Tuesday, February 18, 2014

510: Introducing India

When I ended the previous lecture with “Our next stop will be in India, which among other things is the birthplace of what we now call logic.” Gemma’s reaction was “Really?”

As a young student of philosophy, 23 years old or so, I learnt about the origins of our logic, or at least that the Greeks didn’t “invent” it, but that its roots lay in India. And I thought..”Really?”

However, hear the serious and respected voice of the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “ The mainstream of the history of logic begins in ancient Greece 

and comes down through the Arabian and European logic of the Middle Ages and through a number of post-Renaissance thinkers to the more or less mathematical developments in logic in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

In the period after the fall of Rome many of the ancient achievements were forgotten and had to be relearned; the same thing happened at the end of the Middle Ages. 

Otherwise this Western tradition has been fairly continuous. 
Indian and Chinese logic developed separately.”

A lot of words and then this single statement “Indian and Chinese logic developed separately.”….period. A whole culture and history is thrown in a corner, as if it is completely irrelevant and as if logic and real philosophy originated from the Greek.

Already in our study of Chinese philosophy we ran into the problem of doing justice to Chinese thought by not trying to squeeze it into Western philosophical concepts and vocabulary.

This single statement not even takes the trouble of doing that. It just shows the door to two important cultures, because they are not relevant for the subject of logic.

Then hear this, which comes to the surface, when you do some research on the Internet: “Older than Plato or Confucius, the Upanishads are the most ancient philosophical works and contain the mature wisdom of India's intellectual and spiritual attainment. 

(…) In profundity of thought and beauty of style, they have rarely been surpassed not only in Indian thought but in the Western and Chinese philosophical traditions as well.“

“They” strike back! Not surprising, when you take into account, how the UK humiliated and exploited the ancient culture of India for at least a hundred years, but in those day one believed that it was for the benefit of the people.

Thence it is a good start, if we study some of the historical context first to get a more balanced picture. 

The “Really” of Gemma is quite understandable. When we think of India and Indian wisdom we think of ashrams, people in orange clothes, hara krishna, incense, yogis, Baghwan, rituals  and so on.

But, fortunately, this is not our subject here, because all that is mainly related to all kinds of religious ideas of Buddhism and Hinduism.

We are interested here in Indian PHILOSOPHY. Contrary to Chinese philosophy, where it was rather difficult to stay clear of the religious connotations and historical developments, we can clearly separate philosophy and theology in Indian history.

By the fifth century B.C.E. great social change was taking place in India and a period of intense intellectual activity came into being. 

Rational inquiry into a wide range of topics was under way, including agriculture, architecture, astronomy, grammar, law, logic, mathematics, medicine, phonology, and statecraft.  

This intellectual development was possible because of the existence of Sanskrit, a written language, which has its roots around 1000 B.C.E.

It played the same role as Latin did a 1500 years later in the Middle Ages, when every scholar in Europe could read and communicate in this language.
- quote -
“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either…”
- end quote

These are the words of Sir William Jones, an Anglo-Welsh philologist and scholar of ancient India, speaking to The Asiatic Society in Calcutta on February 2, 1786.

To be continued….. Thank you ^_^

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
From Africa to Zen, R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins

The Discussion

[13:21]  herman Bergson: To be continued‚ .. Thank you ^_^
[13:21]  herman Bergson: .
[13:21]  Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Thank you Herman  
[13:21]  Bejiita Imako: thats a goodstarton the subject
[13:21]  Bejiita Imako:  
[13:21]  Kimmy Jannings (kim1987.wirefly): thank you herman
[13:21]  herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:21]  quaezar.agnomen): Interesting ! :) Thanks
[13:22]  herman Bergson: It is a huge subject...
[13:22]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): I really learned something tonight. My respects, Herman
[13:22]  Bejiita Imako: can imagine that
[13:22]  herman Bergson: and revealing a lot we are hardly aware of....
[13:22]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): western thinking as always
[13:22]  herman Bergson: For instance....there in India we find the oldest university of the world
[13:23]  Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:23]  herman Bergson: I'll talk about that in the next lecture
[13:23]  Bejiita Imako: they were pioneers in some things for sure
[13:23]  herman Bergson: What I also learnt is that religion in India is still a barrel of gunpowder....
[13:23]  .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could everyone in India read and write at that time?
[13:24]  Dag (daggash.bayn): thank you herman , I wonder if that development can be referred to some prominent names or schools...?
[13:24]  herman Bergson: The educated people could, Beertje
[13:24]  .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the upperclass you mean?
[13:24]  herman Bergson: No not really.....
[13:25]  herman Bergson: even when you were poor and gifted you could join a teacher in Taxila, for instance
[13:25]  herman Bergson: It even was not done to ask money for teaching....
[13:25]  herman Bergson: Gifts from the rich students was allowed
[13:26]  Bejiita Imako: just simply to give education to people
[13:26]  Bejiita Imako: thats nice
[13:26]  herman Bergson: What development did you refer to Dag?
[13:26]  Dag (daggash.bayn): I mean the intellectual one
[13:27]  Dag (daggash.bayn): does it have any references or was it just the spirit of the time?
[13:27]  herman Bergson: Well....the first stage was the Upanishads....
[13:27]  herman Bergson: mainly liturgical manuals and books of prayers.....
[13:28]  herman Bergson: But not rituals....they cam later....with the Veda...about 300 BCE...
[13:28]  Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:28]  herman Bergson: and next to that  developed the materialists...in fact the real secular philosophy....
[13:29]  herman Bergson: besides that....Buddha was a kind of too, for he oppoesed with his teachings agains the Brahmanism with their rituals
[13:29]  Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Waves at everyone, thanks Herman again. Time for bed. See you all next week 
[13:30]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye   
[13:30]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): Goodnight Chantel
[13:30]  herman Bergson: Bye chantal
[13:30]  Bejiita Imako: bye chantal
[13:30]  herman Bergson: For us the schools of materialist are most interesting
[13:31]  herman Bergson: Even tho the indian culture is dominated by Hinduism
[13:31]  herman Bergson: if this is a beginning of an answer to your question Dag? :-)
[13:31]  Dag (daggash.bayn): Rational inquiry into a wide range of topics was under way, including agriculture, architecture, astronomy, grammar, law, logic, mathematics, medicine, phonology, and statecraft.
[13:32]  Dag (daggash.bayn): not really sorry
[13:32]  Dag (daggash.bayn): I meant to ask , who were the people behind all this ?
[13:32]  herman Bergson: What these words refer to is the fact that indian scholars got interested in the form of arguments....
[13:33]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:33]  Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:33]  herman Bergson: The people of the Northern part of India....the Punjab
[13:33]  Dag (daggash.bayn): I see
[13:33]  Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:33]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): this will be all new
[13:33]  herman Bergson: on the map behind me you see Taxila.....the intellectual center since 500 BCE
[13:34]  herman Bergson: and the people from the Punjab seem to have been immigrants around 2000 BCE from the north....
[13:34]  Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:35]  herman Bergson: because Sanskrit as a language seems to be related to Indo-European languages, like slavic languages
[13:35]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:35]  Bejiita Imako: i see¬®
[13:35]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): hmm
[13:36]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): certainly is a loaded subject
[13:36]  herman Bergson: As you see...there is still a lot information about this subject
[13:36]  herman Bergson: And what I found important is to describe the historical background first
[13:37]  herman Bergson: Especially  to reveal the relations between Greece and India around 400 to 300 BCE
[13:37]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ahha
[13:38]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): is that tuesday?
[13:38]  herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll elaborate on that relation
[13:38]  Bejiita Imako: aaa yes i see thete is a line across the map from Athens to Taxila
[13:38]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:38]  Areyn Laurasia: That's a long distance to travel in those days...
[13:38]  Bejiita Imako: just wondered what that was
[13:38]  herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita....they traveled that all the way...
[13:38]  Bejiita Imako: thats long
[13:38]  herman Bergson: among them was Alexander the great
[13:38]  Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:39]  Bejiita Imako: aaa that guy I know about
[13:39]  Bejiita Imako: „ã°
[13:39]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): haha
[13:39]  herman Bergson: I also put up a picture of Sanskrit.....a small example
[13:39]  Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:39]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:40]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): yes
[13:40]  herman Bergson: if you click the picture you'll see the URL where you can get a free course in Sanskrit :-))
[13:40]  Free introductory course Sanskrit: http://sanskritdocuments.org/learning_tutorial_wikner/wikner-rm.pdf
[13:40]  Free introductory course Sanskrit: http://sanskritdocuments.org/learning_tutorial_wikner/wikner-rm.pdf
[13:40]  Areyn Laurasia: Thanks :)
[13:40]  Bejiita Imako: aaa awesome
[13:40]  Dag (daggash.bayn): before we go sleep herman ?
[13:40]  Bejiita Imako: if i can learn 10 programming languages at once i can probably throw some sanskrit in the mix as well
[13:40]  Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:40]  herman Bergson: Be careful not to download the PDF with Safari if you have a Mac
[13:40]  .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): next tuesday a test in sanskrit?
[13:41]  Bejiita Imako: damn love thisnew machine!
[13:41]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): no tests!!!!
[13:41]  Bejiita Imako: works great
[13:41]  herman Bergson: No test Beertje :-)
[13:41]  Bejiita Imako: hmm ok
[13:41]  Bejiita Imako: does it crash safari?
[13:41]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): phew!
[13:41]  herman Bergson: No....
[13:41]  herman Bergson: But when you download with Safari Acrobat does not recognize the PDF for some odd reason
[13:42]  herman Bergson: So I used Chrome which worked perfectly
[13:42]  Bejiita Imako: ok, weird
[13:42]  Bejiita Imako: chrome is a good standard browser to use i think
[13:42]  herman Bergson: Yes...especially while in the text is said that PDF1 is specially prepared for PC and MAC :-))
[13:42]  Bejiita Imako: also test all my own web programming in it
[13:42]  .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman..I have to go
[13:43]  .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight every one
[13:43]  herman Bergson: Take care Beertje :-)
[13:43]  Bejiita Imako: might be safari changes the file in some way
[13:43]  Kimmy Jannings (kim1987.wirefly): good night
[13:43]  herman Bergson: I think so, Bejiita
[13:43]  Bejiita Imako: night Beertje
[13:43]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): Bye Beejiita
[13:43]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye 
[13:43]  Bejiita Imako: bye Zanica
[13:43]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ‚ô• Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ‚ô•
[13:43]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): herman
[13:43]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope i can make it tuesday
[13:44]  herman Bergson: Thank you all for your interest again :-)
[13:44]  Areyn Laurasia: Thanks, Professor
[13:44]  Bejiita Imako: this will be great!
[13:44]  Bejiita Imako: „ã°
[13:44]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): excellent tonight
[13:44]  herman Bergson: If there arent any more questions or remarks???
[13:44]  herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:44]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not yet
[13:44]  Areyn Laurasia: goggling upanishad :)
[13:44]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i am going to excuse myself today
[13:45]  herman Bergson: You can find free texts of the Upanishads.....
[13:45]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): getting ready for the one billion rising tomorrow
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:45]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye  
[13:45]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): for now
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: that will be nice
[13:45]  Dag (daggash.bayn): thank you herman and bye everyone
[13:45]  Areyn Laurasia: is there an event in sl for that, Gemma?
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: are there any lms out yet?
[13:45]  Kimmy Jannings (kim1987.wirefly): bye gemma
[13:45]  herman Bergson: Bye Dag
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:45]  Zanicia (zanicia.chau): Goodbye everyone
[13:45]  Kimmy Jannings (kim1987.wirefly): bye dag
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: was year before too
[13:45]  Areyn Laurasia: nite everybody
[13:45]  Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oops
[13:45]  Bejiita Imako: great event for a good thing
[13:45]  Areyn Laurasia: seems a pity, they haven't even resolved the case
[13:47]  Areyn Laurasia: well, have a good night, everyone.. more reading to do..
[13:47]  herman Bergson: ok Aryen :-))

[13:48]  Bejiita Imako: bye

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