Apr 24

Why Aristotle May Not Be Considered A Materialist

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Knowledge is not a product of hyper-intellectual imagination. Knowledge is that which distinguishes reality from illusion for the benefit of all. — Bhagavat Purana 1.1.2 describes this as the highest truth.[1]

“The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called “sciences as one would.” For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding.” — Francis Bacon, Novum Organon (1620)

The following essay presents in my humble opinion why Aristotle may not be considered a materialist. He described the appearing (apparent) world or phenomenal cosmos teleologically as intrinsically a kingdom of ends, rather than mechanistically as a chaos impelled to form a cosmos by forces under laws externally acting upon its matter or content.

A teacher writes the alphabet on a blackboard to teach it to first graders, but it does not mean that the teacher is at the level of the first graders. Aristotle taught the principles of material phenomena, but one may not thereby conclude that he was a materialist.

Modern science assumes the principle of uniformity of matter throughout the universe in the form of atoms or subatomic particles, as well as universal laws and forces. This is a convenient simplification for a finite, limited intellect, especially convenient for utilizing formal mathematical interpretations of material phenomena, but Carl Sagan sagely reminds us,

“Common sense works fine for the universe we’re used to, for time scales of decades, for a space between a tenth of a millimeter and a few thousand kilometers, and for speeds much less than the speed of light. Once we leave those domains of human experience, there’s no reason to expect the laws of nature to continue to obey our expectations, since our expectations are dependent on a limited set of experiences.” [2]

Einstein also admonished us,

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

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Apr 15

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – March 24, 2018

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Rama Navami

<excerpt> –

Sripad Puri Maharaja began the disucssion by asking our guests if they had
ever heard of Sri Ram? “He appeared millions of years ago in Treta Yuga in
Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), India. Some think He appeared only 5000 years
ago, but there is scriptural support that it was much more than that. There
are four yugas (Satya, Treta, Dwarpa and Kali yuga) which are like the
eras/seasons of the universe. We are presently in Kali-yuga which is like the
winter of the universe in which everything is in decay. Today’s scientists
claim that 13.8 billion years ago the universe was created from a big bang.
They have difficulty accepting that during Rama’s era there was an
advanced human civilization in which Ram appeared as an incarnation of
Krishna,” Sripad Puri Maharaja said. “Sri Ram was a perfect king. He is
known as ‘Maryada Purushottama,’ which means a person of superlative
character. Everything in His kingdom was being conducted according to
the laws of dharma (religion).”

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Dec 25

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – November 25, 2017

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Dharma, War, and Love

excerpt –

“What is the significance of women in relationship to dharma? If we think
about the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, both of these involved war
– and what was the cause of those wars?” Sripad Puri Maharaja asked.
“Greed and dharma,” Shoba responded. “Yes, both involved dharma but
in the case of the Ramayana, it was Sitadevi whose chastity was being
provoked by Ravana (demon) and in the case of the Mahabharata, it was
Draupadi whose sanctity was being violated by the Kuruvas. What is the
connection of the sanctity and chastity of women with dharma?” Sripad
Puri Maharaja asked then responded that “These are attributes of lust
(exploitation) that are opposed to love (devotion) that is the principle of
dharma. Exploitation, activities of self-centered lust, drag us away from
our dharma, so those tendencies have to be fought. This is the cause of
war in the defense of dharma, as is being illustrated in the epics of India.”

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Nov 19

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – November 4, 2017

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The Nine Processes of Bhakti

excerpt –

“It is like there are two realities at the same time – the absolute and the
relative, so everything in this world is about relative because everything has
a beginning and an end and is not complete, but everything about bhaktiyoga
is absolute,” Rasaraja das Prabhu commented.

“Yes, I think that’s correct. An early Greek philosopher named Democratus,
famous for his theory of atomism, believed that by convention we name
something sweet or sour, but ultimately there are only atoms and void. In
the same way we can’t say how long a meter actually is yet everyone may
agree to accept a standard definition. But such a measurement is only
relative or judged according to the accepted convention,” Sripad Puri
Maharaja responded then said, “But what the absolute measure of length is,
they don’t know. They can only adopt some convention, then it becomes
relative to that accepted standard. So in a simple way we can say that
relative means what is man-made and absolute refers to what God made.”

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Nov 06

Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – October 21, 2017

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Celebration of Sri Govardhana Puja
Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja, Ph.D.

“This pastime has an important relation to Krishna’s later
revolutionary teachings in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66) wherein He
explains that the system of dutiful sacrifice for fruitive results (karma
kanda) is to be renounced because worship of the Supreme Lord and
surrender unto Him is the path of highest perfection (sarva-dharman
parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
).” Sripad Puri Maharaja
concluded, “It also shows that even though there may be some fear in
adopting that mood, one should not be afraid because Krishna is
there to protect you (aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma
sucah
).”

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