Debate with a philosopher

May 2015 Published in Quora.

AM. Metaphysics is ultimately of the nature of a ‘vision’, where logical proof does not enter. The ‘proof’ thus is subjective – objectivity is only apparent; it does not exist ‘in reality’. Truth is none other than reality (the ‘whole’, as I think Hegel said), and/but secondly it is an unavoidable term when using language, whether in the ’empirical’ or the higher – metaphysical – realm.

BY. Said like a Kantian, but you make the same mistake he did and it’s easy to see once someone shows you.

When you say that Metaphysics “is” something, when you say that proof “is” subjective, when you say that objectivity “is”only apparent, when you tell me what true “is” what do you mean?

Are you talking about the things as they are in reality? Of course you are. You are claiming to have proven these things. You are claiming to know something about the world. You are claiming that things exist.

You are making claims of objectivity and claims about the world all the time, even as you denounce them as “unprovable”, subjective, and apparent. You can’t help but make claims about the objectivity of things even as you deny that objectivity is possible and even as you claim that there can be no proof.

This is Aristotle’s principle of reaffirmation through denial. There are some concepts (like these for example) that one must not accept when you claim that they are not real/valid/true.

To pick a more pedestrian example, what is wrong with the claim “Writing cannot convey any meaning.”? Well, since I am writing this to you it is obviously self-refuting. True? Wouldn’t you say that any claim that has this kind of self-refuting quality can be dismissed out of hand? Well, have a look at these Kantian concepts that divide the mind from the world and from knowledge of it. How could one prove such claims without assuming the opposite premise? How could one express anything about them using words, whether written or spoken? The answer is that you can’t.

By the way, I don’t accept the notion that there is some “higher” metaphysical realm. All there is is existence. There are no higher or lower realms. What would that even mean and if they were inaccessible how could you even know that they existed?

AM. I am sorry I must have misled you by not disclosing at first that my philosophical stand rests now on advaita Vedanta, even though I used metaphysical notions and terms that can be considered as being universal and underlying all religions. As a clue, I referred to metaphysics as a ‘vision’, and although the Indian tradition of advaita is far from being irrational (it is very rich in logical concepts and logical, psychological, and epistemological analyses, and claims to appeal to and be consistent with universal human experience) it is considered by many, mostly from India, to by a mystical or spiritual philosophy or view of life. In my opinion, calling it mystical is immaterial and probably misleading.

I said that objectivity does not exist because from the advaita perspective there is only one reality – Atman-Brahman – which can also be called pure Consciousness, objectless Consciousness, or be symbolized by other terms or images. I wouldn’t want to tire you but, if you are still reading, the ‘world’ or’ universe’ is ultimately not other than Atman-Brahman – the distinction or separation is only apparent. This understanding – which is beyond the ordinary mind, and is accessed by direct intuition (usually after long preparation and study)- is what ‘higher knowledge’ consists of. Since there is nothing other than consciousness, notions of objectivity, etc., do not apply: consciousness or awareness is conscious/ aware of itself, rather than being an object to itself.

If you are still with me, other than consciousness/awareness, everything else – as seen from the plane of separation or ordinary consciousness – are phenomena, apparently real. The world is deceptive (rather than being illusion or dream), but not completely unreal. This is the world of ordinary consciousness, where empirical notions, pairs of opposites, etc., apply, and whose reality is relative (phenomena are not nothing). Separation being only apparent, the individual human being (and everything else) is reality itself in essence – not other than the absolute, consciousness, etc., – since there is no other reality. Multiplicity is only apparent. Man= Atman-Brahman.

In the everyday world of transactional life (lower knowledge/ relative reality), all the distinctions we use are unavoidable (are what they are), such as subjectivity-objectivity, good-bad, etc. Our world is one of duality, unlike the higher vision or understanding, which is referred to as non-duality.

Finally, what in the end interested me of Kant is his unknowable thing-in-itself, or noumenon. Soon after him, Fichte identified it with Consciousness, but restricted it mostly to the moral will and realm. Sorry for this long excursus. I don’t think you will be interested in any of this, though. Kind greetings.


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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