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October 25, 2006

Comments

a

check this:

http://the-sage.blogspot.com/

Paul

I found your article difficult to read because most of the time you seem obfuscate your points. If we distilled your entire article to its main thesis, it goes something like this

1. Indian Philosophy did not cover being, the question did not seem to occur to their feeble minds and philosophy of being is purely a Western thing with its origin in Greek thought.

REPLY: I NEVER SUGGESTED THAT THE LACK OF A CENTRAL PREOCCUPATION WITH THE BEING QUESTION WAS A MARK OF FEEBLENESS, ANY MORE THAN THE LACK OF A CENTRAL PREOCCUPATION WITH MOKSA IS A MARK OF FEEBLENESS IN THE GREEK TRADITION.

2. Where Indian Philosophy appears to be talking about being is not really being, and then you go off on reinterpreting, twisting words and pulling citations out of context.

But what I found to be amusing and self-defeating is your admission that you don't know much about Indian Philosophy. Then why are you embarrassing yourself by writing on it?

An average student of Indian Philosophy would have been humoured by your assertions. You evidently have not perused the Bhagvad Gita, Brahma Sutras and the Upanishads.

Does this sound familiar:

One has to do their duty and act from their svadharma - their individual beingness. Dharma meaning the characteristics of something which make it what it is.

Does it sound familiar that one has finitude and thus must act to do their individual duty by becoming aware of what their being is?

The notion of dharma is both a pluralistic one and a monistic one. Each individual thing has its own being, and there is a supreme and transcendental being. This is discussed at length in the Gita which you either did not read, or did not read studiously.

REPLY: THE GITA IS ONE TEXT I HAVE READ SEVERAL TIMES, IN THE ORIGINAL SANSKRIT. IT DOES NOT ADDRESS THE BEING-QUESTION IN ANYTHING LIKE THE HEIDEGGERIAN SENSE.

The Nyaya-Vaiseshika are realists, thus they do not concern themselves with ontology.

The Samkhya are rationalist, they consider logic the way to know being as a universal substratum out of which all manifests. It rests its philosophical thesis on the axiom that all effects have causes. They describe a sophisticated cosmological account evolution and in involution, with space and time as that which has becomingness, not beingness. It does not exist before manifestation.

The Yoga (borrowingly heavily from the Samkhya) consider subjective and objective being to be the same. They assert that reality can only be known through the exploration of consciousness, because consciousness manifests reality.

Anybody who has studied Heidegger will recognise all these Indian philosophies in his so-called original works.
It is very well known that Indian phenomenology was extensively studied by the German school of philosophy. Later they start to produce philosophies which have great similarity with Indian Philosophy, without giving it credit. This is plagiarism out and out.

REPLY: HUSSERL GLANCED AT BUDDHISM IN SOME LATE TEXTS. IF YOU CAN SHOW THAT SUCH WORKS AS HIS "LOGISCHE UNTERSUCHUNGEN" OR HIS "IDEEN" OWE ANYTHING CONCRETE TO INDIAN SOURCES YOU WILL REVOLUTIONIZE THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY!

Paul

I overlooked a few ludicrous comments you made:

[QUOTE]Though much of Indian thought is oblivious of spiritual liberation just as much of Western thought is oblivious of the being-question, the topic of liberation exerted on some of India’s greatest thinkers a magnetic attraction comparable to that which being has had at high points of Western philosophy. It is not on the question “what is being qua being?” that Indian philosophical radicality converges, and India has largely been spared the intellectual headaches this question has always caused.[/QUOTE]

Now I know that you have not read Indian Philosophy (although you have admitted it anyway, so I should refrain from repeating that. I just find the irony amusing)

Central to all Indian Philosophical schools is the notion of spiritual liberation: Moksha. This is why Indian Philosophy developed. It's main concern was not a speculative one, but a pragmatic one. It recognised an underlying nihilism to the human condition (Dukha) and to extricate oneself from it it developed various philosophies that approached liberation in different ways:

Yoga aimed for Moksha through meditation.

Samkhya aimed for Moksha through enumeration of the categories.

Nyaya-Vaiseshika approached Moksha through logical positivism.

Mimasa aimed for Moksha through either Karma kanada or Jnana kanda. The Karma Kanda being through Vedic liturgy, and the Jnana khanda through gnosis and identification of oneself with being.

REPLY FROM JOSEPH O'LEARY: I THOUGHT THAT WAS PRECISELY WHAT I WAS SAYING.

[QUOTE] Mohanty (289) thinks that the importance of the subject-object distinction in Indian thought confutes Heidegger’s view that it belongs to the Western destiny of being; but Heidegger sights Cartesian subjectivity and objectivity in terms of their ontological upshot within Western thought; he does not deny that analogous distinctions may have been made in other traditions, but there they do not play a role in the unfolding of the question of being[/QUOTE]

As any student of Philosophy knows Descartes did not at all argue for universal beingness. His argument is a strict mind-body dualism. So how can Heidegger have based his philosophy of universal beingness on Descartes?

REPLY: HE INTERPRETS DESCARTES WITHIN HIS VIEW OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AS HISTORY OF BEING AND THE FORGETTING OF BEING. THE ONTOLOGICAL UPSHOT HE FINDS IN DESCARTES IS A PROMOTION OF THE BEING OF THE SUBJECT etc.

You have better argument if you say Kant inspired Heidegger, that is at least far less dubious. Kant was the first in Western Phillosophy to do analytical philosophy and enumerate categories. But as you admit yourself, Indian Philosophy was far ahead of him.

Kant inspired phenomenology, but by this time Western Philosophy was in contact with Indian phenomenology, which was far more mature and developed than Kant. Why would then Heidegger et al, base their philosophy on an inferior tradition?

REPLY: HEIDEGGER WOULD HAVE LIKED TO BRING WESTERN TRADITION INTO DIALOGUE WITH OTHER TRADITIONS, BUT HE FELT THAT WITHOUT THE EASTERN LANGUAGES THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO DO PROFESSIONALLY. HEIDEGGER IS BASED NOT ON KANT BUT ON A READING OF THE ENTIRE TRADITION SINCE ANAXIMANDER. HIS METHOD WAS INITIALLY PROMPTED BY HUSSERL WHO "PLANTED THE EYES FOR ME TO SEE WITH."

It seems what you are arguing is "anything but Indian Philosophy" you are even bringing pre-socratic Philosophy in to justify a unique European context. How would a primitive philosophical tradition have primacy over an advanced philosophical tradition? It is well known just how vastly superior to Pre-socratic and socratic philosophy the Indian tradition was. The Indian philosophical tradition reached maturity long before the Greek philosophical tradition began. If had covered all the areas that later Modern Philosophy did and had dozens of schools, each with very sophisticated traditions.

As everybody in Indian philosophy knows the subject and object distinction is central to Indian philosophical thought. It is seen as the beginning to construct any kind of philosophical system, so that subject and object can be resolved.

Thus consciousness is seen as the starting point for all inquiry. This is the basis of phenomenology laid down by Husserl.

I think if you have truly taken a stock of my criticisms, I think you need to go and study Indian Philosophy. Your view on it is far too prejudiced, ignorant and eurocentric.

REPLY: I AM NOT INTO SWEEPING EVALUATIVE JUDGMENTS ON GREAT TRADITIONS. MY ONLY POINT IS THAT HEIDEGGER IDENTIFIES A SINGULARITY OF THE WEST IN ITS MANNER OF ADDRESSING THE BEING-QUESTION. YOU HAVE NOT SHOWN THAT THIS PECULIAR GREEK QUESTION ENJOYED THE SAME PRIMACY IN INDIAN THOUGHT. I DO NOT QUESTION THAT INDIAN THOUGHT IS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER IN TERMS OF CONCEPTUAL DEXTERITY AND PHENOMENOLOGICAL SUBTLETY AS WELL AS SPIRITUAL LIBERATIVE POWER, AND THAT IT CAN BE PRESENTED AS SUPERIOR TO THE WEST ON THESE FRONTS. BUT ISSUES OF SUPERIORITY AND INFERIORITY ARE FOREIGN TO WHAT I AM SAYING.

Spirit of Vatican II

Excuse the block capitals, but it seemed the easiest way to reply to your long critique. To be sure the topic is almost impossible to handle. Heidegger has an interpretation of the structure of Western thought, an account of what basically happened in Western thought, which many would reject but which I find plausible in its basic insight despite my many criticisms (in the other essays under the Heidegger rubric here). My only point is that Heidegger is the very opposite of a cultural imperialist, since he identifies his own tradition as a particular limited local history, not claiming universality for it as, say, Benedict XVI would do. He respects the other "great beginnings" of thought and does not expect them to talk of being in the Western way. See his conversation with the Japanese inquirer in Unterwegs zur Sprache.

Paul

Sorry for this rather late response. If your contention is that Indian Philosophy did not tackle the question of being in a Heideggerian sense, then I have no dispute with you. There is indeed a world of difference between how Indian Philosophy treats the question of being and how Heidegger treats it. In fact, to be honest I don't even consider Heidegger a genuine philosopher of being; his Dasein is ambiguous and seems to be nothing more than a synonym for the individual human being and its condition.

The only parallel I can find between Heidegger's Dasein and Indian philosophy, is Heidegger's concept of self-actualization, being one with one's being as authentic living. The other parallel is the anxiety over one's finitude.

In identifying the individual human with being, Heidegger divorces himself completely from the being of Indian Philosophy. That being is Brahman, the ultimate substratum of all of existence, that which encompasses both subject and object. The very nucleus of all. That which is the background of all existence and precedes the empirical world. Hence this being cannot be rendered into words, it cannot be described because in describing it, it ceases being 'being'. It is a totality; a whole; a completeness.

The Indic being is outside of space and time, transcendent, it is eternal, unchanging and pure, but Heidegger's being is changing in time and it is immanent.

There are some parallels between Heidegger's notion of Aletheia and the Indian notion that being cannot be known in any particularized way, but must be be apprehended in its totality. There is even a parallel in the Indian philosophic attitude that being can only be described in a non-rational way such as in the form of poetryv(which still falls short). Hence the romanticization of the Risi figure, as one who sees being in its totality and expresses it in metaphysical poetry.

What irked me in reading your post was your claim that Indian Philosophy did not deal with the question of being, which is a very ludicrous statement for anybody familiar with it. The question of being is so central to Indian Philosophy, that removing it would dissolve Indian Philosophy and render it into nothingness. If you read the 108 Upanishads, the subject of virtually all discourses is being. What is it? How can one know it? It approaches this both in a positive and negative way. The negative method known as "Neti Neti" (Not this, not this) is to negate all that which is not being, and whatever the residue after the process of negation is being. The second method is known as "Tat Tvam Asi" (That thou art) that is identifying that every immanent phenomena is noumenally being. The Upanishads give many illustrations and present many analysis's using both the positive and negative method. For example, the illustration that all clay pots, whatever their forms, are ultimately clay i.e., clay is their substratum. The forms, on the other hand, are intuitions of observers, the "potness" and the apparent diversity of individual pots are not actually real, what is real is the clay as the substratum of all clay things. Thus the Upanishad constructs an account that the reality that we perceive is only of names and forms, and then turns to the substratum of names and forms itself, ultimately bringing one to inquire into consciousness itself, in which names and forms occur. This is the central doctrine of the Yoga Philosophy which sees reality as being made up of mind-stuff, and all phenomena, whether mental or physical, as occurring within this medium. This is a sort of transcendental idealism.

The positive method is based on basing all phenomena on a central axiom of being and then by means of a transcendental inquiry regressing back from phenomena to the central axiom. This leads to the triloka doctrine of Indian Philosophy, the notion that every particular is a continuum of existence. It identifies four states in which something exists: gross, subtle, causal and absolute, which in turn correspond to four states of consciousness: waking, dream, deep sleep and absolute. The three states all occur within space and time, only that space and time is relative. It is due to space and time that there is duality. The final state is where all duality ends and which is outside of space and time. It is being of all particulars. This doctrine would state that if you examined any particular, it would only have a relative existence, but its particularity will eventually end in universal beingness. The point where everything converges into one.

In a sense Indic Philosophy is not too far from modern physics in asserting the existence of a unified entity (whether that be a universal field, a superstring or whatever) as the being of all existence.

I hope you can appreciate now why I would consider your assertion that Indian Philosophy does not deal with the question of being to be absurd. In fact being is very much the core of Indian Philosophical and religious thought. It is still unsurpassed in just how much importance has been attached to it, and how much work has been done on being. In fact the question of being is already being raised in the oldest of the Indo-European texts, the Vedas, from which the Indian Philosophical tradition orginates. A citation:

He who knows the first vital thread binding all the things formed in shape, colour and words, knows only the physical form of the universe and knows very little.
But he who goes deeper and perceives the string inside the string, the thin web binding separate life-forces with chords of unity, knows the real entity.
Only he who knows the mighty, omnipotent and omnipresent being, who is within and beyond all formulated entities. Penetrate deeper to know the ultimate truth.
(Atharvaveda 10.8.83, translated by Pundit Vidyalankar)

Another example:

Non-existence was not then, nor was the existent
The earth was not then, nor the firmament, nor that which is beyond.(When there was not then) what was the covering? And where in whose care did the bottomless deep then exist?

There was no death nor immortality then; there was no sign of night or day. That one breathed without extraneous breath from its own nature. Other than the one, there was nothing beyond.

In the beginning there was darkness, intensified darkness, indistinguishable darkness
All this visible world reduced to its primordial nature. That primordial germ which was enveloped by the power of the one, became the ONE through the power of its intense heat.

In the beginning the will arose. This was the first seed of the universal mind.
Those can see beyond by putting their mind and heart together(i.e., through meditation) find the existent in the non-existent; the non-existent existing in the existent.
(Rigveda 10.129)

There are countless more examples, but this should be enough to show just how central being was to Indic philosophical and religious thought. This later became the Upanishad tradition and finally became the formidable Vedanta tradition, which has been the core of Hinduism ever since.

To suggest to a Vedantist they are not interested in being is a sure-fire way of garnering brickbats and/or laughter. Especially one who has read the Brahma Sutras, which deals with being directly.

The Greeks simply did not deal with the question of being in the kind of philosophical depth the Indic philosophers did, it was never a main subject for them (their main province was ethics and living a good life) In fact nor did they study being in a Heideggerian sense, Heidegger reinterprets Greek philosophy to suit his ends and to give his philosophy a European context. The influence on European thought of Indian Philosophy cannot be understated, especially on phenomenology, which is inspired by Psychology. Arguably, the first philosopher of Psychology is Schopenhauer. It is well known how much Schopenhauer was inspired by Indic thought, and he never hesitated to admit it. Heidegger, whether directly or indirectly, has Indian blood running in his philosophy.

I am not saying this because I want to claim Heidegger's philosophy as being for the Indians. No, it is still distinctly European and it suffers from many presuppositions that plague European philosophical thought. I am frankly not impressed by Heidegger's so-called analysis of being, there is no being to be spoken of in his philosophy. That is my opinion.

I think Husserl was more along the right lines to a philosophy of being in his phenomenology, which as we know Heidegger was a critic of and rejected much of. There are many papers on Husserl and Yoga phenomenology which I recommend you read; they are available on JSTOR.

Anyhow I digress. I want to end this post with one last point. You are right that Indian Philosophy consider Moksha (spiritual liberation) as the highest goal, but you present this as if considering Moksha as the highest goal is mutually exclusive with being. This is your biggest folly in my opinion. In Indic thought Moksha and being are not separate, the very definition of Moksha is to become one with being. Moksha is not philosophy as such, but an end-goal of all philosophy.

All the Indian philosophical schools aimed for Moksha, whether they were realist, rational or metaphysical. It begins in the recognition of "Duhkha (suffering)" as being the human condition and thus transcendence as being the sole aim of life.

The Nyaya-vaiseshika think that by using logic, living one's life by the truths predicated by it, one can reach Moksha. The Samkhya think enumerating the categories will make reality clear and distinct, and one will be able to distinguish between pain and pleasure. The Yogins think that Moksha can be attained through exploring ones own consciousness (similar to Husserl's introspection) In the end all schools are trying to contact being in some way, they only differ in their interpretations on the nature of Being, but without being contradictory. In Vedanta Brahman (universal being) is divided into two categories: Saguna Brahman (Brahman with form) and Nirguna Brahman (without form) so Vedanta accepts the other schools as not being contradictory with it, but being true only in a rational reality. This crucial difference alludes to the crucial difference between the Indian concept of god and the Western concept of god. The Western concept of god occurs within the empirical and rational reality, where its postulation as a separate creator is required to explain empirical reality. Hence it is postulated by the realist schools of Nyaya-Vaiseshika as a logical necessity(how convincing it is to accept god as a predicate of logic is debatable) Whereas the metaphysical school think Saguna Brahman is ultimately negated (i.e., god is negated as an external creator) when one realises Nirguna Brahman - this is god as not an external creator being, but all-pervading supreme being - one realises true being. This being is completely different from all empirical concepts (god, subject, world) it is transcendental and ineffable. To know it and then describe it is like sending a salt doll to the bottom of the ocean to gauge its depth, to use another Upanishad illustration, when it comes back it is completely dissolved.

The extent of analysis in Indian Philosophy of even metaphysical concepts like god and being always leaves me in awe. To make distinctions between space (Prakriti) and pure space (Moolaprakriti) is as modern as distinguishing between space and Hilbert's space. The Indians were so precise and vigorous in their analysis, it is really astonishing. Thus I do not appreciate it if somebody claims they did not deal with the question of being - they did, far more comprehensively, in far greater depth, with much more vigorous analysis, than we ever have done in Western Philosophy, ancient and modern.

Paul

I re-read your article, and I think I can now clearly see what the problem is in the article. Your problem is semantical, in defining what 'being' is. Your definition of being is informed by a certain Western prejudice, which is what I indicated in my earlier post by "presuppositions that still plague philosophical Western thought". You analyse Samkhya, Vaiseshika and Nyaya to see if there a discussion of being, instead you find that these philosophies are ontic as opposed to ontological, in that they do not deal with the question of being, but are based more on representionism and categorism. I actually tend to agree with you, and I think the Samkhyans et al would also agree with you. But remember I also don't think Heidegger deals with being either. Their (Samkhya et al) main subject is not being, but is very much based on the rational and empirical. They tend towards realism, as opposed to ontology. But to criticise them for not tending towards ontology is like criticising science and logic for the same. Their purpose is not metaphysical, they are not metaphysical schools, they are very much grounded in empirical reality and do not recognise any being as such, but rather their approach is more phenomenological, apprehending the things themselves.

I do not at all agree with you that Vaiseshika is abstract, it only categorises what can be apprehended in the natural world: substances, qualities, motions etc, these become the categories and then under each category it lists classes and sub classes. As you are aware, categorization in Indic philosophy is very prevalent and vigorous. I remember a conversation I had with an acquaintance once on the conception of mind, when I told him how many classes Indian philosophy divides the mind into, he found it to be unnecessary, probably echoing your "tiresome" comment. But what you fail to appreciate is just how important categorization is and why it is important to distinguish vigorously between every phenomena, or one will end up conflating them. In Indian Philosophy for example there is a distinction between mind and consciousness, such a distinction is virtually unheard of in Western Philosophy, mind and consciousness are conflated. The problem this leads to is a dichotomy of the dualists and materialists. The dualists battle with the materialists in asserting that mind is unlike the body because of their different qualia, whereas the materialists show that the mind is just like the body because it interacts with it, is affected when the body is affected and has more affinity with an artificial processing system. These criticisms are in fact fatal to the dualist thesis and hence why Cartesianism was rejected in the favour of naturalism.

Indian Philosophy on the other hand has no problem, because it distinguishes the mind from consciousness, because of their different qualia. (In Vaiseshika they are different classes of substances) the mind is just a processing system in Indic thought and the consciousness is what animates it. A radical postulation in Indic thought is the mind and matter are both reducible to one another. Yet, it retains the distinction between consciousness and matter. This is the kind of the vigorous phenomenlogical analysis that is needed in our Western philosophy. As soon as one has an accurate system of categories, logic merely becomes the application of categories. This is the characteristic of Indian logic. If you read Nyaya arguments for why the body is not the self, it essentially is the application of categories; the body it is not the self because it does not have the quale of self. Body belongs in x category, it has y quale (e.g., extension, weight, size), whereas self belongs in x category, it has z quale (e.g., pain, pleasure, knowledge, desire) Another example is the Vaiseshika aphorism "quantity only proceeds from quantity, and quality proceeds from quality" this follows from the fact that they belong in different categories.

Indian Philosophy is not speculative or hypothetical like Western Philosophy, a criticism which you curiously level at Indian Philosophy, but which is wholly unjustified. Indian Philosophy is not speculative, it is systematic. It begins with analysis and categorization, proceeds to logic, and from there to pragmatic systems. Indian technology was based on this philosophical framework. If you read classical Sanskrit texts such as Chanakya's Arth Shastra or Panini's grammar, the extent of analysis they go to is superhuman. In Arth Shastra there is a section on minerology and an extensive analysis on identifying minerals based on their various physical characteristics. Of course Panini's analysis of the Sanskrit language is very well known and still unsurpassed. This emphasis on categorization is also the basis for the Indian social systems analysing everybody into their roles in society, a concept known as dharma. Indeed, this concept of dharma is not exclusively sociological, it is a term to describe the beingness of something. A classical example of various dharmas is the beingness of fire is to burn, the beingness of water is to flow.


It would become apparent therefore that Indian Philosophy is more like a science. The Indians are not just speculating about truth, beauty and justice as such, and creating elaborate theories and hypothesis, which characterizes the Western tradition, they are examining and analysing things as they are. The reason I am such a proponent of Indic philosophy is because I think Western Philosophy has been bogged down by speculation and hypothesis. A philosopher comes along, gives a great theory, which may or may have any reality, take for examples Plato's archetypes. The notion that all things which exist in the phenomena are imperfect copies of the noumenon. This may or may not be true, how can we determine its validity? We cannot really, because as it is theoretical and pertains to an unknowable, it is unfalsifiable. Such philosophy has lead to a theoretical tradition, where philosophy becomes little more than a set of theories and perhaps it is also indicative of Western religious thoughts where entities are posited ad-hoc, but are unfalsifiable. This plague also affects science which is principally based on hypothesis/theory.

This notion of theory does not even exist in Indian Philosophy, nothing at all is based on theory. No Indic philosopher says, "According to this theory" they base their philosophy and examination on analysis. The Indian atomist doctrine for example proceeds not from theorizing the existence of atoms, but as logical necessities to account for the multitude of sizes (grain of rice, mountain) the pricipal pramana (means of knowing) is perception and from that follows logic.

Anyhow I understand this discussion is mainly about being and perhaps I am digressing by going into detail on Vaiseshika categories. Although Vaiseshika does have a concept of substance and even existence (satta) it does not consider things as they appear to us as being, they are just complexes of atoms and thus have no real ontological existence. It does recognise that atoms have a real existence, so in a sense atoms are the beings of Vaiseshika, in that they have an eternal existence. But I don't think Vaiseshika, or Samkhya for that matter really address the question of being, they are mainly ontic in my opinion. It is Vedanta which directly addresses being and thus also refutes all the ontic schools of philosophy, but at the same time accepting all their predications as being true only of an empirical and rational reality, but they have no sway over being. There is not such thing as several beings in Vedantic philosophy, and nor is there such thing as a historical being, because what is historical is in a state of "becoming" not beingness. If one were to say that such and such empirical object was a being, then whatever we named as being, ceases being that being the next moment. It is the nature of the empirical to change and thus Vedanta declares, "All transformation is speech" i.e., all things that exist, exist only in name, and thus do not really exist anywhere else. That which has being has 'isness' and what isness must necessarily be unchanging, because temporal things only have temporal existence. This is why the Samkhya et al also have no being in their philosophy, because their philosophy is subject to space and time. The Vedanta however posit real being as Brahman. That which is an undifferentiated unity, is eternal, pure and unchanging.

As you rightfully acknowledge in your article the idea of an eternal, unchanging and undifferentiated unity which is absolute reality is foreign to Western Philosophy and upsetting. That is because Western Philosophy, save for perhaps Plotinus, has never dealt with the question of being. It has dealt with things, things in themselves, but only ever as particular individual entities, but never actually contemplated a universal being that is being of all. Even in Heidegger, or rather especially in Heidegger, being is still not being inquired into. So I would turn the question of your article on its head: Has the question of being ever been covered in the West?

Spirit of Vatican II

Thanks for your interesting comments. I agree that Vedanta would be the strand of Indian philosophy (along with Madhyamaka) that comes closest to treating the question of being as an autonomous, disinterested, and phenomenological inquiry (as Heidegger claims is the central concern of Greek and European philosophy). However, as you yourself say: "In Indic thought Moksha and being are not separate". That would suggest that the question of being does not exercise the same basilisk fascination on the Indian as on the Greco-Heideggerian mind. Being as such was not so constant an enigma for the Indian thinkers.

In its quest for moksa, did India think all there is to be thought about the question of being? I say no, because it did not think the kind of thing Heidegger discerns in Greek thought as he retrieves and radicalizes it. My claim is that this is not a value judgment, but rather that Heidegger upholds a specificity of the Greek question while recognizing an irreducible specificity also in other "great beginnings" such as those of India, China, Japan, Israel. This makes Heidegger not a Western imperialist but a radical pluralist, a thinker open to dialogue across traditions.

He also separates the being-question from its traditional metaphysical connection with God, giving it its proper autonomy.

Heidegger would agree with you on the theoretism of Plato (whose strength he no doubt underestimates); one of the main ideas of Heidegger is that science and logic do not think being, and that philosophy when under the spell of theoretical science, categorical system, etc. falls short of the thinking of being as such. Of course Heidegger puts ALL his eggs in the phenomenological basket, which is a daring step. The resultant reading of the history of Western philosophy depends on this choice. Heidegger regards Husserl's phenomenology as limited by its focus on consciousness, which to some extent forecloses the openness of the question of being. He also regards his own Dasein in Sein und Zeit as inadequately opened up to that question. Dasein is the lead-in in Heidegger's thought, a way of opening up the question.

Paul

Again the issue here is semantical and rests very much on our respective definitions of being. As I said earlier, you have no dispute from me if your contention is that Indians did not deal with 'being' in a Heideggerian way. You only have dispute from me if you state that the Indians did not deal with the question of being, which as I have already told you is absurd.

Heidegger deals with the individual human being and its historical life and the issues of technology. He calls it 'being' but as you know now, I do not consider this being. I do not even consider this philosophy or phenomenology for that matter. I am a harsh critic of Heidegger and consider him nothing more than a sociologist-anthropologist pretending to be a philosopher. In Heidegger we find an anti-philosophical undercurrent, philosophy turning on its own self and setting up its own destruction. Indeed, Derrida's decontructionism which ensued from Heideggar brought an end to philosophy, leaving us with the postmodern condition.

Husserl, on the other hand, is a true philosopher. Ironically, Heideggar did not consider him a true philosopher and "wringed his neck" but Husserl is the one who initates a true phenomenological project by basing all inquiry in consciousness. Later Heideggar hijacks his project and turns it on its head.

Husserl like any true philosopher is interested in the truth. If consciousness is what gives us access to this world and to which all things appear, then one should begin their inquiry from consciousness itself and study its structures in a scientific manner. That is true phenomenology and with which the Yoga school would agree.

The notion of "beingness" is not some physical object that we apprehend out there, it is an intuition. Just like "potness" is an intuition. It exists only as an a priori idea in consciousness. Thus to really study being, one must look within, not without. This is where Husserl's introspection becomes useful to begin the phenomenlogical project.

Indian Philosophy deals with being in the pure sense of the word, the pure concept of being itself. That which is at the background of existence: the being of beings; that which contains all and encompasses all. This may seem to step into religious/mystical territory, but this is not a problem as such for Indians. In Western thought Philosophy, Science and religion are sharply divided, but Indians see no division between Philosopy, science and religion. This is perhaps because Indic religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are not really theistic, and emphasise logic and reasoning and personal development. Hence, they are said to be more in agreement with modern physics than any other religion (Capra, Tao of Physics) and many physicists and scientists have turned towards them for inspriation.

It is undeniable that Indian Philosophy is spiritual, that does not mean it is mutually exclusive with science and philosophy.

You are right that Indians did not approach matters like "being" with 'fascination' or even matters like truth, beauty and justice with fascination. They were dispassionate about these matters, what concerned them the most was pragmatical concerns about life, the highest concern being salvation. It is to this end that they oriented their philosophy.

This may be seen as a weakness, but I see it a strength. It conveys a sense of maturity and neutrality towards the world, similar to modern scientific ethic. Just as Modern science is only concerned with examination and analysis for a certain end (e.g., understanding the laws of nature) The Indians were only concerned with examination and analysis for spiritial ends. To the extent that something was useful to that end was it important, after it had spent its use-value, it was discarded. Indic religions are the only religions that call their own spiritual masters and scriptures "useless" that is that as soon as have spent their use-value, they are useless and worth no further consideration.

They are not interested in beauty, for example, because they see beauty as nothing more than a relative concept. What was beautiful yesterday is not beautiful tomorrow. According to Indic philosophers, beauty is just the mind apprehending itself, what is in consonance with its own inherent nature it finds beautiful. As the purpose of Indian Philosophy is to restrain the mind, naturally they pay little attention to beauty.

In the same vain they pay little attention to mathematics(except the later Gupta period) they are not interested in imaginary entities like irrational numbers, equations, these it considers to be nothing more than chimeras of the mind, having no correspodence in reality. Indeed, many modern philosophers of maths would agree, there is no such thing as a perfect triangle in the world.

However advanced mathematical concepts are implicit in Indic sciences, such as Pinglas Chandashatra, where concepts like binary numbers, hashing algorithms and binomial theorem have been utilsed to analyse musical notes. In the Indic engineering and astronomical texts, we find descriptions of many geometrical and mathematical concepts but only because they are useful.

However, mathematics for its own sake we find nowhere in the classical or Vedic period. This dispassionate and pragmatic attitude is what I think sets the Western and Indic tradition worlds apart. The Western tradition has always been more about theorizing and playing around with concepts and ideas, sharply dividing the real world from the mental world. This is why Philosophy was eventually overshadowed by the more utilitarian science, and today Philosophy has been near supplanted by science.

In that sense it should be said that Indian philosophy was a mature and enlightened tradition than the Western tradition and perhaps its closest parallel is modern science.
But of course, modern science is oriented towards technology for its own sake, and Indians are oriented towards spirituality. I do not hesitate to make value-judgments, I can easily say that the goal of ending one's suffering is far greater than the goal of creating more toys to play with.

I apologise for these really long replies; as Pascal once said, "I don't have the time to be brief". To end this post by making one last point on Moksha. As I said earlier, Moksha is not a philosophy in and of itself, it is more of a motive to do philosophy. Where philosophy is based on systematic analysis of the world using one's intellect and then synthesising by reason to finally reveal ones true nature and purpose. This the Indians assert is transcendence and returning to being.

I still don't think the West has dealt with the question of being, in the purest sense of what being is. This I think has only been done by the Indians.

Henry

See 'Heidegger,Phenomenology and Indian Thought' by Peter Wilberg.

http://heideggerindianthought.blogspot.com

This contrasts 'The Being Principle'with the phenomenological primordiality of Awareness (Chit) as recognised in Indian thought ie. the foundational insight (implicit also in Heidegger) that Being is first an foremost an AWARENESS of Being.

The problem of Western metaphysics is not simply its reduction of Being to presence and actuality but also and above all its reduction of Awareness or subjectivity to the PRIVATE PROPERTY of individual subjects.

"The Being of all things that are recognised in Awareness in turn depends on awareness."

Sri Abhinavagupta.

The awareness referred to here however is not 'yours' or 'mine', the private property of a subject of self, body or brain - but is that universal awareness which Indian thought recognised as the essence of the divine - an awareness of which all beings are but individualised expressions.

Coming to BE this AWARENESS is BLISS. Hence the central notion of 'Being-Awarenes-Bliss' (Sat-chit-ananda) in Indian thought.

Spirit of Vatican II

I agree that Indian thought deepens Western thought on the basic front of perception and awareness. It goes beyond empiricism and phenomenology. True awareness, for Buddhists and Vedantists, is to see things as they are -- the true phenomenal is noumenal -- and this is indeed Bliss (you find elements of that way of thinking in Plato and Plotinus too).

But note that Heidegger was an opponent of the reduction of awareness to private property. Even the Jemeinigkeit of Dasein in "Being and Time" is very different from a Cartesian ego, and in later writings this residue of subject-ism disappears. Heidegger does indeed seem to recognize that Being is an awareness of Being -- in which mortals abide but which is not reducible to subjective consciousness -- so this could be the plank for a dialogue between Heidegger and Indian thought.

Winberg is somewhat inaccurate about ontotheology -- it is not a characteristic of religious thought, in Heidegger's usage, but the basic structure of metaphysics itself, first exhibited in Aristotle. When Heidegger says that if he did theology he would not use the word "Being" he is saying that the question of Being is not a proper concern of theology, as opposed to his own field, philosophical thinking. When he says Being is not longer the matter to be thought, he is thinking of his more radical apprehensions of the truth of being under the rubric of the Ereignis into which Being is absorbed. In that broad sense the question of being remains the sole central issue of Heidegger's thought till the end.

I am not convinced that India has a deeper answer to Heidegger's Greek questions, just as I am not convinced that the Bible has. They are peculiar questions, sui generis, and they are not questions that were aired in Israel or in India. All of these great questions are risky paths of human thought (cum divine revelation if you like) and none of them should claim to be the definitive, universal, final vision. Heidegger never claimed such status for his own thought or for Western philosophy, which makes him a postcolonial, post-eurocentric pluralist of a very deep kind.

Spirit of Vatican II

Of course there is something like metaphysics in Indian thought, an account of being and beings, their origin and status. But what Heidegger singles out as the essential Greek question lies at a level deeper than metaphysics, and is occluded by metaphysics. This concerns wonder at the phenomenon of being and a thinking interrogation of that phenomenon.

Take the Buddhist analysis of dharmas and the Mahayana demonstration of the emptiness of all dharmas. Here the instance that might be closest to Being is Emptiness. Thought has advanced from beings to a transcendental mode of awareness, prajna, that perceives all dharmas to be empty of own-being. This is a profound way of thinking but it does not map neatly onto Greek thinking of being, and an attempt to conflate the two or set them in dialectical opposition would only produce very muddy discourse.

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