Wednesday, Dec 31, 2003
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This Day That Age
In his presidential address to the 28th annual session in Calcutta, Dr. Satis Chandra Chatterjee, Professor of Philosophy, Calcutta University, suggested study, reform and development of major trends in divergent Eastern and Western philosophical thought to bring about better understanding between them, and help evolve a perspective leading to a common world philosophy.
Dr. Chatterjee said, "Forced synthesis cannot produce a uniform, universally accepted system in which the philosophies of East and West become one. Philosophy is bound to be different according to different cultural backgrounds; but certain fundamentals of human life and experience might be accepted to be present in all men, and be appreciated by them when their reasonableness is exhibited. On this basis, philosophers should attempt an acceptable synthesis of philosophies. Western thinkers, except a few intuitionists, admit only sense, experience and reason, as methods of philosophy. In the East, and especially in India with the exception of materialists, philosophers recognise intuition as a philosophical method in addition to sense, experience and reason and attach to it a higher value. Intuition as a method of knowledge in Indian philosophy is different from what the word signifies in Western philosophy. It is a special form of intuition, of direct experience or realisation of the self, atma saksatkara. According to many Indian philosophers, that is the only way of knowing the Self, God and the Absolute. Western philosophers should recognise the necessity for intuition, as a genuine super-sensuous experience, to explain our knowledge of God and Absolute as the West does believe in God and Self as super-sensible realities, and admits the limitations sense and reason.
Indian thinkers, for their part, should realise that while intuition has its proper place in philosophy, it is not the whole of philosophy.
Indian philosophers should clarify the nature and forms of intuition in our philosophy, and try to meet all possible objections and difficulties in the way of its recognition by Western thinkers.
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