Nalin de Silva’s epistemology has contradictions in it – part 2
He then writes “One could say that it is the statement of a fact. However, the question is how one knows that it is a fact. There are no facts by themselves. The so-called facts have to be known even if words are not used. It is not essential that knowledge has to be expressed in words. However, knowledge has to be known, even if with the use of images, which we call citta rupa, and images are associated with mind. Thus there is no knowledge without mind, and the existence of something without knowing is unimaginable.” This paragraph is correct as well. Even what we identify as facts was identified as facts by mind. So far so good.
He keeps on attacking what he predicts would be an on his theory. He writes “One could object to the above and say there are so many millions in the world who have no knowledge of the existence of far away galaxies whose existence cannot be doubted. Also it could be pointed out that just seventy five years ago nobody in the western world knew anything about the other galaxies but they had been in existence for millions of years. Thus it could be argued that the objects could exist without them being known to anybody in the universe. However, this is a statement by an observer living today, and not a statement of an observer who lived millions of years ago. It is the knowledge of an observer of the twentieth century, who argues or extrapolates that the universe had been in existence for millions of years. What the present observer says is that the objects he identifies as galaxies had been in “existence” in what he identifies as space and time, or that the galaxies had modified the space-time for so many millions of years, if one believes in Einstein. The statements which appear to be objective are not so, as any statement made today is an utterance by an observer living in the twenty first century. What are identified as galaxies, perhaps together with some other “objects”, could have been identified as something else, if our five sense organs and the mind (in the eastern tradition mind is also identified as a sense organ) had different forms from what we have now.” There’s nothing incorrect in this paragraph either. The bottom-line is, everything we know, we learnt it using our minds. Even the answer to the question “Is there an objective reality?” must be considered as knowledge, created by mind.
Before I proceed to his next paragraph, we must review we’ve learnt so far. Mind and mind only, creates knowledge. Knowledge here means everything we know. So everything we know was created by mind. If you saying that there is an objective reality, you’re saying that you know that there is an objective reality. You created the knowledge about objective reality with the help of mind. You cannot talk about objective reality without creating knowledge about it. Therefore, even your concept of objective reality is dependent upon mind.
Let’s replace the term “objective reality” with the letter A. You say “A exists whether I know about it or not.” But here you have created knowledge about A with the help of your mind. Your statement “A exists whether I know about it or not” itself is dependent upon your mind. Even if you don’t state it, you have to grasp the idea with your mind. You cannot know about things without involving your mind. In Nalin’s own words “…there is no knowledge without mind, and the existence of something without knowing is unimaginable.”
Now let’s see what Nalin says next. He writes “We argue that the world is nothing but the creation of the observer, and the world is the same as the knowledge of the world. In the present approach it is not assumed that a world exists independent of the observer who attempts to know or gather “information” of an already existing world. The observer creates knowledge of the world, and hence the world, relative to the sense organs, mind and the culture of the observer. The knowledge is thus created by the mind with the aid of the other sense organs. There is no knowledge or world, before such knowledge of the world is created, and the knowledge is created as concepts theories etc., by the observer. Thus the so called world is the conceptual and theoretical world of the observer that has been created in the mind. It should be noted that the concepts need not be in the form of words, as images formed in the mind (citta rupa) are also considered as concepts.”
What is stated in the above paragraph is that world doesn’t exist independent of the mind. World is created by the mind. The world doesn’t exist independent of the mind. If one says “a world exists independent of the observer who attempts to know or gather information of an already existing world,” he is wrong. According to Nalin, world doesn’t exist independent of the mind.
So what Nalin’s saying is this.
1. Knowledge cannot exist without the mind.
2. The existence of something (world/universe/external-reality) is knowledge.
3. Therefore, that something doesn’t exist independent of the mind.
The meaning of the term “doesn’t exist independent of the mind” means that there is no objective reality. According to Nalin, nothing has an objective existence. It should be noted that the both the words objective and existence are creations of the mind. We have, with our minds created a word called objective. In our minds, if something objectively exists, it means that it exists even if we die or were never born. I must stress again that “exist” is a concept that we have created with our minds. Now let’s take Nalin’s next paragraph.
“The question may be asked as to what was there before the world was created by the observer, and whether the world is born and dead with the observer. The answer to the second question is no in the following sense. Before the observer was born there was the knowledge that his parents and grand parents had created. The observer gains most of the initial knowledge from his parents and relatives. The world of the observer is the world of his/her relatives, teachers and others, and what he/she creates.”
There’s a big CONTRADICTION in here. Nalin says, “Before the observer was born there was the knowledge that his parents and grand parents had created.” If knowledge was there before the observer was born, then that mean knowledge “objectively existed” before he was born. It doesn’t matter that “objectively existed” is just a concept that we created with our minds. Nalin just stated that his concept can’t be true (I’m not going to talk about what is true and untrue here. It is a separate, complex subject). But now he’s using this concept to support his claim that the world is not dead and born with the observer.
So that is the contradiction and it is a non-trivial one. The moment one claims that there is no objective reality (things that exist independent of the mind), the immediate question that follows is “what happens when you die? Does the world disappear?” We intuitively answer “no.” It would be ridiculous to suggest that the General Theory of Relativity just disappears when you die. But then you have to prove that it doesn’t disappear. Nalin does this by saying knowledge exist independently of one’s mind, which, as he said earlier, couldn’t happen, and thus creates contradiction.