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Concepts of Knowledge: East And West
Concepts of Knowledge: East And West
Description
Foreword

It may not be possible to state Swami Vivekananda ‘s concept of knowledge in terms of Western epistemology. Since the first use of the word ‘epistemology’ by J. F. Ferrier in his Institutes of Metaphysics (1854) all discussions on the theory of knowledge have dealt with knowledge in relation to metaphysics, logic and psychology. And such discussions have been very largely influenced by the epistemology of Kant. Actually the expression ‘theory of knowledge’ is an English equivalent of the German word erkennistheorie used by the German Kantian K. L. Reinhold in a German work on the subject published in 179. Since then Western epistemology has been dominated by the Kantian view that the theory of knowledge must precede the theory of Being or Reality. Swami Vivekananda knew this and yet he never made that theory a major philosophical concern. In Indian philosophy knowledge is vital as it is the means of salvation and therefore its nature hash to be understood. But the Indian mind is more concerned with ignorance which has to be dispelled and it was believed that when ignorance is dispelled knowledge will dawn upon a pure soul. Although there was a strong philosophical tradition concerned with questions of perception, inference, and testimony as instruments of knowledge, Vivekananda gave his mind to the moral side of the pursuit of knowledge as a means of moksa or release.

Still Vivekananda did have a theory of knowledge and in presenting it he firmly rejected the Kantian idea of reason as its only source. Kant says that the thing-in-itself is unknown and unknowable. Vivekananda affirms that Kant says this because he thinks reason is the only instrument of knowledge. While speaking on man’s quest for the Absolute in his Raja- Yoga Vivekananda says: ‘Kant has proved beyond all doubt that we cannot penetrate the tremendous dead wall called reason. But that is the very first idea upon which all Indian thought takes its stand, and dares to seek, and succeeds in finding, something higher than reason.’ Swami Vivekananda’s epistemology is based on this idea of a state of the mind which transcends reason.

In an address delivered in New York in 1896 Vivekananda says: ‘(religion) is beyond all reasoning and is not on the plane of intellect.’ What then is the source of the highest knowledge? In his Bhakti- Yoga Vivekananda speaks of a state of the mind which is ‘beyond the hazy and turbulent regions of reason.’ In his address ‘The Ideal of a Universal Religion’ Vivekananda says : ‘Logic becomes argument in a circle.... There must be some other instrument to take us beyond, and that instrument is called inspiration. So instinct, reason and inspiration are. the three instruments of knowledge.’

Vivekananda does not reject reason as an instrument of the kind of knowledge we see in science, etc. But he says that reason cannot give us the highest knowledge which is not really an acquisition but a realization. Moreover as a believer in science and as a rationalist he says in the same address that ‘one instrument is a development of the other and therefore does not contradict it. it is reason that develops into inspiration and therefore it does not contradict reason, but fulfils it.’ This comprehensive theory of knowledge makes room for the operation of those faculties of the mind which give us our common knowledge and the highest achievements of science. Actually Vivekananda calls religion itself a science. In his essay, ‘Sankhya and Vedanta’ Vivekananda says that knowledge itself is Vijnana, neither intuition, nor reason, nor instinct. The nearest expression for it is all-knowingness. This Vijnana or all knowingness is something that reason cannot give. For reason, he adds, is really stored up and classified perception, preserved by memory. We can never imagine or reason beyond sense-perception. The experience of Reality is not a sensory experience. It is something that transcends our life of the senses.

 

Contents

 

Publisher's Note III
Foreword: Swami Vivekananda's Concept of Knowledge VII
The Epistemological Point of View of Bhartrhari 1
Cultural Presuppositions as Determinanta in Experience: A Comparison of Some Basic Indian and Westren Concepts 20
An Epistemological Study of Mysticism in Christianity and Hinduism 43
Ramanuja's Concept of Knowledge 66
Some Remarks on the Definition of Knowledge 74
The Use of the Word Prama: Valid Congnition in Advaita Vedanta 83
Theories of Error In Indian Philosophy or Five Types of Khyati 93
Valid Cognition (Prama) and theTruth (Satyata) of its Objects 107
The Concept of 'Realization' Re-examined 119
Classical Yoga Philosophy and some Issues in the Philosophy of Mind 132
Epistemology from a Relativistic Point of View 152
Epistemology and Understanding of Language 171
Confucian Knowledge: Commensurability and Alterity 201
Knowledge and Ignorance 212
Truth Vs. Workability Rehashed 223
Knowledge, Truth and Scepticism 234
Knowledge: Some Contemporary Problems and their Solutions from the Nyaya Perspective 244
Madhyamaka on Naturalized Epistemology 262
What Limits to Thought, Inquiry and Philosophy? 277
The Action of the Subject towards the Outer World in Indian Realism 310
Patanjali's Classical Yoga: An Epistemological Emphasis 322

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Concepts of Knowledge: East And West

Item Code:
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2007
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English
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348
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Foreword

It may not be possible to state Swami Vivekananda ‘s concept of knowledge in terms of Western epistemology. Since the first use of the word ‘epistemology’ by J. F. Ferrier in his Institutes of Metaphysics (1854) all discussions on the theory of knowledge have dealt with knowledge in relation to metaphysics, logic and psychology. And such discussions have been very largely influenced by the epistemology of Kant. Actually the expression ‘theory of knowledge’ is an English equivalent of the German word erkennistheorie used by the German Kantian K. L. Reinhold in a German work on the subject published in 179. Since then Western epistemology has been dominated by the Kantian view that the theory of knowledge must precede the theory of Being or Reality. Swami Vivekananda knew this and yet he never made that theory a major philosophical concern. In Indian philosophy knowledge is vital as it is the means of salvation and therefore its nature hash to be understood. But the Indian mind is more concerned with ignorance which has to be dispelled and it was believed that when ignorance is dispelled knowledge will dawn upon a pure soul. Although there was a strong philosophical tradition concerned with questions of perception, inference, and testimony as instruments of knowledge, Vivekananda gave his mind to the moral side of the pursuit of knowledge as a means of moksa or release.

Still Vivekananda did have a theory of knowledge and in presenting it he firmly rejected the Kantian idea of reason as its only source. Kant says that the thing-in-itself is unknown and unknowable. Vivekananda affirms that Kant says this because he thinks reason is the only instrument of knowledge. While speaking on man’s quest for the Absolute in his Raja- Yoga Vivekananda says: ‘Kant has proved beyond all doubt that we cannot penetrate the tremendous dead wall called reason. But that is the very first idea upon which all Indian thought takes its stand, and dares to seek, and succeeds in finding, something higher than reason.’ Swami Vivekananda’s epistemology is based on this idea of a state of the mind which transcends reason.

In an address delivered in New York in 1896 Vivekananda says: ‘(religion) is beyond all reasoning and is not on the plane of intellect.’ What then is the source of the highest knowledge? In his Bhakti- Yoga Vivekananda speaks of a state of the mind which is ‘beyond the hazy and turbulent regions of reason.’ In his address ‘The Ideal of a Universal Religion’ Vivekananda says : ‘Logic becomes argument in a circle.... There must be some other instrument to take us beyond, and that instrument is called inspiration. So instinct, reason and inspiration are. the three instruments of knowledge.’

Vivekananda does not reject reason as an instrument of the kind of knowledge we see in science, etc. But he says that reason cannot give us the highest knowledge which is not really an acquisition but a realization. Moreover as a believer in science and as a rationalist he says in the same address that ‘one instrument is a development of the other and therefore does not contradict it. it is reason that develops into inspiration and therefore it does not contradict reason, but fulfils it.’ This comprehensive theory of knowledge makes room for the operation of those faculties of the mind which give us our common knowledge and the highest achievements of science. Actually Vivekananda calls religion itself a science. In his essay, ‘Sankhya and Vedanta’ Vivekananda says that knowledge itself is Vijnana, neither intuition, nor reason, nor instinct. The nearest expression for it is all-knowingness. This Vijnana or all knowingness is something that reason cannot give. For reason, he adds, is really stored up and classified perception, preserved by memory. We can never imagine or reason beyond sense-perception. The experience of Reality is not a sensory experience. It is something that transcends our life of the senses.

 

Contents

 

Publisher's Note III
Foreword: Swami Vivekananda's Concept of Knowledge VII
The Epistemological Point of View of Bhartrhari 1
Cultural Presuppositions as Determinanta in Experience: A Comparison of Some Basic Indian and Westren Concepts 20
An Epistemological Study of Mysticism in Christianity and Hinduism 43
Ramanuja's Concept of Knowledge 66
Some Remarks on the Definition of Knowledge 74
The Use of the Word Prama: Valid Congnition in Advaita Vedanta 83
Theories of Error In Indian Philosophy or Five Types of Khyati 93
Valid Cognition (Prama) and theTruth (Satyata) of its Objects 107
The Concept of 'Realization' Re-examined 119
Classical Yoga Philosophy and some Issues in the Philosophy of Mind 132
Epistemology from a Relativistic Point of View 152
Epistemology and Understanding of Language 171
Confucian Knowledge: Commensurability and Alterity 201
Knowledge and Ignorance 212
Truth Vs. Workability Rehashed 223
Knowledge, Truth and Scepticism 234
Knowledge: Some Contemporary Problems and their Solutions from the Nyaya Perspective 244
Madhyamaka on Naturalized Epistemology 262
What Limits to Thought, Inquiry and Philosophy? 277
The Action of the Subject towards the Outer World in Indian Realism 310
Patanjali's Classical Yoga: An Epistemological Emphasis 322

Sample Pages

















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