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Why Should We Philosophize? – An Indian Viewpoint

Sunil Upasana hails from Kerala (India) and has been a Bengalurean for 13 years. He has had a deep yearning to understand the profound philosophy that underlies Hinduism Read More.


There is a point in life when we begin to ask ourselves certain existential questions like “Who am I?” and “What is my essence?” But it is perhaps pertinent to ask whether the possibility exists that a person may never reach that point. But If a person reaches a particular stage in his intellectual evolutionary journey, without exception, there comes a time when these questions WILL arise. The person would have a perception regarding the ecosystem of living beings in the material world around him by then. Eventually, there is no way but to reach these existential questions. “I am perceiving and judging nature and the material world around me. But who am I’, that judges the material world? Only if I understand who I am, is there any legitimacy to the judgments that I made about the material world?” In the evolution of thought, it is absolutely certain that a person will ask these questions.

Let us consider that we have sought a doctor’s help to find a cure for our fever. The doctor will check our temperature with a thermometer. For the thermometer reading to be accurate, there is a condition to be fulfilled: the thermometer should not be faulty in any way. Only if this condition is fulfilled can we accept the accuracy of the temperature reading shown on it. In the same way, principles and theorems, that are stated with respect to the material world around us, can be validated to be true and correct, only if the human being making these principles is aware of himself. Normally, even though the person is not able to achieve this awareness about himself despite desiring to do so, the desire itself does not diminish. This is the point at which philosophical thinking starts. It is this yearning of human beings to understand themselves that one can see in the Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda.

In the quest to understand oneself, it is necessary to exclude the material world. This is important, because what one is seeking, when understanding the self through philosophical reflection, is the validation, or otherwise of one’s perception, of the material world. So, one cannot seek refuge in the material world when undertaking this exercise. Moreover, it is necessary to do the philosophical quest without taking the support of the material world as this will interfere with and influence the fruits of the exercise. A connect with the material world will create an existential wrongness in us.

In order to exclude the material world by oneself, Indian rishis and seers developed philosophical techniques to block the senses. Through that, they established the contact to pure consciousness, and realised that pure consciousness itself is the basis of everything in the universe. Since we are blocking the material world, obviously this is a level beyond the senses. Those who accuses that a world beyond the reach of senses is unbelievable, should be considered to be limited by the sensory world and so, incapable to venture to experience the highest truth.

Summary: –

Philosophical thought naturally arises when human thought evolves. The quest to understand the essence of the material world is also the journey of man to search for his own existence and essence.

Featured Image credit : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiR0TBqdfFw

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