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The Enigma Of The Universe : Comparison with the Jain View

Published: 23.12.2014
Updated: 13.01.2015

Comparison with the Jain View

On account of the ambiguous presentation of his view by Sir James Jeans, it would be rather difficult to compare it with the Jain view. However, we may try to do so on the basis of our interpretation of his view.

1. Jeans has accepted the reality of mind (psyche), which, according to him, is a non-mechanical reality. He appears to have considered that the modern physical science is unanimous regarding the existence of psyche. He writes: "Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost to unanimity that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality."[1] The Jain philosophy also asserts that soul is a non-physical reality. Thus, "mind" of Jeans and "soul" of the Jain, being non mechanical in nature, describe the same reality, Jeans, however, has not explained the nature or the structure of the non-mechanical reality (i.e. mind) and therefore, we are not in a position to compare his concept of mind with the Jain concept of soul. Jeans, of course, talks of "Universal mind" and "individual minds". The Universal mind, according to him, is the creator and governor of the realm of matter as well as the individual minds. He believes that atoms out of which our individual minds have grown exist as thought in the Universal mind.[2] Thus, he considers the individual minds as units or excrescences of the Universal mind.[3] On the basis of this distinction, he distinguishes between the creations of the individual minds and those of the universal minds. He writes; "Creations of an individual mind may reasonably be called less substantial than creations of a Universal mind. A similar distinction must be made between the space we see in dream and the space of everyday life; the latter, which is the same for us all, is the space of the Universal mind. It is the same with time, the time of waking life, which flows at the same even rate for us all, being the time of Universal mind. Again we may think of the laws to which phenomena conform in our waking hours, the laws of nature, as the laws of thought of a Universal mind."[4]

This view of Jeans is clearly not in conformity with the Jain view. The Jain philosophy does not give credence to the existence of any such Universal mind, of which the individual minds are units or excrescences. According to the Jain view, all the individual souls are independent entities having real objective existence. Jeans has not given any reason for his belief which is akin to the pantheistic view. Prof. Stebbing criticizing this belief of Sir James Jeans rightly remarks: "It would, then, seem that these scientists (Jeans and Eddington) held that it lies within the competence of physics to establish that there is a God, or at least to produce a plausible argument for a Universal mind. Surely this is very odd, The physicist in so far as he is concerned with physical science, cannot establish that there is a God-or a Devil-unless he is an entity of the kind studied by the physicist as such. If he is an entity of the kind, then there is no reason at all to suppose that he is God the Comforter, and many reasons for supposing that He is not. If He is not an entity of such a kind, then no changes in physical theories can provide any reasons at all for saying anything about Him. Hence, it seems to me, both Jeans and Eddington are on the wrong track."[5]

2. The most unambiguous aspect of Jeans's philosophy is that he believes in the existence of God as the creator of the Universe. For, God, he uses the term 'Great Architect of the Universe'. Also, Jeans believes that the Great Architect of the Universe must be a Pure Mathematician. As we have already seen, the Jain philosophy does not concede to the theory of universe as a creation of God. It contends that the universe is a collection of the eternal and ever-changing realities, and is, therefore, not a creation of any mind. We have already discussed Stebbing's criticism of Jeans's theory of mathematician God. Stebbing has consistently shown that nothing in the form of an argument has been offered in favour of the view that the universe must have been created.[6]

3. Jeans has accepted the existence of objective realities, for; according to him certain things effect different consciousness in the same way. This, as we know, is the basic assertion of the Jain philosophy.

Further, Jeans describes the universe as a world of pure thought or as mathematical. His explanation of this statement seems to mean that the phenomena of the universe (which includes all the objects of our everyday life as well as the concepts of science such as atom, electron, wave, energy, ether etc.) as studied by science could be reduced in toto to mathematical formulae.[7] And because the mathematical formulae as Jeans believes are nothing but the creations of mind, the universe merely exists as a pure thought. In other words the universe of our knowledge is wholly subjective.

Now as we have already seen, the Jain philosophy maintains that the sensory knowledge of the phenomena of the universe may not be wholly objective.[8] But the Jain view does not comply with Jeans's view in considering the phenomena of the universe as wholly subjective.

4. According to Jeans, the objective reality or the real essence of substances is beyond our knowledge. For, he believes that all our knowledge about the universe is ultimately reduced to mathematical formulae, which can never reveal us what a thing is. It would mean that in Jeans's view, the question as to 'what the universe is' can never be answered. He, thus, seems to accept Kant's transcendentalism in which the thing in- itself is considered to be transcendental. We have already compared Kant's view with the Jain view and need not repeat here the whole discussion. In brief, it can be said that the Jain philosophy also declares that the ultimate essence of substances cannot be comprehended through the sensory knowledge, and hence, at least in this sense, Jeans's view is consistent with the Jain view,

5. Lastly we discuss the concept of substantiality. As we have seen, Jeans's concept of substantiality is too ambiguous to be discussed. For Jeans defines 'substantiality' as a "purely mental concept measuring direct effect of objects on our sense of touch." Now, if it is so, i.e., if substantiality is not inherent in the substances, how the objects (or substances) would exist without "substantiality"? Also Jeans's discussion of the degrees of substantiality is not only equivocal but almost absurd. On the other hand, the Jain philosophy furnishes us with the crystal clear definitions of the terms substance, substantiality, etc. and proves objectivity of substantiality on logical and empirical basis. Substantiality as a purely mental concept is not acceptable to the Jain philosophy. Thus both views vehemently differ from each other on this point. In conclusion, we may state that but for his rather biased idealistic trend, Jeans would have come much more close to the Jain philosophy.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Concept of Soul
  2. Consciousness
  3. Eddington
  4. Ether
  5. Jain Philosophy
  6. Objectivity
  7. Science
  8. Sir James Jeans
  9. Soul
  10. Space
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