Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions - Jain View of Life
INTRODUCTION
SYNOPTIC PHILOSOPHY
APPROACH TO REALITY
THE JAINA THEORY OF THE SOUL
CRITIQUE OF KNOWLEDGE
  THE DOCTRINE OF KARMA IN JAINA PHILOSOPHY
 

THE PATHWAY TO PERFECTION

 

IN THIS OUR LIFE

  MEN OR GODS
 

GENERAL INDEX


Chapter-1 : SYNOPTIC PHILOSOPHY

 

1.     Plato and Aristole have traced the beginnings of Philosophy to the feeling of wonder which arises in the mind of man when he contemplates on the nature of things in the worlds.�  But wonder at the level of primitive men is in the instinctive stage and does not give rise to higher speculation.   It is only nature does philosophy begin.   It is the fruit of society�s maturer age.   As Hegel said, philosophy makes its first expression when experience and thought have fully matured in their process.  The owl of Minerva does not start upon its flight till the evening twilight has begun to fall.

Philosophy is a reflection on experience in order to comprehend the ultimate reality.  We may say it is a synoptic view of life.  It is, in the lines of Mathew Arnold, to see life steadily and to see it whole.  In a narrower sense it is an academic pursuit of the solutions of the ultimate problems of life.

 Philosophy is not merely an unusually obstinate effort to think consistently, not a construction of a super-structure of thought, nor is it a mere collection of noble sentiments.   For Plato and Bradley philosophy was the knowledge of reality, of that which is.  For the Logic Positivists, however would not be complete except as a synoptic view of life, as a world view.  In this sense alone can philosophy be a guide to life.

In India, philosophy was and has been well grounded in life.  It has permeated the lives of the people.  It has never been a mere academic pursuit nor a luxury of the mind.  It was intimately connected with life.  It is to be lived.  Mundaka Upanisad speaks of �Brahma Vidya� as the basis of all knowledge.  Knutilya makes philosophy the lamp of all sciences.  Philosophy has been called darsana in the sense of the spiritual perception and vision of the seers, and the highest triumphs of philosophy are possible only to those who have achieved in themselves a purity of the soul.

Realization of the Atman is the highest end in Philosophy there is no other way.  In this sense, philosophy is darsana and intimately connected with life.

2.     Philosophy enquiry has proceeded in two directions : i)  The first uses a priori and deductive methods.  It is analytic in approach and is the way of the rationalists.   ii)  The second adopts inductive methods and is the empiricist way.  In ancient Indian thought, philosophic speculation relied on Sruti and Smrti.

 The course of philosophy has been long and arduous.   From Plato and the Upanisads to the present day, philosophers have sought to find solutions to the perennial problems of philosophy, and by pursuing the one way or the other have reached either the summits of speculation from human experience, or have ultimately faced the impossibility of metaphysical speculation.

 i)    We may first consider the a priori approach to the study of philosophy.  In western thought, deductive and a priori methods were first used by Parmenides and his desciple Zeno, who made, for the first time, a distinction between sense and reason.  The Philosophic speculations of Plato were largely based on a priori methods.  He abstracted sense from reason and built a world of ideas independent of the physical world.  In the Middle Ages of Europe, philosophy was sustaining itself under the shadow of theology and Aristole�s deductive methods.  In the modern Age, Descartes and Spinoza built systems of rationalism.  From cogito ergo sum he went on to heaven and looked at the physical world with confidence, which is, indeed, a way far removed from that of common sense.  Descartes split the world into two substance distinct from each other and postulated a God separate from each of them.  Spinoza�s task was to establish a connection between God and the world on the basis of mathematical deduction.  The result is, Spinoza�s Substance became a lion�s den to which all tracks lead and from which none returns.  In Hegel and Bradley we go much further away from common sense.  We see the superstructures of philosophic speculation, and we are left in the world of appearance only to gaze at the ivory towers in which these philosophers lived.  Thus the a priori speculative method led us far from the madding crowd to the dizzy heights of the �Absolute�.

 In India, we were saved from the separation of the speculative and the practical, because philosophy, with us, is essentially spiritual : it takes its origin in life and enters back into life.�  In Samkara we come to a great speculative system.  Still, we do not feel ourselves strangers here, as we are not cut off from the ideals of life.  �Samkara presents to us the true ideal of philosophy, which is not so much knowledge as wisdom, not so much logical learning as spiritual freedom.�

 

ii)    Empiricism uses a posteriori and inductive methods.  In the Theaetetus, Socrates explains the Protagorean doctrine that knowledge is through perception, and shows the impossibility of arriving at any objective truth.  For the Sophists, sense experience was the only source of knowledge; while Gorgias asserted the impossibility of any knowledge or communication whatever.

 In ancient Indian thought the Carvkas led us to a similar conclusion.

For them, Lokayata is the only Sastra and perceptual evidence the only authority.  This would logically lead to scepticism  and nihilism; but they did not go to the whole length, because their immediate aim was to break down the ecclesiastical monopoly and still assert the spiritual independence of the individual.  The Buddhist empiricism was to have gone the way of Gorgias in the Madhyamika School, but for the predominance of the ethical ideal and the goal of nirvana.  Nagarjuna�s philosophy is �now nearer to scepticism and the mysticism.�  The rigour of logic would have led him to nihilism, but for his spiritual fervor and thirst for nirvana.