12 Jan

Human Choice and Responsibility

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. Some of the factors that have been offered as distinguishing characteristics of humans include language, religion, and social laws. Evolutionists, such as Charles Darwin, believed that humans are similar to animals, although incrementally more intelligent due to their state of evolution. But claiming such incrementalism is not enough to prove it, and finding the genes responsible for language, art, music, politics, literature, economics, religion, taxation, and mathematics—just some of the things uniquely found among humans—will prove to be daunting. However, I will not make the question that complicated, because there are indeed humans who do not exhibit some or all of the above. Their language may be primitive, or they may not be even able to speak. They may not practice any religion or pay any taxes. Does that make them not human? There is also a sense among us that humans should be described not by what they are but what they should be. By that criterion we call some human actions “inhuman”.

In this post I will offer a simple definition of humanity, namely that a human is one who understands two ideas—choice and responsibility. Humans indeed have a greater symbolic ability relative to animals, but even if a machine existed that could process symbols like humans—as the contenders of strong AI believe—it would still not be human because the machine has no choice or responsibility. Read More

21 Jul

Can Biology Be Based on the Nature of the Soul?

In Vedic philosophy, the soul has three properties—sat or consciousness, chit or meanings, and ananda or pleasure. The sat of the soul is “I am”, the chit of the soul is “I have”, and the ananda of the soul is “I want”. These three aspects of the soul are also reflected in matter and pervade throughout the body—the parts of the body are due to chit or “I have”, the functions of each of the parts is due to sat or “I am”, and the pleasure associated with the functions of the parts is due to ananda or “I want”. Thus, even the world around us is a reflection of the properties of the soul (as parts, functions, and purposes), but they are so deeply enmeshed that we tend to think that the part is itself the function, and the function is itself the purpose. This post discusses the differences between these three aspects of the soul, and its implications for biology.
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28 Jan

What is Prāna?

Sāńkhya divides matter into manas (mind), prāna (life force), and vāk. In the previous post, we discussed the nature of vāk and manas as the relation between word and meaning, or between matter and mind. This post elaborates on the third aspect of matter called prāna. The post discusses the role prāna plays in the motion of material objects, in the creation of bodies, and in the transmigration of the soul. The topic is fairly complex, so reader patience is essential to get through to the end. I will begin with a discussion of the problems of motion in mathematics and physics, because grasping these problems is essential to laying the foundation for a different description of motion and change.

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