We are near the end of the section on problems with modern science. I think most of them have been presented already, leaving only a discussion on dark energy and dark matter which be the subject of the next couple of chapters. So far we’ve covered things like speed of light, Doppler effects, parallax, luminosity, thermodynamics, general relativity and some aspects of quantum theory. I might be missing something but it’s a long list as it is. In every case the book highlights problems with each discipline and explains them through semantic theory where these problems do not arise. Semantic theory, in turn, needs an induction of several principles so far completely absent from modern science and in today’s chapter there’s an attempt to describe these principle in Vedic terms, then somehow the discussion shifts to dark matter and conversion flows gently into the next chapter where some outrageous things are stated, but all in good time.
Should dark matter and energy have gotten their own chapter instead of stealing the show in the middle of the Vedic explanation of things? Probably, but the reason they are brought here is that there’s a nice semantic explanation of what “dark” means which ties it up back Sāṅkhya. Should I follow chapter’s narrative or should I re-organize the ideas in some other way? Probably, but I’m not sure my alternative would be better. Reorganizing ideas is a good exercise which leads to deeper understanding so I’ll try for a change. There are two hooks into Sāṅkhya in this chapter and we can start with semantics first and then describe these hooks later.
First of all, in Sāṅkhya the universe is a space-time tree and objects in this tree represent not only mass, which is the view of general relativity and gravitational theory, but any kind of semantic information. Various forms of semantic information are related to each other as abstracts and contingents. The most contingent forms are sense objects and that’s all we can perceive directly. Sense objects are produced from sensations which, in turn, are produced from senses.
We all have senses, there should be no argument about that, so we can perceive colors and sounds, but the author makes an interesting twist here – can we see color itself? We can see red and we can see blue but those are properties of color, as in “red color” or “blue color”. We see red and blue but not “color”. Similarly, we can hear musical notes but can’t hear the tone itself. To make tone perceptible it must have added details to produce a contingent object, like C#. In the same vein we have vision but can’t see vision itself not can we hear hearing. Concepts such as color and tone are abstract and by adding details to them we can produces perceptible contingents, such as sense objects, and it works in the down-up direction as well.
In this way the universal tree can be traversed up to the root. From sense objects to sensations, from sensations to senses, from senses to mind, from mind to intelligence, and from intelligence to ego. Each step is more abstract than the next. When we go from the top down we get progressively contingent objects with more details added to previous abstracts.
In our everyday life we all have language terms to discuss those abstracts and our common sense understanding of reality is not that different from Sānkhya. Consider intentions, for example. We all have them but we can’t see them directly. To demonstrate one’s intention it has to be converted into perceptible actions with perceptible sense objects. That way intentions can be “proven”. Intentions are causes of our actions but they are not seen, only their effects are visible.
Problem for science here is that intentions are excluded and ignored, except for humanities maybe. In hard science causes are attributed to visible objects and their properties, e.g. mass causes gravitational pull. All other things like intentions, guṇa, karma, mind, intelligence etc are physically imperceptible and therefore, from science point of view, are “dark”.
That’s where there’s a hook between Sāṅkhya and science in this chapter – empirical observations of movements of stars and galaxies do not conform with predictions of gravitational theory and their causes are attributed to “dark matter” and “dark energy”. Dark matter pulls stars together and is responsible for celestial objects rotating slower than they should, as if planetary systems or galaxies had a large core of invisible mass. Dark energy works in the opposite direction and forces galaxies to speed away. We can see that, no one is denying it, but the causes of these effects remain hidden and called “dark”. It’s worth repeating that together this dark mass and dark energy account for 95% of the total matter in the universe.
If only they could accept existence of abstract objects instead of only physically perceptible ones everything would become so much easier.
The second hook into Sāṅkhya, actually the first in the chapter, is that all interactions in Vedic universe are governed by guṇa and karma. These two have no equivalents in modern science and they are also dark and imperceptible but in this chapter they are linked to quantum theory. Remember that chapter on slit experiment a while back? The conclusion there was that the number of slits affects the outcome and this is what guṇa is compared to here.
Guṇa is part of our existence which modifies incoming information and which determines how it is perceived. In my mind I keep comparing guṇa to goggle with which we filter our existence. In slit chapter it was compared to base counting system – decimal, binary etc, but this kind of notation doesn’t change transmitted number itself the way pink glasses affect our vision.
Karma is channels established in the transmission of light, or any kind of information. These channels were discussed when we talked about light not going in all directions but being transmitted straight to the destination. There was source S, destination D, and cause C. Karma is this cause which connects S and D and enables information transfer. Guṇa, for some reason is compared here to D, or the part of our body which receives the light. It could be a leg or mind or eyes, I figure, but it’s an unusual way to talk about guṇa that’s for sure. It will make sense in the section on astrology, I guess, where guṇa and karma are described as two distinct celestial systems. This will come up in the next chapter as well but only briefly.
That’s it, a rather long chapter is done in one post. I might have missed a couple of paragraphs but nothing important. next chapter is very short and there’s a chance of finishing the entire section this week.