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Wednesday 31 May 2017

Chinthanaya and Patterns of Meaning

Jeremy Lent has recently published a book (The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning  published by Prometheus Books) and the following is a correspondence between him and me.

Nalin de Silva

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jeremy Lent <>
Date: Tue, May 30, 2017 at 11:46 PM
Subject: Re: Jeremy Lent | Newsletter: Please Confirm Subscription
To: Nalin de Silva <>

Dear Nalin,

Thank you for sharing with me a sense of your research. The concept of Chinthanaya definitely sounds like it relates very closely to my idea of “patterns of meaning” created by a cultural complex.

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts about how my book relates to your own work after you’ve had a chance to read it.

Best regards,


On May 29, 2017, at 11:52 PM, Nalin de Silva <> wrote:

Prof. Jeremy Lent,

I have read the introduction to your new book and some comments. It is unfair to make a comment without reading the book. I have ordered the book but it will reach me in Sri Lanka in about two months.

However, may I let you know that we have been working on a similar theme for more than twenty-five years. Our theme is that knowledge is created (not discovered) relative to the culture, the sense organs and the mind, and knowledge thus created changes the culture and the mind (if you prefer the mindset). The attitude, world view, the logic (Aristotelian or otherwise) etc., of a people are called the Chinthanaya (loosely translated as the way of thinking), and knowledge is based on the Chinthanaya. There may be many cultures based on a Chinthanaya and knowledge is relative to the culture in that sense as well.

There was a Chinthana Revolution in the fifteenth century in Western Europe, and Christianity of Martin Luther and others was a result of this revolution. The Chinthana revolution gave rise to Western Science, Capitalism, Rationalism, Enlightenment etc., and Western Science is bound with Christianity. We call the new Chinthanaya of Western Europe the Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya to distinguish it from the previous Catholic Chinthanaya. In Asia, there have been different Chinthanayas including the Chinese Chinthanaya based on Confucianism and Taoism. In India, the Chinthanaya was basically Vedic, while in Sri Lanka we have Sinhala Theravada Chinthanaya.

I look forward to reading the book.


Nalin de Silva