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Socrates and Plato - Track 202

Actually he wrote one whole book on education and this was his main message, you should train guardians, you should educate the guardians. When they become big then they are full of love, full of wisdom and it is the love that leads them to apply wisdom in every practical field. Now this whole argument is a good philosophical argument. Actually I was only illustrating the method of argument. In philosophy you take different sets of facts, one after the other then you see the implication of every set of facts, you see the assumption behind every set of facts, then compare and contrast these assumptions and implications and as you do so, new insights will keep growing in you. New dimensions will come before you. It is as if something is kindled and you begin to have insight, your vision becomes larger and larger, you begin to see complexity after complexity. And when you arrive at widest complexity in which all the sets of facts are presented that is the method of philosophy. And this method Socrates called, Plato called – dialectic, dialectical argument. This process of expanding, by selecting specific sets of facts, trying to see the assumptions and implications from the facts, these two words are very important – assumptions and implications. When a fact is presented you consider the assumptions. When I gave the example of the white wash of the school building; there were certain assumptions behind the presentation of these three facts. The assumption was that the school building although needed white wash one could without it for a year. Laboratory equipment was not so very pressing. The performance of a drama is basically given for experience and if you don’t perform well then the kind of experience that was to be given would be postponed and maybe that it will never come again, these were the assumptions. It was in this context that you decide questions more important than this or that? So assumptions and implications, so you go on judging the assumptions and implications, until you are able to combine all the facts in a given situation and then arrive at a judgement, this is called dialectic. Having done it, I will ask you one more question.

When we were reading the first chapter of The Life Divine, we had identified one argument as a dialectical argument, now let us recall that argument and see why we had called it dialectical argument. Anybody can recall that argument which we had pointed out as the dialectical argument. If you don’t remember, don’t worry because as I have told you that philosophy is a very interesting and a joyous experience in which we often repeat the same thing, until it becomes your second nature. ………the second paragraph of The Life Divine of the first chapter begins with that argument. Now you recall, you have got the book The Life Divine

Statement of a fact contrasted with another set of facts which contradicts it. Look at the second paragraph, “These persistent ideals God, Light, Freedom and Immortality, these are the persistent ideals of the race. You can see in the previous paragraph, the last phrase is God, Light, Freedom and Immortality, – these are the persistent ideals of the race, that’s a fact. Now Sri Aurobindo says: "these ideals are contradiction of the normal experience of humanity. This is one fact but they are affirmations of higher and deeper experiences. So there is conflict between two facts the normal experience and the higher experience. So in the normal experience these ideals are contradictory, in the higher experience they are affirmed. Now as a result of this contradiction and affirmation you must go farther because you can’t rest when you are presented with a contradiction and an affirmation the human mind cannot rest, it must move forward that is the dialectical movement. Dialectical movement is one in which there is a dynamism and there is a pattern in the dynamism, – affirmation–contradiction, affirmation–contradiction, until you arrive at a final resting place. As in our case we examined, we were pushed from one stand to the other, from that to another, from that to another until you came to the definition of philosophy, – wisdom and love for wisdom and wisdom is that which sees the whole and which can apply the whole that was our conclusion. Similarly here normal experience contradicts God, Light, Freedom, Immortality, higher experience affirms then there is a battle “To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities, the direct contradiction (between the ideal and the ordinary experience is a proof that ordinary experience is valid and that it contradicts that ordinary experience is invalid. Therefore the ideals are invalid. This is the conclusion of the material intellect. So this is the middle point of the argument. Now then comes the final argument.

“But if we take a more deliberate view of the world’s workings, that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature’s profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction.”

Sri Aurobindo now gives a new fact into picture. What is that? If you look into the meaning of opposition then insight will arise. Just as in our argument about justice we were going on a new set of facts connected with the bread, three children and the mother, a new idea emerges. Similarly, now Sri Aurobindo says that opposition should be looked into and you should ask the question: why there is opposition at all is there a meaning in the opposition? That’s right, it is Nature’s profoundest method, it’s a new fact has emerged, new insight. It is that insight which leads us to a new conclusion, right? This is the example of a dialectical argument.

So let us define now. Dialectical argument is one in which there is a statement of one set of facts which is compared and contrasted with another set of facts. As a result there emerges the necessity of discovering a new set of facts and this process can go on until you come to a widest vision in which the totality is included and you can then apply the total vision into all the sets of facts which have come up and you get a satisfying answer that is a dialectical argument, alright? It is a good statement of what is a dialectical argument……….

Now it is much more clear as to what is the difference between science and philosophy. We shall repeat now. Science seeks facts based on observation, experimentation, verification and derivation of a conclusion which is universal. I had given the example of the material bodies which are thrown upwards they gravitate downwards. All objects which are thrown upward, all material objects which are thrown upward they naturally gravitate downward, this is a scientific fact. Philosophical method is to start with facts and you compare and contrast one set of facts with another set of facts as a result there will be a chain of the need to discover another set of facts until in your argument, you include the whole universe, you arrive at the totality of facts and the insight arises out of it. This awakening of the insight is wisdom, when totality is presented to you, all the facts are presented you can then see in a vision that is whole and then the insight arises out of it that is philosophical knowledge learnt by discussion. Why discussion, because some facts which you know I may not be knowing. So when I explain something, you point out this another fact is there, so you bring another set of facts. It is also said therefore that philosophy is best studied by debate. But very often debate takes a form of battle in which one tends to become rigid. I stand on one point of view with one set of facts and I deliberately begin to oppose another point of view that is the evil of a debate. Debate is good provided you do not take a stand and you begin to argue for the sake of winning the argument, not for the search of the truth that is the evil of the method of debate. And good philosophers therefore even when they take recourse to debate they do not allow you to remain in the state of opposition. Sri Aurobindo says: “when in the debate thou hast won remember thou hast missed the chance to know the truth”. If you win in the debate then remember that you have lost the chance to know the truth. Therefore our aim should not be to win in the debate. Our method should be to learn what is the truth? Therefore when you are debating against somebody, try to understand his point of view, assimilate the truth behind his point of view…………

Question: I have somewhere from Swami Vivekananda that to satisfy the physical hunger of a man is good than to satisfy the physical hunger of the man he might be hungry the next day, to satisfy the intellectual hunger of a man is more deeply satisfying and longer lasting but even better is to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the man which will make him feel no hunger forever. Now somewhere else I had read from Tagore in one of his books; he says you cannot tell to a hungry man admire the beauty of the moon because in the moon he will just find a piece of cheese. So there is a contradiction somewhere, you cannot make a hungry man admire the beauty of the moon.


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