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1. What do you understand with the statement, “world as mind independent reality”? How does Nyaya prove its realism? Mention some of the possible objections against Nyaya’s realism.
Ans. Realism in physics (especially quantum mechanics) is the claim that the world is in some sense mind-independent: that even if the results of a possible measurement do not pre-exist the act of measurement, that does not require that they are the creation of the observer (contrary to the “consciousness causes collapse” interpretation of quantum mechanics). That interpretation of quantum mechanics, on the other hand, states that the wave function is already the full description of reality. The different possible realities described by the wave function are equally true. The observer collapses the wave function into their own reality. One’s reality can be mind-dependent under this interpretation of quantum mechanics.
According to metaphysical realism, the world is as it is independent of how humans or other inquiring agents take it to be. The objects the world contains, together with their properties and the relations they enter into, fix the world’s nature and these objects [together with the properties they have and the relations they enter into] exist independently of our ability to discover they do. Unless this is so, metaphysical realists argue, none of our beliefs about our world could be objectively true since true beliefs tell us how things are and beliefs are objective when true or false independently of what anyone might think.
Many philosophers believe metaphysical realism is just plain common sense. Others believe it to be a direct implication of modern science, which paints humans as fallible creatures adrift in an inhospitable world not of their making. Nonetheless, metaphysical realism is controversial. Besides the analytic question of what it means to assert that objects exist independently of the mind, metaphysical realism also raises epistemological problems: how can we obtain knowledge of a mind-independent world? There are also prior semantic problems, such as how links are set up between our beliefs and the mind-independent states of affairs they allegedly represent. This is the Representation Problem.
Anti-realists deny the world is mind-independent. Believing the epistemological and semantic problems to be insoluble, they conclude realism must be false. The first anti-realist arguments based on explicitly semantic considerations were advanced by Michael Dummett and Hilary Putnam. These are:
Dummett’s Manifestation Argument: the cognitive and linguistic behaviour of an agent provides no evidence that realist mind/world links exist;
Dummett’s Language Acquisition Argument: if such links were to exist language learning would be impossible;
Putnam’s Brain-in-a-Vat Argument: realism entails both that we could be massively deluded (‘brains in a vat’) and that if we were we could not even form the belief that we were;
Putnam’s Conceptual Relativity Argument: it is senseless to ask what the world contains independently of how we conceive of it, since the objects that exist depend on the conceptual scheme used to classify them;
Putnam’s Model-Theoretic Argument: realists must either hold that an ideal theory passing every conceivable test could be false or that perfectly determinate terms like ‘cat’ are massively indeterminate, and both alternatives are absurd.
We’ll proceed by first defining metaphysical realism, illustrating its distinctive mind-independence claim with some examples and distinguishing it from other doctrines with which it is often confused, in particular factualism. We’ll then outline the Representation Problem in the course of presenting the anti-realist challenges to metaphysical realism that are based on it. We discuss metaphysical realist responses to these challenges, indicating how the debates have proceeded, suggesting various alternatives and countenancing anti-realist replies.
2. Write a note on Pratityasamutpada.
Ans. Pratītyasamutpāda is one of the terms that illuminate the ultimate truth in Buddhism. Specifically, it is a particular teaching of Buddhism that deals with the phenomenona, or perpetual changes, caused by karma, the vicissitudes of life, all of which come from direct causes (hetu) and indirect causes (pratyaya).
The Buddha once said: “Those who perceive ‘dependent origination’ (pratīyasamutpāda) will perceive the dharma; those who perceive the dharma will perceive ‘dependent origination’” Underlying the doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda is the notion that “Because this exists, that arises; because this does not exist, that does not arise.” In short, all the Buddha’s other teachings may be seen as founded on the teaching of pratītyasamutpāda. Pratītyasamutpāda can be also connected to other Buddhist philosophy, such as Dharmadhātu, which states that all beings create themselves and that even the universe is self-created. Dharmadhātu has come to represent the universe as universally corelative, generally interdependent, and mutually originating, and it states that no single being exists independently. Dharmadhātu is also an ethical and a psychological transformation that occurs in the modern world: we can escape the bonds of the existence of samsara by cutting the psychological roots of suffering. This is none other than nirvana.
Pratītyasamutpāda commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key doctrine in Buddhism shared by all schools of Buddhism. It states that all dharmas (phenomena) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. The basic principle is that all things (dharmas, phenomena, principles) arise in dependence upon other things.
The doctrine includes depictions of the arising of suffering (anuloma-paṭiccasamuppāda, “with the grain”, forward conditionality) and depictions of how the chain can be reversed (paṭiloma-paṭiccasamuppāda), “against the grain”, reverse conditionality). These processes are expressed in various lists of dependently originated phenomena, the most well-known of which is the twelve links or nidānas. The traditional interpretation of these lists is that they describe the process of a sentient being’s rebirth in saṃsāra, and the resultant duḥkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness), and they provide an analysis of rebirth and suffering that avoids positing an atman (unchanging self or eternal soul). The reversal of the causal chain is explained as leading to the cessation of rebirth (and thus, the cessation of suffering).
Another interpretation regards the lists as describing the arising of mental processes and the resultant notion of “I” and “mine” that leads to grasping and suffering. Several modern western scholars argue that there are inconsistencies in the list of twelve links, and regard it to be a later synthesis of several older lists and elements, some of which can be traced to the Vedas.
The doctrine of dependent origination appears throughout the early Buddhist texts. It is the main topic of the Nidana Samyutta of the Theravada school’s Saṃyuttanikāya (henceforth SN). A parallel collection of discourses also exists in the Chinese Saṁyuktāgama.
Dependent origination is a philosophically complex concept, subject to a large variety of explanations and interpretations. As the interpretations often involve specific aspects of dependent origination, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive to each other.
Dependent origination can be contrasted with the classic Western concept of causation in which an action by one thing is said to cause a change in another thing. Dependent origination instead views the change as being caused by many factors, not just one or even a few.
The principle of dependent origination has a variety of philosophical implications.
As an ontological principle (i.e., as a metaphysical concept about the nature of existence), it holds that all phenomena arise from other, pre-existing phenomena, and in turn current phenomena condition future phenomena. As such, everything in the world has been produced by causes. Traditionally, this is also closely connected to the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth, and how rebirth occurs without a fixed self or soul, but as a process conditioned by various phenomena and their relations.
3. Answer any two questions in about 250 words each.
a) Discuss the idea of Dravya, Guna and Paryaya in Jainism.
Ans. Dravya means substance or entity. According to the Jain philosophy, the universe is made up of six eternal substances: sentient beings or souls, non-sentient substance or matter (pudgala), principle of motion (dharma), the principle of rest (adharma), space (ākāśa) and time (kāla). The latter five are united as the ajiva (the non-living). As per the Sanskrit etymology, dravya means substances or entity, but it may also mean real or fundamental categories.
Jain philosophers distinguish a substance from a body, or thing, by declaring the former as a simple element or reality while the latter as a compound of one or more substances or atoms. They claim that there can be a partial or total destruction of a body or thing, but no dravya can ever be destroyed.
The dravya in Jainism are fundamental entities, called astikaya (literally, ‘collection that exists’). They are believed to be eternal, and the ontological building blocks that constitute and explain all existence, whether perceived or not. According to both Śvētāmbara and Digambara traditions of Jainism, there are six eternal substances in existence: Soul (jiva), Matter (pudgala), Space (akasha), motion (Dharma) and rest (Adharma) and “Time” (kala). In both traditions, the substance of space is conceptualized as “world space” (lokakasha) and “non-world space” (alokiakasha). Further, both soul and matter are considered as active ontological substances, while the rest are inactive. Another categorization found in Jain philosophy is jiva and ajiva, the latter being all dravya that is not jiva.
Out of the six dravyas, five except time have been described as astikayas, that is, extensions or conglomerates. Since like conglomerates, they have numerous space points, they are described as astikaya. There are innumerable space points in the sentient substance and in the media of motion and rest, and infinite ones in space; in matter they are threefold (i.e. numerable, innumerable and infinite). Time has only one; therefore it is not a conglomerate. Hence the corresponding conglomerates or extensions are called—jivastikaya (soul extension or conglomerate), pudgalastikaya (matter conglomerate), dharmastikaya (motion conglomerate), adharmastikaya (rest conglomerate) and akastikaya (space conglomerates). Together they are called pancastikaya or the five astikayas.
b) Write a note on the categories in Vaishesika Philosophy.
Ans. Dravya, or substance, the substratum that exists independently of all other categories, and the material cause of all compound things produced from it. Dravyas are nine in number: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space, spirit, and mind.
- Guna, or quality, which in turn is subdivided into 24 species.
- Karma, or action. Both guna and karma inhere within dravya and cannot exist independently of it.
- Samanya, or genus, which denotes characteristic similarities that allow two or more objects to be classed together.
- Vishesha, or specific difference, which singles out an individual of that class.
- Samavaya, or inherence, which indicates things inseparably connected.
To these six was later added abhava, nonexistence or absence. Though negative in content, the impression it makes is positive; one has a perception of an absence where one misses something. Four such absences are recognized: previous absence, as of a new product; later absence, as of a destroyed object; total absence, as of colour in the wind; and reciprocal absence, as of a jar and a cloth, neither of which is the other.
The Vaisheshika system holds that the smallest, indivisible, indestructible part of the world is an atom (anu). All physical things are a combination of the atoms of earth, water, fire, and air. Inactive and motionless in themselves, the atoms are put into motion by God’s will, through the unseen forces of moral merit and demerit.
4. Answer any four questions in about 150 words each.
a) Mention some features of Tivalluvara’s moral philosophy.
Ans. Social philosophy examines questions about the foundations of social institutions, social behavior, and interpretations of society in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. Social philosophers emphasize understanding the social contexts for political, legal, moral and cultural questions, and the development of novel theoretical frameworks, from social ontology to care ethics to cosmopolitan theories of democracy, natural law, human rights, gender equity and global justice.
There is often a considerable overlap between the questions addressed by social philosophy and ethics or value theory. Other forms of social philosophy include political philosophy and jurisprudence, which are largely concerned with the societies of state and government and their functioning.
Social philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy all share intimate connections with other disciplines in the social sciences. In turn, the social sciences themselves are of focal interest to the philosophy of social science.
The philosophy of language and social epistemology are sub fields which overlap in significant ways with social philosophy.
b) Briefly explain Gandhi’s idea of Svaraj.
Ans. Swarāj can mean generally self-governance or “self-rule”, and was used synonymously with “home-rule” by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and later on by Mahatma Gandhi, but the word usually refers to Gandhi’s concept of Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays stress on governance, not by a hierarchical government, but by self-governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralisation. Since this is against the political and social systems followed by Britain, Gandhi’s concept of Swaraj advocated India’s discarding British political, economic, bureaucratic, legal, military, and educational institutions. S. Satyamurti, Chittaranjan Das and Motilal Nehru were among a contrasting group of Swarajists who laid the foundation for parliamentary democracy in India.
Although Gandhi’s aim of totally implementing the concepts of Swaraj in India was not achieved, the voluntary work organisations which he founded for this purpose did serve as precursors and role models for people’s movements, voluntary organisations, and some of the non-governmental organisations that were subsequently launched in various parts of India. The student movement against oppressive local and central governments, led by Jayaprakash Narayan, Udit Swaraj and the Bhoodan movement, which presaged demands for land reform legislation throughout India, and which ultimately led to India’s discarding of the Zamindari system of land tenure and social organisation, were also inspired by the ideas of Swaraj.
c) Write a short note on upmana in Nyaya philosophy.
Ans. Upamāṇ in Hinduism, is a pramāṇa, or means of having knowledge of something. Observance of similarities provides knowledge of the relationship between the two. It also means getting the knowledge of an unknown thing by coMPYring it with a known thing. For example, assume a situation where a man has not seen a gavaya or a wild cow and doesn’t know what it is. A forester told him that a wild cow is an animal like a country cow but she is more furious and has big horn in her forehead. In a later period he comes across a wild cow in a forest and recognizes it as the wild cow by coMPYring the descriptions made by the forester. This knowledge is possible due to the upamana or coMPYrison. Thus, upamana is the knowledge of the relation between a name and the object it denotes by that name.
d) What arguments Samkhya give for the existence of Purusha?
Ans. Samkhya believes that the puruṣa cannot be regarded as the source of inanimate world, because an intelligent principle cannot transform itself into the unconscious world. It is a pluralistic spiritualism, atheistic realism and uncompromising dualism.
Samkhya makes a distinction between two “irreducible, innate and independent realities,” purusha, the witness-consciousness, and prakṛti, “matter,” the activities of mind and perception. According to Dan Lusthaus,
In Sāṃkhya puruṣa signifies the observer, the ‘witness’. Prakṛti includes all the cognitive, moral, psychological, emotional, sensorial and physical aspects of reality. It is often mistranslated as ‘matter’ or ‘nature’ – in non-Sāṃkhyan usage it does mean ‘essential nature’ – but that distracts from the heavy Sāṃkhyan stress on prakṛti’s cognitive, mental, psychological and sensorial activities. Moreover, subtle and gross matter are its most derivative byproducts, not its core. Only prakṛti acts.
Samkhya regards ignorance (avidyā) as the root cause of suffering and bondage (Samsara). Samkhya states that the way out of this suffering is through knowledge (viveka). Mokṣa (liberation), states Samkhya school, results from knowing the difference between prakṛti (avyakta-vyakta) and puruṣa (jña).
Puruṣa, the eternal pure consciousness, due to ignorance, identifies itself with products of prakṛti such as intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahamkara). This results in endless transmigration and suffering. However, once the realization arises that puruṣa is distinct from prakṛti, is more than empirical ego, and that puruṣa is deepest conscious self within, the Self gains isolation (kaivalya) and freedom (moksha).
Other forms of Samkhya teach that Mokṣa is attained by one’s own development of the higher faculties of discrimination achieved by meditation and other yogic practices. Moksha is described by Samkhya scholars as a state of liberation, where Sattva guna predominates.
5. Write short notes on any five in about 100 words each.
Ans. The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the “last chapters, parts of the Veda” and alternatively as “object, the highest purpose of the Veda”. The aim of all Upanishads is to investigate the nature of Ātman (self), and “direct[ing] the enquirer toward it.” Various ideas about the relation between Atman and Brahman can be found, and later commentators tried to harmonize this diversity. Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi) provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, including Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta (monistic or nondualistic), Ramanuja’s (c. 1077–1157 CE) Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism), and Madhvacharya’s (1199–1278 CE) Dvaita (dualism).
Around 108 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads. The mukhya Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally. The mukhya Upanishads predate the Common Era, but there is no scholarly consensus on their date, or even on which ones are pre- or post-Buddhist. The Brhadaranyaka is seen as particularly ancient by modern scholars.
b) Sankara’s idea of avidya
Ans. The classical Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedānta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism, a revisionary worldview which it derives from the ancient Upaniṣadic texts. According to Advaita Vedāntins, the Upaniṣads reveal a fundamental principle of nonduality termed “brahman,” which is the reality of all things. Advaitins understand brahman as transcending individuality and empirical plurality. They seek to establish that the essential core of one’s self (ātman) is brahman. The fundamental thrust of Advaita Vedānta is that the ātman is pure non-intentional consciousness. It is one without a second, nondual, infinite existence, and numerically identical with brahman. This effort entails tying a metaphysics of brahman to a philosophy of consciousness.
This philosophical tradition finds its most sustained early articulation in the works of the preeminent Advaita Vedāntin, Śaṅkarācārya (hereafter Śaṅkara), who flourished during the eighth century CE. Śaṅkara endeavored to communicate nonduality through systematized theories of metaphysics, language, and epistemology. He also incorporated specific methods of philosophical teaching, along with learning methods of listening, reflection, and contemplation. His philosophy and methods comprise a teaching tradition intended to culminate in a direct liberating recognition of nonduality that is synonymous with liberation or freedom (mokṣa). Śaṅkara is one of the most widely known and influential Indian philosophers from the classical period, and the most authoritative philosopher of Advaita Vedānta. He is revered by Advaita Vedānta’s teaching tradition and monastic lineages, and continues to influence virtually all contemporary lineages today.
c) Relation between god and soul in Vishishtadvaita
Ans. Soul and matter are totally dependent on God for their existence, as is the body on the soul.
God has two modes of being, as cause and as product. As cause, he is in his essence qualified only by his perfections. As product, he has as his body the souls and the phenomenal world. There is a pulsating rhythm in his periods of creation and absorption. For Ramanuja, release (moksha) is not a negative separation from transmigration, or a series of rebirths, but rather the joy of the contemplation of God. This joy is attained by a life of exclusive devotion (bhakti) to God, singing his praise, performing adulatory acts in temple and private worship, and constantly dwelling on his perfections. In return, God will offer his grace, which will assist the devotee in gaining release.
Vishishtadvaita flourished after Ramanuja, but a schism developed over the importance of God’s grace. For the northern, Sanskrit-using school, known as the Vadakalai (“Monkey”) school, God’s grace in gaining release is important, but a human individual should make the best possible effort, as a baby monkey must hold fast to its mother. This school is represented by the thinker Venkatanatha, who was known by the honorific name of Vedantadeshika (“Teacher of Vedanta”). The southern, Tamil-using school, known as the Tenkalai (“Cat”) school, holds that God’s grace alone is necessary, just as a kitten need do nothing when the mother cat carries it.
d) Vivekananda’s concept of Universal Religion
Ans. He believes that though religions are divergent in various aspects, they are not contradictory, rather supplementary to each other. He defines religion as the realization of divinity within us and asserts that the main goal of all religions is to realize such divinity and this realization is the one universal religion Vivekananda thinks that man has been searching the spiritual entities such as destiny, soul, God, etc., and this searching is being represented by different world religions competing and quarrelling to each other by declaring the absolute empire in the arena of religion and consequently by claiming the ‘exclusive right to live’. It is this kind of attitude that gives birth to hatred, war, conflict, tension and so on. Vivekananda believes in the diversity of life and calls it the law of life without which variations in thought is not possible. Keeping this in mind, he says that though throughout the ages, people of different religions have been trying to prove their “exclusive right to live”, though they have been claiming that one’s own religion is absolutely true, but none of them has been able to make success in this matter. He firmly asserts that, it is a serious mistake and quite impossible to make all people think in a single mode about spiritual things. In his own words, “…any attempt to bring all humanity to one method of thinking in spiritual things has been a failure and always will be a failure”. He emphasizes that though religions are divergent in various aspects, they are not contradictory, rather supplementary to each other. The differences amongst religions are external parts only which are due to our birth, education, surroundings and so on; but internally each religion bears the ideal which is its unique feature and soul; the soul of one may differ from that of other religion, nevertheless, they are not contradictory, both are parts of the same universal truth.
e) Concept of Democracy in Ambedkar’s Philosophy
Ans. The term ‘Democracy’ is very popular one. The concept of Democracy is, however, very complex one. It has no universal definition as such. Its meaning has been undergoing constant change ever since the ancient Greek city-states in the fifth century BCE, where the origin of the concept and practice of ‘Democracy’ can be traced.
Dr. Ambedkar has clearly stated the conditions which are necessary for the successful working of Democracy. They can beillustrated in brief as under. Equality: For the success of Democracy the first and foremost essential element is equality Dr. Ambedkar states that there must be know glaring inequalities in the society. There should not be an “oppressed class” and there should not be a “Suppressed Class”. He refers to Abraham Lincoln, who once said that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, and endorses the latter’s statement. The divided society has within itself the “germs” of a bloody revolution. His ideal society is, based on liberty, equality and fraternity, which he derived from his preceptor the Buddha. However, he gives primary importance to equality in that trinity.
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