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Saturday 29 September 2012

Reason, Experience and Prathyaksha - nonpublished

Prof. Carlo Fonseka in his parting article claims that I do not understand multiple meanings of the word reason. “In his response to my claim, Prof. Nalin says:’What Prof. Fonseka tries to say is that evidence of senses of human beings is the deciding factor and not the soundness of human reasoning. However, he himself ends that paragraph with "therefore there is reason to accept the truth of the theory of relativity". (The Island, Sept 8) Thus Prof. Nalin is asserting that by using the word ‘reason’ in the preceding sentence, I am being inconsistent about my claim concerning the primacy of sensory experience as the test of truth. Anyone who knows the multiple meanings of the word ‘reason’ will grant that the word ‘reason’ in the phrase "therefore there is reason to accept the truth of the theory of relativity" refers to the evidence of the senses, and not to the exercise of pure reason.” However, this is what I had said in my article of 8th September. “What Prof. Fonseka tries to say is that evidence of senses of human beings is the deciding factor and not the soundness of human reasoning. However, he himself ends that particular paragraph with ‘therefore there is reason to accept the truth of the theory of relativity’. In any event the Theory of General Relativity has failed to explain what is called dark energy and some other phenomena I have mentioned in my previous articles. Further Prof. Fonseka could not resist the temptation to quote Russell: ‘Before tackling Einstein’s law, it is as well to convince ourselves, on logical grounds, that Newton’s law of gravitation cannot be quite right.’ Russell mentions two things here. Firstly that Newton’s Law of Gravitation cannot be quite right. Thus if somebody says that Einstein incorporated Newton’s gravitation theory then the latter has incorporated a theory that is not quite right. Secondly Russell talks of convincing of oneself that Newton’s theory cannot be quite right on logical grounds. Thus Prof. Fonseka is not consistent in his statements and supporting statements.” Prof. Fonseka conveniently ignores Russell’s remark on convincing oneself on logical grounds that Newton’s gravitation cannot be quite right, which he himself had quoted. Prof. Fonseka while ignoring Russell on convincing oneself that Newton’s gravitation cannot be quite right on logical grounds and not on so called empirical grounds had said that there was reason to accept the truth of theory of relativity.

The so called empirical evidence is nothing but a reason for Prof. Fonseka to accept the so called truth of relativity. It is not pure reason for the simple reason that there is nothing called pure reason in a Kantian sense or otherwise. Similarly there are no pure empirical grounds on which one comes to conclusions. All deductions starting from “if A=B and B=C, then A=C” are inductions and in that sense all so called reasoning is based on induction that cannot be called rational. Western Philosopher Hume did not believe causality purely on empirical evidence and in western philosophy problems of this sort cannot be solved. There are no sense perceptions without conceptions and Prof. Fonseka, how much he tries, cannot show that he believes in the theory of relativity because of evidence of pure sense experience. Firstly there is no pure sense experience as all perceptions are conception laden just as much so called facts are theory laden, and secondly causality in western thinking is based on induction. People believe in sense experience due to repeats and induction. Induction which has no rational basis as such ironically plays a big role in reasoning. It is hilarious to see so called empiricists rejecting sense experience on the grounds that appearance cannot be true and then testing deductions of theories that people have constructed, using their senses based on nothing but appearances. I have explained some of these in my latest book “Batahira Vidyava, Arsenic saha Deviyo” and Prof. Fonseka could gain something at least in his old age by reading the book.

Prof. Fonseka says “Prof. Nalin has unequivocally declared that by virtue of the culture into which he was born, his approach to life and the world is that of a Sinhala, Theravada Buddhist. In other words his credo is the religion of his birth”. I have never said anything equivalent of what Prof. Fonseka ascribes to me. This could have been the case if I had had my religion of my parents as my Philosophy from childhood, though religion is different from philosophy and culture. However, I had been a Marxist, Scientist though people may claim that I failed to grasp the relevant disciplines, before I became a Theravada Buddhist for the second time having gone through an education in western science and Marxism. There are many ways to create knowledge other than through rationalism and empiricism and I subscribe to “Prathyaksha”, which is not sense perception as such. However I know that I am spiritually not advanced, and as said in the second part of Kalama Sutta which Prof. Fonseka ignored for many decades I believe in the “Prathyaksha” of my Vinnus. However, though not approved by Theravada Buddhism I also construct knowledge (theories, concepts etc.,), until I am advanced spiritually through “Bhavana”, based on the Sinhala Buddhist Chinthanaya relative to Sinhala Buddhist culture. It was theorizing that way we were able to convince many people in this country that the LTTE could be defeated with a non wavering political leadership. Incidentally we constructed our basic theory that knowledge (not merely western science) is created relative a culture based on a Chinthanaya though some who have been trained in western science try their best to ascribe it to some westerners. All theories whether they are constructed based in the Sinhala Buddhist Chinthanaya or Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya are mere stories which appear to be consistent with other theories “facts” etc.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva