Thursday, July 9, 2015

Materialism philosophy and Scientific method.

Materialism philosophy and Scientific method.
(By Muktipada Behera)
Charvaka or Lokayata is the ancient school of Indian materialism. It is accepted as a valid school of Indian philosophy - an atheistic school in the Hindu tradition. Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of it.
The origins of the Charvaka can be traced to the Rigveda, but substantial discussions on the Cārvāka is found in post-Vedic literature. The primary literature of Cārvāka, such as the Brhaspati Sutra is missing or lost. So we need to depend on secondary literature such as those found in the shastras (such as the Arthasastra), sutras and the epics (the Mahabharata and Ramayana) of Hinduism as well as from the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and Jain literature.
The Carvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid.
Perception are of two types, for Carvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind.
Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Carvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt. Inference is good and helpful. – For example of fire and smoke. When there is smoke, one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire. While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times. Smoke can have other causes.
As long as the relation between two phenomena [observation and truth], has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. Such method of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw. Carvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, cannot be established beyond doubt, because some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe. They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error. Truth then, is not an unfailing character of inference; truth is merely an accident of inference. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference.
Though complete truth about this cosmos cannot be known by only perception, still it ignores other methods of knowledge. It analyses all inexplicable events as (a) chance or unpredictability and (b) random or no-cause. This is where it is differing with the scientific spirit. Science does not accept (a) chance or unpredictability and (b) random or no-cause as a valid analysis. Rather it tries to find the underlying pattern of an event. Science sometime uses inference for microscopic events and cosmology. We need to be skeptics on those. And of-course theory changes and science evolves due to this skeptic in nature. 
Advaita Vedanta scholars considers six means of valid knowledge: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference), Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation), Anupalabdi (non-perception, cognitive proof) and Śabda (testimony of past or present reliable experts). While Carvaka school accepted just one Pratyakṣa (perception).
Therefore, Cārvākas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, soul, efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions.  It embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects Vedas. They don’t believe in karma, rebirth or an afterlife. Cārvākas rejected conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
Cārvāka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Cārvāka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Cārvāka did not believe in austerities.
Their scripture states that – “The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha. A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings.” -- eat, drink, and be merry – is its philosophy.

There was no continuity in the Cārvāka tradition after the 12th century. But later many Indians got converted into hidden Charvaka due to influence of western science. However if we consider all six means of knowledge, then we will get complete knowledge and more accurate knowledge about creation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

religion can be studied through scientific method

Religion can be studied through scientific method
(By Muktipada Behera)

What is Scientific method? And can religion be studied using this method?
We are practically the worshippers of science now-a-days. With this tendency, we try to reject whatever we don't understand, by saying it is not scientific.
But what is this scientific method used to look at things? Here is few points.
1. First of all science works with a 'positive spirit' on a fact or event. To begin with, it does NOT reject any event. Rather it accepts the existence of an event occurred in past. And try to study that. Whereas we try to reject from the beginning in the name of science. And wait for USA to study it.
2. Science is based on verifiability. Science goes by data collection. First required data needs to be collected and later studied to find a pattern. If any patten is found, then it is derived into a formula or law. If there is no such pattern found, then more data is collected for further study. So there is no doctrine of leaving aside any event in science. Science never isolate or reject any event occurred. It believes in a rule - if an event has occurred, then there must be a 'cause' behind it. There can not be cause-less event. Science does not believe in accident, rather it believes in incident.
3. Science is based on repeatability. If an event has occurred once in past, then it must occur in future if similar process is followed and same environment are provided. Please note an event occurs through a particular process under an particular environment. So science not only analyses the event, but also it analyses the process and environment. So these three things are considered by science for research. Not just stand-alone event. In this way the repeatability is verified.
4. When can science say anything is unscientific? No. it does not say anything unscientific. Rather it just deny the confirmation. And open it for further study. So science goes with open mind and open question without negating the fact.
5. Always science is associated with theoretical people in the background. They are called philosophers of science or theoretical scientists. They lead and give directions to study in a particular area. They imagine the beginning of creation, what is inside sub-atomic particles, look beyond sky/galaxy, magic creation of life etc. So these theoretical people are equally respected and funded. They don't have proof, but they have logic and possibility. So attitude is quite positive and passionate.
6. Science does not believe in God and religion. However many scientist believe in God and religion. So indirectly God and religion give power or motivation for their work. For example popular scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Mendel, Einstein etc used to believe in God and religion. So they have not rejected God and religion as superstition even though they were best prophets of science. Simply they don't assert their believes on science until it is proved as formula/law. But they don't reject it or find contradictory in their lives or research.
7. Can God or religion be a part of science? Yes. It can be. We need to be positive and include this area of study in science - branch named 'spiritual science'. Both system of knowledge - religion and science - are now inimical in nature due to lack of communication among experts of these fields. It requires cooperation from both sides. The religious people should be open for validation. And science people should approach spirituality with a positive spirit. Now-a-days this approach is missing from both religious person and science people. We need to change this attitude and misconception.
8. Finally it is all about funding and setting an awareness. We need laboratory with conducive environment for religious or yogic study. At the same time interest and dedication is required on religion or yoga subjects. For example to prove a theory many scientists have exposed their body to chemicals (e.g. Chemist Karl Scheele died from tasting chemical hydrogen cyanide and mercury poisoning), to radiations (e.g. Marie Curie killed by radiation, Elizabeth Ascheim killed by X-Rays), by starvation (Alexander Bogdanov killed himself with blood) etc. Are we ready to take these risks for spiritual study? Since spiritual study is a subjective study, we need to expose ourselves and our body/mind for it, if we don't get volunteers for it. Like self-climbing the Everest. Let's practice Yoga or religion in a prescribed manner before saying it is wrong. We should not be coward while approaching religion.
9. Another pitfall is, we look for some foreign jack and john to give any formula/law to Indians. Anything published in USA journals, though silly periodicals, even though it is purely theoretical, lacking all kinds of experimental basis, still we Indians start believing in those. For example Darwin's Theory Of Evolution - There is no proof of monkey converting into Human, The Big Bang Theory - creation came out of huge sound, nobody has heard it, Genetic model theory - there is no such genes proved, it is just a model, Bohr's atomic model - there is no way to prove electron position. These are all theoretical concepts for many centuries and not yet proved through experiments. And we never question them. Is it not a blind belief on science? and why not - because it is preached from USA. But anything talked by Indians, we reject however intelligent they may be.
10. I strongly believe every event can be included in science including religion. It requires positive approach, faith in oneself, requires dedication to find a pattern/law/cause. And we have many intelligent people in religious field like Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda etc. We can not reject them in void. Sankaracharya has said - "if Veda says - fire is cold, then put Veda into fire, that will prove whether fire is cold or hot". Such a dedication to truth, even dared to burn own scripture. Sankara insisted on direct-realization of truth by an individual - Aparokshanubhuti. Also Swami Vivekananda has said - "If there is any God, we must see it". He used to ask this question - "Have you seen God?" until he found his teacher Sri Ramakrishna at Kolkata, who said boldly - "Not only I have seen God, But I can also show you, if you want". Then Ramakrishna had to show God to swamiji for his confirmation. How practical and scientific approaches are these facts in religious history!
And without having all these qualities and without proper investigation, let's not reject any religious event. At best we can accept our ignorance on the 'cause' of that event and get ready for further research. This is what is expected from people while approaching religion and Yoga.