Dr. Uma Chattopadhyay (Professor of Philosophy, University of Calcutta)
"Consciousness in Indian Philosophical Reflection: Nyaya Realistic View"
Consciousness has always been a subject of discussion to the philosophers both in the East and the West. However, before the philosophy of Descartes, the notion of consciousness was not always getting much attention to the philosophers of the West. After Cartesian doctrine of Body and Mind, the philosophers took the discussion of mind and consciousness. The natural scientists did not bother about the consciousness. They started their journey only with the objective world. As a result, the scientists started to explain the brain without the intervention of consciousness. Artificial intelligence and cognitive sciences are the result of that. At this moment, the idea took deeper shape by the invention of a machine by Alan Turing in 1936, which came to be known later as Turing Machine. Turing's work formed the foundation of modern day computer science. It altogether discarded the role of consciousness. The development of Quantum Mechanics again invited consciousness to explain the reality as a whole. Now both scientists and philosophers together started to discuss the nature and status of consciousness and its relation to matter.
In the Indian philosophical context, consciousness is always in the central position both negatively and positively. The rigorous discussion of consciousness was done by Yogachara Buddhists and Advaita Vedantins. The Materialists were always in favour of reducing consciousness to matter, while the Advaitin and the Vijnavadin reduced matter to consciousness. The present paper is specifically concerned with the Nyaya realistic view on the subject.
The realist Naiyayikas admit both consciousness (mental) and matter (external) as real and an aspect of independent reality. However, the Buddhist Yogachara School and Advata Vedanta admit only consciousness as the ultimate reality. Nyaya realism takes up the issue slightly differently. Here, there is no question of reduction or rejection of consciousness. Both matter and consciousness have their role; they have relation and interaction which we all believe in our ordinary way of living. Here is the beauty of Nyaya realistic position in the field of Philosophy. The question of relation of matter and consciousness is elaborately discussed in this paper, following the Nyaya realistic tradition in Indian philosophy.