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Logical Positivism vs Vedanta: Post 1of 2

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 14:58:52 PST

Dear Baghavatas,
Namo Narayana.

Some of you may be wondering, why I always refer to the futility of equating mutually exclusive theories;  why I always object to posts that attempt to reconcile western materialistic concepts and vedantic concepts, like cloning.  So I thought I would post two short notes summarizing the substratum of the two differing notions of reality; the vedantic conception or reality and the western, logical positivist, conception of reality.  
Logical Positivist View on the Rationality of statements:

The logical positivist view of a rational statement can be succinctly stated as follows.  The notion of a rational statement is a fundamental truth; an axiom.  A statement is rational, only if, the individual uttering the statement knows the conditions under which the statement is true.  The conditions under which the statement is true must be related to the phenomenal world (the external world of activity.) Further, knowledge of the criteria for establishing truth of a statement implies knowledge of the procedure leading to the determination of truth.  Moreover, the procedure for verification is an inherent property of a rational statement.  

Criticism Form A Vedantic Perspective:

The fundamental axiom of the phenomenal world is that you have accept something to establish something.  Given this, it follows directly that no theory can claim to be totally devoid totally of belief.  Failing to digest this most elementary truism, the logical positivists undertook a futile attempt, expending an enormous amount of time and energy, to establish the supremacy of a pragmatic/materialistic conception of reality and effect the outright dismissal of metaphysics on a rational basis. 

According to the logical positivist all that is real exists within the phenomenal world; the world comprehended by the sense organs.  This is equivalent to saying verbal testimony has no meaning unless it refers to the world perceived by the senses.  The statement *verbal testimony has no meaning unless it refers to the world perceived by the senses* 
is an untenable premise.  Sense organs are limited to the world of  matter, energy, and properties of matter and energy (within their realm.)  There are many existents in the phenomenal world that cannot be classified as matter, energy, or properties of matter and energy.   If one does not accept verbal testimony as a valid, independent, means of acquiring knowledge, then he or she will have to deny the existence of these reals.   

The notion of truth is essential to formulate any theory, including the logical positivist theory.  Truth cannot be classified as matter, energy or properties of energy or matter; thus, the notion of truth does not exist as far as the logical positivist is concerned.  However, the logical positivist requires the notion of truth to formulate his or her theory.  How ironic the logical positivist denies the existence of the notion of truth, but uses it to formulate his theory!   This is synonymous to how the nihilistic Buddhist claims that nothing exists, but uses something to prove that nothing exists.

Note: Post 2 of 2, tomorrow.

ramanuja dasan,

                  - SrImate raamaanujaaya namaH -
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