Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science: [6.2.4] Basic Unity Of Physics And Philosophy - B. Unity And Plurality In Physics - Both Are Equally Real

Published: 25.04.2008
Updated: 13.08.2008

Jains take a further important step forward. In the all-embracing systematic whole - Physical Reality, the unity and the multiplicity are equally real and each is real through the other. How is this possible? Because the whole universe forms a single experience and is truly real and the parts are single experiences and also real. This will perhaps be brought out by examining some typical case of the kind of unity in multiplicity:

  1. The unity of the world cannot be that of mere ac­cumulation or conglomeration. In a mere conglomera­tion, the elements are real, independently of their rela­tion to one another as elements in the conglomeration. So the conglomeration has no unitary character of its own. Its unity consists in nothing more than the fact that we have found it convenient to think of its ele­ments together.
  2. A machine is much more than a mere conglomeration, because it has a character as a whole. Yet in this case, it cannot be said, that the unity and variety are equally real. Or the whole cannot exist without the parts where as the parts may continue to exist, though not as parts of this whole, without the whole.

Living organism is a truer unity than a mere machine. Here, the whole is not subsequent and generated by the parts. It is not the resultant but the living unity. But even an organism, like a machine, fails to exhibit the perfect systematic unity of the one and the many, be­cause not every member is of vital significance for the life of the whole. But in a complete systematic unity, assert the Jains, the unity and the multiplicity of the system must be equally real and equally interdependent. This can only be the case, if the whole is for its parts as well as the parts for the whole.

 A Word Of Caution To Modern Physicists

The above discussion clearly establishes that while the clas­sical physicists had falsely seen the physical world as a con­glomeration of parts and constituents without an inherent unity [like Buddhist fluxists, the modern physicists have swung to the other extreme and are perhaps falling into the same error as the classical physicists, in concluding that only the 'whole' is real and the world of plurality (of parts) which is the world of experience, is an illusion (like the Vedantists). In the final reckoning, there­fore, both the classical and modern physicists are far from the Truth. If the unity of the physical Reality is to be maintained, it can only be done by means of the Jain Conception of Reality (as discussed above and in the beginning of the chapter), where the unity and the multiplicity are equally real and each is real through the other.

End Of Book

  • Jain Vishva Barati Institute, Ladnun, India
  • Edited by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • 3rd Edition 1995

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