Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 - Track 2

In the meantime however, if you really want to know even before this enquiry is over or can be undertaken; if you want to know intellectually, the totality, can it be known? This is the question, even before you can collect all the data of the universe, without collecting all the data is it possible to deal with all the data. Is such an endeavor possible? It is here that philosophy comes into the picture. Philosophy is a study of all the available data, not all the data, but of all the available data belonging to all the present sciences and applied to the available data such an instrument that can give you the answers, intellectual answers as to what can be imagined about all the data. You take all the available data, think about all this data together and then imagine what all the data would be like. So, you might say that philosophy is a kind of an exercise in imagination. It is somewhat like poetry.

Poetry also is a subject of imagination from a few data, which are presented to the mind, poetry imagines and arrives at a perception. Art is also a matter of imagination. Music also is a matter of imagination. Philosophy is also a matter of imagination, but there is a difference between other imaginations and the imagination that is in philosophy. In the other domains of art, music, poetry, you are allowed to have fancy, not only imagination but also a fancy, even a fantasy, but in philosophy while imagination is allowed, the imagination is not allowed to be fanciful. It is not allowed to be a fantasy; it is not allowed to be fictitious. Fiction, fancy, fantasy are not allowed then what kind of imagination is allowed? A rigorous imagination, there is in philosophy a rigour; this rigour consists of the notion of necessity.

What is the nature of necessity in philosophy? Let me explain this concept of necessity – when I imagine that the moon is like the face of my mother, I am not required to prove it necessarily, that the face of the moon is like the face of my mother. It may not be so, but to my experience I feel it to be so. I don’t need to prove it to others, look it is necessarily so. It is matter of imagination, matter of my personal experience. When I am in the upper hemisphere of the earth, when there is total darkness and I am walking in that wilderness in the upper hemisphere, my experience is that wherever I turn there is darkness. So I would say all this is dark. Then I may even go forward and say in imagination that even though I have walked on all the paths of this upper hemisphere, I believe that everything is dark. Although I might not even know what is happening in the southern hemisphere, where there will be daylight but to my experience it may seem that everywhere there must be darkness, as much dark as it’s here in my experience. I might even announce that everything is dark, all over is dark. In poetry, if therefore a poet says all is dark, we will not demand from poet a proof; prove that everywhere, where ever you have not gone, it must be darkness. There must necessarily be darkness. You don’t ask the poet to prove this question. In poetry you allow this kind of imagination which is true to your personal subjective experience. Where, even what you think is probable is allowed to be said as if it is true.  

But in philosophy if you make a statement by imagination, you must be in a position to say that that imagination necessarily follows from all the data that are available to you. That is to say, you are able to imagine about other data which are not before you. On the basis of the data which are available to you, but your intellectual argument must be such that would necessarily show that the other data which are not seen by you, not experienced by anybody so far, must be like this.

You must have read some of the detective stories in which this kind of matter is very often, found to be very useful and very much applicable. Theft has taken place in a house and you don’t know who is the thief.  There could have been many alternative answers to this question. On the basis of the data which are available, where you find that the whole house is actually intact, even the door is locked, almirahs are locked, everything is in perfect order, only in one small box you had the most precious jewel, which is missing. Therefore the question that is put before you is only this ‘who could have stolen this jewel?’ The data are that the house is intact, all the almirahs are perfectly locked, the rooms are locked; all the members of the family had gone out. Naturally you have two or three probable answers to this question; that before all the members of the family went out, one of the members, who had access to the keys had very quietly taken out the jewel and it is safely deposited elsewhere. So that even now, if you search everybody, nobody can be found to be guilty that is one possibility. The second is that during your absence, somebody, who has got duplicate keys made in advance, who knows your programme of going out, who knows exactly where the jewel lies and by opening with the duplicate keys very safely and without disturbing anything else, had gone straight to the jewel and taken it out, this is the second alternative. Or there could be another also, which you can imagine. Out of these two or three alternatives, all of them are probable; all of them are imaginations because all of them are likely, until you come to what is called a crucial fact. You will not be able to decide what necessarily must have happened. Usually the detectives, they have one task of finding out such facts, which will necessarily prove that this alone must have happened and not anything else.