Recognition in the Domain of Thoughts
Recognition in the Domain of Thoughts
Pillar 2: Other than the Self, or the Realities about the Universe
This pillar includes the identification of all creatures and phenomena that are to be recognized by the self. The self can, however, also be recognized by the selves of other human beings. There are two important points here:
1- The more the mental development the human ego makes, the less dependent it will be on factors, tools and imaginations outside the human nature for its discoveries.
2- Intuitive knowledge concerning the self does not mean that man is able to discover every coordinate and characteristic the ego has.
The "other than the self" pillar is of three kinds:
a) Realities being discovered for their own sake, which includes all of the creatures of the world.
b) Tools and objects used for gaining science and knowledge.
c) Objects that serve as a transit between the recognizer and the recognized, like the light needed to see physical objects.
A Criticism of Idealism
External facts cannot be denied. What some people like Berkley say – "External beings arise from human cognition and the facts that can be mentally conceived" – is totally wrong. There are three reasons why facts exist independent of cognition about them; reasons that prove idealism is incorrect:
1-The Unity and Harmony between the Recognizer and the Recognized: Our eyes, as we know, see objects and shapes. When they see a table or a chair, they see its shape, and know that it is not a pencil, pen or anything else. If objects and facts did not exist outside our cognition, we could never have such understanding of different facts.
2-A fact cannot be in doubt between itself and other than itself. The reality is the specific object outside us, not an object uncertain about itself. For example, when we see an object in the distance and we are not sure whether it is a man or a stone, we still admit that the reality is only one of them – either man and not stone or stone and not man. No idealist will admit that what he sees is the doubtful object.
3-Man's Approaches to External Facts: Cold weather, for instance, forces man to put on warm clothes. He escapes wild animals. If he sees a hole on his way, he steers away from it, or searches for light to identify things. Such approaches we have in regard to facts are the best reasons to prove that they really exist.
Responding to a Point of Criticism
As we have already mentioned, the “self ” – the discoverer – cannot make contact with facts and realities without certain factors, means and passageways. The question here is whether reaching pure, original knowledge is truly feasible or not.
Among western physicists, Max Planck believes that we are able to discover a great many facts by means of our senses and the scientific tools we have, and although the discoveries we make are increasingly expanding, we will never reach the end of it. Presenting the two following principles, we will achieve an even more convincing response:
Principle One: Both the "self" and the "other than the self" – in other words, the recognizer and the external word – are orderly and disciplined. The expansion of objects due to heat is a natural law in the external world, as is the sensation of warmth felt by our senses which is caused by a series of various factors. The warmth our sense of touch feels on warm glass differs from what wool, wood or rocks feel in contact with something hot. There is no denying the discipline, order and harmony in the domains of the self and other than that; that's how physicists discover the laws governing nature.
Principle Two: Harmony between the recognizer – the mind – and the facts in gaining knowledge; in other words, cognition behaves equally towards all facts. For instance, the human eye always sees large objects small from a distance, or the rotation of the blades of a fan always seem circular, not sometimes.
This is how man has made a great many discoveries throughout history.
Because of scientific knowledge, we must say that purely scientific approach to facts is one of the highly significant and crucial methods for revealing facts; however, it is not the only way. Having accepted this point, and provided that we do not deviate from the truth, powerful minds may attempt to find other ways to discover facts, and even achieve better results. Doesn't the fact that spiritual witnessing of facts can lead to the discovery of thousands of secrets in knowledge prove that there must be ways to discover facts apart from formal scientific methods?
When discussing the relationship between the self (the recognizer) and facts we must keep in mind that if the subject of study is man and his various aspects, the self (the recognizer) and its cognitive tools and methods will be more influential. For example, when man thinks about will, he takes into consideration the will in him and what he knows about it, and even lets other humans know about it. Or if hedonism is the dominant element in the mind of an intellectual, he will use it to interpret the characters of other men, too. This is why we say that when Machiavelli describes man and his moral, political and social virtues, he definitely does so based on his own beliefs and thoughts. Machiavelli cannot understand the character of a fair, just person who follows his logical responsibilities; Machiavellian accounts of such a man's character would be purely based on selfishness.