The Problem of Expressibility of the Inexpressible: Speech-Sound, Consciousness and Reality in Indian ThoughtViktoria Lysenko
For traditional Indian philosophy, which tends to establish its identity on the basis of the rationally incognizable Absolute (Ātman, Brahman), the verbal expressibility of the latter is one of the central issues. In fact, what is at stake here, is an attitude to language, trust or distrust in its capacity to be a tool for transmitting the experience of reality, which for the Indian tradition is of the highest soteriological and metaphysical value. Namely, it is the experience characteristic of the culminating transpersonal states of meditation and yogic practices, as well as at the moment of unio mystica (between a believer and the personal God). The best way to point to such states is to demonstrate their radical otherness in comparison with everyday speech behaviour (vyavahāra) and discursive ways of reporting it. That is why, the apophatic approach is used, meanwhile, that does not exclude the applicability of its cataphatic opposite.
In the first part of the paper, the author emphasizes a tendency to privilege the apophatic approach (‘not that, not that’) to the definition of Brahman on the example of some mahāvākya (‘great sayings’) from the Upaniṣhads. In the second part, the author elucidates a phenomenon of phonocentrism, characteristic of traditional Indian culture, taking as example an incarnation of the goddess Vāk (Speech) in Vedic literature and in Tantrism. The third part is devoted to Bhartṛihari’s (ca.V century A.D.) concepts of ‘linguistic monism’ (śabda-advaita), and of the three-part speech, and their culmination in Kashmiri Shaivism. The author shows that in Bharitṛhari and Kashmiri’ s expressibility and inexpressibility of vocalized speech does not presuppose the recognition of a separate reality of object referred to by it (correspondence principle), but varied within the boundaries of the word (śabda) itself as identical to the dynamic nature of Brahman constituted by potencies (śakti).
The article presents a translation of fragments of the text of a Spanish thinker of the XVI century, Michael Servetus (Spanish: Miguel Servet), “Reasoning in Defense of Astrology against a Certain Medic.” Despite the fact that this text touches on a small area of knowledge, which includes medicine and astrology, taken in their close interaction, it clearly demonstrates the characteristic feature of Servetus’ philosophical worldview. In the era in question, objective internal processes going on in the depths of the paradigm of thinking, like volcanoes erupt in various fields of knowledge. Servetus is one of those outstanding personalities whose activity activates this process by starting to cross the boundaries outlined by tradition and authorities, anticipating what will become the greatest value in the new paradigm – obtaining new knowledge. This small work is methodological in nature and clearly demonstrates an example of following the chosen personal method, without turning off the path, neglecting the possible consequences.
Servetus hopes to convince the reader that medicine needs additional facts that can be provided by knowledge of the laws of the movement of the heavenly bodies and their influence on human earthly affairs and the state of his health. Observation of astronomical phenomena contributes, in his opinion, to obtaining additional knowledge and experience useful in medical practice.
The system of the world order built by him unites the unconnected, violates the boundaries of subject areas, not only within science, but also between science and theology, which gives him the opportunity to talk about various facets of reality. He demonstrates the talent of a thinker, rare and relevant in all epochs – to see the whole and not to neglect knowledge that goes beyond the generally accepted framework, collecting a general picture of being at all possible and cognizable levels: visible and invisible; expressible and inexpressible; earthly and heavenly; spiritual and material; human and divine.
Rational thinking and language are faced with difficulties, when it is necessary to express the setting of two opposite aspects of reality - change and constancy. The author is developing a plot-game methodology based on the ontological generalization of art history concepts of the plot, script and game to the level of philosophical categories. Categories correspond to natural science terms.
On the basis of the selected universals - "through" units of Being, with the involvement of geometric images-symbols of a circle, sphere and torus - a solution to the problem of organic synthesis of change with constancy is proposed using the ontological construction of a quasi-cyclic plot. The essence of this concept is that the condition for the existence of any forms and processes of reality are quasi-cyclic plots that set the sequence of almost cyclic changes. The quasi-cycle can be thought of as a reproduction of the plot spiral (that is, in the next generation) “from egg to egg, absorbing another egg” (“ab ovo ad ovo, absorber ovo”). In a quasi-cycle, everything starts from some initial, “folded” state of some form, then it develops (in accordance with the “unfolding” of events around it) to a certain limit, “culmination”. The result is the generation of a new, similar to the original form. The constantly transforming initial formation itself at a certain time "dissolves" in the plot stream of reality, being absorbed by other forms that are at one stage or another of their existence cycles - from appearance to disappearance. The “minimal” basic proto-plot ab ovo ad ovo, ab sorber ovo in the plot-game picture of the world is “blinking”, the pulsation of the Universe, and the “maximum” is the cycle of manifestation and “convolution” of the Universe. All other plots arise on the basis of the first, being forming fragments of the second.
The results of work, like the plot-game concept as a whole, can be applied both in natural-scientific and in humanitarian research, in their practical applications, in teaching any knowledge and skills; They are of particular importance for personal spiritual development.
The world’s oldest 3x3 magic square, discovered/invented in Ancient China and now known as Luoshu 洛書/ ‘Document [from the River] Luo’, was endowed by Chinese tradition with unprecedented dignity and placed at the very heart of Chinese thought. The bewitching geometric-numerical imagery of Luoshu, open to a great many different visions, when reading-interpretation becomes the final moment of the very act of perception, turns this Chinese mandala into a real eye trap. With its disturbing persistence, it resembles the magically attractive ‘Zahir’ from Borges’ short story of the same name.
Among the most diverse ritual and ideological instrumentalizations of the Luoshu magic square (from the sacred emblem of cosmic harmony to the requisite of a geomancer), the mobilization of this esoteric figure for the arithmetization of the cornerstone of all Chinese philosophy, the fundamentally non-verbalizable Tao, is dominant. The coding of the dao by the number 15 is reinforced by its spatialization, so that the entire “Document [from the river] Lo” appears as a map of the various trajectories of the Tao within this nine-field square. Moreover, the coincidence (in number 15) of differently composed sums appears as an inscrutable variety of paths leading to the same goal - the final implementation of Tao.
By virtue of the validity of the equality 15 =mod10 5 the magic sum of the Luoshu square (Const15) immutably, although covertly (in the form of a number 5), centers the entire Luoshu configuration. This secrecy of the magical constant (the latter is absent in the entire observable space of the “Document [from the river] Lo”) refers to the hidden “back-side” of Luoshu numbers, represented by the number 10 (in its role as a modulus of comparison in the arithmetic of residues modulo 10).
Judging by the directly visible, so to speak, ‘front’ part of the magic square of order 3, it is allowed to count only up to nine in it. But the already absent-present magic sum (number 15), breaking the seemingly inescapable circle of arithmetic of residues, brings to light the comparison module (number 10) as Luosh’s hidden ‘truth’, which alone gives meaning to the entire nine-cell construction. Awareness of this truth is the first step in the transition to the ‘register of truth’ of this extraordinary gestalt. The subsequent connection to it of problems focused by the Pythagorean theorem radically expands Luoshu’s ‘register of truth’.
The geometrized arithmetic of the Luoshu magic square, which is a unique spatial-numerical fixation of the seemingly fundamentally non-objectivable Tao (i.e., combining the apparently incompatible) marks the possibility of a paradoxical union of Heraclitus with Pythagoras, successfully realized by the Chinese tradition.
The text of the “Teaching on Numbers” by the monk and mathematician Kirik the Novgorodian (the first half of the 12th century) was introduced into scientific circulation in the 1820s. Initially, this text was assessed as exclusively mathematical-calendar content. As the research unfolded, questions of a textual, historical-mathematical, philosophical, cultural and socio-psychological nature arose. Compared with similar writings of Kirik’s era, his calculations are recognized as accurate, and in methods of calculation on the abacus, he was 400 years ahead of his time. In addition to the “Teaching on Numbers”, the theological treatise penned by Kirik, “The Questions of Kirik”, has come down to our times, written in the form of a dialogue between a pastor and a bishop about the vital problems of service practice. Despite numerous articles and solid monographs on Kirik’s legacy, some postulates of the “Teaching”, as well as vocabulary features, remain undisclosed and mysterious. The first riddle concerns the scientific research and peculiarities of the reconstruction of the lists of Kirik’s treatises, which have come down to us only from the 16th century. A mere mystery concerns the fragment about circuits in the renewal of the elements, which, at first glance, has a natural philosophical content. The question arises: could Kirik, as a thoughtful scientist, simply rewrite these calculations from the prototype text familiar to him, the so-called “seven-thousanders”? Hypotheses are put forward of Platonic, Pythagorean, Gnostic influences on the essence of the fragment, but no supporting texts have been found. The article presents arguments in favor of the hypothesis of the influence of the mathematical teachings of the Pythagoreans on the prototype of the fragment about the renewal of the elements. The Pythagorean thesis about the structure of the corporeal cosmos according to the laws of beauty and harmony, which are based on the principle of commensurability, is clearly reflected in the mathematical calculations of the fragment. Kirik addressed his “Teaching” to lovers of numbers and he himself belonged to the circle of intellectuals. Modern studies of the Pythagorean tradition confirm the intercultural nature of the influence of the Pythagorean tradition on other ideological directions of thought. In Old Rus the tradition was supported by chroniclers and chronologists.
The article is devoted to a specific ‘riddle’ - the authorship of the work published in 1587 in Madrid: “New Philosophy of Human Nature. Neither Known to nor Attained by the Great Ancient Philosophers, Which Will Improve Human Life and Health”. The author of the work - Oliva Sabuco - under this name it became known, and has been repeatedly reprinted. The innovative idea of the work consisted in the statement that a person, having understood his nature, will be able to find out the natural reasons why he lives and dies, or is ill and will be able to avoid an early or painful death and live happily until he reaches a natural, pain-free death from old age. Sabuko’s proposed physiological justification of the dependence of human health on feelings, emotions and passions correlates with the methodological direction of modern medicine focused on psychosomatics. In 1903 archival documents were found and made public, according to which the author is not Oliva Sabuco, but her father, Miguel Sabuco. For more than a hundred years the dispute about the authorship of this work has been going on. The semantic and content analysis of the text and its correlation with the reconstructed cultural and temporal reality allows us to solve the question in a new way not only about its creator, but also provides material for generalizations of a philosophical nature. The return to the historical-philosophical and historical-scientific circulation of the ideas and discoveries of many forgotten thinkers will help in debunking some ‘obvious’, familiar truths and facts that have turned into prejudices of scientific and mass consciousness.
The subject of the article is the numerical culture of China, the meaning of numbers in the traditional and modern Chinese culture. When investigating issues related to intercultural philosophy, we should remember about the bearers of a certain traditional philosophy - people who grew up in a specific cultural and historical environment, who absorbed certain cultural, philosophical and worldview attitudes, manifested in everyday household traditions and views. One of the most important elements of Chinese everyday traditions is numbers, which, except for the division into even-odd (yin/yang), each have their own symbolic meaning, reflected in customs, holidays, gifts, interiors, etc. The study of cultural and philosophical roots of these phenomena will allow us to form a wider angle of view on Chinese rationality. Materials related to the traditional understanding of numbers associated with the Lo Shu square were studied, in particular, the numeric expression of ideas about the universe.
Also, we considered some features of Chinese traditional architecture that reflect these representations, superstitions and some details of everyday life associated with numbers, folk holidays and important dates that arose in connection with the ordinary and traditional perception of numbers. An attempt has been made to trace intracultural worldview and linguistic connotations. It is shown that the traditional ‘numerical’ worldview is still manifested in areas related to aspects typical of Chinese culture - everyday life, arrangement of space (including feng shui), traditional medicine, etc. The belief of the Chinese in the magic of numbers is still quite strong. In some cases, the socialization of ancient texts has taken place, and we see how traditions cement the social space. It can be concluded that the modern everyday understanding of numbers among the Chinese, on which modern signs and customs are based, is closely connected with emotional perception, associative thinking, as a special kind of rationality, which can also be described as the rationality of everyday life.
Today the world lives in a unique historical situation. There are transformations of earthly space and time on the way of collecting numerous tempo worlds of ethnic groups and cultures. The global crisis and environmental catastrophic risks are relentlessly forcing people to unite to solve common problems. Thoughtless attitude to the biosphere, waste of the planet's resources, pollution of the environment are menacing symptoms of the threat of self-destruction of mankind. Only the unification of peoples and an unshakable sense of geosolidarity can resist. The support in the confrontation between technologization and aggressive geopolitics is seen in traditionalism, in the spiritual origins of the traditions of different peoples. The study of non-Western philosophies, attempts to penetrate cultures with different ethnic codes form multiple new trends in the world intellectual space of philosophy. For epistemology, the dialogue of cultures has given rise to a number of methodological problems. What can be the criteria for comparative studies if incommensurable conceptual systems and different worldviews are compared? Science, focused on the knowledge of the external world, relies on intelligence or "embodied consciousness." The empirical mind as an analyzer of feelings in the Indian tradition is not considered independent. The article discusses correlations in the methodological strategies of spiritual thought in the Indian and Old Russian traditions, as well as correlations with the methodologies of non-classical science. The author shows that any abilities in hierarchical ontologies with extreme levels can be thought of only as a part of the whole. Integrity at the ultimate ontological level potentially contains the qualities of subsequent differentiation (emanates). The concept of the mind as dependent is characteristic of spiritual practices, which can be seen in the texts of the Explanatory Palaia and texts of Indian teachings. Comparative analysis of the problem of the nature of intelligence is of interest in connection with discussions on artificial intelligence. An obstacle to the perception of holistic methodologies is the dualistic language in the European tradition (opposition of matter and consciousness, matter and spirit, brain and consciousness). The criteria for the commensurability of different cultural-semiotic systems are developed in the course of the dialogue of cultures.