[Advaita-l] Science and Vedantha

Aditya Varun Chadha adichad at gmail.com
Tue Nov 29 22:38:43 CST 2005


this mail is a bit of a digression from the usual frame of reference
on this email list, but i couldn't resist the opportunity i saw.

On 11/28/05, Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com> wrote:
> While I agree to the above, all I am doing is try to search for clues that
> "the master has left behind" (so to speak) for the analytic among us who
> wish to find clues as to how the fundamental assertion of Advaita can
> be arrived at without recourse to the scriptures.

It is wonderful to go this way. And not so surprizingly, some work has
been done in the field of pure analysis (mathematical logic), although
I don't know if many people realise the relevance.

Bertrand Russel et al. tried to codify all "truth" into a mathematical
theory that they thought could be used to answer ANY question that
could be put forth mathematically. At the time when they achieved this
mammoth codification, they were not able to prove their claim that
this was a complete codification of "mathematical truth".

Along came Kurt Godel, and he PROVED using mathematical logic alone
that "any (powerful enough) mathematical logic that can ever exist is
not complete enough to prove all true statements". In other words,
within any system of "rational, analytical thought", there exist
statements that are undoubtedly true, but cannot be proven. Godel did
this by finding a way to codify the statement "this statement is not
provable" in any system of logic you could come up with.

So you are right, and I have agreed with this always, that rationality
is the ideal (working) state of the human mind. And much can be proven
/ disproven / analysed using reason alone. Incidentally, as I
explained in the paragraph above, reason has proved that "there are
reasonable statements that are true, that cannot be proved using
reason". In other words, mental endeavor has proved that mental
endeavor is not enough to answer all questions. If you like I can give
you the bibliographical sources for all my claims. You can start by
googling "Kurt Godel"+incompleteness.

Now there IS one big assumption that I tend to make and which might
ultimately be incorrect, but here is the assumption: "if there exist
questions that reason alone cannot answer (as proven mathematically
and thus beyond "doubt") then the ULTIMATE question (nature of
brAhmaN/advaita etc.) has a high probability of being one of these
questions." What is your opinion on this?

So when I say that faith is required as a final leap into waking
brAhmaN-hood, I am not saying so based on blind faith. In a convoluted
way, pure mathematical logic itself says so. This is why I like
mathematics, it is a strict and honest discipline, even when defining
its own limits :-)

So in the context of advaita, while mental activity is important,
those who reach its pinnacle (Godel is considered one of the greatest
rational thinkers of ALL time) realize that it cannot answer all
questions. Do remember that this is not being said because of "blind
faith", this is being said because there is a mathematical proof for a
formal version of this.

But on the constructive side, rational thought can lead to a very
solid faith in advaita. And Mahesh ji is right in dismissing blind
faith. To me faith comes only after rationally scrutinizing a subject.
Because rationality itself keeps us aware of its own limits. So for
some people, Reason is the guru who can guide us towards advaita, can
show us the door, but still, we have to leap through it to the "other

Aditya Varun Chadha
adichad AT gmail.com
Mobile: +91 98 400 76411
Home:  +91 11 2431 4486
Room #1024, Cauvery Hostel
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Chennai - 600 036

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