[Advaita-l] 'End' not 'Means'

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 27 14:27:23 CDT 2006

Replying to more than one posting:

--- Aditya Varun Chadha <adichad at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 4/27/06, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
> > If one accepts shruti as pramana for ethics then its words should
> be enough.
> Let us say that by pramANa, we mean "proof". Any claimed proof can
> be
> accepted to start with and then subjected to scrutiny for
> consistency
> both internally and against pratyakSa (if possible). Ethics, as I
> have
> tried to argue before, ARE subject to pratyakSa. One doesn't not
> steal
> because one remembers some Sruti Sloka, one practices restraint
> because of the possible consequences (pratyakSa).

PramANa is a "means to cognition or knowledge". PrAmANyaM is proof.

You need to clarify what you mean by saying that ethics is "subject
to pratyaksha". Of course ethics may use pratyaksha to arrive at some
conclusions, but that is not to say that all ethics can be derived
from pratyaksha. As a matter of fact, the final conclusion as to
whether or not an action is dhArmic cannot be derived by any amount
of pratyaksha or anumAna.

An example below, sorry if this sounds horrifying:

A man is found murdered, and another human's blood is also found on
the scene. The question, "Whose blood is at the crime scene?" can
conceivably be answered by science, specifically genetics.

However, supposing the murderer's identity has been determined, the
question, "What should be done with the murderer after he is caught?"
can NOT be answered by any amount of scientific enquiry. For all its
explanatory prowess, science cannot tell us which of these actions
the society ought to take:

Possibility A: "The murderer should be rewarded with a large sum of

Possibility B: "The murderer should be punished with prison time."

Neither possibility could be derived by any amount of scientific
analysis. Science can help us understand what has happened, what is
happening, and what will happen if certain conditions are met, but
cannot answer what SHOULD be done in the situation described above.
On matters pertaining to justice most societies have judges and
juries that can examine the evidence and counsel on the right course.

It is a pity that most Western-educated Indians don't know even the
basics of the scope of science and scope of other fields of enquiry,
whereas a traditionally trained VedAnta scholar will pick out these
errors in a fraction of a second.

> scepticism SHOULD be used as a tool for clarification of old
> assumptions and claims, but ofcourse, comes with the possibility of
> falsifying those claims. Without a hint of scepticism are we not
> being
> blind?

You're saying that scepticism SHOULD be used? You're actually making
a moral judgment there :-)

Please read
for a traditioanl understanding of where advaita VedAnta stands
regarding scepticism.


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