[Advaita-l] logic and shastra

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 15 13:20:35 CDT 2005

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--- Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com> wrote:

> Pranams:
>  Welcome back. Hope you had a good vacation!
>  >> The beauty of science comes from believing with closed
> eyes that 
> electrons
> >> revolve around the nucleus, etc, and that can't really be
> pratyaksha too! 
> :)
>  But it can be anumana!

It's not easy to categorize all science as pratyaksha and
anumAna (experience plus inference). Modern science involves a
lot of hypothesis testing, whereby a hypothesis is first
proposed as a possible candidate for a theory, and the
hypothesis is tested by means of experimentation. If a certain
number of experiments are in line with the hypothesis, then by
general consensus, the hypothesis is taken as a theory.

The problem with science is that some theories that were
considered to be 100% certain have had pitiful failures. For
example, in the 19th century, Newton's laws were considered to
be the final word in Mechanics, as all observations could be
explained by his theories. But at the turn of the 20th century,
dozens of experiments turned up to prove Newton's laws invalid
for various reasons. And today, we have Feynman saying that,
"Newton's laws are false". What was thought to be absolutely
true in science is now known to be false!

In Modern Physics, both Quantum Mechanics (QM) and General
Relativity (GR) have been tested to very high degrees of
accuracy (7 or more decimal places), so the experimental data
confirms both the theories. But the two are known to be
incompatible, or at the very least, the limits of the theories
are unknown. One can claim that both the theories are logical,
but at most one theory can be right (or both can be wrong).

Besides, QM has its own philosophical problems, which prompted
Feynman to boldly assert, "I think I can safely say that nobody
understands Quantum Mechanics." This is why we have so many
people claiming to solve the riddles of QM, including the likes
of Capra and Goswami. I personally think that the ideas of Capra
and Goswami are a stretch of the imagination, but there is no
reason why they are incorrect.

Besides, most of what goes in the name of "Medical Science",
Thermodynamics or even Chemistry, owes much to Statistics and
Probability, which means that they are truths that hold in a
large number of circumstances, but are not certain.

Given that there are so many problems in modern science, to
claim that science has achieved objective knowledge cannot pass
without a strong (and inconclusive) debate. One such book in
this regard is "Farewell to Reason" by Paul Feyerabend.

>  >> I forget the name of the scientist who said something to
> the effect that
> >> "whats proven in a lab is no proof at all".
>  But at least is can't be shown wrong (till a newer truth
> comes along) by 
> means of knowledge that we have have currently..

You are using the word "truth" in a very loose way. Is QM true?
Is GR true? Is it true that water is simply H2O? None of these
things are so simple as you imagine them to be.


"As they say in Silicon Valley, where I live, if you haven't failed 
recently, you're not trying hard enough." -Keith Devlin

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