Date(s) - 18/03/2020
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
The Metaphysics of Consciousness: Problems and Prospects
Ramesh Chandra Pradhan,
National Fellow, IIAS
In this paper I intend to explain the main structure of the metaphysics of consciousness based on the non-materialist and non-naturalist foundations. The main claim of this metaphysics is that supramental consciousness is possible beyond the present mind of man. Human consciousness has been so far limited to certain boundaries imposed by the biological evolution of the human race. However, these boundaries imposed by human biology can be crossed by the human mind as it is poised to go beyond itself into the Supermind. The idea of Supermind has been implicit in the philosophy of Vedanta which has been made explicit in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, a twentieth-century Vedantic thinker. This idea represents the audacious attempt of the human mind to supramentalize itself and to bring about a radical transformation in human consciousness. My attempt here is to argue for the metaphysical possibility of the supramental consciousness against the backdrop of the contemporary philosophies of consciousness which are based on the materialist and naturalist foundations. Both materialism and naturalism as metaphysical worldviews have failed to account for consciousness. They have either eliminated consciousness
altogether or have reduced it to the physical processes in the brain. There has been also a attempt to reduce the human mind to a computing machine so as to explain how the mind works mechanically . All these attempts are doomed to failure as they are unable to explain how consciousness is possible at all in the physical world. The alternative Vedantic metaphysics defended here counters the sceptical attack on mind and consciousness by modern materialism. It shows that consciousness is not only possible but also is the primary reality in the universe. The universe itself is dependent on consciousness for its intelligibility and meaning. Besides, consciousness itself can evolve into the supramemntal consciousness because of its inherent nature.The metaphysics of consciousness based on the idea of the primacy of consciousness over matter and on the evolutionary possibility of supramental consciousness can open up new vistas in the study of consciousness. The metaphysics of mind and consciousness has been under the sway of materialism far too long. Therefore it is imperative for philosophy to venture into the yet to be explored domain of the supramental consciousness.