08 Feb

Can We Know Reality Without Changing It?

Modern atomic theory describes perception as a change both to reality and to our perception. For instance, when we see the redness of an apple, light impinges on the apple, is absorbed by the atoms in the apple, and then emitted. The color perceived by the eyes is due to the light that is emitted. This model of perception requires a physical particle (a photon) traveling from the apple to the eyes, which presents a deep philosophical problem of perception in that we cannot know the world without changing it. In the case of seeing an apple, the electrons in the atoms must first absorb light and then emit it, thus changing their physical state twice. This post discusses this philosophical issue and how it is addressed in Sāńkhya.

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12 Jan

What are Manifest and Unmanifest States of Matter?

This is a follow-up to the previous post, which discussed the nature of space in Śrimad Bhāgavatam (SB). The goal of this one is to describe the ideas of “manifest” and “unmanifest” states of matter. Matter in the Śrimad Bhāgavatam (and indeed in many other Vedic literatures) is described as originating in an “unmanifest” form, which essentially means that it cannot be known and observed, although it exists. From this “unmanifest” state, a “manifest” state of matter is produced, which can be known and observed. This post discusses how we must understand these states of matter, and how this understanding is related to the observer’s knowledge.

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27 Feb

Perception in Indian Philosophy

How we perceive taste, smell, touch, sound and sight is a fact about our perception, but it has never been properly understood in biology, psychology, or philosophy. The problem is that we suppose  material objects to be length, mass, charge, momentum, energy, temperature, etc. How these physical properties become taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight remains a mystery because the sensations have qualitative properties (and are described as types) while the objects do not. If eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue are material objects, then they could only have physical properties, not qualities. How can then we perceive qualities?

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