Since the advent of computers, it has been widely believed that the human mind is just like a computer. I have previously described why this is a false analogy due to two problems: (1) the problem of meaning, and (2) the problem of choice. I have also discussed the problem of meaning in computing theory in the book Gödel’s Mistake. However, all these critiques are inadequate without an understanding of how nature itself computes. For example, if nature is governed by some natural laws, then these laws have to be computed on some machine to obtain a prediction. How is nature computing these predictions? Even otherwise, living beings are constantly involved in decision making—i.e. what next steps must I take to achieve my goals?—which is also a computational problem. This post discusses a proposal on how this problem should be tackled, and the relation between Sāńkhya and computational theory.
In an earlier post, I discussed how the Sāńkhya notion of manifest and unmanifest matter addresses some fundamental problems related to perception and realism. In a later post, I discussed how the unmanifest becomes manifest through several stages—para, pasyanti, madhyama and vaikhari. In a subsequent post, we talked about how the agency to cause this manifestation is prāna, which acts as the “force” of nature, under the control of free will, time, karma, and God. This description leads to a natural doubt: is prāna an objective entity by itself, or is it simply a combined effect of other entities (soul’s choice, time, karma and God)? This post discusses how prāna is an objective entity called kundalini in yoga philosophy, but it is not objective in the sense of material objects.
Modern science describes nature as comprised of matter and forces. According to Sāńkhya, this description is both false as we have seen here and true as we have seen here. It is false because material properties such as mass and charge pertain to the observer’s senses, not to the material objects and therefore forces formulated based on such properties are fictions rather than reality. It is true in the sense that the external world still has properties such as redness and bitterness which are “matter” and these properties are connected to the senses through a “force” called prāna. Both matter and force are thus different in Sāńkhya than in modern science: force attaches the senses to the sense objects and detaches the senses from the sense objects. This post discusses the nature of force in Sāńkhya.