The Key Difference Between Modern and Ancient Science

The Key Difference Between Modern and Ancient Science

In the Bhāgavata (3.24.18) we hear Brahmā tell this to Princess Devahūti:

My dear daughter of Manu, the destroyer of deceptions has come forth from your own womb! His teachings will traverse the globe, setting it free from the knotted ropes of ignorance and confusion. He will become the leader of hosts of people attaining perfection. He will become the exemplar of the sciences, and will speak with excellent and full deliberation upon authority. With the name ‘Kapila’ he will be celebrated throughout the world, thus increasing your fame

Kapila’s science was explained with excellent and full deliberation upon authority. This means that Kapila’s epistemology begins with śabda-pramāṇa and descends into anumāna and pratyākṣapramāṇa. (he begins with statements from primeval authority and carries those statements into logical rationale [anumāna] and then into practical observation [pratyākṣa].

Later on, science changed. Even in India, the saṁkhya-darśan later changed. Another person came forward calling himself Kapila and gave new conclusions to the science. His version influenced the Greeks, which has created the modern science that now dominates the world. This form of science differs from the sciences explained by Devahūti’s beautiful son in that her son established science “with excellent and full deliberation upon authority” where as the later ‘Kapila’ (and the modern science stemming from his root) take an opposite approach.

Devahūti’s Kapila’s approach is avaroha — it comes from “top-down.” It begins with authoritative knowledge (śabda) and this informs and guides the rationale and logic (anumāna) which then educates and informs the perception (pratyākṣa).

The other Kapila’s approach is varoha — it goes from “bottom-up.” It begins with perception (pratyākṣa) from which one constructs logical rationale (anumāna) and finally arrives at authoritative knowledge (śabda). This approach is insufficient compared to the approach of the original Kapila because perception is subjective and incredibly subject to flaw and limitation.

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