Empirically Influenced Thinking, Pure Rational Thinking, and Absolute Knowing

The Harmonizer (2010)
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If we start out with the assumption that the empirical world is real then we leave philosophy behind from the start. Descartes established the real Copernican revolution in philosophy when he began with “Doubt.” This doubt was directed toward everything familiar including even the world of experience. The only certainty he allowed was the being of himself as thinking. From this he wanted to deduce everything else. This is the spirit of philosophy. If we START with the world as given, then we have not philosophically comprehended what that empiric world is. Genuine philosophy can only begin with doubt. But this doubt must not remain supreme and thereby turn us into skeptics. One must also be willing ultimately to doubt the doubt and in that way arrive at absolute knowledge. Unfortunately, Descartes simply forgot his doubt and uncritically accepted the familiar world of sense as being alongside the being of thought, thus creating a dualism. By tracing the movement of thinking involved in concept formation and its implications with respect to its object — that movement itself is what establishes the ground of truth and basis of what we call reality. Seeing, for example, involves a process, and only when we have intimate familiarity with the thinking that goes on behind or within that process do we know it in its truth. Otherwise simply accepting what we see or sense at face value, without understanding what is going on at an internal level is naive, unconscious existence - basically indistinguishable from animal life. Human life is the unique opportunity to rise above mere animal awareness and come to a more fully conscious existence. Serious work is required to do that — thinking work that is also called negative activity or the act of negating, because thinking means to negate what is directly present, i.e. not to accept what is merely given or apprehended but to try to understand it at a deeper or thinking level in order to comprehend its fundamental basis or truth. Comprehending the unity of the movement and development of the concrete universal with itself as the concept is conceptual knowing or the Absolute Idea.

Author's Profile

Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
Bhakti Vedanta Institute of Spiritual Culture and Science


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