Unreality of the world: a further analogy

Allan Curry un824 at FREENET.VICTORIA.BC.CA
Wed Jun 18 17:22:48 CDT 1997

Vidyasankar writes:

>............................The very terminology used here assumes
>that there is an inside and an outside as far as perception is concerned.
>The senses are also said to "go out" to the object, as a result of which
>the antahkaraNa (internal organ) gets modified (pratyaya or vRtti), and
>takes on the form of the object. This form is then communicated by the
>antahkaraNa to the Atman in the waking state.

>The entire analysis tacitly accepts the existence of extra-mental sources
>of data, which feed the antahkaraNa. No doubt the perception of the object
>is ultimately decided by the form that the antahkaraNa takes, and there is
>a subjective element involved in this perception. Still, if there were no
>external objects at all (in the waking state only), the antahkaraNa
>would have nothing to "go out" to, consequently there would be no
>perception of anything at all.


Very good, I have no argument with any of the above. I agree with it
except possibly for the notion of the senses "going out" to objects.
I'd say the objects come to the senses by means of assorted mechanical
forces, but this may be just a different way of phrasing the same thing.

What is important is there actually is some kind of world "out there"
and you say Advaita acknowledges it in some way shape or form as being
necessary to explain the way things are.

>Now, the preliminary aim of SankarAcArya and other advaitins is not so
>much to affirm or deny the existence of external objects, as to direct the
>student's enquiry towards an analysis of the "I"ness that underlies all
>perception, through AtmavicAra. And after the identity of Atman with
>Brahman is taught, what is then said about external objects is not simply
>"nothing exists;" what is said is "nothing exists independent of

The world as it appears to us is obviously not independent of Atman if
Atman is what we want to call awareness. To assume that the world is also
something "in-itself" (to use Kant's terminology) apart from our
awareness/perception of it seems to be a reasonable belief given the above
discussion of the Advaitin theory of perception. We can perhaps experience
ourselves as being boundless awareness, but how can we know that the
world-in-itself (independent of our body/mind's interaction with it) is
identical to our self (ie. boundless awareness)? Neither our selves nor the
things of the outside world (as they are in-themselves) can be known by us
as objects.  All indiscernibles may seem like one to us and yet not be in
themselves. How could we know whether these two indiscernibles are one or
two when neither can be discerned as an object?

all the best,

        -Allan Curry

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