Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Gold Bracelet.

The Gold  Bracelet and the illusory universe.

            No one could miss the sheer elegance and craftsmanship of the bracelet as it adorned the wrist of the beautiful lady who carried it with grace and aplomb. It was shining brilliantly and had  gentle yet seductive curves. There was a touch of simplicity which made it more appealing and paradoxically lent it an exclusivity. The gold bequeathed it with a touch of indestructible timelessness. The mortal wrist that donned a band of immortality.  Almost everyone present couldn't help but casting a glance at the lady and the ornate accesory. The bracelet was as much a star of the evening as the lady  flaunting it.
My appreciative awareness gradually mutated to an investigative enquiry. What quality did that metal possess that set it apart from the handmade silver dining bowl? Both were shining metallic objects. Both were probably sourced deep down from the belly of the earth. Their consistency and hardness was comparable. Both had alluring curves and bore testimony to the workmanship of a creative mind. Both were probably a shapeless lump of metal to begin with. The craftsman conceived their present shapes in his mind. It however meant that their present form was already in existence, even in that formless lump. The  shapeless lumps had the  pre-existing potential to become these shapely ornamental  objects.
The artisan and his processing had changed the form. The metal, the basic ingredient  remained the same. The cause was the metal, the effect was the bracelet or the bowl.
This brought a realisation that the effect is nothing more than the material cause and also that  the effect is inseparable from the material cause. But even more important was the fact that the effect pre-existed in the cause. The idea of a bracelet could exist without the material ( gold) but the actual bracelet had to exist in the material cause- the lump of gold. If this were not so, it would have been possible to produce any object from any material. If something non existent could be manufactured from an existing material, then we could have produced water from a block of wood. In this case, the creative skills of the goldsmith cannot produce any new substance. His efforts only manifest the form of the material which was concealed in its pervious state.  My line of thinking led me to the conceptual dichotomy in Indian philosophy of Asatkaryavada and  Satkaryavada. In the former, the effect is a a totally new entity and does not reside in the material cause.  In this case, the bracelet would be considered  a distinct new entity independent of the lump of gold. Satkaryavada believes that effect pre-existed in the cause.  The bracelet is no different from the gold.
Following the latter ideology of Satkaryavada, is this change of form ( gold to bracelet) actual or apparent? The  Sankhya school of thought believes the effect to be an actual transformation of the material cause. The bracelet was non existent before it was formed. A new form has been transformed into what it was not earlier. There is a real change ( Parinama). A new entity is born.
Does a change of form actually amount to a changed reality? Did the transformation into a bracelet change the material substance from which it was derived?
Perception of change of form certainly does not change  reality.
The bracelet had a distinctive curve. What is the relationship of this curve with the bracelet? The curve cannot be appreciated without the bracelet. It is the attribute of the object. The curve cannot exist in the absence of the bracelet. The curve must have existed in the gold as a potential. The attribute of curvature of  the bracelet has no independent existence apart from the bracelet just as  the bracelet has no existence apart from the gold.
At the core of this thought process is the relationship of the quality to the object ( curvature to the bracelet) and of the object to its cause or substance.   If the cause  and the effect are distinct, but the cause produces the effect we would  fail to explain the relation between an attribute and an object. Two distinct realities would then arise which would need  a third phenomenon, that links the two.
A distinction in reality between the object and it's attribute is therefore logically indefensible as it would involve multiple realities. A change in form cannot be logically accepted as a real change unless there is a simultaneous change in the cause or the substance.
If the bracelet was to genuinely have a distinct identity from the gold, it would amount to violating ontology. The gold bracelet and the gold  are no different from gold, but yet the form (bracelet) is different by having a specific, discrete form. The lump of  gold and the bracelet are identical and yet different -Identical-in- difference. The two are identical in some respects, and yet different in other.
This  hypothesis raises a paradox- X is simultaneously Y and non-Y.
Causation does not change reality. Therefore, change is just a perceptive warp of an underlying unchanging reality.  Where does that leave us when we perceive an illusory object like a rainbow? We do perceive it but reasoning tells us that it is virtual. On similar grounds, change also is only apparent. It does not in any way change reality.
This leads to a very intresting philosophical construct -  Vivartavaad or theory of apparent change.
The gold is subject to modification -( Vikara). The gold also is a form of some pre-existing substance.
All material objects are liable to modification, and so there must be a substance underlying them all which persists through all.  It would be the material cause or the underlying reality behind this objective world.
            Existence of the material world is revealed in its perception. Could this 'Existence' itself be the substance, the underlying reality of the material world? The material cause might just be an intangible immaterial Existence.
I, the cognising entity cognises the objective world. My sense organs generate a differentiation of the observed world. Objects are perceived differently only by virtue of their attributes. The senses are not equipped to cognize the underlying reality. The objective world is just a perceptive warp. The lady wearing the bracelet was as unreal as the bracelet. Yet I preferred to admire  both.

Dr. Deepak Ranade

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