Life Divine Chapter I & II (Dec 1996) - Track 102

There is another approach according to which you can combine the knowledge of all the sciences together, combine the knowledge of matter with the knowledge of life that with the knowledge of mind and combine that with the knowledge of anything else then the mind. Put all these piece-meal fields of knowledge together, combine them together and see where they can be synthesised. So it is said philosophy is possible by synthesising the knowledge of different sciences, so here the question is only of synthesis, if you synthesise all possible realms of knowledge together then you will be able to arrive at comprehensive knowledge. So this is the second approach. There are some books of Philosophy which deal with matter, life, mind and spirit and bring the data of all these sciences together and attempt to synthesise them and that is another method of philosophical knowledge of the whole. Matter inorganic, life is organic – all plants, fishes all organism which vibrate, even human being, all life processes of the human being and then mind, the psychological knowledge. This is also sometimes called the cosmological approach. The first was epistemological approach this is called cosmological approach, you try to get the knowledge of the whole cosmos, all the domains of the cosmos, put them together and then see from above as it were and try to get a comprehensive view of things.

There is a third answer, the third answer is that there is one of the deepest questions in the human mind and if you can find an answer to the deepest question, you will have arrived at the most comprehensive and ultimate knowledge. What is that question? The question is – what should I do? This question what should I do, if you can answer this question, first of all raise this question and then if you try to answer this question then you will have covered everything that needs to be known. This is called the ethical approach. So some of these books of philosophy they approach by the road of ethics. What should I do, this is the question. In general, I have got my life, irrespective of any life, even that is a question. Should I lead a material life, should I lead a spiritual life, why, why not? So this is the third approach, ethical question, these are three approaches which are generally adopted one way or the other, sometime all the three, sometime one of them, sometimes two of them and this is the way by which philosophical questions are raised and philosophical questions are answered.

Now there is a view that none of these three approaches can really be pursued truly and fully and therefore once again, I answered on behalf of philosophy that you can raise these three questions and you can either singly or together or all combined together and can erect a philosophical knowledge. But having said it now I am putting another point of view, which is against this point of view; which says that neither of these three questions can be pursued fully at all therefore philosophy as a pursuit is impossible as a deadlock.

Now what are the reasons? What is the basis of this kind of contention? Let us first examine epistemological approach. How do I know that I know and how do I know that what I know is valid or not valid? It is argued that even if you analyse your knowing process, your epistemological process, the answer will only give you a biased answer. Biased means one-sided or it means prejudiced, an analogy can be given. If we were born with blue spectacles then whatever you will see in the world is blue, so you will never get to know what is the world in itself because you are conditioned by the blue spectacles. Similarly, even if you find out how you know, how you know what you know and whether what you know is valid or not, it will be valid only with reference to your spectacles. It will never give you the idea; you will never be able to give an objective answer as to what the whole world is. Therefore epistemological approach is cancelled. So even if you do that, even if you progress very far off, you will never arrive at the knowledge of universe as it is, objectively.

Now let us come to cosmological approach. It is argued that if you put the knowledge of different sciences together and synthesise them then you will be able to know the whole universe and you will be able to answer the ultimate how, ultimate what, ultimate why? Now against this view it is argued that there is no end of knowledge of the world, you will be always advancing from known to unknown, you will never have a complete knowledge of any domain because every domain is constantly developing; so the question of synthesis will not arise even. When you don’t have the full knowledge of any domain where is the question of bringing them together at all? Therefore, you will never be able to get the complete and comprehensive knowledge, so philosophy is impossible.

About the ethical question – what should I do or why am I here? It is argued that as a question it’s a good question that you should reflect upon this question is a good thing, everybody should think about this question. Why am I here, what should I do? But it is argued that you will never be able to arrive at any conclusive answer, it’s the very nature of things. Why? Because all knowledge is knowledge of what is. But what ought to be, can never be a matter of objective knowledge because that is never present. What ought I to do, what should I do, projection of the future and anomalous dimension. If I simply say that I am walking now and I will continue to walk is one kind of thing but if I say I am walking today and tomorrow I ought to be motionless, completely motionless, is only a matter of imagination but not of knowledge, it’s not knowledge. At the most you can say that I would like to do this therefore I ought to be doing it but that is not knowledge. So according to this argument all knowledge is the knowledge of what is, what obtains. But what ought to be, can never be a subject matter of knowledge. For example, I know that this book exists. This book is there before you and you can know this because it exists. But what ought to be here, there is nothing here, and if I ask the question what ought to be here, can it be a matter of any knowledge, it’s not there, it was but now there is nothing here. Now if you ask the question what ought to be there it’s a matter only of speculation but not of knowledge. So this ethical query may be good, interesting but it is not a pursuit of knowledge, therefore philosophy if it based upon ethical questioning, it can never be a knowledge. So this is the argument which is levelled against the claims of philosophy.