Philosophy Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 11 - Question 1
90 Days Philosophy Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 21-Jan-2019
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21-Jan-2019 - Question 1
Is Purusa one or many? Explain the Samkhya position in this regard and give arguments in support of your answer. (2018)
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The Samkhya accept the plurality of the Purusa. According to them, Purusas are different in each body, having their different organs and actions and separate birth and death.
Isvarakrsna says “The incidence of birth and death and the action of the indriyas being different for different individuals; all men not having the same inclinations at the same time; the thoughts arising out of the three gunas being different for men – it follows that souls (Purusas) are many”.
Samkhya believes in plurality of purusas, that there are many selves endowed with different physical, moral and intellectualities. They give various arguments in support of their claim as follows:
- There is an obvious difference in births and deaths of different individuals. If plurality is not accepted, then birth and death of one purusa should mean birth and death of all other individuals which is not tenable and hence purusas are many.
- Different Purusas have different sensory and motor organs. Blindness or lameness in a many does not signify the same for all other persons. In other words, if one person is blind or deaf, it does not mean all are blind or deaf.
- If we do not accept the plurality of Purusas then we must say that there is no difference between a child and an aged person.
- If the self were one, the activity of one would lead to the same activity in all other. But this is not so, hence plurality of purusas must be admitted.
- As there is diversity in the action of three gunas, i.e., some persons have abundance of sattva e.g., the Gods. Some have abundance of rajas e.g., human beings. Some have abundance of tamas e.g., animals. This diversity cannot be explained if purusa were to be one and same in all. Hence Purusa is many.
However, Samkhya’s arguments for plurality of selves have not established their theory beyond doubt. . Birth, death, sense etc. are the characteristics ofthe body, and not of the self. According to Samkhya's own admission, the selfis neither the agent nor the enjoyer. The arguments ofthe Samkhyas forthe existence ofmany selves prove only the manyness ofthe body and not the manyness ofthe self.