Pluralism and Rationality - audio

When we say that there is a true epistemological and ontological basis, that basis can be either philosophical or can be scientific, ontology and epistemology can be supported either philosophically or scientifically. What is the meaning of the sentence? What’s a scientific basis for ontological truths? The scientific basis of an ontological truth is that the truths can be demonstrated, verifiably established, that is the scientific basis. Philosophically philosophers say that ontological truth is philosophically established. When you say it is reasoning, a truth is accepted to be true if you can show it is reasonable. That is the reason why John Rawls speaks of a reasonable pluralism. If it is not reasonable, it is if not rationally indefensible, it should be at least reasonable.

That’s why I said Rawls goes even deeper. He says pluralism is not merely an attitude of toleration. He said—reasonable attitude. Now what is that reasonability? We come back again to that very question as to what is rationalism. The same argument which we had with Michael earlier about rationalism and empiricism. Both rationalism is reasonable and empiricism also is reasonable. So, according to me, philosophical truths should be both rationalistically true and also empirically true, then I would say the reasonability of your proposition is very high, but even if it is not rationalistically provable, even if it is empirically provable, I would say it’s reasonable. Now, according to Some people, rationalism itself is not defensive. There is no such thing as rationally inescapable. Rationally can always have offered you alternative possibilities, philosophically you can never arrive at a final truth. This is also a philosophical view and it is considered to be at least a reasonable point of view. It is based upon the argument of a fact.

There was a very important debate at one time in India: why do philosophers disagree? All philosophers agree that truth should be established by reason and all philosophers who are here, they are all ardent supporters of reason, and yet these philosophers fight against each other and each one says rationally it is not acceptable. To some people something is obvious, rationally absolutely clear, some sort of clear at all. So the conclusion is that rationality consists only of reasonableness and in reasonableness there are many alternative points of viewpoints. According to rationalism, pure rationality is known rationally. There is only one position possible, not multiple positions, because truth is one only, truth is not multiple. Truth is one therefore rationally you must be able to see their truth. It must be conclusive. Now, this debate is even today not resolved, and that is why you only at present advocate only using reasonableness. Therefore, even if you propose your proposition philosophically you can only say it is one of the reasonable propositions. One of the reasonable propositions can be proved or disproved only scientifically. If you establish yourself scientifically, then there can be two alternative conclusions, scientifically you cannot say that magnetism may be converted into electricity or may not be converted to electricity, either it is convertible or not convertible and you just verify. If you can turn the turbine, which is all magnets and by turning it, electricity is generated, it is proven. So there are not two alternative points of view. Somebody is saying: magnetism may be convertible into electricity, somebody says it may not be, and both are reasonable. It’s not reasonable philosophy because they are reasonable, but not scientifically. Scientifically it is verifiable. Therefore, it’s only true one or the other.

Now what Sri Aurobindo says is that the point of view which I am presenting to you is a reasonable mentorship, but scientifically that point of view happens to be verifiable. At the philosophical level my point of view is a reasonable point of view, but I have also further stated that even scientifically my proposition is true. Therefore, although philosophically my point of view is one of the points of views, scientifically it is the point of view. This is the position.

Therefore, Mother says that you should ultimately aim at establishing your proposition scientifically. This is the whole thrust of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that truth must be established scientifically, and their whole attempt has been their own attitudes towards truth is scientific, not philosophic, but they also say that philosophically also their truth can be seen and in philosophical terms, my proposition Is one of the reasonable points of view, and I don't quarrel with you if you say how do you prove it is final proposition, I don't, it’s one of the reasonable points of view. You must have noticed Mother's very small statement: the science of living is a science, not a philosophy, but she said we shall put forward in a philosophical language. Why? Because the science of living as yet has not come to be acknowledged as scientific. I believe it is scientific, but I have not yet been able to convince you. It is scientific. A day might come and I’m trying for that day, but even scientifically I’ll be able to prove it to be scientifically true. But until I reach that point of view, I put it to you as philosophy, therefore, even from that point of view you might say that propositions that I’m making, they fit in perfectly in tune with pluralism.

But as you dig deeper and deeper into it, you can see, even philosophy is defensible, even scientifically it is defensible, and that is why this attitude, which is now being presented in this whole system of philosophy, you find all the three trends supported and encouraged. Those who want to move on a scientific line, they are also encouraged to go on a scientific line. Those who want to go on a philosophical line, they are also encouraged to go on. Those who want to encourage it simply because it is fine, even on that basis it is allowed because ultimately it tolerates and gives you a sense of no conflict.

This is how I would like to suggest that this particular experiment is pluralistic, philosophical and scientific. All right. So this would be my conclusion of this dialogue, but ultimately, you have to develop it further. See there is a very important statement which Mother has made about knowledge: rationally there can be no agreements among philosophers.

Philosophically, why? Because every point of view, reason can justify. This is the nature of reasoning. Wisdom tends to justify a point of view which you want to hold, not because of rational basis, there’s a deeper basis for it. They say, philosophers don't agree, you remember Michael had when we were discussing racialistic arguments for proof of the existence of god, we did not agree, but he tolerated it. He said yes, what you say is alright and in your last dialogue with him also, you can say I know that you wanted it right. So what I want to be true philosophically, you can hold a certain point of view, there can be comprehensive points of view and philosophically you can support all the comprehensive points of view. They are in conflict with each other, but philosophically all can be justified. There’s a beautiful sentence by Sri Aurobindo: by the logic by which you sustain one position, by the same logic, you can sustain the other position. It’s a very important discovery of rationality, the logical position by which you can defend one, you can defend the other exactly the opposite, such as the condition. This is now discovered by rational people all over the world.

At one time it will not agreed to, but now they speak only of reasonableness, they don't speak of rationality. Let’s become reasonable. Everything is reasonable. It’s all right, you can't say that it must be true. There was a time when it was said that rationalistic argument must ultimately conclude that it must be true, conclusion is that rationally you can only say it seems to be probably quite possibly true. If you can show this, fine, but other thing also can be shown to be also like that, fine, tolerate each other. You should be only reasonable and be reasonable, don’t fight, don't quarrel. It’s reasonable that you may be right. I may be right. I think it is right. You may not think it is right, but it doesn't matter, better shake hands, if you really want a complete truth, the conclusion is only scientific and you can come to the truth. Sri Aurobindo’s standpoint is that scientifically it is true. Philosophically it is reasonable and one of the possible attitudes and therefore it is actually as good as the other, so why do you oppose.

Take, for example, a philosophy which states that in this world things occur not by necessity but by chance. it’s a comprehensive point of view. All things in the world happen by chance. If you ask a question, a child on a computer goes on typing at random, now by chance it can happen that the whole drama of Hamlet can come up. It can happen by chance. Why not? There is no argument by which you can say it cannot happen, maybe a million times it will not happen, but how can it not happen at all? Shakespeare himself had written by chance. This is their point of view. What’s the answer to this question? The answer is: this is quite possible. He doesn't say it is impossible, but he says, by the same facts I can prove better by another proposition by saying that everything is not chance. My proposition is at least as correct as the other one. Therefore, chance theory cannot rule out your position.

Now this is a question of the structure of the argument. According to the purely rationalistic argument, chance theory is fundamentally wrong, my theory is right if I’m a pure rationalist. According to Sri Aurobindo structure of argument of chance theory, it’s possible, but the same facts can be better explained if you want to explain, chance theory says I don't have to explain at all, so Sri Aurobindo says my theory is better. If you admit that things have to be explained, but as a theory, my theory is as good as the other theory in a philosophical way, because their theory says I don't want to explain anything at all. There is no such thing as an explanation. I told the world everything is chance, so what is the explanation? I don't understand the word explanation at all. So he says those people who, however, insist on explanation, for them my theory is better but scientifically my theory is inevitable; philosophically it is one of the possible ways, scientifically it is inevitable.

Now, how does he show scientifically?

For any scientific proposition to be established as true, we have to demonstrate. This word demonstration is very important. Demonstration has two aspects: one is convincing the other and convincing oneself, demonstrate to oneself, demonstrate to the other. Complete demonstration means demonstrating to oneself and demonstration to the other also. But first of all I must be convinced myself before I can convince you. So, first of all scientific demonstration wants that the scientist in search of the truth must be himself convinced.

Now, when is one convinced? One is convinced when a certain thing happens. This is a scientific demonstration. If a certain thing does not happen, there is no demonstration. If somebody puts a mathematical formula and says that energy is equal to MC squared, it’s a formula. It’s not a demonstration. Science is when you split an atom and energy which is released out is exactly equal to the mass of that particle that is bombarded, and you multiply it by square of speed of light. It is seen, it is demonstrated, it happens. So demonstration depends upon a certain thing happening, and that should happen to such an extent that at least I am convinced that it has happened. That is the first stage of scientific demonstration. The inquirer must be convinced that an event has occurred, that is to say he has experienced it. Even if he tries to deny it, he can't deny. For example, am I talking to you really or am I dreaming now, even in my dream I happen to talk to you exactly as I’m talking. I’m sure, I’m talking to you even now. Philosophically yes, I can talk to you, philosophically it may be also true that I am dreaming. Both propositions are possible, but scientifically, am I really talking to you? How do you prove? I showed you the method by which the dream condition can be eliminated and when that dream condition is eliminated, and still I see that I am talking to you, then I can be sure that I am not dreaming. There must be a method by which a dream condition can be removed. Now, when you happen to shake up the dream condition, a dream condition can be said to be shaken off with a physical shake. It’s a method, physically shaking. Physically I bring to you three four things like drinking water and your thirst is really quenched. I rub my eyes, twice, thrice, four times. When I have followed these methods, and still I persist in talking to you. It means that I am not dreaming. Apply all the methods by which a certain condition can be removed so as to get this condition, then only I am convinced that really I am talking to you, that you are sitting before me. In that condition I go out and I see your car standing there, because in a dream you could come even without a car, but I go out, and I say, yes, there is a car sitting there. Now, if all these conditions are fulfilled, I am personally convinced That I am talking to you really. This is called the first step of scientific demonstration. I must myself be convinced.

But scientific demonstration goes further. I have to demonstrate to others also. How to prove to her that I am not dreaming, I am talking? How do I convince her? She may be dreaming also herself at present, so I have to make sure that she’s not dreaming. I have to put conditions under which I can say, look, you are not dreaming. I make you see also, what I’m seeing, it’s a double demonstration.

Now your question was: how does Sri Aurobindo say that his propositions are scientific? He says that there are methods by which the truth of which I am speaking can be made to occur and made to occur when dream conditions are removed. There is no hallucination, no thinking but really happening. Such things, these methods exist. If there are no methods, I have no method of demonstration, there must be methods, methods by which the two conditions can be compared, and then I must say that in that condition which I call waking condition, certain thing happens.

I have around me, for example, just now nothing to make me very happy. Ordinarily, things are all humdrum. We are sitting, Oh fine, I’m happy in the sense, but I don't get ecstatic in that condition because she’s sitting or you're sitting, but supposing I do get ecstatic now and I ask myself am I quite the same? It is true that if I fall in love with you, I get ecstatic, so I have to find out a method of whether I fall in love with you or not, and yet I feel ecstatic. The conditions in which I fall in love are removed in my demonstration and yet I feel ecstatic. There are methods by which you can demonstrate ecstasy happens in a certain condition. It happens to me. I guess I cannot yet prove to her that look, I’m ecstatic. How do I prove to her that I am ecstatic? How do I know? Chaitanya was ecstatic, how did he prove? His disciples could see that he was ecstatic because he throws himself on a stone, he’s hurt, and yet he loves. He goes to another stone knowing that he has been struck, he goes to another stone. He is again struck, his head is bleeding, but he’s happy. He dances. It’s a joy. Now, by what means can I prove that he is not ecstatic? It’s a demonstration. This is called a demonstration to somebody else. I may be ecstatic myself, that is not enough, even in your condition as normal as possible, you do see that this is real ecstasy, here the man is dancing and dancing irresistibly and normally there’s nothing here at all to be dancing about. He says, here Sri Krishna, Sri Krishna here, Sri Krishna here.

Now Sri Aurobindo says that the truths of which I am speaking are demonstrable both in the sense in the first sense and also in the sense. Now as far as the other is concerned, Sri Aurobindo and Mother admit we have not yet reached a point where what we want to say, what we have said can be yet fully demonstrated to the world at large. This is a scientific rigour of Sri Aurobindo. What we see is demonstrable to great many degrees at many levels, to some extent shareable, but not as yet we have reached the point where it could be scientifically demonstrated. Mother says a day must come where even the most blind will be able to recognize it. Now that demonstrability Sri Aurobindo did Mother say we have not yet reached. Therefore, what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say is scientifically so candid, and therefore it has its own value of truthfulness. The one who says I have now demonstrated to everybody and when he has not yet demonstrated, he is not so scientifically candid, but when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother themselves said that what we want to prove is proved to a great extent at many levels.

At a subjective level, of course there are many people who will say that what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say is correct, true. I have seen the Mother coming to me in my dream and telling me to deal with the people first and then look after the children. It’s my subjective experience. I have seen it. I cannot doubt it at all, because it is a fact that I have not thought of the Mother that night. It’s not an afterthought. It is not the repetition of what Mother had once told me, which happens in dreams. It has happened. I have really seen her. I’ve talked to her. I was in a certain state of agony. In my experience I found my agony was healed, was balmed. She said exactly the same problem, which was in my mind at that time, which I had not told anybody at all. She put these as questions and answers. After three–four years, I’ll see that that answer is proved physically. After 25 years I can see that over 25 years, what she has said has proved to be true. Subjectively, therefore, I have a demonstration to me, but I have not demonstrated to you as yet, to some extent, yes it is demonstrable to you also, because if I tell the story of my life, then I have a demonstration to you. So yes, it’s true, it has happened and these facts which I noted you have happened which can be demonstrated physically.

And yet it is not that kind of proof. If I can induce in you the same kind of dream individually, the same thing happens to you, the same kind of proof comes to you, then I can say that my proof is still further demonstrable. Even then that public demonstrability, Sri Aurobindo says, supermind can physically work in the physical consciousness. It’s a statement of Sri Aurobindo. Mother said on the 14th of march, today she said, I can say that the supermind is working in my physical consciousness. She says, and she says it is proof to me that it is so. I have my own proofs, I can demonstrate to myself.

This is what Satprem says, it will happen. This samadhi, in which Mother’s body is buried, opens up suddenly, nobody is digging and from that tomb Mother’s body physically rises, not as the body of Christ which had so happened at one time. Some people did notice it. But then that body said, you cannot touch me. She said you cannot touch this body, it’s a different kind of body. But supposing this body you can touch, it doesn't fly away either in heaven, rising and going away to heaven, it is stable, you see her day after day answering your questions, acting as before. Supposing it happens, it will be a public demonstrability. You cannot doubt it. Now, even apart from this kind of demonstrability, if supposing suddenly in the Mother’s room, you find that Mother is walking now, she’s not rising from here, but you see her physically walking in a room and her body has become completely young and she answers your questions. You meet her, discuss with her as before. That also is a physical demonstrability. Something has happened. A physical body has appeared on the scene, has not gone through childhood and grown up, gradually trained. You find a physical body completely luminous and wise, fully wise.

For Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said this is going to happen, until that happens, I have not demonstrated my proposition. This is the aim of their whole work. The entire work which is being done has one aim: the physical demonstrability of the supramental manifestation in matter. That is why I would say that Sri Aurobindo’s statement is a scientific statement, already demonstrated in many many levels of argument, many levels of experience. On the basis of which it is I, who have had not this physical demonstration, but whatever demonstration I have, I can admit in acknowledging that nothing is impossible. What they are saying is feasible. It can happen. To that extent, my demonstrability has reached.. the education philosophy which I’m advocating today is based upon this much of certainty in my knowledge, it’s not as certain as yet in which a complete scientific demonstrability would bring about. To that extent, I’m humble, modest. I can say: well if you hold a different point of view, I admit, I don't mind, if it fits in with the conditions of pluralism, I can say that my position is pluralistic, if this philosophy is pluralistic, scientifically more pluralistic, ultimately it as a possibility of becoming completely pluralistic and yet demonstrable scientifically. All right, so this is my position in regard to pluralism.