notion, they conform to the visible or to the intelligible elements contained in the core of the Absolute: the visible referring to the practical, and the intelligible to the pure. In order to avoid getting lost in the different names that philosophers might give to these two factors, we are going to adopt, for taxonomic purposes and for the convenience of generalised and abstracted reference, the terms vertical for the pure and horizontal for the practical or visible, reserving the further clarification or justification of such a choice for development stage by stage in this work as a whole. As the Cartesian correlates are not altogether unknown to modern scientific and mathematical thought, this way of nomenclature should not be considered altogether strange.






Like the "thing-in-itself" of Kant and the "emptiness" of the phenomenalism of Hume, we find Locke insisting on a clean slate as the basis of consciousness. He could not have arrived at this notion by purely empirical reasoning. He must have felt it intuitively within himself. On such a clean slate which he calls 'Human Understanding', he, like Hume, has to find room not only for primary and secondary qualities arising objectively from the material world, but also for that vague category which he calls "powers" which belongs neither to the objective nor the subjective side, but occupies a neutral position between them. Even Hume went so far as to indicate, "Every simple idea has a simple impression that resembles it."1




Thus there is room within the Human Nature of Hume for a sort of one-one correspondence between ideas and impressions. Locke's tabula rasa is also likewise filled with these so-called "powers" of the understanding which have a neutral and central status which he describes as follows:

"Three sorts of qualities in bodies: -
First, the bulk, figure, number, situation and motion or rest of their solid parts: these are in them, whether we perceive them or not. These I call primary qualities. Secondly, the power that is in any body, by reason of its insensible primary qualities, to operate after a peculiar manner on any of our senses, and thereby produce on us the different ideas of several colours, sounds, smells, tastes, etc. Thirdly, the power that is in any body, by reason of the peculiar constitution of its primary qualities to make such change in the bulk, figure, texture and motion of another body, as to make it operate on our senses differently from what it did before. Thus the sun has power to make wax white and fire to make lead fluid. (These are usually called powers"). 2


We have to note here that these powers are within any body subjectively and that only the primary qualities are real and in the objects themselves. The secondary qualities, Locke is careful to make clear in the same essay, are "such qualities which in truth are nothing in the objects themselves but powers to produce various sensations in us by their primary qualities". 3


A careful scrutiny of the status of primary and secondary qualities and these powers which Locke says are not objective but "in us", must necessarily refer to something within the collective mind of humanity, belonging to human understanding and conceived in generalised terms.




It is well known that when Locke describes the consciousness of man as a tabula rasa, he means to say that it is without innate content. On the other hand these secondary powers not residing in the objective side have necessarily to be subjective. How they are present in all men without being objective is an enigma which can be satisfactorily explained only by thinking that secondary qualities are virtualities within individual consciousness; and that the so-called "powers" refer deeper to some special energy like that of the sun or fire in the physical world which is still inside, as it were (even these not being objective according to Locke), the collective consciousness of man, and lodged at the core of human understanding, which itself is a clean slate.


Here we have the same enigma of the relative and the Absolute which we have discussed already. There are certain categories to be fitted structurally into the relative or minus side of the field called the Absolute; and there are other categories on the other or plus side which is the fully absolute aspect of the same Absolute. The tabula rasa can be placed between these two rival aspects of the Absolute.
Although Locke himself avoids such names as "innate ideas" or "the Absolute", he tells us enough about the nature of reality to compel us to fit his ideas into a scheme of the Absolute on the lines we have discussed. The "powers" have to reside in the Absolute subjectively, as they refer to human understanding in general. Here, starting from the empirical, Locke attains the Absolute. Revelation and Reason (which abides in human understanding), are, according to Locke, of divine origin, forming two poles in the absolute Human Understanding. Although both are important and equally dignified in epistemological status, Locke would rely on reason primarily and on revelation only secondarily.




He himself explains the relations between the two as follows:

"Reason and revelation: reason is natural revelation, whereby the eternal Father of light and fountain of all knowledge communicates to mankind that portion of truth which he has laid within the reach of his natural faculties; revelation is natural reason enlarged by a new set of discoveries communicated by God immediately, which reason vouches the truth of, by the testimony and proofs it gives, that they come from God. So that he who takes away reason to make way for revelation, puts out the light of both and does much-what the same, as if he would persuade a man to put out his eye, the better to receive the remote light of an invisible star by telescope. "4


Far from denying innate ideas, he raises them thus to the status of being two aspects of truth that come from God. The eye and the telescope however, look outside and not into the soul. The tabula rasa thus remains unaffected by these remarks of Locke about a God who is viewed here more cosmologically than psychologically. God, however, being the author of both the aspects of human understanding, must needs have an absolutist status, neither inside nor outside.






Bishop Berkeley was a philosopher and a theologian at the same time. In his essay entitled Of the Principles of Human Knowledge, his main effort was to refute the idea that unthinking objects could exist outside the mind. He was opposing Locke here. His tendency was to substitute a cosmological Absolute outside the notion of God, who was not merely outside but could be known as mind, spirit, soul, or as oneself. The formula esse = percipi sums up the Berkeleian position vis-a-vis the prevailing forms of scepticism and empiricism of his time. It is not here in his refutation of Locke that we have to look for the Absolute as implied in the philosophy of Berkeley.


The very fact that he continued to be a dignitary of the Church suggests that a Christian God was at the back of his mind even when he argued against the sceptics of his time in fully philosophical language. God may be said to have been his philosophical Absolute, but the theological notion of spirit was used interchangeably by Berkeley with the same as understood in the philosophical context.




There is no serious problem for us therefore to show that the notion of the Absolute as the Most High God was acceptable to Berkeley, although he is seen bracketed with the British Empiricists in textbooks of philosophy. This must be because of his epistemological frame of reference which belonged to the context of giving primacy to sensation and perception, and such matters in which he had to develop his argument against other empiricists of his time. Thus he may be said to belong to an empirical context rather than being an empiricist pure and simple. The position of Berkeley can be summed up in his own words as follows:

"…besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of knowledge there is likewise something that knows or perceives them, and exercises diverse operations, as willing, imagining, remembering, about them. This perceiving active being is what I call mind, spirit, soul or myself. By which words I do not denote any one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them wherein they exist, or which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived: for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived." 5


Although thus giving an absolute status to the mind, Berkeley takes care to remain a pious Christian, speaking the language of theology and degrading philosophical speculations, when he concludes by saying:

"…so shall I esteem them (my labours) altogether useless and ineffectual if, by what I have said I cannot inspire my readers with a pious sense of the presence of God; and having shown the falseness and vanity of those barren speculations which make the chief employment of learned men, the better dispose them to reverence and embrace the salutary truths of the Gospel which to know and practise is the highest perfection of human nature." 6


The two tasks which Berkeley was called upon to fulfil by his labours at one and the same time were loyalty to the Church and to present sound arguments in speculative philosophy.




The Absolute of the Gospels and the Absolute which gave the mind a central position were supposed by him to be without any mutual contradiction. It would take a separate study to verify if this can actually be so. We shall therefore close this review with the remark that even in their philosophies, which referred in all three cases to human understanding, reason, or knowledge in most general terms, the so-called empiricists of Britain, had some elements of unmistakable absolutist status. They were all implicit absolutists who had, as it were, the normative notion of the Absolute as a private reference at the back of their minds.




1. p 1, “Treatise on Human Nature”, by David Hume, Selyb Briggs, London, 1896.


2. pp 269 - 270, “The English Philosophers”, Modern Library, NY, 1939.


3. p 265, Ibid.


4. p 397, Ibid.


5. p 523, Ibid.


6. p 578 - 579, Ibid.








From the empiricists who went as far as the dictum "esse = percipi", starting from absolute scepticism about the content of consciousness, to the so-called rationalists who also had their own version of the Absolute implied in their thought, we reach the domain where the famous statement of Descartes, cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), holds a fundamental position.


The accent shifts from the outer world of values or realities to the inner. The curiosity of the sceptic based on the nature of perception turns to the study of the reasoning faculty. For among the items with which final dogmas or reasoned findings by systematic doubt in speculation are reached, terms are used such as: method, criticism, clarity of certitude, and even intuitive awareness.


The transition may be said to be from wonder about the outer world to wonder about the inner. This is the same as saying, from the cosmological to the psychological. In both these broad divisions, however, there are many overlapping aspects. Our aim here is not to go into detail, but just to discover where the contribution of rationalists towards the gradual building up of a normative notion of the Absolute, each in his own domain, is to be found.






Descartes may be seen to have given mind, God, duration, and substance, absolutist status in his writings. As a rationalist Descartes gave primacy to the mind, about which he said that, "in the consciousness of seeing or walking, the knowledge is manifestly certain, because it is then referred to the mind which alone perceives or is conscious that it sees or walks."1




The mind thus attains to a central status in Descartes' epistemology. God is also a theological aspect of the centre of Cartesianism, as will be evident from the following:

"…it is impossible we can have an idea of representation of anything whatever, unless there be somewhere, either in us or out of us, an original which comprises in reality all the perfections that are thus represented to us; but, as we do not in any way find in ourselves those absolute perfections of which we have the idea, we must conclude that they exist in some nature different from ours, that is, in God, or at least they were once in him; and it most manifestly follows (from their infinity) that they are still there."2


Duration is another notion of great dignity and eminence in the context of Cartesianism, so that we can say that it also belongs to his conception of the Absolute. About duration he says:

"...the duration alone of our life is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of God. For we easily understand that there is no power in us by which we can conserve ourselves, and that the being who has so much power as to conserve us out of himself must also by so much the greater reason conserve himself, on rather stand in need of being conserved by no one whatever and, in fine, be God."3


There is also the notion of substance in Descartes. It may be said to take a more central position in the context of the Absolute than the term "God" or "mind":

"…by substance we can conceive nothing else than a thing which exists in such a way as to stand in need of nothing beyond itself in order to have its existence. And in truth there can be conceived but one substance which is absolutely independent, and that is God …and, accordingly, the substance does not apply to God and the creatures univocally, to adopt a term familiar to the schools; that is, no signification of this word can be distinctly understood which is common to God and them." 4




Mind, substance, God, duration, and the possibility of interaction through God of mind with body, are all notions found in Cartesian philosophy, but they are not put together under one schematic unitive absolute factor. As we shall see presently, his successors, Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant, accomplished this task each in their own fashion. They merely worked on the framework presented by Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, and if the normative notion that we seek is to be found in the Rationalists, the greater part of the credit goes to Descartes. Scepticism and belief, body and mind, and many such pairs are brought into relation with the central notion of substance or God, through which or in whom interaction becomes possible. Things as we see them or sense them have their reality only in the mind. Such are some of the features of the Absolute, the outlines of which emerge clearly in his “Principles of Philosophy” and “Principles of Material Things”, which were two aspects of human knowledge in general that were treated methodically by Descartes. Further, what we have elsewhere tried to distinguish as the vertical and the horizontal aspects of the normative or absolute consciousness, are strikingly referred to by Descartes as follows:

"...There are only two modes of thinking in us, viz., the perception of the understanding and the action of the will. For, all the modes of thinking of which we are conscious may be referred to two general classes, the one of which is the perception or the operation of the understanding, and the other the volition or operation of the will. Thus, to perceive by the senses (sentire), to imagine, and to conceive things purely intelligible, are only different modes of perceiving (percipiendi); but to desire to be averse from, to affirm, to deny, to doubt, are different modes of willing." 6




The distinction drawn here between two aspects of thinking which meet in a central consciousness, although not quite clear even from the notes given by the translator, which make them more vague, may at least be recognised by us as representing passive or active aspects which other rationalist philosophers after Descartes will also be seen to adopt in their own ways. An absolute thinking substance with a structure not unlike the correlates in mathematics (of which Descartes himself was the originator) is thus seen to come here into view.






We have noticed that the philosophers of the Age of Reason or Enlightenment spoke in the name of Human Understanding or Knowledge, as the very titles of their works sufficiently reveal. The nature of this understanding was mostly taken for granted by each of them and, except in the case of Bishop Berkeley whose Christian background was deliberately retained in the name of duty to the Church to which he was indebted, all others left this background factor of Human Understanding as something vaguely assumed.


In Descartes it is easy to see how, through the transparency and simplicity of his clear ideas which he arrived at through methodic doubting, there is still visible the broad outline of the idea of God restated and presented in a revalued form. The background of Spinoza was Jewish and not Gentile, but in spite of this he too followed closely on the lines of Descartes, improving on what Descartes had begun to say in a form that resembled Euclid and was based on axioms, postulates, corollaries, theorems, and lemmas, and did not trouble himself to go into the details of the mechanism of sensation or perception.


Spinoza treated nature more realistically than Descartes for whom nature tended to be absorbed in the mind. For this reason Spinoza has been mistaken for a pantheist, although the notions of the Absolute and of God were more fully and specifically treated by him than by Descartes.




In Spinoza precision attains to a mathematical status and, having risen to the heights of a priorism, he is able to descend into ethics and even into discussion based on the Christian Gospel, as well as into the domain of politics in his famous “Tractatus Politicus”. Although the notion of the Absolute is thus more explicitly present in the writings of Spinoza, the main outlines of the notion remain almost the same as with Descartes.


In Spinoza's system the notion of substance is central. Such a central notion is valid in the context of nature to which the positive sciences also belong. It is also valid as applied to the idealism of Plato and to others of the classical context, and it is lodged at the core of ethics, natural theology and politics. Spinoza defined this central notion as follows:

"By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception. By attributes, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite - that is, a substance consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality." 6


It is not hard to notice here some improvement in the content of what has been tacitly referred to as Human Understanding, which with the sceptics like Hume had to be guessed at, and which emerged in mathematical outline form in Descartes. In Spinoza it stands out in better relief, being correctly balanced between the background aspects and the overt foreground aspects of reality which, according to Spinoza, must have correct human and scientific significance. We have to notice here that in the last quotation God and substance are treated as coming univocally under the same term, and this cannot be any other than the Absolute. A being who is absolutely infinite and which is a substance at the same time cannot but be univocally related as the meaning of one normative notion.




After we have arrived at the notion of substance there are two other modalities under which the substance can be viewed. These give us the two axes of reference at the core of the absolute substance, as related to active or passive nature. As a note to his Proposition XXIX of Ethics, Spinoza explains this as follows:

"Before going further, I wish here to explain what we should understand by nature viewed as active (natura naturans) and nature viewed as passive (natura naturata). I say to explain, or rather call attention to it, for I think that, from what has been said, it is sufficiently clear, that by nature viewed as active we should understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself, or those attributes of substance which express eternal infinite essence, in other words God, in so far as he is considered as a free cause.


By nature viewed as passive I understand all that which follows from the necessity of the nature of God, or of any of the attributes of God, that is, all the modes of the attributes of God in so far as they are considered as things which are in God, and which without God cannot exist or be conceived."7


The all-important question of how body and mind interact, how one is inserted into the other or is articulated therewith, has puzzled both idealist and materialist philosophers for ages in the East and in the West. There must be a homogeneity for the purposes of one order of realities acting on another, which is called in Sanskrit samanadhikaranatva. This problem is ably bypassed by Spinoza, when he lays down: "The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things." 8


The rival theories of psychophysical interaction, parallelism, and occasionalism that philosophers in Europe, brought up in the tradition of scholastic thinking like those that Descartes and Malebranche had advanced as an explanation for this problem of the participation of mind and matter, found in Spinoza's attitude something new which belonged to the Jewish background, as he himself stated elsewhere:




"This truth seems to have been dimly recognized by those Jews who maintained that God, God's intellect, and things understood by God are identical." 9


In trying to explain more clearly this relation between particular things or modes and the infinite idea of God, Spinoza, though with some apologetic hesitation, indulges in a schematic representation which was an improvement left for Kant to present properly and more precisely, as we shall see.


Here it is interesting to note that already both the relativistic plan of the Absolute and the Absolute which is fully so are brought together. The following note to Spinoza's Proposition VIII under the heading “Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind”, speaks for itself:

"If anyone desires an example to throw more light on this question, I shall, I fear, not be able to give him any which adequately explains the thing of which I here speak, inasmuch as it is unique; however, I will endeavour to illustrate it as far as possible. The nature of a circle is such that if any number of straight lines intersect within it, the rectangles formed by their segments will be equal to one another; thus infinite equal rectangles are contained in a circle. Yet none of these rectangles can be said to exist, except in so far as the circle exists, except in so far as they are comprehended in the idea of the circle. Let us grant that, from this infinite number of rectangles, two only exist. The ideas of these two not only exist, insofar as they are contained in the idea of the circle, but also as they involve the existence of those rectangles; wherefore they are distinguished from the remaining ideas of the remaining rectangles." 10

The subtle reciprocity and mutual interdependence which is implied between a pair of concrete individuals holds good in a general sense, irrespective of generality or particularity, abstractness or concreteness, in the overall context of the Absolute.




Under the aegis of the Absolute, big and small; the one and the many; part and whole; the abstract and the concrete; the general and the particular - are all reciprocally or mutually inter-related. Such must be the nature of the subtlety that Spinoza here wishes to drive home with the use of the mathematical language of geometry as supplementary to his propositional or axiomatic statements in theoretical abstraction elsewhere in his work.


As we proceed, we shall have occasion to see the affinity of this with Leibnizian monadology and the schematisation employed by Kant, and also how later on, even Eddingtonian subjectivism and structuralism develop the same theme on scientific as well as philosophical lines. Thus, theoretically at least, through a form of mathematical thinking, the knotty problem of participation of mind and matter and its insertion or articulation that must be presupposed in various ways by different philosophers, is here transcended in terms of an overall substance which is God or the Absolute, with two modes and endless attributes, existences and essences, all having between them a transparency or homogeneity between the relative parts and the totality. All is univocally conceived as a sort of transfinite entity given to the mind of one who doubts or wonders about the nature of reality. The turiya state in Vedanta will be seen to resemble this.






Scepticism, the starting impetus in modern philosophy, gave room to methodic doubting in Descartes who, like Locke and Newton, was interested in cosmology and allied aspects of the "object matter" of philosophy, rather than in its subject matter. Descartes, it is true, brought in mental cogitation as equally important. He was the originator of analytical geometry, and the geometrical precision that he introduced into philosophical thinking was also continued in the thinking of Spinoza. Human understanding was a background notion left vague and undefined by all these rationally- minded and empirically inclined philosophers. Leibniz becomes a little more definite. Instead of thinking of a whole and of infinite parts as distinct, we find him improving upon the position arrived at by Spinoza, who in his turn was improving upon the understanding of Descartes.




Mathematics was responsible for this improvement; and Leibniz was the philosopher who shared with Newton (though controversially), the glories of the discovery of the infinitesimal calculus, which did not stop merely with the static notion of infinity; but helped to enter dynamically into the core of the real in both its aspects of being and becoming at once.


Leibniz' monadology thus becomes his resulting contribution to the philosophical thinking of his age. Although the pluralistic and atomic monad might seem at first to have nothing in common with an overall notion of the Absolute, and in spite of the fact that its author has not given monadology the necessary finishing touches which would make it fully satisfying as a completely worked-out notion, yet there are many absolutist features of the monad which are of special interest to us because many of the obscurities of previous philosophers have been masterfully clarified by Leibniz, to his lasting credit.

The atomic entity called the monad has one member at least of its many species which is distinguished by the term monas monadum. This is a version of monad which crowns all other monads, however numerous. This forms the model for all the variations of possible structural factors. As the notion of the Absolute norm that we seek need not depend on the number of varieties possible under its genus, we need not be prejudiced in our search for the Absolute as a norm, even in and through the complications of what Leibniz presents in his monadology. It would therefore be interesting to scan the main features of the notion of the monad before saying whether it satisfies the requirements of a normative notion or not.


Monads are the only real existences and are infinite in number, forming an infinite series, created and annihilated all at once; not generated, and imperishable, with qualities of perception and appetition; but, having no parts and not being situated in space, they are incapable of being perceived by the senses. Each monad is spontaneously self-active like an incorporeal automaton containing the future with which, in the present, it could be "big" (or impregnated), all its ideas being innate with a dynamic self-identity continually unfolding or enfolding itself.




Monads have no windows and are mutually exclusive, each independent and existing as if with God alone beside itself. They are natural substances and metaphysical atoms or metaphysical points, centres or concentrations of the world. They are capable of certain changes in correlated grades, implicitly containing the whole universe, variously represented, while each represents its own body distinctly. Each monad combines body and soul as its elements, these being both active and passive, and influencing one another ideally. There is a mutual agreement between them, not to be realised by sense or imagination (though not so simply as with the two clocks with perfect mechanisms, one striking while the other is showing the hour, which oversimplified example has caught the popular imagination). The degrees of perception of monads make for the possible differences between one monad and another. There are three grades of created monads, each higher grade having the characteristics of the lower: the unconscious, conscious and self-conscious. The monads progress towards perfection individually and not merely as all monads together. The dominant monad, called by Bruno and Leibniz Monas Monadum, is synonymous with God. 11


Like Bruno, Leibniz is more of a believer than a sceptic. This is revealed by his mistrust of the methodic doubt of Descartes, which he attributes to some kind of quack pose to catch the public eye.12 . He differs from Fichte and Hegel as also from the realism of Herbart so that the question of placing Leibniz in his correct perspective in modern thought is not an easy task. To the extent that infinitesimals are univocal with the notion of the Absolute, Leibniz may be called an absolutist, but otherwise he is just a philosopher who introduced the differential calculus into his thought. The above summary which we have gleaned from Robert Latta's work requires much more elaboration to make full meaning, but we can safely generalise and say that, for our purposes here, it amounts to a view of the Absolute from the side of the relative.




Leibniz' mathematical intuition may be said to have attained the status of the Absolute, but being inclined to appreciate quantities rather than qualities, existences rather than essences, his elaborate and highly interesting picture of reality, dynamically conceived, needs further finishing touches by way of renormalisation in some respects, and normalisation in others. His principle of sufficient reason and of petites perceptions and many of the paradoxes as between the rival claims of contradiction and identity that enter into the structure and dynamism of the monad, which is a thing and not a thing, leaves us gasping and wondering rather than in open disagreement. This is due to the fact that monadology is a vision neither fully scientific nor merely mystical.


Both Hegel and Bergson may be said to have gone further, but even they did not go far enough to fix the notion once and for all. We should agree with most of what Leibniz said, except for the binding factor of the overall notion of the Absolute as such, which is rather weakly developed in monadology. That absolutism has two approaches, one to attain the Absolute through possibilities of the a priori, the other through the probabilities of the a posteriori, is the essence of the position we take here. It involves normalisation and renormalisation of the notion from two epistemological poles, without giving primacy to one or the other. In the light of such a neutral position, the monadology of Leibniz may be said to be slightly asymmetrically placed in favour of existence at the expense of essence, although substance is given full recognition in his absolutism. We shall deal with this more fully when we come to Kant.


As a philosopher who was sometimes interested in Rosicrucianism, the variety of belief that Leibniz represented is not altogether of the usual type, and perhaps this too explains his tendency to over-accentuate some of the speculative conclusions in graphic form. We cannot help feeling that we are concerned here with a metaphysical story or parable, or a mathematical conundrum, or both.




The contribution of monadology to philosophical thought in general as it stood in his time, is ably summed up as follows:
"With the concept of the monad, Leibniz feels that he has overcome the Cartesian dualism of mind and body; refuted the psycho-physical parallelism and pantheism of Spinoza, destroyed atomic materialism; reconciled the Scholastic nominalistic view that the individual alone is real with the realistic contention that universals also have real existence; and combined Plato and Aristotle. For the monad, besides being the least common denominator of mind and matter, is individual and concrete but also possesses a Form and exemplifies an Idea of which being unique, it is in itself the only example and instance." 13


Although we do not consider Descartes dualistic nor Spinoza pantheistic, the above summary of the contribution of monadology helps us to see at a glance how far Leibniz was able to give concreteness and consistency to the implied absolutism of his predecessors. What interests us primarily here is the analysis of the content of the Absolute which becomes filled with more structural, concrete and dynamic features and is given a unique and unitive form and an idea compatible with it. Except for some epistemological and methodological normalisation and appraisal of its value or significance, we have, in the contribution of Leibniz, something definite to work upon in our search for a fully normative notion. Leibniz seems to us to stop short at a serial hierarchy of values rather than arriving at one Supreme Absolute Value.14 This last step is made possible by the schematisation of Kant, whose contribution to the normative notion of the Absolute we shall examine presently.








Speculation aided by mathematics may be said to have reached its full term in the monadology of Leibniz, which we have just examined. Descartes as the discoverer of the correlates, and Leibniz as the inventor of the infinitesimal calculus, have made full use of their geniuses, not only in these domains, but in the service of speculations about truth or certitude. Spinoza too had derived from his own background, as we have seen, a way of abstracting and generalising which we have quoted already and which amounts to the same kind of abstraction which the mathematicians employed, although in his case he got it from the context of Jewish wisdom. He put this in the form of a postulate or axiom when he said, "God's intellect and things understood by God are identical". Here we have a subtle epistemological verity stated in theological language. A thing thought by God is more actual than the content of the intellect of God. God himself as the basis of his intellect is removed two degrees negatively in the direction of abstraction and generalisation.


As two parallel mirrors can reflect the original of an image as many times as one can stretch one's imagination; so the power of the human mind to abstract from one abstraction and to generalise from one generalisation is endless. This endless process of the mind for analysis or synthesis does not annihilate the resultant central notion common to the image and the original, the plus or the minus of the possible notions. Analysis and synthesis; a priorism and a posteriorism; immanence and transcendence; necessity and contingency - are basic epistemological factors belonging to the absolute consciousness of man. Infinity of regression or progression does not abolish but rather confirm, at least in schematic outline and at least nominally, the notion of the Absolute. As the Vedanta philosophy expresses it; the last categories are name and form, of which the former would represent the nominalistic and the latter the schematic aspect.




When we abolish name and form, the plus and minus sides, the notion of the Absolute emerges in all its neutral glory. It is in such a neutral notion that we have to seek to place the normative notion.




1. p 168, “A Discourse on Method”, by R. Descartes, trans. by L. Veitch, Dutton and Co., NY.


2. p 172, Ibid.


3. p 173, Ibid.


4. pp 184 - 185, Ibid.


5. pp 177 - 178, Ibid.


6. p 45, “Ethics”, Vol. II, by B. Spinoza, trans. by Elwes, Dover Publications, NY, 1951.


7. pp 68 - 69, Ibid.


8. p 86, Ibid. (Part II, Proposition VIII).


9. p 86, Ibid. (note).


10. pp 87 - 88, Ibid.


11. This summary closely adheres to what is fully elaborated in Leibniz' “Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings”, trans. by R. Latta, Oxford, 1951.


12. p 54, Ibid., where Leibniz says that Descartes' method of doubt is "as trappings to appeal to the people" (phaleras ad populum).


13. p 109, “A History of Philosophy”, Book II, by B.A.G. Fuller, Holt and Co., NY, 1949.


14. cf. p 350, Leibniz´ “Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings”, R. Latta, and the note of an extract from a letter of Leibniz to Princess Sophie:
"And as there is reason to think that the universe itself develops from more to more and that all tends to some end, since all comes from an author whose wisdom is perfect, we may similarly believe that souls, which last as long as the universe, go also from better to better, at least naturally (physiquement) and that their perfections go on increasing, although most often this takes place imperceptibly and sometimes after great circuits backwards."










Just as it is possible in mathematics to deal with a quantity such as the square root of minus one, so it is possible for pure thought to reach a notion which will satisfy any thinkable condition.


Modern mathematics has its transfinite numbers. Projective and vectorial geometrical spaces have also introduced into the formal domain of visibles many abstractions of abstractions. Thus we can have a class of quantities in brackets or under a vinculum. If this is possible in algebra, then it must be possible in philosophy too to think of a vinculum applied to the notion of infinite substance. The absolutism of Josiah Royce arrives at such a generalised possibility in respect of infinites. Actual and epistemological infinites are two different things, but one is not less real than the other as a pure notion. Such a pure notion attains the Absolute and gives the norm for all thought. All becomes abolished in its favour. Subject and object cancel each other out in the neutrality of such a notion of the Absolute.


The peculiarities of the schematised version of reality which we shall now consider attain to such a neutral status in the notion of the Absolute. A schematic notion can belong equally to the conceptual as to the perceptual, the former tending to be algebraic and the latter tending to be geometrical in status. If we keep these basic epistemological features in our minds it will be possible to appreciate better the Kantian schematismus as Kant himself explains it in the quotations below. Before quoting Kant, however, it may not be out of place here to see how this tendency to think in schematic form or images is nothing new, but is one which Kant received, handed down even from the classical times of Plato and Aristotle.








To enumerate categories and to put them together as a whole in a schematised form in the context of the ultimate truth has been the universal concern of all philosophy, and a persistent habit throughout the history of human thought. The immanent and the transcendent aspects of truth must seek neutral ground with a double reference, facing the a priori and the a posteriori at once. Plato himself gives such a central status to the notion of time. Time is that mysterious and elusive category which is most suitable for schematic treatment, with all the dynamism which belongs to it naturally in the actual experience of everyone. Plato calls time "the moving likeness of eternity" and writes:

"When the father who had begotten it saw it set in motion and alive, a shrine brought into being for the everlasting gods, he rejoiced and being well pleased he took thought to make it yet more like its pattern. So as that pattern is the Living Being that is forever existent, he sought to make this universe also like it, so far as might be, in that respect. Now the nature of that Living Being was eternal, and this character it was impossible to confer in full completeness on the generated thing. But he took thought to make, as it were, a moving likeness of eternity; and at the same time that he ordered the Heaven, he made of eternity that abides in unity an everlasting likeness, moving accord to number - that to which we have given the name Time."


Although expressed in antique quasi-mythological and theological language, Plato's object here is evidently to schematise eternity and time while retaining its dynamic status. The expression "the moving likeness of eternity" is sufficiently suggestive here. Instead of Plato's central category of time, Aristotle schematises and gives structural and concrete form to the mind, which he takes as the central notion. In “De Anima” (Book III, Chapter 5) we read:




"..In fact, mind as we have described it is what it is by virtue of becoming all things, while there is another which is what it is by virtue of making all things: this is a sort of positive state like light: for in a sense light makes potential colours into actual colours. Mind in this sense of it is separable, impassible, unmixed, since it is in its essential nature activity (for always the active is superior to the passive factor, the originating force to the matter which it forms). Actual knowledge is identical with its object: in the individual, potential knowledge is in time prior to actual knowledge, but in the universe as a whole it is not prior even in time. Mind is not at one time knowledge and at another not. When mind is set free from its present conditions it appears as just what it is and nothing more: this alone is immortal and eternal."


Although the language in Aristotle is different from that of Plato, his teacher, there is an implicit kinship between time and mind that each places on a pedestal, as it were, to give it full absolutist status, bringing out the subtle mechanism of the mobile process and the structural divisions according to the functions of time, or mind, or of a Living Being and its Eternal Image respectively. The attempt made by both is to give a concrete form to something very abstract and general. Herein lies the schematisation. Plato may be said to give primacy to the vertical and Aristotle to the horizontal aspects of the same schematic notion of the Absolute.
After Kant, Hegel too wrote of the Concrete in respect of his Absolute Idea. An Idea can be "concrete" only because of its schematised version. Reminiscent of Plato, Hegel also calls dialectic "the moving soul of the world as process" and, defines it as follows:




"There are three aspects in every thought which is logically real or true; the abstract or rational form, which says that something is; the dialectical negation, which says that something is not; the speculative-concrete comprehension: A is also that which is not, A is non-A. These three aspects do not constitute three parts of logic, but are moments of everything that is logically real or true. They belong to every philosophical concept. Every concept is rational; is absolutely opposed to another; and is united in comprehension together with its opposites - this is the definition of dialectic."


Whether dialectic is called by Hegel the soul of the world process; or by Plato the moving likeness of eternity; or conceived by Aristotle as mind which is free from present conditionings and becomes released as the immortal or the eternal - there is a common implicit schema to which all of them seem to adhere and which is made more explicit by Kant. Schematisation as such was properly discussed only by this philosopher of modern philosophers. Kant's “Critique” thus contains elements of the philosophy of philosophy itself.


Whether considered mobile or concrete, as being, becoming or both, it is to the credit of Kant to have clarified a type of two-sided thinking that neutralises into a schema. In a whole section devoted to what he elaborately calls “The Transcendental Doctrine of the Faculty of Judgement or Analytic of Principles”, in the chapter which in turn is described as “The Schematism of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding”, Kant states that the pure concepts of the understanding can be applied to phenomena represented in concrete schematically. He explains this as follows:

"In our case there must be some third thing homogeneous on the one side with the category, and on the other with the phenomenon, to render the application of the latter possible. This intermediate representation must be pure (free from all that is empirical) and yet intelligible on the one side, and sensuous on the other. Such a representation is the transcendental schema."




He further clarifies his nomenclature of the factors of these pure concepts of understanding, when he says:

"We shall call this formal and pure condition of sensibility, to which the concept of the understanding is restricted in its application, its schema; and the function of the understanding in these schemata the schematism of the pure understanding."
Again, he says:

"This representation of a general procedure of the imagination by which a concept receives its image, I call the schema of such a concept"


What we should extract from the above quotations from Kant are firstly; that he assumes a possibility of thinking of absolute reality conceptually under categories and also perceptually as a schema; and that when there is a homogeneity between them established by the understanding, we get by the employment of intuition (which abstracts and generalises from both poles, as it were, the phenomenal and noumenal) a schematism, which is a function of the understanding, referring both ways. Secondly, by this idea of transparency as between conceptual and perceptual aspects, or by the participation on neutral ground of what is mental with what is material, he assumes a homogeneous medium of some sort of an absolute thinking substance. This is a most delicate philosophical problem which, as we have seen, has been pictured or described in various ways by Plato, Aristotle and others. Hegel's resultant of a synthetic concrete idea has its plus and minus sides in the thesis and the antithesis to be dialectically treated. In the Vedantic context we have the same homogeneity referred to by the term samanadhikaranatva (the character of belonging to the same order).




Although we shall see that the notion of a schema as understood by Kant undergoes further elaboration at the hands of Bergson who conceived it as a dynamic schéma moteur instead of just a schema that might appear static in the eyes of the philosopher of the flux of the élan vital (vital urge), the examination of the broad lines of this schema-making faculty of the human understanding by Kant or Bergson remains one of the major triumphs of modern thought.






Between Bergson and Eddington we have two ways of philosophising, each of which may be said to be modern as well as scientific. If one may be called a scientific philosopher the other might be called a philosopher of science. Physics and metaphysics, experiment and speculation, observables and calculables, enter into the domain of both, though with different proportional combinations, to give us apparently differing schematic or structural representations for their references. At least in the order of semantics they have the same status and serve each philosopher in transmitting to the reader precise notions of what they wish to convey about the nature of life or of the physical world. The scheme is also a semantic reference, using the signs of algebra as well as the correlates of geometry. Experimental findings can be verified by calculus; while geometrical representations can confirm what might be uncertain or vague when stated in algebraic signs. Just as a map can help certitude for the relating of a gazetteer of names with places and vice-versa; so does schematisation for the normalisation and renormalisation of findings. This process cannot take place in any other medium than the Absolute, where the visible forms and the calculable names have their common centre.


Thus all becomes comprised under either name or form as the final categories in consciousness as understood in the Vedanta. The reference common to name and form may not have an existence, subsistence, or a value in itself, except for serving as a central reference for purposes of language. It may be a mathematical abstraction but its absolutist content cannot be denied, whether fixed in the subject or the object of the thinking mind, without which even language would be of no purpose.




Like the Logos and the Nous of the Greek and the vak of Sanskrit, the Absolute Norm requires an extremely formal or merely nominal status, but its use in integrating and normalising language as well as in formal thought, to which every entity, abstract or concrete, must finally conform and be inclusively comprised under its aegis, is a matter which is beyond all possibility of doubt. In our pursuit of the norm, we now pass on to Eddington.






Observational aspects have held primacy over calculations in the world of the physical sciences. What was seen to work on a small scale in a laboratory was given more importance for scientific certitude than anything of the nature of the a priori.


Although, on final analysis, mathematical demonstrations were based on a priori presuppositions, this kind of demonstrability was taken for granted, and until the day Eddington subjected the whole position to a thorough revision, it was not given its full place in the epistemology of physics. We have already made note of some of the broad outline features of Eddingtonian structuralism in relation to the notion of the Absolute.


Now we have to take a closer view of its implications so as to bring both physics and metaphysics under the same integrated view. In this connection it is important and significant to note that Eddington took a firm stand on the primacy of concepts and assertions over brute facts as such, treated in their actuality and first hand objectivity. The epistemological revision to which he subjected science will be amply evident from his posthumously published book, Fundamental Theory where he writes:

"The evaluation of the cosmic number: the cosmic number N =3/2 136.2 256 is most picturesquely described as the number of protons and electrons in the universe".


He explains this as follows:
"The whole calculation of N is an essay in the representation of conceptions by symbolic algebra. It is the conceptions that matter. We have to express in mathematical symbolism what we think we are doing when we measure things: for if we had no conception of what we were doing, the result of the measurements would not persuade us to believe anything in particular."




This emphasis on the conceptual aspect in Eddington is not, however, a one-sided epistemological approach. Elsewhere he states categorically: "For the truth of the conclusions of physical science, observation is the Supreme Court of Appeal." It is not at the sacrifice of observation that Eddington stands for a form of thought in which concepts have primacy, for he also says, "whatever we have to apprehend must be apprehended in a way for which our intellectual equipment has made provision." And again he adds: "Every item of physical knowledge must therefore be an assertion of what has been or would be the result of carrying out a specified observational procedure."


The implications of the theoretical considerations on which Eddington takes his stand are not easy to discuss here fully. For our purposes, however, it is not difficult to see from the above quotations that he has a form or frame of reference which is of a conceptual or subjective order, but which appeals to observational and theoretical aspects at the same time from a sort of neutral ground which is of somewhat the same order as the schematisation of Kant which we have already examined - it has epistemological reference to the observational and the conceptual at one and the same time. Observed facts as such have to be treated in an abstract way as descriptions or assertions, so that they can fit into the frame or form that he speaks of. Thus the frame is of a schematic or semantic order. Eddington points out that the physical universe is to be distinguished from the universe of physics, the latter being more conceptual than perceptual.




The subtle schematic homogeneity as between conceptual, perceptual, or actual aspects, which have always to be matched correspondingly when describing actions of everyday life, such as a man sitting in a chair, is strikingly brought out by Eddington when he questions the statement sometimes heard from theoretical physicists that they are not concerned with actual chairs, etc. They are concerned with chairs as well as with all the corresponding abstractions possible about chairs when the chair and the person who sits on it are both fitted into a common epistemological frame or form of reference. Explaining this, he says:

"Let us first notice that the phrase, 'chairs we sit upon' adds nothing to the term 'chair'." For what sits on the chair is the body, and if we have to discriminate the scientific chair, i.e., the object, not really the chair which the physicist describes, from the familiar chair, we must also discriminate the scientific body, i.e., the object, not really a body, which the physicist describes, from the familiar body. So when we sit on a chair, the familiar body sits on a familiar chair, and the scientific body sits on a scientific chair. And if there is an abstract body it doubtless performs an abstraction of sitting on an abstract chair"


It is neither easy nor possible for us to enter into the merits of Eddingtonianism. For our purposes it is enough to grasp that thought-situations have an intrinsic consistency and sequence; and that the promiscuous mixing up of grades of thinking is not scientific. Inner structure has to be respected. The conceptual aspect in which scientific descriptions are possible, as well as the fitting of thought into its proper frames or forms, are both important in the Eddingtonian philosophy of science. He writes in terms of structuralism, subjectivism, and the selection of certain impressions as against others: all of which suggests to us the same schematisation not different from the norm that we are seeking to define. We shall now take one step further in the same direction of Eddingtonianism.








In summing-up his final position in respect of his philosophy of science, Eddington writes:

"Neither the scientific advances of the last decade nor the years of reflection have altered the general trend of my philosophy. I say 'my philosophy', not as claiming authorship of ideas which are widely diffused in modern thought, but because the ultimate selection and synthesis must be a personal responsibility. If it is necessary to give a short name to this philosophy, I should hesitate between 'Selective Subjectivism' and 'Structuralism'" .


What Eddington calls subjectivism would correspond to what Kant might call an a priori synthetic aspect of reality. The selection results from our minds acting like a sieve with a special kind of mesh which Eddington explains as follows:

"There is a big gap between this and the passive reception of sensory impressions; and in this gap the selective influences of our intellectual equipment have their opportunity. If we consider the sequence: objective event - perception - physical knowledge, there is a double sifting, firstly by our sensory equipment, secondly by our intellectual equipment. In analysing this intellectual activity I shall make use of the phrase "form of thought" or, when the form is in some degree elaborated, "frame of thought" This may be regarded as a predetermined form or frame into which the knowledge we acquire observationally is fitted"


Helped by mathematical calculations, Eddington is able to travel into much subtler explanations and generalisations, whose considerations here would be inconsistent with our main aims. Kant might use the terms 'a priori' and 'synthetic', where Eddington would use 'subjective' and 'structural'. Hegelian terminology might be 'dialectical'. Plato presents the same picture with time and eternity as his basis, and Aristotle relies on mind. These differences should not confuse us. We must try to see how in each case there is a double reference, one pure and the other practical, or one calculable and the other observable, between which a neutral notion has been outlined by each of these great philosophers.




The time-space-continuum of modern relativity can be viewed in the light of the frame that Eddington outlines as follows:

"When knowledge is formulated in a frame which compels us to separate a time dimension from the fourfold order to which it belongs, a component called the mass is correspondingly separated from the fourfold vector to which it belongs; and it requires no profound study of the conditions of separation to see how the separated component is related to the rest of the vector which prescribes the velocity. It is this relation which is rediscovered when we determine experimentally the change of mass with velocity."


The increase of mass with velocity is a law established experimentally by many famous scientists before Eddington. This experimental result is seen from the a priori side by Eddington in the light of the frame or form of thought already present subjectively. When one is matched with the other we have by mutual normalisation a notion that is neutral and understood schematically or structurally.


What Eddington wants to convey is best done in the language of higher mathematics. This is shown by his generalised definition of existence as a structural concept when he writes, "The structural concept of existence is represented by an idempotent symbol".


This idempotent symbol belongs to the context of complex numbers. The letter J, when it satisfies the formula J2-J = 0, is called idempotent. The idea of the quaternion; of the co-ordinates of Descartes; of the quadrature numbers and vectorial space; all are involved here, into the intricacies of which we do not wish to enter at present. At this stage, all that we wish to underline is that both algebra and geometry enter here as partners in revealing the structure of reality, existence, or truth. These basic notions must live, move and have their being only in an overall normative notion of the Absolute.




There is no other possibility suggested by anyone so far. Thus it is in the language of mathematics that we find final answers to some important questions of philosophy proper. Thought, logic, mathematics, the propositional calculus, and semantics have much common ground between them. All possibilities and probabilities reside in the heart of the Absolute, which is the normalising factor of reference for all science, whether understood as physics or as metaphysics.




1. p 24, “An Introduction to Metaphysics”, by H. Bergson, trans. by T.E. Hulme, Library of Liberal Arts, Bobbs-Merrill Co., NY, 1955.


2. pp 49 - 59. Ibid.


3. p 389, “Creative Evolution”, by H.Bergson, trans. by Arthur Mitchell, Random House, NY, 1944.


4. p 255, “Oeuvres, Matière et Mémoire” by H. Bergson, PUF, Paris, 1959.


5. p 350, “Creative Evolution”, by H. Bergson, trans. by Arthur Mitchell, Random House, NY, 1944.


6. p 276, “Oeuvres, Matière et Mémoire” by H. Bergson, PUF, Paris, 1959.


7. p 285, Ibid.


8. See pp 54, 57, “The Nature of the Physical World”, by A.S. Eddington, Dent, London.








 The kind of absolutism that Bergson attains through his intuition of creative becoming has already been examined by us generally. Without re-opening the discussion of his philosophy, let us see whether he had some schematic or structural ideas adopted from his predecessors in Western philosophy.


Any kind of statically fixed mathematical concept is, we know, repugnant to the point of view of Bergson. He thought that such statically finalised ideas were due to the weakness of the human mind, when not endowed with that penetrating intuition by means of which the philosopher enters into the heart of a knowledge-situation, and is able to take an inside view which is ever in the process of becoming.


It is thus not normally to be expected that Bergson would think in terms of a schema. It is therefore strange to notice that he too resorts to schematic thinking in respect of his analysis of factors: matter and memory, thought and movement, and other aspects of the consciousness of body and mind. Without admitting them to be understood in the same manner as Kant who, according to him, was too conceptual or static, he adopts the same term "schéma" and refers to it as a schéma moteur, bringing into the Kantian schematisation an element of vital movement.


Epistemologically considered, the distinction is very thin indeed, but being a vitalist rather than a rationalist, he perhaps felt he had to underline the aspect of flux as against the bias of the intellect, which might give a partial or lopsided picture of the Absolute when viewed schematically.




The general background of Bergsonian metaphysics, which is the culmination of modern Western thought, through the stages of extreme scepticism, empiricism, and rationalism; through a dialectical approach; and finally through the use of direct intuition as an instrument of thought - is ably summarised by Bergson in a special study called “An Introduction to Metaphysics”.


There, after boldly generalising about the very nature of metaphysics by stating categorically as a starting dictum that "Metaphysics, then, is the science which claims to dispense with symbols", he arranges numerically, under nine items, the special features of his approach to the subject. Under item VIII he says that intuition attains the Absolute. Those basic parts of the nine items are given here for ready reference:

"I. There is a reality that is external and yet given immediately to the mind.

II. All reality, therefore, is tendency, if we agree to mean by tendency an incipient change of direction.

III. Our intellect, when it follows its natural bent, proceeds, on the one hand, by solid perceptions, and, on the other by stable conceptions.

IV. … It is clear that fixed concepts may be extracted by our thought from mobile reality; but there are no means of reconstruction of the mobility of the real with fixed concepts.

V. The demonstrations which have been given of the relativity of our knowledge are therefore tainted with an original vice; they imply, like the dogmatism that they attack, that all knowledge must necessarily start from concepts with fixed outlines, in order to clasp with them the reality which flows.

VI. To philosophise, therefore, is to invert the habitual direction of the work of thought.

VII. The object of metaphysics is to perform qualitative differentiations and integrations.

VIII. What is relative is the symbolic knowledge by pre-existing concepts, which proceeds from the fixed to the moving, and not the intuitive knowledge which installs itself in that which is moving and adopts the very life of things. This intuition attains the Absolute.

IX …The whole Critique of Pure Reason ends in establishing that Platonism, illegitimate if ideas are things, becomes legitimate if ideas are relations, and that the ready-made idea, once brought down in this way from heaven to earth, is in fact, as Plato told, the common basis alike of thought and of nature. But the whole of the Critique of Pure Reason also rests on the postulate that our intellect is capable of anything but Platonizing - that is, of pouring all possible experience into pre-existing moulds".




The reader will have to seek fuller clarification about the generalised conclusions of Bergsonian metaphysics from his writings, but it is not difficult to see from this summary that he himself has prepared and presented to us under italics in serially numbered form, what exactly are the peculiarities of his way of philosophising. Intuition can attain the Absolute, and philosophers from Plato to Kant have not taken care to respect the fluid nature of reality which they tend to conceptualise statically.


These are the two main objections or special points that Bergson wishes to underline, which we must especially note for our purposes in the above extract. It is strange that the last part of item IX and that of item VIII are left without italics, whether purposely or by mere omission by Bergson, for it is exactly in these phrases that we see some occasion to supplement his thoughts which, in other respects, call for no modification. We have put these lines in bold type: "This intuition attains the Absolute" and the last part, "The Critique of Pure Reason also rests on the postulate... ...of pouring all possible experience into pre-existing moulds."
Bergson's objections or amendments to the Kantian schematic version are made a little more explicit in another context where he writes:




"He (Kant) affirmed against his immediate predecessors that knowledge is not entirely resolvable into terms of intelligence. He brought back into philosophy that essential element of the philosophy of Descartes which had been abandoned by the Cartesians. Thereby he prepared the way for a new philosophy, which might have established itself in the extra-intellectual matter of knowledge by a higher effort of intuition. Coinciding with this matter, adopting the same rhythm and the same movement, might not consciousness, by two efforts of opposite direction, raising itself and lowering itself by turns, become able to grasp from within, and no longer perceive only from without, the two forms of reality, body and mind? Would not this twofold effort make us, as far as that is possible, relive the absolute?"


The "two efforts of opposite direction", which Bergson refers to in this quotation, suggest the schema which, according to him, has to be dynamic and non-intellectual, and which is given to the intuition that can identify itself with the double movement referred to. The process and the becoming stressed by the dynamism here have already been noticed by us in the Platonic image of time as "the moving likeness of eternity" and in Aristotle's image of the "mind set free from present conditions."


Even if we examine Kant more closely, we find that the schematisation he writes about is neither an intellectual concept nor a static thing, as would be suggested by the Bergsonian mould. Kant takes care to say that it is a "formal and pure condition of the understanding." Schematism is not the schema itself but is a "function of the understanding." The difference between what Bergson would call a schéma moteur and the function of the understanding called schematism will be a thin one when the dynamism that Kant omits is added to the elements of the schema. On his part, Bergson does not fill the schema with any definite and detailed structural content to the extent that Kant was able to do with his categories or Eddington with his selective structural factors or relations and relata.




What is given to the Bergsonian intuition is the life tendency or the creative élan expressed in biological rather than in mechanistic terms. The points of contact and of difference between the schema in both cases are a matter requiring too much of our attention to show completely here. Bergson, as a pragmatist and instrumentalist, is able to bring to view pure aspects of movement in reality; while Kant may be said to confine himself to thought in a more conceptual sense. Both however, have somewhat the same scheme in their minds.


The bare outlines of the Bergsonian schéma moteur are discernible in another context where he goes into the subtle and intricate subject of defects in speech such as aphaxia (lack of the power of speech), apraxis (lack of the power of reading) and dylexis (inhibition after a few words). He thereby examines the psychophysical mechanism in minute detail, basing himself on the medical evidence of various experts. When a new language is heard and spoken, we are not able to appreciate anything more than just sounds: the deafness or the muteness involved in the situation arising from the lack of co-ordination of the motor tendencies of the muscles of the voice with the impressions received by the ear. When this co-ordination is complete the sensori-motor mechanism comes into more and more perfected working order. Advancing this explanation, Bergson says:

"Thus will take place in our consciousness, in the form of nascent muscular sensations, that which we shall call the schéma moteur of the speech that is heard".


This schéma moteur is something that reveals the tendencies in human consciousness, and must be either a concept or some thought-pattern. It must have its being dynamically understood as moving up or down where memory aspects meet motor aspects. It is intuition which is able to enter into the situation in consciousness and understand it as if from inside. As it is also intuition that can attain the Absolute, the schema traces itself on the basis of the Absolute, without merely living in the world of the intelligibles of Plato.




This schéma moteur is as far as Bergson goes in accepting anything like the schematisation of Kant. Platonizing with intelligible ideas may raise our thoughts to the world where symbols become inevitable. By its very definition, Bergsonian metaphysics dispenses with symbols altogether. Pure movement may not be capable of being expressed in symbols conceptually; but there might be a perceptual way through which they could be represented, as in quantum mechanics where vectorial space is subjected to analytical or projective treatment. Geometry, moreover, can be supplemented by algebra, and both together may be utilised categorically and schematically, the one lending certitude to the other so as to make a normalised notion emerge into view. Such are some of the possibilities that suggest themselves to us, although only in vague outline at the present stage in our discussion. A separate study will have to be devoted to this question of a language wherein algebra and geometry can come together to complete an integrated normalising basis for scientific thinking and expression. Such a language will use both symbols and schematic representations where symbols alone are not applicable, and both together will help to give content to the Absolute that philosophy as well as science is seeking. The moulds which, when considered static, are objectionable, would then have a revised fluid and dynamic status, without losing the schematically subjective structure given to an inner intuitive vision of reality.




If metaphysics is a science dispensing with symbols and attaining the Absolute directly through the unitive approach, what is its means of communication? This question should naturally occur to anyone. Grasping incipient movements or tendencies might have to depend on some sort of dumb language of its own; free from symbols which might fix it conceptually. Is Bergson himself able to say what he wants to say without anything that is symbolic or schematic?




For linguistic purposes at least, one is obliged to resort to some means of expression, and this necessity binds even the philosopher who wishes to avoid every kind of error or ambiguity arising from linguistic limitations. What is not spoken in a drama is expressed in gestures or poses, and words and gestures together make it real through hearing and seeing taking place together. Graphs and maps are in wide use in the scientific world as also plans or blueprints of various projects where visible schemes or sketches form part of precise linguistic expression. Even road signs speak with arrows and circles what cannot be expressed by words or symbols. Thus the possibilities of the visual aspects of language, which avoid symbols of an intellectual order, are endless in variety and scope. The content of the schéma moteur can be analytic, projective or vectorial geometry, and there is a great future for schematisation, which is the basis for all such "languages".


In trying to give some content to the schéma moteur that Bergson has thus arrived at, we find that he adopts two different approaches. In the first place he relies largely on pre-Socratic philosophers, as well as on Plato and Aristotle, and gives us an insight into what they mean by giving us concrete ideas corresponding to the mobile scheme he had in mind. His other approach is through the use of geometrical language, which he just begins to use, without going into all those aspects like projective or topological geometry which are of more recent development. As an example of the first kind we shall content ourselves with one quotation. After explaining how Platonic ideas and the nous of Aristotle have blended together in the notion of nous poetikos in the Alexandrian philosophers, Bergson explains:

"There is then within us, or rather behind us, a possible vision of God, as the Alexandrian said - a vision always virtual, never actually realised by the conscious intellect. In this intuition we should see God expand in Ideas. That it is that 'does everything'; playing in relation to the discursive intellect which moves in time, the same role as the motionless Mover himself plays in relation to the movement of the heavens and the course of things".




After thus indicating the virtual status of a vision in the language of philosophy, we find him elsewhere analysing the content of the schema into its component parts. The idea of pure mobility as given to intuition is the main aspect of the dynamism of the scheme of thought which Bergson brings into evidence. In isolating this pure mobility, which has its ascending and descending aspects between matter and mind, the intelligence is like "a lantern glimmering in a tunnel" giving reality to static aspects of life. Pure becoming is not given to intelligence in this way. One has to enter into it to know it. Thus, Bergson wishes to lay down here a subjective process of becoming. In doing so, he adopts at times the schematic language of geometry. His success should indicate to us the lines on which the same could be developed further.


We shall focus our attention briefly on three schematic representations which Bergson employs successively in bringing out the sensori-motor mechanism of our psychological life. He first divides them into two distinct elements which, he says, the associationist psychologists did not do correctly because of their ignorance of the total structure of consciousness as he describes it. Of the three figures, let us examine the first, and study its implications in Bergson's own words:

"We have distinguished three forms, pure memory, image-memory, and perception, none of which are in fact produced in isolation. Perception is never a mere contact of the mind with an object that is present: it is entirely impregnated with image-memory which completes in interpreting it. The image-memory, in its turn, participates with 'pure memory', which it starts to materialise, and with the perception where it tends to incarnate itself: envisaged from this last point of view, it defines itself as a nascent perception. Finally, pure memory, independent by right, does not manifest itself normally except in images that are vivid and coloured, which reveal it. In symbolising these three terms by consecutive segments AB, BC, CD of the same straight line AD, one can say that our thought describes this line in a continuous movement which goes from A to D and that it is impossible to say with precision where one of the terms finishes and where the other commences"








Here, in Figure 1, Bergson gives content schematically to the horizontal aspect of psychological consciousness. Later on, he supplements the same scheme in Figure 2, by adding:

"Our perceptions, actual and virtual, extend along two lines, one that is horizontal, AB, which contains all the objects given simultaneously, and the other vertical, CI, which gathers to itself a scale of successive memories in time. The point I, which is the intersection of the two lines, is the only one that is given actually to our consciousness. …In the first place, the objects spreading in graded fashion along the line AB represent to our eyes that which we are going to see, while, the line CI contains nothing but what we have already seen."







Here in Figure 2, Bergson brings into the same schematic representation both the horizontal and the vertical factors in the structure of consciousness.






Referring to Figure 3, Bergson says:
"If I represent by a cone SAB the totality of souvenirs accumulated in my memory, the base AB, founded on the past, remains immobile; while the summit S, which figures each moment as it presents itself, advances ceaselessly; (also ceaselessly) it touches the mobile plane P of my actual representation of the universe. In S is concentrated the image of the body; and forming part of the plane P, the image limits itself to receiving or to giving that action which emanates from all the images of which the plane is composed."


The schéma moteur, which Bergson refers to as taking place within consciousness when two people communicate through language, could also be elaborated into figures on the lines that Bergson has employed above. It would involve, however, trans-physical and intra-subjective events and would have to be worked out in a more complex and elaborate manner to make any meaning.




Even the figures given here are vague and incomplete in many respects. This mobile event, further, must have an ascending and descending mobility.


Eddington too, we can see, has resorted to such a schematisation in his book, The Nature of the Physical World. All professors using blackboards indulge in such language to supplement their verbal lectures. A proper attempt at schematic representation in a normalised manner is still to be presented. An attempt has however been made in our monograph already referred to.




The notion of the Absolute is implicit. It is at once the subject matter as well as the object-matter of all human speculation. It is also the function of what is sometimes called by empirically minded philosophers, "Human Understanding". This notion of the Absolute can be viewed from the side of percepts in a fluid mobile form of becoming within consciousness, through intuition. The same intuition can penetrate into the Platonic levels of the intelligibles and reveal to us a world of concepts nearer to ideas than to things. There is a constant exchange of thought tendencies, understood in pure terms, which we can think of schematically as consisting of intuitive semantic tendencies or processes taking place, osmotically exchanging essences, through a kind of cosmic-psychologic respiration. The Bergsonian intuition specialises in such motor aspects schematically, while Kant, when subjected and brought under the same intuitive dynamism, and rid of static conceptualism, can also be made to fit into a common scheme. Both together make a plan combining dynamically, as living processes, the world of conceptual becoming as also its perceptual counterpart, to form a common total knowledge-situation.


Such a common scheme, so combined into one, can exist only on a basis of general semantics, where semiotic processes are neither of the stuff of mind nor of matter, but occur on a homogenous matrix of the stuff of which the human soul or psyche is made.




This is like the neutral stuff that William James and later Bertrand Russell and others refer to in their doctrines of neutral monism. The thinking substance of Spinoza; the unmoved mover of Aristotle; as also the idea of the moving image of eternity mentioned by Plato in Timaeus, to which we have alluded, together with the nous poetikos of the Neo-Platonists, are all supposed to be entities that are neither mind nor matter. Even empirically-minded logical positivists like Bertrand Russell are seen to rely upon this same neutral monism. Thoroughgoing sceptics like Hume also rely upon a phenomenology empty of any theological spirit, soul, or God. They tacitly accept, as the basis for their scepticism, a Human Understanding which in reality takes the place of the absolute consciousness of the Self. The Self thus tacitly recognised gets a further increase of life in the history of Western speculation with Descartes, whose starting point is the famous dictum cogito ergo sum. Here again the Self comes back to the central position, even in the framework of rationalist speculation, to be further clarified and elaborated through Leibniz and Spinoza to Kant.


The "observer" of Einstein and the indeterministic particle physics regulated by quantum mechanics reveal the presence of mind or matter or both in the unified theories of the present day. The hylozoism of the pre-Socratic philosophers thus becomes once again fashionable in modern thought and claims our respect and attention today. Susan K. Langer, writing in “Philosophical Sketches”, observes:

"...but the greatest of all philosophical insights, the first generative ideas begetting any science at all, lies near the beginning of our whole intellectual culture - the concept of transformation of matter, which we meet first in the physical doctrines of the early Ionians. It has become such a basic assumption in our scientific thought, and has been so highly corroborated by experience, that we no longer recognise it as a philosophical notion. We have extended it from 'matter' to 'energy' and all other conceptions of physical reality. But it really was a bold metaphysical conception; some of Thales' contemporaries could still say, 'The sun is new every day.'"




Modern Phenomenology and Existentialism have helped to revise the contributions of modern methodology, epistemology and axiology, and are also making speculation today more whole or complete. A normative notion of the Absolute, recognised as the regulating integrated unified reference for all correct or scientific schools of thought, valid any time or anywhere, has to emerge into view soon if speculation is not to be lost in mere verbosity, and if science is not merely to be limited to supplying modern comforts or amenities, even when we forget war weapons and their accessories, which give science only negative credit, if any at all.
Science needs normalisation from the side of percepts, and speculation too has to be regulated or re-normalised from the side of concepts. Thus, between normalisation and re-normalisation lies the nature of precise thinking, based on correct human understanding.


Such are the general lines on which our thoughts have run in concluding this series of essays on the search for a norm in Western Philosophy. We shall next give a summary of the elements of the Norm.


1, 2, Gurukula Publications
3. or rectangularity, the condition of having right angles.








Here, in concluding this series, we have to refer to another set of similar essays, “Vedanta Revalued and Restated”, where we deal with the notion of the Absolute as implied in the Vedanta of India.


Based on the Upanishads, which are known for their bold flights of pure speculation, this ancient traditional thought affords us some valuable hints about an integrated unified notion of speculation under the aegis of the same normative notion of the Absolute which is the direct concern of the Upanishads. In that series on Vedanta, chapters such as "The Double Domain of the Word" and "Semantic Polyvalence in Vedantic Thought" give us a firm basis on which to build our own finalised version of a dynamic structural scheme.


We have also already covered much ground in the series, “The Philosophy of a Guru” with its subtitle, “The Normative Notion as the Key”. These two series, along with the present one which is concluding here, form an introduction to the text, with commentary, of the “One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction” (Atmopadesa Satakam) by the Guru Narayana. It should be clear that the intention of these essays is to present a Guru-philosophy in its proper context, that is to say, in the light of modern thought as well as Indian Vedanta.


It will be noticed that speculation in Guru-Philosophy has attained to no further integration and normalisation than in the Vedanta itself. Vedanta marks in this respect the culminating limit to which earlier Vedantists like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva could take it. Perfection of the same tradition on stricter lines of method, epistemology and axiology has resulted in that rare product called Guru-Philosophy.




It is in presenting this in its proper setting that we have travelled so far in time and space. Speculation in Guru-philosophy attains to a degree of apodictic certitude which raises it at once to the status of a science. These pages have been written only to justify what might appear to the general reader to be a seemingly tall claim in favour of a Guru-philosophy by one so prejudiced.






It would not be fair to keep the reader any more in suspense about the terminus of all this seemingly circumlocuitous course of speculation. Philosophical speculation can be of two kinds: one concerning the Philosophy of Science, and the other the Science of Philosophy. With Eddington and Bergson, referred to in the present series of essays, we have roughly covered the ground of the Philosophy of Science. The Science of Philosophy has to be approached through semantics, logistics, mathematical principles, and allied scientific disciplines developed in recent years. Many people are not familiar with the laboratory equipment, the techniques, the new logistics, and mathematical principles, as also semantics, that go together to clarify the new field of unified science or integrated wisdom, with a proto-language or a meta-language of its own.


So that the reader may not be troubled with technical details of the less familiar kind, we have relegated such discussion to the form of a monograph. This monograph has received the seal of the Académie Royale de Belgique, and has been written in a fully academic style, so that its quality and claims may be above suspicion. This monograph will help the reader to see the justification for some other of the points of the normative scheme, which will be given a preview presently. Then we must also refer to many other articles we have written, in which aspects of this scheme and justifications for it, have been kept in mind consistently and persistently through three decades or more, as applied speculation to departments of knowledge such as education, economics, etc.



Our thoughts have a plan on which they live and move. This plan is linguistically or mathematically analysable, but is not to be treated as a reality in itself. Further, it has to be thought of in double or duplicated form: one that is proto-linguistic in status and the other that is meta-linguistic. Each one of these lends certitude to the other, just as in human experience the name "rose" supports the rose that is visible and has perfume. Finally, one proves the other as simply as in the saying, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof." Geometry can supplement algebra and vice versa, as modern mathematicians agree. Of these, algebra is more arbitrary than geometry, which is more earthy and less ideological or symbolic. Schematically speaking, both have the same status in an absolutist theory of knowledge. These statements have been justified in various ways in the present study as well as in companion writings elsewhere, to which the critical student is referred.






Philosophical speculation must have a norm and a frame of reference to regulate and limit its findings. Full-fledged philosophising cannot be based on piecemeal methods or on a halting trial-and-error approach where mere opinions come into interplay. To make speculation scientific this norm must first be precisely defined. It is the structural aspect of the Absolute which can give this precision to all or any speculation, and speculation must at the same time refer, explicitly or implicitly, to the notion of the Absolute.


We have reviewed the whole range of modern thought in the present series of essays to justify this conclusion, and we have not omitted to refer to older philosophers of the West such as Aristotle and Plato, wherever their views could confirm our findings. The norm has to be understood both in the concrete terms of a structural scheme, geometrically understood, and in terms of the more conceptual meta-language of logistics or mathematics, such as is more natural to algebra. Unitively combining perceptual and conceptual factors as the content of the Absolute, after all that we have had to say so far, we can perhaps venture to put down schematically the gist of the conclusion we have arrived at.




Just as the name "rose" given to the actual flower has necessarily to be arbitrary and different for each of the many vernaculars of the world, there has necessarily to be an element of arbitrariness involved in the schematisation employed below. Further it should be remembered that the schema is only a linguistic device for reference and can be thought of intuitively with its own fluid dynamism, as Bergson would insist upon, as well as by the pure thought of Kant's schematismus, as understood by him. The semantic status of the scheme must anyhow absolve it from being considered a reality or a fetish in itself, belonging to the imagination. If vectorial or tensorial analysis is useful in modern geometrical algebra, the scheme recommended here cannot be considered altogether without validity, at least as a frame of linguistic reference to normalise speculation in general. The practical or beneficial service to which the scheme could be put by thinkers or writers is finally the only criterion of its validity.


Summing up our position thus in respect of this proto-cum-meta-linguistic scheme, we give below only the bare outlines of some of the elements which make it up, leaving further elaborations and explanations in the pages of the other two series of essays to which we have referred. Valuable applications in departments of thought such as educational theory, economics, Indian myth, Greek tragedy, not omitting the Upanishads etc., will also be found in the numerous essays we have already contributed. By way of further apologetics for presenting here a simplified structural scheme for regulating and normalising correct scientific or metaphysical speculation, we make reference here in ten summarily numbered items to some of the most fundamental peculiarities or secrets which have been recognised by keen thinkers the world over. These should be kept in mind to justify the scheme in the eyes of well-informed and intelligent thinkers or critics.




1. The Principle of orthogonality runs through all the plans of nature. Thinking of such concepts as the Good, the Beautiful and the True implies this rightness which is the same as the orthogonality so important in the growth of trees or in building pyramids or skyscrapers. The vertical and horizontal lines of reference thus become basic and fundamental to thought as well as to language.


2. The principle of the quaternion in the structure of complex numbers and affording the justification for the acceptance, generally, of the Cartesian Co-ordinates in tensorial, vectorial, projective, and topological, as well as analytical geometries, is also a second basic law, rule, or secret principle running through nature as well as through all thinkable worlds of intentions, rational or value systems (or worlds of classes), sets or ensembles. If we add to these schematic and semantic aspects a dynamism belonging to the circulation of thought or semiotic processes, we shall have touched upon three of the most important aspects of the scheme.


3. Names refer to forms and forms to names, and one is, in strict epistemology in the universe of discourse in Boolean algebra, arbitrary in terms of the other. Both cancel out into the neutral notion of the Absolute. The name aspect may be said to refer to the world of the Intelligibles of Plato and the form aspect to the visibles. These could also be named calculables and observables, pure and practical, appearance and reality, the phenomenal and the noumenal, or primary and secondary qualities, as in Locke. The Understanding which is the basis of empirically secondary qualities, or phenomenologically of epochés or events in consciousness, refers to the vertical and the horizontal aspects respectively. By using these terms one only gives to these various couples of antinomies, used by different philosophers, a nomenclature independent of actual entities in particular, which can be referred to as mental and material, mundane and spiritual, etc., used loosely in languages and in their more numerous vernaculars. Here, we only follow the precise way of mathematical nomenclature, which consists of abstraction and generalisation of all particular cases that are extant now or might become extant hereafter. Like the co-ordinates of Descartes with the X and Y axes, which are useful in all kinds of convariations, reciprocities, and relations in time or space, in intuitions held together in nature or within forms of reasoning or thought, the scheme is meant only as a reference.




Matter and form in Aristotle should be understood to apply, according to what we have said, to the vertical and horizontal respectively; instead of conversely, as it might at first seem when compared with Platonic divisions of visibles and intelligibles. The primary qualities of Locke will be vertical as against the secondary ones, and in Descartes perception will be horizontal and will vertical. This distinction takes some time to recognise correctly, if not carefully practised in advance.


4. The paradox of the one and the many has to be resolved, as in Leibnizian monadology, where they co-exist in a dialectical relation as in Zeno and Parmenides. The Monad of monads and the individual monads have a pre-established overall absolute regulating reference. The small and the big, the one and the many, the part and the whole, do not affect the structuralism as understood here as applicable to the Absolute or its content.


5. There is an ambivalent law of alternation to which the dynamism at the core of the Absolute, thus structurally understood, is subject. This could be compared to the systole and diastole of the heart. Organisms that grow and divide have the same alternating rhythm to be understood through centripetal and centrifugal influences on the absolute substance or the unmoved mover at the core of all pure dynamics or processes in the context of the Absolute. The implications of the logarithmic spiral solid of Archimedes is suggestive of a structural scheme for thought processes. We shall bring this forward more completely later. A figure-eight alternation in two vectorial or tensorial spaces, with a one-one correspondence between them, as in the heartbeat, with its systole and diastole, is as far as we can confidently put forward a formulated structuralism at present.




6. The kind of space that we must keep in mind is that wherein geometry can meet with as much abstraction and generalisation as in its sister discipline, algebra. Both disciplines must have a homogeneous ground or matrix, neither mental nor material, but neutral, so that the schéma moteur such as that of Bergson here can function within its own vertical and horizontal amplitudes or limitations, although with certain asymmetries or disproportions as between one or other of the two aspects represented by the axes of reference. The space is not limited to Euclidean space only, but multidimensional. We are satisfied in using a two-dimensional space for the present, for convenience in the simplest of cases of schematic representations, with which alone we are at present concerned at this stage of our study.


7. The geometric mind of nature that designs the varieties of forms through which it wishes to express itself, includes in some corner of its being a regular solid-like inclination or tendency. This is sufficiently clear from the crystallographic shapes seen in minerals such as pyrites and even in snowflakes or in the simple cubical crystals of common salt. The disc of the sunflower reveals designs and proportionate numbers, showing the logarithmic spiral and the sense of proportion of the Golden Number. To make a scheme which is valid geometrically and algebraically at once, therefore, would not be against what nature itself keeps in mind in its creative urge for manifestation.


8. There is a double domain of the Word where, in terms of pure consciousness, there is a darker negative and a brighter positive half. This is the world of the two dictionaries, one that is Berkeleian and the other Lockean. Relation and relata are the stuff which is all comprehensively included within the scope of these two domains of the Word, where they can co-exist when unitively viewed on a homogeneous matrix or neutral ground in Absolute Self-Consciousness.


9. The alternating circulation of thought in search, as it were, of its own other pole, takes place creatively along the vertical axis, or along the more material or mechanistic horizontal axis, as with a growing ammonite, with right- and left-hand twists. To visualise this way of evolution requires multi-dimensional mathematical thought involving logarithmic spirals, etc. We are not yet venturing here into its intricacies.




10. The combined or unified field theory suited to quantum mechanics, particle physics, and relativity, where gravitational and electro-magnetic forces co- exist in a general expanding, contracting or mysterious universe, hitherto matter-of-fact, which physicists too are now unravelling, and whose wonder grows as they succeed, will afford us further confidence in presenting a more elaborate scheme than we are at present bold enough to outline. The lingua mystica of the Upanishads too, understood in the light of a language of unified science, will suggest many valuable leads here.


Abelard, Peter, 13
Absolute Absolute, 37
Absolute, the, 33ft, 41f, 113
…...and the Relative, 39, 83
… a regulative notion, 51, 115
… Western Philosophy,
…...of Einstein, 39
…...structural aspects of, 42f, 45, 73, 118
…...three positions of, 39f, 66 "
… Wilber Long on, 35f
Absolute, cosmological, psychological and teleological, 59
…… the normative notion of the, 47,51,91, 96,115
Absolute Idea, 93f
Absolute thinking substance, 80
Absolutism, right kind of, 62
Age of Analysis, The, 25, 64f
alternation, law of, 121
analysis and synthesis, 31,40, 65f, 89
analytic philosophy, 15, 26f, 65
a priorism and a posteriorism,9, 11, 15f, 18, 21, 23, 28, 30f, 40f, 51ff, 87, 89, 92
Aquinas, Thomas, 11,13
Aristotle, 1f, 18,55, 91ft, 100, 109, 114, 118
Atmopadesa Satakam, 116
Augustine, 13
Ayer A. J., 16


Bacon, 48
belief and philosophy, 3
Bergson, 59, 61f, 65,87, 95f, 103ff, 119
…………and Hegel, 63
and Kant, 105f
Bergson's approach 104f,109f
…………interest, 63
Berkeley, George, 12, 69, 71, 74f, 80
…………a Christian, 75
…………an idealist, 12, 69
…………two tasks of. 75
Berkeley's Absolute, 74
………… position, 75
Bhagavad Gita, The, 57f
Bosanquet, 66
Bradley, 66
Brahman, para and apara, 38
…………saguna and nirguna,52, 61
Brihaspati, 10
Bruno, Giordano, 4, 12, 15, 23, 86
Bury J. B., 2


calculables and observables, 17, 20, 101
Calderwood, 66
certitude by two methods, 20
Cousin, 67
Creative Evolution, 106, 109
Critique of Pure Reason, 94


De Anima, 92
Descartes, 11, 15, 63, 77f, 80, 84, 88f, 101, 114
Deussen, Paul Dr., 7f .
dialectic, 93f
dialectical cancellation, 65
………….method, 15, 45, 50, 52, 55, 61
………….reasoning, 10, 19, 48f, 52
Dialogues of Natural Religion, 70
Dictionary of Philosophy, 4, 35
Discourse on Method, A, 78
double correction, 54


Eddington, A. 5, 16, 39f, 42ft, 46, 51, 53ft, 57, 97
……………conceptual view of, 97f
Einstein, 37f, 59
élan, 107
Elements of metaphysics, 8 .
Empiricism, 12, 66
……………rise of, 11
……………scientific, 16
Empiricists and absolutism, 28, 69
Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 60, 93
English Philosophers. The, 72
Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 19
epistemological revision, 53, 59
epistemology, 50f
epistemology, methodology and axiology, 44f, 48f, 55, 61,
…………….. absolutist, 52
Erdmann, John Edward, 6
eschatology, 2
ethics, 81
Euclid, 37
Existence, Subsistence and Value, 41, 96
Existentialism, 15,115


French Revolution, 11
Fuller, B. A. G. 4, 7, 88
Fundamental Theory, 97




God as substance, 81
… in Empiricism, 69ft
……Hegelianism. 64
Guru-philosophy, states of, 117
………………… summarised, 118


Hamilton, William. 66
Hegel, 7, 13ff, 23, 38, 48, 59f, 62.64f, 87, 93, 100
………needs re-orientation, 62
…… on Indian philosophy,
Hegelian Absolutism, 60f, 93f
Hilbert, 43
History of Freedom of Thought, A. 2, 6
History of Philosophy, A 7
horizontal and vertical, 71, 93
……………………….in Descartes, 79
Human Understanding, 44f, 51, 65, 70, 73, 80f
………………………. as the Absolute, 74, 113f
Hume, David, 12f, 15, 18f, 23f, 65, 69, 71 114
………………on books, 70
………………on theologians, 12
Hylozoism in the present day, 114


Idealism and Realism, 13
Indian Philosophy, 9
Inquisition, the 10, 24
Instrumentalism, 15
integrated philosophy, 10, 23
………….methodology of, 50
International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science, The, 27
Introduction to Aristotle, 93
Introduction to Metaphysics, 63, 104


James, William, 114
jnanin, 1


Kant, Immanuel, 8, 13, 15, 29f.34, 36, 42, 46, 65,


Langer, Susan K., 114
La Pensée Mathématique Pure, 22
Lectures on Metaphysics, 67
Leibniz, 15, 65, 79, 84, 89, 114
Locke, John, 12, 69, 84
…………… .a believer, 69
Logical positivists. 12, 16


Madhva, 116
maha vakyas, 56
Malebranche, 82
Marxism, 59
metaphysics, 2. 15
…………….loose kind of, 18
Materialism, 15
……………and Spiritualism, 15
mathematics defined, 23
…………….function of, 23
maya, 58
methodology, importance of, 18
mind-matter participation, 82,84
Mind, Nature and Origin of the,. 83
modern philosophy and technocracy, 14
…………………. .claims of, 14
………………….. traits of, 15
Monadology, 65, 84ff
Monas monadum, 85f
Müller, Gustav Emil, 60
……….Max, 7, 9, 68
Mysticism and Logic, 26
My View of the World, 57


name and form, 89f, 96, 120
Narayana Guru, 116
nature, mind of, 121
Nature of the Physical World, The, 42, 44, 113f
Newton, 11, 18, 37, 84f
norm, absolute, 56
necessity of a, 16, .30f, 118
normalisation and renormalisation, 6, 87, 96, 115
normalised scheme, 117f


Observables and calculables, 17, 20, 101
Occasional ism, 11, 65
Of the Principles of Human Knowledge, 74
One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction, 54, 116
Oppenheimer, Dr. Albert, 58
Oriental Philosophy, charges against, 9
Orthodoxy, two kinds of, 25
Orthogonality, principle of, 119


paradoxes, 121
Phenomenology, 12, 15, 115
Philosophy of a Guru, The, 53
Philosophy of Physical Science, The, 44, 52, 98
philosophy; central problem of, 45, 92
physics concerns with concepts, 16
Pythagoras, 1
Plato, 8,49,81, 91ff, 100, 109
……on time, 92
Plotinus, 67
Poincaré, 22f
…………on mathematics, 23
pragmatism, 15


qualities in bodies, 72
quaternion, principle of, 120


Ramanuja, 116
Rationalism, 66, 68
Realism and Idealism, 13
Reality, content of, 40
……….two aspects of, 63
reason and revelation, 73
Relative Absolute, 37
relativism, 49f
Renaissance, 10, 12
re-normalisation, 54, 87, 96
rituals, 10
Roi, M. Edward le, 22
Royce, Josiah, 9, 66, 68, 91
Russell, Bertrand, 4, 16,24, 25ff, 114
…………………. on Kant, 29
…………………. on logical form, 27
…………………. on philosophy, 25f
………………… .safety valve for, 27


samanadhikaranatva, 82
Sankara. 38,61,116
scepticism, 12, 25f
Schelling, 67
schema moteur, 110f
schematism, 106
……………as a frame of reference, 119,
……………elements of, 110ff
schematisation, 93ff
Schlich, Moritz, 16
Schopenhauer, 7,9
………………on the Upanishads,7
Schroedinger, 57
science, a common language to, 4
……….and speculation, 11
……….inference in, 48
……….of science,. 6, ,51
……….philosophy of, 6, 15, 28, 52, 96
Scotus, Duns, 13
Selective subjectivism, 99f
Space, Time and Gravitation. 39
speculation, valid and loose,
Spinoza, 15,33, 42, 47, 65, 79f, 84, 88,114
Structural ism, 42ff
subjectivity and objectivity 44
Substance, 65, 81
sunya, 37
symbols, place of, 108f


tabula rasa, 12,71, 73f
technocracy, 11
Temple, G. 38
Thales, 114
theology and science, 57, 59
thing-in-itself, 65
thoughts, circulation of, 121
…………plan of,117
time, 92
Timaeus, 92, 114
Tractatus Politicus, 81
Treatise on Human Nature, 72
True, Good and Beautiful, 55
turiya, 84
Turning Points in Physics, 38
Twentieth Century Philosophers, The, 30


Uberweg, Frederick, 6
Unified, Field Theory, 122
Upanishads, 7f, 68, 116


Vedanta, 38, 52, 56, 6&, 84, 89, 96, 116
Vedanta Revalued and Restated, 53
vertical and horizontal.. 71
Vienna Circle, 16, 30
Voltaire, 11, 14, 69


Western thought, stages of, 104
What is Life?, 57
White, Morton, 64
Whittaker, Edmund, 54, 56
Williams, Monier, 7
wonder 56, 58, 77
Word, double domain of the, 12