History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Spiritual/material versus the triad ‘being, function, will’

November 6th, 2013 · No Comments

Chopra’s debates with people like Harris or Shermer always end up in confusion, due first to the narrowness of much scientism in those he debates, but also to the way he picks up metaphysical resolutions of the science conundrum that don’t work. One example is the collation of the materialism debate with the god debate. Two very borderline discussions are mixed up and tend to provoke the atheists in his audience. The question of god is beyond solution, and is, in any case, not the same as the question of materialism.
And the negation of materialism tends to invoke/evoke the issue of the spiritual (the mirror term spiritualism has another meaning), but that contrast is not based on a sound distinction. And the eastern wisdom Chopra promotes actually dispenses with this distinction in the classic Samkhya tradition, which considers even spiritual subjects to have a material basis.

One of the thinkers often proposed here is J.G. Bennett who had a classic Samkhya perspective, with a view of higher and lower energies that is compelling, if not quite fully coherent.
In any case, he make his point: that spiritual entities are material, and vice versa, even if he can’t quite close the case.
But the point is that to debate the limits of materialism as the boundary of the ‘spiritual’ is counterproductive. The truer answer is that we can’t understand the full scope of the material.

Beyond this we have frequently discussed the triad of ‘being, function, and will’ that Bennett picks up from sufi sources, although the idea is probably a buddhist or yogic idea in its source.

The triplet of ‘being, function, and will’ resembles Schopenhauer’s view of the ‘will’ as an independent category of nature, in which the material and spiritual are cast in the mode of ‘being’ (in two aspects of matter and consciousness), with function taking up the place of ‘matter’ as a set of abstractions about mechanism. Bennett’s version is useful because it reproduces the Samkhya idea which whisks the distinction of ‘spiritual’ and ‘material’ off to semantic heaven, never to be heard of again. The spiritual and material as aspects of ‘being’, and distinct from the category of ‘will’. The ‘will’, as in Schopenhauer, is not really the same as ‘will power’ or human volition, and is far more general. The ‘will’, like the ‘laws’ of physics, is distinct from the material/spiritual entities they relate to.

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