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From Advaita To Atom


Raja Ramanna

MAN AND NATURE
Edited by George S. Mclean
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1978, pp. 240, Rs. 45.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 5 March/April 1979

The publication of the set of papers presented at the International Society for Metaphysics at Vishwa Bharati in 1976 should be welcome to all students of philosophy and perhaps more so to those who have no specialization in the subject. As one belonging to the second category but deeply interested in the implications of the discovery of science on philosophy have been greatly stimu­lated by these sets of essays which cover a wide range of subjects. Their subject matter is not easy to comprehend and many of the papers require re-reading before one gets to understand what is being said by the- various authors. In Part I, there are three essays on science and nature. It is not surprising that the main theme is on how one can absorb the recent discoveries of science into a philosophical structure. In some ways it is an age-old problem, but the recent discoveries of science allow for further discussion with new jargon and new methods of analysis. The large-scale introduction of science has brought philosophical speculations under new constraints thereby restricting its free­dom particularly in the use of religion and mysticism. We now understand the material universe in much greater detail through science and scientists have reason to be sufficiently arrogant as to believe that all nature is science and does not require any outside inputs to under­stand consciousness and other philoso­phical concepts: Scientists can prove that collective behaviour of atoms and mole­cules can lead to strange effect and there­fore it would not surprise them if consciousness can come about due to complicated many body behaviour at various levels. A proper interpretation of the second law of Thermo-dynamics seems to be sufficient to explain evolution and natural progress through self-ordering. In these essays a case is made for consi­dering science as only a small sub-set of philosophy in trying to understand man's position in the universe, but one is somewhat nervous about taking any strong views on the subject. The second set of essays are devoted to progress and nature and is analysed with respect to social considerations. Though our social be­haviour and progress depends on indivi­duals and their collective behaviour, it will certainly not be possible to under­stand the result of such behaviour by analysing it purely on a scientific base but requires an integrated approach which starts on certain assumptions of social ...


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