Indian influence on Greek Philosophy

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Just a clarification here, as I seem to be sleep walking while typing that post! I meant to say that even today we sort of have a 5 elements theory or our modern day physical entities could be put in the Indian 5 elements scheme:

Earth: Atomic elements in periodic table
Water: Electrons, fermions, bosons and other subatomic particles
Light: Photons, energy, radiation
Wind: Electomagnetic, strong nuclear, weak nuclear and gravity forces
Ether: Quantum, wavefunction
This has to be the biggest load of nonsense I have read in a long time.

a. Water and and the fermion s/bosons have nothing to do with each other. The key characteristic of water is it being fluid, the fermions, bosons, and like are distinguished by their discrete nature.

b. Ether and Quantum physics have no relation ship with each other. A key characteristics of quantum physics is that the universe is discrete, that energy comes in discrete packages and levels, and is not continuous. Ether is the exact opposite of the this idea.

c. The electromagnetism and the weak force has more to do with light than it does with gravity, yet you lump the weak force and electromagnetism in with gravity.

d. Many of the elements on the periodic table are gasses in normal conditions, so "earth" poorly represents the periodic table. Also the concepts of the periodic table is that is shows there are systematic relationships between the elements, something the concept of "earth" doesn't capture at all.

The concept of 5 elements have nothing to do with modern physics, and all the saying. The ancient and medieval Indians did not invent modern science, so get over it.

- The Indians did not discover the law of gravity
- Nor did the Indians come with the wave-particle nature of matter and light, and develop specific mathematical formulation that describes that relationship.
- The Indians did not create the idea of a rigorous proof mathematical proof. The mathematical proof created by the Greeks is the foundation of modern mathematics.

The development of mathematical proof is primarily the product of ancient Greek mathematics, and one of its greatest achievements. Mathematical proof - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Using the same techniques pioneered by the Greeks, but using a different set of axioms (fundamental assumptions), Western mathematicians were able to create non Euclidean geometry. What is key, that separates the Greeks from the Indians and Chinese, is the idea of a "proof" - the methodology they developed is as important, or even more so, than any specific discovery. As Fermat Last Theorem shows, mathematically proving something is true is often much harder than creating the theorem or equation in the first place.



Come to think of it I like how elegant the 5 element theory is
But it is a bad approximately of reality, and poor science. The 5 elements did not lead to other discoveries. The European created atomic theory eventually led to the periodic table, and led to successful predictions of the properties of elements that hadn't been discovered yet.

All of our theories are at best an approximation of reality, but some are a better approximately than others, and are better at leading to further approximations than others. Newton's laws are just an approximation of the real world, but they are better than anything the Indians came up with.

Anyways, the claim that Greek philosophy is based on Indian philosophy is wrong. For one thing, at the time that Greek philosophers like Plato were creating their philosophy, Greece simply did not have a lot of direct contact with India. It wasn't until Alexander's time that the Greeks really began a lot of direct contact with India. By the time Alexander led his armies into India, and created direct contacts between Greeks and Indians, Greek philosophy was well established.

And given the uncertain state of India chronology, any similarity might be do to Indians borrowing from the Greeks and not the other way around. We know that Greek artistic traditions had a major impact on Indian sculpture, and the dating of even as an important ruler as Kanishka's is a matter of debate. Noe, it was the West that came repeatedly to India, first with the Persians, then with the Greeks, followed by the Muslims, and finally the British, and not the other way around.
 

Joshua A

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
2,253
This has to be the biggest load of nonsense I have read in a long time.

a. Water and and the fermion s/bosons have nothing to do with each other. The key characteristic of water is it being fluid, the fermions, bosons, and like are distinguished by their discrete nature.
Bart Dale, I understand you would find it nonsense if we compare literal water to electrons, fermions and bosons. However, we are not doing that. We are comparing the Indian elemental water substance(not literal water) which is distinguished by its property of fluidity. Anything which is fluidic and flows comes under the water element. The Indians even understand space and time as belonging to the cosmic waters(i.e. space) The word "Akasha ganga" literally sky-river(ganga) means galaxy.

When we talk about electricity we are really talking about a current and flowing of electrons. Hence why in the Indian elemental scheme, that which has a flowing nature would be classified under the water element.

b. Ether and Quantum physics have no relation ship with each other. A key characteristics of quantum physics is that the universe is discrete, that energy comes in discrete packages and levels, and is not continuous. Ether is the exact opposite of the this idea.
Laszlo, modern philosophers of science and physicist differs with you who thinks the Indian ether(Akasha) is equivalent to the modern quantum field. He is not the only one who has made this parallel. The quantum field is a fundamental field which interpenetrates and interconnects all entities in the universe and it is the source from this matter originates. In the quantum field matter does not yet exist as material. In quantum field theory this is represented as the quantum vacuum, where electrons disappear into when they "jump" or quantum tunneling. Matter is constantly flashing in and out of existence from this field. Similarly the Indian Akasha is a fundamental field which interpenetrates and interconnects all entities in the universe and it is the source from this matter originates. The Buddhists like modern day quantum field theorists say matter is constantly flashing in and out of existence from this field.

Since the Michael-Morley experiment disconfirming the existence of the luminous ether and Einstein's pronouncement that its existence is superflous to explaining SR, the ether has reentered science as a serious and credible theory by quantum field theorists. Furthermore, the Michael-Morley experiment was repeated again by the USAF with more sophisticated modern equipment and this time they found positive evidence for the existence of the ether.

Lorentz and Poincaré Invariance: 100 Years of Relativity - Jong-Ping Hsu, Yuanzhong Zhang - Google Books

From the viewpoint of modern quantum field theorists, the existence of the Aether is not incompatible with the principles of relativity for physical laws and the Loretnz and Poincare Invarience​

Wiki: Aether

Quantum vacuum[edit]
Quantum mechanics can be used to describe spacetime as being non-empty at extremely small scales, fluctuating and generating particle pairs that appear and disappear incredibly quickly. It has been suggested by some such as Paul Dirac[5] that this quantum vacuum may be the equivalent in modern physics of a particulate aether. However, Dirac's aether hypothesis was motivated by his dissatisfaction with quantum electrodynamics, and it never gained support by the mainstream scientific community.[6]

Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel Laureate in Physics, endowed chair in physics, Stanford University, had this to say about ether in contemporary theoretical physics:

It is ironic that Einstein's most creative work, the general theory of relativity, should boil down to conceptualizing space as a medium when his original premise [in special relativity] was that no such medium existed [..] The word 'ether' has extremely negative connotations in theoretical physics because of its past association with opposition to relativity. This is unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually think about the vacuum. . . . Relativity actually says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of matter pervading the universe, only that any such matter must have relativistic symmetry. [..] It turns out that such matter exists. About the time relativity was becoming accepted, studies of radioactivity began showing that the empty vacuum of space had spectroscopic structure similar to that of ordinary quantum solids and fluids. Subsequent studies with large particle accelerators have now led us to understand that space is more like a piece of window glass than ideal Newtonian emptiness. It is filled with 'stuff' that is normally transparent but can be made visible by hitting it sufficiently hard to knock out a part. The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo.[7]​

c. The electromagnetism and the weak force has more to do with light than it does with gravity, yet you lump the weak force and electromagnetism in with gravity.
It is not I who lump them together, but the standard model in physics. Electromagnetic, gravity, nuclear strong and nuclear wear are the four fundamental forces. In the Indian elemental scheme all forces belong to the elemental wind, because they have the property of movement and touch. The Indian sanskrit "vayu" literally means to move. They are not referring to literal winds. They described gravity, magnetism, electrostatic attraction and basically all unseen forces as winds. It is interesting that in earlier modern times we also used the words winds in the sense to describe electric winds, solar winds, magnetic winds.

d. Many of the elements on the periodic table are gasses in normal conditions, so "earth" poorly represents the periodic table. Also the concepts of the periodic table is that is shows there are systematic relationships between the elements, something the concept of "earth" doesn't capture at all.
Again, indeed you are right if Earth was literally referring to Earth it would be poor a representation of atomic elements, because gasses and liquids are not Earth. However, in Indian elemental Earth, Earth is anything which has solidity. The Sanskrit word "Pritvhi" literally means static/solid. Earth is that which has the distinguishing property of solidity. Anything which has solidity has Earth in it. This is why it is distinguished by the property of "smell" because you can only smell something if solid particles enter your nose receptors. If you can smell a liquid or a gas it is because it has the Earth element.

All the atomic elements can be put in the Indian element Earth.

The concept of 5 elements have nothing to do with modern physics, and all the saying. The ancient and medieval Indians did not invent modern science, so get over it.
Nobody can invent science. What the ancient Indians did was invent the modern scientific method and some of its protocols. They also developed some of the modern tools like Calculus, the decimal system and equations. This was transmitted to Europe via the Arabs. The Arabs developed a bit on the Indian, and the Europeans developed on the Arabs.

The Greeks did not develop science, but what they did develop was the technology, instrument and machines. The Arabs built further on their mechanical knowledge to invent many useful devices and machines.

We could say the Indians developed the theoretical aspect of science and the Greeks developed the technological aspect of science. Modern science would not have been possible without the contributions of both. You see I am humble enough to admit the Greek contributions, but why are my critics here not humble enough to admit the Indian contributions? The Greeks were not know by the world for their mastery of philosophy and science - they were know for their mechanical engineering. The Indians were not known for their mechanical engineering, they were known for their science and philosophy.

The West developed the practical aspects of modern science and the East developed the theoretical aspects of modern science.

- The Indians did not discover the law of gravity
- Nor did the Indians come with the wave-particle nature of matter and light, and develop specific mathematical formulation that describes that relationship.
- The Indians did not create the idea of a rigorous proof mathematical proof. The mathematical proof created by the Greeks is the foundation of modern mathematics.
John Adams, the second president of America disagrees:

We find that Materialists and Immaterialists existed in India and that they accused each other of Atheism, before Berkly or Priestley, or Dupuis, or Plato, or Pythagoras were born. Indeed Neuton himself, appears to have discovered nothing that was not known to the Antient Indians. He has only furnished more ample demonstrations of the doctrines they taught.​


Using the same techniques pioneered by the Greeks, but using a different set of axioms (fundamental assumptions), Western mathematicians were able to create non Euclidean geometry. What is key, that separates the Greeks from the Indians and Chinese, is the idea of a "proof" - the methodology they developed is as important, or even more so, than any specific discovery. As Fermat Last Theorem shows, mathematically proving something is true is often much harder than creating the theorem or equation in the first place.
What is ironic that that Western mathematics is based on Indian mathematics. Even Einstein admitted this, "We owe a lot to the Indians... they taught us how to count" The Greeks could not count properly, if we were using Greek mathematics we would not be able to do any science at all. A simple multiplication would take hours to do.

The Indians were the first to give scientific and mathematical models to represent physical phenomena, this is very easily proven. They gave the first equations of motion and the first to conceptualize 3D space geometry.


If you say the Greeks were the first, then show me the evidence.

But it is a bad approximately of reality, and poor science. The 5 elements did not lead to other discoveries. The European created atomic theory eventually led to the periodic table, and led to successful predictions of the properties of elements that hadn't been discovered yet.
Anyways, the claim that Greek philosophy is based on Indian philosophy is wrong. For one thing, at the time that Greek philosophers like Plato were creating their philosophy, Greece simply did not have a lot of direct contact with India. It wasn't until Alexander's time that the Greeks really began a lot of direct contact with India. By the time Alexander led his armies into India, and created direct contacts between Greeks and Indians, Greek philosophy was well established.
Then why don't you you deal with the arguments that esteemed scholars like Thomas McEvilly and N Kanzus have made, which I have referenced partially in my article showing the Indian influences on Greek philosophy.

Why is Plato's philosophy near identical to the philosophy of the Vedanta of the Indians which scholars agree is considerably older? Plato says there is a divine self and that philosophy is about knowing and realizing this divine self. He calls it the highest science. Vedanta says there is a divine self and Jnana(knowledge) is about knowing this divine self. This is the highest science. Plato uses the metaphor of a chariot to describe the soul and its faculties. The Vedanta use the metaphor of a chariot to describe the soul and its faculties. Plato says the soul transmigrates. Vedanta says the soul transmigrates. Plato talks about contemplation, dialogue and even a process of quietening the mind to realize the Self. Vedanta talks about contemplation, dialogue and meditation to realize the Self. Plato proclaims "Know thyself, and you will know all" and Vedanta constantly proclaims "Know the self, and you will know all there is to know" Plato says the phenomenal world is a constantly changing world is a projection of an unchanging and pure reality of ideals forms. Vedanta says this phenomenal world of matter is constantly changing and is an illusory projection of the pure and ultimate reality of Brahman.

Also explain this to me why would philosophy appear in Greece all of a sudden of nowhere in 600BCE at the same time as the Orphic religion? Why would the Orphic religion have beliefs identical to the signature beliefs of Indians? Wheel of rebirth, transmigration, vegetarianism, non-violence, divine self and "Veda" like books to Gods similar to Indian gods?

Why would Pythagoras give the same mathematical theorem as the Indians, have the same beliefs as Indians 5 elements and vegetarianism, practice the same rituals as the Indians wear orange robes, vegetarianism and consider it a sin to spit at fire? Why are there Green accounts of Pythagoras trip to India? Why are so many scholars in agreement that Pythagoras visited India or was influenced by the Samkhya, including the foremost Western authorities on Indology/Sanskrit Willam Jones, Garbe and Max Muller?

And given the uncertain state of India chronology, any similarity might be do to Indians borrowing from the Greeks and not the other way around. We know that Greek artistic traditions had a major impact on Indian sculpture, and the dating of even as an important ruler as Kanishka's is a matter of debate. Noe, it was the West that came repeatedly to India, first with the Persians, then with the Greeks, followed by the Muslims, and finally the British, and not the other way around.
The dates given to Indian chronology are the shortest possible, as Western historians like to give the shortest dates possible to Indian philosophers. If you argue it is even shorter then you need to prove it. The current accepted date place the beginning of Indian philosophy between 1500-100BCE when the later books of the Rig Veda were written. The oldest Upanishads, considered pre-Buddhist were composed around 1100-1000BCE. Before Greek philosophy has even started, Indian philosophy was already well established. The doctrines of the 5 elements, the three humours, transmigration, body-mind dualism, Samkhya, vegetarianism, the philosophical quest for self-realization, the cultivation of virtues, logos were already several centuries old(as per SC)

Before Greek philosophy had even started India already had a vibrant and ancient philosophical tradition. It already had three major philosophical religions: Hinduism(including Vaishnavism, tantra), Brahmanism and Jainism. It had several different philosophical schools: The Charvaka, Ajikas, Buddhists, Jains, Samkhya, Vaiseshika, Nyayas, Mimsassakas, Grammarians. There was already lively formal debating taking place. There was already a scholarly and intellectual culture and established universities and higher centers of learning. There was a standardized language and grammar. There was already a vast corpus of philosophical and scientific literature: The Vedas, Upanishads, tantras, Agnivesha tantra(redacted in the Charaka Samhita) Sushrutha Samhita, the Sutras, the Mahabharata, Gita.

Unless one is blinded by bias and is being dishonest, one can easily see how far ahead of the Greeks the Indians were. The fact that we know the Indians already had a well established philosophical tradition and scientific and scholarly culture several centuries before the Greeks and had already established all the doctrines that we later see appear suddenly and mysteriously with the Greeks, it becomes obvious the Greeks were the borrowers not the Indians.

For every Greek idea or Greek philosophical doctrine, there is an even older, more refined and developed Indian analogue.

John Adams(quoted above) is no Indian nationalist and nor is he is Hindu. He was an early Untiarian Church member with Priestly. Priestly initiated the first American studies into Hinduism and other Indina religions in order to help Christian missionary activities in converting Hindus into America. The aim was to show how Christianity is superior to Hinduism. This spurred on the first indological studies of America and John Adams was one of the early Americans to study Indian literature and history. John Adams studied these texts from the missionary point of view i.e. he started with a view prejudiced against them - but he ended up being very impressed with them and realized what many early European scholars did, that the Indians had a superior philosophical tradition than even the West and that the Greek philosophers had borrowed from them.

It will become a fact in your life time that the Greeks were the inheritors of Philosophy from the Indians and not originators. There is simply far too much evidence to deny it now. Today we have open access to all the Indian scientific and philosophical literature, that the lie the Greeks started philosophy and science can no longer be maintained. Not only did the Indians find the first philosophy and science, they already reached a modern level of sophistication before the Greeks even started.

What we call the scientific method is found in the Nyaya Sutras(500BCE, original date given by historians) What we call psychology is found in the Yoga Sutras(200BCE) What we call mathematical linguistics is found in the Ashtadhyayi(500BCE) What we call combinatriocs binary numbers is found in the Chandashastra(400-200BCE) What we call Newtonian mechanics, atomic theory and physics is found in the Vaiseshika Sutras(600BCE) What we call clinical trials of drugs, embryology and genetics is found in the Charaka Samhita(600-200BCE) What we call reconstructive plastic surgery and brain surgery is found in the Sushruta Samhita(600BCE)

Anybody can very easily today open up these texts, as they are available in the open domain on the free on the internet and verify my statements. So the deniers can try very hard, but the truth always prevails(so goes an Indian saying) There are more and more historians of philosophy and science, more and more scholars Indian and non-Indian who are now getting this all out in the open. Just as the zero and decimal system has now finally been accepted to be Indian, and now Calculus is increasingly acknowledged to be Indian. Slowly all other things will be to.
 
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Joshua A

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
2,253
For those who do not like reading long posts, this part in my posts sums it up perfectly:

We could say the Indians developed the theoretical aspect of science and the Greeks developed the technological aspect of science. Modern science would not have been possible without the contributions of both. You see I am humble enough to admit the Greek contributions, but why are my critics here not humble enough to admit the Indian contributions? The Greeks were not know by the world for their mastery of philosophy and science - they were know for their mechanical engineering. The Indians were not known for their mechanical engineering, they were known for their science and philosophy.

The West developed the practical aspects of modern science and the East developed the theoretical aspects of modern science
Look at the accounts of the ancient civilizations themselves - the Greeks were not known for their philosophy, but their mechanical engineering and technology. Even the Greeks did not know themselves for their philosophy or science, they were lovers of Indian philosophy and science and held it in high esteem. The Arabs regarded the Indians as the nation of science and philosophy, not the Greeks. The Arabs appointed Indian doctors to head their hospitals and not the Greeks. The Arabs called mathematics Hind(of India) not the Greeks.

Even the Greeks would probably not recognize themselves in the exaggerated nationalistic account of Europeans ideologues, which we all know was used to justify Europe's growing importance in the world in the late medieval ages and the "white mans burden "
Come on we are living in a post-colonial 21st century globalized world, it is high time these myths are laid to rest. China has already set its own record straight. It is now the Indians who are setting their own records straight. Soon Indians will have their own history of science, philosophy and technology volumes available in every library in the world.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Laszlo, modern philosophers of science and physicist differs with you who thinks the Indian ether(Akasha) is equivalent to the modern quantum field.
Laszlo is not a physicist, and does not have a technical background, he originally was a Classical pianist, which hardly qualifies him to make judgments on quantum physics. As far as I know, he has never taken an actual quantum physics.

He is not the only one who has made this parallel. The quantum field is a fundamental field which interpenetrates and interconnects all entities in the universe and it is the source from this matter originates. In the quantum field matter does not yet exist as material. In quantum field theory this is represented as the quantum vacuum, where electrons disappear into when they "jump" or quantum tunneling. Matter is constantly flashing in and out of existence from this field. Similarly the Indian Akasha is a fundamental field which interpenetrates and interconnects all entities in the universe and it is the source from this matter originates. The Buddhists like modern day quantum field theorists say matter is constantly flashing in and out of existence from this field.
People see all kinds of images in clouds and in Rorschach ink blots, but that doesn't mean the images are there. The Indian descriptions of these fields are so vague and lacking in detail that you can see in them whatever you want. But as for making actual predictions, the Indian Akasha field doesn't, and it is not science, nor does it really add to our understanding of physics. And if you say enough random some, occasionally you might say something that actually approach reality, still doesn't mean the idea is sound science. For example, Velikovsky successfully predicted Venus would be hot. That still doesn't make his theory nonsense.

Since the Michael-Morley experiment disconfirming the existence of the luminous ether and Einstein's pronouncement that its existence is superflous to explaining SR, the ether has reentered science as a serious and credible theory by quantum field theorists. Furthermore, the Michael-Morley experiment was repeated again by the USAF with more sophisticated modern equipment and this time they found positive evidence for the existence of the ether.
The ether as it was commonly understood, has been disproven by the original Michael-Morley experiment, and other, far more sensitive experiments than Michael-Morley ever did. Whatever the cause of some of their later experiments results, later experiments, done with far greater precision, have disapproved that the ether as it was commonly understood.

There are scientist who are proposing a kind of ether to account for Dark Energy mystery, but their ether is different than the classical ether, and remains unproven. In any case, the concept of the ether than Western scientist were using came from the ancient Greeks, and while the Indians may have created their own idea, the very word "ether" is of Greek origin. In any case, once you have an understanding that light is a wave, the concept of an ether arises naturally from analogy with sound waves - you have to have a medium (i.e. ether) for the sound waves to travel in. The fact is that light does not need an ether to travel, even if it has a wave nature, and that has changed.

The word αἰθήρ (aithēr) in Homeric Greek means "pure, fresh air" or "clear sky." In Greek mythology, it was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals. It is also personified as a deity, Aether, the son of Erebus and Nyx in traditional Greek mythology. Aether is related to αἴθω "to incinerate",[3] and intransitive "to burn, to shine" (related is the name Aithiopes (Ethiopians), meaning "people with a burnt (black) visage"). See also Empyrean. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_(classical_element)


It is not I who lump them together, but the standard model in physics. Electromagnetic, gravity, nuclear strong and nuclear wear are the four fundamental forces.
You miss the relationship that light has with these forces - light is the carrier of the electromagnetic force. Indians did not invent modern science and they did not invent quantum physics. What separates modern sciences from earlier works is that it is rigorous - quantum physics follows specific mathematical equations that lead to highly accurate predictions. The mystical jargon of the Indians has no relationship with science. That's one of the major things that separates modern science from philosophy - a good scientific theory makes specific predictions that can be measurement and produced, so that the theory can be proved or disproved. The works of Indians fails on this account.




Again, indeed you are right if Earth was literally referring to Earth it would be poor a representation of atomic elements, because gasses and liquids are not Earth. However, in Indian elemental Earth, Earth is anything which has solidity.
If you are talking metaphorically, that is poetry and religion, not science. Modern science does not deal with things metaphorically.



Nobody can invent science. What the ancient Indians did was invent the modern scientific method and some of its protocols. They also developed some of the modern tools like Calculus, the decimal system and equations.
The ancient Indians DID NOT invent modern science. Nor did they invent calculus. Newton and Leibniz invented calculus, we know who they are, and the writing conventions come from them. (Mostly from Leibniz, but a little from Newton). The facts speak for themselves

- Did Indians come up with a mathematically formula for gravity - NO
- Did the ancient Indians come with the mathematical relationship between distance, velocity, and acceleration, and mass? No.
- Did the ancient Indians successfully calculate the orbits of all the planets, as Kepler did? No
- Did the ancient Indians discover properties of the swing of pendulum - NO. Did the ancient Indians put the motion of the pendulum into practical applications, by making for accurate clocks, No.

The Indians did invent our modern numbering system, and the concept of zero, but the rest they did not.


The Greeks did not develop science, but what they did develop was the technology, instrument and machines.
The Greek work laid the foundation of modern science, and it was their work that the people did create modern science built on. For some 600 years, all the major scientific discoveries and inventions were done by the Europeans.
 

Joshua A

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
2,253
Laszlo is not a physicist, and does not have a technical background, he originally was a Classical pianist, which hardly qualifies him to make judgments on quantum physics. As far as I know, he has never taken an actual quantum physics.
You don't seem to know much about him:

Dr. Laszlo is generally recognized as the founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory. His work in recent years has centered on the formulation and development of the “Akasha Paradigm,” the new conception of cosmos, life and consciousness emerging at the forefront of the contemporary sciences. He serves as President of the Club of Budapest, Chairman of the Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study, Chancellor of the Giordano Bruno New-Paradigm University, and Editor of World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research.

He is recipient of the highest degree in philosophy and human sciences from the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, as well as of the coveted Artist Diploma of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Budapest. Additional prizes and awards include four honorary doctorates.

His appointments have included research grants at Yale and Princeton Universities, professorships for philosophy, systems sciences, and future sciences at the Universities of Houston, Portland State, and Indiana, as well as Northwestern University and the State University of New York. His career also included guest professorships at various universities in Europe and the Far East. In addition, he worked as program director for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Canadian International Institute of Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics.

For many years he has served as president of The Club of Budapest, which he founded. He is an advisor to the UNESCO Director General, ambassador of the International Delphic Council, member of both the International Academy of Science, World Academy of Arts and Science, and the International Academy of Philosophy.

Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (2004, 2005), he got Goi Peace prize (2001). He has authored more than 70 books, which have been translated into twenty languages, and has published in excess of four hundred articles and research papers, including six volumes of piano recordings.​

People see all kinds of images in clouds and in Rorschach ink blots, but that doesn't mean the images are there. The Indian descriptions of these fields are so vague and lacking in detail that you can see in them whatever you want. But as for making actual predictions, the Indian Akasha field doesn't, and it is not science, nor does it really add to our understanding of physics. And if you say enough random some, occasionally you might say something that actually approach reality, still doesn't mean the idea is sound science. For example, Velikovsky successfully predicted Venus would be hot. That still doesn't make his theory nonsense.
Erwin Lazlo is not seeing images in clouds, he is correctly recognizing like other philosophers of science and other physicists and scientists before him, including Nicole Telsa who was the first physicist to use the term "Akasha" to describe his theory of the equivalence of all energy and matter in his unpublished paper. The Indian Akasha has been co-opted by many philosophers of science and physicists, especially recently because it is a dead ringer for quantum field theory.

The Indians are not vague about the Akasha, they describe its exact properties: It is homogenous, infinite and indivisible. It is the medium through which waves propogate. It is the fifth physical substance in the Vaiseshika(physical) school. In the Samkhya there are two types of "Akasha" Akasha as a physical substance and Akasha as a non-physical and non-local field in which matter does not yet have manifest physicality. The Samkhya version of the Akasha is what the Jains and Buddhists subscribe to. It from this non-physical Akasha that the entire universe in its multifarious manifestations arises.

In the Samkhya philosophy the original substance of reality is Akasha or Mahakasha. It is called Moolaprakriti, literally meaning root matter. On this "Prana" the primal force acts, causing the Akasha to manifest physically. The Samkhya represent this primal force of Prana as the "gunas" literally meaning strings, which vibrate at the fundamental core of reality and their vibrations is what causes matter to arise. What we call matter is according to Samkhya nothing more the the vibrations of the gunas and everything is made of these guna vibrations mutually acting against each other and entangled with one another.

The similarity with quantum physics-string theory and field theory is pretty obvious. Quantum physics says that matter is fundamentally just vibrations, string theory further says that the entire universe is actually vibrations of quantum strings. The Samkhya like quantum physics represent all of reality as a function of the wave like activity of the gunas, quantum physics represents reality as a mathematical wave. This is where Indic beliefs that reality is produced by sound vibrations(concept of pranava) and the entire universe is vibrating comes. The Samkhya further describe reality as a "field"

The Buddhists, who are also influenced by the Samkhya, make even more definite statements about Akasha and the nature of reality. They say reality is field of flux and all matter is made up atoms which are constantly fluctuating in and out of the Akasha(a dead ringer for quantum field and quantum vacuum theory) They further say that reality is not made of individual entities, but mutual interdependent relationships(theory of dependent origin)

I did my dissertation on quantum field theory and Akasha(distinction) and Erwin Laslo is an accomplished philosopher of science and systems theorist. We are not the only ones are seeing the paralelll. Capra is another philosopher of science and physicist who sees the parallel. We are not seeing things that are not there. Not only is the Akasha identical with modern theories of quantum, the history of quantum physics itself is inseparably tied with Indian philosophy.

The ether as it was commonly understood, has been disproven by the original Michael-Morley experiment, and other, far more sensitive experiments than Michael-Morley ever did. Whatever the cause of some of their later experiments results, later experiments, done with far greater precision, have disapproved that the ether as it was commonly understood.

There are scientist who are proposing a kind of ether to account for Dark Energy mystery, but their ether is different than the classical ether, and remains unproven. In any case, the concept of the ether than Western scientist were using came from the ancient Greeks, and while the Indians may have created their own idea, the very word "ether" is of Greek origin. In any case, once you have an understanding that light is a wave, the concept of an ether arises naturally from analogy with sound waves - you have to have a medium (i.e. ether) for the sound waves to travel in. The fact is that light does not need an ether to travel, even if it has a wave nature, and that has changed.
Yes, indeed the modern "Aeather" or luminous ether was "superflous" as we do not need to explain the propogation of light, which is through the electromagnetic field. The Vaiseshika posited the existence of the ether for the propogation of sound waves. Light was not understood to be a wave, but a stream of high speed particles. However, it was recognized by the medical school to propogate as a wave. Hence, there was some implicit recognition of the particle wave duality of light.

It is highly unlikely the Greeks developed the concept of "ether" independently. The five elements theory most likely came from the Samkhya. Many scholars are in agreement that the Samkhya had an influence on early Greek philosophy.

You miss the relationship that light has with these forces - light is the carrier of the electromagnetic force. Indians did not invent modern science and they did not invent quantum physics. What separates modern sciences from earlier works is that it is rigorous - quantum physics follows specific mathematical equations that lead to highly accurate predictions. The mystical jargon of the Indians has no relationship with science. That's one of the major things that separates modern science from philosophy - a good scientific theory makes specific predictions that can be measurement and produced, so that the theory can be proved or disproved. The works of Indians fails on this account.
I think it is the other way around to be honest, photons ride the electromagnetic field.

I did not say Indians invented quantum physics. Quantum physics is definitely a modern invention and relies on advanced mathematics that only came about in recent times. Nor did the Indians have the experimental tools to empirically test the quantum field or do a double split experiment. Same goes for atomic physics.

However, did the Indians actually predict the existence of atoms, the quantum fields? Yes, definitely. They gave proofs for why the atoms and the quantum field must exist, not mystical mumbo jumbo. The Samkhya gave 5 proofs for why the quantum field exists which they call roughly by the same name "Moolaprakriti" or root/fundamental matter, and very explicitly even say "If it is argued that Fundamental/root matter must not exist because it is not perceptible, we argue that is not perceptible because it is extremely subtle and absolutely imperceptible to the senses"

The Samkhya say matter exists in two states: As manifest(vykat) and as an unmanifest(avyakt) At the manifest level matter appears to be made of multiple and separate things. At the unmanifest level matter is singular, indivisible and continuous field of guna interactions/vibrations. The unmanifest collapses into the manifest on observation by consciousness. An argument is given by the Samkhya for this, "Unmanifest matter cannot collapse itself because it cannot act on itself as it singular and continuous, it requires an external efficient cause and that is consciousness" This is the consciousness-collapse measurement theory of quantum physics put forward by Eugene Winger, which argues that because a quantum system is entangled, it cannot collapse itself. It requires an external efficient cause.

I am going to cover the Indian quantum theory in the "Missing chapter of Indian science in our history books" with references, citations and further reading.

f you are talking metaphorically, that is poetry and religion, not science. Modern science does not deal with things metaphorically.
There is nothing poetic and religious about it. It is saying that the substance that is the Earth element is marked by the property of solidity. It is received by the sense of the nose as solid particles.

Please see my article on "Atomic sciences" in my old thread. The Vaiseshika school is thoroughly rationalist school not a mystical school. It means the school of particularism. It presents a similar philosophy to Leibinitz that reality can be classified by the distinct properties of substances. The Vaiseshika analyse reality into 6 categories: Substances, Qualities, Actions, Genus, Species, Inherence. A substance is that which is the locus of qualities. There are nine pure substances the Vaiseshika recognize:

The 5 physical substances

Earth atom, the quality of of smell
Water atom, the quality of taste
Light atom, the quality of colour
Wind atom, the quality of touch
Ether, the quality of sound(only non-atomic element)

All of physical properies like weight, size, dimension, belong to compounds.

The rest are non-physical substances:

Space, the quality of directions, magnitude, size
Time, the quality of past, present and future and fast and slow
Mind, the quality of cognition

Consciousness, the quality of knowledge, ignorance, pain, pleasure, good and bad

As these are all irreducible due to having different qualities they are all considered separate and distinct substances. You cant reduce smell to taste to colour to touch to sound to direction to phase in time to cognition to pain, pleasure knowledge and ignorance.

What is so mystical and mumbo jumbo about this? Why is this mystical mumbo jumbo but if Thales talks about magnets having souls, Democritus of atoms having eyes and Aristotle of matter having "wills" it is rational and scientific?

The ancient Indians DID NOT invent modern science. Nor did they invent calculus. Newton and Leibniz invented calculus, we know who they are, and the writing conventions come from them. (Mostly from Leibniz, but a little from Newton). The facts speak for themselves
The ancient Indians invented the inductive scientific method and some of the protocols of modern science like controls and conditions. They also invented the method of using calculus and mathematics to apply to mechanical problems. Ancient Indians did indeed invent Calclus, it is a proven fact that the first book on Calculus was composed by the Kerela school of mathematicians in South India in the 12th century. These books were translated and transmitted by Jesuit missionaries in Europe and then Calculus appeared a few centuries later in Europe.

Did Indians come up with a mathematically formula for gravity - NO
- Did the ancient Indians come with the mathematical relationship between distance, velocity, and acceleration, and mass? No.
- Did the ancient Indians successfully calculate the orbits of all the planets, as Kepler did? No
- Did the ancient Indians discover properties of the swing of pendulum - NO. Did the ancient Indians put the motion of the pendulum into practical applications, by making for accurate clocks, No.
No, they did not invent the mathematical formulas for gravity, but they certainly did describe gravity and knew about so called Newton's laws of motion in quite a bit of details.
They did give the mathematical equations for motion. The very first equation for distance and velocity is found in Aryabhattas book. They also gave the equation d/t = v for uniform velocity of planets and the differential equation for the instantaneous velocity of a planet.
No, I am not familiar with anything the Indians said on pendulum motion.

The Greek work laid the foundation of modern science, and it was their work that the people did create modern science built on. For some 600 years, all the major scientific discoveries and inventions were done by the Europeans.
What foundations, it was the Greeks work that lead to a 1000 year dark age. It was not until the scientific method and number system arrived in Europe via the Arabs that the scientific revolution took off. The scientific revolution was the result of overturning the pseudoscience of the Greek.

It was not just the zero the Europeans the Europeans received from the Indians. The list includes: Calculus, Surgery(especially rhinoplasty), the inductive scientific method, manufacturing crucible steel and zinc, producing soaps. Later, psychology and phenomenology.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2012
3,308
Des Moines, Iowa
Sorry it has taken some time to respond back to you civfanatic. I think we are having a different debate now. You are comparing Indian natural philosophy and science to modern science, while the original debate is comparing Indian natural philosophy and science to Greek philosophy and science. Indian natural philosophy and science is vastly superior to Greek natural philosophy and science, but not to modern science. Modern science has certainly exceeded Indian natural philosophy.
I am comparing Indian natural philosophy to modern science because you yourself have compared Indian natural philosophy to modern science. I am glad you admit that Indian natural philosophy is vastly inferior to modern science, but you should understand that modern science did not develop in a vacuum. It is a specific product of Western civilization and developed in the specific social and cultural contexts of late Renaissance Europe.


The Indians were able to discover a lot using their scientific methods and anticipate many modern discoveries, but they were limited by the observations they could make. They had a prototype of the modern scientific method and were even familiar with controlled experiments. In philosophy of science they were having very much the same debates as we were are having today: How can we justify induction and make induction stronger, and they also talked about falsification and knew that knowledge is epistemologically dynamic. This is why they were vastly superior to the Greeks.

The Greeks had a philosophical method as opposed to a scientific method. The Greeks did not take induction seriously, because induction did not give necessary and demonstrative truths. They thought that the truths of reality could be found in the mind and them formally presented in a syllogism. This is why they came up with such wrong ideas. If you arguing the Indians were also wrong, perhaps they were on some things, but not as wrong as the Greeks. It is not even a close contest.
Show me the evidence that Indians regularly conducted controlled experiments and used them as a means of obtaining knowledge. This is an essential component of modern science.

I agree that the Indians, as well as several other civilizations, were superior to the Greeks in many fields. I just don't understand why you are using the Greeks as some sort of benchmark for scientific achievement. Both the ancient Greeks and ancient Indians were extremely primitive compared to the Western civilization of the 17th century and later, to which we owe modern science, modern technology, and virtually all the comforts of modern life.


We often trace the scientific method to the Greeks, but the irony is the scientific revolution could not have happen without first overturning all of our Greek ideas and Greek ways. In fact the scientific method arrived in Europe via the Arabs from India. Alhazan, the author of book of optics developed the modern scientific method and many of its protocols. Bacon developed on his work. The Arabs were very familiar with Indian sciences and the application of the Indian scientific method, especially in medicine. Hence why Arab's employed Indians to head their hospitals.
We don't trace the scientific method to the Greeks. Show me the evidence that al-Haytham adopted his methodology from Indians, and that Arabs regularly employed Indians to head their hospitals.


So many discoveries that we think are European are originally Indian, but historians have conveniently omitted the Indian origins of discoveries. The zero and decimal system was only recently, begrudgingly acknowledged, even that was credited to the Greeks. Most recently a growing number of historians of mathematics are now starting to slowly accept that Calculus came from India, but still mainstream historians omit it.
Every historian worth his salt knows that the concept of zero and modern number system were developed in India, and nobody denies that (the Mayans actually discovered the zero and developed a decimal system centuries before the Indians, but it did not reach the West). Calculus cannot be accredited to the Indians, because even though some elements of calculus were known to them, they did not discover the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (relationship between integration and differentiation). For this reason we rightfully give the credit of developing calculus to Newton and Leibniz, who put it to great use in explicating mathemetical models of the universe.


As I already said the five elements theory is not unscientific, because it is based on epistemology of how your senses collect data. You senses collect sights, smells, tastes, touches and sounds. They are not reducible to one another, hence they are quite literally elements.

The five element scheme is ingenious for its times. The Indians were able to use this scheme in many of their sciences. In Indian medicine, plants and minerals were classified according to their colour, form, shape/taste/smell/touch. They same was done in Indian chemistry, gemology and botany.
It is a primitive epistemological scheme and is poor science. I will elaborate more on this below.

Also, you have ignored the theory of "humorism" (tridosha) in Indian medicine.


The Ayurvedic pharmacist had to treat the Mercury by a special process whereby the Mercury would be reduced to minute nanoparticles, the minute nanoparticles would be combined with herbs increasing the bioavailability(in other words the herbs would be absorbed quicker and better) This type of therapy was used in very serious diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, leukemia and diseases resembling modern AIDS.
Show me the evidence that ancient Indians were reducing mercury to minute nanoparticles (I hope you realize what a nanoparticle is) and then combined those with herbs. I want technical details, not vague statements or generalizations. I also want evidence of such interventions being used to treat tuberculosis, cancer, and leukemia (I hope you realize that leukemia is a type of cancer, making the last part pretty redundant).


Yes, they are saying the same thing only insofar as they saying atoms must exist.
Yes, they are both saying that atoms must exist because the converse is illogical. However, neither theories are backed by any experimental observations whatsoever, so both are completely irrelevant to modern science. In modern science we give primacy to hard evidence above all else, as the modern scientific method is fundamentally empirical in nature. Indian natural philosophers did not have any scientific or mathematical understanding of the atom and its properties, while modern scientists do.


The Indians were so convinced that atoms existed they had corresponding time-scales going down to the atomic level, their smallest measure is 10^-7 corresponding to the moment of an atom.
10^-7 of what exactly? 10^-7 is just a number, not a measurement.


As I said your empirical world - literally your world as senses apprehends it - is only made up of 5 sensory forms: smells, taste colours/forms, and sounds.

You can put every physical thing in either of these 5 categories. All solids things are of the nature of Earth, all things which are flowing are of the nature of water, all things that have colour and heat are of the light of nature, all things which are of the nature of movement are the nature of wind, and all things which are vibrations/sounds are of the nature of ether/sound(explained below)
Actually, no, my sensory world consists of more than just five categories. Besides the five traditional senses, there are other senses like thermoception (temperature-sense), nociception (pain-sense), and proprioception (kinesthetic sense). In modern science and medicine, we use the term “somatic sensation” instead of "touch", because the phenomenon of "touch" is actually made up of multiple different modalities, like some of the ones I mentioned above. Thus, the concept of only "five elements" is primitive even in the confines of epistemology, to say nothing of chemistry and human biology. Also see:Sensation - Clinical Methods - NCBI Bookshelf

Of course, all these different senses are reducible to mere streams of undifferentiated currents of electricity to the brain, as I stated before. When you electrically stimulate the brain, you can produce sensations in the individual without the individual actually perceiving the outside world. Stimulating the occipital lobe of the brain with an electrode, for example, produces visual illusions (phosphenes) even without light entering the eye. Such visual sensations are obviously not reflective of physical reality, but they are nonetheless still sensations. The point is that such sensations are not caused by "light atoms" or “water atoms” or whatever, but ultimately by electrical impulses to the brain. The Indians were not aware of this because their understanding of human biology and the physical world, as I said, was very primitive.

Speaking of the physical world, what was the Indian method of classifying physical substances? They did not have the periodic table. How would Indians differentiate between hydrogen and oxygen, for example? Both substances are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and both are gases at room temperature. Yet their fundamental atomic structure is vastly different, and this makes all the difference in the universe. Of course, the primitive methods of the Indians would not enable them to even isolate these two gases, let alone comprehensively describe their properties (both hydrogen and oxygen were discovered and described by European scientists in the 18th century). Indeed, one reason why the Scientific Revolution occurred in Europe and not in India, is because the empirical and experimental scientific methodology of European scientists like Robert Boyle, Joseph Priestley, and Antoine Lavoisier was simply far more advanced than any Indian methodology. This is why the whole world calls the substance whose atom has just one proton as “hydrogen”, and not “jala-uptadaka” or something similar.


No, I have already given you the definition of what the Indians considered atoms and I have not said anything different: Atoms are dimensionless, infinitesmal point like entites which are responsible for the sensible properties of things.(The Buddhists consider atoms to be momentary flashes of energy, similar to quantum field theory) What we call "atoms" and "subatomic particles" are misnomers. What we consider to be atoms would be considered by the ancient Indians as higher order aggregates. There can be such thing as "sub atomic" because for the Indians atoms are indivisible.
Good, I am glad we have clarified this. If the Indian “atom” corresponds to the modern quark, then there are no electrons in the Indian atomic “model” (electrons are not quarks nor are they composed of quarks; they are a separate elementary particle), and without electrons you have no worthwhile theory of chemical bonding.

Of course, this whole comparison of Indian natural philosophy with modern science is indeed pointless as you pointed out, because the fundamental methodologies are different and the emphasis on rigorous experimentation that characterizes modern science is totally lacking in Indian natural philosophy or any other pre-modern “science”. Indian atomic theory, even if it sounds “sophisticated” and “advanced” to you, does not have any empirical support or observational evidence to support it, which means that its relevance to modern science and its potential for practical application is effectively zero. The Indian atomic “model”, devoid of experimental data as it is, is thus fundamentally non-comparable to modern science. Simply attempting to draw parallels between vague and unspecific ancient Indian concepts and modern scientific concepts does not show that ancient Indians had “science”, as we would call it.


My Maths teacher use to say to me that if the Greeks had been allowed to continue their march of philosophy and science, we would have been in the space age 1000 years earlier. Similarly, Indian civilization suffered great upheaval. The Mahabharata war has been regarded by Indians to be absolutely devastating destroying much of the order of Indian society and losing so many of its learned one. From that time Indian civilization was on a downwards spirals and by 500BCE Indians were constantly invaded - left, right and center. Despite this, Indians were still way ahead in science right up until the medieval ages. They had already developed by this time formal methods of calculus and were giving equations of motions. But then they were under siege by the Muslims, all their universities and libraries were laid to waste. When the British arrived, India was already broken and a pale shadow of what it was in ancient times. Its GDP had been falling rapidly from the time the Muslim invasions had started - from 33%(1-1000AD) to 16% by the Mughal empire to 5% by the end of the British empire.
Where’s the facepalm icon? Just when I thought the discussion couldn't sink any further into absurdity, you come up with this. Let me explain why you are wrong:

1. Western civilization suffered immense upheaval as well. You will be hard-pressed to find any European country that it did not go through any major civil wars, foreign invasions, uprisings, etc. in the past 1000 years.

2. Your whole notion that Indians were on a continuous downwards spiral since 500 B.C.E. is so ludicrous that I honestly don’t know where to start. In the field of pure mathematics, where Indians probably excelled the most, their greatest achievements and greatest mathematicians were almost all in the period after the 4th century C.E. The pinnacle of Indian mathematics was in fact reached in the 14th and 15th centuries C.E. in Kerala, in South India, 2000 years after your supposed “decline” began. This is when great mathematicians like Madhava of Sangamarama came up with what we can call proto-calculus.

3. In the physical sciences, applied sciences, and engineering India had already fallen behind other major civilizations by the medieval period. The Islamic civilization for example was far superior to Indian civilization in these matters, and this was one reason why powers like the Delhi Sultanate were able to easily defeat native Indian states and armies. The superior military architecture and military engineering of the Delhi Sultanate, as seen in their array of advanced weapons including crossbows, tension-powered ballistae ('arrada), counter trebuchets (manjaniq), and the ability of Sultanate engineers to quickly construct earthen ramps across moats and other obstacles, allowed Islamic armies to capture north Indian fortifications with extraordinary ease in the 13th and 14th centuries. Ultimately, native powers like the Rajputs, Vijayanagara , and the Marathas adopted these Islamicate technologies for themselves, as they were far superior to native architecture and engineering. Hence you see Rajput forts and armour showing heavy Islamic influence, etc.

4. Not all of India came under Islamic rule. Most of South and Eastern India remained independent of foreign rule until the 18th century, so foreign invasions cannot be used as an excuse for why these regions failed to develop modern science. In fact, as I showed above, the medieval period actually saw the pinnacle of Indian mathematical achievement, in Kerala. In fact, if any period in pre-modern history can be called “golden” for South India, it would be the medieval period from roughly the 11th-16th centuries. In addition to mathematics, this period also saw the pinnacle of South Indian urbanization and architectural achievement. Medieval South Indian cities like Warangal, Madurai, Masulipatnam, and especially Vijayanagara dwarfed their ancient counterparts. Similarly, the architecture of medieval South Indian states like the Cholas, Hoysalas, and Vijayanagara is far superior to any architecture from any part of ancient India. To say that Indians declined after 500 B.C.E. is beyond hilarious.

5. Equally hilarious is to use Angus Maddison’s statistic of India making up 33% of global GDP in ancient times to show that ancient India was more advanced than other civilizations. Maddison simply assumed that the Indian subcontinent had the largest population out of all world regions (as it had the largest amount of arable land out of all civilized areas), and then from this he concluded that India must have had the largest total GDP. This is not a wrong conclusion; it just doesn't tell us anything about how “advanced” ancient India was. The actual GDP per capita of ancient India postulated by Maddison was slightly above subsistence, i.e. $450. In comparison, Maddison postulated that Roman Italy, in comparison, had a GDP per capita almost twice as large, at $800. If anything, Maddison’s own data suggests that the Mediterranean world, and Roman Italy in particular, was more developed than India in ancient times, with the latter living barely above subsistence on average. That’s why it’s so hilarious when people like you quote this figure, without understanding anything about what it means or what the methodology behind the computation was.

6. The decline in India’s share of world GDP had nothing to do with a decline in India’s economy, or even a decline in India’s economic growth rate. In fact, according to Maddison’s OWN REPORT, the Indian economy grew much faster in colonial times than it did at any point in history, and the Indian economy at 1950 (end of colonial period) was larger than it had ever been. Even the Indian per capita income had grown slightly to $600, which by now was tiny compared to that of industrialized Western countries, but was still an improvement from ancient times.


I really hope the Indians can reverse the downwards spiral and ascend back to the 33% golden eagle status they had in ancient times. But they will never be able to do that without reviving their civilizational consciousness. Let us hope the BJP which aims just to do that comes to power this month. The revival of Indian nationalism will change the world order and Western universities will have no choice but to revise their history books. They are already starting to reel under the power of the Indian economy(Re: California text books, Doniger and AIT) If Indians do not bring the BJP in power, then there will never be an Indian resurgence.
India is already thoroughly westernized, so I doubt there is any question of “reviving civilizational consciousness” (whatever that means, exactly). India’s political, legal, and judicial systems are all westernized. Indian scientists are educated at Western-modeled universities learning Western methodology. India’s great economic development in recent decades is due to the application of Western economics and the utilization of Western technology. Even nationalism is an ideology that developed particularly in the West and influenced Indians only in the late 19th century, when Indian elites came into contact with Western political philosophy and ideals.

So, no, whether or not the BJP wins will change nothing.
 
Feb 2012
3,888
Portugal
Hi I was going to create a thread about a doubt I have but since there seems to be well informed people on this thread I thought maybe to post here.

I came across a quote from Empedocles (see below), read the author's book mentioned at the end of the article and Empedocles' fragments but never found this quote anywhere else besides the article and the author's book.

It contains nothing strange in Greek thought it comes in line with Plato's teachings in the Phaedo or Epictetus teachings in his discourses registered by Arrian, it has simply the particularity of laying it down more explicitly as a regular meditation exercise:

You must plunge beneath your crowded thoughts and calmly contemplate the higher realities with pure, focused attention. If you do this, a state of inspired serenity will remain with you throughout your life, shaping your character and benefiting you in so many ways. But if you direct your attention instead to the trivial things most people obsess about, the silly nonsense that dulls their minds, you’ll just acquire more objects which you’ll only lose anyway.
https://yogainternational.com/article/view/did-the-ancient-greeks-and-romans-practice-yoga
 
Feb 2012
3,888
Portugal
About the rest I have no difficulty being convinced of Indian influence in Greek culture. In fact I already had noticed how many Stoic and Platonist teachings are similar to Taoist meditation and philosophical Taoism. Then I read the Upanishads and it's all there.
 
Feb 2012
3,888
Portugal
Pyrrho is the founding figure in Greek skepticism. An ongoing debate within Hellenistic philosophy is whether Pyrrho’s skepticism and the doctrine that the sage is imperturbable is indigenous to Greek philosophical tradition or whether it was substantially influenced by Indian philosophy. The impetus for this discussion is the description of Pyrrho’s life in Diogenes Laertius (IX.61) which describes the influence of the Indiangymnosophists- naked philosophers- on Pyrrho. For Diogenes states that Pyrrho got the idea of agnosticism and the suspension of judgement from his trip to India.
John Burnet was one of the first to advance the position that Pyrrho was strongly influenced by Indian philosophy: “We see that those who knew Pyrrho well describe him as a sort of Buddhistarhat[enlightened monk] and that is doubtless how we should regard him. He is not so much a skeptic as an ascetic and quietist.” [1]Many other Greek scholars have agreed with this position. This is of course based on taking Diogenes Laertius’ biography of Pyrrho as basically accurate. Flintoff in aPhronesisarticle gives the best defense of Diogenes’ biography of Pyrrho: “In his carefully and precisely documented life of Pyrrho of Elis, a life which is certainly one of the best such in theLives of the Eminent Philosophersand draws upon an impressive gamut of different and seemingly independent sources (some of them, like Antigonus of Carystus, IX 62), near contemporaries of the subject of the biography,” Diogenes is giving us an accurate account of Pyrrho’s life. [2]While not all scholars agree there is Indian influence on Pyrrho, it is significant that in the debate they do not question the basic biography that Diogenes offers of Pyrrho, they only question whether Indian influence is the best way of explaining Pyrrho’s philosophy and way of life.
Reale advanced the thesis that the doctrine the sage is happy even while being tortured became prominent in Hellenistic philosophy because of the meeting of Pyrrho with Indian philosophers on his trip to India with Alexander the Great. Reale claims that in Pyrrho there is a new type of person entering Greek culture and this new type of person flowers in the Stoics and Epicureans who were influenced by Pyrrho. [3]
Before examining Reale’s thesis, I will relate the information of the general Greek contact with Indian philosophers which is contained in Strabo’sGeography, Plutarch’sLife of Alexanderand Arrian’sAnabasis of Alexander. Pyrrho traveled with Alexander the Great’s army to India and while he was there he encountered thegymnosophists, or naked philosophers. These naked philosophers, probably Jain monks, taught a doctrine of total indifference to bodily concerns. These monks disregarded their body and would meditate naked all day in the blazing sunshine. Onesicritus, a disciple of Diogenes the Cynic, was also on this trip and he visited thegymnosophists. He saw them on the hot sand, motionless, devoted to endurance. Onesicritus said the sand was so hot that no one could endure walking on it with bare feet. Nevertheless, these naked monks stood or laid motionless on the sand for the whole day. [4]Their primary teaching was that a person ought to remove pleasure and pain from the soul. [5]
One of these monks, Calanus, made a very strong impression on the Greeks. For Alexander the Great wanted some of these Indians monks to travel with him so that he could talk with them. Most of the monks refused, saying that Alexander had nothing that he could offer them. [6]Nevertheless, one monk, Calanus, decided to travel with Alexander the Great and his army. Interestingly, Calanus was teased by the other monks for “specially lacking self-control; they reproached Calanus because he deserted the happiness to be found with them and served a master other than God.” [7]
While he was traveling with Alexander’s army, Calanus realized that he had an incurable stomach ailment and rather than be an invalid, he decided to kill himself. [8]Alexander and the Greeks tried to dissuade him, but Calanus was determined to commit suicide. A big funeral pyre was built and Calanus climbed on it amongst much fanfare in the Greek camp. [9]As he set himself on fire and burnt to death, Calanus was totally imperturbable; the seemingly unbearable pain did not phase him at all. [10]The Greeks were amazed at this total self-control; they were “astonished to see that Calanus did not move any part of his body in the flames.” [11]This showed them how strong and invincible human resolution really was. [12]
Pyrrho saw Calanus burning and was struck by the monk being burnt alive with total imperturbability. To Pyrrho, this demonstrated that external events are not intrinsically painful as the sage can neutralize even the worst suffering. This was proof to Pyrrho that if you were mentally strong enough, nothing external could affect you and thus it was indeed possible for a sage to be totally impervious to pain. [13]Pyrrho saw in this a living demonstration that the sage can be happy even in the midst of the worst torment. [14]
Reale and others maintain that because of seeing Calanus impervious to pain, Pyrrho came back to Greece knowing the practicality of a lifestyle of invulnerability to the external world. This notion of the sage’s invulnerability may have been a theoretical ideal in Greek philosophy before Pyrrho, but now it became practical in a whole new way. According to Reale, Pyrrho envisioned a new type of man for the Greeks. [15]From Pyrrho, this doctrine passed to Epicurus and the Stoics. For the founders of both schools were very much interested in Pyrrho. Nausiphanes was captivated by Pyrrho and when Epicurus met Nausiphanes, Epicurus marvelled at Pyrrho and continually asked Nausiphanes about Pyrrho. [16]Furthermore, the founder of Stoicism was very much influenced by the new type of man that Pyrrho introduced into Greek thought. [17]
Possible Greek sources of Pyrrho’s philosophy
Reale is right and Pyrrho was influenced by the Indian philosophers. The problem though was that Pyrrho did not learn enough from the Indians and this accounts for the inadequacies of Stoic ethical theory. Before I investigate this point, I need to defend Reale’s thesis from the criticism that Pyrrho’s philosophy could have developed from the internal dynamics of Greek philosophy. There are three important possible sources from within Greek philosophy for the Pyrrho’s philosophy: Socrates, Democritus and the Cynics. In defending Reale’s thesis it is important to remember Reale and others are not claiming that the Greeks did not have a intellectual conception of the sage’s invulnerability, they are only claiming that a new type of person was introduced into Greek culture because of Pyrrho’s encounter with Indiangymnosophists.
Socrates is the first possible source within Greek philosophy for the later Hellenistic concern over the sage’s total imperturbability. Certainly Socrates maintained that virtue was very much related to happiness and he was legendary for his powers of physical endurance. Furthermore, in theApology(30C) Socrates says that Meletus and Anytus could not harm him and he also says no evil can happen to a good man.(41C-D) This is certainly the intellectual foundation for the idea that the good man cannot be harmed even if he is tortured. Furthermore, Socrates was evidently not perturbed about dying and so he lived this ideal to some extent.
Nevertheless, in theCrito(47E) Socrates asks: “Then is life worth living when the body is worthless and ruined?” Crito responds: “Certainly not.” Socrates then goes on to maintain that the health of the soul is even more important than the health of body. This argument has no force unless Socrates thinks the body’s health is important. There is also a discussion of health in theLysis(218E) where Socrates implies that health is a good thing. Furthermore, Socrates says that it is better to suffer wrong than to do it, although he wishes not to do either.(Gorgias, 469C) This implies that even a sage could suffer a wrong and later on Socrates reinforces this by saying that a man put to death unjustly is wretched, although not as wretched as the person who puts him to death.(Gorgias, 469B)
Socrates’ position on the relationship between virtue and happiness has recently been a very controversial issue. [18]There is significant evidence that Socrates identified virtue and happiness, while there is also much evidence that shows that Socrates thought non-moral goods such as health contributed to one’s happiness. [19]The best position on this difficult issue is taken by Klosko. [20]For Klosko maintains that Socrates holds two different positions regarding the relationship between virtue, other goods, and happiness in different kinds of situations. [21]Thus in matters of life and death, as in theApologyandCrito, Socrates has a tendency to advocate the view that identifies virtue with happiness. [22]However, when Socrates is concerned with more general ethical matters, he has a tendency to espouse the wider view that other, non-moral goods contribute to happiness. [23]So Klosko correctly locates Socrates in between Stoics who identify virtue with happiness and the more common position that external goods are necessary for happiness.
We cannot conclusively know Socrates’ opinions on this subject, but there is a much different tone in Socrates from the later Hellenistic philosophers. Socrates loved life and had nothing against enjoyment and pleasures as long as they did not prevent someone from being concerned about virtue; he has a much different outlook than the Hellenistic philosophers who maintain the sage even welcomes torture to prove himself. The Hellenistic emphasis on bearing torture and indifference to pain is much closer to the Jain monks than it is to Socrates. Socrates certainly contributes to the Greek receptivity to the Indian philosophers, but Socrates is not enough to explain the new, much more austere way of living that Pyrrho and other Hellenistic philosophers embrace.
While Socrates is not enough to explain Pyrrho’s new way of living, McEvilley offers Democritus as the Greek source for Pyrrho’s philosophy. [24]McEvilley offers as evidence first that Pyrrho was taught by Anaxarchus who was a pupil of Democritus or of a Democritean. [25]Furthermore, Democritus extols tranquility which is “a state in which the soul continues calm and strong, undisturbed by any fear or superstition or any other emotion.” [26]McEvilley also tries to show that one can derive the skeptical elements of Pyrrho’s thought from Democritus’ philosophy. [27]
Nevertheless, within McEvilley’s very defense of Democritus as the source of Pyrrho’s thought, he gives much more evidence of Indian influence on Pyrrho than of Democritus’ influence. McEvilley points out so many similarities between Pyrrho and Buddhism that he himself destroys his very position. Most importantly of all, there is the fundamental difference between Pyrrho’s general philosophical system and Democritus’ system. Democritus had a dogmatic ontology with atoms being the basis of reality, while Pyrrho adopts a total skepticism. On the other hand, skepticism at this time was rampant among the Indian philosophers. Furthermore, the purpose of Indian skepticism was to achieve tranquility which is exactly the same goal as in Pyrrho’s ethics. [28]So at the core of Pyrrho’s philosophy is exactly the same position as Indian philosophy, a position which Democritus does not share. Even McEvilley sees that Pyrrho’s position here is much closer to Buddhism than to Democritus: “Pyrrhon omitted the dogmatic atomism and retained the phenomenalism as ‘Buddhism positively negated ontology and took to phenomenalism.’” [29]So like Buddhism, and unlike Democritus, Pyrrho’s philosophy fundamentally negated ontology and adopted phenomenalism according to McEvilley. Another commentator thinks Buddhism and Pyrrho’s philosophy are so close that Pyrrho might have adopted the very words of the Buddhists. [30]
McEvilley further destroys his position by listing many more similarities between Buddhism and Pyrrho than he does between Democritus and Pyrrho. Indeed his own list of similarities between Buddhism and Pyrrho include all of Pyrrho’s major positions: things are nondifferent (adiaphora) or without distinguishing marks, things are without a definite essence, our opinions are neither true nor false, we should be without judgments and preferences, this lack of opinions leads to imperturbability, moderation, various mind states are flows of sense impressions which we should accept with equanimity, and getting beyond conceptualizing leads toaphasiaand toataraxia. [31]All these positions are the basis of Buddhism as well as Pyrrho’s philosophy. McEvilley even states that the essence of Buddhist philosophy, the Four Noble Truths, are more or less identical with the main thrust of Pyrrho’s basic philosophy or Pyrrho’s basic philosophy “might function as an explication of the Four Truths.” [32]While he does list all the Buddhist similarities to the most important of Pyrrho’s doctrines, even McEvilley does not claim that all these doctrines are similar to Democritus’ positions. So McEvilley himself better demonstrates Indian, especially Buddhist, influence on Pyrrho rather than Democritus’ influence.
Nor is this the only problem with McEvilley’s position. Flintoff further catalogues the practical ways of living that are unique to Pyrrho and unknown in previous Greek tradition: the transcendence of pain, his lack of involvement with the political and practical affairs of the city states and his vagrancy. [33]While these are all unprecedented in Greek thought, (except for maybe Heraclitus), they are all common features of Indian ascetical life.
There are two more major problems of trying to show Democritus’ influence on Pyrrho. First, there is no evidence from his writings or his life that Democritus practiced the kind of indifference that Pyrrho practiced. Nor is there any evidence Democritus maintained the extreme position that the sage can be happy while being tortured or indeed anything close to that position. So there is no evidence that Democritus contributed anything more than Socrates and so at most he helped lay the conceptual foundation of a doctrine that Pyrrho found actually lived in India by thegymnosophists.
The last problem for McEvilley’s positions is that even if Pyrrho was influenced by Democritus, it still would not give conclusive evidence that this doctrine comes from sources purely internal to Greek philosophy. For Diogenes Laertius relates that Democritus traveled to India to study with thegymnosophists [34]and thus even if Democritus had this practical philosophy of invulnerability, he could have gotten it from Indian philosophy. Flintoff shows that there is no reason not to believe these stories in Diogenes as they are not mechanically told and the Greeks often learnt from other countries in other areas. [35]Furthermore there is one story in Diogenes Laertius about Democritus doing ascetical exercises that could best be explained by Buddhist influence. Diogenes relates that Democritus “would train himself, says Antisthenes, by a variety of means to test his sense-impressions by going at times into solitude and frequenting tombs.” [36]While there is no evidence of frequenting tombs in Greek tradition as a way of training one’s sense impressions, the Buddhists had a quite intricate and gruesome meditation system based on dead bodies and visiting tombs. [37]Democritus’ exercises are better explained by saying that he learnt them from the Buddhists, than that he developed them himself.
So the evidence for Democritus’s influence on Pyrrho does not withstand critical inquiry. The last possible source for Pyrrho’s way of living internal to Greek philosophy is the most credible source: the Cynics. This Greek philosophical school advocated an indifference to social customs and freedom from society before Pyrrho ever went to India. Furthermore, the Cynics wanted to be free from pleasure and indifferent to pain. There are also stories in Diogenes Laertius of the austerities Diogenes performed in order to become indifferent to pain. “In summer he used to roll in it over hot sand, while in winter he used to embrace statues covered with snow, using every means of inuring himself to hardship.” [38]
While it seems the Cynics believed in asceticism, nevertheless there is a major problem with the stories about the Cynics. For it turns out that rather than this asceticism being indigenous to Greek philosophy, many of the stories about the Cynics’ indifference to pain were later literary inventions so that the Cynics could match the Indiangymnosophists. Ragnar Hoistad shows that these stories about Diogenes’ ascetical ability were copied from Onesicritus’ description of thegymnosophists. [39]Onesicritus was a disciple of Diogenes who accompanied Alexander to India and he was very interested in thegymnosophists. Nevertheless Onesicritus found in thegymnosophistsa much more radical type of asceticism than the Cynics practiced. [40]Gerhard, in an important study of the legend of Diogenes, shows that as Indian influence came into Greece at the time of Alexander, this created a desire to portray Diogenes as being a match for the Indiangymnosophists. [41]Thus the Greeks wanted to see the Cynics as practicing asceticism as rigorously as the Indians practiced it. So the story of Diogenes rolling in the hot sand seems to be copied from Onesicritus’ account of Indian philosophers lying naked on the hot rocks and sand. [42]
Evidence shows that the stories about Diogenes’ asceticism were specifically invented so that the Cynics could match the kind of indifference the Indians were able to practice. This evidence makes it doubtful the Cynics really were able to be indifferent and imperturbable. Thus it is unlikely their influence was enough to generate Pyrrho’s new way of life. More likely the Cynics, like Socrates, contributed an ideal for a way of life that made Pyrrho receptive to the Indian philosophers. Thus the Indiangymnosophistswere living proof to Pyrrho that the Cynic ideal could be fully practiced in all one’s life. [43]
The evidence for Indian influence on Pyrrho and so on the Hellenistic doctrine that the sage can be happy even if tortured is strong but not conclusive. While parts of this doctrine were held by Socrates and the Cynics, Pyrrho takes the doctrine to a radically deeper level because of Indian influence. This conclusion is strengthened if one also looks at the deep similarity between Indian logic and skepticism and Pyrrho’s logic and skepticism. [44]
Because of the deficiencies of the historical record, the Indian influence on Hellenistic thought cannot be established conclusively. Nevertheless this influence would explain the deficiencies in Stoic thought. For while the Greeks borrowed from Indian philosophy, they only had limited contact with the Indians and could not penetrate to the core of Indian thought. So Pyrrho could see Calanus burning and be inspired by that to believe a person actually could be totally indifferent to whatever happened to him, but he was not able to discover the deeper system behind Calanus’ actions. It is relatively easy to watch someone immolate himself and draw the idea that one can be indifferent to all that happens; it is much harder to really understand everything behind that action. Pyrrho especially could easily have missed the vital importance of meditation in Indian thought. For meditation is not something a person can master in a short while. To learn how to meditate well, one needs a teacher and long experience, especially if one wants to master the higher levels of meditation. A similar point could be made about the happiness that comes from meditation and becoming concerned for the whole. So Pyrrho was inspired by the Indian philosophers because the Indians perfected Greek philosophical ideals, but he missed the point that meditation was necessary to fully live this life.
So it is very likely that Pyrrho was inspired by Indian philosophy, but did not learn about meditation or about the happiness that comes from being concerned for the whole. For this reason, the Stoics also would be lacking these features in their ethical system. The sense there was something more to be learnt from India was felt by later Greek philosophers. Thus the Neopythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana went to India to learn from the Indian philosophers. Even more importantly, Plotinus tried to go to India and learn more from the Indian philosophers. For Plotinus accompanied the Roman emperor’s army on an expedition to India but disaster struck the expedition and both the army and Plotinus never made it to India.[1]. John Burnet,Encyclopedia of Religions and Ethics, Vol. 11, (no date or place given), p. 229, as quoted in Everard Flintoff, “Pyrrho and India,”Phronesis25 (1980): 108.
[2]. Flintoff, 88.
[3]. Giovani Reale,History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. 3 (Albany: SUNY Press, 1985), 311-327.
[4]. StraboGeography15.1.63.
[5]. Strabo 15.1.65.
[6]. ArrianAnabasis of Alexander7.2.
[7]. Arrian 7.2.
[8]. Arrian 7.3 andPlutarch’s Lives, Vol. VII, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 417.
[9]. Arrian 7.3.
[10]. Plutarch,Lives, pp. 417-9.
[11]. Arrian 7.3.
[12]. Ibid.
[13]. Reale, Vol. 3, 311.
[14]. Reale, Vol. 3, 312.
[15]. Reale, Vol. 3, 325.
[16]. Diogenes Laertius 9.64.
[17]. Reale, Vol. 3, 325-6.
[18]. See the Vlastos and Irwin articles cited in the next footnote.
[19]. The best discussion of the evidence is in Gregory Vlastos, “Happiness and Virtue in Socrates’ Moral Theory,”inSocrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991) and T. H. Irwin, “Socrates the Epicurean?”Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates, ed. Hugh Benson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
[20]. G. Klosko, “Socrates on Goods and Happiness,”History of Philosophy Quarterly4 (1987).
[21]. Klosko, 260.
[22]. Klosko, 259.
[23]. Klosko, 260.
[24]. Thomas McEvilley, “Pyrrhonism andMadhayamika,”Philosophy East and West32 (January 1982): 19-22.
[25]. Diogenes Laertius 9.58.
[26]. Diogenes Laertius 9.45.
[27]. McEvilley, 21-5.
[28]. Flintoff, 93.
[29]. McEvilley, 21.
[30]. Bhikku Nanajivako, “The Indian Origin of Pyrrho’s Philosophy of Epoche,”Indian Philosophical Quarterly12 (Oct-Dec. 1985): 320.
[31]. McEvilley, 3-4.
[32]. McEvilley, 17.
[33]. Flintoff, 98-9.
[34]. Diogenes Laertius 9.35.
[35]. Flinthoff, 89-90.
[36]. Diogenes Laertius 9.38.
[37]. The best description of this Buddhist practice is in Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa,The Path of Purification, Vol. 1 (Boulder: Shambhala, 1976), p. 185-9.
[38]. Diogenes Laertius 6.23.
[39]. Ragnar Hoistad,Cynic Hero and Cynic King(Uppsala: Carl Bloms Boktryckeri, 1948), 137-8.
[40]. Hoistad, 137.
[41]. G.A. Gerhard, “Zur Legende vom Kyniker Diogenes,”Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft15 (1912): 394f. as cited in Hoistad, 138.
[42]. Hoistad, 137.
[43]. Reale, Vol. 3, 311.
[44]. Flintoff, 92-3 & 102-3, and McEvilley, 6-15 and also Ninajivako passim.

The problem with this logic that asceticism came from India and that latter stories written after Pyrrho of Elis were made to fit the Indian ideal is the account given of Socrates by Alcibiades in the Symposium.
 

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