This explains some of the terms used in the first part of the article, Rejection of Rationality I.
What is peripatetic investigation?
For many centuries, the pursuit of knowledge and the investigation on how nature works, what we now call Philosophy, has been confined to peripatetic investigation (except for few minor examples which suggest otherwise). Peripatetic investigation, as Greeks practiced it, involves one guy walking in the garden followed by his students who start asking him questions, while this guy keeps answering them, and over a period of time, after lot of questions and answers, they came to a 'sound argument' which seems to have stood ground in the debate that has answered most of the questions. This argument was then accepted as a valid theory of nature. Extend this example to a teacher or guru discussing in a class room or a person meditating under a Banyan tree, and you get Indian philosophies. They are all the same. Peripatetic investigation leads to an argument which sounds logical to humans, but need not be necessarily true.
Aristotle came up with ‘Earth as
What is empiricism?
Pursuit of knowledge accompanied by lot of experimentation forms the basis for empiricism. One of the ways to understand nature is by conducting experiments to identify a pattern and then formulize a theory around it. Most of the modern scientific theories (not all) have come into existence through this route. Does it mean such theory is always a representation of the reality? Not really. To be true, this theory should now predict the future results in all experiments, forever, without failing in any scenario within the scope of that theory. One could also start with an idea or a hypothesis, and this becomes a valid theory only after it has been investigated using many kinds of experiments, especially those which try to disprove the theory.
The beauty of empiricism is that even if one experiment gives different results other than those predicted by that theory then that theory is abandoned. It has to be either replaced by a new one or the original one has to be modified to explain these new results (including all old results).
Sometimes a theory can come out of lot of observed phenomenon. Tyco Brahe made lot of observations on the positions of planets, their movements, etc, and these results were used by Copernicus, Kepler, et al, to construct a theory on the movement of planets around the sun (now known as Kepler Laws), which in turn were explained by Newton’s Law of Gravitation, making it a Universal Theory of Gravitation, applicable not only to movement of planets, movement of Galaxies, but also to the falling of an apple on a planet and movement of every object that we see.
Sometimes an idea could come ahead of the experimentation to become a theory later. When Einstein suggested that light is bent by a massive body, it sounded bizarre, but the experiment to prove this came only after many years when it was observed during a solar eclipse that indeed, light gets bent by massive object such as Sun.
Modern Science, Age of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and hence the Scientific Revolution, and therefore, advent of modern societies proposing universal laws based on rights to citizens giving us liberty are, to a great extent, the results of this empiricism.
What do Indians follow?
Most of Indian philosophies of yesteryears are based on peripatetic investigation just like Aristotle’s theories on Universe, most of which are now proved to be wrong. These are mere conjectures, based on argument that satisfies the logic of man, but NOT necessarily true in nature. Empiricism was not taken up by Indian Philosophers and there is no record to suggest they did. The present day Science of India lags behind rest of the world (except for brief spurts of inventions that happened in pre-Independent British India), because of our overindulgence and obsession with our ancient scriptures and their purported messages which seem to glorify such ‘holistic’ conjectures. Many Indian scientists are still reluctant to embrace empiricism and instead wallow in pure conjectural peripatetic investigations touting their age old mysticism and mythology as nothing else but pure science. Many cock-and-bull stories have erupted in the recent past to suggest that Indian Vedic messages are nothing but Quantum Physics in disguise- where bears are bosons, foxes are fermions, etc.