Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, September 12, 2005

S.K.Maitra

Bradley distinguished in all reality two aspects, the aspect of existence and the aspect of content, what is called respectively, the that and the what. But he failed to distinguish in the content the two clearly separable elements, namely, the logical element and the value element…if he had done so, he would have made a tripartite division of the aspect of reality into an existential, logical and value aspect, as is done in Indian philosophy. [ 8]

What is meant by saying that Reality is at once Existence and Value? Here we summon to our aid the great English philosopher Bradley. In his celebrated work Appearance and Reality he has characterised the two essentials of reality as existence and content, or in the technical phraseology of his, as the that and the what. the that is the existential aspect and the what the meaning or value aspect of reality. The full comprehension of reality must mean a comprehension of both these aspects.

In feeling, he thinks, there is the presence of both but in a most inchoate form. In thought or reason there is a splitting of the two, and consequently, no adequate comprehension of reality. It is in the higher intuition, which supervenes over thought, that there is perfect union of the that and the what, and consequently, a full comprehension of reality.

Without subscribing to Bradley’s philosophy, there should be no hesitation in accepting the essential thing which Bradley points out, namely, that reality is the union of existence and value. This is, in fact, the fundamental standpoint of the philosophy of values as understood in our country, and Bradley in pointing out, has proved himself to be a true a philosopher of values, although in the West he is not regarded as such. [223-4]

Just as for Bradley and Bosanquet all explicit consciousness is a judgement, so for Hegel it is thought. Even implicit consciousness, that is, consciousness which struggles to be explicit but has not yet become so, is to b regarded as thought, thought in one of its earlier and implicit forms. [239]

Bradley’s attempt to play Hegel against Hegel: I have to mention one curious development of the principle of continuity which seeks to demolish with its help the great structure raised by Hegel. I refer to Bradley’s attempt in his Appearance and Reality to prove that the very principle of continuity which is the life breath of thought, proves its destruction. It is a very curious development of his philosophy, of which we were given no warning in his Principles of Logic.

There we were told that thought could march from judgement to judgement in a triumphal procession and reach the citadel of the Absolute itself, without coming across any barriers at all. Here, for the first time thought is presented with an ultimatum: Either you stop marching further, or if you are consumed with a desire to trespass into regions where you are not entitled to go, you must drink the hemlock and commit suicide. A very strange ultimatum indeed!

And what did thought do to merit this fate? Did it change its direction of its march, did it accept the guidance of any other principle than that of continuity or coherence? Nothing of the kind. And yet at a certain point of its journey it is asked either to retrace its steps or drink the hemlock. [249-50]

Thought meets this fate, not because it does not know how to handle its own weapon, but because it does not know how to handle a weapon which it was never taught to handle. This new weapon is that of discontinuity. Thought is blamed for not being able to deal with a world which presents discordance or discontinuities. One such discordance is …the discordance between feeling and thought. In a world full of such discontinuities, how can thought, weeded as it is to the principle of continuity, succeed?

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