Idealism is a dominating philosophical approach to Reality. Beginning with the Vedic seers, Chinese thinkers and Greek scholars, the trend of absolutistic idealism has continued till the present day and will tend to attract the cultured people all over the world as long as man cherishes higher spiritual values. Acarya Sankara and Francis Herbert Bradley are the two of the most outstanding figures in the history of absolute idealism in the East and the West. Both of them, although belonging to the generations eleven hundred years apart and at a distance of several thousand miles, agree on several points inspite of their specific disagreements.
The present work is an attempt to compare the two exponents of idealism in the East and the West, with special reference to their treatment of appearances (mayor). Both philosophers treat this world as appearance and not as reality; and for them appearances are grounded in reality, since there cann't be any other ground for them. Appearances are appearances of Reality.
It has also been found here that the two idealists differ considerably in so far as their views about the ultimate goal of philosophy are concerned. For Sankara the ultimate concern of man is self-realisation by eradicating avidya (ignorance) but Bradley is nowhere concerned with the problem of realisation of the Self or the Absolute. Hence he could not suggest a way out of the dilemma posed by the limitations of human thought.
This work was submitted to the Banaras Hindu University for the Ph. D. degree in philosophy & religion in 1966 under the supervision of Professor N. K. Devaraja and the doctorate was awarded in the following year.
Idealism is one of the most dominating philosophical approaches to Reality. Beginnig with the Vedic seers. Chinese thinkers and Greek scholars, the absolutistic tendency has continued till the present day and will tend to attract the cultural people all over as long as man cherishes higher spiritual values. In fact we find a growing concern for absolute idealism in the minds of the East and the West. Whether it is Hajime Nakamura of Japan or G.M.C. Sprung of Canada, or T.R.V. Murti of India or Charles Hartshorne of the United States. we find in them a serious attempt to struggle with genuine metaphysical problems.
Acarya Sankara and Francis Herbert Bradley the two of the most outstanding figures in the history of absolute idealism in the East and the West. Both of them, although belonging to the generations eleven hundred years appart and at a distance of several thousand miles, agree on many points of their specific disagreements.
The present work is an humble attempt to compare the two representatives of idealism in the East and the West, with special reference to their treatment of appearances (maya). Both the philosophers treat this world to be an appearance and not reality. But for both of them appearances are grounded in reality. That the doctrine of Maya is one of the most important contributions of Sankara has been noted. By introducing this concept he lends unity and added significance to the utterances of the upanisads. But his criticism of Vijnanavada Buddhism allows one to call him a realist of higher level. Bradley, on his part, declares everything unsatisfying to reason to be appearance. But he treats all the appearances to be, somehow, part of the real. He departs from the traditional rationalist of Europe in attaching importance to immediate experience.
It has been specifically noted in the work that Sankara and Bradley differ considerably so far as their views regarding the ultimate goal of philosophy is concerned. For Sankara the ultimate concern of man is Self-realisation by eradicating avidya (ignorance). But Bradley is nowhere concerned with the problem of realisation of the Self or the Absolute. Hence he could not suggest a way out of the dilemma posed by the limitation of human thought.
As we know, Comparative Philosophy is one distinct contribution of Indian philosophy to contemporary global thinking. Various philosophers of the East have been compared, and contrasted, with their counter-parts in the West. Sankara himself has been compared with almost all the great idealistic thinkers of the world. But to compare him with Bradley is more significant because among the Western thinkers he comes nearest to this Advaita Vedantin. Therefore Sankara and Bradley have been favourites of the comparativists ' in philosophy. A few instanees of such comparisons are noted below.
Dr. S. N. L. Shrivastava (1908-76) had worked for the D.Litt. degree at Allahabad on gardkara and Bradley under the guidance of Prof. A. C. Mukerjee. The degree was awarded to him in 1951 and the work was published in 1968 from Delhi with the title Sankara and Bradley. It deals with various aspects of absolutism in the two philosophers. The typed script of this work was shown to me by the author just before the completion of mine at Varanasi in 1966. The work of Dr. Ganeswar Misra (1917-85) entitled Sources of Monism—Bradley and Shankara originally submitted for the doctoral degree in the University of London in 1955 (under the supervision of Prof. A. J. Ayer), was published posthumously in 1986 (from Meerut). In tune with the approach of Logical Positivism Dr. Misra maintains that the metaphysical conclusions of both the philosophers arc rooted in their theories of meaning and analysis of the logical structure of statements. This leads to their search for reality as subject.
There might be several unpublished works on the theme. I know at least one such work by Km. Sadhana Mukherjee, my class-mate in the Banaras Hindu University at Post-graduate level. Her research work entitled 'Absolute and God in Bradley and Sankara' earned the Ph.D. degree in 1971, under the supervision of Dr. R. K. Tripathi.
Of course, we know of several notable reasearches done in-dependently either on Sankara or on Bradley. On Sankara particularly, numerous researches have been done in recent years in India anti abroad. Special mention may be made here of the work Theological Method of Sankara by Fr. R. de Smet (b. 1916) of Pune. The Sanskrit film 'Adi Sankara' (recentiy teslecasted on the national network) is indicative of the prevailing popularity of the advaitic thinker.
On Bradley also a couple of publications deserve our attention. The book of Richard Wollheim (b. 1923) on Bradley (published in Penguin series in 1959) is widely acclaimed comprehensive acclaimed as a comprehensive treatment of Bradley's philosophy. For Wollheim, and for many others, Bradley is the greatest of the British idealists. He shows that Bradley’s works are rooted in the empiricism he criticized. In the ‘Editorial Foreword’ to this Professor A.J. Ayer has noted that ‘Bradley was the most influential representative of the Anglo-Hegelian school which came near to dominating British Philosophy in the latter part of the nineteenth century."
The doctoral dissertation of T.S. Eliot (188-1965) on the theme ‘Experience and the Object of Knowledge in the philosophy of F.H. Bradley’ submitted to the Harvard University in 1916, under the guidance of Prof. Harold Joachim (the closet disciple of Bradley), although approved but on which the degree could not be warded as the candidate could not go across the atlatic for defending the same, was published in 1964 (by feber & Feber, London) with the title Knowledge and Experience. In this work Eliot considers the Degrees of Truth and Reality and the Internality of Relations to be the most important doctrines of the British idealist.
Dr. Shushil Kumar Saxena (b. 1921) worked for the Ph.D. degree on the metaphysics of Bradley in the University of Delhi under the supervision of Prof. N.V. Banerjee. The work, on which
the doctoral degree was awarded in 1964, was published in 1967 with the title Studies in the Metaphysics of Bradley (pub. Allen & Unwin, London). I could not come across these books when I was doing research on Sankara and Bradley in the early sixtees. I could not get sufficient time to reflect on them even later. Perhaps it would be possible for me to incorporate some of the findings of the above scholars, and of others whose works might be published in the coming years, in the revised version of the present work.
I take the opportunity to express my gratitude to Dr. N. K. Devaraja (b. 1917) of Lucknow, retired Professor of Philosophy in the Hindu University, for his guidance as the supervisor of this research work. For the Research Fellowship, which enabled me to complete the work without financial strains, I am thankful to the University Grants Commission, New Delhi. The Dept. of Religious Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton (Canada) provided funds and granted leave to come across the Atlantic during the summer of 1967 for the viva-voce leading to the doctorate. I am thankful to the Chairman and the teachers of that Department. To the authorities of the Banaras Hindu University also I record my obli-gation for their permission to publish the research work. Further, I offer sincere gratitude to Vedavati, who is no more in this world, for her constant support during the period the work was being completed. Shri Kishore Chand Jain and his able sons have been like my own family members. I owe hearty thanks to them and to their publishing agency. May 11, 1987. Jabalpur
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