February 22, 2020

Socratic irony, Galileo's error, and Gargi's silence

"Only modern science has insisted on trying to explain life on a purely mechanical-chemical level, and has failed repeatedly to even come up with a definition of life on that basis, as it must since life and matter are inherently understood as being distinct principles. Reason is one, thus modern science, as the honest study of reality, must eventually concur with the same truths that human reason has established in our philosophical and spiritual traditions. It is due to the progress of science that we are led to acknowledge the limits of science and the importance of recognizing life as a distinct principle beyond the mere material or naturalistic conception of Nature. The whole concept of Nature, itself, cannot be encompassed simply in terms of atoms, molecules and their physical and chemical reactions. A deeper truth has to be sought in the corresponding reality of thought and spirit. It is hoped that this brief introduction to the logic of life will inspire further study into this deeper reality."
— Śrīpād Bhakti Mādhava Purī Mahārāja, Ph.D.
Hegel makes these point in his Science of Logic and also in his treatise Encycloepedia of Nature. The Idea exists as pure thought. That is without extension. But still it is Absolute Idea as Spirit and so is aware of itself and also its negativity. Spirit because it is Absolute, knows its own limitation and the same can overcome its limitation. And because Spirit is absolute it finds itself beyond its limit as well. That is why Spirit or The Idea is Absolute. In this way Absolute is truly infinite.

Due to this overcoming of its own limit, The Idea becomes the idea outside of itself by expressing itself in Its Other, i.e. Nature. The Idea does not exist only in the Thought, but also in Thought’s opposite, i.e. extension. Therefore Nature includes all forms of self externality.

That’s why the concept of death becomes important. Hegel says Die to Live [4[. Because Reality (Spirit) is by and for itself. When we can die in externality, i.e. in the search for so called freedom, that we actually become free for the first time. That is the Spiritual World, where truth is spontaneous, or free. There is some appearance of freedom in Nature, no doubt, but that is not in the true sublated form. Just like a prisoner is doing something in the jail, but we know that the jail is not his real home. Therefore the Spiritual world is the true home soil. Therefore everyone becomes free for the first time when they come in harmony with Reality.

Bhakti Vijnana Muni 

Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Deva Goswami Maharaja, the founder of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math recognized that among all western philosophers, Hegel was very good. And we also in turn heard some of these topics from our Gurudev, Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja Phd. And everyone can derive great benefit from his association and contributing to his service as he served many great personalities like Srila BR Sridhar Maharaja and Srila AC Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Organic wholes are not a result of addition of parts. They are produced from already existing wholes and are irreducible to mechanical or chemical logic. In this way natural processes have been described in philosophy. 

But the biological studies in modern science have yet to let go of the mechanical bias in their ontological thinking. Socratic Methodology gives us a precise methodology to settle the question. We can focus on the question: Where is the center of the functional unity of the cell. 

The subjects of Socrates' conversations often revolved around search for a definition focused on the true nature of the subject under question and not just on how the word is used correctly in a sentence. Hence our focus should be what is the true concept of the cell, rather than what we think nature should be, or what merely a mechanism should be. We must let go of our different biases and allow nature to reveal to us.

Why have we moved away from the logic of organic whole which was understood by philosophers like Kant, Hegel, Aristotle and Plato. Kant had even said that there will never be a Newton for the Blade of Grass. Then all of a sudden why the current shift of ontological thinking about the unity of the functional cell to a mechanical logic.

Why there is no result after more than 150 years attempts to manufacture even a single bacterium from de novo processes in our advanced chemical labs even after spending billions of dollars worth of time and manpower. What is the Causal principle behind the cellular function. Why is it still irreducible to linear simplicity. Cell continues to display circular complexity in its causal flow. So how can we accept the mechanical reduction of the organism.


Philosophical thought is often about frameworks and deeper principles, usually while inhabiting those frameworks and using those principles.

Philosophy is not merely an enterprise of finding answers via established methods and moving on. You are thinking about thinking while trying to think about questions that you have little idea how to answer. And this is hard. Really hard. As I often tell my students, if philosophy is not difficult, you’re not doing it right!

Gārgī is thinking about the fundamental nature of existence—what it could be, how we could know it, and whether we could put it into language even if we did know it. As important as philosophical debate has been and remains in India and elsewhere, you can’t always be worried about your next move in the debate. Sometimes you need to slow down and think rather than offer the first response that comes to mind.

I think this lesson could be especially important to people interacting online. There is a tendency to skim headlines, tweets, or blog posts and immediately rush to respond, but what if instead you thought silently before commenting? Often our initial gut reactions turn out to be wrong upon further reflection. A bit of silent thinking can help to sort out what to say and how to say it. It can help you to avoid misunderstanding others. It can get you immortalized in an Upaniṣad (at least that worked for Gārgī).

I will fall silent now so that you, dear readers, can think about this for yourselves. Cross-posted to my personal blog.

Ethan Mills | February 5, 2020 


Dear Friends and Well-wishers, The seventh Subhash Kumar Mukherjee Memorial Oration, organized by Overman Foundation, was held on Friday, 20th December 2019, at Matru Sadan, in Pondicherry.

The speaker was Dr. Alok Pandey who spoke on the topic, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”


Kundan Singh (HUM '08) will be giving a lecture at the Cultural Integration Fellowship entitled "Life and Legacy of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram." #fridaythoughts  #CIISAlumni https://t.co/CJdqpxIxOg



Economists should learn lessons from meteorologists

Weather forecasters make hypotheses and test them daily



Most economists (formally-trained as well as self-appointed) do macro forecasting of business cycles with fancy charts & high-sounding lingo in trendy conference halls & op-ed pages of newspapers! Ground-level realities are given a go by!


Here is a detailed review of the book 'Galileo's Error' by Philip Goff @Philip_Goff Whether you agree with the author or not this book is important for those interested in consciousness studies and philosophy.  https://t.co/AwQiyEnZD0 via @swarajyamag


In the review: It seems the Saiva Siddhanta scholars seem to have come up with a proto-variant of Mary-in-b&w realm. And Swami Vivekananda and Dr. Ambedkar had put forth an argument for ethics and democracy based on non-duality.

Akaramuthalvan In Ardhanarishvara: The Androgynous Link To Divinity And Language https://t.co/UrMzAMgTpn via @swarajyamag


There is a category of challenges called tripāda-samasyās, which are tri-lined. This poses greater difficulty than others, for all 3 lines are disconnected, and are culled out from different poems.

Around Samasyā-pūraṇa: Analysing Literary Creativity - 9 https://t.co/AbmywW50Qk


One of the most fascinating tales in the Mahabharata is the dialogue between Yudhishtira and Yama on the banks of the enchanted pool. This episode is popularly known as the ‘Yakshaprashna.

Yakshaprashna: Quenching the Thirst - 1 https://t.co/mwCJ0YPwep


The Esoteric Sense of the Ashwamedha, the Horse Sacrifice https://t.co/zJbog54mC4


February 19, 2020

Heidegger’s philosophy lacked a sense of divine transcendence

February 07, 2020

Twilight of modern mind

January 12, 2020

How to invite intuitive knowledge

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist but is best known for his philosophy on human evolution and Integral Yoga.[87]

Although Sri Aurobindo was familiar with the most important lines of thought in Western philosophy, he did not acknowledge their influence on his own writings.[71] He wrote that his philosophy "was formed first by the study of the Upanishads and the Gita… They were the basis of my first practice of Yoga." With the help of his readings he tried to move on to actual experience, "and it was on this experience that later on I founded my philosophy, not on ideas themselves.”[72]

He assumes that the seers of the Upanishads had basically the same approach and gives some details of his vision of the past in a long passage in The Renaissance of India. "The Upanishads have been the acknowledged source of numerous profound philosophies and religions," he writes. Even Buddhism with all its developments was only a "restatement" from a new standpoint and with fresh terms. And, furthermore the ideas of the Upanishads "can be rediscovered in much of the thought of Pythagoras and Plato and form the profoundest part of Neo-platonism and Gnosticism..." 

Sri Aurobindo's indebtedness to the Indian tradition also becomes obvious through his placing a large number of quotations from the Rig Veda, the Upanishads and theBhagavadgita at the beginning of the chapters in The Life Divine, showing the connection of his own thought to Veda and Vedanta.[75][76]

The Isha Upanishad is considered to be one of the most important and more accessible writings of Sri Aurobindo.[77] Before he published his final translation and analysis, he wrote ten incomplete commentaries.[78] 

Affinity with Western philosophy

In his writings, talks and letters Sri Aurobindo has referred to several European philosophers with whose basic concepts he was familiar, commenting on their ideas and discussing the question of affinity to his own line of thought. Thus he wrote a long essay on the Greek philosopher Heraclitus[61] and mentioned especially Plato, Plotinus, Nietzsche and Bergsonas thinkers in whom he was interested because of their more intuitive approach.[62] On the other hand, he felt little attraction for the philosophy of Kant or Hegel.[63] 

Several studies[64]have shown a remarkable closeness to the evolutionary thought of Teilhard de Chardin, whom he did not know, whereas the latter came to know of Sri Aurobindo at a late stage. After reading some chapters of The Life Divine, he is reported to have said that Sri Aurobindo's vision of evolution was basically the same as his own, though stated for Asian readers.[65][66]

Several scholars have discovered significant similarities in the thought of Sri Aurobindo and Hegel. Steve Odin has discussed this subject comprehensively in a comparative study.[67] Odin writes that Sri Aurobindo "has appropriated Hegel’s notion of an Absolute Spirit and employed it to radically restructure the architectonic framework of the ancient Hindu Vedanta system in contemporary terms."[68] In his analysis Odin arrives at the conclusion that "both philosophers similarly envision world creation as the progressive self-manifestation and evolutionary ascent of a universal consciousness in its journey toward Self-realization."[69] He points out that in contrast to the deterministic and continuous dialectal unfolding of Absolute Reason by the mechanism of thesis-antithesis-synthesis or affirmation-negation-integration, "Sri Aurobindo argues for a creative, emergent mode of evolution."[69] In his résumé Odin states that Sri Aurobindo has overcome the ahistorical world-vision of traditional Hinduism and presented a concept which allows for a genuine advance and novelty.[70]

Synthesis and Integration

Sisir Kumar Maitra, who was a leading exponent of Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy,[81] has referred to the issue of external influences and written that Sri Aurobindo does not mention names, but "as one reads his books one cannot fail to notice how thorough is his grasp of the great Western philosophers of the present age..." Although he is Indian one should not "underrate the influence of Western thought upon him. This influence is there, very clearly visible, but Sri Aurobindo... has not allowed himself to be dominated by it. He has made full use of Western thought, but he has made use of it for the purpose of building up his own system..."[82] Thus Maitra, like Steve Odin,[83] sees Sri Aurobindo not only in the tradition and context of Indian, but also Western philosophy and assumes he may have adopted some elements from the latter for his synthesis.

R. Puligandla supports this viewpoint in his book Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy. He describes Sri Aurobindo's philosophy as "an original synthesis of the Indian and Western traditions." "He integrates in a unique fashion the great social, political and scientific achievements of the modern West with the ancient and profound spiritual insights ofHinduism. The vision that powers the life divine of Aurobindo is none other than the Upanishadic vision of the unity of all existence."[84]

Puligandla believes that the Western influence also becomes evident through Sri Aurobindo's critical position vis-à-vis Shankara[85] and his assumption that the latter teaches through his Mayavada or Illusionism that the world is unreal and illusory. Puligandla objects, "nowhere does Shankara say that the world is unreal and illusory. Quite the contrary, through the concept of sublation he teaches that the world is neither real nor unreal. That this is indeed his teaching is further borne out by his distinction between lower and higher truths." Therefore, Puligandla concludes that "Aurobindo’s characterization of Shankara’s Vedanta as a world-negating philosophy is unfounded." He believes that Sri Aurobindo in his endeavour to synthesize Hindu and Western modes of thought has wrongly identified Shankara's Mayavada with the subjective idealism of George Berkeley, "which undoubtedly stands in sharp contrast to the realism of the Western philosophical tradition in general." Nonetheless, Puligandla believes that Sri Aurobindo was "a great philosopher-mystic" with a significant vision of man and the world.[84]

Sri Aurobindo's critique of Shankara is supported by U. C. Dubey in his paper titledIntegralism: The Distinctive Feature of Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy. He starts by summarizing what he considers to be Sri Aurobindo's most important contributions to philosophy and mentions at first his integral view of Reality. "The creative force or 'cit-śakti' is regarded by him as one with the Absolute. Thus there is no opposition between the Absolute and its creative force in his system." Next Dubey refers to Sri Aurobindo's conception of the supermind as the mediatory principle between the Absolute and the finite world and quotes S.K. Maitra stating that this conception "is the pivot round which the whole of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy moves."[86]

Dubey proceeds to analyse the approach of the Shankarites and believes that they follow an inadequate kind of logic that does not do justice to the challenge of tackling the problem of the Absolute, which cannot be known by finite reason. With the help of the finite reason, he says, "we are bound to determine the nature of reality as one or many, being or becoming. But Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Advaitism reconciles all apparently different aspects of Existence in an all-embracing unity of the Absolute." Next, Dubey explains that for Sri Aurobindo there is a higher reason, the "logic of the infinite" in which his integralism is rooted, and expounds this concept by presenting some quotations from The Life Divine. In concluding he notes critically "that Sri Aurobindo does not explain sufficiently the nature of the logic of the infinite." Nevertheless, "the way he proposes this logic is undoubtedly his unique contribution in the field of Absolutism."[86]


His influence has been wide-ranging. In India, S. K. Maitra, Anilbaran Roy and D. P. Chattopadhyaya commented on Sri Aurobindo's work. Writers on esotericism and traditional wisdom, such as Mircea Eliade, Paul Brunton, and Rene Guenon, all saw him as an authentic representative of the Indian spiritual tradition.[88] 

Haridas Chaudhuri and Frederic Spiegelberg[91] were among those who were inspired by Aurobindo, who worked on the newly formed American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Soon after, Chaudhuri and his wife Bina established the Cultural Integration Fellowship, from which later emerged the California Institute of Integral Studies.[92]

The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo is very much about our very life and existence, its nature and future; yet steers clear of current affairs. Being in that state of mind to probe how normal functioning of mind can be transcended so as to invite intuitive knowledge is the challenge