Monday, 3 December 2012

Debate on my post "A Question to Vedanthins"


This post is a result of discussion about  my previous post on Vedanta (A question to vedanthins ).
Below is a comment by one of my friends. I have analysed it explained by views.
FRIEND’S COMMENT
I don't want to be rude but here are a few words I need u to understand.....
You cannot say a philosophy is wrong or questionable. The whole world just lives on faith. It is the only thing that separates us from animals. Humans do need something to hold on to. A mere idea is suffice enough quite a few times.... Consider light for example- In 6th standard they thought us that it travelled in a straight line as we grew it started bending at any place it wants it became a wave and particle sometimes both. None of them are wrong according to science You just need to apply correct theory to get the correct explanation. If you try to combine one with others obviously you will mess it up. You are just in the 1st step of philosophy and I am still trying to find my way back in even then it is better if you understand all the things and then come to a conclusion only then can you find a meaningful solution to your problem
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MY REPLY TO THE ABOVE COMMENT.
You said "You cannot say a philosophy is wrong or questionable" I don't know want you exactly mean by this if case 1: you say it is wrong to question a philosophy or idea i strongly disagree in a democratic society every idea is debatable  and everybody as a right to criticise to other ideas. Denying this like denying basic human rights to people. Also it hinders development of ideas and consequentially human progress. As a free thinker I see this as nothing but dictatorship.
Case 2: If you are talking specific about discipline of philosophy   again I disagree because a philosophical theory can be rejected or improved   based on logical reasoning and empirical evidence . in analytical philosophy or similar areas where philosophers speculate on certain areas of the investigation as Philosopher Daniel Dennett said philosophy is what you do when you know the right questions to ask (so he calls AI a kind of philosophy) These fields when they develop into science based on the empirical evidence these philosophical theories are either rejected or accepted. (I would recommend Bertrand Russell’s Philosophy for laymen for details).  In value theory (ethics etc) also philosophy makes progress (watch the video attached below for details). Most of the  time philosophers  try to find faults in other theories or better formulate their theories against the criticisms.
 You said “The whole world just lives on faith” Here by faith if you mean believing in something without adequate evidence then I strongly disagree belief in meaningless ideas which results in lot of nonsense . Accepting something uncritically will result in people becoming puppets in the hands of others(watch meme video by Dennett below). To  Further explain this let  me quote Sam harris (The  End Of Faith Afterword )
My correspondent then went on to point out, as many have, that each of us has to get out of bed in the
morning and live his life, and we do this in a context of uncertainty, and in the context of terrible certainties, like the certainty of death.   This positive disposition, this willingness to set a course in life without any assurance that things will go one's way, is occasionally called "faith." Thus, one may prop up a disconsolate friend with the words "have faith in yourself." Such words are almost never facetious, even on the forked tongue of an atheist. Let me state for the record that I  see nothing wrong with this kind of "faith."
But this is not the faith that has given us religion. It would be  rather remarkable if a positive attitude in the face of uncertainty led  inevitably to ludicrous convictions about the divine origin of certain books, to bizarre cultural taboos, to the abject hatred of homosexuals, and to the diminished status of women. Adopt too positive an
outlook, and the next thing you know architects and engineers may  start flying planes into buildings.

I don’t know about yourself but please don’t generalise it into whole world. Speak for yourself. Don’t generalise your views into others. Here you are making an inductive generalisation using anecdotal evidence (personal experience) this is an invalid argument because anecdotes are not same as data.

You said “It is the only thing that separates us from animals.” Where did you get this idea?? From studying neuroscience or biology etc?? I think it is the mostly the opposite case human ability to ask questions to understand nature etc i.e. critical thinking (Language intelligence) and of course morality. You said” Humans do need something to hold on” Oh again don’t generalise without sufficient ideas to A mere idea is suffice enough quite a few times.”  Of course I agree that believing in god or some other thing even if it is false has helped many people and of course they have every right to believe it. I get this type of comment whenever I question religious ideas. My view is this I believe in the democracy so I respect the people’s right to believe in whatever they want(God, Flying sphagetti monster, Flat earth etc or the belief  that  earth is actually flat but looks spherical due to avidya (maya) and only liberated souls can see the actual shape of earth i.e  flatnessJ(pun intended) ) But it is totally against the spirit of democracy and free inquiry to demand some special status  and exemption from critical questioning for certain things (books, ideas myths etc) just because  some people consider it holy. See I don’t believe in any God or religion (I am a Secular Humanist and free-thinker) but I respect other people’s right to believe. But as I said before when one discuss public policy issues one needs to go by evidence and logical reasoning. Because some people Vedas or any other book  as true (revealed truth shruthi) you can’t say that nobody should critically analyse them. We can’t stop philosophical, historical analysis because it is against somebody’s beliefs. For example  we can’t teach some myths  as history because some people believe it is true. See I read philosophy or watch movie etc and I may like them very much but others people must be free to like it or not . There are certain values as sacred but just because I hold certain things as sacred it is wrong on my part to tell others to question their validity Some people may believe that the ideas of Karma, Rebirth, personal God is true but it is perfectly Acceptable for people to debate about its validity because if  it is true  it would have very serious implication on our view of the world so people must be free to analyse  it and question it. In short I am arguing for separateness between government and religion. Religion should be relegated to private sphere. I am unable to understand what was so wrong in my questioning? I have politely asked people about my doubts. It is not something new or radical it is been done by people for more than 2500 years. What’s so wrong with it ??  If you think that I am wrong with my views (in the article) show it is wrong and I will be happy to correct it. Say honestly if instead of vedantha or sankara I had questioned any non-religious thinkers (like Indian philosophers like Gangesa, Kanada etc) or western philosophers like Kant, Hume,Plato etc what would have been your reaction?  I think we are becoming insecure about our beliefs etc so people are finding it difficult to question or critically analyse these things. I am commenting not in specific to your view but to general opinion I receive from people.

You said “Consider light for example- In 6th standard they thought us that it travelled in a straight line as we grew it started bending at any place it wants it became a wave and particle sometimes both. None of them are wrong according to science you just need to apply correct theory to get the correct explanation. If you try to combine one with others obviously you will mess it up”.  The fact that Light acts as a wave and particle is a empirical fact it is not based on any authority it is an phenomena observed in the physical world. The wave-particle duality and Many scientific    facts (especially related to Quantum mechanics) are counter-intuitive but one fact we need to understand is that the physical world exists independent of our feelings about it. As somebody commented “The universe is not only queerer than what we suppose but queerer than what we can suppose”.(see accompanying TED video by Richard Dawkins on this topic). You said “None of them are wrong according to science” I want to know what do you exactly meant by science? Science is not some authority it is a tool (epistemological method to be precise) to discover and understand the facts about the natural world. Unlike religion It doesn’t accept any authority those facts about light is true because they are experimentally observed i.e. these theories are logical inferences drawn from replicable experimental evidence. I want to make the meaning of “truth”. The scientific theories are not absolute truths they are most plausible explanation w.r.t. to the current amount of evidence. As new evidence comes forward they are revised. Please read more about philosophy of science it is very important for an engineer.(see video below).

You said “ You just need to apply correct theory to get the correct explanation. If you try to combine one with others obviously you will mess it up.” I think what you are saying here is that since I don’t know much about Vedanta I am having this confusion. May be this is true or I think it is also possible that there is a genuine confusion in the Vedanta(or at least sankara’s commentary on Brahma sutra). How can one assume that there is no inherent confusion. The more I read about Vedanta I am think there is inherent contradictions there (I will write a separate post on this) .Vedanta is not strictly a philosophy it contains main different strands of philosophical speculation there.  Also it is more appropriate to call sorietology instead of philosophy (see lecture by A. Bharathi below) . My biggest problem with sankara’s views is that his uncritical acceptance of Vedas as truth and even manu smruthi. A philosopher always should be in a quest for truth he should start by questioning but for Sankara logic was second first preference was to establish truth of religious books.(see S.N. Dasgupta History of Indian philosophy part 1 ch 10 The Sankara school of vedantha)
You said “You are just in the 1st step of philosophy and I am still trying to find my way back in even then it is better if you understand all the things and then come to a conclusion only then can you find a meaningful solution to your problem.” I agree I am just learning philosophy it is a very interesting and very useful subject. But if your conclusion is based on the fact that I find disagreements in Vedanta than I disagree with this view.  Many people have this view “ if you find disagreement  i.e.  logical inconsistencies etc then you are wrong” this is totally wrong because it doesn’t  state the another possibility that the holy books themselves are wrong(indeed they are wrong in many many cases). Of course I will study more on this to come to  understand this but I want to state  that “final” conclusion need not necessary be that there is no inherent inconsistencies in these texts.

If you wish I would like to have more discussion on this topic with you because as David Hume said “New ideas come through discussion among friends”)
Videos /links

1. Dan Denett – Memes    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzGjEkp772s
2. Richard Dawkins – Ted Talk   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1APOxsp1VFw
3. Agehananda Bharathi lecture on Indian darsana (“philosophy”) (4 parts) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=231Dbe59bPw
4. Massimo Pigulucci videos on philosophy
a. philosophy of science http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-d7dbo-xag&list=UL  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDUciNH-gIE&list=UL
b. Does philosophy makes progress?   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDUciNH-gIE&list=UL

Monday, 26 November 2012

Newton's Law by Saint Kanada - Debunking Final conclusion


If the fraud  is not oblivious by now I will quote the full translation of the sukta (From Vol 6 The sacred book of the Hindus “The vaisheshika sutra of kanada - commentary by sankara misra“)

1) DRAVYASHRAYYAGUNAVAAN SAMYOGA VIBHAAGESHU AKAARANAM ITHI GUNA LAKSHANAM [ VAISHESHIKA SUTHRA 1.1.16]


Commentary is as below

 
2)
SAMYOGA VIBHAAGA VEGHAANAAM KARMA SAMAANAM.      [ VAISHESHIKA SUTRA -- 1.1.20]