[Advaita-l] Fwd: {भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत्} Natural Realism & Contact theory of Perception

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Dec 3 01:20:28 EST 2019

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Chittaranjan Naik <chitnaik at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 10:55 PM
Subject: Re: {भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत्} Natural Realism & Contact theory of
To: भारतीयविद्वत्परिषत् <bvparishat at googlegroups.com>

Namaste Sri Pattanayak-ji,

I read Boyer’s article. I will have to read it again to get a full grasp of
the recent approaches in the philosophy of science that the author is
referring to, but I believe my first reading is sufficient for me to make a
broad comparison between the article and my book.

1.      While Boyer’s article and my book both draw from Vedic sources in
our endeavors to provide viable explanatory accounts of Direct Realism, the
goals of the two are vastly different. The main goal of Boyer’s article
seems to be to justify Direct Realism as a valid premise of science given
that this premise has been challenged by both philosophy and the
counter-intuitive theories of science itself which scientists have been
compelled to build in the areas of Quantum and Relativity physics. The aim
of my book is different. It is to establish Direct Realism as part of a
larger enterprise aimed at reinstating the Vedic worldview in the
contemporary world.

2.      Boyer’s article does not attempt to remove the main hindrance that
stands in the way of postulating a Direct Realism thesis in any meaningful
manner: the almost ubiquitously held belief that our perception is
occasioned by a stimulus-response process. For, as long as the physicalist
stimulus-response theory of perception is held to be valid, it would
logically result in a dualism of a *phenomenal world* and a *non-linguistic
world bereft of the datum of consciousness*. The espousal of the
stimulus-response model of perception would therefore logically lead to
Representationalism (or Indirect Realism) and not to Direct Realism. This
is not a problem with the Boyer article alone; I find it characteristic of
all Western attempts to postulate Direct Realism, perhaps because the
stimulus-response theory of perception is deeply ingrained in the Western
tradition from the time of Aristotle. In consideration of this factor, my
book makes the theory of perception the main focus of the book, or of the
endeavor to posit Direct Realism. It addresses the very possibility of
Direct Realism rather than focus on the ontological features of reality.

3.      Boyer’s article tries to introduce *Structural Realism / Ontic
Structural Realism* as possible avenues for postulating a kind of Direct
Realism, the main argument for it being that even though scientific
theories may not be able to speak validly about the descriptive aspects of
reality, there is a structural continuity in science and, in consideration
of the fact that scientific theories do work, it would be reasonable to
assume that this structure represents a legitimate structure of reality.
According to me, this argument does not hold because as long as the
stimulus-response theory of perception is held to be valid, the reality
that we can perceive, or form a conception of, would be a reality presented
within a *phenomenological enclosure* having the brain as its physical
substrate. The structure that Boyer talks about would then not be a
structure of reality but a structure of the presentative field of the
phenomenological enclosure correspondent to a structure in the
non-linguistic external world. In other words, it would result in Indirect
Realism and not Direct Realism.

4.      Again, Boyer’s article does not mention whether it accepts
Cartesian dualism or rejects it. It may be noted that both contemporary
philosophy and science reject Cartesian dualism, so much so that to even
speak of the self as a distinct substance has become anathema. It is for
this reason that all speculations and explorations in the field of both
philosophy and science predominantly look towards neuroscience for a
solution to the ‘problem of consciousness’.  Even Chalmers, who claims
consciousness to be non-reductive, considers the physical universe to be a
closed system (displaying causal closure) and says that we must look for
the causal mechanisms of the subjective features of the field of
consciousness in the physical substrate of the brain. According to me, it
would be a futile exercise to attempt to incorporate the *Three Levels of
Vedic reality*, as Boyer’s article attempts to do, into any theory of
science without first addressing the question of whether the self is a
distinct substance or not. The question of the unity of objects with a
transcendental Consciousness arises only at the fourth level – the level of
Turiya or linguistically at the level of Para-vak – whereas at the level of
a transactional reality, reality does appear as a duality of conscious-self
(purusha) and inert- matter (prakriti) and a theory that seeks to explain
reality must address this level of reality too. Otherwise, to speak of
incorporating Vedic conceptions of reality while remaining silent on the
modern proclivity to reject Cartesian dualism would amount to a mere
pretense. In my book (Chapter 4), I have explained why it is necessary to
consider the self as a separate substance; while this may not constitute a
formal proof of the existence of the self (I hope to take up that topic in
my next paper/book), I have shown how by not considering the self as a
distinct substance, it leads to all kinds of logical conundrums,
essentially of the kinds that beset Representationalism.

5.      My book does not attempt to delve into the ontological features of
reality as Boyer’s article does. The main reason for it is that I find the
ontology already provided in the Indian tradition to be comprehensive. For
example, the twenty-four tattvas of Samkhya provide the basic material
constituents of the universe, the seven categories (or padarthas) of Nyaya
explain the irreducible logical compositions of the complex objects that
constitute the furniture of the world formed through admixtures of the
twenty-four tattvas of Samkhya, and Vedanta provides the nature of a
Transcendental Reality and its relation to the universe and to the
conscious beings that inhabit the universe. I do not believe that the
scientific model is anywhere close to providing such a comprehensive view
of reality.

6.      Boyer’s article tries to incorporate the Vedic conception of *Three
Levels of Reality* without consideration of the praxis of the Vedic logical
tradition. For example, he refers to the problem of defining what
individual objects are, or of identifying what the thingness of a thing is,
but these kinds of problems are really self-inflicted problems inasmuch as
they arise from the Western tradition (i.e., since the time of Descartes
and British Empiricism) having rejected the categories. Even though the
categories of Aristotle – the Predicamentia, as they were called – were not
as well defined, or as well argued for, as the padarthas of the Indian
tradition were, they had still provided a logical foundation to explain how
‘thingness’ may be apprehended but the rejection of the categories has left
the Western tradition – and unfortunately the field of contemporary
discourse which follows in the footsteps of the Western tradition – without
a foothold to comprehend even basic things like object-hood, etc. If we are
to truly draw from the Indian Vedic tradition, we cannot afford to ignore
the padarthas which form the bedrock of the Indian logical tradition. In my
book, I have included a section (in Chapter 4) on the categories
(padarthas), and, in Chapter 8, I have argued from a logic based on the
categories to counter the main objections raised against Direct Realism.

7.      While Boyer mentions *Logical Positivism* and *Kuhnian revolution*
in his article, he doesn’t seem to consider the ramifications that the work
done by the Logical Positivists and Thomas Kuhn would have on the attempts
to incorporate Vedic conceptions in a unified theory of science. Both the
Logical Positivists and Kuhn held that the empirical observations of
science are theory-laden by the symbolic framework within which scientists
operate and that when the basic parameters of the symbolic framework
change, it would result in the rise of a new paradigm that would be
incommensurable with the old paradigm. According to me, it is naïve to
undertake a project to combine Vedic conceptions of the universe with those
of science without first ascertaining whether the two paradigms are
commensurate with each other. Indeed, in my book (Part II of the book) , I
have shown that the scientific experiments conducted to measure the
velocity of light with respect to an observer are theory laden with the
assumptions of the physicalist framework of science, primarily with the
assumption that a measuring instrument is equivalent to an observer, and
that the velocity of light measured between an object and the observer is
false. The measured velocity of light is actually the velocity of light
between one object (the source of light) and another object (the object
illuminated by the source of light) and not between an object and the
observer as is believed by scientists. I have proposed a new experiment in
(Part II of) my book to actually verify whether the observation of an event
in space is instantaneous or whether it occurs after a time-lapse.

8.      The entire phenomenon of paradigms and the incommensurability
problem is, according to me, a result of the Western tradition not having a
culture of pramanas. I believe there is a good opportunity here for the
scholars of the Indian vidyas, especially Nayyayikas, to put the entire
framework of science under the lens of scrutiny of a philosophical
investigation based on the principles and methods of Nyaya Shastra. I am
convinced that if this is done, it will not only give rise to a new
discipline – which we may call the Nyaya Philosophy of Science – but also
demonstrate that the Indian logical tradition is not dead, that it has the
potential to forge new frontiers of knowledge.

I would have been more comfortable if someone else had provided the
comparison between my book and that article, but yours was a reasonable
request all the same as it allows me to let the members of this forum know
where I am coming from in writing the book. Thank you for showing interest
in my book.



On Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 8:01:46 AM UTC+5:30, Deva Pattanayak
>  The direct realism may be  related to the sixth sense. A tiger is lurking
> around before one actually spots it in a forest.
> Here is a quote from an article by R.W. Boyer, that I came across which I
> have attached for your reference.
>   "Again, in completely holistic Vedanta all objects and observers are
> nothing other than the universal Self. That ultimate reality is said to be
> directly verifiable in unity consciousness as the simultaneity of
> part/whole, reductivism/holism, individual/universal. It is expressed
> simply and fully in the Vedic statement: “Aham Brahmasmi (Brihad-Aranyak
> Upanishad, 1.4.10)  "
> How do you view your work in relation with this paper by Boyer? A brief
> one page reply will be much appreciated and open up for furthe discussions.
> On Fri, Nov 29, 2019 at 1:32 PM Chittaranjan Naik <chit... at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> "It would also mean that the finite time taken for light to travel from a
>> distant star to our physical eyes is not part of the perceptual process and
>> that the physical bodies we possess somehow do not interfere in the
>> perceptual process."  This is from Naik_ji 's writing.
>> I would like to clarify here that this statement was made in the context
>> of Direct Realism and what it entails. For the thesis of Direct Realism to
>> stand, we would need to posit a theory of perception in which the world
>> would be transparently revealed to the percipient, that is, without the
>> transforming mechanisms of the gross body interfering in the perceptual
>> process.
>> It may be noted that the Indian theory of perception offers such a model.
>> Regards,
>> Chittaranjan
>> On Thursday, November 28, 2019 at 10:57:12 PM UTC+5:30, Deva Pattanayak
>> wrote:
>>> "It would also mean that the finite time taken for light to travel from
>>> a distant star to our physical eyes is not part of the perceptual process
>>> and that the physical bodies we possess somehow do not interfere in the
>>> perceptual process."
>>> This is from Naik_ji 's writing. This example of delayed perception of
>>> star light is not only based on science, but the part that is left out that
>>> the star knew that so many light years later some one will be observing the
>>> light.
>>> Actually the net perception is a shuttle combination of what has
>>> happened in the past as well as what is there to come.
>>> While comparing western philosophy with that of Indian philosophy, it is
>>> perhaps important to bear in mind that in the west  the reigning mentality
>>> is to make a new beginning rather than stay pinned to  many ideas of the
>>> past that are not relevant today  or even true. The winning mentality for
>>> mankind should be that  it is ok  to try new things without invisible
>>> strings of the past.
>>> On Sat, Nov 2, 2019 at 7:46 PM Hari Kiran <kiran.v... at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Pranaams to all,
>>>> We are happy to announce the 8th book published by Indic Academy
>>>> written by Chittaranjan Naik..
>>>> Members of the list interested in reviewing the book for publication on
>>>> www.indictoday.com may please write to us at nam... at indica.org.in and
>>>> we will send you a review copy.
>>>> Regards
>>>> Hari
>>>> http://www.indictoday.com/announcements/natural-realism-contact-theory-of-perception/
>>>> http://www.indictoday.com/interviews/indian-philosophys-challenge-to-contemporary-worldview-interview-with-chittaranjan-naik/
>>>> --
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