Debate with a philosopher II

BY. That makes sense given some of your comments, but it does seem like a diversion from our commentary on Kant. So you also disagree with Kant’s views yourself (though for reasons quite different from mine apparently). Since we have already started down that diversion I do have a few comments on it though. The claims of this sort of Hindu philosophy seem to be rather Kant-like in the sense that it dispenses with any notion of or need for proof and instead just asserts things as somehow obvious or intuitive to people with special insights, or whatever. So for example when you say “Multiplicity is only apparent.” or “Everything is consciousness.” how do you know? What if you are wrong? How would you know?

Regarding the notion that the notions you are talking about underly all religions, I don’t think that is really true, but in any event, why aren’t you questioning whether religions are valid? I’m an atheist myself, so the idea that some idea might be essential to all religions is hardly a reason to accept it and probably more of a reason to reject it. So why should I believe any of this?

M. First, concerning Kant, the following has been said of him by an advaitist: “Vedanta can find nothing wrong in Kant’s views, and cordially endorses his conclusions, for they are her own… As it is, he regarded God, the soul and he world as but the three ideas of Reason, the laws of its operation and the pure forms of its existence… But these ideas are simply regulative… they are discursive not intuitive.”

Kant had the intuition of beauty and the sublime, as you know, as well as defending his belief in the existence of a personal, creator God. For advaita, God (Iswara) is, ontologically, one rung below the top, rather a concession to a multitude of men. He is also given responsibility for the functioning of the cosmos. You pointed at the similarity of Hindu philosophy to Kantian ideas, and, truly, what I just said about the cosmos and its laws seems the same as what I wrote in the above para. re Kant’s regulative ideas, except that in the case of advaita this can be said only of ‘God’ and His cosmic laws, not of the ‘soul’ or ‘apparent individual’, a body-mind complex seemingly. I had said previously that, in essence, the individual human being is Atman(-Brahman), aka Consciousness or Self. The world is just a play of forms – phenomena dancing about. There is no meaning to ‘creation’ or the world, which goes on endlessly.

Alright, all the above is doctrine. How do I know that it is true? All doctrine belongs to lower knowledge (vyavahara), including, of course, advaita doctrine (so it is said in the Upanishads – ‘the end of the Vedas’). ‘Intellectual understanding’ is not difficult to grasp, and it may not need many years to be accomplished.



Higher knowledge (paramartha) is something else. Do I have that kind of knowledge? The answer, really, is simple. If I think and feel that I am a separate body-mind, then ‘I’ have no real knowledge. There has to be an experience-based conviction -an intuition- that I am not such, that I am a ‘no-body’ (also a no-mind), and this is not mysticism per se. Given that understanding, there is no further search. Actually, the search or path leaves you, rather than you leaving the search or path. Nothing really has happened that is new. Or has it? For whom?

You can now see that ‘one’ can be an atheist and, at the same time, investigate the truth of advaita vedanta. Truth, finally, has to be experiential. But it is no-body’s experience. Vedanta teaches that there is a witness-consciousness behind every experience

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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