The Struggle

"Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained."

Richard Feynman


Rekhaa said…
The freedom to doubt and question is one of the most precious freedoms that mankind needs and would ever need for progress. It's interesting that this deep and long struggle that Feynman refers to did not at all exist in India since ancient times. For instance, Carvaka was a skeptical school of Indian philosophy and enquiry into Matter which originated more out of a backlash against the prevalent theism of Vedas. One can only envy the intellectual freedom the atheists may have enjoyed when they openly referred to the authors of the Vedas, without any fear, as 'buffons, knaves and demons' and got away with it without any regrettable damage. On the other hand there existed too the Nyaya system of philosophy in India founded on Vedas which used, just like Carvaka, logic/reason to prove the existence of God. A relevant thing to note in this theist philosophy is that amongst the various paths it asserts one could gain knowledge, one of them is 'doubt'. One can imagine the diversity, harmony, civility and rigor of intellect that existed among such philosophical schools. And then, one begins to empathize with Feynman's statement when he tells us all to value this freedom attained in Western Science in its long and bitter struggle.

Felt like putting something extra here. The beauty of most of the schools of Indian philosophy lay in the fact that as an epistemological and ontological enquiry into the deeper nature of human life, this was not so much to manifest a clash of ideologies amongst themselves as it was to help guide and unify one's life into higher nature. As Sri Aurobindo puts it:

"This high scientiļ¬c and philosophical spirit was carried by the ancient Indian culture into all its activities...But what we have more especially to observe is that while Indian culture made a distinction between the lower and the higher learning, the knowledge of things and the knowledge of self, it did not put a gulf between them like some religions, but considered the knowledge of the world and things as a preparatory and a leading up to the knowledge of Self and God...All knowledge was woven into one and led up by degrees to the one highest knowledge. " The Renaissance of India.