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The Enigma Of The Universe : 1. Critical Realism & Jain View

Published: 02.01.2015
Updated: 13.01.2015

We have seen that Prof. Henry Margenau's view on the nature of reality, based on the modern scientific concept after the discovery of the theory of relativity, depicts the reality in form of "constructs". He has elaborately discussed "the critical realism" in his book "The Nature of Physical Reality". Prof. Margenau has shown that both the knower and the object of knowledge are real. He also accepts the existence of nonphysical reality.[1] In this way, there is striking resemblance between his view and Jain metaphysical view. In fact, in Prof. Margenau's view, there is deliberation on the reality of the subject (knower) and the object (thing to be known) through epistemological consideration. As such, his view comes very near to that of "Critical Realism".

 According to Critical Realism,[2] there are mainly three entities in epistemological process-

  1. Knower (subject)
  2. Thing to be known (object)
  3. Thing known.

The subject is the knower, who is going to acquire knowledge. The object is that thing which is to be known. The 'thing known' is that thing which exists in the knowledge of the mind or consciousness of the knower. This is also known as datum, because the knower only gets it and not the original object. Thus, this theory makes distinction between the original object and the 'thing known', and hence, it is called 'epistemological dualism'. In this way according to the epistemological dualism, though numerically the object and the datum are two, there is a direct knowledge of the real objects through datum, for we do not perceive the datum, but like spectacles, through them we perceive the real objects.

Now, as we know that in Jain epistemology, the object to be known is an independent objective reality and also the subject (knower) has an independent real existence. The 'object known' is numerically separate from the 'object to be known'. Again, in epistemological process, two types of means are used- sensory and extra-sensory. In case of the former, the 'object known' is not only numerically different from the 'object to be known', but also there is probability of difference in their constitution or form. Of course, such knowledge (viz., perceptual cognition) will definitely be in accordance with the relationship of (i) object known, (ii) object to be known and (iii) the sensory equipment. Expressed mathematically, if

a denotes the 'object to be known',
b denotes the 'object known',  and
c denotes the 'sensory factor',

b = f (a, c).

Thus, there is difference in the world of our knowledge and the actual (real) world, which exists objectively. This happens in the case of all knowledge attained through the sensory equipment. However, if knowledge of the objective world is attained through the medium of extra-sensory or transcendental perception, then the world of knowledge will be exactly identical with the objective world known; of course, numerically they will be different. Thus in the above equation, c = o and f = 1, so b = a.

Thus, it becomes clear that there is much resemblance between the view of critical realism and the Jain view; there is slight difference also.

Firstly, whereas the critical realism does not accept any difference in the nature of the datum and the objective reality (which is known), the Jain view accepts the possibility of such difference (in case of sensory perception). Secondly, the datum itself is not accepted an independent reality in the Jain view; as a matter of fact it becomes a part of the knower. Of course, its nature will still mainly depend upon the object to be known. On account of this difference between the critical realism and Jain view, the fallacies[3] found in the former do not occur in the latter.


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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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