The diminishment of man, brought about not only by the loss of wisdom and of the overall view of the world, man and man's destiny on the parte of specialised disciplines, but by the aggressive denial of all values by reductionist scientism, has brought mankind to the brink of annihilation in nuclear holocaust or ecological attrition. Formidable as the task is, if man and his values are to survive, there is no other option but to attempt a concept-by-concept reconstruction of the foundations of certitude. This is what Krishna Chaitanya has attempted in his pentalogy on freedom.
In The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom, he showed that self-determination is an intrinsic property of matter even at the particle level. In The Biology of Freedom, he revealed the enhancement of the capacity for self-determination at the organismic level. In The Psychology of Freedom, he dealt with the creeds that deny the mind, or reduce it to a mechanism, or regard it as a mask worn by the irrational. Already reviewers have compared Krishna Chaitanya and to his advantage with Aquinas, the French Encyclopedists, Spencer, Bergson, Teilhard de Chardin and Whitehead.
And, now, in The Sociology of Freedom, he examines the conditions for the fulfilment of freedom and the realisation of values in group living. For mankind which may be teetering at the edge of history, the work has a redemptive message.
He will explore the intimations from beyond history and the empirical world, which may be relevant for man's self-fulfilment in history, in the next and final volume, Freedom and Transcendence.
Krishna Chaitanya (b. 1918) graduate from the Madras University standing first both in B. A. and M. A. With Biology as his speciality in the former and English literature in the latter. He has retained this interest in both science and humanities in his subsequent career. He is the author of a history of science in Malayalam; a well-known music critic; member of the Publications Committee of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Programmes Committee of the India International Centre; a well-known art critic; author of several books on Indian painting; member of the International Association of Art Critics, Paris; Vice-President of the All India Fine Art and Crafts Society; Editor of Roopa-Lekha, India's oldest extant art journal' author of several children's books which retell Sanskrit classics; and author of a serial history of world literature of which nine volumes have appeared in English and five Indian languages. His interdisciplinary studies earned for him an invitation from the Institute of International Education, New York, for a lecture tour of this USA for six months as a "Critic of Ideas," and a special award from the Kerala Sahitya Academy. He has also extensively toured Afghanistan, China, Japan and Europe.
For working on Freedom and Transcendence, the culminating volume of the present pentalogy, he has been awarded a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship for two years.
In his textbook of psychology published during the first decade of this century, Ebbinghaus aggressively asserted: 'In order to understand clearly the thoughts and impulses of man, we must treat them just as we treat material bodies, or as we treat the lines and points of mathematics.
That matter and its dimensions and motions were the only real existents in the universe and that sensations, feelings and thoughts were illusory, were the dogmas with which Galileo initiated the materialistic trend in modern science and, in unquestioning loyalty to that creed, Ebbinghaus was trying to reduce psychology to physics. Mechanistic determinism sought to stabilise itself by spatialising time and making it a delivery van picking up things-particles as well as planets-and unloading them at predictable points at successive spatial locations on its trajectory. These points were predictable because the only real things in the world were particles and the only real events were their motions; particles were inert and moved only when they were pushed or pulled by force; you only needed to know the dimensions of the bodies (made of material particles) and the magnitude of the forces acting on them to predict their trajectories at any time in the future. Loyal to these postulates, Ebbinghaus was merely with the dynamics of one class of material objects-the thoughts and impulses of man.
In retrospect we should concede this: though mechanistic materialism had already begun to totter during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the first major blow came with the publication of Max Planck's paper on the quantum theory of radiation in 1901; and Planck's own formulation showed how nervous he was about radically deviating from the canonical postulates of Galilean science. Writing only shortly after the publication of Planck's paper, Ebbinghaus just could not have assimilated its far-reaching philosophical implications.
But the curious things is that the lag has persisted over the years. Psychology continued to base itself on an outmoded physics; and sociology in turn built itself up on this outmoded psychology. In a textbook of sociology published in 1939, Lundberg scorns what he derisively designats as a 'mentalistic' type of analysis and claims that social sciences are concerned with the behaviour of 'those electron-proton configurations called societal groups, principally human group. This is reductionism with a vengeance, for Lundberg seems to be either ignorant of, or considers utterly irrelevant, the collapse of mechanomorphism and the evolution beyond the atom-the emergence of the biopolymer, the neuron, the cortex of man.
We must not be beguiled by the fact that today nobody would think of beginning a textbook of sociology with the definition of men as electron-proton configurations. In spite of the fact that Oppenheimer warned Psychologists as early as in 1950 that they were modelling their discipline on a physics which was not there any more, the old outlook persists. Only the language has become more sophisticated. The behaviourist needs to have a considerable command over sophisticated idiom to be able to sentiently argue a theory of insentience. This psychology without a psyche has extended into sociology and corrupted it. As Maslow points out, economics applies a totally false theory of human needs an values and, in von Bertalanffy's words, this type of sociology has reduced man 'to the lower aspects of his animal nature, manipulating him into a feeble-minded automaton of consumption or a marionette of political power.
Nevertheless, when a misguided and belligerently materialistic of yesteryear referred to men as electron-proton configurations, he was stressing though unconsciously and in a very befuddled way an important truth: that the continuity in the scientific explanation of the world should remain unbroken from the atom to man If only science had remembered that it could never retroactively deny the reality man's sentience and his cognitive impulse which created it, it could never have committed the incredible folly of first forgetting and then denying the inner reality while exploring the reality out there. But this happened and we have had to endeavour to salvage genuine science, which cannot be anti-humanistic, from scientism. It is by the correct application of the methodology of each discipline that we salvaged it from erroneous drift and we have been able to maintain continuity in the expanding scheme of explication as we moved from physics to psychology.
In the first volume (The Physics and Chemistry of Freedom, Somaiya 1972) we showed that mechanomorphism is no longer tenable in the physical sciences, that the electron-proton configuration is nothing to be sneered at since internal causality or self-determination is seen as a system property even at the atomic level. In the second volume (The Biology of Freedom, Somaiya 1975) we showed that the concept of the organism as a stimulus-puppet has become completely outmoded in biology and that, with biological evolution, especially with the elaboration of the central nervous system, there was a great enhancement of the capacity for self-determination. In the third volume (The Psychology of Freedom, Somiaya 1976) we dealt with theories that sought to reduce all human behaviour to the physics and chemistry of the reflex, or to the genetically coded fixed action pattern of the instincts, or to the action of the irrational unconscious which used conscious rationality as a camouflage. We were able to win a measure of validity for the values of man. In man evolution has reached the point where reality encounters itself in judgment and choice and rightly chosen values can further the evolution. It is in group living that most of these values are realised. Therefore, we have now to examine how fr these value are being, and can be, ralised society.
The picture that immediately confronts us is one which can give a traumatic shock to the most optimistic of men a shock which almost completely paralyses even the yearning to hope since the predicament of man seems so utterly hopeless. The problem now is not one of realising value more fully; it is the fundamental one of survival. For, if there is no changes of mind and heart, the race of man will either annihilate itself in a nuclear holocaust or starve to extinction because his greed will exhaust the life support resources and systems of the planet.
Quoting authoritative sources for his figures, Lens shows that, by the beginning of 1976, the United States had a nuclear stockpile of 8,000 megatons (million tons of dynamite equivalent) equal to 615,285 bombs like the one dropped on Hiroshima which immediately killed 78,000 people and injured 84,000. This American stockpile alone translates into a potential kill-power twelve times the world population. The Soviet Union owned another 8,000 megatons of warheads. The Seventh Seal has been torn open and , contemplating the horror of nuclear destruction emerging from the vial, Norman Cousins writes: 'A reciprocal insanity is at work in the world... The line between ultimate absurdity and reality is getting thinner all the time. What gives our age its bitters flavour is precisely the triumph of irrational behaviour in the operation of society. Total power is being wedded to total madness.
With the cult of consumerism creating artificial needs as fast as the admen can sell them, the fossil fuel resources of the planet, according to Schumacher, will run out in another three decades. But the technologists facy themselves as great fixers and are parading the prospects of inexhaustible nuclear energy. Some sobriety is now beginning to emerge here, thanks to the thorough analyses of men like Odum and Lovins. They have shown that fossil fuel resources, which are not unlimited, are needed for starting and running nuclear plants; that the net yield of energy from nuclear plants must be clearly distinguished from gross yield, since a nuclear plant will need two-thirds of its output for its own maintenance. Meanwhile, the scale of pollution of earth, ocean and the encircling air, which has been going on ever since the industrial revolution, has tremendously escalated with the exploitation of nuclear energy. The truths about nuclear energy production are that there is really no safe way of disposing of nuclear wastes and they are toxic enough to kill all organic life on earth.
Getting out of this reciprocal madness and total insanity, this triumph of the irrational which spells the defeat and annihilation of man, is going to be a Herculean task. Since belief guides action even if it is erroneous, the first task is to expose the erroneousness of those systems which have created the wide-spread belief that the present predicament of man is due to the ineluctable determinism of his nature. And there is a regular macabre parade of these spectres conjured up by the erroneous thinking of man which now have to be exorcised by a more careful and rational analysis on his part.
Thus we have to demolish the apparently scientific theorising that war is inevitable because aggressive impulses are inbuilt and ineradicable components of man's nature. Classical economic doctrine pontificalIy laid down that self-interest is the only motor for the motivations of man and that this is all to the good, for an invisible hand would work out the salvation of the community from the selfishness of the individual. But man cannot leave his redemption to automatisms. The apotheosis of greed has led to the exploitation of the poor by the rich, wars among nations and the ruthless war on nature that threatens to exhaust the life-support resources of the planet in a matter of decades.
Chastened theory is doing some agonised introspection now. The Gandhian outlook on these matters, regarded as obscurantist a few decades ago, is emerging again in the disenchanted reappraisals of the long-accepted views on technology, politics and economics by men like Fromm, Marcuse, Ellul, Weisskopf and Schumacher. And it is good to see Gandhi being now recalled by people in the land which has been the strongest citadel of classical economic doctrine. An editorial in Acorn, organ of the Mid west Energy Alternatives Network, Illinois, USA, ran as follows: 'Must the era of recognising the natural limits of global resources spell deprivation and hardship for many? An answer suitable to every nation comes from Gandhi when he said, "there is enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed".
The mere recognition by the reason that if man continues to be rooted in selfishness there will not only be no redemption for him but his very survival will also be seriously threatened, will not take humanity very far. It is not enough if selflessness is adopted as a mere expediency. The unity of existence has to be realised in the inmost core of our being. Here, too, it is heartening to see traditional wisdom being recalled by people in the forefront of the Faustian thrust of the 'ever more' society created by the economics of competition, the politics of pressure groups and a runaway, rapaciously exploitative technology. George Cabot Lodge, professor of business administration at the Harvard School of Business (which is often described as being to the heads of business corporations what West Point is to generals) feels that 'the old structures of scholarship' are no longer able either to reveal or explore the ties that bind 'government to psychology or ecology to philosophy and economics'. He adds: 'The old categories of knowledge frequently resemble straight-line tangents to the circle of reality, while the demands for integration are increasing. The traditional institutions of religion and culture are likewise in difficulty- they are splintered and the splinters are rotting. The resounding truth seems to be that of the Katha Upanishad: "Who sees the variety and not the unity, wanders from to death to death".
Scientism reduced the variety of the world to the meaning- less unity of the dead, inert material particle. As we have seen in the earlier volumes, a genuine philosophy of science can extend the concept of organism downward to the atomic system and upward to note a steady enrichment of system capacity and self-identity. Our approach has been multidisciplinary and integrative throughout. But the concept of integration has also been acquiring a steady deepening of meaning. In discussing the psychology of freedom we found that the self-conscious ego needs more than knowledge for its further development; it needs the integration of its cognitive, affective and volitional capacities. In the present volume we shall find that the self can enlarge its boundaries only by integrating itself with other selves in mind, heart and action. Only thus can society become an environment congenial to freedom and further self-actualisation. It is nice to be able to Jeave the definition of our task once again to Lodge of the Harvard Business School who is now thoroughly disenchanted with the philosophy of the scboolmen of big business: 'It is now our task to perform the job that has been deferred for 2000 years; to capture the energy and power of the commercial sector and graft it onto the community. The central institutions will all be changed by this integrative process, both in spirit and in letter.
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