Symploké, Pluralistic Materialism and Vedic philosophy

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    miguel angel moreno

    Good Ashish, how long. I have a doubt about the philosophical point of view of Vedanta and some philosophical considerations.

    In Spain, there is a philosophical school called philosophical materialism: they are sui generis materialists, that is, they believe that everything is matter, but they believe that matter can be corporeal and incorporeal; that matter can be physical or psychological, they are not reductionist and they are pluralistic. They say that there are 3 types of matter in our world, physical, psychological and that of ideas, but the world is not reduced to any of them. But they are against spiritualism, because they do not accept a living nucleus that creates itself, but that life, for them, and consciousness, has to have a body, and they deny the spirit then. But they play with a quite interesting term that is Symploké, this comes from Plato and means that not everything is connected with everything nor everything is isolated with everything, but that existence is a kind of tissue that connects but not everything It is connected, a kind of middle way. So that school is against spiritual monism – everything is connected – and radical pluralism – nihilism. Could Vedic Philosophy be a specimen of Symploké? Or monism?

    In one of your posts you said that you considered yourself an information monist, but monism can have many definitions and it does not imply that everything is connected.

    Greetings, and I love the new blog model.

    Ashish Dalela

    A number of problems arise when trying to understand concepts or even the mind. For example, if you see a table, then is the idea “table” inside the table, or is it outside? Greeks could never solve this problem. Plato had thought that there is “another perfect world” of ideas, of which the present world is an imperfect reflection. But how do ideas descend in this world? They could not explain. Then, Aristotle modified the doctrine and said that the world comprises two things — “substance” and “form”. What is substance? They took the Indian philosophical idea of five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether), and removed Ether from it, and just has four substances. But if we take this idea a step further, then what about ideas such as “taste” and “color”? Are they not ideas and therefore forms? If substance carries these ideas, then there must also be a combination of substance and form, such that the substance is NOT color or taste. Then there must be a substance that is devoid of all forms, to which forms must be added. What is that substance? Unless all these problems are solved, there is no point in debating an ideology, because it is itself ridden with flaws. So, let them first explain the nature of forms or ideas.

    As regards information monism, I have never used this term. I do say, however, that everything is information. This doesn’t mean that it is ONLY information. Our understanding is that there is a conscious person — the Supreme Person — who has three aspects, called sat, chit, and ananda. The chit is a form or idea, and ananda is the individual person. Then the sat is the consciousness. These three are logically distinct, but unless they are combined, there is no experience. So, in our philosophy, there is no “substance”. Some Western commentators have inaccurately translated a term called “padartha” into “substance” because they were influenced by Greek thinking. But “padartha” comprises two things — “pada” and “artha”, which represent “word” and “meaning”. The meaning is a form, and the word is another form. The meaning is the universal concept or chit, and its instantiation into an individual is due to a choice which is ananda. Then, these word-meaning combinations (I also use the term symbol for it) have relations to other word-meaning combinations. These relations are the counterpart of what we call “consciousness”.

    So, apart from explaining the nature of forms or ideas, any alternative theory has to also explain the nature of contexts and relationality by which the meaning is modified, and sometimes a new meaning is created, and sometimes meaning is restricted. For example, in relation to “father”, only one aspect is visible, so it is a restriction. Then, when one becomes a “father” a new meaning is created. Likewise, when the “father” aspect is manifest, then the “boss” aspect becomes invisible, so the meaning is modified. Language is full of these contextual meanings, and someone must be able to explain these too.

    Vedic philosophy is not monism or pluralism. The real world comprises many antinomies. For example, if you try to simplify things then you cannot explain reality with a few simple ideas. You either have many simple ideas or a few complex ideas. So, simplicity and parsimony are an antinomy. Then, if you aim for complete knowledge, you get more contradictions, and if you remove contradictions, then you get incompleteness. So, consistency and completeness are an antinomy. Like that there are six primary antinomies which are discussed in the book “The Science of God”. These antinomies create plurality, and God is that thing in which these antinomies are reconciled, so He is both consistent and complete, simple and parsimonious, etc. That reconciliation of antinomies is a unity that is sometimes (incorrectly) called “monism”. The correct terms are advaya which means non-dual or abheda which means non-separated. All these words have been incorrectly translated as “oneness” or “identity” because people did not ask: What is duality? What is separation? So, they arrived at a notion of unity without understanding duality, and hence their idea is incorrect.

    God has innumerable qualities, so there is pluralism. But these qualities in God are not contradictory. So, there is non-duality or non-separateness. Just because God is kind doesn’t mean He is NOT harsh. Just because He is small doesn’t mean He is NOT big. Just because He is attached doesn’t mean He is not detached. Just because He is a child doesn’t mean He is not the origin of everything. So, anybody who talks about oneness is just presenting a pseudo-scientific idea, because they cannot explain variety. Let them first explain variety, and then we can talk about unity. In other words, first, bring your science, then we will talk about your religious doctrine. We are not interested in a religious doctrine without a science. If you can do better science with your philosophy, then we will accept your philosophy. But prove it!

    This is a challenge to all philosophies, all religions, and all sciences. We have to prove how you are better, or slowly you will disappear into oblivion.

    miguel angel moreno

    Very good answer. But to be clear, I am not from this Spanish school of philosophical materialism, I tend rather to Vedic philosophy or the idealism of Bernardo Kastrup.

    About substances, they don’t believe in them either, there are no substances in their philosophy. But they do believe that there is a “fundamental matter” (they call it general ontological matter) that we cannot understand because it surpasses us, and that infinite modes of materiality emerge from it, such as physical, mental, ideas … that is, the universe is a yawn of that general ontological matter which for them is “pure act and infinite plurality”. I am not a materialist because they do not approve of the spirit, as Vedic philosophy does in other ways, for them death is the end because consciousness is not reduced to the brain, but is sustained by it.

    I did not know that about Vedic philosophy, it is a system that I am passionate about, but here in my country, in Spain, there is hardly any of that, and if there is, it is not rigorous, everything is destroyed here.

    So of course, for Vedic philosophy the spirit and amteria would also be information, but of a different kind, I understand. This is more plausible. It reminds me of the concept of Anima Mundi that the writer Patrick Harpur exposes in his book “daimonic reality” that I recommend you read.

    On unity and variety, it is true that it surpasses it, especially the Trika Shivaism of Kashmir, although in the advaita vedanta there is much modern chatter and pseudo-religious, due to misinterpretations and inventions of others.



    Ashish Dalela

    Western philosophers (and a lot of people in the West) are attracted to various names, complex terminologies, and fancy theories. I’m not. I have roamed this idea-land for long enough to know that there is either no truth in them or whatever truth is there is contravened by numerous bad ideas. So, I don’t read all these people. I read Vedic texts, try to understand them, practice them, and realize what they say.

    In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna describes four paths called jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, dhyana-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. He also states that the path of jnana-yoga, or finding the truth by philosophy and speculation, is the lowest path. Higher than the path of philosophy and speculation is the path of dhyana-yoga, or meditation and mystical experience. Higher than that is the path of karma-yoga, or performing your duties with detachment. And even higher than that is performing your duties as a service to the Lord.

    This roaming on the idea-land, testing out various ideas, etc. is considered a very low type of process in the Vedic system, but people in the West are highly enamored by this process. They don’t realize a few things. First, this method always progresses by elimination. You don’t look for what is good in an idea. You have to look for the problems. By identifying the problem, you eliminate that idea. Then you go to the next idea, find the problem, and then eliminate that idea. So, this process of knowledge by elimination is called neti-neti — or not this and not that. Second, because this method progresses by elimination, but most people are not very intelligent to identify the problems in each philosophy, they never progress. Even if they progress, their progress is very slow. Third, by this method, you can never be sure that whatever philosophy you have adopted is actually not going to reveal a problem in the future. So, doubt never ends. All conviction is temporary, and it is replaced by a new conviction, and so on, ad infinitum.

    A better process is a mystical experience. When you have some mystical experience, then you are quickly able to eliminate lots of false ideas as they are incompatible with that experience. An even better process is developing total detachment from sense enjoyment because by that process one develops a peaceful and objective countenance and can easily see the flaws in various ideas. And finally, the process of bhakti-yoga is the positive solution in which the truth is understood as a person, not an impersonal idea. Once you understand this Supreme Person, then you understand every single idea — both true and false. You can clearly see the problems in each of the theories, where they fail, and what their limitations are.

    In the Vedanta Sutra, hundreds of these ideas are discussed, their problems identified, and they are rejected. You really think that someone is discovering and creating new ideas because you don’t know that they have existed for thousands of years, their problems have been identified, and they have been rejected. But after they are rejected, then someone else picks it up and modifies it again. We call this process “chewing the chewed”. Someone spitted out an idea, and someone else put it back in his mouth and started chewing it again. Practically the whole of Western philosophy is chewing the chewed. If you read the books, as I have recommended to you many times, you will understand why are you chewing the chewed.

    miguel angel moreno

    The school that I am telling you is just as you describe at the beginning, they have a very complex vocabulary difficult to understand (they will say that it is due to lack of reading, some even believe they understand everything), but philosophical materialism in Spain is a system, pretending to systematize everything conforms to what they believe to be reality: symploké and non-reductionist sui generis matter. Anyway, you will know.

    I’m in the process of reading your books, and other authors like Avinash Chandra, from the book “The scientist and the wise man”, really a gem. I need schools to start more focused on Vedic philosophy in my country. It would be good to promote it there, although the culture is not appropriate, because left-wing progressivism is being established based on a very Catholic past; although well, in the past there were many traditions that had part of that Vedic philosophy that is talked about here. So I want to promote these ideas for my homeland so I can teach all of this.

    Thanks again for your wise words.

    Ashish Dalela

    My response is simple: Whatever philosophy you bring, show that it works by demonstrating that it can produce a better something. Let it be a better number theory, a better physics, a better geometry, better chemistry, a better medicine, a better cosmology, or a better society. If you cannot make anything better by your philosophy, then believing in it has no benefit. Why should anyone believe in it? Anyone can say anything they like. That doesn’t mean it is true. And the same holds true of religion as well. There has to be a method of practice, practical utility, and empirical confirmation. And the true measure of progress in knowledge is that you can produce a SINGLE THEORY for everything. The problem is that we don’t even apply the TESTS for truth.

    In all humanities, social sciences, and philosophy, people say whatever they like. That’s why smart people don’t go into these things. Smart people either go into pure sciences or technology. And since these academic departments have to be populated by some people, some of the dumbest people in society become social scientists, philosophers, etc. This is the reality today. And the fact is that smart people don’t care about what these philosophers say. Because smart people build science and technology, they make all the money, they create most of the organizations, they collect all the data, and manipulate the entire population, including your government.

    It takes a person a very long time to realize how precarious their condition is. So, while I can feel excited about the fact that you want to teach other people, the reality is that it doesn’t last for very long unless you take to spiritual practice. I am doing this for over 25 years, and I have seen hundreds of people come and go. They come with great excitement. They talk excitedly for a few days. And then poof, they are gone. I don’t hear from them for years. And the reason is simple. They don’t practice spiritual purification. They remain on the mental level of this idea and that idea. And one slap from life and they forget all their philosophy.

    So, my advice to you is simple: Take to spiritual practice. Don’t worry about philosophy. What philosophy can you understand in the present state? Your mind is filled with so many arbitrary ideas. First, try to purify your consciousness, then you can understand something in time.

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