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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on Indian Philosophy

posted Aug 31, 2011, 8:51 PM by Sarat Kumar Sarvepalli   [ updated Oct 12, 2011, 10:32 AM ]

"Nothing is inevitable in human affairs except peace."

" Life is not a simple geometrical pattern. The essence of life is creativity. It is a living creation of something new, not a dead connection of cause and effect. The inner compulsion which lies behind that which is visible to our eyes is an urge to create, to generate, to make alive, to bring forth something new out of the hidden treasure of being. We shall never be able to analyse the sources of creative spirit. If the real is a genuine becoming, then the highest knowledge can only be an insight. Yet there is enough of rationality in this insight. There is no break in the chain of real connection, though our limited vision may not be able to penetrate to the series of causes and effects. The world is creative activity but a continuous one and a rational one. While the rationality of the world is transparent to the intellect, its mysteriousness can be grasped only by intuition.

The subject of philosophy, which is not primarily utilitarian in its aim, is a great instrument of liberal eduation. Its aim is one of elevating man above worldliness, of making him superior to circumstances, of liberating his spirit from the thraldom of material things. Philosophy claims to implant in the minds of those who are of a nature to profit by its teachings and influence a taste for those things which the world cannot give and cannot take away. If properly pursued, it arms us against failure, against sorrow and calamity, against boredom and discouragement. It may not prepare us for success if we mean by it accumulation of material wealth. But it helps us to love those aims and ideals, the things beyond all price on which the generality of men who aim at success do not set their hearts. To form men is the object of philosophy.

.....The survey of Indian thought, as of all thought, impresses one with the mystery and the immensity of existence as well as the beauty and the persistence of the human effort to understand it. The long procession of thinkers struggled hard to add some small piece to the temple of human wisdom, some fresh fragment to the ever incomplete sum of human knowledge. But human speculation falls short of the ideal, which it can neither abandon nor attain. We are far more conscious of the depth of the surrounding darkness than of the power to dispel it possessed by the flickering torches that we have the privilege to carry as the inheritors of a great past. After all the attempts of philosophers, we stand to-day in relation to the ultimate problems very near where we stood far away in the ages - where perhaps we shall ever stand as long as we are human, bound Prometheus-like to the rock of mystery by the chains of our finite mind. The pursuit of philosophy is not, however, a vain endeavour. It helps us feel the grip and the clanging of the chains. It sharpens the consciousness of the human imperfection, and thus deepens the sense of perfection in us, which reveals the imperfection of our passing lives. That the world is not so transparent to our intellects as we could wish is not to be wondered at, for the philosopher is only the lover of wisdom and not its possessor. It is not the end of the voyage that matters, but the voyage itself. To travel is a better thing than to arrive.

At the end of the course, we may ask whether the known facts of history support a belief in progress. Is the march of human thought a forward movement, or is it one of retrogression ? ...

..... Philosophy has for its function the ordering of life and the guidance of action. It sits at the helm and directs our course through the changes and chances of the world. When philosophy is alive, it cannot be remote from the life of the people. The ideas of thinkers are evolved in the process of their life history. We must learn not only to reverence them, but to acquire their spirit.

Let us, in the words of Socrates, "turn over together the treasures that wise men have left us, glad if in so doing we make friends with one another."