The Personification of Knowledge

Modern logic is defined by three principles—identity (A is A), non-contradiction (it cannot be both and A and not-A), and mutual exclusion (it cannot be neither A and not-A). In Vedic philosophy, we will call this a dualistic logic in the sense that the categories neither and both are logically forbidden forever. This dualistic logic is applied to knowledge by saying that knowledge must follow the rules of logic. That is, for something to be knowledge, it cannot involve or use the logical categories of neither and both.

In this post, we will explore how dualistic logic mimics objects, and why it cannot capture persons. If a person is involved in knowing, then dualistic logic fails to account for all aspects of knowing. Thus, even to correctly describe a single perception, we have to reject dualistic logic and embrace a non-dualistic logic under which the categories of both A and not-A and neither A and not-A are entertained.

The Problem of Dualistic Logic

Dualistic logic applies to objects but not to persons. For example, if you have a ball and a box, then either the ball is inside the box or outside of it. It cannot be both inside and outside, and it cannot be neither inside nor outside. However, if you have an apple and an observer, during observation, the apple is both inside the observer and outside it, and yet, it is neither inside the observer nor outside it.

  • An apple is outside the observer because the apple exists even if the observer is unaware of it. Reality is said to exist if and only if it has effects even when we are unaware of them. Of course, those effects could be on other observers, but they are distinct observers.
  • The same apple is inside the observer when the observer is aware of it because the apple’s properties are in the observer’s consciousness. Thereby, we can say that the apple has entered the observer’s consciousness, and has become that specific observer’s knowledge.
  • Correct observation requires the observer to accept all of the apple’s properties as they are, and no other properties. Hence, consciousness must be exclusively focused on the apple, and away from other things. This exclusion necessitates consciousness to be inside the apple.
  • However, since the observer can know the apple partially, and mix it with other ideas, therefore, his attention may not be exclusively on the apple and thereby the observer is outside the apple. Outside the apple simply means divided attention that mixes many things.

All these problems of the observer being outside and inside but neither outside nor inside arise in the determination of various aspects of perception. If the observer isn’t inside the apple, then the perception is not that of an apple. If the apple isn’t inside the observer, then it is not the observer’s perception. If the apple isn’t outside the observer, the perception is a hallucination, not about reality. And if the observer isn’t outside the apple, then the observer has no choice in knowing reality.

The observer is outside the apple if he rejects the apple. The observer is inside the apple if he accepts the apple. The apple is inside the observer if he accepts it. And the apple is outside the observer if he rejects it. Thus, two things are separated in a dualistic sense only when they are not interacting through observation. During observation, that separation is complemented by non-separation.

The Problem of Knowledge

What is knowledge? Under dualistic logic, we treat it like an object. We can think of it as a book, which must be impersonalized to accord to the dualistic logic, like objects. However, the problem doesn’t disappear by converting knowledge into a book, because that book is also like an apple. Similarly, because the book was authored by someone, who was, in turn, perceiving reality, and the book represents that experience, therefore, it too has the non-dualistic properties of the observer.

Modern science is largely based on the idea that neither we nor the book has any property of personhood, which allows us to convert everything to dualistic logic. If, however, we are persons, then to be fully consistent (and avoid the problems of mind-body dualism, which will become a conflict between dualistic and non-dualistic logic, entailing two kinds of logic) we must also personalize the book non-dualistically.

Dualism Depends on Non-Dualism

It is often assumed that dualistic logic defines choice—something is either inside or outside—and you choose one of them. For example, you could choose to put the ball in the box or outside the box.

However, the fact is that every observation involves both inside and outside and neither inside nor outside, precisely because there is a choice of observation. In simple words, the choice of moving the ball inside or outside the box depends on observation, which in turn depends on something that is at once inside and outside, and yet, neither inside nor outside. Therefore, dualism depends on non-dualism.

This dependence is incredibly important for science in the sense that science depends on observations, which require non-dualism. However, disregarding that observation’s true nature, and pragmatically using it in science to advance a dualistic study of reality, can also work. Of course, it would not produce a consistent science, nor would science ever be able to capture the nature of the observer. But the observer’s choices to accept or reject a theory, or even move a ball from inside to outside a box, requires a system of non-dualism in the observer.

Failures of Dualistic Logic

If we disregard this problem and assume dualism all the way, then the distinction between true and false is lost because every hallucination, misperception, or misinterpretation is logically determined. For instance, if you are interacting with an apple, and it seems to be an orange, you cannot call your idea false because every step in this determination is logically determined. You cannot choose to observe it differently, or even choose to observe it, because those claims break dualistic logic.

Thereby, two observers interacting with the same reality can observe it differently—one of them may see an apple while the other sees an orange. However, since both outcomes are logically fixed, therefore, both are true although they are logically contradictory. You cannot say that reality is either an orange or an apple because both alternatives are logically proven in the same way. And you cannot blame the observers for not observing things correctly because that requires a choice.

Thereby, knowledge—when it is delimited by dualistic logic—must reject the idea of the truth and replace it with existence. The observers exist and their perceptions exist. Those perceptions can be different because the interaction between reality and those two observers creates different effects. Neither of these effects gives us the truth about the world. Those effects simply exist as facts.

Scientific Examples of Dualistic Failures

This distinction between fact and truth appears as relativistic effects in physics where two observers can measure the same reality differently, and you cannot say that one of them is true. Rather, they are both facts, neither of which are true (i.e., they don’t tell us about reality). This general problem of relativism of observed facts, the absence of choice in the observation, and equivalence of all observers (due to the absence of choice) reduces all knowledge to facts rather than truths. In simple words, if you see an apple and I see the same thing as an orange, they are both our facts, and neither of them is true.

In mathematics, this problem reappears as undecidability. Given a set of axioms, you can prove contradictory things by following different proof paths, which are like different observers interacting with the same reality to obtain mutually contradictory observations. Simple examples of this problem are the Liar’s Paradox (“I am a liar”—if I’m a liar, then I’m truthful; if not, then I’m a liar) and Barber’s Paradox (“A barber shaves those who don’t shave themselves”—if the barber shaves himself, then he does not; if he doesn’t shave himself, then he does). These arise because words like “I” and “Barber” have multiple meanings, and by following those meanings, you can follow different proof paths, which lead you to contradictory answers. You cannot decide if either of these answers is true. Undecidability means that you cannot decide whether X and not-X are true because both are equally provable.

There is hence a distinction between provability and truth in mathematics, like the distinction between fact and truth in physics. Facts are not truths, and in the same way, provability doesn’t entail truth.

The Complete Collapse of Truth

Truths, under the dualistic conception of logic, simply do not exist. Facts exist and proofs exist. These facts can be empirically contradictory and proofs can be rationally contradictory. You can get around that problem by saying: There is no truth or that truth is undecidable or everyone can decide it for themselves. Nobody can say that your conclusion is false because it is logically provable.

In crude terms, your brain does a logical computation to arrive at one conclusion which is quite different from mine. Both logical computations are mathematical proofs, and they produce two different facts. So what if they are contradictory? They are both provable!

Despite these serious problems of dualistic logic, which have appeared in 20th-century mathematics and physics, people just can’t help themselves from indulging in so-called logical arguments. It is standard practice, for example, to say that two conclusions—X and not-X—constitute a logical contradiction, and hence one of them must be false. They don’t know that there is no truth with dualistic logic. 20th-century developments in mathematics, physics, and logic have completely destroyed the idea of truth.

Your brain and my brain exist. They prove some conclusions by a logical process using dualistic logic. And their conclusions are just facts, neither of which is truth. If your brain is different than mine, then its conclusions will naturally be different than mine. But who is to say that one brain is truthful? Just to do that, you have to say that one brain is the ideal brain, and all other brains are non-ideal brains. But you cannot prove which brain is ideal because ideality is beyond the scope of any fact or proof.

Objectivity vs. Personhood

The problem is that ideality lies in the realm of choice. Choices are ideal or non-ideal. You can also say that choices are better or worse. Facts, observations, things, and proofs are not better or worse. Rather, due to certain preferences that we chose, some facts, observations, things, and proofs are called better or worse. For example, a shorter proof can be called better. Why? Because we chose optimality over superfluity. Likewise, richness can be called better. Why? Because we chose pleasure over pain.

You cannot logically prove that optimality and pleasure are better. You must instead add them to your system of reasoning as axioms. Those who add them to the system of reasoning are making a choice. Now, you have two realms—of body and mind—the former governed by dualistic logic and the latter by non-dualistic logic. And you cannot have interactions between two logically different systems.

This is the point at which we have to realize that the only way forward is to throw away dualistic logic, and accept that everything must be described non-dualistically. This means we must entertain logical categories like both and neither. They can no longer be called inconceivable. We have to make them conceivable. That, of course, is not very hard. We just have to stop thinking of everything in terms of objects and start treating everything as a person. An apple, a book, and people are all persons.

Objectifying vs. Personifying

My Vedānta Sūtra commentary makes this argument, tracing the connection between the collapse of truth along with dualistic logic, the roots of dualistic logic in object thinking, its alternative in personal thinking, and the implied use of non-dualistic logics that overturn dualistic logical imperatives.

There are four parts to this connection. First, we must understand the serious fallouts of 20th-century mathematics, physics, and logic and how they have destroyed the idea of truth completely. Second, we must understand how dualistic logic originated in object thinking where one object can either be inside another or outside it; it cannot be neither inside nor outside, and it cannot be both inside and outside. Third, we have to grasp how ordinary observations necessitate the use of non-dualistic categories due to the conflicting requirements imposed by choice or will. And fourth, we have to accept that personhood, if accepted as a fundamental category as opposed to objects, can solve all the above problems.

The first three are easily demonstrable, as we have seen above. The fourth is a difficult philosophical leap in today’s time because people are objectifying persons rather than personifying objects.

My thesis is factually not new because matter has always been personified as God’s Śakti in Vedic philosophy, and called by names such as Durga, Sati, and Kāli. The problem is that Śaṅkarācārya depersonalized Śakti by calling Her jada or inert. Thereafter, Rāmanujachārya and Madhvāchārya continued the same idea by calling matter achit or non-conscious. Effectively, by such doctrines, the equivalent of Western mind-body dualism was created in the Vedānta tradition. As we have seen, these respectively involve non-dualistic and dualistic logics, which are mutually incongruent. When we mix two opposing logical systems into the same theory, infinite contradictions are created. The inability to resolve those contradictions then leads to the conclusion that Vedānta must be inconceivable.

Quite separately, if we personalize matter, we are required to admit non-dualistic logical categories like both and neither, which also seem inconceivable under the present hegemony of dualistic thinking.

Of course, the latter problem is equivalent to the fact that we cannot describe persons using dualistic logic. Does it mean persons are inconceivable or illogical and thereby must not exist? Or can we trace the so-called logical inconceivability of persons to the problem of observation which entails both inside and outside and neither inside nor outside in different complementary modes? The answer is obvious.

Conceiving the Inconceivable

Object thinking has failed along with dualistic logic. Person thinking along with non-dualistic logic is actually not contradictory because the contradiction is not in the same mode. For example, the observer is outside the apple in the sense that he has chosen to observe the apple. The observer is inside the apple in the sense that he has accepted the apple’s reality just as it is. The apple is inside the observer because it is currently a specific observer’s experience. And it is outside the observer in the sense that multiple observers can see it simultaneously.

Numerous logical contradictions are created if we ignore the modalities in which something is inside or outside. All those contradictions disappear if we incorporate modalities. These modalities are possible with personhood and impossible with objects. Hence modal logics, personhood, and conceivability of the inconceivable are intricately tied.

Observers’ experiences constitute their knowledge, which can also be represented in language, art, and music which means that these expressions must inherit all the non-dualistic properties of knowledge. Due to this inherent non-dualism, we can say that books, art, and music inherit personalism.

The Falsehood of Material Inertness

The difference between a book and an author is that the book is static while the author is not. This fact has been used to call matter inert. This claim, however, falls apart when we analyze the distinction between inertness and consciousness—every property of the one can exist in the other.

  • Everyone becomes inert while sleeping. Even during waking, we can keep our body inactive and thereby remain inert. So, why can’t we call matter a sleeping or inactive consciousness?
  • A yogi becomes inert by fixing his consciousness, although he is fully awake. Yogis are able to stay fixed and conscious for long. So, why can’t we call matter a fixed consciousness?
  • Factually, matter is not always inert. Even this world changes, which means that matter is not totally inert. Rather, it exhibits activities just like the activities of other consciousness.
  • If we say that matter exhibits lawful order while living entities are lawless, the distinction could be attributed to self-control in matter and its relative absence in other living entities.
  • If by order we mean periodicity, then many people follow a strict daily routine due to which their consciousness can be called periodic, depending on how strict their routine is.

Therefore, all claims about inertness and non-consciousness about matter are begging for distinction from sleeping, fixed, active, self-controlled, or self-disciplined consciousness. If the world was static, then we could call it a consciousness that is either inactive due to sleep or inactive due to fixity. If it moves lawfully, we can call it self-controlled consciousness. If it moves periodically, we could call it a self-disciplined consciousness. Where is the distinction between matter and consciousness?

In fact, people have been training themselves for eons on how to remain inert, alert but fixed, self-controlled, and self-regulated—the properties of matter! All these aspirants are thus trying to attain the state of perfection already in matter, and therefore, matter must be a more advanced consciousness than ordinary living entities. We should eliminate the distinctions that we cannot justify.

The Nature of Material Persons

Once we discard the artificial, unjustified, and prejudiced distinctions between consciousness and matter, then we can say that books, art, and music don’t just inherit the non-dualism of persons due to being created by them, but they are in themselves persons. However, they could be sleeping persons, awake but fixed persons, lawful due to self-control persons, or periodic due to self-disciplined persons. Thereby, matter is not uniform or just of one type. Rather, different material objects are different kinds of persons.

For example, land and stones can be sleeping persons, trees and mountains can be awake but fixed persons, rivers and seas can be lawful due to self-control persons, and planets can be periodic due to self-discipline persons. If we don’t find a personal template for something we consider inert, the correct question would be whether and how consciousness itself could exhibit such behaviors.

This idea is not as outrageous as might seem at first sight. Practically all nationalists talk about their motherland or fatherland and worship them as if they were persons. Plants and animals have been repeatedly demonstrated to have feelings and cognitions. Ecosystems are known to be self-preserving and self-sustaining quite like ordinary organisms. Most of us have a hard time personalizing stones and mountains because they remain static for long. But this problem would go away if we practiced fixing our consciousness to make our bodies and minds motionless for long durations.

Person and Personality

Once we understand how inanimate or inert objects are also persons, and we know that ordinary persons can produce or manifest art, music, and books, then this process of creativity can be modeled as one person giving “birth” to another, and these two persons can be related as “parent” and “child”.

It is not uncommon, for instance, for people to call their musical, artistic, and literary creations their “babies”. It is not rare for nations to call their founders “fathers” or “mothers” of the nation. It is not infrequent that new organizations are “born”, startup founders undergo “birthing pangs”, and startups “grow up” after some years. In many religions, sacred books are worshipped like deities and divinities.

What is of particular interest to us here is that all these created persons carry the personalities of their creative fathers and/or mothers. The sacred books, being the word of God, are considered embodiments of God. Likewise, the author’s persona is in their books, the musician’s character in their music, and the artist’s emotions in their paintings. An organization mimics the values of its founders, a nation the virtues and ideals of those who struggled to carve it different from other nations.

This is not difficult to understand if we note that the parents transmit parts of their nature into their children, see their children as extensions of their own personalities, and vicariously live through the youth of their children in their old age. The same principle upholds for all creations. The author wishes to see his books continue even after his death. The musician hopes to travel to places far and wide through his music. The artist hopes to be remembered long after he is gone. The founders of nations hope that they will continue to live through the citizens in the form of values they give them.

The personality of the parent is present in the children to varying extents, because the parents pass their genes, ideas, beliefs, culture, morals, values, ideals, and religions, to their children. The parents feel disheartened and betrayed if their children relinquish what their parents bequeathed them. This indicates two things. First, the children inherit the personalities of their parents in part. Second, the parents wish to live through their children. Even materialists agree that the biological entities have a great purpose of passing on their genes and ensuring the survival of their species and race.

The Problem of Parental Immanence

Thus far, we have established four things. First, reality must be modeled as persons to avoid logical contradictions. Second, the mind vs. matter distinction is not just logically incoherent, but prejudiced without justification; all seeming material objects are also persons. Third, so-called inanimate things are treated as children and parents—a book is an author’s child, and some land is the author’s mother. Fourth, the child inherits the parental properties, and parental personality lives through their children.

At this juncture, we can draw a distinction between a person and their personality. Obviously, a person has a personality. That same personality becomes immanent in their children, including artistic creations. However, that personality may not be fixed. In this world, people change their personalities. When a person dies, the person is disconnected from their personality and gets a new one. However, if that person is alive, their personality is unchanged, and that personality is immanent in their child creations, and we tend to say that the person lives in and through their children. If, however, the child dies, or discards the parental personality, then the parent is not automatically supposed to be dead.

The parent is immanent by his personality, and transcendent as a person. The person is outside the child, and yet, inside the child through the personality. If the parent dies or changes his personality, then the children are disconnected from the parent, although they have their former parental personality.

Now, let’s suppose that (a) the parent is eternal, (b) their personality is eternally unchanged, and (c) their children can never completely disconnect themselves from the parental personality. In such cases, the parent would be said to be eternally living in the children, although the parent is still distinct from the child in the sense that if the child died, the parent would not be automatically deceased.

Such rare forms of immanence arise in cases of spiritual personalities who continue to live through their disciples, books, and other creations, because (a) the person and personality are eternal, (b) the connection between the person and personality never changes, and (c) the personality is so unique that we cannot attach the children to any other personality other than falsifying them as children. I will return to this eternally immanent and yet transcendent person-personality in a short while.

Personalism and Non-Dualism

We can put all these conclusions together by noting that everything is a person. There are no objects. Objects cannot be both inside and outside, or neither inside and outside. But persons can be. Therefore, there is no contradiction in saying that the person is transcendent and immanent. The difficulties we find in such a conception are due to dualistic object thinking. The person thinking is non-dualistic.

The difference between a person and an object is that the person can exist in logically contradictory states falsifying the principle of identity (A is A). An object is always in a single state. Therefore, when we use a word to refer to that person, that word has many meanings, corresponding to the different logically contradictory states of the person, such that if the word is treated like an object rather than a person, logical contradictions are created. We have seen examples of such words in the Liar’s Paradox and the Barber’s Paradox. They are resolved by giving the words multiple meanings or treating them as persons. At the least, we have to give up dualistic logical thinking to avoid paradoxes.

To elaborate further using the word “I” that involves self-awareness, the self is at once observer, observed, and observing, but in each of these modes, it is not the other modes, falsifying the identity principle. That is not a self-contradiction because the self is not an observer and observing in the observed state, not observing in the observer and observed states, and not observed in the observer and observing states. This requires that the self be one and yet three different things. Those three different things are the modes of the self. Each mode is not separate from the other modes and not identical to them. This peculiar idea is noted as the Bhedābheda doctrine of Vedānta. Bhedābheda is inconceivable under dualistic logic and conceivable under non-dualistic logic.

Demystifying the Problem of Modes

Most people struggle with the breakdown of all these logical principles, especially that of identity. Demystifying it requires what I call the principle of underdetermination, which in simple terms means that each modality determines what the other mode cannot be but does not determine what it is.

A classic example is an underdetermination between percepts and concepts. Each percept tells us what the concept cannot be, although it doesn’t tell us what it will be. For example, if you see something red and round, you can be sure that it is not a banana, but you can’t be sure if it is an apple or a nectarine. Similarly, each concept tells us what the percept cannot be, although it doesn’t fix the percept. For example, if we call something a chair, you can be sure that it is not a fluid, but you can’t say if it has four or six legs, whether or not it has a hand rest and backrest, whether it is high or low, and so forth.

Yet another easy example is the underdetermination between the answers to six questions—what, why, how, who, where, and when. By fixing the answer to one question, numerous alternative answers to the other five questions are preempted. But that doesn’t fix the answers to those five questions. Since one mode decides what the other modes can’t be, therefore, the modes are not independent. However, since each mode doesn’t decide what the other modes will be, therefore, they are not dependent.

This is how we get seemingly contradictory conclusions like neither identical nor separate. They are self-contradictory in dualistic logic, but not so in non-dualistic logic. This is how the inconceivable becomes conceivable—it is inconceivable as objects and conceivable as underdetermining modalities.

The Personification of Knowledge

Since logic always applies to knowledge, therefore, knowledge can be viewed as a person or an object. When knowledge is governed by dualistic logic, then it is modeled as objects, and when it is governed by non-dualistic logic, then it is modeled as persons. This idea is seen in Vedic texts when Saraswati is called the personification of knowledge. Whatever we call “knowledge” in this world is therefore not an idea in a Platonic world, nor is it confined to books, nor is it our interpretation. Rather, there is a person called Saraswati, who embodies that knowledge. In simple words, knowledge is a person, not an object.

Similarly, the Absolute Truth is called jñānam advayam (SB 1.2.11) or non-dual knowledge known in three modes of Bhagavan, Paramātma, and Brahman, which are neither separate nor identical. Of these, Bhagavan is the author, Paramātma is the part of the author’s persona visible in the book, and Brahman is the book. In general, being the author is itself one of the aspects of the full person, due to which the author is a part of the person, and a part of the author is visible in the books.

In the material creation, for example, Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the person, Garbhodakaśāyi Viṣṇu is the person in the author mode (and hence a part of Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu), while Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the part of the author mode visible in the book (and hence a part of Garbhodakaśāyi Viṣṇu). This situation is simplified by referring to Garbhodakaśāyi Viṣṇu as Bhagavan and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu as Paramātma. Context determines the meaning of these words as Bhagavan and Paramātma can be interchanged because the child of a creator can again become a creator and produce further children. For example, the demigods are the children of Paramātma, and in that regard, He is referred to as Bhagavan.

Three Modalities of Knowledge

To fully appreciate the tripartite division of personalities, we have to understand that knowledge exists in three modalities—individual, universal, and contextual. Take an ordinary concept like a man. There is an ideal personification of man called Manu present in a heavenly planet, due to which “man” is not a Platonic idea, but a person. Manu is the ideal man, and hence the universal. Different descendants of Manu constitute the human population, and they are individuals. However, in between Manu and the human population is a ruler or a king, who implements the Laws of Manu while governing humans. These laws are not universals. They are contextually prescribed for a local population. Thereby, the localized and contextualized ruler of the population constitutes the contextual but is still a person.

Now, if every man voluntarily follows the Laws of Manu, we could say that Manu’s laws are immanent in each man. But if they sometimes disobey the laws and the king corrects them, then we could say that Manu’s laws are transcendent to ordinary men, because they are reposed in the king. However, if most men are disobedient, but they follow the Laws of Manu out of fear of the king, then we could say that they are obeying out of fear of the king and hence the king is immanent in the population. Likewise, the population could also follow all the laws out of love of the king—he is our king, and we love him, so we do as he says.

Thus, there is no contradiction in saying four things: (a) the laws are immanent, (b) the laws are transcendent, (c) the king is transcendent, and (d) the king is immanent. The laws are immanent if the population is aware of the laws and voluntarily obedient. The laws are transcendent if they are forced upon the population due to their ignorance and/or disobedience of the laws. The king is transcendent if the population is generally disobedient, and follows the laws only out of fear of the king. And the king is immanent if the population follows the laws out of love of the king.

The Nature of Immanence

The Paramātma is the ruler of the material world and prescribes the laws of nature. These laws are impersonalized in modern science because nature obeys laws like a voluntarily obedient person, and Paramātma, therefore, has no need to interfere in nature’s work. However, if the soul doesn’t follow the laws, then Paramātma punishes them. But if we remember Paramātma, then He is immanent, and we follow the laws perfectly due to that remembrance. The question is: What happens if we don’t remember Paramātma? Is He immanent or not? This is when we have to recall our foregoing discussion that an eternal creator is eternally immanent, although we may not be aware of that immanence.

The meaning of Paramātma’s immanence is that each person has an innate idea of God, namely that there is order in nature due to a supreme being, who rewards and punishes and can lead us to salvation from this world. People call this “a higher power”, “a perfect being”, “God” and so forth. Every person has a conscience in them due to which they tend to avoid sinful actions. Atheists too innately believe that nature has rational order. Descartes, Kant, and Jung have all relied on innate idea paradigms. Therefore, the idea is always immanent. However, the idea can be more or less manifest. Due to that, some people are more or less conscionable. Some believe in God more than others. And some may believe in natural order, natural justice, karma, and retribution, to varying levels of conviction.

There are deeper issues of causality involved here noted in Satkāryavāda due to which we never learn anything new because everything is already innately present. We only remember and forget things. The soul’s fall in the world, for example, is attributed to forgetfulness and liberation to remembrance. What is present, and yet can be forgotten, is described in Bhagavad-Gita as avyakta mūrti or an unmanifest form. This unmanifest form is the innate idea of Paramātma which manifests to different levels in different persons. It manifests more when one suffers and less when one is enjoying life.

The Genesis of the Impersonal

When a person is understood partially, then the impersonal is created. This impersonal includes ideas, objects, numbers, equations, processes, vibrations, force, etc. Simply by revealing or hiding different aspects of His personhood, the Paramātma can manifest different ontologies to a person. Thus, when Paramātma manifests more, slowly a person becomes more conscionable and personalist. For instance, he might start treating other people as he would like to be treated himself. When Paramātma is manifest even more, then nature is progressively personalized. Finally, if Paramātma is fully manifest, then the whole universe is seen as being governed by a person rather than impersonal laws.

Modern science is a byproduct of a near-complete ignorance of Paramātma, under which scientists believe that there is regularity and order in nature, but it is mathematical laws rather than a person. They also assume that natural laws are not normative or moral in nature. And they have slowly become accustomed to the idea that they themselves are not persons; they are merely complex objects.

Materialism is nothing but the objectification of persons, due to which the world is “outside”, each thing is separated from the other things, and the idea that something could be “inside” terrifies people. In one sense, since everything is inside and outside, and yet, neither inside nor outside, therefore, everything in materialism and modern science is false. There is not a shred of truth in it. And yet, this science works because nature is still ordered and lawful due to Paramātma.

We can observe this order and capture it in mathematical equations quite like we can capture the order in train arrival and departure at train stations using a mathematical equation although trains are not arriving and departing because of that equation—they are working orderly because of dutiful train drivers and administrators in a command center. If the train administration works well, then trains will continue to arrive and depart on time, and the mathematical equations will continue to predict correctly.

Reverting to Personalism

The problem is that you cannot capture many observations using such equations. When predictive failures appear, science resorts to formulating predictive probabilities. When those probabilities prove inadequate, it talks about the dynamical evolution of probabilities. When that fails, arbitrary variables and constants are inserted, modifying equations for computing the dynamical evolution of probabilities. When that fails, then extra dimensions are postulated. When that fails, then extra dimensions curving around other dimensions are postulated. Modern science is a factory for manufacturing equations.

This is why we have to go to fundamental questions about logic. If logic is dualistic, then reality is objects. When reality is objects, then it can be quantified due to the separation of objects. When it is quantified, then it has to be modeled using mathematical equations. Nobody can question this process because everything logically follows from the fundamental assumption of dualistic logic.

The challenge to science is the problem of observation due to which dualistic logic is broken. The solution to that problem is that reality is persons rather than objects, and needs non-dualistic logic. Factually, objects have no reality. This means there is nothing called idea, thing, number, equation, process, vibration, force, etc. All these are produced by hiding different aspects of a person. When sufficient aspects of a person are obscured from our vision, then the person is reduced to an object, process, equation, vibration, force, and number.

To conquer this ignorance, one has to revert to personalism and ask ourselves how a person is both inside and outside the other persons. Dualistic logic is the biggest hurdle in this process. By discarding it, we wipe the slate clean of everything that modernity has created in the name of knowledge.

We now begin with a new idea, namely, that knowledge is a person. Thereby, we are inside knowledge and we are outside knowledge. Similarly, knowledge is inside us, and knowledge is outside us.

Inside knowledge means that each of us is some partial knowledge. Outside knowledge means that there is complete knowledge available for knowing. Knowledge inside means that complete knowledge can be known. And knowledge outside means that complete knowledge is not our creation. These simple ideas about knowledge are accepted by everyone. But they are not so simple. Just realizing them involves overturning thousands of years of false object-based dualistic logical thinking.