Indic Varta

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This paper, the second in the series of articles on different systems of logic focuses on the Vedantic tri-valued system of logic and contrasts it to the western logic system. On the contrary eastern thought is embedded in trivalued frame of thought that is True, False and Mithya. The western logic system has binary mode of operation. There is no state in between two extremes.

Vedantic or Trivalued System of Logic

This is the second part of the series on logic. Please read the first article of the series here:

Part 1 – Two Systems of Logic – Aristotlean vs. Saptabhangi

Vedantic logic system has at least three categories. True, False and in between, known as ‘Mithya’. The difference between eastern and western thought which is reflected in their cultures is because of this third state of Mithya. A logical statement in western system has a definite truth value, either true or false. In contrast, Vedantic logic is augmented with another truth value which is a state of uncertainty or doubt about existence or non-existence called Mithya. According to Hindu Advaita Vedanta, Mithya is a state of superimposition of false on true and lies in between true and false. The addition of third state makes eastern logic a more realistic tool for analysis of many situations and helps in overcoming limitations of bivalued logic.

The trivalued Vedantic logic system is irreducible to bivalued logic because the third state of Mithya is different from either True or False. Mithya being a state of superimposition is irreducible into either True or False. The attempt to reduce the trivalued reality to a bivalued system gives birth to various problems of interpretation and philosophical debates.

The Western Philosophy is full of such futile and endless debates which can be resolved by rejecting the obsession to reduce trivalued reality into yes/no, true/false and right/wrong.

For example, whether the world is deterministic or probabilistic, or questions such as it is discrete or continuous arises because of the attempt to reduce the trivalued reality into a bivalued framework. This mental habit of reduction of reality into bipolarity is one of the cause of endless proliferation of “Isms” in the western philosophy. By creation of so many “Isms” the society gets confused instead of finding light.

On the contrary eastern thought is embedded in trivalued frame of thought that is True, False and Mithya. That is why Eastern scriptures such as Vedantic and Zen texts cannot be understood without right framework of logic which is trivalued. Study of eastern scripture with bipolar mentality will make their meaning either paradoxical or absurd. Thus, a scholar who approaches eastern thought with bivalued logic finds contradictions and confusions in it.  Any student who wants to study eastern philosophy should cultivate mental habit to see world as a trivalued system without which its proper meaning cannot be understood, because trivalued reality is irreducible into bivalued logic.

The western logic system has binary mode of operation. There is no state in between two extremes. This bivalued division of reality works well within the objective sciences because sciences work by strictly separating subject from object. By complete separation of subject from object all ambiguity is ironed out. But life and reality doesn’t care about our convenience of doing objective science. It puts us in many situations where we cannot find right answers by binary mode of thought. There are shades of gray in reality. In the following subsection, we will see the constraints imposed by binary division of reality and restricted interpretation it forces on science and philosophy.

Binary logic with excluded middle divides the inherently seamless world in two opposite categories, true and false, right and wrong, good and bad, black and white. Repeated use of binary logic conditions human mind to look at reality as eternally divided in two opposite camps. Thus this habit of mind gets projected on to reality and truth gets distorted.

The dualistic way of looking at essentially one Reality and thinking about it in this fashion becomes a mental obsession and over the time culture of the people. It is one of the reason of ubiquitous violence expressed by human civilization. Due to bivalued logic, collective human psyche gets a strong conviction without any doubt about what is right and what is wrong and civilizations move out with murderous mission to eradicate wrong and establish right and world plunges into turmoil.

Such a mode of thinking puts not only men against men but also man against nature. Such violent thinking is the cause of environmental degradation, extinction of species and climate change. Polluted minds produce polluted physical environment around themselves. Physical pollution is only a manifestation of mental pollution.

A strong conviction in one’s own true God and belief that gods of all others are false is permanent source of violence perpetuated by prophetic monotheistic religions. They divide mankind in two antagonistic camps i.e. believer and non-believer (Maumin and Kafir). They divide time in two opposite directions, before Christ and after Christ (Jahalia and Ilm). They also split geographical space into two mutually hostile regions, the land of pure and land of impure (Dar-al-harab and Dar-al-islam). Thus space, time and mankind stand permanently divided in their consciousness which generates perpetual conflict across world for all the time.

All prophetic religions are dualistic in their theory and practice, although they claim themselves to be monotheistic. It seems that their Satan is as powerful as their God. This dualism makes their ideologies fundamentally bipolar.

According to them God and Satan are equal and opposite forces trying to torn asunder the world. In this cosmic conflict the duty of mere mortals is to support the helpless God against evil Satan, because their God cannot help himself. Thus, crusades, jihads and violent revolutions flourish.

Having one true God which is not at the same time all-inclusive is a fundamental axiomatic error. This error of exclusion of part of reality from God has crept into these religions due to absence of a “Maybe” state in their logic systems. Without third logical state “maybe”, they are incapable of showing any tolerance in their actions because these minds are not trained to think of any third possibility.