Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Kant and Advaita's Third Way

The trouble with Kant and other system builders with an extensive glossary of technical terms is that to navigate your way through them you have to achieve a command of this jargon. This has an indoctrination effect, engrams are etched and suddenly you’re in Kantworld where beauty is the understanding’s grasp of the purposiveness of the object. A work of art works. That doesn’t seem right.

 a race-automobile which seems to rush over exploding powder is more beautiful than the 'Victory of Samothrace'."(Tommaso/Futurist Manifesto)

What is Kant’s central insight, experiment or observation that functions as a protophaenomenon as Coleridge put it. Having a sense of that we can then submit to the system and its toils. Essentially it is a reaction to what he call transcendental realism or finding everything in the object. He opposed to that his own transcendental idealism or finding everything in the subject. It seems to have taken him 10 years to pack that bag.

Advaita Vedanta offers a third way: transcendental non-dualism to adapt Kant’s terminology and rule of trine. The object is an appearance. That is its reality. By virtue of being a form of limitation of absolute consciousness it can appear as it is in the mind of the subject which is also a form of limitation of absolute consciousness. Being of the same 'stuff’ the mind can take the form of the object. There is then a non-numerical identity relation between the object out there and the object in the mind of the subject. To this basic position Advaita adds in my interpretation of the theory of superimposition (adhyasa) a further layer. The Advaitin asks: Where is this consciousness really taking place? They postulate that it is in absolute consciousness, the ultimate reality. However the locus of this awareness is taken to be the mind of the subject, being superimposed there due to the dominant role of the physical in the generation of perception. Liberation is the overcoming of this mistake.

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