(3) Syadvada (Theory of Relativity of Knowledge/Propositions)

Probability may be skepticism and Jainas are not skeptic, not agnosticism, not theory of speculative knowledge. Hence SYADVADA isn’t theory of probability. The word SYAD here is used in the context or sense of “relative” and the correct translation of Syadavada is Theory of Relativity.
Reality has infinite aspects, and with out limited perspective, we can only know some aspects, and from each relative point of view (Due to soul in bondage). Thus, every proposition is an incomplete yet definite picture of reality, and thus all our judgement are necessarily relative, limited and conditional. (Human knowledge is necessarily limited, conditional relative)
Hence, the Epistemological theory of Jaina Philosophy disallows categorical/absolute prediction.
As an example, Jainas cite the old story of six blind men and the elephant.
Everything exists from the point of view of its own substance. When we say “This table exists”, we cannot mean that this table exists absolutely and unconditionally. Our knowledge of the table is necessarily relative. The table exists in itself as an absolute real and infintely complex reality, only our knowledge of it is relative.
There are three forms of judgement (That we make)
  • Durniti (Bad Judgement) : It is taking a relative point of view or partial truth as the whole and complete truth. (Taking partial truth as permanent truth)
  • Naya (Judgement) : It is taking a statement as it is, without labelling a condition of partial or absolute.
  • Pramana (Valid Judgement) : By prefixing “Syat”, before a Nyaya, we acknowledge that every judgement can only be partial or relative, and thus gain knowledge in its correct form.
So, every nyaya in order to become pramana or valid knowledge, must be qualified by SYAT.

Justifications of Syadvada : Jiva, due to beginningless ignorance, lose faith in Teerthankaras and hence fall in the trap of Kasaya (Passions), attracts Karmic particles. These Karma causes hindrance in attaining knowledge. Thus, all we know as relative, conditional.
  • To make our ideas errorless and authentic.
  • To promote religious tolerance and harmony
  • It provides a valid middle path between Buddha’s theory of momentariness(Ksanivada) and Sankara’s theory of eternity (nityavada), by accepting and harmonizing both.
  • Opens a liberal Path
  • Support religious pluralism, hence multi-culturalism.
Criticism :
a) Buddhist and Vedatins have called that Syadvada is Self Contradictory (same thing has been defined as being real and unreal i.e Syat asati nasati) : Jainas defend themselves as they consider it to be different points of views. Hence this criticism is wrong and countered.
b) Vedatins have criticized that Syadavada as a doctrine of probability or speculator. But it is not so, as it is a theory of relativity of knowledge (syadvada). All judgements are relative and conditional.
c) Sankara :
  • Without an absolute, the theory of relativity cannot logically sustained. The absolute presupposes the existence of Relative. Ultimately all is manifested in the Absolute itself. Other school accepts the logic that we have partial, limited, relative knowledge, but for considering something to be RELATIVE, we need to compare it with something ABSOLUTE.
Because without the relative, the absolute can exist, but if the absolute is discarded, the relative is also lost. Hence, the absolute and relative are not equally valid or true. The Jainas forget that organic synthesis and not arithmetic addition leads us to reality. (Admission of Kevaljnana, which is called pure, perfect and intuitive knowledge. This is an admission of absolute knowledge. Thus, Syadvada is not a completely consistent theory)
Jainism is Biased against Absolutism
  • If all truths are only partial, Syadavada also is only partially true and hence incomplete. But since they consider their metaphysics of Anekantavada as the only absolute to reach to Kevaljnana i.e they are the only one teaching the whole truth. They themselves are considering a HALF HEARTED ABSOLUTISM and hence become inconsistence.
d) In Saptabhanginyaya or seven fold judgement of Syadvada, the last three are just recombination of what comes in the first four points. Last three points are superfluous and redundant.

(2) Dravya (Substance)

That thing which possesses the characters (positive and negative) is Dravya. There are two kinds of characters found in every substance : essential and accidental. Essential ones or Gunas are attribues/qualities which have permanent essence while accidental substances are Modes which are Prayaya which are changing.
A substance or Dravya can thus be defined as something which possesses both attributes and modes or Gunas and Prayayas.
The Jainas view both change and permanence as Real. Every substance has combination of essential qualities called attributes and accidental qualities called Modes. In so far as substance has attributes, it is permanent and from its modes perspective it undergoes origin and decay.
Thus, to emphasise only on one aspect (ekanta) to the exclusion of other aspects would lead to commitment of Fallacy of Ekantavada. Both Buddhism which talks about Ksankivada and Vedatins which talk about Nityavad (change being absolutely unchanging) fall to this fallacy of Ekantavada.
Thus, both Vedantins and Buddhists commit the fallacy of Ekantavad (Leading to exclusive predication). As Jainism takes into account all partial views, their philosophical doctrine is Anekantavad. Change and Permanence both are real. The contradiction vanishes when we remember that any predication is relative and conditional.
Classification of Substance 
Substance are broadly classified into extended and non-extended substance. There is only one substance namely time which is devoid of extension. All other substances posses extension. They are called by the name Astikaya (which possess extension) and the one (Time) which doesn’t possess extension is Anastikaya.
Substances possessing extension (Astikaya) are subdivided into two kinds namely, the living (Jiva) and the non-living (Ajiva).
Souls/Jiva can again be classified into those that are emancipated and those that are in bondage. The souls in bondage are again of two kinds : those that are capable of movement and those that are immobile.
  • Examples of immobile living substances/astikaya jivas : earth, water, fire, air and plants. (They have only sense of touch)


  • The mobile living substances/astikaya jivas have different degress of perfection and variously possess two, three, four or five senses. Example : beasts, birds and men.
Non-living substance or Astikaya Ajiva possess extension which are Pudgala, Akasha, Dharma, Adharma.
  • Dharma and Adharma are the forces that cause movement and rest respectively.
  • Space or Akasha : The function of this Space is to accomodate all the Extended (astikaya) substances. It consists of Loka and Aloka. (Essentially different from that used in other schools of Philosophy)
  • Matter or Pudgal : It is an Astikaya Ajiva (has extension but is non living). Something which is liable of integration or disintegration (Just like the matter of Charavaka). While Jainas use it to define matter, Buddhists use it in the sense of a soul. Pudagala can further be subdivided into anu(atoms) which combine together to form compounds. Pudgala possess the four qualities of smell, taste, touch and color. Sound is not an original quality but a modification of air itself. (Along with light, heat, shape etc which are produced by accidental modifications/characteristics/prayayas of matter.) It is matter in subtle form, that constitutes Karma, infiltrates the soul, and binds it into Samsara.
Time : It is the only Anastikaya or Non extended substance. It doesn’t extend in space and is indivisible. It is not perceived, but inferred. They can be divided into real and empirical time.

Doctrine of Jiva
Jiva is conscious and Astikaya Dravya.
  • It is a conscious Pudgala.
  • Consciousness is the very essence of Jiva.
  • Like Monads of Leibnitz, Purush of Sankhya, Jivas of Jainism are qualitatively alike but quantitatively differ, i.e all are conscious but the degree of consciousness varies.
  • Their inherent nature is anantachatustaya, i.e Jiva has infinite knowledge, faith, bliss and power (F, K, B, P). It is Astikaya because it extends like Light but not like Matter (Astikaya Ajiva).
  • It is coextensive with body. (For Charavaka, so called “Soul” is nothing but consciousness in body)
Jainas give direct and indirect proofs for the existence of JIVA.
Proofs for existence of soul/Jiva :
  • Direct Proof : Through observation of its attributes/gunas (Consciousness) and modes/prayaya (happiness, sorrow, pain, pleasure etc.)
  • Indirect Proof : We can move own body at will, this proves there is a mover or soul, as matter is immobile by nature. Soul is fundamental truth that needs no proof.
Comparison :
  • N.V : Consciousness is accidental quality of soul (while for Jainas, consciousness is essential quality)
  • Shankara : Soul is Vibhu (all pervasive)
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of Jivas :
a) Those who are liberated or emancipated (Mukta)
b) Those who are bound (Baddha).
The souls in bondage are two, i.e those which are capable of moving or those which are immobile.
  • Examples of immobile living substances/astikaya jivas : earth, water, fire, air and plants. (They have only sense of touch)
  • The mobile living substances/astikaya jivas have different degress of perfection and variously possess two, three, four or five senses. Example : beasts, birds and men.
BONDAGE : In Jainas philosophy, bondage means union of Karma Pugala with Jiva. Due to beginningless ignorance, Jiva loses faith in Teerthankaras and becomes vulnerable to passion known as Kasaya which are sticky substance being four in number : ANGER, GREED, PRIDE & DELUSION.
These Kasaya attract the flow of Karmic Pudagala towards Jiva, this flow is Asrava.
  • Asrava is of 42 kinds.
  • Asrava maybe Bhavasrava i.e it refers to changes in Bhava before the entrance of Karma Pudgala. It is just like body massaged with oil.
  • Dravyaashrava i.e changes after the entrance of Karma Pudgala, i.e sticking of karma pudgala with Jiva.
Liberation is separation of Karmic Pudgala with Jiva.
By possessing and practicing Tri-ratna i.e RIGHT FAITH, RIGHT KNOWLEDGE AND RIGHT CONDUCT, the flow of KARMA pudgala is stopped and this is SAMVARA.
Then already existing Karmic Pudgala are eliminated or exhausted. This is NIRJARA.
When the last of last particle is exhausted, Jiva regains its true nature of Anantachatustaya i.e JIVA has infinite Knowledge, Faith, Bliss and Power . It attains MOKSHA or KEVALAYA.
Liberated soul transcends this SANSAR and goes straight into SIDHHA SHILA and dwells there in eternal knowledge and bliss.
TRI RATNAS or three JEWELS together form the path of liberation.

(1) Theory Of Reality (Metaphysics of Jainism)

The Jaina metaphysics is a realistic and relativistic pluralism. It is called Anektavad or The Doctrine of Manyness of Reality. Jaina holds that there are innumerable material atoms and innumerable individual souls (spirit or jiva) which are all separately and independently real. And each atom and each soul possesses innumerable aspects of its own.
Every object possesses innumerable positive and negative characters. It is not possible for ordinary people, to know all the qualities of a thing. An ordinary person can know only some qualities of something. Human Knowledge is necessarily relative and limited and so are all our judgments. This epistemological and logical theory of the Jainas is called SYADVADA.
As a matter of fact, both Anekantvada and Syadvada are the two aspects of the same teaching – realistic and relativistic pluralism.
So, Metaphysics = Anekantavada
      Epistemology = Syadvada
Arguments for ANEKANTAVADA :
a) There are innumerable material atoms and innumerable individual souls which are all separately and independently real, having innumerable aspects of its own.
b) Experience proves that there are actually innumerable objects in this universe.
c) We find different kinds of knowledge. It proves a thing has a number of aspects.
d) When we perform a research, new qualities is found in an object. Hence, objects have innumerable qualities.
e) Plurality of JIVAS also supports ANEKANTVADA.
f) Definition of SAT supports ANEKANTAVADA. Here SAT(real) is defined as that which possess the three characteristics of production, destruction and permanence.
g) SAPT-BHANGI-NYAYA also supports it : Same object can have seven types of judgments.
h) Relativity of Knowledge also supports Anekatvada.
i)  Presence of different philosophical views regarding the number and nature of ultimate reality supports anekantavada.

(2) Charvaka’s Metaphysics

Charavaka’s metaphysics evolves out of its epistemology, that what can be perceived alone is real.
Regarding perception, Matter alone can be perceived in this world, and thus Charavaka accepts matter alone can be perceived in different material elements (earth, air, fire, water) thus, Charvaka concludes that Reality (matter) is plural. Hence, there view is Pluralistic Materialism.
(Recollect Charvaka’s Philosophy is positivist, atheistic, materialistic, pluralist and believes in Naturalism)

Jagat Vichar/World (Svabhavada + Yaddrechavada)
Note that Charvaka accepts four elements : EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER . It doesn’t accept AKASHA as it cannot be perceived. So Charavaka believe that the world is composed of these four elements. Everything in the world, including mind or consciousness is composed of or is a combination of these four elements. These elements are eternal, while their combinations undergo production-dissolution.
While other philosophies accept GOD as an efficient cause or prime mover or sustainer of the world, Charvaka believe that these four elements combine with each other to produce the world and its effects out of its own nature. They don’t accept GOD or a transcendental entity to explain this world. Hence, their philosophy regarding world is called NATURALISM or SVABHAVAVAD, as elements combine to result in this world out of their own nature. Also, world is a result of accidental combination of four elements, hence they support accidentalism in opposition (SVABHAVAVAD also called YADRECCHAVAD or Mechanistic Development of the world)

Soul/Jiva/Atma : Dehatmavad (Not perceiving soul different from Body) + Bhuta chaitanyavad (By product of Matter)
Charvaka refutes the existence of eternal, unchangeable, unmoved soul, which is generally accepted as independent from the body. (However it is very different from Buddhist view, who accepts rebirth of soul, its Avidya resulting in 12-nidar and in Buddhist view, matter is only one of the five skandhas of soul, and consciousness is separate from Matter, along with feelings, perceptions and Dispositions)
  • They accept consciousness because it is “perceived internally”. Generally, soul is inferred.
  • Although Charavaka admits consciousness, they do not consider consciousness separate from matter. They deny a soul as a substratum of consciousness. Consciousness is also a result of matter and the so called soul is nothing but matter embed with consciousness.
  • Regarding origin of consciousness, they propound Bhuta-Chaitanya-Vad, according to which consciousness is only a by-product of matter. When all the four elements combine in some particular proportion, consciousness is produced. Consciousness is always associated with the body, and is destroyed when the body disintegrates.
  • Example : Just as a combination of Aneka Nut, betel and lime produces red color, a combination of four elements produce consciousness. Just as Molasses get fermented to produce intoxicants. (Chemical change)
Arguments in support of Dehatmavad :
  • As long as the body is alive, consciousness is associated with it. As soon as the body dies, consciousness also ends. This that consciousness is integral to body.
  • From common experience, we attribute self as the body, as in statements like “I am fat, I am tall” etc. This indicates that consciousness is associated with the body
  • We do not perceive a soul independent from body. Thus, it cannot be independent of body. Soul is nothing but body which has consciousness. (Dehatmavad)
  • Thus all concepts such as Law of Karma, Leaver and Hell, rebirth, liberation becomes meaningless in Charvaka philosophy which thus leads to Hedonism.
Criticism :
  • Geeta says that existence (bhava) cannot come from non-existence (abhava). Material objects are derived from eternal material elements, but consciousness is not a material substance.
  • Cannot be perceived like other material objects, hence cannot be a by product of matter.
  • No logic in saying it is “perceived internally” when it is considered by product of matter.
  • If existence of soul surviving death cannot be demonstrated, its non existence too cannot be demonstrated.
  • Charvaka infers the non-existence of soul from its non-perception, which is contradictory to Charvaka’s epistemology. Moreover, if Charavaka does not perceive a soul’s survival post death, its existence too cannot be demonstrated.
  • If consciousness is regarded as property of body, memory, recognition, synthetic unity of conscious states become impossible. Cannot explain dreamless sleeps, epilepsy

GOD (Positivism : Only accepting observable facts)
Going by Charavaka’s epistemology, GOD’s existence is not accepted as GOD is not perceived.
Charvaka’s argues that people accept GOD because of three facts :
  • As the creator of the world (No need, Svabhavavad – accidental mechanistic development)
  • As governor of Law of Karma
  • As intellectual regulator/Source of soul
Now, Charvaka lays the Theory of Svabhavavad for the creation of this world.
Moreover, on the argument of design, there can be no proof for any intelligent design. Charvaka counters teleology with Accidentalism for the way of the world.

According to Charavaka liberation cannot be the highest goal of our life. Liberation means complete freedom from sorrow and suffering. But complete cessation of pain can only occur at death. But death cannot be the aim of life, and hence liberation/death cannot be the goal of life.
Moreover, liberation is related to concept of liberation of soul which is separate from matter and body. Since Charavaka rejects this theory in favor of Dehatmavad  + Bhutachaitnyavad (Soul being a by product of body and not being separate from matter), he doesn’t consider liberation.
According to Charvaka, Kama or maximization of pleasure is the ultimate aim of life. Eat, drink and make merry because when the body is reduced to ashes, how can you return to the world?

Charavaka accepts entities only on the basis of perception. But uses inference to refute all metaphysical entities for there non existence (Like rejecting soul by inferring it’s not existence). Logically, they cannot be refuted on the basis of perception. Indian Philosophy prescribe a disciplined way of life and extol the value of faith in order to intuitively realize the metaphysical realities, but Charvaka would not accept discipline, morality and faith as they believe in “eat, drink and make merry”.
Hence its ethical philosophy is Individual Hedonism.
Out of the four Purusharthas, Kama (Pleasure) is the only possible good, the highest aim of life, while artha is a means to achieve/sustain it.
Heaven is a myth. Liberation is an impossible ideal. Liberation = cessation of sufferings, which is only at death and death = cannot be final aim of life. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, thus, pleasure ought to be maximized and pain avoided. Since there is no rebirth, everything ends with this life, and there is no ever lasting or higher purpose.

Charvaka has its own importance in the realm of Indian Philosophy.
Charvaka has saved Indian Philosophy from falling into the pitfalls of dogmatism. Many texts have Charvaka as Purvapaksa. Hence their argument developed by refuting Carvaka.
Charvaka’s way of enquiry is a free thinking approach, which refuses to accept traditional knowledge without doubt. Thus, Charavaka’s skepticism may have compelled other schools to provide sound arguments for their theories, rather than spreading on the basis of dogma. Indian system could then be enriched by the arguments of refutation to Charvaka’s philosophy by eminent philosophers.
Many contemporary western thinkers have opted for positivism(believing only in phenomena), atheism, in line with Charvaka philosophy. Moreover, Charavaka’s rejection of inference is in line with their rejection of validity of deductive logic (Logical Positivism, Hume)
Charavaka’s Philosophy may have motivated other schools to accept skepticism and doubt on different metaphysical question and thus eventually establish themselves in firm knowledge. Charvaka Philosophy is also demographically very popular in the world, hence called LOKAYATMATVAD.

Charavaka’s Ethics 
Gross Charvaka : Egoistic Hedonism
Refined Charvaka :  Hedonism + Secular Morality
Charavaka believes that pleasure is the highest aim of life and maximization of one’s own pleasure should be one’s main priority (Summum Bonum)
Law of Karma depends on immorality of soul, rebirth. However, Charvaka denies these concepts, regard soul as integral to body, by Dehatmavad, thus, denies/rejects GOD as moral governor. Pain is mixed with pleasure, but we should not reject pleasure as a result. This is like rejecting the grain because it is governed by HUSK.

By perception, according to Charvaka, we do find antecedence of one event and consequence as well, but invariable antecedence and unchangeable consequence are never perceived. These may be subject to change in space and time, i.e past, present, future and in different locations/circumstances.
Unlike Buddhist view, there is no invariable dependence of consequence on the antecedence, while unlike Orthodox schools, there is no invariable effect to every cause.
Repeated observation of one effect only produces an expectation in the mind in all circumstances but this is not reality. (This is similar to Hume’s theory of Impressions)

(1) Charvak’s Epistemology

Charavaka is also known as Lokayat, Nastik or Rationalist school of thought, also an Atheistic School. It is more of a philosophy of life rather than a Theory of Ultimate Reality. It is associated with men’s eternal urge for pleasure and there by established Hedonism.

Materialism : Matter is the only reality. According to Charavaka, there are four types of matter : Earth, Fire, Air and Water. Hence, it is a Pluralist School i.e having accepted above four realities as only and manifold realities. Consciousness and Body are byproducts of Matter.

Positivism : They believe only in positive facts, or observable phenomena. Hence, empiricists i.e believe only perceivable objects to be true.

The word Charvaka may means Materialist who believes only in eat, drink and making merry.

Charavaka Epistemology

The philosophy itself begins with its epistemology, and its epistemology is the cornerstone of Charvaka Philosophy, based on which the entire philosophy can be built. Charvaka was an empiricist and hence he only considered Perception as being a valid source of knowledge (praman). Out of the other four, he was vehemently against INFERENCE. According to him, inference is only a guesswork, sometimes true and sometimes false.

Positivist Epistemology : Believes only observable phenomena, hence perception or Pratyaksha is the only valid source of knowledge. All other Pramans are refuted on the basis of Pratyaksha alone. Perception is defined as power of perceiving through senses. When a sense organ comes into contact with any external object, perception takes place. Since there are five sense organs, namely eyes, nose, tongue, skin, ears, there are five types of perception based on each sense organ.

According to Charvaka, only perception gives us definite, non-erroneous, valid or undoubtable knowledge of reality. Charavaka doesn’t refute the other Pramanas, he rejects their validity.

Criticism : By means of perception as well, erroneous knowledge is possible. For example : Knowledge of snake in a rope. Thus, if Pramana is valid only because it gives undoubtable knowledge as propounded by Charvaka, even perception fails to be a valid Pramana.

Rejection of validity of other Pramans

a) Refutation of Inference/Anuman : Inference is accepted as a valid source of knowledge by all major Indian Schools of thought except Charvaka. It is also the means of Inductive and deductive logic in Western Philosophy.

Vyapti is considered as logical ground of inference, but Charavaka rejects it as baseless and claims that Vyapti can never be established.

Etymologically, inference or Anuman means after (ANU) + Knowledge (MAN)

In inference, we proceed from the perceived Hetu, to get the knowledge of the unperceived Sadhya (major term). This requires the existence of a concomitant, unusual, invariable, and unconditional relationship between the HETU and SADHYA called VYAPTI.

Thus, VYAPTI is the nerve or logical ground of inference.

The Charvaka challenges the validity of this VYAPTI to reject inference as a valid source of knowledge. Charvaka argues that Inference would be valid if vyapti can be established between HETU and SADHYA beyond doubt. However, he argues that this cannot be established, and thus inference becomes invalid.

Arguments against Vyapti : An example of VYAPTI would be “where there is smoke there is fire”

(i) By Inference : Hence, smoke becomes the HETU and fire becomes the SADHYA. According to Charvaka, this relation would be valid if for EVERY possible existence of smoke would be caused by a fire. But this invariable and concomitant vyapti cannot be established by inference, because doing so would result in the fallacy of petitio principi (Circular argument fallacy) and infinite regress, because the VYAPTI is need to prove the case in point would remain unproved. (To prove Vyapti, we need inference and vice versa)

(ii) Failure of Samanya Lakshan Pratyaksha (Fallacy of illicit Generalization) : The sphere of perception is limited. We cannot perceive all the cases of smoke and fire even at any present moment to establish a VYAPTI. Moreover, perception is confined to particular time and space, and cannot be extrapolated to the past, or future in order to use VYAPTI at all times. Perception, thus cannot provide us with a universal generalization. If we do so, we are resorting to the fallacy of illicit generalization. In such a case, inference would only be an uncertain leap from a known to unknown. Thus he rejects Nyaya’s view : Knowledge of VYAPTI is gained by means of SAMANYA LAKSHNA PRATYAKSHA.

(iii)Failure of Verbal Testimony/Shabdha : Charavaka first of all rejects VT itself from being a valid source of knowledge. Moroever, if vyapti would be proved on the basis of VT, then again it would lead to fallacy of petitio principii as VT’s validity too depends on Inference.

Thus, Charvaka concludes that since Vyapti cannot be proved by perception,inference and Verbal Testimony, inference cannot be valid. It remains mere guess work. It is based on psychological belief and not on logical laws. his is similar to Hume’s Laws of Association where he concludes that the cause-effect theory out of law of associations is not a rational necessity, rather a psychological one. It is only by accident that some events are validated by inference. Vyapti is contingent, not concomitant, universal or unconditional.

b) Rejection of VT by reliable person : VT of reliable person involves inference. We accept the VT of a reliable person because we consciously infer that his authority/knowledge is acceptable, or consciously generalize the validity of VT of reliable person based on his previous testimonies. Both involves inference which is unproved and would also lead to fallacy of petitio principi. Thus, a person’s authority cannot be proved or accepted.

Secondly, case in point, the Vedas, according to the Charvakas, are full of contradictions, meaningless and ambigious ideas. They are claimed to be written by a class of society for its own livelihood. However, this claim is self-contradictory, as the only manner it could be valid is if we accept validity of VT.

c) On the basis of uniformity of experience (As proposed by Nyaya-Vaisesika) : This is too rejected by by Charvaka

d) Cause and Effect Relation by N-V also rejected. (Charavaka, a hardcore empiricist doesn’t except anything without experience. How can he accept something he hasn’t experienced. Inherent nature of everything around might change in the future.) Causation itself is an kind of inference. To generalize that an “effect is preceded by a certain cause” is a generalized statement used as Vyapti. Thus, to argue the validity of Vyapti by using the Vyapti of causation and again vice-versa would again lead to fallacy of petitio principi. Moreover, causation itself is a result of fallacy of illicit generalization.

e) Refutation of Comparison (Upaman)

Upaman is regarded as a valid source of knowledge by Nyaya, Mimansa, Vedanta. Comparison is the knowledge of similarity between two objects.

According to Charvaka, we get knowledge of similarity by perception itself, thus there is no need to accept Upaman.

In another sense, it involves inference, when similarity between two objects is inferred. Since inference itself is invalid, Upaman by the means also becomes invalid.

Criticisms :

a) Jaina’s refutation of Charavaka’s rejection of Inference :
If Charvaka has to prove that Perception is the only valid source of knowledge, he has two options :
* Remain silent : This means there is no ground to accept argument
* Argue/Reason : But for reasoning, he has to take the help of
inference or VT! And this is contradictory. If Charavaka doesn’t accept inference, he can never participate in a discussion, as discussion requires inferring of other’s view point.
* If inference is invalid, by the reason that it may go wrong, then perception also cannot be a Pramana, as there is false perception (Snake in a rope) as well as hallucination.

b) Buddha’s refutation of Charvaka’s rejection of Inference :
* According to Sautrantika School of Buddhism, when an object is perceived by the senses, the mind recognizes the impression of the object already present in the consciousness, and through this impression the knowledge of the object is inferred (Same as Hume’s ideas and impressions). Thus, knowledge of external objects can be accepted only if inference is accepted.
* Buddhists again ask how Charavaka knows that his opponents admit the validity of inference? He cannot know by sense-perception what is going on in the minds of others, he will have to infer from the verbal statements of his opponents. Therefore, Charavaka must admit the validity of inference.

c) Nyaya’s refutation :
* There are several objects in this world which can’t be perceived but it is necessary to accept their existence like Ether, Manas, Space etc.
* In practical life, if we cannot accept inference, practical life would become difficult.

e) Kantian Logic of Refutation : By perception, we get body/matter of knowledge alone. Mere sensation cannot give knowledge unless the sense data is organized and reasoned upon. Thus, it is only through reason that we get form of knowledge, and thus perception alone is not a valid source of knowledge.

Conclusion : The Vedantins and Shunya-Vadins also reject inference but only at transcendental level, and not empirical level, because they refute the validity of all means of knowledge at the transcendental level. However, Charvaka rejects inference at empirical level itself and this rejection is self contradictory as to accept perception as valid source and reject inference is self contradiction.

Charavaka’s free thinking has helped other philosophy’s refine their argument and enriched the content of Indian Philosophy.



The concept of liberty occupies an important place in social political ideals. It has been a magic word in history, inspiring millions to revolt against absolute authority of any type, religious, social, political or economic. Where ever individuals suffer from injustice, they invoke the name of liberty. In this sense, history is a record of the unending struggle for liberty. The history of mankind reveals that liberty is the fundamental value that goes to make up the ethos of man and gives meaning and significance to human civilization. Human beings consider liberty necessary for the attainment of happiness and for the development of the diverse capacities of their personality.

“Liberty” and “Freedom” are terms which are generally used interchangeably. The idea of freedom presupposes absence of restraints. Freedom of choice and will implies a kind of freedom. It is the freedom to select one possibility among others. Generally, we talk of freedom of will in the moral realm. When we use the term freedom in the social or political context, it means the freedom to carry out what one has chosen to do. The restraint may be either due to the deliberate action of other persons or may be removable by the deliberate action of other person.

Development of the Concept of Liberty

Though Liberty and other Political ideals systematically developed in the modern age, ancient and medieval philosophers also talked about these ideals, though in different form.

For Greek statesman Pericles, freedom meant advancement and political activity for full citizens. For Greeks, liberty meant participation in the affairs of the state or society. However, Socrates and Plato did not accept the notion of individual liberty against the society or the state.

During the Medieval period, liberty was associated with the liberty of the soul and was deemed to lie in salvation. Christianity ruled out the question of liberty on this earth.

In modern age renaissance, reformation and industrial revolution brought the question of individual liberty at the forefront.

In its rising phase, liberty was highly individualistic. It was regarded as liberty “from the state”.

Later on in the nineteenth and twentieth century the concept of positive liberty is the form of “Liberty through the state” developed in the writings of Green, Laski, Barker etc. Marxists and Socialist thinkers developed their own notion of freedom “as creativity”. In this was liberty developed as a fully-fledged concept.

Meaning : The term liberty has meant different things to different philosophers.

At one stage of history, the thought concerning liberty looked as it as “absence of restraints” in the free competition of men involved in achieving “the other satisfactions of life”. In this context, liberty meant “an atmosphere where the law is silent and where state interference is the least”.

But soon this contradiction was removed and liberty was made to stand on a wider perspective. With the change in the circumstances, attention was drawn to the means which the state or the social institutions could provide and which were considered necessary for the attainment of liberty. This led to a comprehensive conception of the nature of liberty but still it could not get rid itself of the old conception completely. We refer to these two stages in the development of liberty as “negative” and “positive” liberty.

In the Marxist tradition, liberty was seen as conditioned by the structure of unequal relations in the capitalist society. Liberty for the Marxists therefore cannot be defined in the abstract but it has to be done only in relation to the prevalent social relations and the material conditions of production.

They define liberty as the “realization of creative potential of the individuals”.

Liberty and License

When liberty is interpreted as the absence or removal of all restraints on the actions of individuals in utter disregard of the interest of other individuals, liberty degenerates into license.

License means the abuse of freedom, it is the print at which freedom becomes excessive. Where as liberty is usually thought to be wholesome, desirable and morally corrupt.

Two aspects of Liberty :

a) Negative Liberty : The concept of Liberty as emerged from the theory and practice of early liberalism is known as Negative Liberty. This conception found classical expressions in the writings of John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer and J.S Mill.


* Negative Liberty believes that liberty is absence of restraints. Liberty implies that the individual has some assured private sphere, that there is some set of circumstances in his environment with which others cannot interfere. J.S Mill saw it as a “circle around every individual human being”, ” a space entrenched around”, “a reserved territory”.)
* State should be a limited state.
* Law and Liberty are contradictory.
* There is a distinction between Liberty and Conditions of Liberty.
* State should not intervene in the economy. Therefore they supported the policy of Laissez Faire.
* Liberty and Equality are contradictory. Criticism of the negative conception of liberty.

b) Positive Liberty : The positive conception of Liberty associates liberty with society, socio-economic conditions, rights, equality and justice. Laski, Barker, Rawls are the supporters of this notion of liberty. It is the “positive power” or “capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing/enjoying”.

According to Laski :

* Liberty is essential for man’s material and moral development. Like Justice and Equality, it is not an empty social idea floating in the air, but drives its specific content and meaning from a particular social and historical milieu in which it has to be understood. In the present context, it is not absence of restraints but a positive condition for free and full development of the individual in the society.
* All restraints are not evil. Positive liberty affirmed that restraints in some contexts are not antagonistic to liberty but its guarantee.
* Law and Liberty are complementary.
* The state is not an enemy of liberty but its best promoter. The duty of the state is not to leave the individual alone but, through positive action, create conditions and opportunities for the realization of liberty.
* Liberty and equality are complementary to each other.

Freedom cannot exist without conditions of freedom.

The difficulty with this argument is that it implies that someone else. (E.g The government knows better what is good for you. Therefore he (or it) should have the right to impose it on you in your own interest! This, it is argued can very easily lead to dictatorship and Fascism.

The Views of Macpherson

In the recent years Macpherson has presented a forceful case for positive liberty. He calls this “development liberty”. He says, “the division will be better marked if we change the name of positive liberty to developmental liberty”. Defining the concept he says, “positive liberty is liberty to act as a full human being”. A man’s positive liberty is virtually the same as what I have called a man’s power in the development sense.” Macpherson maintains the liberty means the capitalist mode of production, based on private property, should be replaced some other liberty of another individual. He says, “since each individual’s liberty must diminish or destroy the liberty of another individual, says that the only sensible way to measure individual liberty is to measure the aggregate net liberty of all the individuals in a given society.” So the measurement of liberty is the total liberty available to all the members of the society. Thus Macpherson gives importance to the social dimension of liberty.

The Main Points :

* Liberty is not the absence of restraints, rather it is the presence of those socio-economic and political conditions without which liberty cannot be realized.
* The object of liberty is the development of man as a social being.
* Without proper opportunities and social conditions liberty cannot be realized.
* Rights are necessary for liberty and are related to justice, morality and equality.
* The liberties of an individual must correspond with social welfare.
* The duty of the state is to create positive conditions for the realization of liberty and for this the state can limit the liberties of some individuals. However, the government must be a responsible government. The state is not viewed as an enemy of personal liberty.
* Liberty is a social requirement of social man and it is not given to asocial and anti-social beings.

Difference between Negative and Positive Liberty

a) Negative Liberty gives more weight to the personal aspect of man and regards liberty as inherent in the personality of an individual. The positive view of liberty looks at in the social context and maintains that it is based on the socio-economic and political conditions of society.

b) The negative view regard liberty as the absence of restraints, whereas the view of positive liberty emphasizes the positive conditions for the realization of liberty.

c) The negative view assumes that the State in an enemy of personal liberty, while the positive view assigns the responsibility of creating the positive conditions for the liberalization of liberty to the state.

d) The negative liberty emphasizes the personal and political aspects of liberty whereas and the positive view emphasizes the social and economic aspects of liberty.

e) The view of negative liberty does not associate it with rights, equality, morality and justice; the positive view regards liberty, equality and justice mutually related.

f) The view of negative liberty supports the negative state with minimum functions and the positive view supports the positive state with welfare functions.

g) The negative view is based on the market concept of society – that it is composed of atomized individuals having natural liberty. The positive view emphasizes the social aspect of man.

h) Liberalism supported negative liberty in its earlier phase while positive liberty has been supported mainly during the present century. Socialism also supports the positive view of liberty and maintains that only by the abolition of private property the necessary conditions for the realization of liberty can be established.
Kinds of Liberty :

a) Personal or Civil Liberty : Personal or civil liberty refers to a sphere of human actions in which the individuals are left to their own choice without being restrained by the state or other individuals or social groups. Generally they involve, freedom of thought and belief, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement freedom from social or physical coercion unless sanctioned by law, freedom of assembly, freedom to hold property and freedom to seek constitutional remedies in case any of the above freedom is violated.

b) Political Liberty : Political freedom involves freedom to participate in the political processes and in making political decisions. Modern democratic states seek to ensure political liberty of citizens by the following well known rights. It encompasses :

* Freedom to vote
* Freedom to stand for election
* Freedom to hold public offices
* Freedom to express views on all issues
* Freedom to seek accountability from the rulers

c) Economic Liberty : It is a freedom to pursue one’s livelihood and opportunity to obtain full value of one’s labor. In classical liberalism, economic liberty can be understood as freedom of trade and free market in which state doesn’t interfere.

New liberals however argue that mere freedom of trade deprives a vast number of people of their livelihood. For them, economic liberty means absence of constant fear of unemployment, presence of relative security of the terms and conditions of labor, adequate leisure right to arbitrate the conditions of employment, provision of public utilities etc.

d) National Liberty : Refers to the freedom of nations to determine their own internal and external affairs unrestrained by other states. This liberty confers on the people and the nations the right of self determination to seek their own distinctive identity and political independence.

Marxist view of Freedom : Marx states that the class character of the state in the capitalist society, reduces “freedom” to a class phenomenon. The Marxist interpretations regarding the real meaning and nature of liberty depend mainly on the nature and scope of economic liberty available in the pattern of social life. In the burgeois theory and practice, freedom is basically elitist and racist. Marx clearly mentioned that true freedom cannot be attained in a bourgeois society. Marx clearly mentioned that true freedom cannot be attained in a burgeois society. Bourgeios or capitalist society is characterized by the private ownership of means of production. It is a class divided society and in such a society freedom becomes the privilege of the capitalist class. All civil and political liberties are enjoyed by a particular class and majority of the society is deprived of these liberties. The Marxists argue that as long as the means of production remain in the hands of the capitalist class there can be no universalistic notion of freedom. The capitalist system of production is characteristized by constraint or necessity – a condition under which man’s life is governed by laws of nature that are independent of man’s will. So, only socialization of the means of production can help society to tide over this crisis, ushering in a new era of freedom.

The Marxist view of freedom is different from that of the liberal view. As Marx says, “man’s right to freedom is based not on association of man with man, but on the contrary, on the isolation of man from man. It is a right to this isolation, the right of the limited, secluded individual.”

The Marxist view emphasizes the need for creating new socio-economic conditions conducive to the enjoyment of freedom by all, as distinguished from the limited freedom of the propertied class in the capitalist society. So freedom cannot be secured by retaining the capitalist system even after necessary readjustments are made. True freedom can develop and grow only in a new socialist, classless society that would come into being after liquidation of the capitalist state.

J.S Mill : John Stuart Mill is one of the finest and the most moving essay on liberty. It makes an eloquent and powerful plea for liberty of thought and expression. It offers a defense not merely against the state interference but also against the pressures of the society, public opinion and religious orthodoxy on the affairs of the individual.

“Man is sovereign(Supreme) over his body(action), mind and soul(Speech and Thought)” – Mill

According to Mill liberty is the highest political ideal because the ultimate goal of human life is development of personality which is possible only in an atmosphere of liberty.

Mill defines liberty as non-interference of state and society in the thought process and personal action and rational interference of state and society in the thought process and personal action and rational interference in those actions which affect the society.

According to Mill there are two aspects of freedom :

* Freedom of thought, speech and expression
* Freedom of action

He supports absolute freedom in the domain of thought, speech and expression. Unless absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment – scientific, moral and theological – is guaranteed, a society is not completely free. His famous dictim was “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power would be justified in silencing mankind.

He based freedom of opinion and expression on three grounds : a) Any opinion we silence may be true b) Though the silenced opinion may be erraneous, it may be partly true and because the prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely the complete truth, it is only by the collusion of adverse opinion may be completely true, it will inevitably becoming a dogma, prejudice and formula unless it is exposed to the challenge of free discussion.

Regarding freedom of action, Mill divided the activities of the individual into two parts :

a) Self Regarding b) Other-Regarding

The self regarding action may include those matters which affect the individual himself, having no concern with others.

Other regarding actions are those actions of the individual which affect the society as a whole. In self regarding actions, he again supports absolute liberty. But he permits state intervention in other regarding actions. At this juncture we can clearly see the emerging idea of positive liberty is Mills Philosophy though his overall emphasis is in the favor of negative liberty.

Criticism :

a) Barker says that Mill has glorified liberty but Mill didn’t formulate a philosophy of rights to protect liberty.
b) At maximum placed, Mill seems to be a supporter of negative liberty which according to Barker is empty notion of liberty.

Abstract Individual : According to Barker, Mill divides human action into self regarding actions and other regarding actions that means these are some actions of individual (self regarding) which affect the individual (self regarding) which affect the individual directly or indirectly affects other members of society. There Mill is talking of an abstract individual.

b) Mill’s emphasis on unrestricted freedom of speech and expression may lead to many social problems. For example : Contempt of court or judiciary, security of state, harm to public morality and harm to dignity of follow beings.

c) Uninterrupted freedom of speech of expression may lead to social tension and social violence.

Significance :

a) Mills arguments = logically sound
b) Mill = tried to combine together both negative and positive liberty by formulating non interference in self regarding action and logical interference in other regarding action
c) Mill’s view on liberty are very important to protect the individual from the dictatorship of state and society.

Therefore, in contemporary days also in the era of growing intolerance and social censorship, Mill’s views on liberty may be used as justification for liberty.
Freedom and Responsibility

Satre says “Man is free”. Freedom does not mean a property of existence. “To be” is identical with “to be free”. Existence and freedom are the two aspects of the same coin. Man has no other option than to choose. One can say “A man may be guided by others”. Satre says that man himself has chosen to be guided by other. This decision is also taken by man himself. Man when guided by other also chooses to be guided by others. Here too he is free.

Man has free choices in all cases. Man always finds himself in certain situation and in every situation there are many possibilities and he is compelled to choose one of those possibilities. It does not mean that he cannot be influenced by others. He can be. But it is on the man to accept a particular influence or to reject command or other from superior are also open to man to abide or go against. Satre refers to Abraham’s story. One day God commaned (ordered) him t sacrifice the dearest things. He sacrified his dearest son. Satre says there that even here Abraham was free to choose. He was free to either obey god or not obey him. So he was free. Always the choice is made by man ultimately.

Satre points out limitation in freedom. One can’t choose his/her family. These things are called faciticity. These are factual conditions : socio-political condition, death etc. are limitation to freedom.

a) A limitation becomes a hurdle only if I choose. If I don’t choose, there is no hurdle. (A thing appears to be limited because a person choose. If you don’t choose, there is no limitation) eg a locked room is limited, when one wants to go out.

b) Even in a limited condition there are several options/alternatives.

c) Finally, some people confused to equate choice with successes. Freedom of choices doesn’t mean the freedom to succeed. Freedom doesn’t mean successful action. Man is free to choose, not to act successfully. Freedom is not destroyed by failure. Successful doing and freedom are different things. Therefore man is completely free in this sense.

Along with freedom comes responsibility. Man is free and is also responsible for choices and his actions. Man always finds himself in certain situations and every such situation provides you with many possibilities and he is compelled to choose from one of these possibilities.

If man is free, he is responsible for what he chooses. If man is angry, he has chosen to be angry. Earlier Satre said even the moods and situation is chosen by man. Man is completely responsible for his decision. One cannot give excuses. There is no escape route/go at for ones decision. Freedom is necessarily connected with responsibility. More freedom means more responsibility.

Responsibility creates strength – when a man chooses something, he assigns value. If it is value then it should be for others also, i.e by a particular choice I’m not only responsible for myself I become responsible for others as well.

This realization increases the feeling of anguish and anguish at times becomes unbearable. (As others may not agree with your choices)

Anguish is tormenting and unbearable. It is painful, full of anguish. So people often try to avoid responsibility. If one avoids responsibility.

What is to be done : Bad Faith

There are a number of ways a person tries to avoid responsibility such as circumstances, fate, God. If there’s a decision which is really of great important one do not postpone it.

* Any attempt to skip from responsibility is bad faith.
* People try to make other things responsible like God, circumstances etc.

One is in inauthentic existence. Satre calls it Bad Faith. Procrastination is a type of BAD FAITH. There are two types of Bad Faith :

* One is “playing the role”. He gives an example of a waiter in a restaurant.

A waiter in a cafe employed for 5-6 hrs. But waiter wears persona (mask) of waiter which he’s not. Waiter takes his role seriously and forgets that he’s a real human being and waiter is a part timejob. He forget that so he becomes polite, most likely, but everywhere he isn’t waiter. He changes his whole personality and starts playing role of waiter. So, most of us assume the role which is assigned to us by society. We become Prisoner of Image and forget our real thing, creative-choice etc. This happens with inauthentic beings.

* Second way is “Treating oneself as material things”

E.g Young boy and girl – intellectual talk. One day boy holds girl’s hand. Girl has to decision. But she doesn’t takes decision and sensation occurs in their body and mind. Hand in boy’s hand and mind not taking decision.

Bad faith is self deception. It is also similar to telling lie to oneself. Here the speaker deceives himself.

Authentic existence means admitting the responsibility of what a man does or chooses.

* If a man realizes his freedom and responsibility, he’s an authentic being.
* If he tries to escape from the responsibility he is inauthentic and he is a fallen being.


The Origins of Western Thought

Philosophical Thinking

Philosophy as a discipline isn’t easy to define precisely. Issuing from a sense of wonderment about life and the world, it often involves a keen interest in major questions about ourselves, our experience, and our place in the universe as a whole. But philosophy is also reflectively concerned with the methods its practitioners employ in the effort to resolve such questions. Emerging as a central feature of Western culture, philosophy is a tradition of thinking and writing about particular issues in special ways.

Thus, philosophy must be regarded both as content and as activity: It considers alternative views of what is real and the development of reasons for accepting them. It requires both a careful, sympathetic reading of classical texts and a critical, logical examination of the arguments they express. It offers all of us the chance to create and adopt significant beliefs about life and the world, but it also requires each of us to acquire the habits of criticical thinking. Philosophy is both sublime and nitpicking.

Since our personal growth in these matters naturally retraces the process of cultural development, study of the history of philosophy in our culture provides an excellent introduction to the discipline as a whole. Here our aim is to examine the appearance of Western philosophy as an interesting and valuable component of our cultural heritage.

Greek Philosophy

Abstract thought about the ultimate nature of the world and of human life began to appear in cultures all over the world during the sixth century B.C.E., as an urge to move beyond superstition toward explanation. We focus here on its embodiment among the ancient Greeks, whose active and tumultuous social life provided ample opportunities for the expression of philosophical thinking of three sorts:

Speculative thinking expresses human curiosity about the world, striving to understand in natural (rather than super-natural) terms how things really are, what they are made of, and how they function.
Practical thinking emphasizes the desire to guide conduct by comprehending the nature of life and the place of human beings and human behavior in the greater scheme of reality.
Critical thinking (the hallmark of philosophy itself) involves a careful examination of the foundations upon which thinking of any sort must rely, trying to achieve an effective method for assessing the reliability of positions adopted on the significant issues.
Beginning with clear examples of thinking of the first two sorts, we will see the gradual emergence of inclinations toward the third.

Milesian Speculation

During the sixth century, in the Greek colony at Miletus, a group of thinkers began to engage in an extended exploration of the speculative issues. Although these Milesians wrote little themselves, other ancient authorities recorded some of their central tenets. Their central urge was to show that the complex world has a simple, permanent underpinning in the reality of a single kind of stuff from which all else emerges.

The philosopher Thales, for example, is remembered as having asserted that all comes from water. (Fragments) Although we have no record of the reasoning that led Thales to this conclusion, it isn’t hard to imagine what it might have been. If we suppose that the ultimate stuff of the world must be chosen from among things familiar to us, water isn’t a bad choice: most of the earth is covered with it, it appears in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms, and it is clearly essential to the existence of life. Everything is moist.

Thales’s student Anaximander, however, found this answer far too simple. Proper attention to the changing face of the universe, he supposed, requires us to consider the cyclical interaction of things of at least four sorts: the hot, the cold, the dry, and the wet. (Fragments) Anaximander held that all of these elements originally arise from a primal, turbulent mass, the the Boundless or Infinite {Gk. απειρων [apeirôn]}. It is only by a gradual process of distillation that everything else emerges—earth, air, fire, water, of course—and even living things evolve.

The next Milesian, Anaximenes, returned to the conviction that there must be a single kind of stuff at the heart of everything, and he proposed vapor or mist {Gk. αερ [aer]} as the most likely candidate. (Fragments) Not only does this warm, wet air combine two of the four elements together, but it also provides a familiar pair of processes for changes in its state: condensation and evaporation. Thus, in its most rarified form of breath or spirit, Anaximenes’s air constitutes the highest representation of life.

As interesting as Milesian speculations are, they embody only the most primitive variety of philosophical speculation. Although they disagreed with each other on many points, each of the thinkers appears to have been satisfied with the activity of proposing his own views in relative isolation from those of his teacher or contemporaries. Later generations initiated the move toward critical thinking by arguing with each other.

Pythagorean Life

The Greek colony in Italy at the same time devoted much more concern to practical matters. Followers of the legendary Pythagoras developed a comprehensive view of a human life in harmony with all of the natural world. Since the Pythagoreans persisted for many generations as a quasi-religious sect, protecting themselves behind a veil of secrecy, it is difficult to recover a detailed account of the original doctrines of their leader, but the basic outlines are clear.

Pythagoras was interested in mathematics: he discovered a proof of the geometrical theorem that still bears his name, described the relationship between the length of strings and the musical pitches they produce when plucked, and engaged in extensive observation of the apparent motion of celestial objects. In each of these aspects of the world, Pythagoras saw order, a regularity of occurrences that could be described in terms of mathematical ratios.

The aim of human life, then, must be to live in harmony with this natural regularity. Our lives are merely small portions of a greater whole. (Fragments) Since the spirit (or breath) of human beings is divine air, Pythagoras supposed, it is naturally immortal; its existence naturally outlives the relatively temporary functions of the human body. Pythagoreans therefore believed that the soul “transmigrates” into other living bodies at death, with animals and plants participating along with human beings in a grand cycle of reincarnation.

Even those who did not fully accept the religious implications of Pythagorean thought were often influenced by its thematic structure. As we’ll see later, many Western philosophers have been interested in the immortality of the human soul and in the relationship between human beings and the natural world.

During the fifth century B.C.E., Greek philosophers began to engage in extended controversies that represent a movement toward the development of genuinely critical thinking. Although they often lacked enough common ground upon which to adjudicate their disputes and rarely engaged in the self-criticism that is characteristic of genuine philosophy, these thinkers did try to defend their own positions and attack those of their rivals by providing attempts at rational argumentation.

Heraclitus and the Eleatics

Dissatisfied with earlier efforts to comprehend the world, Heraclitus of Ephesus earned his reputation as “the Riddler” by delivering his pronouncements in deliberately contradictory (or at least paradoxical) form. The structure of puzzling statements, he believed, mirrors the chaotic structure of thought, which in turn is parallel to the complex, dynamic character of the world itself.

Rejecting the Pythagorean ideal of harmony as peaceful coexistence, Heraclitus saw the natural world as an environment of perpetual struggle and strife. “All is flux,” he supposed; everything is changing all the time. As Heraclitus is often reported to have said, “Upon those who step into the same river, different waters flow.” The tension and conflict which govern everything in our experience are moderated only by the operation of a universal principle of proportionality in all things.

Against this position, the Eleatics defended the unity and stability of the universe. Their leader, Parmenides supposed that language embodies a logic of perfect immutability: “What is, is.” (Fragments) Since everything is what it is and not something else, he argued in Περι Φυσις (On Nature), it can never correct to say that one and the same thing both has and does not have some feature, so the supposed change from having the feature to not having it is utterly impossible. Of course, change does seem to occur, so we must distinguish sharply between the many mere appearances that are part of our experience and the one true reality that is discernible only by intellect.

Other Eleatics delighted in attacking Heraclitus with arguments designed to show the absurdity of his notion that the world is perpetual changing. Zeno of Elea in particular fashioned four paradoxes about motion, covering every possible combination of continuous or discrete intervals and the direct motion of single bodies or the relative motion of several:

The Dichotomy: It is impossible to move around a racetrack since we must first go halfway, and before that go half of halfway, and before that half of half of halfway, and . . . . If space is infinitely divisible, we have infinitely many partial distances to cover, and cannot get under way in any finite time.
Achilles and the Tortoise: Similarly, given a ten meter head-start, a tortoise can never be overtaken by Achilles in a race, since Achilles must catch up to where the tortoise began. But by then the tortoise has moved ahead, and Achilles must catch up to that new point, and so on. Again, the suppostition that things really move leads to an infinite regress.
The Arrow: If, on the other hand, motion occurs in discrete intervals, then at any given moment during its flight through the air, an arrow is not moving. But since its entire flight comprises only such moments, the arrow never moves.
The Stadium: Similarly, if three chariots of equal length, one stationary and the others travelling in opposite directions, were to pass by each other at the same time, then each of the supposedly moving ones would take only half as long to pass the other as to pass the third, making 1=2!
The patent absurdity that results in each of these cases, Zeno concluded, shows that motion (and, hence, change of any sort) is impossible. (Fragments)
What all of this raises is the question of “the one and the many.” How can there be any genuine unity in a world that appears to be multiple? To the extent that a satisfactory answer involves a distinction between appearance and reality and the use of dialectical reasoning in the effort to understand what is real, this pursuit of the Eleatics set important standards for the future development of Western thought.

Empedocles and Anaxagoras

In the next generation, Empedocles introduced the plurality from the very beginning. Everything in the world, he supposed, is ultimately made up of some mixture of the four elements, considered as irreducible components. The unique character of each item depends solely upon the special balance of the four that is present only in it. Change takes place because there are two competing forces at work in the world. Love {Gk. φιλια [philia]} is always putting things together, while Strife {Gk. νεικος [neikos]} is always tearing them apart. The interplay of the two constitutes the activity we see in nature.

His rival, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, returned in some measure to the Milesian effort to identify a common stuff out of which everything is composed. Matter is, indeed, a chaotic primordial mass, infinitely divisible in principle, yet in which nothing is differentiated. But Anaxagoras held that order is brought to this mass by the power of Mind {Gk. νους [nous]}, the source of all explanation by reference to cosmic intelligence. Although later philosophers praised Anaxagoras for this explicit introduction of mind into the description of the world, it is not clear whether he meant by his use of this word what they would suppose. (Fragments)

Greek Atomism

The inclination to regard the world as pluralistic took its most extreme form in the work of the ancient atomists. Although the basic outlines of the view were apparently developed by Leucippus, the more complete exposition by Democritus, including a discussion of its ethical implications, was more influential. Our best source of information about the atomists is the poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) by the later Roman philosopher Lucretius.

For the atomists, all substance is material and the true elements of the natural world are the tiny, indivisible, unobservable solid bodies called “atoms.” Since these particles exist, packed more or less densely together, in an infinite empty space, their motion is not only possible but ineveitable. Everything that happens in the world, the atomists supposed, is a result of microscopic collisions among atoms. Thus, as Epicurus would later make clear, the actions and passions of human life are also inevitable consequences of material motions. Although atomism has a decidedly modern ring, notice that, since it could not be based on observation of microscopic particles in the way that modern science is, ancient atomism was merely another fashionable form of cosmological speculation.

The Sophists

Fifth-century Athens was a politically troubled city-state: it underwent a sequence of external attacks and internal rebellions that no social entity could envy. During several decades, however, the Athenians maintained a nominally democratic government in which (at least some) citizens had the opportunity to participate directly in important social decisions. This contributed to a renewed interest in practical philosophy. Itinerate teachers known as the sophists offered to provide their students with training in the effective exercise of citizenship.

Since the central goal of political manipulation was to outwit and publicly defeat an opponent, the rhetorical techniques of persuasion naturally played an important role. But the best of the Sophists also made use of Eleatic methods of logical argumentation in pursuit of similar aims. Driven by the urge to defend expedient solutions to particular problems, their efforts often encouraged relativism or evan an extreme skepticism about the likelihood of discovering the truth.

A Sophist named Gorgias, for example, argued (perhaps ironically) that: (a) Nothing exists; (b) If it did, we could not know it; and (c) If we knew anything, we could not talk about it. Protagoras, on the other hand, supposed that since human beings are “the measure of all things,” it follows that truth is subjectively unique to each individual. In a more political vein, Thrasymachus argued that it is better to perform unjust actions than to be the victim of the injustice committed by others. The ideas and methods of these thinkers provided the lively intellectual environment in which the greatest Athenian philosophers thrived.


About Aristotle

Aristotle was quite different from Plato in his mental constitution and orientation. While Plato was a poet, mystic and an ethico-religious thinker, Aristotle was more of a scientist, a logician and an austere thinker. He was more of a realist in the sense that he believed the concepts(as called by Socrates) or Universals(as called by Plato) aren’t independent in themselves, that it is the concepts and universals as we call it that are in the things, the particulars, and not the other way round! There can be no universals without percepts.

For Plato, ideas are substances. Aristotle does not accept this. He also refuses to accept matter as a substance. He defines substance logically as that which has independent existence and also that it always is a subject and never a predicate. So basically, that which is a substance, according to Aristotle, can only be the subject and not the predicate. For example :
GOLD is HEAVY. Here, “gold” is the subject and the substance while heavy is the universal, the predicate. The predicates, like as they depend always on the subject, similarly the universals always depend on the particulars and not the other way round.

The reason why he also rejects to accept matter as matter as substance is because matter,by itself, is formless and an indeterminate thing. It doesn’t have an identifiable form. Thus, by itself it cannot be substance.

So what all precisely were the qualifications that were necessary for something to be a substance? (According to Aristotle, obviously :P)

According to Aristotle, something can be called a substance if it comprised of the following three elements :

a) A universal (like the “cowness” in cow which is a substance)
b) An unknown substratum called “Matter”
c) Qualities!

The famous line which the then went on to say
“It’s neither the matter that exists, nor the form…. what exists is a formless matter”

A universal cannot exist without qualities, and neither can “qualities” be defined to anything meaningful. (You cannot say just “tall”, there got to be a “thing” or a “particular” that is tall!)

Also, he was also more concerned with “becoming” rather than “being”. He believed in flux, changes and movements, reason why he propounds potentiality and actuality.

But ultimately, like his master Plato, Aristotle goes on to say that everything eventually ends to the pure form of God, which he calls as Actus Purus or Prime Mover. Similarities with Plato include teleogical similarity, soul being immortal and perfection of god as Actus Purus.

Now since comparisons between Aristotle and Plato is a vast topic which doesn’t necessarily deal with more widely than what I covered, the new post will be about something different from this, obviously talking about Aristotle’s Philosophy!


The Divided Line

In explaining the process of discovery of true knowledge, Plato introduces the metaphor of the divided line. The divided line has four segments which corresponds to four levels of knowledge and their respective objects of knowledge. Knowledge is an occasion from the lower aspects of the line to the highest, with rational insight being the HIGHEST LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE that gives the true knowledge of IDEAS and the GOOD. At the lower two levels, it is not called KNOWLEDGE, but OPINION, as it depends on sensory experience.

Here, it is notable that the four levels of knowledge do not correspond to different realities, but are four different ways to comprehend the same object.

At the lowest level of the line (AB), the mind merely confronts images of Shadows of objects. The next stage of belief (BC) corresponds to plain sensory experience of things.

When a person moves from belief to thinking, he begins to enter into the realm of knowledge. At thinking (CD), he begins to enter into the realm of knowledge. At thinking (CD), he finds mathematical knowledge. However, the highest kind of knowledge is the knowledge gained by Rational Insight (DE), here he gets knowledge of objects as their true forms or ideas.

Based on observation of the sensory world, Plato realized that everything is in a state of flux ; nothing is absolute/immutable. Example : The food that nourishes today, may kill tomorrow as it decays.

From this realization, Plato concluded that there could be no definite knowledge based on sense observations. He thus believed in a transcendental world of eternity where ideas and forms exist. Since he believed the soul to be Immortal and Immutable, it belongs to the transcendental world in Plato’s Philosophy.

    To know is to be

Ultimately, knowledge of ideas is the highest knowledge (Divided line). However, is not enough just to know the truth, it is possible to become the truth. Plato’s theory of knowledge culminates into Metaphysics or Theory of Being, by “to know is to be be”(Similar to Advaita). One who knows Brahm, becomes Brahm.

The more you know, the closer to truth you are, the higher being you becomes. One who knows the truth of ideas/forms, becomes JUST and WISE, like the one who has escaped from the love cave and seen the world.

Love for the ultimate is the only way/ the force which leads to the ultimate truth, one who knows this, becomes the true being. For this, one must focus on the eternal, immutable ideas that are the source of all contingents in the world.


Analogy of Cave

Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think and speak etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of forms. The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain this.

In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave:

Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows. So when the prisoners talk, what are they talking about? If an object (a book, let us say) is carried past behind them, and it casts a shadow on the wall, and a prisoner says “I see a book,” what is he talking about?

He thinks he is talking about a book, but he is really talking about a shadow. But he uses the word “book.” What does that refer to?

Plato gives his answer. The text here has puzzled many editors, and it has been frequently emended. The translation in Grube/Reeve gets the point correctly:
“And if they could talk to one another, don’t you think they’d suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?”
Plato’s point is that the prisoners would be mistaken. For they would be taking the terms in their language to refer to the shadows that pass before their eyes, rather than (as is correct, in Plato’s view) to the real things that cast the shadows.
If a prisoner says “That’s a book” he thinks that the word “book” refers to the very thing he is looking at. But he would be wrong. He’s only looking at a shadow. The real referent of the word “book” he cannot see. To see it, he would have to turn his head around.

Plato’s point: the general terms of our language are not “names” of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind. When the prisoners are released, they can turn their heads and see the real objects. Then they realize their error. What can we do that is analogous to turning our heads and seeing the causes of the shadows? We can come to grasp the Forms with our minds.

Plato’s aim in the Republic is to describe what is necessary for us to achieve this reflective understanding. But even without it, it remains true that our very ability to think and to speak depends on the Forms. For the terms of the language we use get their meaning by “naming” the Forms that the objects we perceive participate in.

The prisoners may learn what a book is by their experience with shadows of books. But they would be mistaken if they thought that the word “book” refers to something that any of them has ever seen. Likewise, we may acquire concepts by our perceptual experience of physical objects. But we would be mistaken if we thought that the concepts that we grasp were on the same level as the things we perceive.