at Victor’s Way in Roundwood, Ireland
Our patron is the systems analyst Alan Turing
The split human
The sculpture represents the miserable state of mind of the undecided human.
Refining the Charvaka mind-set
The Charvakas were ancient Indian observers/scientists who probed1 their sense-perceptions of the everyday world2 for their trueness3 content.
They were called nastika4 because they claimed the soul/self was identical with the body and died with it. Traduced priestly wisdom (i.e. astika), considered by the Charvaka as ‘FAKE NEWS’, had it that the soul/self was different from the body and immortal.
The Charvakas claimed that observed realities emerged as transient combination of 4 primary, hence true (?) bodies, i.e. earth, water, fire and air.5,6 At death the combination dissolved without residue.7 They claimed that personal (thus anecdotal) conceptions rather than perceptions of the alleged given did not validate notions/fantasies such as God, the immortal soul (or self), karma, heaven, hell, moksha, reward and punishment for moral failings and so on. Moreover, the Charvakas maintained that those notions (as useful lies) were simply fantasies8 invented by priests to enrich and empower themselves.
From the foregoing the Charvakas deduced that the smartest thing to do in the here for the everyday bloke or gal and now was to increase one’s pleasure.9
Fast forward to the 21st century.10 The Charvaka mind-set11 has not changed. But its perception capability has been upgraded by vastly enhanced data (hence contact) sensing and in-formation analysing technology.12
And so the modern Charvaka asks the same questions as did his ancient and rather primitive ancestor. He too wants to understand the essential content (and/or function) of realness/truth, how life/bodies emerge, the purpose of life, if any,13 and how to get from birth to death with greatest amount of pleasure.14
© 2021 by Victor Langheld
1. To wit: ‘chewed on’, analysed, zoomed in and so enlarged the given/perceived to gain a more precise view. They appeared to have derived their ‘truths’ from tangible, i.e. contact (rather than material) evidence.
2. Because they probed the tangibly given, i.e. the every-day world, they were also called Lokayatas (or ‘worldly’).
3. Or realness. In short, the Charvaka mind-set sought valid/true (i.e. real) knowledge from actual percepts, i.e. (i.e. absolute) tangibles. Apparently they did not analyse their truth criterias for their utility or usefulness.
4. To wit: ‘deniers or negativists’ (Frauwallner 1973)
5. For which reason the astika fantasists of the supernatural, primarily the Vedic Brahmins, maliciously named and stigmatised them materialists. Today’s Charvaka, with the benefit or much refined observation, self-identifies as tangiblist, i.e. who derives his/her knowledge (Latin: scientia) from (the affect of) contact.
6. The 21st century Charvaka (i.e. scientist) understands that identifiable realities (i.e. the bits that make up the (allegedly) material world, Sanskrit: loca) emerge as automatic and blind responses by, or affects of the interaction of the 4 basic (limiting) forces of nature and which constrain the chaos of random momenta (i.e. of quantised turbulence) into cognisable (because repeating) patterns. more …
7. That is to say, that a given identity, as cognisable composite unit, dissolved without trace, though not necessarily its constituent bits each with its own identity. Since identity (and its driver, the fantasised soul) dissolved at death, the notion of an immortal (i.e. abiding) soul (or self) and of retribution for good and bad deeds was deemed fake but not necessarily useless news.
8. Indeed placebos; or pain reducing psychological opioids (so Marx). Today one would describe religious beliefs in the supernatural as confidence tricks.
Tiffany, the dung beetle
The dung-beetle (or scarab), named Tiffany, derived from Greek theophanos = manifestation of God, was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as manifestation of universal renewal, rebirth, regeneration and so on. Here, in Victor’s Way, the Irish Charvaka Ashram, it represents the natural recycling function basic to all dynamic emergent systems.
The dung-beetle was made by D.V. Murugan in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.
9. For which reason they (like the Epicureans in Greece) were vilified as hedonists, notwithstanding the Vedic admonition to perfect one’s kama (i.e. pleasure, possibly love-life?).
10. In the meantime, the ancient Europeans emerged the notion of empiricism, i.e. that knowledge/truth derived can only be derived from actual experience. Later on, starting with the Age of Enlightenment (and modern science), the notion of naturalism came to the fore and which proposed that nature (Greek: physis) alone, rather than a supernature (Greek meta-physis) (i.e. God) is the only source of true knowledge.
11. To wit: the scientific mind-set that follows ‘hard’ (i.e. derived from the quantised emergence and observation of nature) evidence and denies the validity, but not local usefulness, of the supernaturalism of religious belief and its rituals, rites and promises. Amongst the educated of most affluent 1st world enclaves of the world the naturalist Weltanschauung (and so the Charvaka mind-set) is in the ascendent. Not so those opting for the utilitarian view chooses to believe that, ‘True is what is useful’ (for my survival).
12. For instance, by electronic microscopes, radio telescopes and big data analysis.
13. i.e. in particular (i.e. local) and in general (i.e. universal or common).
14. Or the least amount of pain (Sanskrit: dukkha)