Abheda, Logical Laws and Categories

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    Ankur Sethi

    Thank your for your recent podcast in which you addressed questions on abheda and conceivability. It raised some further questions which I hope you may address.
    1. In your answer for non-difference you answered that the cow is non-different from another cow. Identical in the sense of being cows but different individuals. So if you combine the modes you get non-difference. But then why combine the modes? Isn’t it sufficient to say they are different and the same in different ways? Why say they are non-different? Do we need a logical category if their sameness and difference is in different senses of usage. It seems there is no violation of classical logical rules if it is understood in that way. Is the answer that a complete understanding of the cow must include non-difference to be complete for simultaneous modes?
    2. With regard to memberships in categories, modern philosophy has created category theory and numerous formalizations around it. Membership in a set is not considered as identity. Don’t they describe it as a relation between the individual and set and then logical propositions are created around that? Is there a difference if we treat membership in a set or belonging to a universal? Are examples like membership in a set or belonging to a universal sufficient to understand abheda?
    3. This may be explained in other places and please feel free to point to those if so. I read in brief that contention between the Buddhists debated with followers of the Vedas regarding universals. The Buddhists said universals do not exist. Was this debate related to using laws of logic which are suited for objects or classical logical laws? Does a Vedic understanding treat universals as material but not objects?
    4. In many of your writings, you note that the frame of reference is important. It seems that the laws of logic being sacrosanct is one such frame of reference. Is it a correct understanding to say that axioms are assumptions which are solving a problem? So we are more attacking the assumption that any axioms are universal descriptions of reality. So regarding classical laws of logic, they are there to solve a problem and we have to determine if we want to solve those same problems?

    Ashish Dalela
    1. Why combine the modes? Because experience is created only by the combination of the modes. When the modes are separated, there is no experience. In the previous episodes, I have explained how sat-chit-ananda must always combine to create an experience. Without that combination, you cannot get any experience. Similarly, in the material nature, the modes must be combined. Without that combination, there is no observation. That’s why in the primordial state of matter called pradhana, there is no world. The modes are unmanifest in pradhana. They manifest in prakriti, and combine in mahattattva. So, mahattattva is the most basic type of world. It is the Platonic world of ideals. But it is a world. So, even this world of ideas is created by the combination of the modes. Just like you say “Ideal Man”, so this is an idea, and there must be one instance of this idea, and this idea must be distinguished from let’s say “Ideal Woman”. So, three modes must combine.
    2. But what is a set? Is there a boundary around all the cows in this world that separates them from horses? No. And what about cows that are not yet born? Or existed in the past but are dead now? How are we going to draw that boundary for dead cows and yet to be born cows, because they are cows too? The answer is that any physical construction fails to represent concepts. A cow is a mental construct. It exists when no cow exists. If this seems like a hard problem, then we can use the concept “Dinosaur”. There is not a single Dinosaur today, so you cannot make a set. Does that mean Dinosaur is meaningless? What about a Unicorn? By definition, there is no such thing as a Unicorn. But as an idea it is meaningful. So, we have to stop thinking of ideas in terms of sets of objects. This is the fundamental problem in all Western philosophy in the last few centuries. They don’t want to admit the reality of ideas, because then they have to admit a mind, and that leads to “religion”. Their solution is to banish ideas, in order to banish the mind, in order to banish religion completely.
    3. Without universals, we cannot know anything. To know that there are two things, we must have the idea of twoness. Otherwise, how can we count till two? Even for sense perception, you need a concept “yellow” to see yellow. And for yellow to exist, color must exist prior. And for color to exist, sight must exist prior. That’s why the sense is primary, from that sense, we get properties like color, which are called tanmatra, and then we get a shade like yellow. The idea that there are no universals is not a Buddhist notion. It is a materialist position attributed to Charvaka in Indian philosophy. Buddhists fully accept concepts, but they claim that all these concepts are dual — e.g. hot vs. cold. So, the ultimate reality cannot be these concepts. But that is not the rejection of concepts, it is a question of what the ultimate reality is. And we say that all these dual ideas are subdivisions of knowledge. That knowledge can be hot or cold, bitter or sweet, black or white. Then, the Buddhist argues: if there is knowledge, then there must also be ignorance. And we agree with that. We say that the material world is ignorance, and it is real, and it is part of God. Then the Buddhist says: So if God is both knowledge and ignorance, then how is it non-dual? And the answer is that God exists in many moods. Sometimes He takes the mood of knowledge, and sometimes He takes the mood of ignorance. In the latter case, He is called Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is not a separate person. He is the same person in a different mood. So, non-duality is ultimately the ability of the same person to have infinite moods and ways of enjoyment.
    4. The laws of logic are a form of ignorance. Yes, this logic is also part of God, but to use this logic you have to say that concepts are unreal, then I have no mind, then I am not a soul, then there is no God, and without all this, there is no responsibility with choice. It is said that ignorance is bliss. So, some people want that bliss. To get that type of bliss, there is a type of logic. So, this logic is ideally suited if you want the bliss of ignorance.
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