Tuesday, March 25, 2014

514: A Conclusion of Indian Philosophy

What fascinates me most is not philosophy with all its theories, but primarily the human mind which produces all these thoughts, in other words the question: what makes it tick.

Then it is exciting to see how minds, separated from each other in space and time ponder about the same questions. Not just for a day or so but for centuries.

In the previous lecture I introduced to you the Carvaka philosophy, Indian materialism. Materialism is the name given to the metaphysical doctrine which holds that matter is the only reaIity. In this respect it is opposed to spiritual interpretations of the universe.

One of the chief topics of Indian philosophers was epistemology, that is the question “How far can we know reality?”  How does knowledge originate and develop ? This last question involves the problem: What are the different sources of knowledge?

The Carvaka philospohy hold that only perception can be the source of pramana…source of knowledge. Almost all other schools, among others Hinduism, claimed that inference is a valid source too.

But inference cannot fulfill  these conditions, because when we infer, for example,the existence of fire in a mountain from  perception of smoke in it, we take a leap in the dark, from the perceived smoke to the unperceived fire.

Here comes the first interesting observation. The Indian philosophers used a kind of logic, which Aristotle would develop to its fullest, three hundred years later: the syllogism.

A syllogism is a kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two (the major and the minor) or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true.

All cases of smoke are cases of fire, this mountain is a case of smoke, therefore, this this mountain is a case of fire. Look at the blackboard for details.

The Carvaka points out that this connection would be acceptable only, if the major premise, stating the invariable relation between the middle term (smoke) and the the major (fire), were beyond doubt. 

But this invariable relation can be established only if we have knowledge of all cases of smoke and all cases of fire. 

This, however, is not possible, as we cannot perceive even all the cases of smoke and fire existing now in different parts of the world, to speak nothing of those which existed in the past or will exist in the future.

No invariable, universal relation  can, therefore, be established by perception, but no supernatural principle need be supposed to account for the properties of experienced objects of nature. There is neither any guarantee that uniformity perceived in the past would continue in future.

This all may sound rather technically to you, but it is what the human mind in India about 500 BCE produced. And then you read in Wikipedia about the syllogism “In its earliest form, defined by Aristotle,……” NOT TRUE !

But there is an other interesting issue here: the truth value of a universal statement, what we use to call a generalization: All A are B. and the Carvaka observation, that perception never can lead to definite knowledge.

There was one philosopher, who made it the core of his philosophy of scientific discovery: Karl Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994), more than 2000 years later.

He also held that scientific theory, and human knowledge generally, is irreducibly conjectural or hypothetical, 

and is generated by the creative imagination in order to solve problems that have arisen in specific historico-cultural settings.

Logically, no number of positive outcomes at the level of experimental testing can confirm a scientific theory, but a single counterexample is logically decisive: it shows the theory, from which the implication is derived, to be false. 

Tho not related at all, we see here the same line of reasoning as we saw in the Carvaka philosophy, in people who lived in a completely different cultural and historical world. That makes philosophy and the mind such intriguing subjects.


Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
From Africa to Zen, R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins
An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, S. Chatterjee & D. Datta


The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you :-))
[13:23] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:23] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:23] Gemma Allen: i recall popper
[13:24] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Gemma Cleanslate donated L$50. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:24] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-))
[13:24] Qwark Allen: me to
[13:24] herman Bergson: YEs...and the exciting thing is that the human mind already formulated his ideas 500 BCE....
[13:25] Qwark Allen: reviewing karl popper
[13:25] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:25] Bejiita Imako:
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is....we have understood the weakness of the generalization form the beginning
[13:25] Gemma Allen: there is nothing new under the sun they say
[13:25] .: Beertje :.: don't se have 1 collective mind from the beginning?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:25] Bejiita Imako:
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: in Sweden we say drawing it all over one comb about generalisation
[13:26] herman Bergson: no Beertje...we havent...unless you believe in people like Jung
[13:26] herman Bergson: same expresion in Dutch Bejiita....rhe comb
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:27] herman Bergson: I know these are not really controversal ideas....on the contrary....
[13:28] herman Bergson: the main point is that they show that as Gemma said....since 500BCE there seems to be little new under the sun :-))
[13:28] Qwark Allen: omg
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: seems so yes
[13:28] Qwark Allen: under what point of view?
[13:28] Gemma Allen: probably 10000 bc
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: many ideas are very old for sure
[13:29] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: between all is from materialism and all is from spiritualisme or so to speak , between the perception or the inference. what is left for us ?
[13:29] herman Bergson: from the logical and epistemological point of view Qwark....
[13:29] .: Beertje :.: if you know that the earth is billions of years old, 1000 bc is just a second
[13:29] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:30] herman Bergson: That indeed Beertje..
[13:30] .: Beertje :.: we only are at the beginning
[13:30] herman Bergson: What would you like to be left for us Alaya?
[13:30] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: something else than a duality
[13:30] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:31] herman Bergson: There is one thing....
[13:31] herman Bergson: our mind has a peculiar inclination to think binary....
[13:31] herman Bergson: warm - cold
[13:31] herman Bergson: light - dark
[13:31] herman Bergson: big - small
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: hgh - low
[13:32] herman Bergson: and so on....
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: fast slow
[13:32] .: Beertje :.: rl-sl/lol
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: hhaha
[13:32] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[13:32] Gemma Allen: ha
[13:32] herman Bergson: then next step is that we love to appluy this binary structure to reality....
[13:32] Qwark Allen: poor rich
[13:32] herman Bergson: name it....Qwark...:-)
[13:32] herman Bergson: right  - wrong...
[13:32] herman Bergson: good - bad
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: true false
[13:33] herman Bergson: I guess we can go on for ever
[13:33] herman Bergson: Ahhh Bejiita...
[13:33] Qwark Allen: more money, more shopping
[13:33] herman Bergson: You got a HOT one....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:33] herman Bergson: TRUE -FALSE
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: true and false i guess is same as the logical statement in a computer too
[13:33] herman Bergson: worls so perfectly well when used in logic....:-)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: always when i do programming
[13:33] Qwark Allen: far close
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: boolean logic, 1 = true 0 = false
[13:34] herman Bergson: right....
[13:34] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: its possible that from our perception it look true and from a syllogisme perspective , it look false
[13:34] herman Bergson: but this love for binary thinking ...dualism...is that  reality?
[13:34] Areyn Laurasia: in a way
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: thats just reflecting the high and low things, and nothing in between
[13:35] herman Bergson: I dont want to lecture you on logic Alaya, but you are not quite right...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: works in computers that are digital but what the computer represent to us is analog as is the world in general
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: contineous values
[13:35] herman Bergson: the FORM of the syllogism is perfect logically....
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: not just 2 startes
[13:36] herman Bergson: but it works like this...
[13:36] herman Bergson: if you put statements in the form of a syllogism.....
[13:36] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: well, it snot the logic, tha ti was exposing, but the possibility that thee smoke , was not from fire,, as suposed,,, but from,, something else,,, since the perception spotted smoke,, and the assumption , fire, but it might be vapor
[13:36] herman Bergson: then you can say....
[13:36] Areyn Laurasia: like the professor's pipe? :)
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes, steam or something similar
[13:36] herman Bergson: IF AND ONLY IF these major and minor statements are TRUE
[13:36] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: in that manner they aren’t opposing
[13:37] herman Bergson: then the conclusion is 100% TRUE
[13:37] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: but in other manner they may be oposing,
[13:37] herman Bergson: But the philosophical debate is on how to deside when a statement IS true....
[13:38] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: i see
[13:38] herman Bergson: that is beyond the logical form of a syllogism
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:38] herman Bergson: so ..in fact..logic has nothing to do with TRUTH,...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: can be false as well
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: its just statements
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: just like in a computer program
[13:39] herman Bergson: It only says...that IF you use TRUE statements in a perfect logical reasoning...the conclusion has to be TRUE too
[13:39] Qwark Allen: Lamark come to my mind, about that
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: i can say to the machine that only if that AND alsothat is true then the resunt is true but i can also do the opposite
[13:40] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: i think a statement isn’t alone and separated from the person speaking, its background and experiences
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: not just but many things need to be in a certain condition to be true
[13:40] herman Bergson: a matter of fact is , Alaya....
[13:40] herman Bergson: I am dead or I am alive...
[13:40] herman Bergson: dead
[13:41] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: when a clif is hi, it is hi relatively to y hability to jump
[13:41] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: my*
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: If someone says I am alive...his personal interests erc...do not matter there
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: for an ant 1 m is like mt everest
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: its relative
[13:42] herman Bergson: that is another discussion :-)
[13:42] herman Bergson: I love myrmecology...but it is not the issue here today :-)
[13:42] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:42] herman Bergson: But...as you see...
[13:42] herman Bergson: and that was my point....
[13:43] herman Bergson: some very basic ideas which have a real impact on our culture too...
[13:43] herman Bergson: already existed in India 5000 BCE
[13:43] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: a statement might be, not completely false of true, so to speak
[13:43] herman Bergson: sorry 500 BCE
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:43] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ohhh Alaya.....there you hit a philosophical berve :-))
[13:44] herman Bergson: nerve....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: the real world is analog, there are no absolute states
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: like in a digital system
[13:44] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: hehe
[13:44] herman Bergson: You want to discuss the truth conditions of a statement.....
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: so yes Alaya i agree
[13:44] Areyn Laurasia: like the schrödinger's cat
[13:44] herman Bergson: That is exactly what the old Indian philosopher did.....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: at least some things can be partially both true or false
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: depent how you see it i guess
[13:45] herman Bergson: Their first concern was to establish an understanding about the way you come to knowledge....
[13:45] herman Bergson: like you saw today....
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:46] herman Bergson: Hinduism accepts inference as a proper means....Carvaka rejects it and only relies on perception
[13:46] Gemma Allen: interesting
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:46] herman Bergson: All history of philosophy is focused on this debate....HOW CAN WE KNOW.....
[13:46] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:46] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:46] CONNIE Eichel: hehe
[13:47] Bejiita Imako:
[13:47] herman Bergson: and those old Indian philosophers already understood the problem
[13:47] Areyn Laurasia: experiment
[13:47] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: the detail that prevent us to statuate about an absolute might be our materialist expectation, as well as syllogistic expectation
[13:47] herman Bergson: If you say experiment you already have chosen for perception as the way to know
[13:48] herman Bergson: What kind of absolute are you referring to Alaya???
[13:48] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: that we ought to statuate always about the fact
[13:49] herman Bergson: Or should I ask...how do you know of being there some absolute ?
[13:49] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: i made a mistake,
[13:49] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: the details that prevent us to statuate about as an absolute,
[13:49] Gemma Allen: I may make class thursday I hope
[13:50] herman Bergson: don’t understand the meaning of the verb "statuate"...:-)
[13:50] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: like it happend many time s in philosophy talk, people asking, so, what conclusion did yuo arrive too
[13:50] Gemma Allen: usually more questions than answers Alaya
[13:50] Areyn Laurasia: makes one think more
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe true
[13:51] herman Bergson: Indeed Gemma...
[13:51] Gemma Allen: always
[13:51] herman Bergson: if you want answers..go to the sciences
[13:51] Gemma Allen: that is how we continue so long
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Gemma Allen: we never take the exam
[13:51] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: statuer, in french, , ok my bad, ill find better transaltion
[13:51] Qwark Allen: hehhehehe
[13:51] .: Beertje :.: lol Gemma
[13:51] herman Bergson: of course not Gemma....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hehe hope we never do, this is infinite exploration for sure
[13:51] Bejiita Imako:
[13:51] herman Bergson: you would get en F if you came up with answers :))
[13:51] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:51] Gemma Allen: lol
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:52] Alaya Chépaspourquoi: infinite exploration loll
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well..this was again a nice discussion....
[13:52] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:52] Gemma Allen: going fishing
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation.....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:52] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.´ ¯¨.¸¸`**   **´ ¸¸.¨¯` H E R MA N ´ ¯¨.¸¸`**   **´ ¸¸.¨¯`
[13:52] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:52] Qwark Allen: was very nice
[13:52] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman
[13:52] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:52] Gemma Allen: for now
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed for Gemma needs to go fishing :-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: cu son
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:53] .: Beertje :.: hahah
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you all :-))
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: a while since i did that
[13:53] CONNIE Eichel: great class :)
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: need to take it up again sometime
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: its nice
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you CONNIE :-)
[13:53] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:53] CONNIE Eichel: kisses you all, till next class :)
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:54] herman Bergsonherman Bergson blushes
[13:54] Areyn Laurasia: gotta run.. noisy cat..
[13:54] CONNIE Eichel: byee :)

[13:54] Bejiita Imako: hehe

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