The Enigma Of The Universe ► 4 ►A Critique ► I. What is Universe ► (B) Idealism Of Scientist And Jain View ► 1. Eddington’s View and Jain View ► Subjectivity and Objectivity of Physical Properties

Posted: 05.12.2014

Though both (Eddington's view and Jain view) agree with each other regarding the objective existence of the "external world", they seem to differ widely in their concepts of its fundamental nature.

Eddington has clearly stated, "I, therefore, take it as axiomatic that the external world must have objective content."[1]Notwithstanding this statement, he has strongly criticised the realists. It is a general contention of all realists that all the physical objects have independent objective existence and that the physical properties such as colour, taste, odour and touch too exist objectively in them. Against this belief, Eddington makes the following statement, giving an example of an apple: "I might define my typical opponent as the man who believes in the existence outside the mind of en actual applex with an actual taste in it. I do not object to an actual apple external to the mind, and I am willing to be convinced as to the existence of an actual taste (as distinct from the physical interaction between the molecules of the apple and those of a particular tongue) external to the mind. Where the philosopher seems to fly against the plain teaching of science is in locating the actual taste in the actual apple."[2]

From this statement it follows that Eddington believes in the objective existence of actual apple; all the same he does not believe in the objective existence of actual taste. However, he shows willingness to accept the existence of actual taste[3] (as distinct from the physical interaction between the molecules of the apple and those of a particular tongue) external to the mind, but not in the actual apple. There arise two questions:

  1. If the apple exists objectively, what qualities does it possess? If it is devoid of all qualities (taste, etc.), in what form does it exist? A substance devoid of qualities is a figment.
  2.  If the actual taste exists external to the mind and also external to the apple, where does it exist? Existence of a quality without a substratum is also an imaginary.

To the first question, we do not find any answer in Eddington's work. To the second question the following statement may serve as the answers:

"The communal objects,[4] if they exist, are not in any one consciousness nor are they to be identified with the objects of the physical world. If it is necessary to locate them anywhere, it must be in some third territory."[5] Eddington calls this third territory as "ultra-mental". Commenting on Prof. Stace's statement, in which Prof. Stace considers the sensory qualities as belonging to the "neutral" realm, Eddington writes: "It suggests that the sensory qualities (i.e. communal objects) are neutral as between the physical and the mental realm, and it is evident from later statements that are how Stace regards them. But from a physicist's point of view they are ultra-mental."[6]

Eddington has not explained "ultra-mental" realm and thus has left the issue in a muddle. He only mentions: "The point that   have to bring out is that the communal objects or sensory qualities have no bearing on physical science, since they eliminate the very part of experience with which the physicist is concerned, namely recurrency, and retain the part with which he is not concerned, namely the qualitative character of the sensations. Therefore, the sensory qualities discussed by the philosophers do not form a realm intermediate between the mental and the physical world."[7]

It follows from the foregoing discussion that according to Eddington-

  1. Sensory qualities do not exist in the object (the external world), i.e. they are not objective.
  2. Sensory qualities do not exist in the mind, i.e., they are not subjective.
  3. Sensory qualities do not exist in a realm intermediate between the mental and the physical world, i.e., they are not neutral.
  4. Sensory qualities are ultra-mental. This is meaningless

Here, again, we are faced with confused treatment of Eddington. Actually, the last quotation seems to suggest that according to Eddington, physical science is not concerned with the sensory qualities (in the sense of the cause of sensation), and therefore, he (a physicist) is also not concerned with them. Nevertheless, sometimes he is found vehemently opposing to the existence of actual taste, etc. in actual object[8] while elsewhere we find him not minding to accept the objective existence of the sensory qualities.[9]

Contrary to Eddington's view, Jain philosophy asserts that the sensory qualities colour, scent, taste and touch exist objectively in matter (pudgala) that they are not created by consciousness or the percipient.

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