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Old Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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Default A Case For World Philosophy

A CASE FOR WORLD PHILOSOPHY:
MY INTELLECTUAL STORY
C. A. Qadir

CRITIQUE OF METAPHYSICS

It is said about a European coming to the Middle East for the first time witnessed in an Islamic country a group of people weeping and crying loudly. When he enquired concerning the cause of that bemoaning he was told that it was due to the fact that Hazrat Imam Hussain and his band of devoted followers were mercilessly slaughtered in the battlefield of Kerbala by Yazid's army. He then enquired as to when this tragedy happened and was told that it took place about 140 years ago, to which he replied 'Have these mourners heard of it so late?'

Something of the same sort happened when the Pakistan Philosophical Congress had the first session in Lahore and Professor John wisdom -- a world-renowned philosopher of England -- came to attend the session and to deliver a public lecture. As Oxford had been the centre of logical positivism, a movement unknown in Pakistan, the organisers of the Congress asked that I prepare myself thoroughly on logical positivism. But in 1954 logical positivism had lost its force in Oxford and elsewhere and when asked if he was a logical positivist Professor Wisdom denied it most vehemently.

However, what struck me in this movement was its revolutionary spirit and its directness and clarity. Professor Ayer's book Language, Truth and Logic, written in a clear, forceful style, with the vigour of a young committed convert, had tremendous impact on me.

Logical positivism was born in 1918 in the Vienna Circle, whose godfather was Professor Schlick. The Circle came into existence ostensibly with the grand purpose of establishing science on firm foundations and eliminating metaphysics altogether. With this object in view, Professor Schlick gathered around him a group of scientists, mathematicians, historians, philosophers -- all bent on banishing metaphysics and providing factual and empirical sciences with a methodology, incontestable in spirit and indubitable in results. Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, through the rigorous application of symbolic logic and the analysis of language, provided a firm foothold. I was enamoured of the neat edifice that logical positivists had built through logic, and of the way in which they had cleaned the Aegean stable of philosophy of the rubbish that had blocked its way to progress for centuries and made it the laughing stock of scientists and logicians.

It was Aristotle who said that philosophy begins in wonder, and ends in wonder and surely there is a charm in this. But if wonder means mystification or cloudy thinking, and philosophy is said to originate and end its thinking in mystification, then the whole endeavour of philosophy will be nothing but an exercise in futility. The common man will get from it confusion and nothing else -- possibly at a higher level.

The concept of wonder" is a dominant note in Greek philosophy. With the Greeks philosophy was a search for truth or quest for wisdom, which lay in knowing how the world originated, what destiny is in store for man and what the ultimate nature of the universe is. In other words, there were three questions, namely, the creation of the universe and therefore God, His attributes and His relation to the world He created; the human soul, its nature and being after the physical dissolution of the body; and the nature of the universe, whether it is material or spiritual. All three questions about God, the soul and the nature of the universe which constitute the content of wisdom are known as the perennial questions of philosophy. They are the great imponderables. They present them-selves to every age but the great minds fail miserably to find an answer. Accordingly one philosopher after another builds his edifice of philosophy on the ruins of the other, first demolishing what has been built so far and then building his own. But as his philosophy is demolished in turn by his successors the history of philosophy looks like a shambles in which each philosophy is destroyed to make room for the next. Consequently there is no agreed knowledge in philosophy, whereas in the sciences knowledge accumulates through the collective efforts of scientists. One, wonders, therefore, what is the good of philosophy and how the great minds of the world have failed to achieve there anything substantial and solid.

This is not to imply that philosophers achieved nothing at all or that their activity was altogether futile. They did give brilliant flashes here and there and useful pieces of advice, but so far as the final output of their endeavour is concerned, that is to say, their utopias and grand systems, there is nothing which could stand the onslaught of their adversaries. The result is that philosophy, in spite of the brilliance of its protagonists, has no achievement to show. This set the philosophers looking to science and mathematics and their dazzling victories. If philosophy were like that it could present an incremental agreed upon knowledge. It could provide a calculus of reasoning, in which each symbol stood for a single meaning. In mathematics, where precision, exactness and unambiguity is the goal, each symbol, whether of negation, disjunction or anything else, conveys a single idea and can be conveyed through that symbol alone.

Leibniz did not follow this programme to the end, but the idea led ultimately to symbolic logic, logical positivism and scientific philosophy. Spinoza took geometry as his model and in his great book Ethics began his metaphysics with a number of self-evident truths, just as a geometrician starts with a number of axioms and definitions, and then deduces from them propositions and corollaries by dis-implicating what is implicitly contained in the initial assumptions. He thus made metaphysics a deductive discipline, little realising that deduction, being a closed and formal discipline, could not deal with the actual concrete reality sought by metaphysics. In the hands of such idealistic philosophers as Taylor and Bradley metaphysics became a deductive discipline. The logical positivist's main charge against metaphysics is that deduction being analytic and formal must deal with tautologies and so cannot reveal the true nature of the universe. Taylor, for example, starts by definiting metaphysics as the study of the reality as a whole. This assumes right from the beginning that (1) there is a reality and that (2) reality is a whole. Both this is too much; it assumes what should be the endeavour of a philosopher to prove. After this Taylor tries to prove the nature of reality with the help of the law of contradiction, but as formal this is suited for tautologous arguments and not where reference has to be made directly or indirectly to sense-experience and the knowledge that it generates. Bradley's book, Appearance and Realit, also used deductive logic and its law of contradiction to substantiate his claims about reality.

Underlying this indictment of metaphysics is the idea that metaphysics is a study of the supersensible reality. Indeed this is how Professor G. E. Moore has defined metaphysics in Principia Ethica. The roots of this conception about metaphysics go far back to Plato who bifurcated the entire realm of being into a world of senses and a world of ideas. He further condemned the world of senses as illusory and undependable and extolled the world of ideas, raising it to the world of perfection and completion. Metaphysics dealt with the world of ideas which is not that of the senses; it is a supersensible world standing independently by virtue of its own intrinsic nature. According to W. H. Walsh (Metaphysics, Hut-chinson University Library, 1963, p. 35) Plato held that "philosophy differs from other branches of enquiry (e.g., geometry) (a) in taking nothing for granted; (b) in its scope, which is universal; (c) in being fully intellectual, in no way dependent upon sense-experience."

Realising this difficulty Kant put forward of a priori synthetic propositions, meaning thereby that a proposition could be analytic and synthetic at the same time. He did give some examples from the field of mathematics which, while formal and analytic, yet entailed reference to mundane reality. A clear statement of this position is found in Joseph's Introduction to Logic wherein it is maintained that the laws of logic are laws of reality. His contention is that the law of identity "A is A" is true because in the world in which we live, things remain the same or their identity never changes. Likewise the law of contradiction that a thing cannot be B and non-B at the same time and at the same place is true because it never happens in actual life that B and not-B are true at the same time. Imam Ibn Taimiyya was the first person to criticise this standpoint. He maintained that the laws of logic conveyed no information about the world as it is. The law of contradiction that A cannot be B and not-B is likewise purely blind and tautologous in nature. It has no means to tell what a thing actually is. Hence to state that the laws of logic are the laws of reality is to ignore the nature of logical truths. The logical positivists hold that there is no meeting ground between synthetic and a priori propositions. Hence the contention of Kant that there could be a priori synthetic propositions has no basis. But in spite of his attempt to unite the synthetic and a priori propositions, Kant is well-known for his opposition to metaphysics. If the scope of metaphysics is confined to noumena and noumena are by definition inaccessible to the human intellect, then metaphysics stands condemned.

But the difficulties noted above in respect to metaphysics are due to the fact that metaphysics is so defined, in one case as the study of supersensible Reality, in the other as the study of Noumenon, thus making it impossible by virtue of these definitions. You can call a person dog and then kill him. But if there is no bifurcation as is supposed by Plato or if the world of noumenon does not stand over and above the world of phenomenon, then the argument against metaphysics entirely fails. In the East metaphysics has never been decried. (Here metaphysics comes first and philosophy afterwards. In Indian philosophy, metaphysics precedes philosophy. There are six systems of philosophy, though the fundamental metaphysical reality is one.) In the Eastern way of thinking, the so-called world of Ultimate Reality is not entirely different from the world of senses, but is a continuation or prolongation of the same. In pantheism Reality is not the world of senses, but is one and the same. Hence if one opts for a different definition of metaphysics and a different account of Reality than what is advocated by Plato and Kant, one can escape the criticism levelled against metaphysics.

LOGICAL POSITIVISM

Logical positivism was unheard of in Pakistan till 1954. It is strange that Allama Muhammad Iqbal in his lectures on the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam mentions dialectical materialism and psycho-analysis and criticises them because of their atheism, but does not mention logical positivism or atheistic existentialism, though they were equally vociferous in their denunciation of God and religion and in some respects much more than the former. Both logical positivism and existentialism had long been on the philosophic scene of the world. Logical positivism was born round about 1918 and existentialism, though born much earlier, expressed itself as a live force between the two World Wars. Many people feel that a new reconstruction of religious thought in Islam is needed so that the newer movements in the realm of thought might be accommodated and their influence on Islamic thought might be properly appreciated. Logical positivism has given birth to the linguistic philosophy of Wittgenstein, John Wisdom, Gilbert Ryle, Austin, to name but a few. These movements, some of which were contemporary to Allama Muhammad Iqbal and some were born after his death, have had tremendous effect on the theory and practice of religion. Likewise, the physical sciences have made rapid strides and revolutionised our conception of animal organism, the working of genes, artificial intelligence, E. S. P., etc., all of which require a new interpretation of religious reality.

Logical positivism has caused a revolution in the field of philosophy and is regarded as a turning point in the history of philosophy. Though its main purpose was the elimination of metaphysics and putting sciences on firm foundations, in actual practice it helped provide philosophy with a new field of enquiry and a new methodology. All the old problems of philosophy such as the existence of God, the destiny of man and the nature of the universe were outlawed; in their place a programme of elucidation and clarification of concepts was launched. The so-called perennial problems of philosophy which had blocked the way to progress in philosophy were pronounced illogical and nonsensical. They had a place neither among the problems of factual, empirical or positive sciences nor among the analytical, formal and tautologous problems of logic and metaphysics and hence were devoid of sense and significance.

The analytic method was adopted by logical positivism for clarifying concepts, but it is not clear what analysis really stands for. Certainly it has an affinity with definition, for in definition a concept is analysed into genus and differentia in order to clarify its meaning. But many philosophers like G. E. Moore are not very clear as to what in fact they are doing in analysis. In their programme of the Unity of Sciences the logical positivists attempted to reduce all sciences to the level of physics. They analysed or reduced the sentences of sociology to those of psychology, the language of psychology to that of biology, and the language of biology in turn to that of physics, thereby reducing the language of all sciences to that of physics. But is the reduction complete and final; can the language of one science be reduced to the language of another science without a remainder? Though the programme of the Unity of Sciences seemed attractive as it placed the entire gamut of human knowledge on one footing, yet it was a miserable failure for it destroyed the uniqueness of the different types of knowledge and made a mockery of them.

Though logical positivist, under the lead of the Tractatus of Wittgenstein, recognised only two types of meaningful sentences, it was soon realised by Wittgenstein and Ayer that language could not be confined to two types of meaningful sentences and that there were innumerable ways in which human beings could communicate and express their meanings. Hence, Wittgenstein introduced the idea of language games and held that each game had its own rules and so its own system of meaning. Though in the beginning I fell into the snare of logical positivism and talked as if there were two types of meaningful sentences, I corrected myself in my earlier Logical Positivism to recognize only one, namely sentences of positive sciences, as having meaning. The other type of sentences was recognised under compulsion, as without mathematics and logic the positive sciences could make no advance and could not interpret their data.

For the factual statements of the positive sciences they devised the verifiability test, namely, that the truth of a proposition depends upon the mode of its verification. This could be direct or indirect, actual or possible, but in every case it was done in the light of facts. Hence, the theory of truth for logical positivism was the correspondence theory. There are many difficulties in this theory, the greatest of which is to tell what indeed is a fact, for in the world we live in there are no facts but only interpretations. Whatever facts a scientist chooses for his enquiry they are nothing but an interpretation of a specific spatio-temporal continuum. Moreover, though there is what Rome Ray has called "the matching of reality", yet that matching also depends upon the interpretation of a scientist as to what matching would be in a specific case and how that matching is to be affected. In some cases, particularly in the case of the so-called introspective facts, matching is an impossibility for they cannot be taken out and compared with the actual living reality to judge their correspondence.

The logical positivists were not successful in formulating the 'verifiability principle'. They knew that complete verifiability was never possible in the domain of the physical sciences, as the future and past were not at their beck and call, nor even the present. Hence what they could aim at was probability, but even the notion of probability was assailed by philosophers like Karl Popper. Hence the logical positivists had to come to what is known as the 'falsifiability principle', which means that a scientist continues to cling to a theory till it is proven false. It is easily seen that the 'falsifiability principle' is a negative principle and can offer no positive guidelines to a researcher. But the greatest difficulty with the 'verifiability principle' and its different formulations is their logical status. According to the logical positivists the meaningful sentences are either the descriptive sentences of the positive sciences or the tautological sentences of logical-mathematical sciences. In order that the 'verifiability principle' be regarded as meaningful, it should be proven to belong to one of these types. But it cannot be tautological for such sentences say nothing, and it cannot be descriptive for such sentences are problematic. Thus in both cases there are difficulties which the logical positivist cannot surmount. Consequently many opponents of logical positivism have dubbed this principle metaphysical in nature. Walsh would label such statements categorical; they are necessary but cannot be proven true or false. But if the fundamental principle of logical positivism is metaphysical, the whole activity of the logical positivists is rendered ineffective. The one main ambition of the logical positivists was to eliminate metaphysics, but metaphysics enters their territory from another door. This never struck Schlick, who in a flush of enthusiasm generated by the Tractatus of Wittgenstein said by way of prophesy that philosophy "which never talks sense but only meaningless nonsense" will soon disappear, because philosophers will find that their audience, tired of empty tirades, has gone away. This prophesy, however, did not come true, and philosophy and metaphysics continued to exist with redoubled zeal.

Though logical positivism is now a spent force, yet in the language of Professor Ayer it is like a wealthy uncle from whom everybody borrows but no one acknowledges. Logical positivism has left its powerful impact upon every discipline and particularly on philosophy. It has brought sanity to philosophy by outlawing wornout, dilapidated notions and problems, thereby breaking the vicious circle in which many philosophers were caught. It laid far greater emphasis on questions than on answers. Some of the questions with which earlier philosophers tried to grapple were worded in such a manner that no answer could be given. If somebody asks what the purpose of the universe is, one can give no answer, for one can understand the meaning of purpose in relation to human beings and their activities, but not in relation to the universe which is a vast conglomeration of events. Unless one defines purpose and universe, it is difficult to say what the purpose of the universe is. Allama Muhammad Iqbal once said that he could only answer the question, "Does God exist?" if he knew the meaning of 'exist' and God' (Stray Reflections, ed. by Dr. Javid Iqbal). Voltaire's requirement that if one wanted to converse with him they must first define their terms contains a lot of good counsel though in an exaggerated form. In countries where people are accustomed to loose and irresponsible talk, it is a good piece of advice that they should first define their terms and then talk.

My own debt to logical positivism is immense; my involvement and commitment to this doctrine was intense and deep for a fairly long time. But my Logical Positivism and various articles bear out that I never subscribed to this doctrine completely, for I always felt that there was a large area of human life where logical positivists had nothing to say. In my chapter on Reason and Faith" as well as in the chapters on Language and Religion", Modern Challenges to Religion', I criticised very strongly the standpoint of logical positivism and regarded it inadequate. In the chapter on Language and Religion' I tried to refute the charge of meaninglessness against religion and held that religious discourse conveyed its meaning through the events of nature which are God's signs. However, I felt that logical positivism has done yeoman's service to science, which latter owes its existence to a large extent to the efforts of logical positivists. The Encyclopaedia of Unified Sciences prepared by the logical positivists, though incomplete, is a great step. The attention they gave to the analysis and clarification of language and its concepts removed many a bottleneck from the field of sciences and provided them with sharper tools to deal with their problems.

It is rather sad to observe within the logical positivists differences of fundamental nature between two powerful groups, one mathematical and the other linguistic or non-mathematical, between which there seemed to be no meeting ground. The mathematical group led by Carnap is busy devising the special language of symbolic logic for philosophy. The other led by the later Wittgenstein, as evidenced in his posthumous book Philosophical Investigations, is busy analysing language and putting forward the 'use theory' or its variation in respect of language and its meaning. Some of these philosophers are concerned with conceptual analysis which they regard as the main function of philosophy. Both have taken extreme positions and quarrel over trifles; like the true believers of Eric Hoffer they exhibit the same kind of irrationalism.

The trend towards mathematisation in philosophy began with Leibniz and had been developed and refined by Whitehead and Russell in the Principia Mathematica. Carnap is busy developing a special language to rid philosophy of imprecision, ambiguities and obscurantism. The programme is laudable no doubt, but one wonders if the work of philosophising is ever carried on in the language of mathematics. Professor Strawson in his Introduction to Logical Theory strongly criticised the mathematical programme of Carnap and his followers and I have pointed out the main difficulties in my "Contemporary philosophy". No doubt scientific and philosophical language has always differed from the spoken and the literary one, but it has never been so different as to be unintelligible to an ordinary educated person.

Mathematising philosophical language, besides putting philosophy in an iron cage and chaining it within the narrow confines of a highly sophisticated kind of artificial language, will impoverish it and render it ineffective and lifeless.
The other line of logical positivism which is very much alive in the Anglo-American world is headed by Austin and by Wittgenstein who played a double role. He put logical positivism on a firm ground through his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and in his later years, through his Philosophical Investigations, demolished these foundations and laid the basis for the philosophy of ordinary language. The Tractatus was based upon two ideas (i) that the world divides itself into facts (atomic facts) and into things and (ii) that each proposition ultimately resolves itself, by analysis, into one uniquely determined truth-value of elementary propositions. Hence each proposition had one and only one final analysis. Behind these two ideas was the assumption that the constituents and especially the ultimate constituents of anything are fixed in the very nature of the things. In the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein questions these assumptions and holds that no components of a thing are uniquely determined by reality so that one account would be right and all others wrong. One account may be better for some purpose, another better for some other purpose. John Wisdom says similarly, "An account of the world in terms of things, an account of the world in terms of facts and an account of the world in terms of events is just an account of one world in three languages."

Like Plato, Wittgenstein thinks that a philosophical problem has the form "I do not know my way about." When one probes into certain notions, one falls into puzzles and confusions. Wittgenstein was always anxious to make people feel the puzzles -- he was dissatisfied if he felt they had not done this. "My aim is to pass from a piece of disguised nonsense to something that is patent nonsense." Philosophy starts with riddles and philosophical problems are paradoxes so that even at the end of our enquiry we are no better than we were at the start. Other moves are possible, but they too prove to be of no avail; we remain trapped in the puzzle. Wittgenstein once remarked to Malcolm, "A person caught in a philosophical puzzle is like a man in a room who wants to get out but does not know how. He tries the window but it is too high. He tries the chimney, but it is too narrow" (Malcolm, Memoirs, 51).

According to Wittgenstein, the difficulties experienced in the domain of philosophy are not like those in the domain of sciences. Scientific difficulties can be removed by bringing in new facts, but the philosopher has all the facts before him: he needs no new facts to solve his problem. For instance no conceivable discovery a physiologist might make would help the philosopher solve his problem about sense-perception or free will. A philosopher's problem is not to find new facts, but to find some way of constructing the facts he already has, so that they do not appear to conflict one with another.

Wittgenstein arrived at the same kind of uncomfortable conclusion in the Tractatus when he said, "My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way -- anyone who understands me eventually recognises them as non-sensical, when he has used them as steps, to climb up beyond them." In other words, his philosophy is an indispensable nonsense, not just an idle nonsense. His view is that philosophy is not a theory for it does not issue into a body of assertable propositions, but rather is an activity of making the meaning of propositions clear. This type of nonsense can be compared, on the one hand, with the nonsense of metaphysics which is the least excusable one and with the nonsense of religion and mysticism which is deep nonsense.

When Wittgenstein talks of confusion and puzzlement and even of wonder he comes very near to existentialism which maintains, in the language of Marcel, that philosophical issues are not like scientific problems but are riddles or paradoxes -- to which no single answer can or should be given. The world is a mystery, not because of its multifarious activities, but simply because it exists. The mystery that surrounds life and the world cannot be resolved by discovering more facts, because it is a question not of facts but of interpreting them; all depends upon how one looks at life and the world. It is like interpreting a dream, where interpretations would differ depending upon whether one is a Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian or a devotee of some other system of psychology. Perhaps all the dream-interpreters would be giving equally true or equally false interpretations; there is no way to pronounce one as true and the other as false, and strange as it may seem they all work. As in the cure of a diseases one can be cured through allopathy, through homeopathy, through Unani Tib or acupuncture or the auyervedic method.

This is true of philosophy as well, once it is conceded that philosophical problems are mysteries and puzzles. Hence the cult of objectivity adhered to by scientists and scientifically-oriented philosophers cannot be defended. Truth is subjectivity, as the existentialists say with regard to existential truths, but this is equally true of the scientific truths.

Though I am a great believer in the fundamentals of logical positivism and its offshoots and subscribe to the programme of the clarification and elucidation of concepts, yet I feel strongly that clarity is not enough and that the soly or primary function of philosophy is not to elucidate but to grapple with the basic realities of life. What those basic realities are depends again upon one's point of view. For a Marxist the basic realities are socio-economic and the remedy for them is revolution. The Marxist believes that dialectics is the ultimate principle of human and physical reality and that there are some basic ways in which dialectics works. Dialectical Materialism also known as scientific materialism, treats philosophy as a branch of science. Religion. It considers religion an opium of the masses which clever politicians and rulers use to accomplish their ends, to silence their opponents and to create a dreamland for the masses. Instead of facing the bitter realities of life by fighting them in this world, they are given a promise of another world in which present injustices and inequalities will be repaid by a system of compensations guaranteed by an Almighty God or the law of Karma. Marxists have no faith in God or gods, but feel that what is needed is science and technology to remove the miseries of life and a revolution to change the material structure of the society which has sanctioned a system rendering the rich richer and the poor poorer. Because of their faith in science and technology, they feel that they need have no engagement with religion or God.

This, however, is going too far. No doubt religion has been exploited in the past, but that would hardly justify condemning religion for no fault of its own, but of its exploiters. Though socio-economic problems are very vital, they do not constitute the whole of life. The saying of Jesus Christ that man does not live by bread alone, though very much clouded by such dark realities of life as famine, poverty, drought, disease, serfdom, despotism and imperialism, has a truth which cannot be altogether ignored. In the Eastern way of thinking, as exemplified by yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Zen Buddhism, Tasawaf, Baghti practices, the emphasis is on inward life. This is not withdrawal from the world or its renunciation but adopting an attitude of detachment by which, while remaining in the world, one escapes its hold. The inner life of an individual or of a nation needs nourishment which comes not from wealth, prestige or domination, but by turning attention within or by, as Allama Iqbal says, suppressing temporarily the efficient self and giving freer scope to the appreciative self. It is as if the window towards the world is shut for the time being and the window towards God or the inner self opened. Marxism has no room for such experiences and consequently, in spite of its world-shaking philosophy and the material benefits that it promised, it failed to satisfy -- not because it was untrue but because it was incomplete.

EXISTENTIALISM

Existentialism though not a philosophy of inwardness, goes deeply to the bottom of life and identifies problems which concern Being and are, therefore, more ontological than epistemological. Anglo-American philosophy is mainly concerned with two questions, "How do I know" and "What do you mean," both of which are epistemological in character. Existentialism, on the other hand, though not unmindful of the correct use of language, considers ontological problems the proper subject matter of philosophy. I realised the importance of this approach while reading Rubaiyyat-i-Omar Khayyam, where towards the end a conversation breaks out among the pots at the potter's house. One pot with a rather awry neck asked, "Why of all the pots is my neck awry? Did the hands of the potter shake, while he was making me?" To this question and similar others no answer was forthcoming. In philosophy, as we all know, questions are much more important than answers. Like all philosophers, Omar Khayyam leaves his audience and hearers guessing as to what the answer to this riddle might be. There is indeed the question of unjustifiable personal sufferings: why should a person suffer for no fault of one's own?

Sartre perhaps would not be willing to acknowledge that there is suffering right from the beginning, but thinks that whatever a person is, he can make or mar himself by his own choices. It is true that a person with an awry neck can make use of his disability in such a manner that it goes to his advantage. It is said about Lord Byron, the poet, that he limped a little, but by his charming and seductive manners he made limping a fashion in England so that every person who wanted to be looked up to limped a little. This, however, is not universally true. A congenitally blind person cannot set a fashion for blindness. Such disabilities constitute initial barriers in life and become accentuated day by day until they become stone walls, hard to cross over.

Hence persons (pots in the language of Omar Khayyam) can ask legitimately why they were born with an organism which works against them. Khayyam raises questions about creation, good and evil, reward and punishment in the life to come, the ultimate destiny of man, the purpose of the universe, death, etc. which are vital to life. On the loss of a son one asks what is this life and for what are we born; are we like flies to be swept away by the whirlwinds of fate; why this suffering to the parents, to the family and to the friends of the deceased? Some say it can be for their moral and spiritual uplift, but it is difficult for one who is grieving to believe that. Questions like those of the pot are there, but there is no answer from anywhere. The makers of the universe and the architects of fate play the joke and leave us wondering. Is it the philosophic wonder of Plato or the Ram Lila of Hindu gods who play with our lives for their sport? Whatever the case, the mysteries of life stare us in the face; they demand answers from every age and from every person for they are very basic, that is to say, they are the inalienable and indubitable truths of life.

It is said that existentialism is the product of two world wars and of the mechanical life that the modern man is made to lead because of the tremendous and rapid progress in sciences and technologies. The two World Wars brought untold miseries in their wake and machine life has created such problems as alienation, loneliness, anguish and joylessness. But we would underrate the importance of existentialism, if we did not consider it as arising from the basic realities of life and attribute it to such temporary calamities as war and machines. Even Adam, the first man, had to face existential problems. He felt lonely till Eve was created, and then had to ask for forgiveness and repent his whole life when he disobeyed the orders of God.

Adam is made to feel lonely, as the ancient mythology says, because he was alone in the beginning. That may be one cause, but the real and most vital causes were, as they remain, the absolute ignorance about what life and death are, the whence and whither of life, unmerited sufferings, the system of punishments and rewards here and in the hereafter, anguish and anxieties of life, bereavements, infidelities and so many other incomprehensible things. It is true that existentialism has laid stress on the dark side of life and failed to notice its joys and charms. Luckily this drawback has been remedied by what is called the philosophy of the Living Spirit. Though the philosophy of language with its emphasis on clarification, elucidation and proper use of language has great value in the field of the physical sciences, yet so far as culture and inner life are concerned existentialism is more helpful and should not be ignored.

Like Allan Watts, I feel that words are not enough and that we should go beyond words in philosophy: just as clarity is not enough, so neither are words. Wittgenstein, himself recognised the need of going beyond words when he concluded the Tractatus with the remark, "Of that whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should remain silent." After this, British philosophers should have remained silent, but they have not. For this reason after the Tractatus philosophy which clings to language becomes puerile and concerns itself with trivial issues far removed from life. The philosopher becomes specialist in grammar and symbolic logic and loses touch with the basic realities of life. William Earle in his essay on "Notes on the Death of a Culture" says that the new academic philosopher is a pragmatic, nine to five businessman, going to his office with a briefcase to 'do philosophy' in the same spirit as an accountant or a research chemist; this is the poverty of philosophy. Preoccupation with E. S. P. and occultism to some extent has convinced me that concern with language is but a small affair, though not a negligible one, in the wide expanse of human life. As there is a world without, so there is a world within, and just as we embellish the world without by flower pots, beautiful furniture, carpets and curtains so should we embellish the interior by the development of moral sense and by dipping occasionally into the Great Ocean of Reality. There is not one way to do it, but many out of which one should be selected which is in tune with one's own nature. In the West people hanker after Sadhus, mystics and Yogis to know what life is and how best to live it. In the East where spiritualism lies hidden in its holy scriptures but seldom is dug up, people are fast becoming as materialistic, if not more than theWesterners and thereby lose contact with their moorings. They too need to turn their attention inwards occasionally to keep themselves in touch with the basic truths of life.
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A WORLD PHILOSOPHY

It should be obvious from the above that thinking need not be wedded to any particular school of philosophy. Gone are the days when philosophers belonged to one "ism" or the other; why should there be an `either-or' attituded in philosophy. Just as a gardener prepares a bouquet of several flowers, all different from one another in hue, smell and beauty, why cannot a philosopher also prepare a bouquet out of the truths contained in the various systems of philosophy? There is much truth in Hegel and Karl Marx that thesis and anti-thesis are not all wrong, and that some amount of truth lies in the thesis and some amount of truth in the anti-thesis and the task of the philosopher is to extract the truth of both and to deposit it in a new proposition which they call the synthesis. This process of extracting truth goes on till one reaches the final stage which contains all truth and nothing but truth. Though it is never possible to reach complete truth, there is no denying the fact that if the truth contained in different schools somehow be gathered together it would lead to a philosophy which, instead of cancelling all others except itself, would authenticate all others including itself and vouchsafe a better vision of life and the universe.

This position leads toward a world philosophy. In the past only European philosophy officially occupied the throne of philosophy, while all others like Indian, Muslim and Chinese philosophies were dubbed poetic, mystical or emotive outbursts of untutored minds. But by the end of the 20th century due to quick, easy and cheap means of communication and transport, cultural isolation came to an end and people came to know one another more intimately. It was realised that just as no nation has been without religion and a prophet, so no nation had been without philosophy of some sort and philosophers of some worth. Indeed in some cases the philosophies of other regions are as rich as is European philosophy itself and even surpass it in depth and vision.

Hence, a need has arisen to synthesise the flashes of insight exhibited by the inhabitants of the various parts of the globe. This attempt is yet in the initial stage, but it is hoped that it will be successful one day. The need of such a philosophy is very great, for the different philosophies of the world have created as much a barrier between nations of the world as their religions. Just as the adherents of one religion fail to understand the thoughts and language of the adherents of other religions, likewise the followers of one school of philosophy fail to appreciate the truth propounded by other schools of philosophy. The world, at present, is divided into three philosophical empires, namely Anglo-American following the philosophy of language, Continental Europe following existentialism and the philosophy of dialectical materialism. The rest of the world follows one of these three philosophies according as they are politically influenced by this or that nation. The devotees of these philosophies are as much prejudiced in favour of their own philosophic creed or ideology as are religionists with regard to their own religion. There is the same heat, the same nervousness and the same 'believe or perish' attitude. Several of my essays such as "Philosophy for World Understanding" and "Contemporary Philosophy," have emphasised the need for world philosophy for the peace of the world. Political peace cannot be achieved if nations lack the framework of common understanding provided by a common universal philosophy.

There are stupendous difficulties in the way of such a project. But if the world was not dismayed by the political difficulties posed by different ideologies and different ways of looking at the world, why should it be dismayed by different philosophies? The problem of how to make a bouquet out of different philosophies is a challenge which the philosophers have to take up. The computer with a far greater range of intelligence, quicker grasp and a miraculous power of manipulating and organising data may help in the not too distant a future. Already, it has tremendous influence on some of the cherished concepts and notions of philosophers and has compelled them to think afresh. The computer might weld together the thinking of different nations and prepare a synthesis acceptable to the majority of right thinking people. Philosophers can ignore the domain of computer science and parapsychology only at their own peril. If these two sciences can help in bringing mankind together by giving them a common way of thinking, it will usher in an era of peace and common understanding through a common Universal Philosophy.

The idea of 'World Philosophy' is not foreign to the Muslim mind. When the brilliance of the Arab mind was at its apex, besides the inspirations coming principally from the Islamic traditions, there were powerful influences coming from Greek, Christian, Jewish and Indian thought which were not only welcomed but assimilated and developed by the great system builders of Islam -- Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Miskawaih, Ibn Rushd -- to name but a few. Even those who resisted the invasion of Greek thought, as for instance Al-Ghazali and Ibn Taimiyya, could not escape the charms of foreign thought. The result was a happy amalgam and a fruitful synthesis of East and West in a common endeavour to reach the ultimate truth. Only when foreign influences were completely boycotted and the spirit of independent enquiry languished in the Islamic world did the decline of Arab civilisation set in.

In the undivided India, with the advent of the West, particularly the British, a new chapter opened in the history of the Muslims' assimilation and adjustment to new ideas. They were already living among Hindus who had a strong and a powerful tradition in philosophic and religious thought. The Muslims were trying to hold their own against Hindu thought, but there is strong evidence that Hindu ideas about God and human destiny filtered down imperceptibly into Muslim beliefs and practices. Our Sufis borrowed ideas from Vedantism, Buddhism, Jainism and from other Hindu sources, though they also influenced Hindu thought in many important ways. Because of the confluence of Muslim, Hindu and Western thought, a new type of thinking arose. The Muslims on their part tried to come to terms with Western thought. Syed Ahmad Khan made this attempt and so did Allama Muhammad Iqbal in his great treatise Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Indians, too, have tried to imbibe as much as they could from Western sources. The Hindu movements of Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Swami Dayanand, Swami Vivekananda and the philosophies of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and Mahatama Gandhi are the products of Western and Islamic influences.

Dr. Radhakrishnan of India, in his books East and West in Religion, Eastern Religions and Western Thought, and The History of Philosophy: Eastern and Western, has attempted to present a philosophical perspective which should be shared by both worlds. M. M. Sharif, in his History of Muslim Philosophy, has prefaced the Muslim thought by Indian, Chinese, Iranian, Greek and Alexandarian-Syriac thoughts. Though pre-Islamic thought has characteristics of its own, yet it shares with Islamic thought some very important insights and ideas. Similar attempts have been made in China and Japan to weld together Eastern and Western thought.

In the West, however, the idea of a common philosophy is quite foreign. There have been isolated instances of philosophers influenced by Indian, Chinese or Muslim thought but, by and large, the West has been characterised by its insularity and arrogance, considering that Europe alone had a philosophy worth the name, while the so-called philosophies of other nations were nothing but cock-and-bull stories. Their histories of philosophy accordingly contained only the names of the philosophers of the European countries with, if at all, very casual reference to Indian or Muslim thought.

This was highly deplorable, for God did not bestow intellect upon the West alone. It is now realised by a good many thinkers of the West, particularly those of the younger generation, that real philosophy was spoken and written in the East and that what is termed philosophy in the West is altogether barren, lifeless and unrealistic. This indictment may be a bit exaggerated, but there is no doubt that a large number of the younger generation, both male and female, of the U. K., and the U. S. shows interest in Sadhus, Sanyasis, Mystics, meditationers, testifying to the fact that they are in search of something not available in their own thought of system. This is a good augury which will force the European mind to think towards assimilation and common understanding thereby paving the way for a world philosophy.

I am not oblivious to the difficulties which lie in the way of this effort. Each nation writes in its own diction, which is not easily translatable. Further, each philosophy is written against a cultural background, a socio-political complex, which varies from nation to nation. In addition, as each philosopher writes with his own life blood and expresses his own fears and longings in his own peculiar manner, which may not be possible to harmonise and there may be many more difficulties. But as different nations were forced by the logic of circumstances to come together and to the U. N. thereby surrendering a part of their own autonomy, so the different philosophies of the world should be willing to sacrifice a part of their autonomy in the interest of common good. In the U. N. all nations retain their sovereignty though they agree to submit to the wishes of the U. N. in some specified respects. Likewise the different philosophies of the East and West would retain their own territories, but engage an overall philosophical standpoint which expresses the common thinking of humanity. The task is formidable but not impossible; it requires a broad outlook and a tolerant spirit.

It may be asked what is the content or subject matter of a world philosophy. A simple reply to this question would be that it is no other than the problems that the philosophers have been discussing throughout the ages, namely, (1) God, or the Creator of the universe, the why and how of creation, the attributes of God and the relation of God with His creation; (2) the nature of the human soul, the ultimate destiny of human beings, life in the hereafter, reward and punishment and hell and paradise; and (3) the nature of the world we inhabit -- spiritual or material, real or unreal, favourable or unfavourable to human wishes and aspirations, monistic, dualistic or pluralistic, dreamlike or substantial.

Besides these ontological problems like all philosophies it will discuss the nature of human knowledge, its limits and possibilities, sources and kinds of knowledge, and their validity, as well as the nature and validity of scientific knowledge.

As regards the methodology of a world philosophy, in the first place attempts will be made to accommodate all types of philosophies, Indian, Chinese, Muslim, Japanese, Russian, African and others in the history of philosophy, so that instead of being the history of philosophy of the white races -- the European and the Americans -- it may become the history of the thinking of all humankind, including as well the philosophies of the black and brown races. Philosophy is not the privilege of any colour; it is universal in spirit and grows and develops wherever the soil is fertile for original, innovative thinking. A universal or a worldwide history of philosophy, instead of beginning with Thales, the earliest Greek philosopher, should begin with the first philosopher of India or whichever are chronologically the earliest. In the past it was not easy to ferret out which person or which civilisation gave the first indications of philosophic thinking, but now as archaeology and anthropology push their enquiries to the remote past, it should not be difficult to arrange human thought in chronological sequence. Hence the first task before the exponents of world philosophy would be to assign due place to all the philosophies of the world in the grand account of the world philosophy, without discrimination with respect to colour, creed or race.

Another method for bringing about a worldwide awareness would be to institute courses of comparative philosophy in all universities, so that the similarities and dissimilarities of different systems become obvious. If, for instance, Muslim philosophy be studied along with European philosophy, many things attributed to British or European thinkers may have to be ascribed to the Muslim thinkers. Descartes' method of doubt was present in al-Ghazali many centuries before. Likewise, parallels can be found between Chinese and Indian thought or between the six systems of Indian philosophy and many philosophic systems of the West. The more different philosophies are studied side by side, the more similarities in thought and thought structure will become apparent in human thinking. Just as a study of comparative religion leads to a wider outlook and a transcendental vision, so will the study of comparative philosophy will lead to a breadth of vision and a softening of angularities. Al-Ghazali has said the higher we go the better we see; this certainly is true of philosophy. As we transcend the narrow barriers created by geographical, socio-political and cultural conditions, the better we see the criss-cross of human thought, the interdependence and interrelatedness of ideas as they flourished in different ages and climes and in the various regions of the world. As there has been no territory of the world without a prophet, so there has been no area of the world without a thinker.

Still another way in which world philosophy can be studied is to adopt the method of interfaith dialogue. In this dialogue, adherents of different religions expound their own points of view regarding one and the same problem. As the purpose is to understand with sympathy and love the point of view of the other, the exponents are struck by the spiritual similarities and agreement in the broad principles of life. Likewise, if different philosophers are studied with understanding and sympathy, a common core of thinking surely will emerge. A one-to-one correspondence is not needed for world philosophy, some areas of correspondence will suffice as a meeting ground. When a person seeks friendship, he does not look for complete identity in thought and feelings, but only for an area where both may agree and which may be cultivated and developed in order that it be sufficiently comprehensive. In like manner when areas of friendship are discovered in the philosophies of the world, these areas can be developed and strengthened.

Still another thing which can help in this connection is to hold conferences, dialogues, seminars in which philosophers of all orientations participate. Such conferences held at the international level will provide a sort of clearinghouse for ideas and surely some-thing tangible and concrete will emerge. In this connection, computers can be pressed into service. With its powerful brain, its far-reaching grasp and its unparalleled manipulative power the computer may succeed in welding together the different strands of thought in some kind of homogenous unity. This may not be possible now, but in the distant future it may accomplish what looks like a dream today.
There is no denying that there are serious and in some cases fundamental differences in the points of view presented by the protagonists of different philosophies. We have spoken of the three philosophic empires dominating the scene at the moment, each one speaking in a language of its own, sometimes hardly intelligible to the other. But the rift is not hopelessly permanent. The three were unheard of in the 19th century when only two types of philosophies, idealistic and materialistic, dominated the scene. Hence what is true of the philosophic world today may change tomorrow and yield place to something quite different and perhaps more accommodating in spirit. Already, logical positivism which entered the arena of philosophy with bravado has become a thing of the past. Liguistic philosophy is nearing its end and the mathematical branch of logical positivism under the leadership of Carnap seems to have exhausted itself and to face a revolt due to losing contact with the realities of life. Philosophy seems to be at the crossroads, trying to find a new way. In my opinion life has become so complex that no single doctrine or point of view, however comprehensive, can cover all the facets of life. What is needed is a synthesis of all the points of view which ultimately will lead to a universal transcendental philosophy. Some philosophers like Professor H.D. Lewis sees a return to metaphysics, for the philosophy of language and of symbolic logic can hardly meet the requirements of life.

Signs of give-and-take are visible in different systems of philosophy. J. P. Sartre, a great existentialist thinker who turned Marxist for sometime, tried to bring Marxism and existentialism together. Though he did not succeed there exists an affinity between these two systems of thought. Again Marxism and existentialism are both humanistic, as are pragmatism and personalism. Moreover, there is negative agreement in that all three principal movements are anti-metaphysicsal. Marxism rejects supersensible reality and has subsumed philosophy under the Sciences. Logical positivism arose as a protest against metaphysics and wanted to eliminate it. Existentialism is concerned specifically with the being of man and his predicament and has nothing to do with supra-mundane realities. Hence all three movements agree in outlawing metaphysics from the domain of philosophy.

But are not all philosophers in Platonic diction seekers of truth, and so in a way fellow travellers? No matter what their route or what their destination, so long as they seek truth they are comrades in arms and have affinities so far as their aim and ambition are concerned. In the Contemporary Indian Philosophy Mahatma Gandhi says that his religion is truth, and so long as a person seeks truth, no matter in what way and with what results, he is a brethren in religion. The same is true of philosophy. So long as a person seeks truth, no matter in what form and with what methodology, he is a co-worker. Considered in this light all differences pale into insignificance and what remains is the quest; this is what matters, not the result or the techniques. Truth is one but its forms are many, just as dream may be one but its interpretations are many.

World philosophy arose from the need to ensure a totality of outlook and peace for the world by piecing knowledge together and by removing thought barriers, aiming thereby at a totalisation of knowledge and desires to constitute a world view. This desire is shared by physicists who work with three or four fundamental energies, namely gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear energy. What Professor Abdul Salam, the Nobel prize winner, has done is to amalgamate two of them, the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear energy. He hopes to do the same with respect to the other two types and ultimately to arrive at one fundamental energy. People who dream of a world philosophy think in the same lines.

World philosophy will not be built on one pattern. It is quite conceivable that different writers working on world philosophy may present it differently. One may construct it on the Marxian model, making class struggle or dialectics the fundamental basis and norm for accommodating different philosophies in different perspectives. Another may construct it on the Hegelian model and may consider the absolute unfolding itself at successive stages of human history. All philosophies will find their place in the absolute according as they are more or less consistent and more or less comprehensive. There can be other criteria. It should be understood that these criteria may change; the contents of world philosophy may also change because world philosophy is a growing, developing system of thought and not a static one.

For the common people what is important in world philosophy is that, if it is realised, it will become a mighty force for world peace, by removing ideological barriers and harmonising the claims of conflicting theories.
But what of the two questions, 'Does God exist' and 'Who am I', which set one on the path of philosophy?

To the first question, 'Does God exist?' everyone knows this to be among the great insolubles of philosophy. No philosophical argument has so far been given for the existence of God. The traditional proofs of God, namely, the ontological, cosmological, and teleological fail miserably, as do the existential and the ethical. Theologians and philosophers have tried to find proof for the existence of God in religious experience, but that, too, has proven shaky.

One big reason for this failure is that according to the Holy Qur'an, nobody has ever seen God or the like of Him; further, nobody can ever imagine what He would be. If God is incomprehensible and unimaginable by nature, how can the finite and weak human intellect ever know what He is. Moreover, none knows what the term existence' would mean in connection with a Being who is above imagination and above human comprehension. Does He exist like human beings, like concepts, like dream ideas, or in some other mysterious manner? One cannot say whether the word existence' can be meaningfully employed in the case of a Being whose nature is a hidden mystery.

Therefore, the question should be changed to `What does God mean to me?' In this new form the question becomes one of testimony, rather than of objective verification. From objective validity one passes to subjective validity. In the Holy Qur'an, God has chosen to reveal Himself through His 99 names, which by no means exhaust infinite, unfathomable and incomprehensible nature. Out of these names one can select as many as one likes depending upon one's requirements, capabilities, aspirations and material modes of existence. To the question ` What does God mean to me?' rather than 'Does God exist?', I have selected out of the 99 names of God the name Rahim (mercy, kindness), as it or its derivatives is found among the names of Hazrat Muhammad (may the peace of God be upon him), Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ. Our Holy Prophet is called "rahmat" for all the universes, Lord Buddha is the prince of light and compassion, while Jesus Christ stands for love. Human society needs to be remodelled on the foundations of rahmat, for therein lies the hope for human survival in this wartorn world. The concept of "rahmat" requires that the sumtotal of human happiness be increased by all the means at our disposal. Avoidable sufferings should be prevented and the extent of unavoidable sufferings be lessened much as possible. It also requires the elimination of all forms of exploitation, oppression, depersonalisation and subjection.

The second question, `Who am I?' is one of the most difficult questions in the domain of philosophy. Psychology first of all banished the idea of soul, then of mind or self, and then of person in order to talk in terms of reflexes and conditioned reflexes. Hume spurned the idea of self, and the logical positivists who follow in his wake (even Gilbert Ryle who had outgrown logical positivism) have outlawed this idea. In this connection as linguistic philosophy seems of no value one turns to existentialism for the concepts of choice, responsibility and freedom. As Descartes said, 'I think, therefore, I am', similarly the existentialists say, 'I choose, therefore, I am'. The fundamental idea is that a person is what he makes of himself through his choices as a free, self-responsible being. His spiritual life consists in self-transcendence which should be creative and not simply repetitive; and one should add to the stature of life and the world through one's choices. One should feel that one is bearing the burden of the world with responsibility as unlimited as one's freedom, in spite of the fact that there are limiting situations in life. It is said that God will judge us on the final day in terms of what we have become through our actions and choices during our life. Hence, the only tangible and positive thing that I can say about myself, or about who I am is that I am what I am through my choices, direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious. Metaphysical notions about the nature of the human self seem no better than fairy tales; they have poetic value, an may provide solace and satisfaction, but that is immaterial to one who gives one's life to the search for truth.

In conclusion:

- no philosophy can ever be final, much less that of a person who is still growing;
- one function of philosophy is to elucidate and clarify ideas, though clarity is not enough;
- many mistakes in the past occurred because philosophers did not take due care in the use of language, though philosophy cannot be confined to sorting out linguistic mistakes and teaching people the proper use of 'if', 'can', 'but' and so on;
- for problems of culture and the most intimate and personal questions such as for those of life and death, existentialism is more helpful than the philosophy of language;
- for the inner being of a person, what is most appropriate is a new technique which is found in the practice of meditation, in prayers, in obedience and in complete surrender to the ultimate reality;
- for the peace, amity and concord of the world a world philosophy is needed in which East and West will meet and better understand each other; and
- finally the great questions of life can be understood better by changing both their wording and their shape.
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