On Reductionism


Dr. ChurchlandWay back in the sixties, that is over half a century ago, it was quite common to hear many spiritual teachers in India, haranguing to large audience how science was analytic and philosophy was synthetic in approach.  The strength of the ancient Indian wisdom, according to them, lived in its spirit of synthesis. So people were exhorted by these speakers to cultivate a habit of developing a conjoined view of diverse systems, rather than decompose them through a rigor of analysis. A current joke at the time was that a specialist was one who knew more and more about less and less until he knew almost everything of nothing.

Perhaps that approach was the need of the hour in India which had attained the status of an independent sovereign republic only a decade earlier through the coming together of many differently administered provincial units. But to extend that political logic based on the social needs of integration to the realms of philosophy and more so to Vedanta and pushing the spirit of questioning, almost derisively, to the bottom was an unfortunate development. How can I say so? Continue reading