Saturday, 23 August 2014

Manas and Mind

Elisa Freschi reporting from a conference:
In this connection, Viktorya Lysenko aptly noted that one should be aware that manas cannot be translated as ‘mind’, since it is unconscious.

I have written about the inert mind in Advaita:

It seems to me fundamentally mistaken to deprecate the word ‘mind’ as a translation for the Sanskrit word ‘manas’ for the simple and sufficient reason that the reading of philosophy would become impossible even in the native language of the reader. We become aware after even a very short acquaintance with the subject that everything is in contention. Every possible topic seems merely a finger post directing us towards swirling fogs and quaking bogs. Does David Chalmers mean by consciousness what the Churchlands would accept, not to speak of Dennett who denies that there is such a thing. One could multiply examples ad nauseam. I submit that reading in our native language requires virtual ‘translation’ and that actual translation is analogous. The conventional translation of ‘mind’ for ‘manas’ is a finger post at one remove as it were. We must always be alert to the nuances of speaker’s meaning.


elisa freschi said...

Thanks for adding your view, Michael. Please let me know the next time you discuss a topic of the Indian Philosophy Blog. I do not want to run the risk to miss your views.

skholiast said...

Wait ... am I not supposed to use the word "Mind" for, say, the freudian Uncs? That seems very counter-intuitive.

ombhurbhuva said...

Skholiast: As you well know people have wrestled with the concept of the Freudian unconscious mind and discovered rational paradoxes in it. The dream is the royal road to the unconscious and there is no logic in it.

ombhurbhuva said...

Just exercising my hobby horse. You seem to be having a stimulating conference.

I’m re-reading Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson at the moment and finding that his special understanding of terms like ‘representation’, ‘image’, ‘perception’, is different from the common Realist/Idealist menu that one is used to. And yet they point towards the same areas or problem fields. It is his way of trying to subvert or supplant.

‘manas’ does not stand alone but in the relation manas/buddhi/citta //ahamkara constellation and so forth. Its intrinsic nature is inert/unconscious but as an existent entity it is always pervaded by consciousness. In that way it shares enough with ‘mind’ to be a common point of departure. Manas could be used as a technical term but it probably would have to be explained via known concepts anyway.