[Advaita-l] Reconciling current research with Advaitic theory of mind

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Thu Feb 22 15:21:00 CST 2007

Sri Shyam wrote:

>   Science by its very definition has to be objective
> - it has to rely on an objective process - it has to
> formulate theories and these need to get proven or
> disproven and this is the way it prgogresses or
> proceeds - all this involves working in a
> subject-object construct. Science can never claim
> absolute knowledge of anything. It by default can
> never have the "last word". One Nobel laureate
> mathematician once said in an interview "No one can
> never prove anything;one can only put up hypothesis
> which as yet cannot be disproven" - this is the
> so-called scientific method.

It will be fallacious to conclude that since science
cannot claim absolute knowledge of anything, its
hypothesis on consciousness can simply be brushed
aside. We don't need absolute knowledge of almost
anything to live our life. A 'reasonable' knowledge
should suffice this purpose, for which science has
proved its competency.

That said, modern philosophy admits the concept of
'cognitive closure'. It can be explained through an
example. A dog can be taught to pick morning news
paper from the door and bring it to you. Some smarter
dogs can be taught some still more complex things.
However, can even the smartest dog in the world be
taught relativity theory? While no body has actually
tried it, an ituitive answer is: no. Why? The answer
is that there is a physical limit to the thinking
power of an organism's brain, beyond which it suffers
a 'cognitive closure'. We need not actually go out to
determine the 'cognitive closure' limit of a species
as long as we admit that it does exist. Every species
in nature has a limit to its thinking power and
suffers from a 'cognitive closure' specific to that
species that even the smartest speciment of the
species cannot cross. It is too presumptuous to think
that no such limit exists for us.

Mc Ginn has postulated that 'cognitive closure' of
homo sapiens is determined by CALM (Combinatorial
Atomism through Law like Mapping). Simply put it means
that human mind can understand things which can be
reduced to simpler things and follow definite rules.
However, faced with irreducible complexity human
beings suffer a 'cognitive closure' beyond which human
mind cannot penetrate. As far as the phenomena of
consciuosness can be reduced to some simpler entity -
say activity inside neurons, it is within the ambit of
human effort. However, there is a limit where we reach
irreducible complexity i.e. either it is there or it
is not; with no bridge in between. It is at this point
that we may never be able to solve the mystery.

With regards,
Ram Garib

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