The divergence of disciplines and their utter failure to converge to a spire of wisdom from where man can contemplate the world, himself and the destiny of both, and the aggressive denial of all values by a reductionist scientism have contributed to the steady diminishment of man and brough him to the brink of annihilation in nuclear holocaust or ecological attrition. Formidable as the task is, if man and his values are to survive, there is no other option but to attempt a other option but to attempt a concept-by-concept reconstruction of the foundations of certitude, This is what Krishna Chaitanya has attempted in his pentalogy on the philosophy of freedom.
In The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom, he showed that self-determination is an intrinsic property of matter even at the paticle level, by revealing the implications of quantum physics. The Biology of Freedom revealed the enhancement of the capacity for self-determination. The Psychology of Freedom answered the creeds that deny the mind, or reduce it to a mechanism, or regard it as a mask worn by the irrational. The Sociology of Freedom examined the conditions for the fulfilment of freedom and the realization of values in group living.
And now, in Freedom and Transcendence. Krishna Chaitanya explores the intimations from the beginnings world, of history, which may be relevant for man's self-fulfilment in history. The threads of reconstructive reasoning from all the previous volumes are gathered up here to weave a net of meaning which can capture an insight that may yet redeem a fast disintegrating world.
Described by national periodicals as "one of the most original and stimulating minds writing in the subcontinent today" and as "our nearest approximation to the Renaissance man, versatile in interests and depth of learning" Krishna Chaitanya (b. 1918 in Kerala) is the author of over thirty books, the major categories being a ten volume history of world literature in English and several Indian languages; Sanskrit classics retold for children; and a five volume philosophy of freedom of which this is the concluding volume. In 1964 he was given a special award by the Kerala Sahitya Academy, and was invited as a "Critic of Ideas" by the Institute of International Education, New York, for a six month. His book got the Federation of Indian Publishers' Award for the best Children's book published during the International Year of the Child. As Vice-President, Chairman or member of functional committees, he has been associated with many organisations like the All India Five Arts and Crafts Society, the Camera Society of India, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, India International Centre, National Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Authors Guild of India. His philosophy of freedom has been compared by critics to the work of Thomas Aquinas, Herbert Spencer, Bergson, Teilhard de Chardin and Whitehead. For the final volume the present work, he was given a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship.
This is the final volume of the pentalogy on the philosophy of freedom which commenced with The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom.
For several centuries now, every discipline has been contributing to a steady 'diminishment of man', to borrow an apocalyptic idiom from Archibald Macleish. With a void as the hollow interiority of man, his skill in action in the world rapidly failed to conserve him and the world in health. It has become pointless and rather stupid to talk about the possible divinisation of man, for the more urgent problem is that of sheer survival. If we do not suffocate to death in polluted filth first, we can look forward to be incinerated alive in a nuclear holocaust. The arsenals of the world have enough nuclear armament to blow everyone off the earth twelve times over. As Simone Weil said, 'waiting for that which is to come is no longer a matter of hope, but of anguish.
But I have dared to hope with Mumford who wrote: 'From first to last, my own beliefs challenge those who think there is no turning back on the road that mankind in now travelling, no possibility of changing our minds or altering our course, no way of arresting or redirecting the forces that, if they are not subdued, will bring about the annihilation of man'. But, even for acquiring the right to hope, the blind logos of chance and necessity, which even Nobel Laureates in science have claimed to be ultimate truth of existence, had to be replaced by one which would support our aspirations towards the fullest realisation of freedom and dignity.
Conclusions he derives from it. The reader may now be willing to tolerate a reminiscence which, besides being a pleasant anecdote, is relevant in this context. In 1973, the Physics Association of Roorkee University invited me to give two or three talk based on The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom and my further work. Two or three years later, I accidently found out that, since I did not have a doctorate in Physics, it had not been possible under the rules to meet the small expenses of my but trip to Roorkee and back to Delhi and of my three days' stay from official funds and the money had been raised by voluntary contribution from members of the Physics Association. Rather horrified, I offered to reimburse them and was promptly told not be absurd. This acceptance by technical people was a great encouragement right at the beginning of my venture and I remember it with warmer feelings that I do the munificent institutional assistance which I have received subsequently and which I shall 1 formally acknowledge before I conclude.
In The Biology of Freedom (Somaiya, 1975), cues from Sherrington, Weiss, Coghill and many others were integrated to show that the organism is not a eflex-puppet jerking to the push or pull of external stimulus as helplessly as matter in the Galilean-Newtonian conception suffered the push or pull of force. The organism was shown to be a sensory-motor decision system. The implications of the development of the neocortex of man for enhanced self-identity, deliberation and volitional initiative were analysed in detail.
The Psychology of Freedom (Somaiya, 1976) dealt with the stance of those who seek to reduce all human behaviour to the chemistry of the nervous system or to fixed action-patterns of instincts, of the behaviourists who altogether deny the mind and of the psychoanalysts who assert that the seemingly free and rational conscious is determined by the irrational unconscious. By integrating cues from the newer psychology of men like Maslow, Rogers, and Frankl validity was sought to be rewon for the consciousness, volition and values of man.
In The Sociology of Freedom (Manohar, 1978), the freedom and values in group living were analysed. The calamitous consequences of the economics of self-interest and the politics of pressure groups and power blocs were studied and a plea made for disarmament, decentralisation, technology on a human scale, ecologically harmonious living and humanistically reoriented education.
The story would not have been complete without examining whether man's freedom has a transcendent reach in any convincing sense. The reasons are several. For one thing, even in The Psychology of Freedom, the self-which lowers and raises threshold of attention to the signals or the senses, spans time in memory and anticipation, realises its volitions by elusive but effective integrations of the organismic system, rejects conditioning and embraces ideals-had indicated an unsuspected dimension. In The Sociology of Freedom it became clear that the ultimate solutions for every one of our maladies could come only from the integrity and deep interiority of each person. Traditional thought, both in the east and the west, had claimed a transcendental dimension for the person and this aspect could not be ignored. Finally, it was becoming increasingly clear that man has reached his sorry predicament today precisely because he had ignored his transcendent possibilities. The transcendent and the urgent have become one.
But new difficulties cropped up. When the fallacies of scientism-which claimed to be a philosophy of naturalism or a reading of nature but reduced the nature of man to that of a mechanism-had been countered, a doctrine of the absolute, or at least one prestigious version of transcendentalism, emerged as a formidable opposition. In distinguishing the categories of being and becoming, transcendence and immanence, eternity and the temporal order, stasis and process, changelessness and history, this reading had denied authenticity to the phenomenal, evolving world, its storms and stresses and challenges to self-affirmation. This is the problem, which is of ultimate concern, that is studied in this final volume.
Since reality is of one weave, the fabric of the final volume had to be woven with threads from all the previous volume had to be woven with threads from all the previous volumes. As it was not possible to repeat the detailed discussions, I have had to summarise them to render intelligible the points made in the new context which invariably have reference to the ontology and the telos of man. If the condensation is too terse, this earlier volumes can be looked up. The texture of the material has also changed in great measure. Since the final volume quests for the deepest intuitions of poetry and myth-not in the earlier volumes which hugged the empirical sciences closely-have been tapped. But an effort has been made to substantiate their validity in terms of the accumulated knowledge of various disciplines.
In the summer of 1978, while I was seeing The Sociology of Freedom through the press, I was pleasantly surprised to receive the offer of a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship from the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship from the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund. I availed of the Fellowship from July 1980 to work on the last volume. The publishing scene being what it is in this country, I have had to work to raise money to be able to afford to write books. Typing notes itself was torture for one who has been too lazy to learn it the proper way and typing the final script oneself was unthinkable. When accepting the Fellowship I had told the Fund that while ordinarily the work would take about six years or more, its assistance would cut short the time, though it was not possible to finish it within the Fellow-ship period of two years. The Fellowship was a great help and I have pleasure in recording my gratitude to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
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