Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science ► 04 ► [4.3] Classification (3)

Posted: 19.03.2008

We have thus two alternatives:

  • mind as an aspect of body
  • mind as distinct from body.

In the first case, the mind consists entirely of physiological instrument such as the sensory nervous systems or receptor nerves which receive the stimuli from outside, the transference machinery to pass on the stimuli to brain, the brain itself and the motor system or effector nerves which govern the movements of the body.

In this case the emotions are perceptions of a physiological change in ourselves. For example, when we feel the emotion of fear, the adrenal glands discharge a certain amount of fluid secretion, which produces changes in the tension of the muscle and in the blood, resulting in increased rapidity of the heartbeat etc. The awareness of these bodily occurrences constitutes the emotion of fear.

In the absence of an independent mental instrument, the process of thinking is explained as simply subvocal talking, involving as it does the same muscular activities of the larynx as those, which occur in talking although these activities are not carried so far.

In the other alternative viz. mind as distinct from body, a unique, distinct and in some sense independent status of mind is contended. For contending an independent status of mind, it is not necessary to refute the existence and working of the physiological systems described in the preceding paras. All that is necessary is to insist that a living organism is something over and above the physiological apparatus of its body that mind is an expression of the principle of life and it is distinct from the body and brain. Mind, in this case, must be something which is immaterial. Wishes, desires, thoughts, aspirations, hopes, acts of will and all such other events which happen in mind are, therefore, immaterial. Thoughts, for instance, do not exert force nor do they yield to mass; conversely, mass and material force have no power over thoughts.

From the above, it is not difficult to conclude that, in addition to the body and brain, the composition of the living organism includes an immaterial element, which is called mind that this element, although in very close association with the brain, is in some sense independent of it. Mind so conceived is an active, dynamic, synthesizing force. It is creative, that is, it carries on activities, which are due to the presence of a living creative impulse to fulfil a purpose.

We shall now compare both the above scientific theories of mind with the Jain views regarding manah or manas. The materialist theories of psychology, which deny the existence of mind as distinct from body, also deny the very existence of consciousness and soul as an independent entity. This is entirely in opposition to the Jain views. We have already discussed the materialists' concept in the metaphysical section earlier and we shall only add here a doubt, which may be raised by the Jains regarding the materialist theory of emotions stated above. While accepting the invariable accompaniment of the bodily event and the mental event, a question at issue will be: Does the fear emotion precede and cause the gland excretion or does the gland excretion precede and cause the fear emotion?

The concept of an independent psyche or immaterial mind of the mental hypothesis by the other psychological theories is obviously equivalent to the concept of bhava manah of the Jains. Bhava manah as we have stated above, is the innate capacity of jiva and is, therefore, immaterial. But, for the rational mental activities, dravya manah which is the material counterpart of bhava manah is also essential. We have also seen that only highly developed or samjnin pancendriya-animals and human beings are capable of forming dravya manah out of the material atoms of manah vargana and, therefore, capable of rational mental activities. Thus, the mental hypothesis to some extent agrees with the Jain view.

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