Friday, 31 May 2013

Om Nama Sivaya

...I suppose.  To be honest, i was a bit stuck.

I can't remember how i got onto this subject, but in the past two days i've made two videos about Indian atheisms.  The first one is on my home ground, as it were, of Samkhya:

(Yay!  It worked!):


Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/f7wE4 .  Atheism in Samkhya

Rather annoyingly, someone seems to have plonked theism on top of Samkhya at some point, which is extremely inappropriate and reminds me of those bits of Ecclesiastes which laughably assert that it's a good idea to believe in God etc, which have obviously been added later.  So i'm going to go out on a limb and say i reckon Samkhya is really nastika and not astika at all, unless somewhere or other there's an argument which says the Vedas are somehow revealed without a revealing agent, which is conceivable i suppose.  However, apparently the Vedas say the origin of the Universe is Prakrti, not God, so those "revealed texts" seem to say they're not revealed, unless God is somehow subject to the Universe rather than the creator.  Then again, maybe it's something to do with Abrahamic religion making me think of God as independent of the physical, whereas Indian thought is more pantheist (which might be atheism for sentimental people anyway, come to think of it).

Leaving that aside, Samkhya rejects the ontological, First Cause and design arguments for the existence of God, and so do i (although i am theistic of course).

One interesting thing is that Samkhya actually uses the notion of karma to argue for atheism.  The idea is that since karma governs the Universe, there is no need to suppose that there is a conscious agent controlling it.  Instead, the law of karma runs everything.  This is the kind of thing that appeals to me, although i probably disagree with it, because it's a kind of atheism which is quite exotic to the 21st century Western intellectual mind and reminds me that atheism to me is the opinion that God does not exist, and only includes beliefs which are entailed by that belief rather than anything else, such as metaphysical naturalism, although of course metaphysical naturalism and a whole load of other ontologies imply that there is no God themselves.

More arguments from Samkhya that God does not exist:

* God cannot be observed and there is no a priori argument for God's existence (so that's empiricist i suppose and also argues against the ontological proof).
* The problem of evil.
* God seems to be subject to desire, which means that God is not all-powerful - God is enslaved to desire.  Also, if God has desires, God must have unsatisfied desires and experience suffering, so God is no better than any other entity which exists in the Universe.

I think that's it, anyway.

atheism, yoga

(I've now remembered where this came from).

Samkhya is what my own metaphysics are based on but this is probably misleading because there's also Heidegger and the ethics of the face, so it's quite a long way down the line logically from another set of beliefs and it'd be fairer to say it forms part of my belief system.  Also, i interpret the gunas as the experiential, the ontic and the noumenal, so it's not quite the same.  However, Yoga is definitely, to my mind, based on Samkhya and i'm not alone in that.  I am, of course, also theistic but deliberately exclude theism from certain explanations of the nature of things.

One thing i'm definitely not is Carvaka:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/8cqz1 .  Unlike Samkhya, which i covered yesterday, Carvaka or Lokayata, which like Samkhya is atheistic, is an entirely naturalistic and materialist school of Indian philosophy in the Nastika category - it rejects the Vedas entirely as revealed knowledge and sees them instead as nonsense.  It rejects the ideas of God, the soul, the afterlife, reincarnation, karma, the supernatural and anything you care to name as stereotypically associated with religion as a belief system.  Oddly, it is sometimes categorised as Hindu, but it is only really Hindu in the sense that it's an Indian belief system, which is also true of Buddhism and Jainism, which are not generally seen as Hindu but as separate religions entirely.  According to Carvaka, the only valid beliefs are those gathered using the senses.  Therefore, it is more generally sceptical than it is merely atheist, materialist or metaphysically naturalist, and this is reflected in the rest of its philosophy as it resembles Epicureanism to some extent in being hedonist or egoist, saying that the aim of life is the avoidance of suffering and the pursuit of pleasure, although some suffering is seen as good because it enables one to contrast it with pleasure.  I'm not sure whether the kind of pleasure sought by Carvaka is similar to that sought by Epicureanism or something else.  It's possible that it would be more like Objectivism, Ayn Rand's idea which rejects both conventional morality and religious belief.  By contrast with this, although it's not implied, the New Atheism tends to be more associated with liberalism and humanism.  In that way, the scepticism of Carvaka is more wide-reaching than that of most western atheists.

Carvaka is a lot closer to Dennett-style atheism than Samkhya, being materialistic and naturalistic, but in a way it goes further and that direction is, i think, a little insulting to atheism and probably says more about the motivations behind Carvaka than about atheism, since it concurs with the bankrupt and insulting belief held by some theists that atheists cannot be good people.  It appears also to be hedonist, although that hedonism may or may not be Epicurean, i'm not sure.  The reason this bothers me is that it makes it look like Carvaka is just general rebellion against conformity rather than a proper, calm position taken on something.  It seems disingenuous.  It's also rather reminiscent of Tantrism, as in, "yeah, have lots of sex", which is obviously fine, but also "eat loads of meat", which isn't.  That said, presumably there are a load of atheists out there who are also more or less ethically sceptical or hedonist, and there's no incompatibility between the two.  However, on the whole i've tended to find that Western atheists who are vocal about their atheism tend to be liberal or humanist.  Other positions are also possible, for instance communism and anarchism, and there are also plenty of non-libertarian conservative atheists too.  I realise i've mixed up politics and ethics there.

Meanwhile, on the pregnancy channel:

I wasn't very happy with this video because i felt i wasn't big enough in it.  However, some very nice guy came along and said "You look really uncomfortable.  Your belly is beautiful."  I realise this is motivated by lust but it's still a nice thing to say.  As it happens, yesterday was quite a struggle because my body was refusing to do what it was told, but by the point of making that video i was actually not that uncomfortable.  The other thing about this is that body image is a weird thing.  I honestly cannot tell now what my chest looks like.  On the one hand, i seem to be developing boobs but on the other they seem to disappear.  It's also hard to see them clearly without the hair.  I'm currently toying with the idea of a bra, although i also think bras are a bad idea.

That's it for now.  See you tomorrow, though God knows what it'll be about then.