Theory of knowledge

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Thu Sep 24 19:25:38 CDT 1998

On Thu, 24 Sep 1998, Guy Werlings wrote:

> I thought it was the privilege of the Indian philosophy, and
> particularly of SAmkhya, Yoga, but also VedAnta, to have clearly
> established a distinction between
> - svarUpa caitanya, consciousness as it is in itelf
> and
> - vRtti caitanya, empirical consciousness, subject-object.

You are right, although one should distinguish between the ontological and
epistemological aspects of this stand.

Ramanuja, for example, would accept that there is such a thing as svarUpa
caitanya or cin-mAtra, at an ontological level. However, at the
epistemological level, he would say that all knowledge, and therefore,
consciousness, involves a subject-object distinction. Therefore, he would
say that brahman is characterized by cit *and* acit, and is therefore not
just cin-mAtra. I'm sure Madhva would have his own opinion on this issue.

As for Advaita Vedanta, the starting point is by acknowledging Pure
Consciousness as the absolute. After establishing this through dialectic
arguments, the point is to know this in one's own experience, to reach the
absolute certitude about it. At this stage, one can only remain silent, so
that there is no answer to be given to those who cling to duality at an
experiential level.


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