K.C.Bhattacharya and Russell ?

K.C. Bhattacharya is often compared to Wittgenstein and Ayer. What they share is the way they conceive Philosophy. All of them believe that Philosophy is tautologous and non-informative. Sciences provide us the information but Philosophy does not. It is just repetitive. In the words of K.C. Bhattacharya, “It is the self-evident elaboration of the self-evident.” It does not, however, mean that it is unimportant. It is revealing, enlightening, insightful. It is, hence, according to Wittgenstein, “ important non-sense”. Logical positivists, like Ayer, maintain that philosophical-metaphysical, aesthetic and ethical-utterances are neither empirical hypotheses nor a-priori truths which pose to afford information but actually are apparent judgements. K.C. Bhattacharya maintains the same. Therefore, such attempts have been made in the past.

Nevertheless, K.C.Bhattacharya is hardly compared with Russell. Actually, while elaborating on the Philosophy of Absolute, differing from the tradition, KCB enunciates the concept of alternative standpoints. Traditionally, it is believed that the Absolute is the Truth, Consciousness and Bliss-Sat, Chit and Ananda. KCB holds that Absolute is either known as Truth or Freedom or Value depending whether the approach is through Knowing, Willing or Feeling.

What is remarkable is the fact that the realization that finite mortals may not be able to Realize Absolute as it is. Absolute is perceived by them as Truth or Freedom or Value at a given point. The realization widens the scope of Philosophy. It is accommodative and tolerant recognizing individual differences. Bertrand Russell, in his “Value of Philosophy” speaks of Self- enlargement. The Self need not be tied down to a particular sect, cult or ideology. It may be the initial requirement. But ultimately, with what KCB calls “Progressive Realization”, it occurs that there are alternative standpoints. The Subjective stage gets surpassed and at the Transcendental stage, there is sheer Symbolism. Symbolism necessarily admits of alternatives. Thus, there is always ample choice to use symbols. He says, “All phil. is systematic symbolism and symbolism necessarily admits of alternatives.” Going back to Russell, who maintains that Philosophy “ is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect. So, it is “important non-sense”.

So, we have different philosophical outlooks and Russell points out that the value of Philosophy lies NOT IN DEFINITE ANSWERS but in the fundamental questions which are raised. Rather than having dogmatic assurance, the nature of Philosophy needs to be realized and KCB elaborates on the same. Hence, the resemblance needs to be deeply studied. Both speak of Philosophic contemplation. Their ideas needs to be explored. The concluding line we find in Russell’s “Problems of Philosophy” is “Through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good” and for KCB it is the Philosophy of Absolute!


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Sharmila Virkar

Sharmila Virkar

Dept of Philosophy @ University of Mumbai