In the History of Philosophy there have been certain figures for whom philosophy has been not so much a quest for true ideas as search for higher states of consciousness. Such thinkers tell us that ordinary experience is a dream, an illusion, a faint reflection of what is truly real, and that if we are to know the truly real we must awaken from the dream, enliven slumbering faculties, make a transition to a new state of awareness. Fichte and Sankara, the two thinkers with whom the present study is primarily concerned are philosophers of this category.
The present book is divided into four chapters. Ch. 1 The Transformative Structure of Sankara's Advaita Vedanta ; Ch. 2 Indian Philosophy, Western Philosophy, and the Problem of Intelligibility ; Ch.3 Fichte as Transformative Philosopher ; and Ch. 4 Ramifications of Transformative Philosophy. The book contains exhaustive notes, bibliography, and an index.
IN THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY there have been certain figures for whom philosophy has been not so much a quest for true ideas as a search for higher states of consciousness. Such thinkers tell us that ordinary experience is a dream, an illusion, a faint reflection of what is truly real, and that if we are to know the truly real we must awaken from the dream, enliven slumbering faculties, make a transition to a new state of awareness. Plato is a prime example of this type of philosopher. He exhorts us in his Republic to turn our faces toward the Good which shines like the sun in resplendent self-evidence. But this can be done only by tearing ourselves loose from the shackles that bind us in darkness, that is, by overcoming delusion. Thus Plato does not-indeed; he cannot-demonstrate the truth for us. He cannot deliver it to us in the form of a finished logical proof, but he does detail a pro-gram for cultivation of the spirit which, if followed, will enable one eventually to see the truth, not excogitate it, by employing dialectic as an instrument. Spinoza similarly resolves to improve and purify the understanding at the outset, so that he may apprehend things without error before attempting to realize human perfection in the form of recognizing the unity of man and nature.
Although the practical, stereological outlook of these thinkers has been acknowledged, resistance to investigating them under this aspect has been great. Scholars continue to deplore the mystical interpretation of Plato. The emphasis of modern research, rather, has been on his theory of knowledge, his theory of truth, the Third Man Argument, and so on-matters which are more or less contiguous with contemporary philosophical concerns and can be dealt with in a formal, analytical way. We are wont to study Plato by rearranging his ideas according to rules with which we are familiar or replacing them with concepts we already know. Thus, on the profoundest of available interpretations, Plato's works are a textbook for extrapolating from the seen to the unseen-a soul, immortality, the forms. But, clearly, Plato means to inspire us to open our eyes so that the unseen will cease to be so. The formal approach to holistic thinkers such as Plato or Spinoza entirely misses the point. Not by shuffling ideas, but by altering our way of perceiving ideas, do we gain an appreciation of what they have to say.
Fichte and Satikara, the two thinkers with whom the present study is primarily concerned, are philosophers of this same breed. Indeed, the purpose of this investigation is to show precisely that-that they are "transformative philosophers," as I shall call them, philosopher’s intent on effecting a total transformation of consciousness, the basic relationship between the knower and the things he knows. Full cognizance is here taken of their practical, stereological outlook. In this respect, too, one must go against the mainstream of interpretive tradition. For, as in the case of Plato, scholars have refused to consider Fichte a mystic; and, although most regard Satikara a mystic, some have made his mysticism seem completely dependent on formal knowledge (epistPme), as if for him a vision of Unity were to emerge miraculously out of philosophical ratiocination. But both thinkers emphasize in their works the necessity of a special spiritual faculty for understanding their philosophies, and they recommend programs of religious practice (Safikara) or education (Fichte) to cultivate it.
The comparison of Fichte and Satikara was first attempted by Rudolf Otto in an appendix to his famous study of Safikara and Meis-ter Eckhart, West-ostliche Mystik (Mysticism East and West). Otto, however, concentrates on doctrinal parallels between the two, concerning himself with the question whether Satikara and Fichte deal, ultimately, with "the same experience." In the case of completely different cultural traditions, such a question may well be meaningless, since, in that case, the concepts and categories used to talk about experience will diverge drastically. That the content of an experience may be somehow divorced from its formulation in concepts is by no means a gratuitous assumption. Nevertheless, general similarities having to do with the methods of philosophers of different cultures, or with the overall structure of their systems, can be meaningfully observed. We are thereby able to ascertain types of philosophical systems, and by, contrasting systems of the same type from different cultures we are' often better able to understand them.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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