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Oriental Philosophy and Modern Science


Raja Ramanna

THE TAO OF PHYSICS
By Fritjof Capra
Wildwood House, London, 1975, Price Not Stated

VOLUME I NUMBER 3 July - September 1976

It is the usual impression that oriental know­ledge essentially consists of speculation concerning the ultimate nature of things beyond what is avail­able by pure observation. The elucidations of these problems are entirely philosophical in nature and concern the Supreme Brahman as the ultimate goal for the purpose of knowing what we are. At least, this is what an ordinary student, whether he be tra­ined in Indian philosophy or not, is led to believe. It is obvious that in the course of 5000 years, while such speculations occupied an important posi­tion in oriental learning, there are several other as­pects to it, particularly in the fields of logic, math­ematics and even in the various physical and biolo­gical sciences. One can find many examples of works of ancient and medieval times specifically de­voted to the study of material sciences and logic. In this long process of accumulating knowledge of all types, by the seers of the past, at least from what is available to us now, one comes across many state­ments which at first sight find no obvious connection with the physical world. It also seems that many of these statements have been derived through intense philosophical speculations. In the light of new deve­lopments in modern science, particularly Quantum Mechanics and Relativity, these statements now seem to provide excellent descriptions of aspects of the physical world which have come to be establish­ed only in very recent times. As a demonstration of this fact, the book The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra is very convincing. It is an unusual book in that several aspects of the discoveries of modern science are described with an authority that can only come from someone who has taken part in these investigations and at the same time there is almost a continuous commentary on these physi­cal discoveries with speculations from Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. The suggestions from these ancient quotations take a more intense meaning when looked at through the interpretation of that great oriental scholar, Ananda Coomaraswamy, and the concordance between these ancient thoughts and the presently known facts of nature becomes startling. One, therefore, would like to know how much of this concordance is coincidental and intuit­ive and how much has been arrived at by pure pro­found philosophical deduction and introspection. It is clear that none of the discoveries of modern science ...


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