The Enigma Of The Universe ► 4 ►A Critique ► II. Space & Time: A Critique ► 1. Views of Western Philosophers and the Jain View

Posted: 04.01.2015

We can divide the western philosophers into two groups, when we consider their views about space and time:

  1. In the first group, there are philosophers like Descartes, Leibniz, Scholastic Philosophers, Kant and the like, who do not accept space as an independent objective reality.

  2. In the second group, there are philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Gassendi and the like, who believe that space is an independent objective reality.

We have already discussed their views in the first chapter. Again, we have already seen that the Jain metaphysics have described space as an astikāya, i.e., an extended substance, which has an independent objective existence. Thus, the Jain view is akin to the second group.

 Again, there are two groups amongst the western philosophers regarding the space as plenum or vacuum:

  1. The philosophers like the scholastics, Kant, Gassendi consider the space as vacuum and also to have a real existence.

  2. Descartes, Leibnitz, Plato, Aristotle and others consider that vacuum space is not a reality; only plenum is real.

It is evident that the Jain view is akin to the first group. According to the Jain metaphysics, the whole space of the aloka (supra-cosmos) is total vacuum, as there is no other substance in alokākāśa. Nevertheless, the supracosmic space has a real existence, and an integral part of the ākāśāstikāya. As far as the lokākāśa (cosmic space) is concerned, although it is fully occupied by the pudgala and jīva, its existence is independent, and hence, vacuum is theoretically not impossible.

There are mainly three views about the nature of the space:

  1. Space is only a subjective reality; or it is a creation of a priori intuition.

  2. Space is always related with the physical objects or is an entity which is only an attribute of the physical objects.

  3. Space is an independent objective reality, entirely independent of the consciousness as well as matter.
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