This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The example of atomism

When direct reference to principles is available, heterodoxy is unable to gain much force before its absurdity becomes plain. Where principles no longer exist, doctrinal expositions of a lower order, even if they are true at their level, must ‘fend for themselves’ against the falsity, and sometimes this is difficult without rising to a higher level. In the West, false conceptions are able to thrive and take root and this is precisely because principles there are not present. Taking the case of atomism as an example, we can compare its success in Hinduism to that of the West, where it survives to this day. In India, atomism is in formal disagreement with the Veda, which is to say it does not conform to a pure metaphysic. Originating in the cosmological school of Kanada (Vaisheshika), it is regarded as something of an anomaly that could not have arisen in a school devoted to pure metaphysics; and because this point of view was present, and in combination with the Veda, the theory did not go far. In Greece, on the other hand, the notion of atoms as constitutive elements of all things implied the conception of a void in which these atoms could move, and this ended in a denial of ether as a corporeal element. Consider how long this notion has persisted among physicists in the West, and the fact that it is still deeply ingrained in the imagination of people in general, even if physicists have begun to question it. But because the Vedic texts are explicit on the five elements, ether just as much as the others, this denial could not gain traction.

It might be worth mentioning that if all naturalistic theories are not atomic, that all atomic theories tend toward naturalism. The Greeks used it as a basis for mechanism, which, even though it did not there devolve into the full-blown materialism which is common today, was a significant set in that direction and would underpin the mechanistic naturalism of Isaac Newton.

Admitting the presence of atomism in the Vaisheshika darshana does not affect the legitimacy of its point of view in its essence. To quote from the Sankhya-Pravachana-Bhashya of Vijnana-Bhikshu:

In the doctrine of Kanada [this being the Vaisheshika] and in the Sankhya [attributed to Kapila], the portion which is contrary to the Veda must be rejected by those who adhere strictly to the orthodox tradition; in the doctrine of Jaimini and that of Vyasa [which is to say, the Mimansa and the Vedanta], there is nothing which is not in accordance with the Scriptures.

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