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Indian Foundations of Modern Science

vembuv

Member
Indian Foundations of Modern Science
By Subash Kak

Indian sciences are universal and they have within them the power to inspire people to find their true potential and find meaning in life, as also having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

1584378979590.png


Indian science having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

Scholars see India and Greece as the two principal birthplaces of science[1]. School textbooks tell us about Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, and Ptolemy, the geometry of the Vedic altars, the invention of zero in India, Yoga psychology, and Indian technology of steel-making that went into the manufacture of the best swords. But if you take the trouble of reading scholarly books, articles, and encyclopedias[2], you will find that in many ways the early Indian contributions are the more impressive for they include a deep theory of mind, Pāṇini’s astonishing Sanskrit grammar, binary numbers of Piṅgala, music theory, combinatorics, algebra, earliest astronomy, and the physics of Kaṇāda with its laws of motion.

……………………………………..

The future of science
I have gone through a random list of topics to show that Indian ideas and contributions have shaped science in fundamental ways. I hope to show now that they remain equally central to its future growth.

We first note that in spite of its unprecedented success and prestige, science is facing major crises which are as follows:

The first of these crises is that of physics for it has found no evidence for dark matter and dark energy that together are believed to constitute 95% of the observable universe, with another 4.5% being intergalactic dust that doesn’t influence theory. How can we claim that we are near understanding reality if our theories are validated by only 0.5% of the observable universe?

The second crisis is that neuroscientists have failed to find a neural correlate of consciousness. If there is no neural correlate, then does consciousness reside in a dimension that is different from our familiar space-time continuum? And how do mind and body interact with each other?

The third crisis is that there is no clear answer to the question if machines will become conscious.

The fourth crisis is related to the implications of biomedical advances such as cloning on our notions of self.

It becomes clear that the three crises are actually interrelated when it is realized that consciousness is also an issue at the very foundations of physics. These questions also relate to the problem of free will.

Researchers are divided on whether conscious machines will ever exist. Most computer scientists believe that consciousness is computable and that it will emerge in machines as technology develops. But there are others who say there’re things about human behavior that cannot be computed by a machine. Thus creativity and the sense of freedom people possess appear to be more than just an application of logic or calculations.

Quantum views
Quantum theory, which is the deepest theory of physics, provides another perspective. According to its orthodox Copenhagen Interpretation, consciousness and the physical world are complementary aspects of the same reality. Since it takes consciousness as a given and no attempt is made to derive it from physics, the Copenhagen Interpretation may be called the “Big-C” view of consciousness, where it is a thing that exists by itself — although it requires brains to become real[22]. This view was popular with the pioneers of quantum theory such as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger.

The opposing view is that consciousness emerges from biology, just as biology itself emerges from chemistry which, in turn, emerges from physics. We call this less expansive concept of consciousness “Little-C.” It agrees with the neuroscientists’ view that the processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain.

Philosophers of science believe that these modern quantum physics views of consciousness have parallels in ancient philosophy. Big-C is like the theory of mind in Vedanta — in which consciousness is the fundamental basis of reality and at the experienced level, it complements the physical universe. The pioneers of quantum theory were aware of this linkage with Vedanta.

Little-C, in contrast, is quite similar to what many take to be standard Buddhism. The Buddha chose not to address the question of the nature of consciousness until the end of his life, and many of his followers believe that mind and consciousness arise out of emptiness or nothingness. Yet in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, the Buddha acknowledges a transcendent category underlying constant change which is quite similar to the conception of Vedanta.[23]

Big-C, anomalies, and scientific discovery
Scientists question if consciousness is a computational process. More restrictively, scholars argue that the creative moment is not at the end of a deliberate computation. For instance, dreams or visions are supposed to have inspired Elias Howe‘s 1845 design of the modern sewing machine and August Kekulé’s discovery of the structure of benzene in 1862, and these may be considered to be examples of the anomalous workings of the mind.[7]

A dramatic piece of evidence in favor of Big-C consciousness existing all on its own is the life of self-taught mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who died in 1920 at the age of 32[24]. His notebook, which was lost and forgotten for about 50 years and published only in 1988, contains several thousand formulas — without proof in different areas of mathematics — that were well ahead of their time, and the methods by which he found the formulas remain elusive. Ramanujan himself claimed that the formulas were revealed to him by Goddess Nāmagiri while he was asleep. The idea of Big-C provides an explanation for the anomalous scientific results from old Indian texts that were mentioned at the beginning of the essay.

The concept of Big-C consciousness raises the questions of how it is related to the matter, and how matter and mind mutually influence each other. Consciousness alone cannot make physical changes to the world, but perhaps it can change the probabilities in the evolution of quantum processes as was first proposed by George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra in what they called the Quantum Zeno Effect[25]. The act of observation can freeze and even influence atoms’ movements, as has been demonstrated in the laboratory, and this may very well be an explanation of how matter and mind interact.[26]

With cognitive machines replacing humans at most tasks, the question of what selfhood means will become more central to our lives. It appears to me that the only way to find fulfillment in life will be through the wisdom of ātmavidyā. Vedic science will bring humanity full circle back to the source of all experience, which is consciousness. It will also reveal unknown ways mind and body interact and this will have major implications for medicine.

Indian sciences are universal and they have within them the power to inspire people to find their true potential and find meaning in life, as also having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

Historians may quibble about whether a certain equation should be called Baudhāyana’s Theorem or Pythagoras Theorem, but in the larger scheme names do not matter[27]. The direction of science is the more important thing and it is clear that the mystery of consciousness will be one of its major concerns

Read more at:
 

jaythakar

Member
Indian Foundations of Modern Science
By Subash Kak

Indian sciences are universal and they have within them the power to inspire people to find their true potential and find meaning in life, as also having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

View attachment 9287


Indian science having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

Scholars see India and Greece as the two principal birthplaces of science[1]. School textbooks tell us about Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, and Ptolemy, the geometry of the Vedic altars, the invention of zero in India, Yoga psychology, and Indian technology of steel-making that went into the manufacture of the best swords. But if you take the trouble of reading scholarly books, articles, and encyclopedias[2], you will find that in many ways the early Indian contributions are the more impressive for they include a deep theory of mind, Pāṇini’s astonishing Sanskrit grammar, binary numbers of Piṅgala, music theory, combinatorics, algebra, earliest astronomy, and the physics of Kaṇāda with its laws of motion.

……………………………………..

The future of science
I have gone through a random list of topics to show that Indian ideas and contributions have shaped science in fundamental ways. I hope to show now that they remain equally central to its future growth.

We first note that in spite of its unprecedented success and prestige, science is facing major crises which are as follows:

The first of these crises is that of physics for it has found no evidence for dark matter and dark energy that together are believed to constitute 95% of the observable universe, with another 4.5% being intergalactic dust that doesn’t influence theory. How can we claim that we are near understanding reality if our theories are validated by only 0.5% of the observable universe?

The second crisis is that neuroscientists have failed to find a neural correlate of consciousness. If there is no neural correlate, then does consciousness reside in a dimension that is different from our familiar space-time continuum? And how do mind and body interact with each other?

The third crisis is that there is no clear answer to the question if machines will become conscious.

The fourth crisis is related to the implications of biomedical advances such as cloning on our notions of self.

It becomes clear that the three crises are actually interrelated when it is realized that consciousness is also an issue at the very foundations of physics. These questions also relate to the problem of free will.

Researchers are divided on whether conscious machines will ever exist. Most computer scientists believe that consciousness is computable and that it will emerge in machines as technology develops. But there are others who say there’re things about human behavior that cannot be computed by a machine. Thus creativity and the sense of freedom people possess appear to be more than just an application of logic or calculations.

Quantum views
Quantum theory, which is the deepest theory of physics, provides another perspective. According to its orthodox Copenhagen Interpretation, consciousness and the physical world are complementary aspects of the same reality. Since it takes consciousness as a given and no attempt is made to derive it from physics, the Copenhagen Interpretation may be called the “Big-C” view of consciousness, where it is a thing that exists by itself — although it requires brains to become real[22]. This view was popular with the pioneers of quantum theory such as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger.

The opposing view is that consciousness emerges from biology, just as biology itself emerges from chemistry which, in turn, emerges from physics. We call this less expansive concept of consciousness “Little-C.” It agrees with the neuroscientists’ view that the processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain.

Philosophers of science believe that these modern quantum physics views of consciousness have parallels in ancient philosophy. Big-C is like the theory of mind in Vedanta — in which consciousness is the fundamental basis of reality and at the experienced level, it complements the physical universe. The pioneers of quantum theory were aware of this linkage with Vedanta.

Little-C, in contrast, is quite similar to what many take to be standard Buddhism. The Buddha chose not to address the question of the nature of consciousness until the end of his life, and many of his followers believe that mind and consciousness arise out of emptiness or nothingness. Yet in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, the Buddha acknowledges a transcendent category underlying constant change which is quite similar to the conception of Vedanta.[23]

Big-C, anomalies, and scientific discovery
Scientists question if consciousness is a computational process. More restrictively, scholars argue that the creative moment is not at the end of a deliberate computation. For instance, dreams or visions are supposed to have inspired Elias Howe‘s 1845 design of the modern sewing machine and August Kekulé’s discovery of the structure of benzene in 1862, and these may be considered to be examples of the anomalous workings of the mind.[7]

A dramatic piece of evidence in favor of Big-C consciousness existing all on its own is the life of self-taught mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who died in 1920 at the age of 32[24]. His notebook, which was lost and forgotten for about 50 years and published only in 1988, contains several thousand formulas — without proof in different areas of mathematics — that were well ahead of their time, and the methods by which he found the formulas remain elusive. Ramanujan himself claimed that the formulas were revealed to him by Goddess Nāmagiri while he was asleep. The idea of Big-C provides an explanation for the anomalous scientific results from old Indian texts that were mentioned at the beginning of the essay.

The concept of Big-C consciousness raises the questions of how it is related to the matter, and how matter and mind mutually influence each other. Consciousness alone cannot make physical changes to the world, but perhaps it can change the probabilities in the evolution of quantum processes as was first proposed by George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra in what they called the Quantum Zeno Effect[25]. The act of observation can freeze and even influence atoms’ movements, as has been demonstrated in the laboratory, and this may very well be an explanation of how matter and mind interact.[26]

With cognitive machines replacing humans at most tasks, the question of what selfhood means will become more central to our lives. It appears to me that the only way to find fulfillment in life will be through the wisdom of ātmavidyā. Vedic science will bring humanity full circle back to the source of all experience, which is consciousness. It will also reveal unknown ways mind and body interact and this will have major implications for medicine.

Indian sciences are universal and they have within them the power to inspire people to find their true potential and find meaning in life, as also having the potential to facilitate the next advances in both physical and biological sciences.

Historians may quibble about whether a certain equation should be called Baudhāyana’s Theorem or Pythagoras Theorem, but in the larger scheme names do not matter[27]. The direction of science is the more important thing and it is clear that the mystery of consciousness will be one of its major concerns

Read more at:
This is an absorbing and interesting article. Dr. Kak has written a lot in the area of Indian history, philosophy, science etc. and this article is one more gift to us. Essence here is that if the past was so glorious we should make the future equally bright.
 

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