[Advaita-l] Self Luminosity of Consciousness - Part II (for posting in the thread)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 31 15:33:35 CST 2012

Dear Vaibhav,
Thank you for posting these overviews of some serious philosophical reflection. Just one

> According to Gilbert Ryle
> the Advaitin has misused language. He takes a picture of consciousness as a
> lamp that illumines objects, however if we investigate the cases where the term
> ‘knowledge’ or ‘consciousness’ is used we find nothing apart from belief in some
> object or disposition to be believe that makes us adopt some behavior towards
> that object. Following Wittgenstein he says that it is not the function of
> philosophy to explain facts, which privilege belongs to science, but philosophy
> needs just to observe facts, how they are used in a language speaking community
> and enumerate them in order to remove any wrong views pertaining to them. The
> purpose of philosophy is thus to cure us of the malady of misuse of language.

The advaitin's response to this would be (a) silence, (b) breaking the silence to point
out that the true purpose of philosophy is to free us from fetters imposed by language.
The advaitin does not misuse language at all, but recognizes that in talking of the self-
luminosity of consciousness, he purposefully uses language in order to transcend it. In
Sanskrit terms, cit is sva-prakASa, sva-saMvedya. And we have the advantage of not
just indulging in free thought, but grounding our thought in such upanishadic insights
as yato vAco nivartante and tatra vedA avedAH. The apparent misuse of language that
the advaitin is accused of is in fact a deliberate and paradoxical usage of language,
knowing fully well the limitations of language. It may be an outrageous claim to make
for the non-advaitin, but it is all par for the course for the advaitin!

Once again, thanks for attempting to elevate the level of discourse here. I hope other
list members take the time and trouble to read through your posts in some detail.

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