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Deduction and Reality:

Bridging Science, Religion and Metaphysics

Patrick D. Bangert

Table of Contents
Lecture 1: The Basis of Mathematical Logic...................................................................... 5
1.1 Introduction to the Course......................................................................................... 5
1.2 What Is Real? ............................................................................................................ 8
1.3 The Historical Roots of Logic................................................................................. 10
1.4 What Is Logic? ........................................................................................................ 14
1.5 Axiomatics .............................................................................................................. 16
1.6 The Structure of Mathematical Logic ..................................................................... 18
1.7 Truth and Falsehood................................................................................................ 20
1.8 Logical Operations and Relations ........................................................................... 22
1.9 Conclusions............................................................................................................. 27
1.10 Appendix: The Dog-Walking Ordinance .............................................................. 29
Lecture 3: The Structure of an Axiomatic System............................................................ 30
3.1 Aristotle and His Followers .................................................................................... 30
3.2 The Axiomatic System............................................................................................ 34
3.3 The Model Concept for an Axiomatic System........................................................ 36
3.4 The Equivalence of Two Axiomatic Systems......................................................... 38
3.5 Consistency ............................................................................................................. 41
3.6 Independence .......................................................................................................... 42
3.7 Completeness .......................................................................................................... 43
3.8 Categoricalness ....................................................................................................... 44
3.9 Euclids Geometry in the Plane .............................................................................. 46
3.10 Conclusions........................................................................................................... 48
Lecture 5: Deduction......................................................................................................... 48
5.1 Primitive Terms of the Logic .................................................................................. 49
5.2 Basic Definitions in the Logic ................................................................................ 50
5.3 Axioms of the Logic ............................................................................................... 52
5.4 Basic Theorems....................................................................................................... 57
5.5 Syllogism and Proof................................................................................................ 58
5.6 Developing Mathematics from Logic ..................................................................... 60
5.7 Conclusions............................................................................................................. 61
Lecture 7: The Limitations of the Deductive Method....................................................... 62
7.1 Review .................................................................................................................... 63
7.2 Induction ................................................................................................................. 65
7.3 Algorithmic Thinking?............................................................................................ 67
7.4 Recursion ................................................................................................................ 69
7.5 Hilberts Problems .................................................................................................. 71
7.6 Gdels theorems .................................................................................................... 72

7.7 Conclusions............................................................................................................. 77
Lecture 10: General Relativity.......................................................................................... 78
10.1 Aristotle, Galileo and the Birth of Science ........................................................... 79
10.2 The Newtonian Universe ...................................................................................... 81
10.3 What is Mass? ....................................................................................................... 84
10.4 Albert Einsteins Revolution................................................................................. 87
10.5 Special Relativity .................................................................................................. 90
10.6 General Relativity ................................................................................................. 92
10.7 The Nature of Space and Time ............................................................................. 97
10.8 Conclusions........................................................................................................... 99
Lecture 12: Quantum Theory.......................................................................................... 101
12.1 A Discrete Space-time?....................................................................................... 101
12.2 Postulates of Impotence ...................................................................................... 105
12.3 Unexplainable Experiments ................................................................................ 107
12.4 Quantum Theory ................................................................................................. 109
12.5 Uncertainty.......................................................................................................... 111
12.6 Schrdingers Schizophrenic Cat........................................................................ 112
12.7 Quantum Mechanics as a Proof for the Existence of God .................................. 114
12.8 Causality and Determinism................................................................................. 115
12.9 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 117
Lecture 13: Quantum Mechanics and Ontology ............................................................. 117
13.1 The Infinite Potentiality of the Vacuum ............................................................. 117
13.2 Fundamental Particles Have a Size ................................................................. 120
13.3 The Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics ..................................... 122
13.4 Active Information and Non-locality.................................................................. 123
13.5 The Uncertainty Principle ................................................................................... 126
13.6 The Classical Limit ............................................................................................. 129
13.7 The Pauli Exclusion Principle............................................................................. 131
13.8 Other Interpretations ........................................................................................... 132
13.9 Unity of the Laws................................................................................................ 135
13.10 Conclusions....................................................................................................... 136
Lecture 15: Tibetan Buddhism I ..................................................................................... 137
15.1 The Four Noble Truths........................................................................................ 140
15.2 The Wheel of Life ............................................................................................... 142
15.3 The Six Realms of Existence .............................................................................. 144
15.4 The Twelve Stages of Life 1: Ignorance ............................................................. 147
15.5 The Twelve Stages of Life 2: Karma .................................................................. 148
15.6 The Twelve Stages of Life 3: Consciousness ..................................................... 149
15.7 The Twelve Stages of Life 4: Name and Form................................................... 150
15.8 The Twelve Stages of Life 5: Six Senses............................................................ 151
15.9 The Twelve Stages of Life 6: Contact ................................................................ 152
15.10 The Twelve Stages of Life 7: Feeling............................................................... 152
Lecture 17: Tibetan Buddhism II .................................................................................... 153
17.1 The Twelve Stages of Life 8: Attachment .......................................................... 153
17.2 The Twelve Stages of Life 9: Grasping .............................................................. 154
17.3 The Twelve Stages of Life 10: Existence ........................................................... 156
17.4 The Twelve Stages of Life 11: Birth................................................................... 157
17.5 The Twelve Stages of Life 12: Death ................................................................. 157
17.6 The Western Wheel of Life................................................................................. 159

17.7 The Tabula Smaragdina ...................................................................................... 161

17.8 The Eightfold Path .............................................................................................. 163
17.9 The Concept of Guru........................................................................................... 166
17.10 Liberation .......................................................................................................... 168
17.11 Meditation ......................................................................................................... 168
17.12 Conclusions....................................................................................................... 170
Lecture 19: Dignaga and Dharmakirti ............................................................................ 170
19.1 Know, Do, Expect!.............................................................................................. 170
19.2 The School of Dignaga ....................................................................................... 173
19.3 Know the World.................................................................................................. 175
19.4 Reality is like an illusion..................................................................................... 176
19.5 Probabilistic Actions ........................................................................................... 177
19.6 Properties of Objects........................................................................................... 179
19.7 Deductions about Reality.................................................................................... 179
19.8 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 181
Lecture 21: The Nyaya-Bindu......................................................................................... 182
21.1 Perception............................................................................................................ 183
21.2 Inference.............................................................................................................. 186
21.2 Syllogism ............................................................................................................ 189
21.3 The World ........................................................................................................... 191
21.4 Knowledge .......................................................................................................... 193
21.5 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 194
Lecture 23: The Terms of the Nyaya-Bindu ................................................................... 196
23.1 Primitive Terms................................................................................................... 197
23.2 Some Definitions................................................................................................. 198
23.3 Some Axioms ...................................................................................................... 204
23.4 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 207
Lecture 25: Deducing the Nyaya-Bindu ......................................................................... 207
25.1 The Three-Aspect Theorem ................................................................................ 208
25.2 The Hetuchakra ................................................................................................... 210
25.3 Negation .............................................................................................................. 212
25.4 Syllogism ............................................................................................................ 217
25.5 Fallacies .............................................................................................................. 218
25.6 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 220
Lecture 27: Extending the Theory beyond the Nyaya-Bindu ......................................... 221
27.1 Dialetic ................................................................................................................ 221
27.2 Emptiness ............................................................................................................ 222
27.3 The Four Noble Truths........................................................................................ 225
27.4 Mahayana Buddhism: Enlightenment entails compassion.................................. 228
27.5 Mahayana Buddhism: Global selfishness is local altruism................................. 229
27.6 Circular Reasoning.............................................................................................. 230
27.7 Apoha .................................................................................................................. 230
27.8 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 230
Knowing the Instant Through Wisdom: A Systematization of the Nyaya-Bindu .......... 233
Abstract ....................................................................................................................... 233
1. Technical Vocabulary and Introductory Remarks. ................................................. 234
2. Correspondence between Logic the Statements of the Nyaya-Bindu..................... 241
3. Construction of the Logic and Correspondence to Reality ..................................... 245
4. Logical Systematization of the Nyaya-Bindu (Theorems) ..................................... 250

Appendix: Nyaya-Bindu: A Short Treatise of Logic ...................................................... 263

A. Perception............................................................................................................... 264
B. Inference................................................................................................................. 265
C. Syllogism................................................................................................................ 268

Lecture 1: The Basis of Mathematical Logic

1.1 Introduction to the Course

Welcome to the USC on Deduction and Reality. I am Patrick Bangert and he is Paul Crowther. This
course is called Deduction and Reality: Bridging Science, Religion and Metaphysics. So its a very
big course in the sense that it encompasses a great deal of things. So, first of all, I would like to preset
these words from Lao Tse: The Tao that can be known is not the true Tao. The word that can be said
is not the true word. This is very true as concerns this course. Anything I will say is an approximation
to how things should be said and so I hope you will forgive me for explaining things as best as I can
which is not that well but I shall try. There is a website organized for this course: It doesnt look very good but it contains content; thats preferable. Here it is and you
can go and visit it at your leisure.

You probably want to know what this whole thing is about. Deduction and reality is a very big topic.
Reality; what is real? What is deduction? How can we approach reality by deduction? First of all, we
want to get an idea of something about reality which is not immediately obvious. Miyamoto Musashi
said: Perceive those things which cannot be seen. Do nothing which is of no use.

What do we want to do? We can approach the universe in many ways. One of them is the rational
approach to the universe. The universe has many components. How can we approach some of them?
We perceive things in front of us. Are they real? How can we make some sort of deduction about
reality and about the universe as a whole? Totality as such, can we approach it in a rational fashion?
How far is it possible to approach these things in rational fashion? What are the limitations of this

Now, of course, rationality has some sort of foundation from the mathematical angle, which I shall
present. Those foundations are logic and axiomatics. These two branches of mathematics are very
tightly interconnected but they are not the same. Thats one fo the points I want to bring out logic as a
method and not as truth in itself. And then to what extent is it useful and helpful?

You might think mathematics is all not useful. Well, it is and I shall try to change your opinion about
that to some extent. Is it helpful as well as useful to some extent? Can we gain some insight into the
universe? Yes and no. It can only bring you so far and there is some step of belief involved which
relates to the axioms of the system and this belief you must generate on your own or not as you
choose. So there are limitations to everything and certainly from the mathematical site. I am sure Paul
will tell us what the philosophers came up with.

Now as far as this is a course at a university there has to be, unfortunately, some component of
assessment. There will be lectures. Those are fun. You can attend them as you wish or not. As you can
see with the microphone in front of me we are recording the lectures. Those will be put on the internet
in the recorded fashion and the typed up fashion and so it is possible to be downloaded. One big reason
for this is that I know there are a lot of people interested in this and they are in many countries
distributed all round the world and they cannot be here. Thats one thing.

For assessment there will be three things: two essays and one exam. Two essays, one for each of us.
We have each produced a list of 8 topics twice over. So there is a first essay about the first half of the
course for each of us and a second essay about the second half, 8 topic for each of us, so 32 topics in
total. Those can be looked at on the website. For the first essay you choose whether you want to do one
on my list or his list and for the second essay you have to do an essay from the opposite list. So there is
one for each of us and you get fair distribution of marks from each of us. For the final exam, of course
it will be at the end of the semester and you need not worry about that now, there will be the same sort
of distribution there and so 50% of your grade will come from each of us.

There will be some required reading for the course. For the philosophical part, Paul assures me that the
textbooks he has picked out are good books as a whole. For mathematics such a book does not exist.
This is rather unfortunate especially because of the legal situation of photocopying things. I am not
allowed to photocopy for you. You must do it on your own. Even though the things get copied the same
number of times it turns out to be legal if you do it and not if I do it. This is one of the examples where
logic can no longer get to the answers. The first bit of required reading is right here. I was allowed to
photocopy this because I wrote it. There is no copyright. You can pick a copy at the end please. It
represents the combination of lot of research that we did a couple of last years ago about what
mathematics is about. That gives you a 7 page definition of what it is. I hope its at least a little bit of
fun to read. Certainly I had that in mind when I wrote it. Last point, I have already mentioned, there is a
website it will contain the transcripts of the lectures. The website most importantly for the moment
includes the essay topic. [addresses Paul Crowther] Is there anything you want to say on the game plan
before I begin?

Paul Crowther: Let me just say that Patrick will address the more formalised aspects of logic. On the
other hand, people who have tried to make sense of the universe as a whole have often made use of
deductive procedures in a less systematic way while still being systematic in another way. Einstein said
that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is so comprehensible. We are asking
the big questions and not just in the sense of the mystic ones but understanding the universe as a whole
and this is what the whole course is about. Patrick will give you logic and mathematics, I will give you
a particular tradition of philosophy, the so called rational philosophy. First, I will do some preparatory
work and then present arguments for the existence of God and other rational procedures and then I will
look at a series of particular rational philosophers.

Yes, certainly one theme is the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the universe.
So what will I do in his lecture? Paul has given you an idea on what his part is. In the first four lectures,
I want to present to you logic as a branch of mathematics. What is it? What can it do? What are its
limitations? In the next three lectures, I will go through some axioms that have been used before to
describe reality: particularly quantum mechanics and general relativity. Dont be afraid I shall not use
any formulas for this, I shall just present to you what the underlying assumptions are. Then, in the final

seven lectures, I will try to develop Tibetan Buddhism as an axiomatic system. This is somewhat new
and an experiment but not the transcendental part will be presented. Its Buddhism as a philosophy of
reality; not the whole meditation and chanting parts of it. If you are interested in that, I am also very
interested in that and we can talk about it, but not here. We should that in our own private time. What I
shall do is present the philosophy as reality and that differs substantially from the western tradition in
some cases and in some other cases it very remarkably similar. So that will be presented and, in my
opinion, that philosophy is very well amenable to mathematical discussion and thats why it is

1.2 What Is Real?

[Reality is] a child which cannot survive without its nurse illusion.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

So let me begin with some background. Eddington is, if you dont know him, a very famous physicist
of the 19th century. He claims that reality needs illusion and of course this is one of the basic principles
of Buddhism.

What is real? That is a very crucial question for course on reality. We need to know what reality is?
Can we actually define reality? The complications with definition is that you define things in terms of
other things. And then those things have to be defined in terms of yet other different things. When do
you stop? Thats a crucial point that shall be addressed. You can approach reality in many ways and
pretty much every human being himself or herself will decide distinct method of reaching reality. There
are, in my opinion, two main extremes of doing things. One is the operational and other is the
transcendental. The operational method basically says we want things to be useful. We want to make
prediction on paper that in a way that can be tested in the laboratory. In other words, we want to make

statements about perception. This is what natural sciences do. Then there is the transcendental approach
which, sort of says: I want to go to heaven after I die and I want to receive enlightenment and I have to
achieve this in some sort of intuitive approach which is certainly not based on logical scientific
measurable principles.

I think those are the main two methodologies by which one can approach reality. For me it will be the
main object of this course to discuss the operational approach by logic and mathematics and, starting
from a few little bits which we have to believe, how we can then develop the whole rest of the universe.
The transcendental approach is of course very much connected to the operational one, especially in the
Buddhist section that I will discuss later. First, because the actual practical Buddhist wants to gain
enlightment and this necessitates the transcendental meditational approach so it will come up many
times in the course. But the main thrust will be the operational deduction.

So what is reality? How can we achieve it? For example, is this table real? I can see it. I can touch it. If
I drop it, it hurts. So is it real? Fundamentally I have to make a decision whether I shall regard that
thing as real or not. It is not an a priori given, that it is real.

There is a famous skeptical argument of the brain in a vat. Imagine that what really exitst is not your
whole body but only your brain. In the laboratory, your brain is connected up to some machine. The
machine is very fancy. It can stimulate the brain exactly such a way that your sense perceptions, your
sight, your smell and all the other perceptions are controlled by the machine. It can therefore play a
kind of reality as a movie to you and because your sense perceptions are entirely controlled by the
machine, it is impossible for you to trust your sense perceptions alone to distinguish reality (that you
are a brain in a vat) from what is being played to you. Of course the machine doesnt exist, yet it can be
conceived. So the thought is: How can we distinguish it? The answer is that we have to make a
decision. Are we going to regard sense input as real or not? This is one of the axioms.

It will be one of the axioms in the Buddhist part that you must, or that we shall agree to, regard sense
perceptions as real. However what do you do if there are some defects? Say I am colorblind. I cannot
distinguish between green and red for example. Clearly in traffic thats a problem. But its still ok
because most people are not colorblind. So we have a sort of vote. Is that thing green or not? I disagree
with you but there are dozens of you. So I will basically take your word for it. This democratic
approach to reality fails in some circumstances. Imagine that you are a schizophrenic person. Most of
you should have seen A Beautiful Mind, right? The main character in A Beautiful Mind saw
people that were not real. How is he supposed to know that these people are not real? He sees them; he
can touch them; he can speak to them; they answer him. Everybody else, with exception of his
imagined people, can not see these people. Of course those people see themselves. So we can have a
vote in the class. He is lecturing, so all his students vote no, we dont see them. He votes we see them
and his extra people also vote yes. We have 30 against 4 and the class wins. Now lets say the
schizophrenic person imagines a big army full of people and he has a friend beside him. The friend
knows that they are not there but everyone in this huge collection sees each other of course. Now the
imagined collection of people votes that they see everyone else and they win in a democratic system.
Who shall we trust? Is my friend, who does not see everybody else, going to let all these votes count?
No because they are not there. But I see they are there. So we cannot really agree. At some point we
must make decision to believe.

1.3 The Historical Roots of Logic

So sense input is flawed. But we have to have some starting point and this is where the historical roots
of logic lie. Logic and deduction are, of course, very very old. However, the first actually recorded
system comes to us from a little piece of the Rhind papyrus, from Egypt about five thousand years ago
and it includes many mathematical formulae for calculating various things such as the volume of
pyramids. One of the problems it mentions is land surveying. This was a crucial problem for ancient
Egypt. If you remember your history, what happens in Nile Delta is that once a year the Nile brings a
big flood and deposits soil, which is rich in minerals for the plants, over the lands. Then the water
retreats again and because of the new fertile soil, Egypt became great civilization they were able to
grow lots of food, more then they needed. They could trade the grain to obtain money and power. Now

how did one farmer say: This is my land. Basically what they did was to use a post of wood or a
large stone to mark the boarders of their land. If a particularly big flood comes along, those marks are
lost. Thats a problem because then I can put my stone further away from where it was before thus
stealing land from my neighbor. That cannot be allowed. Of course Egypt is a big civilization. There
has to be some record of who owns how much. And then there has to be some method for going along
and measuring out this much and putting new markers on the ground so that I receive the 10 acres of
land that I used to own, not that I can somehow steal more or get less because someone else steals
something. So how to do this?

The most important point is that we agree. We must use one system of measurements of area.
Everybody involved, all the farmers and central administrators must agree to use one system of units so
that it it clear what an acre is. And everyone must agree on the rules of the measurement process. These
rules must be constructed in such a way that somebody else, later on, after the current people are dead,
can still apply the rules because my property gets inherited to my children who shall inherit it to their
children and the bureaucracy 200 years down the line must be able to follow the rules such that the 10
acres I own now shall remain 10 acres during my grand childrens life. So we must agree on the rule
and the results of the rule. The results of the rule must be uniform. The 10 acres of land here remain 10
acres over there and the rules must be able to be executed by people later on. This is the basic principle.
In ancient Egypt they used ropes with knots in them. From this knot to that knot is so units and you
measure it off. That is ok for the measurement of land.

But we want to discuss many more things. So we have to develop rules that are much more general.
Logic will get us much further than surveying land. It will be able to deduce many things from given
sets of assumption.

Aristotle constructed a system of logic( I prefer a system of logic and not the system of logic and
thats the main point later on) which contains three basic rules:



Anything is itself.


Any statement has a truth value and this can be true or false.


No statement may have more than one truth value.

Rule 1 can be regarded as the definition of the verb to be: Anything, such as this table, is this table.
This statement is called the Law of Identity. It is a vacuous statement unless you consider it as the
definition of equality embodies by the verb to be.

Rule 2 is very important because statements could potentially be not true and false but something else.
One could, for instance, consider nonsense to be a valid truth value for sentences that do not conform
to the definitions of the terms. Alternatively, if we lack information, we could assign probabilities as
truth values.

Rule 3 is very crucial it is the most important one of the three. Any statement has one definite truth
value and that shall be very crucial in all systems of logic. Definiteness is the very essence of logical
deduction and if a statement could have two truth values at the same time then it would really mess the
system up.

There are many other system of logic possible. This is the first big message in this course. Logic is not
one thing it is many. You have to decide which logic you are going to use and this decision is
arbitrary. If, of course, what you want to do is lay down axioms about reality, about a physics
experiment and make deductions that are going to be the results of the future physics experiment, then
your choice of logic must be guided by these principles such as you want the results to be real
whatever that may mean.


In generating other logics, you have to modify the starting points of Aristotles system. The second rule
is the one most frequently denied by people introducing more truth values than two. You must decide
which logic to use based on the application you wish to follow. The choice is essentially up to you.

For thousands of years, geometry, starting with the Greek school around Euclid and Pythagoras, was
regarded to be true in the sense of absolutely corresponding to reality. There is one geometry that
guides the universe and thats it. Euclid wrote the book and that was the last word for a long time.

Surprisingly, from a modern point of view, Euclids work was used as a textbook ever since was it was
written up until about 50 years ago in high schools. This very popular book that enjoyed a monopoly on
the truth for a long time, was then shown to be wrong. Not only is it wrong in the claim that this
geometry corresponds to reality but it is also wrong in the sense that its theorems do not actually follow
from the assumptions it proposes. Mathematically it is a pretty bad book. The only reason that I
mention it here is because it has turned out to be so popular. Many mathematicians investigated
Euclids axioms and theorems got inspired by them, in particular by the errors in Euclids deductions. It
is fair to say that the investigation of the errors of Euclid has lead to a very large portion of modern
mathematics. The book had great influence not only on mathematics but also on philosophy.
Particularly Kant decided to build a whole system upon this and he regarded the geometrical axioms
that Euclid proposed as a priori truths.

What does a priori mean? It means: True before you do anything. It is supposed to be clear to you in
itself. Just by sitting on your chair and looking around you these truths are meant to be absolutely selfevident. They do not need a proof because they are so obviously true. But they do not need to be
assumed either because they are true. This is what Kant claims of the axioms of geometry.

Through the work of many mathematicians, it has been possible to construct many geometries, in fact
infinitely many geometries that are all consistent, all different from each other and all different from

Euclids one. So there are many geometries. If you then introduce the principle that you want this
geometry to correspond to the universe as a whole then you have to perform some sort of physics
experiment to see which one matches experimental evidence. Eddington actually did this experiment.
He went to a solar eclipse and measured the position of stars before and after the solar eclipse. The
observations revealed that the position changed. This was the first direct verification of Einsteins
theory of relativity and it showed that the space of our universe is curved. Curved space acts in a way
that parallel lines may intersect which contradicts one of Euclids assumptions and Eddington thus
showed that we live in a non-Euclidean universe. This makes Kants claim of a priori truth of Euclids
axioms doubly wrong. Not only are they not a priori true but they are not true of the universe at all.

What happens is that the gravitational attraction of the sun is so strong because it has so much mass
that it can bend light. We consider the rays of light as straight lines according to the general theory of
relativity. During a solar eclipse, I can look at a star which is just beside the solar disk and measure its
position. Then I wait until the sun has moved and I measure the position again. These two
measurements are found to differ and thus we conclude that the presence of the sun in the path of the
light has curved the path of the light so as to fool the observer into thinking the star was elsewhere.
Even though Euclids geometry is not true of the universe, it is possible to have Euclids geometry as a
perfectly acceptable mathematical system. It has axioms and it has theorems that you can deduce from
the axioms if you clean up the mess that Euclid made and its perfectly fine. You just must not claim
that it is real.

1.4 What Is Logic?

The same thing happens with logic. Over thousands of years, Aristotles system of logic was regarded
to be the system similar to Euclids geometry. Only recently, in the middle of the last century, some
mathematicians got together and decided to construct other systems of logic based on different
assumptions. This is a crucial thing to realize: Logic itself is based on assumptions.


Aristotles three rules are assumption of logic they define what that particular logic is. If you deny
one of them, introduce a fourth or make some other fundamental change, then you construct a different
system and this new system is perfectly acceptable. It has axioms and theorems that you can deduce
from them. You just must not claim that any of these systems correspond to reality. If you do, then you
have to form some sort of experiment.

Most of you have probably read some stories of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective of the 19th
century. He says that: When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains,
however improbable, must be the truth. This is a very good statement of logic. In classical logic,
probabilities are not counted. Something is true or it is false. It is not more likely than something else.
If you have deduced that all these things are false then the negation of all these things must be true.

Logic is a method that begins from assumptions and obtains conclusions. Changing the method,
changes the conclusions. You must not claim that what logic produces is transcendent truth. The
assumptions are agreed to be true in the sense that the axioms have an associated truth value which is
equal to true. We must not say that the axioms are absolutely true of reality. Logic is then a method that
produces conclusions that are true in the same way that the assumptions are true based on agreement,
not on reality. The conclusions clearly depend on the premises or assumptions. We lay down some
premises that we agree to hold up, then we get conclusions and the truth values of the conclusions
depend integrally on the truth values of the premises.

Judging the actual truth of the premises is not within logic. No logic, no systems of axioms must claim
that its axioms are true of reality. That is a judgment that is outside of the system. If you want to claim
that your assumptions are true then you are in natural sciences or in philosophy but not within logic,
not within mathematics. Within mathematics the assumptions are agreed upon. We shall not make
claims of reality. For the mathematician, true is an operational word. It is always relative to a given
set of assumptions that are agreed upon. The set of assumptions are like a point of view. From a
different point of view (different assumptions), the same statement may have opposite truth values. For
the mathematician this is fine as the two statements can not be compared being true relative to different

basic rules. For the natural scientist this is a cause to abandon at least one of these two points of view as
unrealistic. If we claim that a statement is true of reality or of the universe, then we are making an
entirely different claim that has to be verified.

We must have premises. If we have no assumptions, we can do nothing. We take a statement that we
can prove mathematically from other statements. These statements are in turn proved by others.
Circular reason is not allowed as it is obviously senseless. So the circle must be broken somehow. It
can only be broken if we agree on one or more particular statements and accept them as basic to our
theory. Those are the premises of the system. We cannot do without premises.

1.5 Axiomatics

Axioms are formulated in terms of primitive terms. This is one more step towards being elementary. So
we have agreed now that we have to have premises. We have to have at least one statement that we
shall simply agree upon. This statement uses words or symbols. It has some content and we must also
agree what the objects that appear in the axiom are.

The terms used in stating the axioms are either primitive or defined in terms of primitives. Primitive
terms are terms which we use without definition, they are the analogue of axioms. I will give you an
example of an experiment that we did about a year and half ago of very large systems of axioms. The
English language has many words. All words in English language have definition in English. They are
given in a dictionary. If you do not know a word, you look it up. You read the definition to understand
what the words means. For this looking-up procedure to work, you need to know some words to begin
with. Otherwise you ca not read the definition and you do not understand the new word.


You do not have to know all the words definitions because you can deduce some of them from
context. So knowing some percentage of the words in the definition that you find in the dictionary is
enough to understand the new word. The dictionary we used for this is Websters dictionary; it contains
over 99000 words different words. The words used in the definitions are themselves defined in the
dictionary. We ask: What is the least number of primitives for the system? In other words: What is
the least number of words I must know in order to be able to learn all the other words? If we knew no
words, we could not learn any word but we also do not need to know all words as the purpose of a
dictionary would then vanish, so this number is not trivial. It turns out that from the system of more
than 99000 English words you only need to know 244 in order to learn all the others. This is an
enormous reduction of complexity. As all words can be understood in terms of the basic 244 words, we
could conceivably communicate using just these few words, the others are merely abbreviations of
collections (definitions) of the basic words. These basic words, whose meaning has to be fixed outside
the system, are called primitive terms.

Using this approach, it is possible to reduce a large complicated system to a small simple one. The
original one can be restored by applying some basic rules to the small one. The small system is called
an axiomatization of the original one and the rules to obtain the original from its axiomatization is
called logic. Clearly there can be all sorts of different rules of transformation depending on the
application and that is why there are many different logics and no logic is better than another.

This is simplification process is what I want to do in the Buddhist part of this series. There are
documents that have many statements about reality that are heavily interdependent. It will be our goal
to resolve some of these interdepencies and thus make it look much simpler.

Primitive terms are those terms we must agree on the meaning of. Axioms are statements in terms of
these primitive terms and we again agree to uphold them. In mathematics an example of a primitive is
set. Set theory is a very basic branch of mathematics that deals with discussion of collections of
things. The word set can not be defined without introducing other words. In set theory, it is agreed


that the word set shall be used and theorems proven about it but that its meaning is to be ascribed to
it outside of the system known as set theory.

Primitives are the substance in terms of which axioms are stated. One may view the axioms as relations
between the primitives, as rules by which we may modify collections of primitives or as definitions of
how the primitives act in a given situation but not as definitions of the primitives themselves. An axiom
might say: A table has a four legs. So table and leg are primitive terms of that system as well as some
number system that tells us what four denotes. The primitives gives us the substance of the theory
(the names of the objects which will appear) and the axioms tells about them.

The truth of axioms or the meaning of the premises is not to be questioned. We agree on them and that
is all. It is, of course, desirable to have few axioms as in the dictionary example. It is actually useful in
a very practical manner to say that these particular 244 words will enable you to learn the rest of the
language. In fact, language books that teach people English as a second language are actually based
upon lists of this kind.

Now of course we have in the back of our mind some theory that we want to obtain. We have to
construct primitives terms and axioms in such a way that we obtain what we want. Later on we shall
want to obtain Buddhist theory and we must find some primitive terms and axioms that would give it to

1.6 The Structure of Mathematical Logic

Logic is used to systemize the whole endeavour. From a few basic things, we build up something large.
Together the primitives, assumption and logic will enable us to make conclusions; together they build


the very foundations of mathematics and of any axiomatic system. Of course, it is possible to have
many distinct sets of axioms that will give rise to the same theory.

Logic, starting from the axioms, gets to conclusions. But how does it do this? There are some actions
that logic has to perform upon the axioms to reach conclusions. There are two such rules in classical or
Aristotelian logic: Modus ponens and Substitution.

Modus ponens tells us that if we are given that if some statement is true then another one is true and we
have somehow determined that the first one is tue then we are allowed to deduce the second one. This
looks like a vacuous statement but it is not because this statement if A then B is a claim in the system,
it is possibly an axiom or a theorem depending on previously assumed axioms. So its a claim. It is not
necessarily actually true. But within the system it is a claim and we shall treat it as if it were true for
arguments sake. Then if we determine that A is true, then B is true. The statement if A, then B
simply connects the truth values of A and B, it makes no statement about the truth of A. If we find out
the truth of A by some means, then the truth of B is to be concluded. This is the rule of modus ponens.
If you have a long list of dependencies such if this then this then this then this and if the first one is
true, then you can deduce the last one. This is the essence of mathematical proof.

Substitution tells us that we may substitute a particular object for a general term in a logical deduction.
Suppose we have the following statement: For every table, the table has four legs. The rule of
substitution says that the general term table can be replaced by a reference to a particular individual
table we happen to consider and so will allow us to deduce that this table has four legs. From general
statements, we may deduce particular statements.

Those are the only two rules we need for classical logic. Put together some primitives, axioms and
these two rules of manipulating the axioms and they give us logic: mathematical logic. In the case of
Aristotle, the primitives are equal, true, negation and and. The axioms are: (1) A equals A, (2)

A is true or false, (3) A and negation of A can not both be true where false is defined as the negation
of true and or is defined as the negation of the negation of A and the negation of B. Already you can
see this is getting complicated without the use of symbols. Introducing symbols, we can shorten the tale
a great deal. They may look scary at first but they allow us to write complicated arguments in a neat
way so that we may better see if we are making any logical errors. Discovering logical errors while
using a language familiar to us from daily life is very difficult indeed.

An important fact is that any statement is a theorem if and only if it is a tautology. Recall that a
theorem is a statement which follows from the axioms by applying the rules of logic. A tautology is
any statement that is true, no matter if the statements involved in it are true themselves. An example is
A or the negation of A. As the statement A is allowed to either be true or false, one of the two
statements A or the negation of it must be true and hence this claim is always true, no matter what truth
value A has.

Saying that something is something else if and only if some condition is satisfied is a typical
mathematical way of saying that what preceeds the if and only if is the same statement as that which
follows it. The phrase if and only if is typically abbreviated by iff. So we can write a mathematical
theorem like this: A iff B. This means that A is true if B is true and only if B is true, i.e. if B is false, A
is also false. Thus the truth value of A must be equal to that of B whatever it may be. Therefore we can
say that A and B are the same statement with respect to truth content.

1.7 Truth and Falsehood

Whatsoever is descendent from the tree of cognition carries the dichotomy in it.
The Sefer Zohar


Logic enables us to deduce statements from premises while keeping the truth content of them constant.
Plato liked to believe that the universe is a poor reflection of the ideal universe in which all the ideas
that we use, such as tables, exist in the pure state. He claimed that this truth was absolute truth. Hilbert,
on the other hand, was a mathematician who made the opposite claim that mathematics is just
manipulating marks of ink on paper and has absolutely no connection whatsoever to reality. All you do
is you set up a few axioms, you mark down a few bits of ink on your paper and you make up a few
rules for transforming those marks of ink into other marks of ink. Applying the rules and seeing ever
more complex patterns of ink emerge is mathematics according to Hilbert. He was one of the best
mathematicians who ever lived and, of course, it is an extreme case but it deserves to be considered.

The possible truth values according to Aristotle are only two: truth and falsehood. Buddhism adds a
third: nonsense. Its possible to say true and false statements but also nonsense. Actually most things
according to Buddhism fall under the category of nonsense. The most popular statement that they
choose to exemplify nonsense is a flower in the sky.. A flower needs to be on the ground. It can not
be up in the sky and therefore that statement is nonsense. It is against the definition of what a flower is
to be in the sky.

Some logics add varying degress of may be. I can state that my car is on the parking lot. Bue I am not
exactly 100% sure. Somebody could have stolen from when I saw it last and I would not know. From
my point of view this statement has to be a probable statement with a certain, hopefully, high degree of
probability. Because of lack of information, this probability is necessarily less than 100%. That leads us
to fuzzy logic which is an engineering system that has been built quite recently and which incorporates
degrees of uncertainty because of lack of evidence.

Q: Is your car not definitely on the parking lot or off, why does it matter that you can not see it?


That is the whole dispute. I am myself. You are a figment of my imagination. But even though I see
you, you might not exist. This is really quite difficult to determine. Is the statement true? What does
true mean? Is it true in an absolute way? Is there some God-like observer who determines what is true
and false and I am simple too stupid to find out? Or is only that true that I personally, as an individual,
determine to be true myself. This is of course the operational approach of engineering. Only those
things are true which I have observed to be true. I do not observe my car, therefore it is not necessarily
where I think it is. Even though some God-like being might exist who does see it. So this is a matter of
philosophy. You must decide whether you are going to allow the existence of absolute truth in the
absence of the possibility of verification or not.

Q: What exactly do you mean by nonsense, does it apply to the so-called logical paradoxes?

Nonsense refers to any statement which you cannot determine to have one definite truth value. A
statement essentially goes against the definition of the very thing, such as flower in the sky. It is
against the definition of a flower to exist without ground. Logical paradoxes will fall in that category.

1.8 Logical Operations and Relations

For I am the first and the last. I am the honored and the scorned. I am the saint and the prostitute.


Now we start with the symbolism. If something is true then the negation of it is false. If something is
false then the negation of it is true.




Now this table is called the truth table. A will be a symbol, a variable. It can be equal to any statement.
A is equal to green cheese is not allowed because it is not a statement which has a truth value. A
logical statement must make a claim. So A is equal to there is green cheese on this table is a valid
statement. It has to be a statement of a fact.

Any statement is either true or false according to Aristotles system. The negation is just the opposite.
We shall meet more complicated truth tables later on. But negation is actually the most complicated of
all logical operations. All the other ones are simple. Negation is like the complement of a set. Let us
say we have a set. The set is defined as the set of all people. With negation I want to say not people,
the set of all things that are not people. Taking the set of all things which are not in a given set is called
complementation. This already is complicated. The set of all people is well defined. There is a finite
number of people and the set of all people contains all of them. But what is not people? Not people is
everything minus a little bit, people. But what is everything? With respect to what am I to negate, from
what am I going to subtract people? With respect to what do we negate statements?

In the case of Aristotle, it is simple. There are two truth values and negation chooses the other one. As
soon as there are more than two things, we must be very careful with defining negation or
complementation, especially when it includes an infinite number of things such as everything.


Russels paradox makes the problem with negation very apparent. We ask for sets of things and we ask
if the members of those sets can be members of themselves or not. For example the set of all teacups is
a set and clearly not itself a teacup and thus an example of a set which does not include itself. The set
of all non teacups is a set which is not a teacup and thus this is an example of set which does include

Being convinced that both self-inclusive and self-exclusive sets exist, we ask whether the set of all set
which are self-exclusive is itself self-inclusive. If it is self-inclusive then we get a contradiction because
the set has only such sets as members which are self-exclusive. So we think that it must be selfexclusive. If it is, then it can not include itself but it was defined as the set of all sets which are selfexclusive. So both possibilities lead to a contradiction and thus we have a paradox. This illustrates how
difficult the use of the operation of negation and the use of the word all can be. Much caution is
required in their use particularly if the set of everything with respect to which one negates is infinite.
I will not discuss this paradox further here. Much can be said and the resolution of Betrand Russel to
his own paradox is a three volume work. We will look at paradoxes to some extent in the exercises.
The resolution is that we agree, as an extra axiom of the system. We define that sets of objects are of
first type. Sets of sets of objects are of second type and so on. The axiom is that one must not
compare sets of different type. Thats an additional axiom of set theory that Russel introduced and with
that the paradox is resolved because the set of all sets is of higher type than the set itself.



A? B


So A and B are two different statements. They can be true or false. There are two possibilities each.
And is a relation between two statements and it is going to be defined to be true only if both
components are true. If any one of them is false, then the combination is false.



A? B


The relation or is slightly more complex from an everyday point of view. For example: Do you
want your coffee with milk or sugar? Is it acceptable to want both or not? Clearly it is ok to say I want
sugar. It is also clearly ok to say I want milk. But is it allowed in the system, if I view this on a strict
level, to say I want both milk and sugar. Well, that has to be agreed upon, if that is going to be allowed.
Is it an exclusive or which forces me to pick one but not both. It is an inclusive or which allows me
to choose both. In the truth table, you can see that we have defined an inclusive or.





A ? -B -(A ? -B)


Two statements may be connected in the form if A, then B. If something is true then something else
must be true also. If A is true then the whole claim is true if and only if B is also true. If A is false
however, the whole statement is true regardless of whether B is true or false.

Q: Why?

You must not ask why? This is a definition of the concept if , then This is one of the crucial
things. You must not question its truth. It is simply a definition. The only reason we introduce the
arrow notation is to make writing simpler in the future. We do not need it as I am going to illustrate

Consider negating B and combining it with A using the and relation. The results are shown in the
truth table. Lastly, negative this whole combination and we see that the truth values are exactly the
same as the ones for the arrow. As far as truth behaviour goes (and this is all we care about in logic),
those two operations are identical. In this way we may use the last column as a definition for the
dependence relation if , then Later we shall find it convinient to use the dependence relation
directly and this is why it is notationally nice to introduce here. From a fundmental point of view, it is
unnecessary as it is the same as a certain combination of negations and intersections. This is the
equivalence of two syntactically distinct statements. Syntactically distinct but still equivalent, that is
important. You can have many statements that look different but are actually the same.

1.9 Conclusions

Logic itself is based on assumptions. We must assume something. There are many distinct logics of
which I have presented the one that Aristotle invented. The consistency is the most important
characteristic. Consistency is the third Aristotle rule that nothing may have two truth values at the same

time. If that were allowed, then your whole reasoning indefinite. But everything else, you are allowed
to deny. Even the statement that a is equal to a, you are allowed to deny. So, to sum it up, a logical
theory must have these things. It must have primitive terms. It must have axioms that are only stated in
terms of primitive terms. It must have a logic. In other words, a method to transform axioms into
conclusions and the correspondence to reality is something all together different. It is something
outside the system.

Q: What is the difference between Kants a priori truths and Aristotles logic axioms as presented here?

The difference is in belief not in content. I state the system and I say it is an assumption. We shall
simply agree upon axioms and take it from there. Kant says that the axioms are actually
transcendentally true of reality itself. That is, it is not an assumption to him but a statement of a
property of reality. For me, it is an assumption without claim at the truth. The content of the statements
is exactly the same, they differ in the extent to which they are claimed true of reality.

Q: Is Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory the most eligible one to describe Russells paradox?

There are many set theories. All set theories are created equal and there are no pigs amongst them that
are more equal than others. Even within the Zermelo-Fraenkel system there is a lot of dispute about
some of the axioms, particularly the axiom of choice. No set theory is more applicable than another.
Russells paradox occurs in almost all of them. That is to say in all set theories that have not been
patched by the theory of types which was Russells answer to his own paradox. In fact, Russells
paradox came up in the review of Freges book on set theory. So historically it can be viewed as a
direct attack on Freges particular version of set theory.


1.10 Appendix: The Dog-Walking Ordinance

The following selection makes the importance of clear expression in logical conversation very
apparent. It is taken from The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge (Random House, 1979).

From the Minutes of a Borough Council Meeting:

Councillor Trafford took exception to the proposed notice at the entrance of South Park: No dogs must
be brought to this Park except on a lead. He pointed out that this order would not prevent an owner
from releasing his pets, or pet, from a lead when once safely inside the Park.
The Chairman (Colonel Vine): What alternative wording would you propose, Councillor?
Councillor Trafford: Dogs are not allowed in this Park without leads.
Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, I object. The order should be addressed to the owners, not to the
Councillor Trafford: That is a nice point. Very well then: Owners of dogs are not allowed in this Park
unless they keep them on leads.
Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, I object. Strictly speaking, this would prevent me as a dog-owner
from leaving my dog in the back-garden at home and walking with Mrs. Hogg across the Park.
Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I suggest that our legalistic friend be asked to redraft the notice
Councillor Hogg: Mr. Chairman, since Councillor Trafford finds it so difficult to improve on my
original wording, I accept. Nobody without his dog on a lead is allowed in this Park.
Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I object. Strictly speaking, this notice would prevent me, as a
citizen, who owns no dog, from walking in the Park without first acquiring one.

Councillor Hogg (with some warmth): Very simply, then: Dogs must be led in this Park.
Councillor Trafford: Mr. Chairman, I object. This reads as if it were a general injunction to the
Borough to lead their dogs into the Park.
Councillor Hogg interposed a remark for which he was called to order; upon his withdrawing it, it was
directed to be expunged from the Minutes.
The Chairman: Councillor Trafford, Councillor Hogg has had three tries; you have had only two
Councillor Trafford: All dogs must be kept on leads in this Park.
The Chairman: I see Councillor Hogg rising quite rightly to raise another objection. May I anticipate
him with another amendment: All dogs in this Park must be kept on the lead.
This draft was put to the vote and carried unanimously, with two abstentions.

Lecture 3: The Structure of an Axiomatic System

3.1 Aristotle and His Followers

Common sense is not what you need if youre going to find out anything worth knowing; it is
uncommon sense.
Prof. Z as quoted by Eric Temple Bell

Whatever is, is right.


Alexander Pope

This professor Z that has been quoted by Eric Temple Bell is a famous mathematician, who at the time
did not want to reveal his identity; that is why he is called professor Z. This is an opinion of very
qualified person. Bell himself is a famous mathematician. And it is true. This is what is going to apply
with logic because if you want to find out anything truly fundamental you have to modify, not the
super-structure, but the basics. So anything common you do not want you want to modify the very
fundamental assumptions of reality as a whole. Then you can find something really worthwhile.

Alexnder Pope was an English poet and his claim was that whatever is, is right. So he defines reality
as true or truth as that which is real. We can view this quote on a few different levels. We can treat
either truth or reality as previously defined or basic and then take Popes statement as a definition of
the other concept, i.e. a definition of a synonym for the previously known word, or we can view both
concepts as previously known and Popes statement as a claim for a theorem. Everything depends upon
the basis of the system.

Atistotle and his followers used what were in the last lecture called conceptual truths, which are
sometimes called a priori truths. What they are meant to be is that they are supposed to be self-evident.
In another words they are not in need of any logical proof. Logical proof in the mathematical sense is
only possible if you make certain assumptions. Any theorem that you may prove is true in relation to
the assumption and you must not question the assumptions, of course. But this is not what is meant by
self-evident. They mean self-evident in the sense that they are clear regardless of anything that you
might throw at them. There are true without any experience. Even if you are alive without sensory
input: no eyes, no ears and so on, you should be able to regard these statement as true. So we do not
look at reality or hear something and then make deductions from this and come to the conclusions that
such and such statements about reality is true. Conceptual or a priori truths are true totally independent
of any experience that we might have.


A conceptual truth is not derivable from premises, it is a premise which is regarded to be true in and of
itself. If it were derivable from premises it would be proven in terms of them, i.e. it would be a
theorem. So it is not deductive. It is not inductive either. Induction is when I make a few experiences
and generalize those to all possible experiences of a certain type that I might possibly have. That is
induction but it is still based on some experience. I have to have made a certain few experiences before
I can induct to the general one. The conceptual truth is completely self-evident. Out of innate ideas this
statement is regarded to be true. Aristotle and his tradition have had a very profound influence on
mathematics as a whole. From the time Aristotle wrote it until approximately 1930 when a few
Hungarians came up with some more logics, Aristotles logic was regarded, even by mathematicians to
be the only single logic possible. This is a pretty major statement now that we know that there are
many logics, in fact an infinite number of logics.

For a long time and during the lifetime of most of the famous mathematicians you hear about, this was
not at all regarded to be such. They really thought that the logic of Aristotle was the single logic and
it was self-evidently true. With the advent of questioning logic, which came together with questioning
geometry, several schools of thought formed within mathematics. The mathematicians began to really
think about what truth actually is. For millenium we thought that the Aristotle was the answer. Now we
know that he is one answer among many. Somehow we must choose intelligently between them in
some fashion. We cannot choose logically because of course that is the very thing that we are trying to

There are two main schools of thought in mathematics which differ very extremely. The intuitionist
mathematicians are different from the philosophers who call themselves intuitionists. The intuitional
mathematicians are basically Platonists. They believe that a mathematical idea actually exists in a super
reality of ideas and exists in a pure state independently of us who are thinking about it and the way we
formulate it. The way we think about it is a poor mans version of the real idea that lives in the ideal
space. To sum it up, an intuitional mathematician, when he proves a theorem, makes a discovery. He
discovers something, which is true, which has already existed in this realm of ideas for all eternity until
this mathematician simply manages to discover it. In that sense mathematics is a science that discovers

On the other hand you have the formalist mathematician. This is David Hilberts school which
basically says that the axioms and the rules to transform axioms are nothing more than marks of ink on
paper. They have no meaning whtsoever. They have no relation to reality whatsoever. Questioning
their truth or their meaning is entirely senseless. We simply modify marks of ink into other marks of
ink and if you attach a meaning to this or if you claim any of this is true, you are no longer a
mathematician you have become a natural scientist or philosopher. From this point of view the
mathematician can never discover anything. He can only invent things and the only question of any
relevance is if such an invention is in any way useful. The question is it true? is totally irrelevant to
the formalist from the point of view of mathematics. If you want to apply any of these invented
mathematical concepts to the natural sciences, the question is it true? becomes very relevant. But as
far as mathematics in and of itself is concerned, for the formalist, it is invention entirely and, for the
intuitionist, discovery entirely. To this day, there exist these two schools and several others of medium
flavor and the mathematician has to choose to which school he or she belongs. It is up to you.
Personally I belong to the formalist school. I think that if you demand that things are true about the
reality, you are no longer doing mathematics, you have suddenly jumped to physics or to another
natural science. I do not believe that mathematical ideas exists in an ideal state. So I would say any
discovery I have made is not a discovery at all, it is an invention. I dream it up and it has its own
reality, within the minds of those who read about it. There are many others who are of the intuitional
variety. There can be many fights between these two schools but because they differ in fundamental
assumptions, it is not really fair to compare the two. That statement in itself is a formalists statement of
course because to the intuitionist the fundamental ideas which form the assumptions exists in a pure
state and so should be capable of comparison. This is why you can fight but you must not become
angry because the two are just different starting points for developing mathematics.

In the last lecture, four concepts were mentioned that Aristotle made to describe his metaphysics and a
long explnation was given of each. Form the point of view of mthematics we would have to regard
these four concepts as primitive terms. They essentially incapable of a definition within the system.
A definition can be given but that definition is necessarily outside of the system and so this definition
becomes a mere motivation for introducing that new term. We were given these terms, such as


substance and cause, and we understand to some extent what those mean. But this understanding is not
within the system. They are meta or outside the system, hence the term metaphysics.

3.2 The Axiomatic System

Through natural things, we obtain physical powers; through abstract, mathematical and heavenly
things, we obtain transcendent powers.
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1510)

Agrippa already claimed that mathematical thinking and mathematical inventions are more important
than natural sciences. You can have some insight into the nature of reality that goes beyond sense
perception. Physics and chemistry and such of course deal only with things that we can perceive with
the senses and abstract mathematical and heavenly things can go beyond that and that is why they are,
in some sense, better. We shall meet the alchemists again later on, for the moment that is all I want to
say about them.

We know that we must have primitive terms from our previous discussions. Let us me make a
distinction. Primitives can come in three flavours. First of all they may be objects. Those are, if you
will, proper nouns. I can say table or set for example. Those are objects in and of themselves. They
can have a meaning. Of course the meaning is not within the system. But they are to be regarded as
things. Then there can be relations. These are also primitive terms. The relation between, for
example. In geometry, we have the relation between applied to three points. It is not, however, an
object. It requires objects to make sense. The third kind of primitive is an operation, for example,
negation. While a relation connects several objects, an operation changes one object into another one.
The operation of negation changes the statement A into the statement not A. Those are the three
kinds of primitive terms and, in general, we need all three of them to construct an axiomatic theory. In

other words, to make meaningful conclusions we have to have objects to talk about, a method to
change an object into another and a method to connect several objects together.

Q: Can you operate upon an operation?

No. Once you have operated once, the result is a changed object. You may operate again but then this
operation is upon the changed object and not the operation. You may think that the usual law of double
negation, i.e. not not A is the same as A is an operation upon an operation but it is not. First you
operate upon A with negation and get the changed object not A then you operate again to obtain not
not A. It just so happens, because of the way not was defined that negating twice brings us back to
the starting point.

The axioms, which are the basic statements that we agree to be true for the system, are formulated only
using these primitives. So you have to somehow make sentences out of the primitives to form the
axioms. As an analogy consider the the English language. Objects are nouns, relations are verbs and
pronouns and operations are adjectives and adverbs. The axioms here are sentences that we agree are to
hold. As we know from grammar, we need nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs to make
meaningful sentences.

All the words that appear in the axioms must be either primitives or other words that have been defined
in terms of the primitives. The primitives themselves have no definition. As we discussed in my last
lecture with the dictionary example, every word in the English language has a definition in terms of the
others words in the English language. But you must, at some point, pick a set of words that we simply
agree are known to be able to learn the others. Those few are incapable of a definition within the
system unless you allow circularity. Of course, circularity shall not be allowed because that would
remove any meaning from the system whatsoever. You must have a starting point. So primitives in
Aristotles case, for example substance and cause, are simply words. If we agree that they mean

something we are outside of a logical system based on these words. If we define them in terms of other
words, some of these other words must be basic terms. The axioms that we formulate in terms of these
basic primitives are not conceptual truths. They are simply statements that we agree to be true; true as
parts of the system, not true absolutely or true of reality. Many mathematicians have regarded such
axioms to be conceptual truths. A long time ago, Euclid formulated his famous geometrical axioms. He
regarded them as conceptual truths and for thousands of years mathematicians followed along until
very recently this was shown to be wrong.

So axioms are regarded to be true, agreed to be true but they are not self-evidently true. In such a way
the axioms are like a rule of a game. Chess and the rules of chess are not true; neither are they false.
You simply agree to uphold them. If you cheat, if you disobey any rules of chess, you suddenly play a
different game. The new game you play is not true or false but it is contradictory to the original rules
laid down for the game called chess. If you disobey the rules of a game, you are playing a different
game; truth does not come into it. This brings us to an important point about fallacies. Many authors,
particularly philosophical authors, spend a great deal of time talking about fallacies obtaining
conclusions that do not follow from the axioms. A fallacy is a claim which does not follow from the
given axioms. It is thus the result of disobeying a rule of the game which the axiomatic theory
embodies. So from the mathematicians point of view a fallacy is simply ignoring or applying
incorrectly one of the rules of the game. That is all I want to say about them but in philosophical
textbooks you will find a lengthy discussions on various types of fallacy.

Axiomatic systems can have several properties. The five most important ones will be discussed here:
Equivalence, Consistency, Independence, Completeness and Categoricalness. The last two are really
the same property and equivalence is not a property of a single axiom system, it is a relation between
two of them.

3.3 The Model Concept for an Axiomatic System


The formalist views axioms as sentences in terms of primitive terms and not as conceptual truths and
logic as a method to transform these statements into other statements called theorems. To the formalist,
this transformation process is mathematics.

If we want to talk about the axioms, we are doing metamathematics, i.e. going beyond the system
that is mathematics. You do metamathematics if you talk about primitives and axioms using normal
language. For example, if you write a book about it or explain concepts to others. When you read a
textbook about mathematics, there are lots of explanations about what the technical terms mean and
how the proofs are constructed. All of this is metamathematics. Only the actual symbols, formulae and
the derivations within the proofs are mathematics. All the rest is explanation. Of course the explanation
is crucial for understanding and communication but it is important to differentiate between the
substance and the presentation.

In theory you should not need all these explanations. The explanations are just there to expediate the
learning process of mathematics. It is not essential. That is why it is metamathematics. It gives these
basic terms, the primitives and the axioms some meaning and the axioms some truth. And this is called
a model.

A model is some object for which the primitives have a meaning and the axioms are true. An example
is Euclids geometry. Euclids geometry is an axiomatic system that has primitives such as point and
line, the relation of between and so on. It is a completely abstract system. You can deduce
theorems from the axioms and the difficulty arises from the fact that you have an intuitive
understanding of what these terms mean. That intuitive understanding of what a point and a line
are and what between means suggests some properties to you that may be true. It is from this
understanding that you can then try to prove such insight within the system. This is how mathematics is
actually done. We start with intuitive understanding and proceed to theorems. This object of intuitive
understanding is what we call a model. Space is a model for Euclids geometry. The term point has a
meaning in space, it is a particular location and all the other primitive terms obtain a physical meaning
in the model of space.

The statement or axiom that three points may lie on a line and if they do then one point lies in between
the other two is a statement that is formulated in terms of the primitive terms. In our model, this
statement becomes true. In the axiomatic system it is a statement which is either an axiom or a theorem.
Neither of these are true, theorems are true in relation to the axioms which are just assumed. But in the
model the axioms and therefore the theorems become true.

The important thing to realize is that the idea of a model is based on the assumption that the physical
world or the universe around us behaves in a consistent way. There are no contradictions in reality.
Space itself, which we understand to be a model of Euclids geometry, does not contain
inconsistencies. We expect space not to contain contradictions either.

The object which makes a model need not be a physical object. If we have an axiomatic theory that
defines concepts such as zero and one we can use the system of natural numbers as a model for this
system. The axiomatic system is abstract, the model gives the basic terms arithmetical meaning. We
have an intuitive understanding of what a number is. We can count using our fingers.

Constructing a model has another few assumption that go into the process and that need not necessarily
be true. It is effectively going outside of mathematics into the realm of natural science. Modelling is no
longer mathematics in a strict sense. It is trying to make sense out of a formal system and there are
complications in this.

3.4 The Equivalence of Two Axiomatic Systems


Two systems of axioms are called equivalent if, in the one system, we can define the primitive terms of
the other system and prove its axioms. Take the primitive terms of system 1, construct definitions for
the primitive terms of system 2 in terms of these and then proceed to prove the axioms of system 2 as
theorems in system 1. If that is possible starting from either of the two systems, the are called

It is possible that two axiomatic systems have different numbers of primitive terms and different
numbers of axioms but are still equivalent. Starting from a given axiomatic theory, we can always
increase the primitives and axioms by adding defined concepts or theorems. This is not very
economical of course but the systems before and after this process are equivalent systems.

For practical and aesthetic reasons and interest in applications, it is desirable to have as few as possible
primitive terms and axioms. Clearly, if you have many primitive terms in one system and a few in the
other, equivalent one, you prefer the second one because it is simpler. Particularly in the case of
axioms, you prefer a system that has fewer of them. If you want to construct an application of the
axiomatic system, you need to apply the abstract mathematical theory to reality. You need to make a
model and an interpretation and that means that you need to believe that the axioms of your system are
true in this model. This is where an element of belief becomes necessary in order to make the
application of mathematics to reality. In order to use geometry in real life, you have to construct an
application of the theory by considering space to be a model for the theory. You have to believe that the
axioms of Euclids geometry are true in space and then you can apply it. Because you must generate
this belief, it is desirable to have few axioms because that means you have to believe in fewer things.
Your beliefs could be false. If you only have to believe two things it is better for you because the
chances of you being wrong are lower than if you have to believe in ten things. So this becomes an
issue of practicality.

Q: Can you give an example of how we can show the equivalence of two axiomatic systems?


Let us say you have a book in English and you translate it to French. In English you have all the three
kinds of primitives or parts of speech and in French they also exist. It is our task to Somehow construct
the translation of the book in English into the book in French such that the French person understands
more or less the same things as the English person understands when he or she reads the book. If this is
done, then we can say the English book is equivalent to the French book via this translation
mechanism. Equivalence is about translation as in the case of languages.

Now there is one very important point here and that is the method by which you deduce theorems from
axioms and this is the one goes sort of beyond the language example. Not only have you got to be able
to translate primitives and prove axioms but the logic by which you proceed from axioms to theorems
must be the same one. This is a new insight since we have learned that there are many logics. We must
agree on a particular logic and must not say that that particular logic is true, we simply agree on it. The
logic itself is one of the axioms of the system!

If for example we have two axiomatic theories, one of which uses Aristotles logic in which a statement
can be only true or false and the other uses fuzzy logic in which a statement can have one of a large
number of truth values (degress of uncertainty or probabilities), then one can not translate one theory
into the other because information would be lost in the process.

The possible equivalence of theories of different numbers of primitives and axioms allows for three
characteristics which make mathematics an important endeavour: generality, simplicity and

By generality I mean that it is possible to have one axiomatic system that has many interpretations and
models and therefore many meanings in the real world. Mathematics allows you to study one theory
and through that study understand many theories. Group theory is one axiomatic system of
mathematics based on a few axioms only. If you add axioms in addition to these, you get more

specialized theories that are applicable in various diverse natural sciences and mathematics. If you
study only group theory, you will, in effect, study all these other systems also.

Simplicity comes in if you have several axiomatic systems all of which are equivalent. Some of them
have fewer axioms and fewer primitive terms than others. The one with the fewest is the simplest. By
methods of translation you can get from a complicated system to simple system. Of course, simpler
systems are easier to understand. Mathematics allows us to find a simple system from a complicated
one and then develop the theory from there.

Applicability arises from the fact that one can have many models for one system of axioms. If you
study the abstract properties of one system of axioms then you suddenly understand all models and
there can be many in many cases. And this is why in fact, mathematics is important. Because it allows
you to study one thing and understand many.

3.5 Consistency

Consistency is the prime property of an axiomatic system. If A is some statement which is a theorem (it
can be proven using the laws of the logic which you assume from the axioms which you also assume),
then it must not be true that the negation of A is also a theorem. Consistency means free of
contradictions. If it were true that both A and the negation of A were theorems, then the system is
called inconsistent.

If you have an inconsistent theory, a theory for which you can prove a statement and you can prove that
statements negation, you can conclude anything. Every possible statement is true if at any one point a
statement and negation of that statement are true within the system. To have a meaningful theory it
cannot be true that everything is true and so our theory cannot have inconsistencies.

If you want to show that a system is inconsistent, it is very simple. You need to give an example of a
statement which is true and prove that its negation is also true. Then you have shown it is inconsistent.

Showing consistency however is not simple at all because saying that a theory in consistent is a
statement about all possible theorems. Inconsistency can be resolved by a specific single case but
consistency needs to be shown by considering all possible cases. A mathematical deductive proof of
consistency is only possible in a few very simple cases of axiomatic theories. It is generally agreed that
a consistency proof of a complicated axiomatic theory is done via construction of a model. This is not a
mathematical proof any more. It is an intuitionist proof to construct a model and then to make the claim
that nature is consistent. So for example, the consistency of Euclids geometry is proven by saying that
it is an axiomatisation of space itself. Space is a model of that theory, it is nature and nature is not
inconsistent, therefore the axiomatic system of Euclid is consistent. We have to generate some amount
of belief for this to happen and that is beyond mathematics.

3.6 Independence

One axiom is independent of the other axioms if it cannot be proven in terms of them. I make a series
of claims and if one of them can be derived from some of the others, it is a theorem and need not be an
axiom. It is said to depend upon these other statements. Of course, it does not destroy the theory if we
take this theorem as an axiom but we do not need to. It makes the theory more complicated to consider
it an axiom and simpler to consider it as a theorem. If a claim is made that does not depend on the
axioms of the system, it must be added as an axiom itself if we want it to hold. Such a claim is said to
be independent of the others.


One can show that an axiom A is independent of the others mainly by three methods. First, one can
negate the axiom. That means that we construct a new theory identical to the old except that it does not
contain the axiom A but the negation of A. If we can then show that the theory is consistent, then we
have shown that A is independent of the other axioms because the consistency of the new system
showed that the statement A is not a theorem of the new system and hence not provable in terms of the
other axioms. Secondly, we can just remove it from the system and show that the theorems that we
obtain from the new system are different from the theorems we could prove in the old system. As
different theories emerge, it becomes clear that the axiom A was essential. Thirdly, we can construct a
model in which all of the axioms are true except A and then appeal to intuition, i.e. the intrinsic
consistency of the model.

It is important to show that the axioms are independent of one another because that shows that the
axiom system is particularly simple. Frequently not all axioms are independent in newly designed
systems and independence considerations serve to simplify these systems considerably. This simplicity
is not only aesthetically appealing but also makes the system easier to understand.

3.7 Completeness

If one will do it, it can be done.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo

A system is complete if every statement that makes sense in terms of the primitives is either provable
or disprovable. The truth value of every statement in the system is determinable by logical deduction
from the axioms. There are no uncertain statements possible in the system if it is complete.


Saying a system is complete is the same as saying that it is impossible to introduce a further
independent axiom into the theory. Suppose we were to add a new axiom to our theory. As every
statement is either provable or disprovable, we can either prove or dispove this axiom making it
dependent upon the other axioms, i.e. making it a theorem. It is for this reason that such a system is
called complete. We can only add independent axioms if we also introduce further primitive terms
thereby enlarging the system.

Completeness is extremely difficult to prove for a particular axiomatic theory. It is only in a few special
cases that one can show completeness. More surprisingly, it is possible to prove that beyond a certain
complexity in the axioms, completeness is not possible. Most of the axiomatic theories in mathematics
are of a such a type, they can not be completed. This is the essence of Gdels theorem which will
concern us later.

Before we dispair at the difficulty, we should ask whether it is actually desirable for a theory to be
complete. If we have a complete axiomatic system we can prove everything. We cannot add anything
meaningful to the system without creating further basic terms for it. An incomplete theory is quite good
because it can form the common ground between lots of other theories that we can build up from it by
adding further axioms. This leads to the very desirable feature of many mathematical theories that by
studying them, we are actually studying many theories at the same time because they are all special
cases of the more general simpler theory at hand.

3.8 Categoricalness

Categoricalness is the same as completeness just a different point of view on the same theme.
Categoricalness involves the concept of an interpretation. Recall that a model is an object in which the
primitives have meaning and the axioms are true. Interpretations go only half way, we only want the
primitives to have meaning. The difference between a model and an interpretation is whether the

axioms become true, they do in a model and the do not necessarily in an interpretation. Of course, just
like a model, an interpretation is no longer mathematics; it is metamathematics.

Two interpretations are called isomorphic when they act the same way. Consider Euclids geometry
again. It contained the concept of between. The relation of between is entirely meaningless until
you make an interpretation. Now between could mean many things. It could mean between in
space, between in time, or something entirly different such as a number is between two others if it
is smaller than one and larger than the other. You could have any sort of interpretation for what this
word between may mean. Two interpretations act the same way, if two objects which have a meaning
act the same way with respect to the relations and operations which also have some meaning. If you
can construct two interpretations, which do not act the same way, they are not isomorphic.

If all possible interpretations of an axiomatic system act in the same way, then we call the axiomatic
system categorical.

If a system is categorical, then it is complete. This is a simple statement which we can prove to be true
by an argument called proof by contradiction or reductio ad absurdum in Latin. It relies on the axiom
that a statement must have one truth value. We will assume that the theorem is false, derive a
contradiction and therefore are forced to conclude that the theorem is true. This is the essence of a
proof by contradiction. To begin we shall assume that our system is categorical but not complete. So
there exists a statement S which can not be proven or disproven but all interpretations of that statement
act the same way. So let us construct two interpretations. The first interpretation would be constructed
in such a way that it contains the statement S and the second interpretation such that it contains the
negation of S. But these interpretations are isomorphic by assumption. If these two interpretations act
identically, we cannot at the same time conclude that both S and the negation of S are true if we want to
remain consistent. Therefore only one of them can be true but this is a contradiction. Since we have a
contradiction, the initial assumption must have been wrong the assumption that a system could be
categorical but incomplete. Thus we conclude that a categorical system is also complete.


3.9 Euclids Geometry in the Plane

I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space.


But if we can imagine such spaces of other sorts [other than empirical observations confirm], it cannot
be maintained that the axioms of geometry are necessary consequences of an priori transcendental
form of intuition, as Kant thought.
Hermann von Helmholtz

Euclids geometry in the plane has the primitive objects: point, line, circle and right angle. In addition
we need some primitive relations and operations: congruent, intersect, lie and extend. We have an
intuitive understanding of what these terms mean but this is outside of the system. Then we get five


If you have two points, you can draw a straight-line segment in between them.


If you have a straight line segment then you can extend it infinitely long.


If you have a straight line segment you can draw a circle which has one of the end points of this

line segment as center and the length of this line segment as radius.

All the right angles that you can possibly construct are congruent.


Two parallel line do not intersect.


If you want to believe that this is true then you need to construct a model of the system, for example
your tabletop. Then these statements and terms may make sense.

The fifth axiom has caused much trouble for millenia. Many mathematicians have tried to prove that
the fifth axiom is not independent. Recently it was shown that it is possible to construct a consistent
geometry in which the fifth axiom is false. Parallel here is defined by drawing a third line across both
lines which are to be parallel and measuring the acute angles that this third line makes with the two
others. If and only if these angles are equal, the first two lines are called parallel.

For the mathematician both Euclidean geometry and non-Euclidean geometry are perfectly acceptable
systems. The existence of non-Euclidean geometry merely proves that the axioms of Euclidean
geometry are not conceptual truths as Kant and many before and after him claimed. This was a
revolution in thinking that can not sufficiently be appreciated in these days of free sceptical thought and
it is for this reason that I included the quote by Helmholtz, who was a great physicist during this
revolution, at the start of this section.

What is of interest to practical people is which geometry corresponds to the universe in which we live.
For this we must perform an experiment. A measurement have made in 1916 or so that determined that
Einsteins theory of general relativity applies to the universe in which we live by determining that two
parallel lines do intersect. Euclids theory is wrong in the space which we live.

Hilbert was able to prove that the this system is categorical and therefore complete. You can easily see
that the axioms are independent. Every one of the axioms uses different primitives and can therefore
not possibly be proved from the others. The axioms are consistent by way of the model of planar space.


3.10 Conclusions

The primitives in the axioms are given to you. No claims of meaning and no claims of truth are made.
We must agree on them; they are given. A logic must be assumed also since there are many logics. If
you wanted to deduce theorems you must state explicitly as an assumption which logic you shall use. It
is therefore also given. Consistency is the absolute prime requirement. If you can deduce both a
theorems and its negation every other possible statement can be derived from that. Everything in your
theory is true and therefore your theories are effectively meaningless. So you must have consistency.

Independence assures simplicity. It simply says that you have not assumed a number of unnecessary
statements. It is desirable but not logically necessary. The Euclidean geometry in the plane satisfies all
of these requirements. It is complete, consistent and all of its axioms are independent.

Lecture 5: Deduction

The ignorance and afflictions of the beginning, abiding place and the immovable wisdom that comes
later become one.
Takuan Soho

Last time we discussed what sort of properties we might desire of a system of axioms. Lets for the
moment assume that we have such axioms and that we have such primitive terms. How do we make
conclusions? What we want to study is the method of deduction.


Deduction really is a method to proceed from axioms that weve agreed upon to theorems. The
difference between theorems and axioms is that the theorems can be proven in terms of the axioms by
these methods of deduction. Methods of deduction themselves are axioms we agree upon with the
method and then the theorems are true relative to the axioms and the method. So we just need a method
and this method well call logic but the method is pretty arbitrary as well. The method itself has
primitive terms such as true and it has some axioms such as modus ponens. We agree simply that we
shall uphold those things.

Any system of axioms can be slightly changed (different axioms, different primitive terms) and yet the
set of the theorems is the same. One axiomatization and a second axiomatization might be the same
theory. And its true for logic. There exist several distinct axiomatizations for the same logic and
secondly, there are many different logics.

5.1 Primitive Terms of the Logic

So in this lecture I want to present one logic, a very particular logic, which is slightly different from
any logic that you will find in any textbook. This is my own, private version of logic. I have made
certain slight changes because I shall have to use those later on in the Buddhist part of it. So, Ill
introduce a few primitive terms to this logic.

There will be only one actual primitive object and it is nonsense, symbolised by N. Its called
nonsense, its not actually nonsense. Its a primitive object and we shall simply agree that this is an
object. In everyday colloquial terms, nonsense is a truth value of a sentence. If I say a sentence, in my
theory, it will have three distinct truth values: true, false, and nonsense. But we shall see later on that
true and false dont have to be primitive terms, we can define truth and falsehood as modifications of
nonsense. So in the beginning there is chaos and order shall be deduced from it.


There is only one operation and it is for all, and its symbolized by ? . It is an operation that we put in
front of a variable and then the statement shall go for all x such that something, then something else
holds true. Basically, for all denotes that whatever follows it is a variable. For example, in
arithmetic you might say for all x, x+1 is something or other.

There are two binary relations that are considered primitive here. The first one is neither-nor, so if
you have two statements and you say neither this, nor that is true, thats a binary relation between
these two things. If we say neither A, nor B, we will symbolise this as A? B. We shall find out that
we can define and and or, and all the other ones in terms of this. And there is a second binary
relation, is, symbolised by ? . Is in this sense is equality between objects and membership between
objects and sets. I am a member of the set of all people is one instance of is. And I am a member
of myself is another meaning of is as being an equality between objects, if I regard myself as an
object. Thats all we need and we shall see later on that we can get very far using just this.

5.2 Basic Definitions in the Logic

Now, we can define some basic concepts that we all know already in terms of all this. Well define
truth (symbolised by T) to be neither nonsense nor nonsense; N ? N. This is a definition. Neither, nor
is basic, nonsense is also basic. So I just define the symbol T as neither N nor N. In colloquial terms
that makes sense: If I say, two things that are complete nonsense and I negate both of them, then the
result is true. The standard example from the Buddhist philosophy is the flower and the sky, which is
nonsense because the essence of a flower requires that it be on the ground. If I negate this and I say that
the flower is not in the sky, then it is perfectly acceptable. So, if you will, the conjunctive negation of
two nonsensical things is a truth. And I shall define falsehood (F) as to be neither-nor of two truths; T
? T. The two Ts are not statements, they are truth itself. Later on we will get to a state where we can
actually put statements into this and we can say: Neither this statement, nor that statement. But for

the moment we say: neither truth, nor truth, and its not the statement that is true but its truth itself
as a value. That means we have three truth values now.

Ive tried to make what I mean by nonsense plausible by saying that a statement, which doesnt make
sense, such as a flower in the sky, is a sentence which is nonsense. And if I take two such statements
and I say that this statement of nonsense is not the case, then that shall be true. This is just motivation
outside the system. Within the system, the symbol N is undefined. As far as the system goes T is just
these three symbols: N ? N. T is nothing more than an abbreviation for the symbol string N ? N. But
the motivation comes from not nonsense is true.

We can define the not of a statement as neither that statement, nor itself. That is, we define A by A
? A. This is why Ive chosen neither, nor as a basic term, negation can be defined in terms of it. If I
take the operation of not as primitive, then I have to take another operation, such as and or or as
primitive also because not is unary in the sense that it operates only on one statement. I need to be
able to connect things, I need a binary relation. So, I could take not as primitive, as well, if you like,
but then I need some sort of a relation to connect two objects. If I just assume a binary relation, thats
not good enough, yet. I need to assume a negative binary relation to be able to get negation out of it and
all the other binary relations such as and/or. So a negation is neither a statement, nor itself.

You can define and as neither the negation of this, nor the negation of that, which means that the
combination of the truth must be true, which is and or in symbols we use A ? B for A ? -B. Or is
just the other way around-neither this, nor that but the negation of this, therefore this is the usual
meaning of or. If any one of them is true, then the collection is true. In symbols again A ? B for (A ?


Then you can define if and then, so a sort of a deductive statement, and that will be defined in
terms of and and negation; A ? B for (A ? B). And then we will define identity, as well, to be
if/then both ways. So if A, then B and at the same time if B, then A, then both A and B imply
each other and therefore we will regard them to be the same thing; A ? B for (A ? B) ? (B ? A). But
thats again just a definition.

5.3 Axioms of the Logic

This One is capable both of this and that. Choose, and what thou choosest shall be thine.
D. A. Freher

We have defined T and F in terms of N and the relation ? . We still need to declare how the relation ? is
going to act when faced with two truth values. This is going to be our first axiom and we will call it the
axiom of action. As we have three truth values, there are nine different constructs to discuss. From
colloquiual use, it does not matter in which order we say neither, nor and so we will assume that
A? B and B? A are the same no matter what A or B are.

Furthermore we shall demand that F? F is T, this fixes the number of truth values to three. We could
have introduced many more truth values using further construction like we have used for T and F but
we make this declaration in order to fix this number at three. We call this the closure axiom. As we
have fixed three combinations and demanded symmetry, there are three more combinations to fix. We
agree that T? F is F as neither, nor is clearly violated because we have a truth. The combination T? N
is F for the same reason. The remaining combination F? N is N because the first statement satisfies the
construct and so we would have to make our decision based on the second, this however is nonsense
and so the judgement can not be made making the entire combination nonsense.


Having motivated the action of neither, nor from ordinary use, we can draw up a table of truth values
for two statements and insert our definitions into them. Note that because we have defined and and
all other usual concepts in terms of ? , we can derive all of their actions from the postulated actions of
? . In the following table, the first two columns merely enumerate the possible truth values of two
statements A and B. The third column gives our assumed actions and the other columns can be deduced
from the third column by means of the definitions presented above. The third column is thus an axiom,
the rest of the table is a theorem.

A? B

F (definition)

F (action axiom)

F (action axiom)

F (symmetry)

T (closure axiom)

N (action axiom)

F (symmetry)

N (symmetry)

T (definition)

A? B

A? B

A? B

A? B

Our second axiom is the axiom of well-definedness and that says that every statement has exactly one
truth value. We may not have more. That was effectively assumed when constructing the table because
these statements A and B that I conjuncted together by and, or, identity and so on, were assumed
to have one truth value. This is a classic axiom as we do not want some statement to be both true and
false for instance. In order to obtain a meaningful theory each statement has to have one definite truth


Then there is one axiom of deduction called modus ponens, this is the old axiom and it will be the
same here. You have two premises, one premise is if A then B, and you have a second premise,
which is A, then you are allowed to deduce that B. So you must begin with two premises. The entire
statement if A, then B is a premise. You also assume A and if you have that, then you may deduce
that B. This rule is absolutely essential. It will form the basis of all mathematical proof. Because this
if, then construction is not itself an implication yet. We understand it in our minds as an implication
but that is only because we think about it in the system of English language. We do not think about it in
terms of the system itself. In terms of the system itself this if-then construction is just a more
complicated neither-nor statement but the neither-nor is a primitive thing. We are not supposed to
understand what that actually is because it is nothing. It is just something that we have marked down on
paper. Just because we think about it in terms of everyday language, this if A, then B becomes
something of meaning. So we have to develop a rule that will allow us to transform these marks of ink
if you remember back the Hilbert statement. These marks of ink and this mark of ink to that one. That
is a rule of transformation. Effectively, it is modus ponens that ascribes a meaning to if-then. It has no
meaning before that. Only through the additional axiom of modus ponens does the statement if-then
obtain a meaning.

We have now declared axioms for the neither, nor relation and have given a few basic definitions.
Assumptions for the action of the operation for all and the relation is have yet to be stated.

Axioms of quantification deal with the operation for all. The for all primitive is a quantifier. It
says that for all things, such and such a thing holds. We have a statement, such as: Chairs in this room
are black. I can close this statement by saying that: For all chairs in this room, the chairs are black.
If I attach this quantifier for all in front of a statement, it is called closed and the entire statement is
known as the closure of the original open statement which was chairs in this room are black.


First axiom: Every closure of any tautology is a theorem. If we have a tautology that means that
whatever the truth values of the variables in that statement are, the entire statement itself is always true.
So even if the individual bits are false, or nonsense, or true it does not matter, just by the form of the
statement of suitable ands and ors and ifs, in between, make the entire statement always true. That is a
tautology. And if I now attach a for all in front of that tautology, it is a closed statement and we shall
agree that all such closures are theorems.

Second axiom: Quantifiers commute. If I say for all A for all B such a thing holds, it is the same if I
say for all B for all A such a thing holds. That is true for ordinary language as well. If you remember
back in the first lecture, you read the dog walking ordinance. The whole problem there was formulating
a single sentence to mean exactly what they wanted. In other words, to do with your dog whatever you
want outside the park. Inside the park, if you have a dog with you, then you must have it on a leash. But
if you want to formulate that in terms of a short, nice and neat sentence that means precisely that and
nothing else, the order of the words was very important. Just by shifting the order of the words, the
meaning changed. In this case, we explicitly agree that the order of the words for all with each other do
not matter. That is the second axiom.

The third axiom concerns the distribution of these quantifiers; [? a (A ? B)] ? [(? a A) ? (? a B)]. So if
I say for all a and then some complicated system follows, I agree that I can distribute the for all a
into the individual components of any if-then clause. Again, this is just transformations of marks of ink
to others. But the meaning of course is that this for all a applies to the entire statement if A, then B
and then of course in colloquial terms for all a applies to both A and B, which is denoted by that.

Technically, two more axioms are needed but we will not discuss them here.

Of course, you have mathematical statements that say for all but much more interesting are
mathematical statements that say there exists. Let us see what we can do with that. Well, we can

define there exists in terms of for all. Let us look at this. The symbol ? means there exists. We
define ? by taking ?a A as an abbreviation for [(? a) A]. In words, there exists an a such that A is
an abbreviation for it is not true that for all a, A is false. This makes intuitive sense as meaning
exactly what we usually mean when we claim that something exists.

For all chairs in this room the chairs are green is false for every single one of them. In other words,
the negation is true for all chairs and so there exists a chair in this room such that the chair is green is
false; there exists none. If I say for all chairs in this room the chairs are black is true and its negation
false for all chairs and thus it is true that there exists a chair such that the chair is black in this room.
That is the meaning of there exists.

Now we will define what equal means. Remember, we had the definition of identity before; the
identity of two truth values. That is not the same as equality of two objects. This sign here, the three
lines (?), means logical identity as we had before. Now we will define the two horizontal lines (=),
meaning equality. x = y is going to be our new abbreviation and it means x equals y. It is an
abbreviation for ? z [(z ? x) ? (z ? y)]. This is the first time that we see this symbol of is appear.
Remember that is is a primitive term in this system and logical identity has been defined. In ordinary
language, if it is true for all objects z and the statement z is an x and z is a y are logically identical,
then x and y are equal.

Usually we regard set as an undefined term but we can define the term set in our new scheme. The
string of symbols ? x [(x ? y) ? (x = y)] means y is a set. If we translate this into normal language
we are saying that y is a set if it is not true that for all objects x, the statement that x is a y is logically
identical to the statement x is equal to y. If y is a set, then the elements of y belong to y but are not
equal to it. Thus the original string of symbols is true. If y is not a set and thus an object, then any any
object x is either a y or not. If it is a y then saying that it is and saying that it is equal to that y are
logically identical statements. As this is true for all objects x, the original string of symbols is false.
Thus this definition of set matches what we usually mean by a set.

Using all this we can define two particular sets: ? is the set of all elements x such that x = x and ? is
the set of all elements such that x ? x. The first set is clearly the set of all objects also known as the
universal set and the second set is the set of no objects, the empty set.

There are several axioms of membership which guide the action of the relation is but we shall not go
into them here.

5.4 Basic Theorems

I just want to illustrate some statements that one can prove from the axioms. These are all tautologies
so if you want to check any of them, all you need to do is investigate the truth value of the construct for
all possible truth values of the individual variables. It will emerge that they are always true, i.e.
tautologies and thus theorems.

A is identical to A; A ? A. Aristotle had us assume this and we can derive that now from the definition
of what we mean by identical and all the truth values.

A or not A; A ? A. So we are saying that either the statement is true or its negation is true. In twovalued logic where we just have T and F as truth values, this is obvious but it is nice to see that we can
retain this here even though we have three truth values.


It is not true that a statement and its negation are both true; (A ? A). So the negation is necessarily
different from the statement itself.

Now the funny thing happens. Ordinarily, in ordinary two-valued logic, minus minus A is A. And A
reduces to A and A and A or A. These are the same. That is normal. But this statement here is
untypical. In fact, here it is explicitly not the case, that the double negation is the statement itself
because double negation of nonsense is truth.

Normally we would also have that the negation of the negation of a statement ( A) is identical to that
statement. However this is false in our new system as the double negation of nonsense is false and not
nonsense. Furthermore, two important laws of ordinary logic have to be modified slightly. Usually we
have that A ? A ? A and also that A ? A ? A but both are false here but can be rescued if we change
them to A ? A ? A and A ? A ? A.

Two theorems of implication are obvious but very important: If both A and B hold, then A alone holds
((A ? B) ? A) and if A holds then A or B holds (A ? (A ? B)). They are clear but note the importance
of the and in the first statement and the or in the second. The first is basically going from a general
statement to a specific statement. This might be that chair is black and that chair is black and that chair
is black and then we can deduce that any particular one is black. And the reverse if you will is true, if
you know that a particular is true, then that particular or something else is true. So I know that that
chair is black, therefore, that chair is black or that bag is gray.

5.5 Syllogism and Proof

Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.


Miyamoto Musashi (1645)

Now we come to possibly the most important statement for logic from the point of view of developing
the rest of mathematics; syllogism. Syllogism allows you to prove things in the ordinary fashion.
Philosophy deals a great deal with syllogism and I am sure you will hear much more about it. But this
is what a mathematicians view of syllogism is: [(A ? B) ? (B ? C)] ? (A ? C). It is a tautology and
thus a theorem of logic. Translated into words it means that if A, then B is known and in addition if B,
then C is also known then we know that if A, then C. If this chair is in this room, then it is black and if
this chair is black, then it has been painted; therefore if the chair is in this room, then it has been

So basically syllogism means, if I have lots of statements that each share the last one of the previous
statement and the first one of the following statement, then I can cancel out all the middle ones. And
this is what gives you mathematical proof. You begin from a premise and start deducing. When you get
to the end, the proof may be very long. It is the syllogism that allows you to then cut the body of the
proof and state the theorem by saying if premise, then conclusion without having to repeat the whole
proof in the middle. This is the absolutely crucial theorem of logic, which allows mathematics to be
constructed in a short space.

To finish any proof, we need modus ponens. We have established, through syllogism, some statement
if A, then B but we want to prove that B is true. Modus ponens will allow us to do so if we can show
that A is true. Syllogism allows you to cut the complications, modus ponens subsequently allows you
to actually draw practical conclusions. So the practise of mathematical proof centers around syllogism
and modus ponens.


5.6 Developing Mathematics from Logic

We can define numbers now. 0 is a concept that we shall identify with the empty set. The natural
number P is defined as some set from which we can obtain the number P-1 by removing one element.
So the number 1 is the set of all sets such that when one element is removed, we obtain the number
0, i.e. the empty set. In this way, the number 1 is the set of all sets of a single member. In this way,
we have a definition of all the natural numbers. This is a rigorous definition of natural number and was
the first such definition in the history of mathematics.

Using the concept of natural numbers, we define finite to be all those sets which are natural numbers.
Every member of a natural number is finite, everything else is infinite and therefore we can prove, that
the set of everything is infinite. The universal set of all those things that are equal to themselves is not
itself a natural number, therefore it is infinite according to this definition of finite.

We can define what addition between natural numbers is by adding successive 1s to it. I have
defined here-if I remove an element, I get to the one previous, then I can also add one. This is the
successor idea. If I want to add 4 and 5, I start with 5 and I add 1 successively to it. The number 1 is
defined as all sets, which have one element, so I add numbers, I do not add sets.

You can divide numbers. The ratio x/y is a relation. We define it as a relation between two numbers, z
and w so that zy = xw true. So we define division as a relation between two numbers. This gets you the
rational numbers. All the ratios, all relations between two numbers, we will define as a rational

You cannot take powers of rational numbers and get rational numbers back, square roots for example.
2 is a rational number, as well as being a natural number but the square root of 2 is neither rational

nor natural, so you are lead to define the concept of real number. You define a real number to be the
set of all rational numbers smaller than some given one.

If you do the same sort of thing for subtraction instead of division and roots, then you get negative
numbers. And now, after you have done negative numbers, you do it again for roots and that gets you
complex numbers. Now we have all the numbers that you want.

We shall define now the limit of a function. We know what a real number is now that we have defined
this. The limit of a function f(x) as the variable x, coming from negative infinity, approaches some
point x = y is a real number. This real number, z say, is defined as the number z such that for every
positive real number z there exists a number y with y < y such that f(x) z < z for any x in the
interval y to y. The number z measures how far off the number z is from the limit and we are saying
that for each accuracy requirement we can always find some interval (y to y) in which the
approximation is good enough. In terms of limits, one can define a derivative and an integral. So we
have shown that we can get at least as far as calculus starting only with logic.

5.7 Conclusions

We had four primitive terms to start with. We have had nonsense, which was a truth value; we have
had for all, which was a unary operation; neither-nor, which was a binary relation and is which is
another binary relation. We know to some extent what those mean in ordinary language.

We have seen that we can define numbers, limits, derivatives and sets. Effectively you can derive and
define the entire body of mathematics on these 4 primitive terms and their axioms. The entirety of
mathematics can be built up on the basis of these four words.


You can of course add more things to the theory, more axioms, more primitive terms, to specialize that
theory. As I said, you can develop the entire body of mathematics on the basis of these terms. You may
want to be more specialized. You may want physics out of this scheme, in which case you have to add
some primitive terms such as matter, for instance, and introduce some axioms of how these things are
going to behave. Then you can deduce some other theory. But we can see from this that actually
mathematics, being a huge body of knowledge can be enormously simplified to four things, but those
things are primitive to the system. If you now want to say that any statement of mathematics is true,
then you have to make a model of the system. Exactly what a model is we discussed last time. You
have to attach a meaning to these four things and you have to attach a meaning to axioms in the real
world and then see if they work. But as a system, this is self-contained. These words do not have an
intrinsic meaning, the axioms do not have an intrinsic meaning either, and you can derive everything!
This is what is meant by the simplicity of mathematics. It means that you can define everything in
terms of very few primitive things. This is the beauty of logic. You have a few basic principles and you
can derive so many things.

Lecture 7: The Limitations of the Deductive Method

You students of today know too much. Leave your books aside for a moment and start to think for
Martinus Veltmann

Martinus Veltmann is the guy who won the noble prize in physics 3 or 4 years ago and few months
after that I had a long talk with him and one of the main things he said; a piece of advice to everyone
who wants to become a scientist or find out new things is that actually having a lot of knowledge,

reading a lot of books, knowing what this person has written and that person said is actually quite
negative for development of new ideas. Because you tend to ignore a lot of things if you know too
much. He said it in different words and this is a paraphrase of a conversation we had that you should
aim to read as little as possible before you have not had time to think about it yourself; that way you get
original ideas more easily. This is one opinion. I happen to share this opinion. Your opinion might be

7.1 Review

So let me recap a little bit in what I said in the last three lectures. You should know that four primitive
terms give rise to all of mathematics. In terms of four things that we do not define you can define
everything else. And that is one crucial thing: Four, of course, is few and that is the point of the
exercise. Then we have the 11 axioms that describe how these terms are supposed to act. Nine of them
are very technical. I illustrated them because I wanted to show you what a real logic, a powerful logic
that is actually capable of expressing the entire body of mathematics looks like. You do not need to
know these things. It was for illustration only. That you know that it is possible and I wanted to show
you what the details are so that you believe me and it is not just some hand waving.

The one axiom you do need to know is modus ponens. Remember, if we know that if A then B and we
also know A then we are allowed to deduce B. That was one of the axioms we had and this is very
important because it will form the root of logical deduction. The second principle you should know is
syllogism. Syllogism, as I illustrated last time, is not an axiom. It is a theorem that you can prove in
terms of the axioms. But the axioms were abstract; it was difficult to understand exactly what they do.
Syllogism is very beautiful. It is an extremely simple principle. All you have is if you have A then B
and you also have if B then C then you are allowed to deduce if A then C. It is syllogism that provides
the basis for all of mathematical proof. Those two principles are the crucial ones. The other ones were


Now one of the main points I tried to emphasize all the time is if you want to use a deductive method, a
logical method to describe reality you have to agree on some basic terms (agree, not define) and you
also have to agree on some axioms of how these primitive terms act (again agree; not claimed to be
true) and so there is a slight quantum leap here. You have to get reality and systematize it by
introducing primitive terms, introducing axioms and those are by agreements only. They have no
intrinsic meaning; they have no intrinsic truth; you inject that. So there is a quantum leap involved in
describing reality by deductive means and it is essentially one of belief.

If you want to say that your system of physics or chemistry is true of reality as such you have to believe
in the axioms of that physics or chemistry. You can verify to some extent that these axioms are true of
reality by performing experiments. But there are two catches with experiments. Firstly, every
experiment has an error. You can never measure anything exactly with a real apparatus. Secondly, you
have to interpret the experimental measurements you get. Again you have to basically believe that the
error you get is negligible and you have to believe that your interpretation of the measurements of the
results of your experiments are what you initially wanted. So even in the exact sciences like quantum
mechanics or general relativity where we can measure things accurate to many decimal places still
involve, on a fundamental level, some element of belief and this belief is no different than the belief in
a personal creator God. The object of the belief is different. It is now the axioms of physics, axioms of
mathematics and the other one is religion but it is of the same nature. You will simply have to agree for
yourself to believe in it and you cannot really communicate that belief to other people. There is an
emotional difference. Of course in the modern age a lot of people have turned atheistic for similar
reasons. They abandoned their original belief in the light of scientific evidence.

Consistency was the prime requirement of a logical theory. Consistency means that you cannot have
contradictions. You cannot have statements that have two truth-values simultaneously. All the other
properties such as completeness are less important than this. If you have inconsistencies then your
theory makes no definite statements; it makes only vague ones and then your theory is not really useful
at all; certainly not for describing reality. And this comes into what was said in the last lecture about
Hegel; you might see inconsistencies, some contradictions in your theory, but eventually, as you
cognize more and more properly, these inconsistencies must be resolved. You merely regard them as

contradictions because of some limitations: either your experiment is flawed or you have not thought
about it for a long enough. But actually nothing is really contradictory.

Now, this whole innovation that there can be more than one logic; that logic is capable of doing many
things with the exceptions of this initial step, this initial quantum leap of having to believe in axioms,
that was a real revolution. For millennia since Aristotle laid down his logic of three basic rules it was
always claimed that these axioms are self-evident. So people have claimed that these axioms are true of
reality and that they are clearly so. So you do not need evidence for them. They are perfectly obvious to
be true and the realization that they need not be obviously true and therefore you must have belief in
them was a revolution in thinking.

So for many millennia, this was true. This is the deductive method. So we agree on axioms, we agree
on rules of logic. By combining them we can get theorems; statements that are true relative to our
belief in the axioms.

7.2 Induction

Induction is basically the opposite of deduction. It is opposite to, in particular, the rule of substitution.
The rule of substitution was: If you have a general law such as for all chairs in the room those chairs
are black, we can substitute in for the variable (for all chairs), any particular one and still obtain a true
statement. So we can proceed from a general law to a particular specific case and that is called the law
of substitution.

Induction is exactly the opposite. We perceive a few specific cases: This chair is black and that chair
is black. Then we induce, we make the leap of saying that this property is true for all chairs. This is in
essence one of the basic principles of an experimental science. You can never observe everything and

you can never observe anything for all time. You can only observe particular thing for a particular
period of time. You can do it a few times with different objects but then you eventually have to say that
you will make the general statement that for all objects a certain property is true. And this is called
induction. So we obtain a general law from a few particular cases.

Of course this is not logical. Logical would be if you have a general law, you get to a particular case.
You already know that for all objects this rule holds. So then saying for such particular objects the
rule holds is logical; however saying that for these three objects the rule holds therefore it holds for
all is not logical anymore. This is a separate system. It is inductive and it does not follow from logic at

This is essentially a problem of negation. Consider a statement such as for all such things some
property is true. If I want to show that this statement is false, all I need to do is demonstrate a single
object which does not have this property. It could be that for some the statement holds but since there
exists at least one object for which that property is not true the statement for all is false. Now I want to
prove that the statement is actually true. Then I have to consider all objects. It is no longer enough to
supply a few for which the property is true, I have to look at all of them. Now if I make the claim that
for all chairs in the room that are black that is fine because there are finite number of them. I can walk
through the rows and look at every single chair. If I say for all chairs on earth, they are black, that is
still ok. There are many of them. It would be impractical to look at every one of them. But I could do it
because there are a finite number of them. You could actually conceive of traveling through the world.
But there are many statements that we can make that are infinite in nature such as every number is
prime. That is clearly a false statement. You can specify a number such as 4, which is not prime since
it is divisible by 2. Another example is every even natural number is the sum of two prime numbers.
This is known as Goldbachs conjecture and was first proposed by Goldbach to Euler in a letter in
1742. To this day it is unknown whether this statement is true and it is thought that this might be an
example of an true but unprovable statement (recall the necessary incompleteness of mathematics).
Nevertheless, it has been checked up to very large numbers and found to be true for all checked
numbers. It is however obviously impossible to check all numbers as there are an infinite number of


them, so finding a proof for this claim is a substantially different task than proving it wrong because it
makes a claim about an infinite number of things.

There is in mathematics a concept, which is called proof by induction. This is a misnomer because
proof by induction is not at all inductive. It is deductive. Proof by induction proceeds as follows: (1)
You want to prove some statement about a collection of things (such as Goldbachs conjecture for all
even natural numbers) and these things can be ordered in a very definite way (there is a smallest even
natural number and the relation of smaller than can distinguish all the objects under consideration).
(2) First, you illustrate that the statement is true for the simplest case (the number 2 in Goldbachs
case). (3) Then we assume that the statement is true for some arbitrary case and proceed to show that it
must then be true for the next one. This third and last step is the most important one because proves the
claim. We have illustrated the claim for the simplest case, thus by part three, we can get the next case
and so on. In a deductive way, we have been able to prove the claim about a potentially infinite
collection of objects. Crucial for this procedure was the requirement that an ordering of all the cases
was possible and that there was a simplest case. I just present this to make clear that proof by induction,
which is a popular technique in mathematics, is not inductive but deductive as proof by induction does
not look at a few particular cases and makes the claim that it is true for all. By introducing a hierarchy,
it is actually possible to look at all cases. This method essentially looks at all the cases. It is only in an
experimental science where we can only look at a finite number of things because of practical
limitations that we really use the inductive law.

7.3 Algorithmic Thinking?

An algorithm is some mechanical method for a task you might want to do. In other words, you can
build the machine to do that task; in most cases a computer. It is a definite step-by-step procedure and it
does not involve thinking. First you do this, then you do this, then follow these other steps and then
there is some condition about when we can stop. That is an algorithm.


Do we think in terms of algorithms? Deduction is algorithmic. You have a specific point of beginning,
the primitive terms and the axioms, and there are rules for proceeding from the axioms to theorems.
Those are the laws of logic. There is no statement made about reality, there are no statement made
about particular cases and so on. This is all you have: the axioms and the laws of the logic and
therefore there is an algorithm to proceed from this to theorems.

Induction is fundamentally different. It is not algorithmic in that sense. There is no mechanizable

method that says if you observe a particular case you are now allowed to conclude some general
statement. You cannot teach a machine to induce anything because induction basically is the creation of
new concepts. You observe a few particular cases; you then have to think about what the common
element between these cases is. If we look at these four different chairs, they are different. One is
located to my left; one is located to my right. So there are differences between them. There are also
similarities. They have the same shape. They have the same color. But I have to use my brain to
observe what the differences are and what the similarities are. And then I can state some universal law
that all such objects have. In the very definition of all such object such as chairs, I have already used a
kind of inductive law. I have to have a some idea of what it is to be a chair. This is a chair, but that is
also a chair and it looks very different. Here you can move the seat, here you cannot. This has armrests
and that does not. So there are very crucial differences between these two types of chair yet it still
makes perfect sense for me to call both of them chair and all of you understand what I mean by the
concept chair. This is effectively inductive. It is extremely difficult in the experience of many computer
scientists to teach a machine to look at a picture of something and say what it is. It is extremely
difficult for a machine to distinguish between some object and a chair and it will, in many cases, get it
wrong. The concept of a chair is very flexible for the human mind and yet in most cases, a human will
have no problem distinguishing chairs from non-chairs. If however, you are asked to define precisely
what a chair is in such a way that a machine can tell if a given picture contains a chair or not, the task is
extremely difficult.

It is my opinion that the fact that the human brain, at least at the moment, is more effective than any
computer is that the human brain is capable of thinking inductively and that the computer is
intrinsically, fundamentally incapable of induction. The artificial intelligence community has tried for a

long time to build a machine that can think and it has failed miserably so far. Admitedly they have not
had as much time as humans have had to evolve but the artificial intelligence effort, I believe, will meet
some fundamental obstacles. Humans also think deductively in addition to inductively of course

7.4 Recursion

A set of objects is called recursively enumerable if you can list all the elements. Complicated words for
simple concepts such as a set of all chairs is of course recursively enumerable because you can
actually obtain each particular chair and put them in a row. This does not mean that every recursively
enumerable set is finite because the listing proceedure does not necessarily have to terminate, it just has
to exist. This particular illustration was a finite set but the set of all natural numbers for instance is also
recursively innumerable. 0 is a natural number so is 1 and 2 and so on. So it is recursively innumerable.
We can list all the elements. The essential requirement here is that the listing does not need to finish.
There simply needs to be a procedure that if you were willing to wait enough it would eventually get

We call a set recursive if we can test for membership. So given a particular chair, can you test if it is a
chair? Yes of course we can and so the set of all chairs is recursive. We can test if a particular thing is a
chair. So the set of chairs is both recursive and recursively innumerable. We can list all of them and
given a particular one we can test if it belongs to it. Now if we have a membership test, we have a
method to list all objects. So if a set is recursive, it is recursively innumerable. All you need to do for
this is to list everything (all objects possible) and for each thing test if it is a member of that set or not
but this listing procedure is perfectly definite. It never finishes of course. But that does not matter. We
have a definite method.

The important thing is that this does not hold in reverse. The existence of recursively innumerable sets,
which are not recursive, is a fundamental stumbling block of the deductive method. There exist sets for

which we can list the elements but we cannot, for a particular case, test if it belongs to the set or not. If
this set is finite, of course you can list everything and having finished the list for a particular object
now you can check if that is in that list or not. So a recursively enumerable set which is not recursive, is
therefore necessarily infinite. So the listing procedure is not allowed to finish for such sets and I will
illustrate to you an example of such a set.

The example I will give you is important enough in its own right but there exist many more sets for
which this is true and this is, in effect, the essential difference why induction and deduction are so

The set of all theorems is recursively enumerable. You begin with the axioms the rules of logic. That is
base case. The rules of logic are rules by which you can combine the axioms together to make
theorems. That is a perfectly definite algorithm producing a theorem from the axioms. It is a perfectly
mechanizable method to produce theorems.

However, the set of all theorems is not recursive. If I claim that some statement is a theorem this
statement can only be illustrated to be a theorem if I produce a proof. If proofs were capable of
mechanization, mathematicians would be out of the job. It is extremely difficult, in general, to prove a
theorem and there are many cases of statements, which are thought to be true and have not yet been
proven in spite of many attempts to do so. In other words, the set of non-theorems is not recursively
enumerable. There exist no definite step-by-step method to obtain false statements. Because we have
begun from assuming a number of axioms to be true in the system, we have loads of logic that allows
us to combine them to obtain further statements which are true in the system. We do not have a method
to combine particular cases of false statements to obtain further false statements. Therefore we have an
algorithm to specify all theorems even though there are an infinite number of them. You will eventually
reach your particular theorem but just not in any sort of realistic time scale. You will reach a large
number of really simple theorems first. But the set of non-theorems is not listable.


One can prove that if both the set and its complement are both listable then both of those sets are
recursive, in other words there exist a membership test. But in this case, the set of theorems is listable
and the set of non-theorems is not listable. Therefore you can conclude that membership is not testable.
In other words, for a particular claim it is not possible, by a mechanizable method, to detect if that
claim is true.

The existence of sets which are recursively enumerable but not recursive (as just illustrated by the set
of all theorems) forms the basis of all mathematical undecidability results. These are theorems stating
that a certain question can not be decided algorithmically and has far ranging practical consequences.
The set of theorems and the set of non-theorems are asymmetrical. One of them has a method to list all
elements and one does not and it is this asymmetry that gives rise to a certain number of statements in
mathematics, which cannot be decided at all. A particular case of all of such a statement is important
for our study of logic.

7.5 Hilberts Problems

Thus, be it understood, to demonstrate a theorem, it is neither necessary nor even advantageous to

know what it means.


The quote illustrates what David Hilbert wanted to do prove theorems without understanding what
they meant. He wanted to formalise mathematics totally so that it becomes a process of transforming
marks of ink on paper into others by some definite rules. As we shall see, this wish can not be fullfilled
on very fundamental grounds.


At the International Mathematical Congress in Paris in 1900, Hilbert gave a talk in which he proposed
twenty-three problems that he considered to be important at that time. This talk was extremely
influential, it is probably the most well-known speech in the history of mathematics. These problems
have been listed all over the place and many many people have tried to solve them and so they have
become famous. A number of them have been solved, but there are still problems on this list, which are
to this day unknown and which have existed before that list was called into existence for a couple of

One of them, the second problem, demands: To prove that they [the axioms of mathematics] are not
contradictory, that is, that a definite number of logical steps based upon them can never lead to
contradictory results. It is unknown, for the moment, whether or not the axioms of mathematics are
consistent. Hilbert obviously wanted to know whether this is true or not as he wanted a complete
formalisation of mathematics, so he proposed it as a problem. If they were inconsistent, mathematics
would have to be reformulated. If they were consistent, all would be well. It will, however, turn out that
this question can not be answered by any method presently known or ever to be invented. This
effectively destroys the entire program. In other words, you have this system of axioms for all of
mathematics but there exists no way within that system to prove it is consistent.

Just a little anecdote Since it was in 1900 that 23 extremely influential problems were proposed, in
the year 2000 some people got together and proposed a new list of problems. There only seven of them
now. The Clay Institute of mathematics listed seven problems which you are now supposed to solve for
the new century, of course not forgetting that you havent solved them for the last century yet. The new
list is shorter and it has an additional incentive if you solve any one of these problems, you get a
million dollars! You probably also get a Fields medal, which is the mathematicians equivalent of the
Nobel price, because these problems are very difficult indeed and people have been trying to solve
them for a long time.

7.6 Gdels theorems


All Cretans are Liars.


Kurt Gdel, solved the second problem in 1931 and it comes in two stages. The first Gdel theorem
says this: All powerful and consistent axiomatic systems contain unprovable statements. So, you
remember, completeness was defined as all statements can be either proven or disproven. The first
theorem therefore says that if the system is consistent and powerful, then it contains unprovable
statements, i.e. it is incomplete. By powerful I mean the system contains arithmetic. If you have a very
simple system, such as A = A and nothing else, then it is consistent because it is so simple. But if it is
powerful enough, if it contains the natural numbers, then it is necessarily incomplete.

The first Gdel theorem says this: Any axiomatic system, which is powerful enough to define
consistency, can not be used to prove its own consistency. Again, for really simple systems no
questions arise. If you have a system in which you ca define what it means to be consistent (a statement
and its negation cannot be simultaneously true), then you cannot prove, within that system, that it is

These two theorems taken together make up the second revolution in logic. The first revolution, if you
remember, was that you have to simply agree on the axioms (that axioms are not self-evident). The
second revolution says that some things are unknowable.

Let us consider an example of how such an unknowable statement is constructed. Consider simply
replacing the alphabet with numbers: A = 1, B = 2, C = 3 and so on. By the time you get to the end, you
can say the open brackets is 27, the closed bracket is 28, and so on. In that way, you can number all of
the typographical symbols that we use to write on paper. Any text, including Shakespeare, can now be
transferred into one big number.


What we really want is a numbering system that can be inverted. We want to label a huge document by
a single integer in such a way that we can reconstruct the document from that integer. If we simply
wrote down the digits, this would not be possible. For example, if you came across the digits 11, you
would not know whether AA was meant or K. Such ambiguities have to be prevented. Gdel
devised the following method. What you do is to count the letters through by prime numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7,
9, 11 and so on. You raise these primes to the power of the digit associated with that letter. If your
sentence begins with A then the first number is 11. If you then have a B, you use 32. Finally you
multiply all these numbers. Then you get one big, huge number that specifies one of Shakespeares
plays. It is an enormous number. Individual words have the same number, but you obtain the number
for the whole document by multiplying those together as well. And because of the way you construct
this (no need to understand exactly how this is done) it is possible not only to go from a text to the
number but it is also possible to go from the number back to the text. So there exists a one-to-one
correspondence between this enormous number and the original text. And this is important. You can go

This brings us to the point of self-reference. Epimenides, who was from Crete, said: All Cretans are
liars. If he tells the truth, he is not, and if he lies, then he is telling the truth. In other words, this
statement is a paradox. This is a paradox because for two reasons. First, you use the word for all
somewhat indiscriminately and secondly you have self-reference. If I say this sentence is false, then
the self-reference becomes immediate. The sentence immediately refers to itself. The self-reference in
the Epimenides paradox is one step removed because he says all Cretans are liars but he himself is one
of them. So there is a reference to himself and there is a reference to some sort of universality, the for
all. Indiscriminant use of such words usually ends up in paradox. And this is why we want to study a
little bit self-reference now.

We have discovered that we can translate statements of mathematics into numbers. But mathematics
includes the study of numbers and a much more. We will not worry about the much more but it
includes numbers and that is important. In other words, you have transformed statements of
mathematics into particular objects with which mathematics deals. You can use mathematics to then


operate on itself or to talk about itself. So we can get some self-reference. This is the particular case of
self-reference that we want to look at.

The sentence with number X is not provable within the system. The number of this statement can be
constructed by the above method and it is this number which we call X. So this sentence essentially
says: I can not be proven within the system. All that has gone before is to illustrate how exactly a
mathematical statement can say I meaningfully. Effectively this is the mathematical analogue of the
Epimenides paradox.

Now you ask: Is this sentence with the number X provable or not? If it is provable, then the sentence
with number X is not provable. Therefore you have a contradiction. A consistent theory does not allow
contradictions, so the conclusion must be that your theory is in fact inconsistent. You can resolve a
paradox by saying that you can allow things to be both true and false at the same time. So the system is
inconsistent. Because we want a consistent system, we cannot allow the conclusion that this statement
is provable. Therefore it is not provable.

If it is not provable, it is true because that is exactly what it says. So it is not provable but it is true and
therefore the system is incomplete. This proves the first Gdel theorem: A powerful consistent system
is incomplete. The fundamental conclusion is that truth and provability are different things. There exist
things that are true but not provable. However, all things that are provable are true in relation to the

We have a claim: If the system is consistent, then it is incomplete. We have proven that. If, by some
hook and crook, we were also able to prove that the system is consistent, then by modus ponens, we
can conclude that the system is actually incomplete. The first statement is just an implication if-then.
We do not know if this, therefore we also do not know then that. But we do know that the
implication as such holds. If we also found out that the antecedent is actually true, then the conclusion

of the implication must also be true. Let us imagine that we have a system which is definitely known to
be consistent, therefore it is also definitely known to be incomplete. What can we do with this? Let us
consider the same sentence: The sentence with number X is not provable. This is not provable, of
course, because the system is consistent. But not provable makes it true.

The trick comes in this: If we do not know that the system is consistent, the deduction that the
statement is actually true can only be made outside the system. It is true but we cannot get to the
conclusion that it is true by using that system of deduction. The human brain is capable of making this
conclusion but by using symbols on paper it is not possible to deduce it. It must be so as this is exactly
what the sentence claims it is not provable within this system. However, if the system is actually
consistent, if we have a proof of consistency, then it is true actually in the system and therefore it is
provable in the system. Thus we obtain a contradiction. This shows the second theorem: Consistency
of a system powerful enough to define consistency cannot be established within that system. So I have
illustrated a particular example of a sentence which is not provable in the system but is provable, and
therefore a contradiction, therefore we cannot have consistency established within the system itself.

You cannot make a system complete by adding new axioms to it. If you add a new axiom to it, the
system becomes more powerful. It contains everything that it contained before and it contains new
things. Therefore, there will always be some statements which cannot be proven. We have illustrated
one but if you add axioms to get rid of this particular one you can always get new ones. You can prove
the consistency of a system only by relation to another system. I can prove the consistency of this one
in terms of the consistency of that one but I cannot prove the consistency of any one of these
absolutely. This is exactly the same thing as the fact that I can only prove the truth of theorems in
relation to the assumed and believed truth of the axioms. I can only prove the consistency in this case
of a system, based on the assumed and believed consistency of another system. You can never actually
prove the consistency of a system in itself if it is powerful enough.

The two Goedel theorems are a special case of undecidability. There exists a sentence for which we
cannot decide if it is true or it is false within the system. So this sentence is undecidable. And this is a

particular case of the fact that not all recursively enumerable are recursive. The set of all theorems is
recursively enumerable as we have seen but there exists a particular statement, the sentence with
Goedel number X, that is not provable within the system. This sentence is undecidable. Therefore,
there does not exist a membership test for the set of all theorems. However, there exists a perfectly
definite way to list theorems; logic. So we have seen by this example that there exist sets which are
listable, but which cannot be tested for membership. This is the fundamental reason why there are
certain things in mathematics that are fundamentally undecidable.

7.7 Conclusions

Let me sum up not only this lecture, but also the previous three. Primitive terms and axioms have a
meaning and they have a truth but all of this is outside of the system. You, as a person, may attach
meaning to terms and truth to axioms but as far as the system is concerned, they are meaningless and
truthless. There are statements which are true (relative to the assumed truth of the axioms) but cannot
be proven within that system. Also the consistency of this system must be proved externally.

These two things I call quantum leaps. Basically both of them are injections of belief into the system. If
you claim that a deductive method is to be applied to reality, you must make two steps of belief. First
of all, you must believe that your primitive terms exist in nature and that the axioms that you make
about them are actually true in nature. Because there are statements which are true but cannot be
proven, you basically must believe in their truth as well.

We arrive at the fundamental conclusion of these four lectures: Because of very fundamental properties
of deductive systems, deduction can never provide a complete description of physical reality. In
themselves, deductive systems are incapable of providing a complete description of reality. Logic
cannot do everything. You must begin by believing something and then you can go on from that but


you can never be 100% sure of anything at all even in mathematics. Even mathematics is based on
some element of belief applied to reality.

I will spend one lecture on general relativity which is basically concerned with the nature of space and
time. Then I will spend two lectures on quantum mechanics, on two different very distinct versions of
quantum mechanics one very well known and one known by very few. I will show you how this
injection of belief in these systems is very real and that physicists are not as exact as you might think
they are but they actually believe in rather a lot about reality. In fact, they must in order to make
deductions as we have seen in these logical systems.

Lecture 10: General Relativity

Our greater productivity is due partly to the fact that scores or hundreds of workers dig like demons
side by side in a single narrow field which, only a century ago, was abandoned to one cogitating,
dyspeptic hermit and the crows.



Today is my first lecture of the second part. In the last four lectures I have tried to tell you something
about how logic is constructed and there were two main messages. You have to have basic terms and
you are unable to prove all true statements. Those are two very basic limitations of the deductive
method and of mathematics as such. In other words, if you go on trying to describe reality then you
have to inject some personal belief into the system. Today and in next two lectures I want show you
what people have done in history to apply this deductive method to reality.


I will choose two main examples: general relativity by Einstein and quantum mechanics, which is by
lots of people. Both theories were invented in the twentieth century. In the logic parts we discussed
these abstracts concepts and you already found that lot of the ways you think about mathematics has to
be slightly changed. In these three lectures, I hope to more or less totally unravel the way you think
about the world as such unless you already know about these things and then rebuild it slightly so that
you know what scientists at the moment are thinking that the world might actually be like and it is quite
different from what you would think intuitively.

10.1 Aristotle, Galileo and the Birth of Science

In Aristotles days, there were only very few people interested in making philosophical or natural
scientific statements about the world. Everybody else was busy getting on with their lives. Today and
this has been only very recently so, may be for 200 years or less, there are actually quite many people
who are being paid to think about these things and who live off it and are teaching other people about
it. And this is a very new development and this is one of the many reasons why today our knowledge is
exploding. If you measure the amounts of published things it rises exponentially. So this creates a lot of
new knowledge a lot of which can be neglected. But in the old days there were very few people
interested and so these few people became great people at that time but may be they said a few things,
which were silly.

Now we have many people and so silliness gets lost. One of things that Aristotle claimed in a book that
he wrote which is called the physics is that the heavier objects fall faster than light ones. So if you
take two objects, one is a ball of lead and the other one is a football filled with air, then he says that the
ball of lead will fall faster than the football. Then he claimed that this is true for all objects regardless
of their size or constitution and regardless of where you are. So everywhere in Greece, where he lived
and also up in the mountains this is true. That was his claim. Now the importance about this claim is
that you have to realize that Aristotle and his contemporaries never did any experiments. So they didnt


actually take several objects of different weights, go up on a high hill, dropped them off and measured
the amount of time it took and then came up with the statement.

The Greek philosophers were very much sedate people. They sat at home and thought about reality. In
fact, the very idea of doing experiments is a very modern one. So we have to take his claim as a little
absurd respecting the fact that he never tried this out. This is very important. We do not know exactly
when Galileo Galilee did his experiment. It is somewhere before 1634 because that is when he actually
published the result. So at some point, in the early 1600s Galileo Galilee actually did the experiment
of dropping several objects of different weights. The legend goes that he went up on the leaning tower
of Pisa and dropped these objects off. There is no historical record of this happening and so we do not
know. We do know how he did his experiment in the end but this does not matter for the moment.
More or less he dropped two objects. They had different weight and he measured it by some relatively
accurate apparatus standard at their time and measured how long it took for them to fall over some
distance and he concluded that all objects fall at the same speed regardless of how heavy they are and
in fact to within experimental error we find this to be true even today.

This should be qualified by the statement in vacuum because if we actually drop things in the air a
feather falls quite slowly and a lead ball drops very fast. So Aristotles claim is correct for certain
particular objects like that but that is only true if you have air resistance. So the fact that the feather
falls slowly is only true because there is air that block its way and if you pump the air out of a room
and drop the feather it will actually fall at the same speed as the lead ball. It is an extremely important
event in history that Galileo did this experiment and it gives him the title of father of science. Among
scientists Galileo is credited with actually starting science as we know it today.

The basic scientific method proceeds as follows: You are supposed to observe something in nature, see
some pattern there, some event happening with some regularity such as: if you drop various types of
objects they all fall at the same speed. Then you form hypotheses that this is true all the time. Then you
test this hypothesis on some more objects that you have not yet seen and you get some more
experimental evidence for it. If your hypothesis is still true, then it is good and you can conclude that

your theory is pretty good if not actually correct. If you find an object for which your hypothesis is not
true, either you have to reject it or modify it slightly to come up with a better hypothesis that includes a
new evidence. This method is then looped until one reaches the stage where one has a theory that
explains all observed phenomena (this is the goal of physics and is, so far, not reached). This is the
basic scientific method and Galileo was the inventor of it.

Now if you follow through with the scientific method and your hypothesis turns out to be true for all
the cases you can actually check, then your hypothesis becomes more and more likely to be true. This
is the important thing. You can never check the exactness of laws. There are two reasons why this is
true: First of all, if you claim all objects regardless of their weight fall at the same speed in a vacuum
you cannot actually check all objects. It is just a practical limitation. There are too many objects in the
universe. Most of them are very far away; the stars in the galaxy elsewhere. You cannot check them.
This is the first limitation and there is a second limitation as for any particular experiment that you do
because you have to measure something. In this case you have to measure distance and time. You can
only do that with the certain amount of accuracy. You can measure distance with the ruler, time with
the clock. My wristwatch tells the time in seconds but if something falls in a fraction of a second my
wristwatch is no longer capable of telling how long it took. So I need a more accurate watch. But every
watch, every clock in existence and every watch that can possibly be built has a certain smallest time
unit that it can resolve and if something occurs in a fraction of that time unit, it is not possible to
measure it. Every measurement will be a multiple of the smallest unit the measurement device can
resolve. Thus, measurement results are inherently discrete. So because of finite accuracy and inability
to check all the cases a mathematical law or an exact law of nature can never actually be checked. If
you establish such a law first of all you say for all objects and then you have some mathematical
equations. Both of those things for all and the exactness of the equation cannot be checked. It can
only become more and more likely as you become more and more accurate and more and more
encompassing of different types of objects.

10.2 The Newtonian Universe


Nature and Natures laws lay hid in night:

God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.
Alexander Pope (in an epitaph on Newton)

Then after Galileo Galilei there was another very important man: Sir Isaac Newton. Before Newton we
had some isolated experimental evidence for certain things such as Galileos experiment. One knew
that objects fall at a certain speed but one did not know why. We still do not know why but we have a
mathematical equation that tells us how fast it goes and this Newtons achievement. He came up with
three axioms of how objects are going to act in the real world. First of all he said any body moving at a
constant speed will continue doing exactly that unless it is acted upon by a force.

The second statement is an equation telling us how big the change in velocity is going to be depending
on how massive the object is and how compelling the force is. If the symbol F measure the strength of
the force, m the amount of mass in the object and a the acceleration that the object experiences due to
the force, then Newtons second axiom says that F = ma. Mass is taken as an intrinsic property of the
object. You can measure your mass in a certain way. Acceleration is the change of speed. So if I drive
my car 30km an hour and I go up to 50km and hour, in the mean time, I have accelerated. At each
moment in time I have a certain definite speed, but at the next moment in time I have a higher speed. In
between that is meant by the acceleration and that can be measured by how quickly this speed can
increase per unit of time and that is what I mean by acceleration multiply the both together and I get the
amount of force.

The third axiom says that for each action there is equal and opposite reaction. Imagine two ice-skaters.
One of them has a ball that this person throws to the other one. The other one catches it but in catching
there is momentum transferred and thus the person slides back a little bit because of the impact of the
ball. This is the force from the thrower to the catcher. This law says that for each action there is equal

and opposite reaction. So in this case, equal and opposite reaction means that the thrower also moves
backward propelled by a force equal in strength and opposite in direction to the amount of force used to
throw the ball. This makes sense to us based on our everyday experience and one can test this out easily
at a skating rink.

Newton says that these are going to be our three laws of how things are going to act. They are axioms
in the sense that he simply postulates them to hold in nature and then you can experimentally check
them. All other statements in Newtons theory are going to be mathematically derived from these
axioms. If the axioms hold, the rest of the theory also holds. So it is these that you must check in your
experiments to make sure that your mathematical theory is going to be true about reality.

However there are several axioms that he made without stating them explicitly because he took them
for granted; he imagined them to be a priori or conceptual truths. At the time of Newton, Euclids
geometry were still the only geometry known and everybody assumed that it was a priori given. Of
course, now days, we know that since there are many geometries we do have to assume that. That the
geometry of the world is Euclids geometry is an implicit assumption in Newtons theory. Geometry is
also just a container. By this I mean that any events that happen inside space do not influence that
space. That might sound ridiculous but in half an hour it is not going to be ridiculous anymore because
we will learn that the space we actually live in is not a container things that happen in space actually
do influence the space. But I will get back to that.

He also assumes that there exist particles with a definite position and a definite mass. At the root of all
things lie particles some basic elements of nature that have a certain mass (a well-defined definite
mass that one could potentially measure) and, at each moment in time, a very well-defined exact
mathematical location in space that one can also measure.


The assumption that our space follows Euclids geometry is negated by General Relativity and the
assumption that particles have a well-defined and measurable mass and location is negated by quantum
mechanics (at least according to some interpretations of quantum mechanics). These two axioms are
extremely important. First of all, because Newton never states them; he takes them as conceptual truths
and secondly because nowadays we take both of them as false.

10.3 What is Mass?

I take the positivist viewpoint that a physical theory is just a mathematical model and that it is
meaningless to ask whether it corresponds to reality. All Im concerned with is that the theory
should predict the results of measurements.
Stephen W. Hawking

We are led to ask what the concept of mass really is. It is supposed to be an intrinsic property of
objects. We are faced with the basic question: Do we want mathematical laws that simply predict
things or do we want an actual explanation of why reality is going to act in the way it will?

Stephen Hawking (as illustrated by the quote above) does not care to describe reality as it is, he only
wants to make predictions. As long as you have a theory that says certain things will happen as the
results of experiments, he is happy if the results actually turn out to be as predicted. He does not care
what reality, as such, actually is. Some people do care. The quote comes from a debate with Roger
Penrose who takes the opposite point of view. Hawking only predicts things and Penrose wants to
know what nature as such is.


Certainly one should be able to measure mass in some way. When you stand on a balance in the gym
and see 80 kilos, what you are measuring is not quite the mass. You are measuring your weight. If you
take this same balance and your body without modifications to the Moon, then you will weigh a lot less
but your mass is the same. The gravitational attraction on the Moon is a lot less than on the Earth and
so you weigh a lot less on the moon than on the earth. Your mass, however, remains the same because
nothing happened to your body in the flight to the moon.

According to Newton we have the equation F = ma which is his second law. Further along in the
theory, we obtain the law of universal gravition which will give us the magnitude and direction of the
gravitational force of one body upon another. It is given by the equation F = GmMr-2. G is a constant
called the gravitational constant. It is equal to one definite value throughout the universe and it arises in
this formula mainly through the way we choose to measure the other quantities. The m and M are the
masses of the two objects involved and r is the distance between them.

If we have Earth and Sun, the gravitational attraction by the Sun upon the Earth is given by this
formula, where m is the mass of the Earth, M the mass of the Sun and r the distance between the Earth
and the Sun. Observe that the force depends on inverse square power of the distance between the two
objects. This means that if the distance increases by a factor of two, the force decreases by a factor of 4.
Even though the Sun is very far away from us (r is large), still the force is considerable. It binds the
Earth to the Sun in an orbit. This can only be if the masses are very large, and of course they are, the
Sun is a very heavy object. The Earth is light in comparison but still very heavy.

The mass in the second law is called the inertial mass because it gives rise to the concept of inertia.
Inertia means that an object has a certain resistance to being stopped. If an object is moving, then you
have to exert effort to stop it. This effort increases if the object is moving fast or if it very heavy. Inertia
is a measurement of this effort. If a car is moving at a constant speed along the road, if I want to stop it,
I have to push very hard. If a bicycle was moving on the same road at the same seed, I would have to
push a lot less because the mass of the bicycle is lower than that of the car. So the force I have apply
goes up as the mass goes up. And this mass that raises the inertia is called the inertial mass.

The masses in the law of universal gravitation are gravitational masses. These masses give rise to the
gravitational attraction. If the Sun were heavier than it is now, the gravitational attraction on Earth
would be higher. If it were lighter, it would be less. This is the gravitational mass of the Sun.

The question becomes: Are the two masses equal? Both Newton and Einstein assumed that they were
equal. This is extremely important because if they are equal then when we want to make predictions
about objects influenced by gravity, we can equate the forces to each other and thus cancel out the m on
both sides of the equation. The immediate result would be that the acceleration experienced by a body
due to gravity does not depend upon its mass. Continuing like this gives rise to many predictions that
would be made complicated if inertial and gravitational masses were different.

Note that because of this consequence and Aristotle saying that heavier objects fall faster than light
ones, he is saying that the two masses are different. According to Newton and Einstein they are equal.
This is however not a matter of opinion as we want to model reality. The idea that this must actually be
testable first came to Galileo who did the experiment and determined that objects of different mass fall
at the same rate. So to the accuracy of his experiment, he agrees with Newton and Einstein.

The fact whether gravitational and inertial mass are equal or not is of such extreme importance because
it is so basic for all physical theories, that to this day experiments are being done to decide this
question. So far, within experimental error, it seems that they are actually equal. Although there have
been people in recent history of science who have claimed that light objects fall faster than heavy ones.
Unfortunately or not, depending on which standpoint you take, these experiments have not been able to
be duplicated. Very possibly, the setup was some how incorrect, the measurements were taken wrongly
we do not know. There is somebody who claims that they are not equal but the majority of
experiments can verify that these two masses are actually equal. This is a very important assumption
underlying most or pretty much all of physics as we know it today.


10.4 Albert Einsteins Revolution

It did not last: the Devil howling Ho!

Let Einstein be! restored the status quo.
Sir John Collings Squire

Albert Einstein did a lot of things and all of what he did was pretty major. In 1905 he published 3
articles and all three of them were extremely important in the history of physics. They were about
Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and special relativity.

Brownian motion is the motion of large particles in a medium of small ones. Take a glass of water and
drop one drop of ink in it. You will see that that the drop of ink spreads throughout that glass of water
quite quickly but it does so in a very strange motion. It does not just uniformly expand or go down to
the bottom, it becomes very strange, a lot of little eddies form and it gets very complicated. The fact
that this motion of the ink in your glass of water is very complicated and was begging for an
explanation was observed by a man called Brown. For a long time, it was unknown why this motion
was as complicated as it was. This is a very simple experiment, everyone can do it at home without
much effort. The most beautiful problems (in mathematics as well as physics) are the problems that are
simple to state and very difficult to solve. Brownian motion is very good example of such a problem.

Einstein explained it by assuming that matter is composed of atoms. It is a very crucial assumption that
matter is actually atomic. In other words, he assumed that there are small particles bumping into each

other. The model here is very much like that of a billiard. On a billiard table you have a surface, which
has a little friction and you have balls on that surface that you can knock into each other. Einstein
assumed that nature works exactly like this. Atoms work like billiard balls. The drop of ink that you put
in the water is composed in a set of billiard balls called atoms. The water is also composed of such
billiard balls. Of course, they are of different mass and different sizes, the ink atoms and the water
atoms, and they bump into each other and by this bumping they cause very complicated motions.
Einstein explained why Brownian motion happens the way it does. Nowadays, we know that there are
atoms, in water there are actually molecules, but effectively Einsteins theory with some modifications
is still valid today. This was a very important theory for the atomic theory, that is, that matter is made
of discrete bits called atoms.

The photoelectric effect takes place when light is shown on a piece of metal. This metal then releases
electrons released as an electric charge. This is very strange, nobody could explain it. Somehow, this
experiment shows that you can convert light into electricity. How can you get electrical current from
just shining a light on something? Nobody could explain why for a long time.

Einstein explained this effect by assuming that light is quantised in addition to matter. He thought that
light was made up of individual little bits that knock into this piece of metal and if you knock hard
enough, you knock an electron out giving a current. Electrons are billiard balls was the first
assumption and Light is also made up of billiard balls was the second assumptin. The consequence is
that the photoelectric effect comes out of the theoryl. Einstein won the Nobel prize for this explanation
in 1921. The theory of the photoelectric effect is so important because it was one of the first pieces of
information pointing towards the quantum theory.

The main concept of special relativity is that all things are relative to the observer. I am an observer: I
look at the world, I listen to silence, I smell the perfumes and so on. I stand here now and I see this
table in front of me is stationery. Now I walk towards it and I see the table is moving. I can draw three
conclusions from this: either I am moving and the table is stationery or I am stationery and the table is
moving or we are both moving. I can only say that I conclude that the last two are false and that I am

moving and the table is stationery but how am I going to do this? I do this with respect to the reference
frame of the room. The floor and the walls are the points of reference that I choose to define my own
position in this room. As I walk forward, my position in relation to the walls and the floor changes.
Therefore it is I who is moving and not the table. If I had no such reference frame, if the walls and the
floor were not there, then I could not tell if I or the table is moving.

The original simile that Einstein gave for this is a train leaving from a platform. Nowadays, the new
German trains, the ICE trains are so nice and quiet that you cannot tell whether it is your train that is
about to accelerate or not. You sit in the train and there is a train beside you on the next tracks and
suddenly you see they are moving. It takes you a moment and you have to look at the platform to see if
it is your train or the other one that is moving. And this is a perfect example of relativity. You see the
other train and you see there is some relative movement. But because the engine in these new trains are
so smooth, you cannot tell by feeling your seat which train it is and you have to look at the platform,
you have to look at a reference frame which you define to be stationery for your system of the world to
be able to tell is it you or the other train. This is the basic concept of the special theory of relativity.
Every measurement that is made of not only whether something is moving but also how quickly,
speed, measurement of position, is all relative and relative to the observer. So one can not say, the
other train is moving but one can only say the other train is moving with respect to the platform.

The trick comes when there are two different observers who may make different measurements. You
sitting there will measure this table to be stationery. I, who is moving, will measure it to be moving.
And we cannot agree whether the table is moving or whether it is stationery unless we choose a
common reference frame or we come up with some method to translate from my reference frame to
yours. Any measurement must be qualified with a reference frame and is meaningless without it. An
absolute motion is therefore impossible. The lesson that all measurements are inherently relative is the
fundamental point of special relativity and is extremely important in the history of science.

Ten years later, Einstein published the general theory of relativity. General relativity is actually very
similar to special relativity in the sense that all the ideas are the same. It is only the mathematics that is

different. We shall meet with some new concepts that are derived from this beginning later. First we
want to have a closer look at special relativity.

10.5 Special Relativity

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour,
and it seems like a minute. THATS relativity.
Albert Einstein

In special relativity we make some assumptions about reality. From these a physics can be built by
logical reasoning. Once we have the axioms we agree to deduce a theory from this by upholding some
principles of deduction. Two such principles are: All measurements are relative to the observer and we
must define all the quantities in the universe by the way they are measured. You cannot just say the
object has a mass. You have to say how you are going to determine how much mass it has. Or you
cannot say this table is stationery unless you somehow come up with a way to verify experimentally
whether or not it is stationery. And this is very crucial because both of these together give rise to such
statements as it is not possible to determine which of the trains is moving unless I define a reference
frame, such as the platform, which will tell me.

There are two axioms of the theory. First of all, the speed of light is the same for all observers. This is
very crucial because we have just said the speed of the table, whether it is stationery or moving, is not
the same for all observers. For you it is stationery and if I walk, it is not stationary to me. Therefore the
speed of the table is not constant for all observers. However, Einstein postulated that the speed of light
is the same for all observers. This is a very crucial assumption and a very revolutionary one. He
basically got this from Maxwells theory of light. Maxwell lived in the 19th century and he developed
the theory of light called Maxwells equations. Einstein asked himself what would happen within the

system of these Maxwell equations if somebody were to sit on a beam of light or catch up with one.
And he found out that this question could not be answered within that theory. In other words, according
to these Maxwell equations it is impossible to sit on a beam of light. It will always be moving with the
speed of light relative to you. Einstein then assumed this for his theory. In other words, no matter what
I am doing, no matter how fast I am moving and no matter where I am, I cannot move relative to the
speed of light.

The speed of light can be measured experimentally (it is roughly 3 108 m/s). The first axiom says that
all observers will obtain the same measurement result, i.e. the speed of light is a universal constant.
Being a speed, it is expressed in terms of meters travelled per second. We could now measure a time
interval (for any action) and use the speed of light to translate our measurement from a number of
second to a number of meters. In this way, it makes sense to say that drinking tea takes roughly 2 1010
meters. Thus the idea arises that time is space. If the speed of light is constant for everyone, then I can
use that as a measurement stick. I can define that so many meters are so many seconds and in that way I
am basically forced to consider that time as just like space. The speed of light which is so many meters
per second allows me to convert units of space into units of time and in a consistent way for all
observers in the Universe because the speed of light is the same for all observers. Since we can convert
time into space, time in effect is another form of space.

The arrow of time (that time moves in one direction) has to be put into the theory from outside but we
do not assume it here. This is given by the laws of thermodynamics, which says that entropy either
increases or remains constant but we will not go into that now.

The second axiom of special relativity is a mathematical axiom, which states that the laws of physics
have the same form in all reference frames. All different types of reference frames such as this room or
the train have physics defined in them. In all of these frames, we have laws of physics that can be
postulated in theory and observed to hold true by experiment. The laws will be slightly different
because of the difference between the frames. Physical laws are given in terms of equations. These
equations have variables and constants in them. This axiom says that the laws have the same form

which means that if certain quantities are squared, if others are square rooted, in mathematical
equations that will be true for everyone. The actual constants can be different but the form, the powers
of things, how things are multiplied and divided in these equations, that has to be the same.

From these humble beginnings of two assumptions and two principles of deduction, we get special
relativity. E = mc2 is the most famous equation that comes out of special relativity. It asserts that
energy and mass are two different forms of the same thing. In other words, mass is a measure of the
energy content of an object. Doing a lot of work after this allows you to convert mass into energy and
energy into mass. This is how a nuclear reactor works. You take mass, uranium, you break it up and
you get electricity out of it.

Particle physics is the physics that studies individual elementary particles that nature is made up of.
That is very much based upon these laws of special relativity because those particles tend to move
quickly in the accelerators.

10.6 General Relativity

Nature always acts by the shortest course.

Pierre de Fermat
Ubi materia, ibi geometria.
Johannes Kepler

The quotes given above really reflect the spirit of modern physics and especially that of general
relativity. Fermats statement means that nature acts through a minimum principle. There is some
quantity, which physicists call the action, which nature keeps at a minimum. Constructing such a

quantity will give us general relativity in a single swoop. This construction is heavily mathematical and
was not chosen by Einstein (but constructed later by Hilbert) and so we will not illustrate it here.

The second quote says whereever there is matter, there is geometry. General relativity will introduce
the crucial idea that the presence of matter may modify the properties of the local space. Space thus
depends on what is in it.

There are many ways to axiomatise general relativity. We shall illustrate the route taken by Einstein.
First, we assume that the geometry of the world is non-Euclidean. This allows the possibility that space
is curved, i.e. lines which are initially parallel may or may not cross at some stage. The second
assumption is that locally special relativity holds. The statement locally is important because special
relativity assumed the speed of light is constant for everyone and one of the predictions that special
relativity makes is that you cannot accelerate faster than the speed of light.

In general relativity you can move faster than the speed of light because the requirement is only local.
You remember from Star Trek there is such a thing as a warp-drive. In fact, this is possible. Recently,
someone came up with a theory of how one would implement a warp-drive. This depends on the
spaceship being able to construct a special kind of curvature of space around itself that would pull the
spaceship forwards. Locally you would not move faster than the speed of light but globally, judged
from stars far away you would move as fast as you like. According to this method, it would actually be
possible to move from the Earth to the Andromeda galaxy in a few days. The theory is perfectly
respectable but building the machine involves many complications. The important point here is that
special relativity is assumed to hold locally.

Machs principle is something absolutely crucial to general relativity. Ernst Mach was a philosopherphysicist who lived in the 20th century. He wrote a book, The Science of Mechanics, in which he
wrote about the physics of mechanics. It was used as a textbook in schools and universities for a long

time. In this book, he made certain statements about the meaning of mechanics in the real world.
Einstein read this book and abstracted what was called Machs principle. It is very controversial what
Machs principle actually is because in the book there is no section labeled My Principle. There are
many statements in this book and they are all slightly different which could be candidates for this.
While Machs contribution to science is formidable, his principle was extremely influential through the
validity of general relativity and so the discussion of what Mach would have called his principle is
largely a matter of the history of science. The principle that became influential is the one that Einstein
understood to be Machs opinion and used in the theory. It is this: The gravitational field is completely
determined by the mass distribution in the universe alone and all inertia (that is the resistance of being
stopped or changed in motion) arises due to the presence of other masses.

This means that if there is only a single object in the universe, it will have no mass and no inertia
because there are no other masses present to give it a mass or inertia. It also means, that if there were
no objects in the Universe, space itself would not exist. Geometry is completely determined by the
mass distribution. If there is no mass distribution, there is no space. These were the two basic
assumptions that Einstein made in developing his theory that he calls Machs principle. This is clearly
very philosophical. We might say that many properties of objects depend on our being able to
distinguish between them and others (the concept of beauty relys on us being able to distinguish
beautiful things from ugly things). Machs principle, as stated here, asserts that mass and inertia are
two such properties. In relation to gravity, it is these two properties that are crucial for an object.

It is the non-Euclidian geometry that allows gravity to be interpreted as geometry. What does it mean?
In the United Kingdom, people like playing bowling outside in the grass. You have a little ball in front
and you have a series of much bigger balls in your hands that you throw towards the little ball.
Whoever comes closest to the little ball wins. To make this game a little more fun, you play it out in the
grass and the grass, of course, is slightly uneven. So you judge the distance, a nice straight line, you
bowl and you miss entirely! This is true because the grass is not level. Suppose you were not able to
see so well, then you could not perceive this unevenness in the ground. To then explain the motion of
the ball, you need to postulate some force. However, if you look closely, you see that it was just the
curvature of the grass that deviated the ball. In other words, the curvature of the ground influences the

motion of the ball. It generates a force and this is how gravity can be translated into geometry. If
geometry were curved in some way, then it would give rise to gravitational attraction.


Let us first look at this picture here. This is a two-dimensional projection of what geometry could look
like. Imagine that this sheet were made of rubber, is fixed at the end points and you put some heavy
mass in the middle. The heavy mass drags the rubber down. If you roll a small mass along the rubber
sheet, it dips down and dips up again. In this way, the curvature of the sheet gives rise to what looks
like gravitational attraction of the heavy mass for the little one.

If the large mass were the the sun and the little one a beam of light originating at a star, you would
perceive the star at a location where it is not. If the sun moves out of the path between you and the star,
you will now perceive the star to be where it is. By comparing these two measurements, as illustrated in
the figure, one can verify that the sun does indeed bend the path of light in space and that thus space is


This picture here shows you the local geometry. The apple is clearly curved. But if you look upon a
particular small place of the apple with a magnifying glass, it looks to you as if everything were level.
This is how we imagine space to be. We have experimentally verified that our space is curved on large
distances but on small distances (such as human distances) space is flat. This was taken care of in the
theory by the assumption that locally (in small places) special relativity holds. That is, curvature does
not exist in small places.

10.7 The Nature of Space and Time

Physical space is not an intuition, but a construct, a system.

Sir Edmund Whittaker
Time is awake when all things sleep. Time stands straight when all things fall. Time shuts in all and
will not be shut. Is, was, and shall be are Times children. O Reasoning, be witness, be stable.

Absolute space, in its own nature, without relation to anything external, remains always similar and
immovable Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably
without relation to anything external
Sir Issac Newton

One of the first questions with respect to space and time is how many dimensions that space-time has.
It is possible to distinguish how many dimensions your space has from within that space. Take a
tetrahedron (pyramid with triangle as base) and consider the distances between all of its points. Now
take a fifth point and look at the distances between the fifth point and the four points of the tetrahedron.

If knowledge of three distances allows you to work out the fourth one (which you can experimentally
verify), then your space has three dimensions. This is a simple consequence of the mathematics of
geometry. The main point here is that the number of dimensions is a quantity which can be
experimentally measured.

Euclids geometry was taken for granted even in special relativity and up until 1915 it was taken as the
geometry of nature by physicists. Newton even took space to be absolute as illustrated by the quote
above. First of all, Newton makes a distinction between time and space and he says that in the absolute
form they are not influenced by anything. Machs principle, which Einstein assumed, is exactly the
opposite: Without anything external the concepts of time and space do not even make sense. As we
have seen, it is possible to experimentally verify the curvature of space and so Newton is definitely

The Universe may be finite but not necessarily bound. This is a slight mathematical distinction. Let us
say you have a football. The football is finite in the sense that it has a certain finite area but it is not
bounded. In other words, you can walk around it in a certain direction and never stop but eventually
return to your starting point. A chess board is also finite. It has a certain area but it is bounded. If you
walk in a straight line, you will eventually hit the edge. Two spaces, which are both finite, are not
necessarily both bounded.

From Einsteins theory one can draw several conclusions. Some universes are finite, some are not, but
the finite ones are not bounded. In other words, it is very likely that the universe in which we live is
finite and unbounded. If you travel in a straight line along the universe, you will eventually return to
where you began. This is what we mean by unbounded and finite. If it was infinite, you would not
return, and if it was bounded, you would hit an edge. But if you return to where you began, it is both
finite and unbounded.


If you do some experiments and look at galaxies, you see that almost all, with some exceptions, are
moving away from us. They are receeding from us. The universe is expanding. How can you visualize
the universe as expanding and view space itself getting bigger? Imagine a little balloon with marked
points on it. If you blow it up, the relative distances between the points get larger. This is how the
Universe expands. We have our galaxy, we have the Andromeda galaxy and the distance between the
two gets larger because space, like a balloon, gets blown up. This is what gives rise to the Big Bang. If
you extrapolate this motion of expansion backwards in time, eventually, because this happens at a finite
rate and the Universe is finite, you eventually get to a point where the Universe is a point and the event
that started the blowing up is called the Big Bang. Whether or not a Big Bang actually took place is a
bit of a controversial assumption. It does not come out of the theory so nicely. That is till under debate.

The axioms of space time change with the observed status. If you had people that lived on a sphere,
these people could draw triangles on that sphere. If they drew a little triangle, and they added up the
sums of the angle of that triangle, they would get a sum that is slightly bigger that 180 degrees. If they
drew a bigger triangle and added up the angles, they would get a significantly bigger number. In other
words, the sum of the angles of triangles of different size on the sphere are different. This gives rise to
the fact that the concept congruent does not exist on the sphere. Congruent mathematically means
two objects of different sizes having the same shape. That is, a small triangle and a big triangle have
the same sum of angles. This is not true on the sphere but congruent is one of the basic primitive
terms of Euclids geometry. Spherical geometry, that is, the geometry of people who live on the
sphere, would necessarily be different. The assumptions that we make about the universe by this
example are necessarily influenced by the way we observe it. If we observed it differently, then we
would also make different conclusions about the universe.

10.8 Conclusions

We have to consider how things are measured. This gives rise to a number of things, such as
simultaneity is not possible to verify, such as absolute motion is not possible to verify and that one can
only verify motion relative to oneself.


Gravitational and inertial masses are equal. First of all, it is very important to know whether they are
equal or not because then these physical laws may hold or may not. It was assumed by everyone so far
that they are equal. This is a very important assumption so far and it has been checked many times.
And the first check was the first experiment in history.

Special relativity assumes that the speed of light is constant. General relativity takes special relativity
as true locally but not globally. It takes a non-Euclidean geometry as basic for the universe as a whole
and this has been experimentally verified. This can give rise to a universe which is finite but
unbounded. Machs principle is crucial for general relativity and it states that the geometry is
influenced by the presence of masses and that inertia is influenced by the presence of other masses.

General relativity is a very important theory in big things. Things approximately of planetary scale or
bigger. So locally for us as we live here on Earth it is not important. The corrections of general
relativity to Newtons laws are so small on Earth that we do not need to take account of them for
everyday events. However, when we proceed to consider things in the whole solar system or outside in
the galaxy, then the corrections become large enough that we do need to consider this. Wherever
gravity is not small compared to the other forces we cannot ignore general relativity. The
electromagnetic force, for example, is very strong on the Earth compared to gravity. This table is 99%
empty space, there is only a little bit of mass there but the fact that the table is actually solid is due to
the electromagnetic interactions of the atoms that make it up. I have to exert a lot of effort to break the
surface of the table, i.e. to break the electromagnetic field between the atoms making up the table. But
gravity is quite weak. It is perfectly possible to jump very easily. So on Earth the force of gravity is
very small compared to other forces, such as the electromagnetic force, and therefore we can ignore
general relativity. In outer space, the other forces become negligible to gravity and it is gravity that
holds together a galaxy.


Lecture 12: Quantum Theory

Last time we discussed general relativity, which is the physics of the large. Now we are going to go
into the physics of the small quantum mechanics.

12.1 A Discrete Space-time?

We cannot be sure that the supposed continuity of our personal experiences is not of the same nature
as the pseudo-continuity of the cinema.
Sir Edmund Whittaker

In the section on general relativity we discussed that if we assume that the speed of light is the same for
everyone, then one can use this to translate space into time and backwards. Effectively, time becomes
just another dimension. We do not live in three space and one time dimensions but we live in four
dimensions. The fact that we measure one in meters and the other in seconds is basically a human
contrivance or simply put, a convention. We can just as well measure time in meters.

A very fundamental underlying assumption for general relativity, quantum mechanics and for most of
physics is that space is continuous. In other words, if you take two specific points of space that are a
finite distance apart, say 1 m, there are an infinite number of points in between them. That is effectively
what continuity says. Discreteness is exactly the opposite. There are only a finite number of points.

To visualize discreteness, imagine a chess board. A chess board has 8 squares one way and 8 squares
the other way, so you get 64 squares in total. When you move the pieces on the chess board you are

allowed to move them in multiples of a single square. You cannot move your queen half a square
forward. You have to move it a full square or multiples of a full square. Moving it half a square is not
allowed, it is against the rules of the game. On the chess board, adjacency makes sense. You can say
that a particular square has other squares beside it and there are yet other squares that are not beside it.
In continuous space you cannot make that statement. The reason is that between the reference point and
any point that is a potential candidate for the neighbor lie an infinite number of other points. So no
point has a particular other point as a neighbor. The expression next to or adjacent makes sense
only if your domain is discrete.

It happens to be my own opinion that the universe as it is cannot be continuous. I do not think that there
is anything continuous including space-time.

This implies a maximal speed. You can only move one space unit in one time unit. You cannot move
more than this because that means that you would have to somehow skip. Of course, you can move
slower than that because you can stay stationary at a particular point for some time units and then
move. How is this evolution going to take place? Everything takes place in jumps.

At the cinema, there are a certain number of frames per second. Each frame is an actual still picture but
if you are shown these pictures quickly enough, then you have the illusion that things move
continuously. It is perfectly possible that the reality in which we live is discrete but the intervals are
small enough that what we observe is continuous because we cannot resolve the jumps. As in the
cinema 24 frames per second are enough for the human eye not to be able to perceive the jumps
between the pictures.

Question: Why does this imply a maximal speed?


If you imagine the queen on the chess board moving across, to get from one corner of the board to the
other corner, she has to move across a certain number of squares. She cannot just jump. She has to
visit every square in between. If the visiting is to be an event, she must be at that square at a certain
time. If everything is discrete, including space and time, there has to be one specific moment at which
she is at each of the squares. That gives rise to her not being able to move quicker than visiting each
square in succession in a succession of moments.

This solves all of the paradoxes of motion that Xeno came up with. You are probably familiar with the
Achilles and the tortoise experiment. Achilles, fastest runner of antiquity, runs a race with a tortoise
who is obviously slow. They run over a certain course, let us say 100 meters. Achilles wants to be
reasonably fair so he lets the tortoise go halfway before he begins. Then Xeno says the tortoise will win
because when Achilles gets to the point where the tortoise was when he started, the tortoise will
obviously have moved further on. The tortoise still leads. By the time that Achilles gets to the point
where the tortoise was when Achilles reached the halfway point, the tortoise has again moved slightly
further. One repeats the argument again and again and it becomes clear that the tortoise must win as
Achilles is unable to overtake her. A lot of philosophers get into trouble with this and one can very
easily resolve it. The standard way of doing this is to use the concepts of limits and other complicated
mathematics. It is however much more elegant and simple to postulate space-time as discrete. As all
motion occurs in jumps over discrete intervals, Achilles will win as this argument can not be continued
ad infinitum by construction of the space. The paradox does not even have to be refuted, it makes no
sense and thus is, by definition, not a paradox. A similar story could be told about a great number of
other paradoxes and this shows the powerful beauty of the assumption of discreteness of space-time.

The idea of atoms, that is, matter being discrete, is very old. In the Greek days there was Democritus;
he first wrote it down but the idea was much older. Atom is a Greek word meaning indivisible. He
reckoned that matter is made up of discrete units that have a size, a mass and cannot be divided. In
other words, there are some fundamental particles of which everything is made. In the 19th century
people got very serious about this idea and adopted the word atom and constructed elaborate theories
of atomic matter. Einsteins explanation (in the 20th century) of Brownian motion was a big step to the
atomic theory being verified in nature. What we now call an atom is divisible into several pieces and

we know to some extent what those pieces are. However we still believe that these pieces are
indivisible in their own right. So the idea continues but just moved on.

Continuity of space-time is impossible to verify. You do an experiment and you can look at nature.
You see something is happening. If you assume the world is continuous, you cannot verify this because
your experiment necessarily looks at a finite chunk of time or space. You see events happening over
that time, and if you assume that the discreteness in space and time is just a little finer than your
experiment can resolve, you can always explain things in terms of a discrete space-time. If your space
is discrete, you can eventually verify it. If your experiments get fine enough that you can resolve this
minimal smallest distance or time, you can do it. If space-time is continuous, you can never verify that.
This is the same sort of argument that we said, you can verify a mathematical theorem for particular
instances of it just by looking at those instances. But if you want to prove the theorem for all such
things, a very different procedure becomes necessary. In mathematics we can do that. Doing an
experiment on nature is a very different game than theorizing.

I want to make a side remark for the mathematicians here. It is a technical matter so do not be afraid if
you do not immediately get this. We want to ask the question: How many points are there in space?
Consider a line, a plane and a sphere. These structures have different number of dimensions: A line has
one dimension, a plane has two and a sphere three dimensions. If space-time is continuous, this
immediately means that each of these objects has an infinite number of points in it. Can we compare
infinities? Yes, we can. We define two sets as having the same number of elements if we can pair off
the elements in one set with the elements in the other set in a one-to-one manner. Consider this
construction: For any point on the sphere, write down its three coordinates (the sphere being three
dimensional, any point requires three numbers to specify it). Then construct a new number by taking
the first digit of first coordinate, appending the first digit of the second coordinate and then the first
digit of the third coordinate. Proceeding in this way through all the digits of all the three coordinates,
we have constructed a single number. Given this number, it is clear that the three coordinates can easily
be recovered from it. It can be shown mathematically that the translation to this number and back from
it is unique in the required way. In other words, giving a single number is sufficient to uniquely
determine a three-dimensional point in the sphere. If we precede this constructed number by a zero and

a decimal point, this number is necessarily positive and between zero and one. Thus the number of
points in the sphere is equal to the number of points in the interval between zero and one on the line.
Clearly this can be done for the plane or for any construction of an arbitrary number of dimensions and
we arrive at a theorem: The number of points in a space of an arbitrary number of dimensions is the
same number of points as those on any finite length line segment.

12.2 Postulates of Impotence

In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of an
Galileo Galilei (1632)

Postulates of impotence is a funny name attached to a series of statements that are impossible. It turns
out that a lot of physics can be derived very nicely if you assume that certain things are not possible.
We are customary to developing an axiomatic system by saying: We are allowed to do this thing. It
turns out that a lot of physics is actually based on exactly the opposite idea. You do not assume that
something is true but rather you assume that something is false. This is a philosophically negative
viewpoint on the beginning of a theory but it turns out to be much more useful in practice.

There are some actions that are fundamentally impossible and those assumptions get you to physical
theories. Saying that something is impossible cannot really be verified very well. That leads you to
problems with actual experimental verification but these axioms are, of course going to be axioms, i.e.
we are going to assume them; we are going to agree that they are true.


For example, detecting translatory motion of a system within that system. What does this mean? A train
that is moving is moving translationally. It moves across, which is a translation motion - translation as
opposed to rotation. If I am sitting in the train, I am moving along with it. How do I detect whether it is
moving? I look at the ground. But how am I to decide if it is train that is moving or it is the ground? I
cannot. This is the essence of special relativity: That it is impossible to distinguish whether it is the
train or the ground that is moving.

Another example is perpetual motion. You are all familiar with the attempts over the last few hundred
years to develop a machine that will never stop. Make a machine, invest some energy in starting it, and
then after some time it will stop because there is friction. There have been many attempts to build a
machine that will not stop but they have all failed. That it is impossible to build a machine that will
never stop is one of the basic assumptions of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics says
that there is always some net expenditure of energy.

A third example is Heisenbergs uncertainty relation which says that it is impossible to simultaneously
measure both the position and the momentum of particle to an arbitrary amount of accuracy. We will
return to this relation later.

The cosmological principle says that it is impossible to measure where we are in the universe, both in
position and time. This is one of the fundamental pieces of general relativity, which basically says that
there is no distinguished point in the Universe, i.e. there is no center of the Universe. Not only are we
not in the center, but there actually is no center. This leads to the conclusion that it is impossible to
determine your position in the universe. The best one can do is to determine relative positions to other
objects. You can measure motion, position, and time only with respect to the here and now. You
cannot measure them globally. There is no universal clock but there is only a relative clock.


However, temperature is different. Lord Kelvin (previously William Thompson) introduced a new
temperature scale, which was based on extrapolation. Remember that temperature is a measure of the
average speed of the molecules of the substance that possesses the said temperature. If the temperature
decreases, the average speed decreases. However, there is a slowest average speed zero, i.e. a
completely stationary collection of molecules. This is assigned the temperature of zero degrees Kelvin.
In this way, it is possible to give an absolute measurement of temperature in contradistinction to space
and time.

12.3 Unexplainable Experiments

What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world.
Albert Einstein

Quantum mechanics started historically from a number of experiments that the physicists at the time
were not able to explain. Before I begin I would like to make a comment. People often marvel at the
fact that a number of fundamental constants that determine how strong certain forces are, very finely
tuned. They say that if one of them was slightly different, life, as we know it, could not exist. This is a
statement so simplified that it ceases to be true because one cannot just modify constants
independently. They are all dependent on each other in very intricate ways. If you were to change one
constant, all the other ones would also change and then life might be possible again. Nature does not
have that many independent knobs that one may turn but rather is constructed from a very tiny

But let us just look at history. First, there was black body radiation. Black body radiation is, if you have
a little cavity in an oven that melts iron ore, light from that cavity will shine with a certain spectrum.
Planck had exposure to these big ovens that were melting iron. He was basically involved in designing
bigger and better such ovens and he noticed that the radiation that comes out is very uniform and he
could not explain why. If you just look at the light and measure from which wavelengths you get a

certain energy, then you get a nice curve a very smooth, very simple curve. Several people tried to
explain it and they could not. Planck worked for a long time and developed a new theory where it was
very necessary that he assumed that the frequency of the light is discrete. In other words, the frequency
of light is a multiple of a basic frequency. Knowing that curve you can measure how small that
parameter is so everything works out beautifully. He got a Nobel prize for this in 1918 because he was
able to explain this black body radiation. This was the first indication that something that we can
actually measure in the universe is not continuous.

Later came the photoelectric effect. If you shine light on a piece of metal, you get an electric current.
That has been experimentally verified many times and the explanation is due to Einstein who also got a
Nobel prize for this. He explained it by assuming that light energy is discrete, it comes in little packets.
If you have a little billiard ball light-atom, we call it a photon, and it strikes the electron in the atom of
the metal hard enough, then the electron pops out of the metal. Electrons popping out is what we call
current. So you get electricity.

Both experiments were known many years before they were explained and caused a great stir in the
community. The explanations, when they finally came, required some very new ideas about the world
to be accepted. Namely that certain quantities were not continuous but discrete. This eventually gave
rise to the quantum theory. How are we to understand the discrete nature of light? Before we can
answer this, we need to make the picture yet fuzzier by discussing another famous experiment.

In the double-slit experiment, you have a wall and two holes in it that are very close together. There is a
second wall behind the first one and when you shine light on the first one, you can see some of this
light on the second wall shining through the two holes. The question is what is the pattern of light
portions on the second wall going to look like? You do not see two dots but you see a whole
interference pattern. You see one big dot in the middle and you see two littler dots on the sides and you
see two even smaller dots on either side of that. If light were made of particles we would expect to see
just two dots on the wall corresponding to the holes. If light were made of waves, we would expect to
see exactly what we do see an interference pattern. You can see this if you imagine a water wave

hitting a pier with two holes in it. The holes will let some water through and waves will form that will
interference behind the holes and build a complex pattern of little waves. This is how light can produce
this interference pattern.

However, how do you measure the pattern? You put a camera at the back, that receives the light and
records an actual photographic image. That means that light came and hit the film and that means that
light acts like a particle. Now you have one experiment in which light acted like a wave moving
through slits and secondly light acted like a particle by hitting the film making a little imprint on it. So
what is it going to be? Is it a wave or is it a particle? The way this was resolved is that people assumed
that it was actually both. You must not regard this as a contradiction. It is not a particle and a wave at
the same time but it is a new thing that sometimes acts like a wave and sometimes acts like a particle.
This is like an actor behaves in movies. An actor can play one part and he can play a second part, but
he is not identical to either of them. He is an independent human being but he can play various roles.
Light has its own nature and sometimes it chooses to act like a wave and sometimes it chooses to act
like a particle.

All of these experiments can be explained by assuming that various quantities are discrete in
particular: energy, mass, momentum and electric charge. Basically most of the physical parameters that
you encounter are discrete. Quantum theory makes everything discrete except space and time, which
creates complications. Both space and time are continuous in quantum theory.

12.4 Quantum Theory

What is quantum theory? We introduce something we call the state of a system. This is a
philosophical object. It is never discussed what that state actually is. That state gets a label, a
mathematical function, which is called a wave function. The wave function is not reality, it is simply a
description of reality. The state is reality but nobody ever tells you what this state is. This wave

function, which is the description of this state evolves according to a certain equation. It is all very
complicated how these equations act but basically a specific state of affairs in a system is labeled by a
function and this function changes over time. The evolution of that change is governed by an equation
which we know. This is the assumption of quantum theory: A system exists in a certain state. That
state can be labeled by a function and the evolution of this label is given by a certain equation.

Then how do you get data out of this? You get the results of a measurement by applying a certain
operator on that function. An operation would be differentiating it or multiplying it by some factor.
Any mathematical operation which changes the function qualifies. Every measurement is represented
by an operator and these exists a well-defined way to extract the possible outcomes of a measurement
from the operator.

Every measurement that we make is represented by such an operator that will retrieve something from
the function. We can construct operators for various types of things, such as position or momentum and
so on. We can always write down such an operation that we make upon this function. Never mind what
these operations are, but such operators can be constructed. So you have function, you put an operator
upon this function, you get a number back. And this number is the result of an experimental
measurement. A possible result. The trick is that this is usually discrete, of course, and the likelihood
that you will actually get this result is given by the square of the wave function.

So your system is described by a function and depending on how I look at that system, I can have
different results of operations. At the moment the table is stationary and now the table is moving. These
are two different results of an experiment that I can make upon it. The likelihood of me measuring the
table as stationary depends upon the likelihood of me being stationary. And vise versa, the likelihood
that I measure the table as moving depends on the likelihood that I am moving with respect to the
ground. So all of these experimental measurements have a certain probability attached to them. This is
what gives you uncertainty.


12.5 Uncertainty

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain,
they do not refer to reality.
Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was one of the first people who worked on this and he did not like it at all. A real
probability is never zero and never one. It may be close but never actually equal to zero or one. You
never have a certain result, you always have a little uncertainty. If you have an exact mathematical law,
then it is no longer reality. You cannot measure position and momentum exactly at the same time. This
is what the uncertainty relation, due to Heisenberg, says. You can measure position exactly but if you
do, then momentum becomes totally uncertain. You can measure momentum exactly but if you do, then
position becomes totally uncertain. You can measure both together at the same time but then both have
a certain amount of uncertainty. In other words, this principle claims that there is uncertainty
fundamentally in the system. This arises because by looking at it you influence the system.

If you think about it there are really only a few ways that you can interact with a system: you can look
at it, you can touch it or you can break it apart. This is what physics traditionally does. It either looks at
something, it touches it by an experiment, or it breaks it. Particle physics does all of this in the same
way. You look at something by shining photons on it, you touch it by interacting with the electronic
cloud of it and you break it apart by hitting it. All of these things are done by photons and so one can
really only interact with anything in a single way exchanging photons.

By doing all of these three operations you influence the system. If you take a final exam and I stand
there and look at you all the time, you will probably perform worse but definitely differently than you
would have if you were left by yourself. Observing the system influences the system. If I have an

electron sitting there, I can only measure its position by shining a photon on it. On these scales, the
photon is quite a major object and it will disturb the electron slightly so the result that I get from the
measurement is meaningful to some extent but now the electron is in a very different state of affairs
than it was before because it has been hit by something. In a certain sense, you could say that I can only
measure where you are when you are crossing the road if I run you over. Having measured where you
are, you are now in a very different state. And this measurement has, to a certain extent, become
meaningless. There is a certain uncertainty involved. This is very much the essence of quantum
mechanics. You can only measure the position of an electron if you hit it with a photon.

12.6 Schrdingers Schizophrenic Cat

No phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.

John Archibald Wheeler

We really have to consider the system that we look at and the observer as one system. We cannot say:
Here is the system and we are the physicists outside it who observe the system. The question is, is
this uncertainty that we get fundamental in the system or is it a limitation of the observer? If I measure
the length of the table by using a meter stick and the meter stick has notches every millimeter, my
measurement is going to be uncertain to at least a millimeter because I am not able to measure more
accurately. I could conceive of having a meter stick that has more lines on it and then I can measure
more accurately. Is this uncertainty my fault because I just cannot measure accurately enough, or is it
actually fundamental? This was (and continues to be) a huge discussion in quantum mechanics. There
are many disputes and they mainly center around a cat.

There are at least two big schools of thought on the observation process in quantum mechanics. One is
illustrated by the above quote which essentially says that nothing actually happens until you look at it.

The focus of this school of quantum mechanics is epistemology, that is, how to obtain knowledge.
Never mind what really is, we simply want to obtain some knowledge. Niels Bohr and Werner
Heisenberg, who the Nobel prize in 1922 and 1932 respectively, constructed one interpretation of
quantum mechanics that is encompassed by this principle. They said the quantum system and the
observer make one whole system. You cannot talk about the state of the system if you do not measure
it. They answered the question about uncertainty by saying that there is an inherent ambiguity. It is not
my fault that I cannot measure exactly, it is in the system. It is even theoretically impossible to measure
accurately. You cannot know what the electron actually is and you cannot know what it does, you can
only know what a large number of electrons will do on a statistical basis because you get probabilities
of measurements.

John von Neumann and Erwin Schrdinger came up with a slightly different viewpoint and here the
system is specified completely by a state. In particular, by this wave function that is going to label the
state. The emphasis here is on completely because, according to them, there is no piece of information
in reality that cannot be extracted from the wave function by some operation. In other words, this wave
function contains all the information of that system. This requires the collapse of the wave function.
This means that while we are not observing the system, it is in an uncertain state and only when we
observe it does it settle into a certain state; namely the one that is observed. This transition is known as
the collapse of the wave function.

Schrdinger illustrated this collapse by an analogy which at once makes the process understandable and
points out its most serious flaw. Imagine a box. This box is completely closed so that you cannot look
inside it. Inside this box you put a cat (alive!) and you also have a vial of nerve gas in it that can kill the
cat if it explodes. This is hooked up to an atomic decay reactor. So whenever an atom decays, the vial
is split, the gas is released and the cat dies. The trick in this whole thing is that it depends on the atomic
decay, which is a quantum mechanical phenomenon, when the cat dies. In other words, you cannot
predict exactly when an atom will decay. You can only predict a statistical time after which it is
extremely likely that an atom will have decayed.


After some time of the cat being in the box, we ask the question: Is the cat now alive or is it dead?
This is a valid question because you cannot predict exactly when an atom will decay, so you do not
know what the status of the cat is unless you look inside the box. This interpretation says that the
system and the observer make a whole; it makes no sense to talk about the system until I observe it. In
other words, we are now saying that until I open the box the cat is neither alive nor dead but it is both.
It has a certain probability of being dead and a certain probability of being alive but it only becomes
certain if I look. While it is still uncertain, the wave function describes a cat which is both alive and
dead because it has to include the complete information of the system. If I look, then the wave function
has to collapse into one definite state dead or alive. This is what is meant by the collapse. Clearly
this is somewhat strange as we are not used to thinking about cats as being both dead and alive at the
same time. This leads to a very deep problem: Why do large sized objects not behave in this way?

12.7 Quantum Mechanics as a Proof for the Existence of God

Whatever reality may be, one has to explain how one perceives the world to be Therefore we
have to solve the problem of why we do perceive either a live cat or a dead cat, but never a
Sir Roger Penrose

There once was a man who said, God

Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that the tree
Continues to be
When theres no one about in the quad.


Dear Sir, your astonishments odd

I am always about in the quad
And thats why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, yours faithfully, God.

While some people want to simply predict events, others want to know what reality really is. If we
belong to this second school of thought, we have to solve the problem of why we perceive either a live
cat or a dead cat but never a superposition. Alternatively, why does the wave function collapse and how
does this collapse happen? Penroses opinion is that this is flawed on some fundamental level. I
perfectly well agree. I do not think that any of this collapse is true. I will explain in the next lecture
what I believe should be true.

Some people have considered the collapse of the wave function to be a proof for the existence of God.
The argument goes like this: Everything should exist in a superposition of states until observed, this is
absurd and so it can not be true. Therefore someone has to observe everything all the time. This can
only be an omniscient and omnipresent being, i.e. God. The argument is humorously eclipsed by the
two anonymous limericks above.

12.8 Causality and Determinism

If one says that the wave function refers to a large number of identically prepared cat experiments
then after a certain time t a certain fraction of them will have been found to have died and a certain
fraction will still be alive, but no prediction of time of death of a particular cat can be made.

David Tovee

If I observe a particle here and now, and observe a similar one a moment later at a place very near the
former place, not only cannot I be sure whether it is the same, but this statement has no absolute
meaning. We must not admit the possibility of continuous observation. Observations are to be
regarded as discrete, disconnected events. That is why I said it is better to regard a particle not as a
permanent entity but as an instantaneous event. Sometimes these events form chains that give the
illusion of permanent beings
Erwin Schrdinger

The molecule has a nasty shock [when observed], and it is not the molecule it was before.
Sir William Bragg

It must be remembered that we are only aware of an atom or any other object in so far as it interacts
with the rest of the universe, and thereby gives rise to phenomena which ultimately reach our senses.
there is no meaning in saying that an atom is at A rather than at B unless it makes some difference to
something that it is at A not B.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

Things are deterministic if an outcome of a measurement can be predicted. Things are caused if
knowledge of the present state gives knowledge of the future state. There is a slight difference between
determination and causation. In this interpretation, according to Bohr, neither of them holds. The
uncertainty relation destroys determinism, you cannot measure anything exactly. The measurement
process means you destroy determinism because you involve yourself. The collapse of the wave
function gets rid of causality because there is only a probabilistic measurement to each outcome.

12.9 Conclusion

Space time may be discrete. We do not know. Many axioms are impotent; one defines certain things by
negation. Certain things are impossible and that gives rise to certain physical laws. Quantum mechanics
came about by quantizing physical properties such as energy. We now have a viewpoint of the physical
world that just about everything except space and time is discrete. Personally I would like to discretize
them too. Quantum mechanics predicts uncertainty, so you have fundamental changes in the system
when you observe it. According to most people in quantum mechanics, this uncertainly is fundamental
in the system. The observer necessarily participates in the measurement. It is however, a matter of
interpretation whether the uncertainty is fundamental or not. In other words, it is a matter of
interpretation whether quantum mechanics is causal and deterministic or not. In the next chapter, we
will see an interpretation which is much more elegant and beautiful than the baffling ones we have seen
thus far.

Lecture 13: Quantum Mechanics and Ontology

13.1 The Infinite Potentiality of the Vacuum

I want to first of all tell you a bit more about uncertainty. We can only measure things relatively. We
can only measure distance relatively; we can only measure motion relatively. So I can also only
measure energy relative. I can measure how much energy things have only in relation to something
else. If I have a tennis ball in my hand, it has a certain amount of potential energy. If I let it go, it will
accelerate; it will hit the ground and bounce up. The amount of energy that it has just before it hits the
ground is the amount of potential energy it has when I hold it in my hand. In other words, when I hold

it up it has the potential to gain a certain amount of actual (kinetic) energy when it is let go. And of
course this potential energy is relative to the ground. Its position is 1.80 meters above the ground, if I
let it go it has a certain amount of energy that it will gain. So this energy that I ascribe to is relative to
the position measurement with respect to the ground. In other words, I cannot have absolute energy

The same thing is true in the real world, in the quantum mechanical world. Therefore I have to establish
some level that I am going to call energy zero and this energy I am going to measure in relation to. So I
cannot establish absolute energy but only relative energy. In another words, in an absolute term, even
the vacuum has an infinite amount of energy. This is what you get through this uncertainty relation.
You cannot measure, for example, the energy content and the time something takes, infinitely
accurately simultaneously. So you can measure the time something takes very accurately but then you
do not know how much energy was lost in the process or you can measure exactly the energy but no
longer how long it took. So by this scheme you can borrow energy from the vacuum. If there is a
certain amount of uncertainty in the energy and a certain amount of uncertainty in the time, for that
amount of time, for that uncertain period of time I can borrow that uncertain amount of energy. So it is
like a bank. I can withdraw from the bank; I can borrow from the bank the certain amount of money
and the more money I borrow the faster I have to give it back. So the uncertainty in the energy and the
uncertainty in the time multiply out to give a constant. So if I take more of one I can have less of the
other. So if I only want a little bit of energy I can keep it for relatively long time. If I want a lot of
energy then I can only keep it for short time but I can borrow infinite amount.

Now one idea to get this relative thing across is if all lengths in the universe were to double we could
not tell. If everything including ourselves and of course all our sense organs and all the objects around
us would suddenly be exactly twice as big, we could not tell. We need some reference frame that we
can compare things to. So we need at least one object that stays the same or gets smaller so that we can
compare. This is another analogy to see that the vacuum has an infinite energy. This just repeats the
points that we can borrow through this uncertainty. We cannot measure the energy content absolutely.
And so because we can borrow as much as we like the actual energy of the vacuum is infinite. So for
our measurements in everyday life, we can only compare things. So we define, this is one of the basic

things that one agrees to do in physics is one defines energy in the vacuum to be zero. But such a
definition is necessary because the potential of the vacuum is infinite, to be able to make measurements
you must define something to be zero and of course it is convenient to say that nothing is actually equal
to zero where actually in an absolute term nothing is actually equal to zero.

Q: What is the difference between potential and kinetic energy?

You can borrow from this uncertainty relation. Potential energy and the kinetic energy are the same. It
is just energy. They are in different forms. But you can borrow from the vacuum as much energy as
you like. So it is just energy; calling that potential energy, kinetic energy is a distinction that we human
make. But it is actually energy.

Q: Could the Earth suddenly appear in another place by the uncertainty relation?

That is right. This is exactly what could happen. It is possible that the earth will suddenly jump to the
andromeda galaxy and come back again. With the certain amount of borrowed energy, it is certainly
possible and quantum mechanically you can compute what the probability of this is. It is very small but
it is finite and this is exactly how atomic decay happens, exactly the same principle. You have protons
and electrons in some potential well. You cannot go up and over the rim of the well. You basically
have to go through and this is exactly what this is. It borrows for a certain small period of time enough
energy to basically appear somewhere else and it has to give it back and then it is in two pieces. This is
how a nuclear reactor that you get your electricity from actually works. By this principle, it could
probably happen that the whole planet will do this. Of course the probability is lower but it is perfectly

Q: What about the speed of light being the maximal speed?


Well this is a very different story. The speed of light being the maximum speed was in special relativity
but we are in quantum mechanics now.

The energy of the vacuum being defined to be zero is what is known as renormalization in quantum
mechanics. One builds a theory and finds that the vacuum has infinite potential energy. You subtract
this infinity and that means you get some finite quantity or relative measurements and this is what is
called renormalization. It is basically subtracting infinities that you do not like. It gets very technical
but that is basically it. You say I am going to measure the relative, all the infinities go out and then you
can get quantum field theories.

13.2 Fundamental Particles Have a Size

Now the assumption is that reality has fundamental particles. So you have particles that you cannot
subdivide anymore. We know about molecules; molecules are made up of atoms; atoms have electrons
in the shells and they have a nucleus. The nucleus has protons and neutrons. Each of those protons and
neutrons are made up of quarks. The quarks are held together to make up a proton by gluons. The
protons and neutrons are hold together by double Zs and Ws to make up a nucleus and the nucleus
and the electrons are held together by the electromagnetic force by the photons to make up the atom. So
you have all these elementary particles. You have the quarks that basically make up stuff then you have
the particles that mediate forces; they are the gluons, the Ws and Zs and the photons. All these
particles are called fundamental particles because they are thought not to be divisible.

What we can say is that if we have a particle that has a definite mass, then it must have a size. Usually
physicists assume that the fundamental particles are point particles, that is they do not have the size but
they are infinitely small. You can do this in an experiment. You can measure how big an electron is and

you will find that you cannot. Basically it is so small that it always escapes the detector. According to
the accuracy that we have today the electron has an immeasurable size. So they are either really tiny or
actually point particles.

Q: If they are point particles how can they do anything?

They have an influence in the surroundings. Electrons have an electric charge, which means it has an
electric field around it and this field has an influence upon the surroundings. So we know for example,
if I knock on this table, I am not actually touching it. There is no contact between the table and me.
All it is, is electrons in my finger influencing the electric field of the electrons in the table surface.
Because these electric fields repel each other, frictional effects are created and the table seems hard and
a noise is released from the friction. This is what you hear as knocking but there is no contact. It is
preferably empty space between the table and me.

So if you say that you have fundamental particle that has a mass, I claim it has a size. Why? In general
relativity you have this thing called a black hole. The sun releases light, we can see it but we have
learned in the general relativity discussion that gravity bends space and therefore bends the path of
light. Conceive of a structure that bends light so much that light that goes away eventually comes back.
There exists a region outside of the black hole, which cannot receive light from the inside. If we take
the sun and we compact it enough, all the mass of the sun is in a small little region that still shines light,
but gravity has bent the space so much that the photons go away and come back again. We here in the
earth, far away from the sun cannot see the sun anymore. It has turned into a black hole and that is why
it is called black. Because we cannot observe anything within this little radius, this radius can be
thought of as the suns size. The real sun is much bigger, of course. Elementary particles are thought of
as point-particles, i.e. particles without any extention. As they have mass, we can play the same game
and view them as having a finite size given by this black hole radius. In this sense, elementary particles
have a size.


13.3 The Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Ontology is concerned primarily with what is and only secondarily with how we obtain our
knowledge about this.
David Bohm and Basil Hiley

We have discussed the Copenhagen interpretation with the cat and all this messy business before. That
is one interpretation of many. Basil Hiley and David Bohm constructed a very different interpretation
which they have called the ontological interpretation. The quantum mechanics we have been dealing
with is epistemological in that it is concerned with obtaining knowledge about the system; never mind
what it is.

Bohrs and Heisenbergs interpretation is epistemological. They do not concern themselves with what
is but only our knowledge about it. Bohm and Hiley want to describe what actually is and they came up
with a very different interpretation. They began with the assumption that fundamental particles in the
quantum mechanical domain actually do have a definite position, which varies continuously, and is
causally determined. So everything has definite causes that happen previously. Nothing springs out of
existence like it does in the other interpretations of quantum mechanics and you do not have the
collapse of the wave-function. You do not have the cats that exist in both dead and live states. They are
definitely in one state. But they assume that the basic evolution equation of the quantum mechanics
does hold and that gives rise to the same physical predictions as results of measurements. You can
deduce mathematically that there is a new force, which acts upon these particles and this new force is
independent of the strength of the quantum field. This is the really major new thing in this


We discussed in general relativity that if you roll a ball along a path on a bowling green, it deviates
from a straight path due to unevenness in the ground, you have to postulate a new force. This is gravity
in that case. Here we have strange phenomena that are happening on the quantum scale, but we want to
retain causality, determinism, definite position and time and space, so we have to postulate something
new. Bohr and Heisenberg postulated that causality and determinism go away. Instead, we are going to
get a new force by postulating that causality and so on is preserved in the quantum domain. Curiously
this force is independent of the strength of the field.

13.4 Active Information and Non-locality

We do not have to think of the particles as influencing each other in a non-local way as they do not
have an independent existence before the time of the first measurement.
David Tovee

That one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum without the meditation of
anything else is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters
a competent faculty of thinking can ever fall into.
Sir Isaac Newton

Usually forces depend on the strength of the field. Take gravity for example. If you are closer to the
sun than we are now you will feel feels a greater gravitational attraction to the sun. The strength of the
gravitational attraction that the sun exerts on an object falls off as this objects gets further and further
away form the sun. In another words, the strength of the force depends on the distance between the
object and the source of that force. For this new quantum mechanical force, it does not matter how far
away I go the of the strength of the force does not fall off. From one point of view, this force does not


really act like a force (because of this strength behaviour) but acts more like information. In fact, we
are going to call this force active information.

Imagine being on a ship in the middle of the ocean. It is necessary to navigate somehow and we do this
by radio, GPS or some other devices. My ability to navigate does not depend on how strong the radio
signal is. As long as I receive the radio signal I can navigate by it. I do not need the signal to be
stronger or weaker, I only need the information and my actions are determined by the concept of that
information. If the radio tells me go left or go right, I will do that. In other words the information
that I receive is active. It results in an action of mine to alter my course and this action of mine depends
on the content of the information but not on the strength. That is the volume of my radio does not
influence my action, only the content does. In quantum mechanics the force of active information gives
the particle information to act (it tells it how to behave) but it does not give strength to the action.
Another example is DNA which is encoded information in molecular form that then is used by a
chemical system to build up a human being or an animal. DNA does not supply the energy or strength
by which the organism is to be constructed, it only provides the information. It oversees the building
process but the actual building is external. Just like the radio guiding the ship and DNA guiding human
growth, the active information field guides a quantum mechanical particle without supplying energy.
One might say that it guides the universe not by force but by wisdom.

Particles move under their own energy. They are not given energy by this active information field.
They are simply told where to go. So they move under their own energy and they are directed by this
field of information which does not decay with distance. Thus you have access to the information
wherever you are. This is a sort of internet for fundamental particles.

In the Copenhagen interpretation, we do not have to think of the particles as influencing each other in a
non-local way as they do not have independent existence before the time of the first measurement. If
we have this active information field that does not decay with distance, we have access to the
information everywhere. In other words we have non-local interactions. What does this mean? Usually
we think of action happening locally. This means that as the time difference between cause and effect

tends to zero, so does their spatial seperation. Nothing far away can cause a very sudden change here. If
you want to influence something by blowing on it, you need to figure in that the speed of the wave in
the air will take some time to get to the target. This is a local force which gets weaker as it travels
further from you. This non-local information force is very different. It is an information field that exists
in the background; you have access to it wherever you are and therefore they are non-local interactions.
Cause and effect can follow another very shortly but be very far away.

There is a famous experiment named after Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen that is meant to illustrate the
absurdity of non-locality. They meant to attack the theory of quantum mechanics by constructing it.
Experiments have actually been able to verify the existence of non-local interactions to some degree.
The experiment starts with an atom that contains two electrons in the lowest energy state such that the
two electrons must have oppositely directed spin (by the Pauli exclusion principle). Then you take both
of them and separate them by a long distance of several meters. We can now perform measurements on
one of the electrons at leisure. The question is what will happen to the other one. As the two were
correlated in the atom before, the second electron will have opposite spin to the first, i.e. measuring the
spin of one electron gives us knowledge of the spin of both electrons. But how does the second electron
know to collapse in its wave-function, i.e. how does it know that we observed the other electron? This
paradox was meant to point out that quantum mechanics is lacking. In the new interpretation there is no
collapse of the wavefunction. Both electrons have perfectly well defined spins and so on and there is no
paradox at all even though the interaction is still non-local.

Q: What did Newton mean in the quote presented?

This was gravity because before him people thought, well how can one body like the sun influence the
gravity of other bodies like the earth at a distance. When the sun is over here, the earth is over here and
how can there be a force between the two? This is action at a distance and he was able to explain this of
course to some extent.


The discussion of whether non-local interactions were possible, started a lot of controversy. Bell made
some theoretical investigations and he was able to conclude certain consequences of a general nonlocal theory. Not specifically of this non-local theory but every possible one. He discovered certain
laws that have to hold if locality is to be real. People went out and did experiments on this and they
discovered that those laws were false. These laws, known as Bells inequalities, are found not to hold in
nature by experiments and therefore the conclusion is that the nature is actually non-local. There are
interactions in nature, which happen in a non-local way, and this has been experimentally verified. So
we know that this interaction of separating two electrons by long distance measuring one and then
immediately knowing the state of the other is actually the case.

Both interpretations, the Copenhagen interpretation and this new ontological approach by David Bohm,
come up with the same predictions. Non-locality arises in both of these interpretations. So non-locality
is not a feature of the ontological interpretation, it arises in all variations of quantum mechanics and it
has been experimentally verified to be true. Only in the Bohm approach the motivation for it is very
different; it comes very naturally through the information field. In the Copenhagen interpretation nonlocality arises in a much less natural way. The Bohmian approach is appealing in many ways; one way
is that it is much simpler to understand the strange world of quantum behaviour in it than in any other

Classical physics knows nothing of non-locality. Classical physics says events at a certain place are
determined by other events that are very close by, close by in both space and time. You cannot have an
influence of an event by another event, which is very far away not being mediated by any events in
between. Well this is what quantum mechanics says is true and it turns out to be the case.

13.5 The Uncertainty Principle

The uncertainty principle is a major prediction of the Copenhagen interpretation and so we should
expect to get it out of the ontological interpretation also. The difference is one of philosophy. The
Copenhagen interpretation would have us believe that the uncertainty is inherent in the system and the

ontological interpretation would like to shift the uncertainty into the process of observation. The
uncertainty principle is important theoretically but it also gives rise to a number of observable
phenomena such as atomic decay.

The new ontological approach is deterministic but the active information field is very complicated.
Even for very simple experimental data this field is extremely complicated and that is why it gives rise
to chaotic behavior. You might have heard of chaos theory. The weather, for instance, is a chaotic
system. This is illustrated by the famous butterfly effect, which says that if a butterfly beats its wings in
China, it causes an earthquake in South America. Basically the butterfly principle is meant to say that
very small changes in initial conditions somewhere can potentially cause very large changes in the final
results somewhere else. This is possible because the differences are blown up by a feedback loop. A
feedback loop can be understand, for instance, by putting a microphone very close to a speaker. At first
nothing happens but the the noise starts getting louder and louder until it hurts your ears. The reason is
that a little noise is coming from the loadspeaker which enters the microphone and gets projected into
the room by the loudspeaker again. This loop is carried on and on until the noise is amplified many
many times. It takes only a short time but it does take a finite time because the sound has to travel at
each iteration of the loop. This sort of system is called a feedback loop and it is this that occurs in
nature in complex system such as the weather. Small changes in the weather conditions in one place
may get blown up to huge changes at some later time and at some different place by this mechanism.

The system is perfecty deterministic but if a small change in initial conditions can yield a huge change
in the final state, the system is unpredictable. This unpredictability manifests itself in the uncertainty
principle. So if your system is slightly different then what you think in the beginning it will eventually
behave very differently and because you cannot keep track of this chaotic behavior exactly that is why
you get these different results. That is how you get the uncertainty principle.

Quantum systems are deterministic but unpredictable. This is of course exactly why the weather
predictions that you see on TV are not necessarily true. Weather is a chaotic system and you can only
predict it only with a certain probability. This is why in recent years in Germany they have decided not

to tell you it will rain tomorrow but they have decided to tell you that it will rain tomorrow with a
certain probability. They want to cover their backs and give you the statistical laws. It is perfectly
useless if I know that tomorrow there is a probability of 40% that it will rain. What do I do now? Do I
take 40% of an umbrella with me? Unfortunately this is the best science can do at present.

I cannot determine the system exactly. I cannot predict the behaviour of the system even though it is
perfectly deterministic. I can only give statistical laws. It is the same with quantum mechanics. I can
only tell you that there is a certain probability that it will rain and there is of course another probability
that it will not rain. But I cannot tell you that it will or that it will not. I can only give you likelihood
and then we hope that as the year goes by, these probabilities turn out to be statistically accurate. But
you can only tell that after a certain amount of time has passed. So I can say if I follow the advice of
the weatherman on TV every day then I will be lucky in most cases hopefully. If I want my behaviour
to be influenced by the weatherman on a particular day, then I have to be content with the fact that no
certain statements are possible.

So in quantum mechanics, what does this mean? Each measurement takes time and in order to do it
accurately, the measurement should be fast. Within this timescale the interaction of the observer with
the system is a certain amount the amount necessary for the measurement to be completed. The
shorter the time taken is, the more energy is being injected into the system by the measurement process.
In other words, as we try to measure in a shorter time, we participate more strongly in the evolution of
the system. This gives us the well-known uncertainty relation connecting time and energy.

A crowd of people follows statistical laws; we call these laws psychology. If we take a hundred
thousand people and send them to a rock concert we can predict what will happen. But if we take only
one person, it is very difficult to predict what will happen. While statistical behaviour can be quite
simple, individual behaviour can be quite complicated. You can predict the statistical behaviour of a
large collection of electrons but it is basically impossible to predict the behaviour of single one.


This analogy lead Bohm and Hiley to postulate that an electron is a very complicated object. It must be
somehow capable of receiving the information field and acting according to it. So an electron has to be
some kind of radio device that can receive information and act accordingly. Now of course it is very
easy to then postulate that it has consciousness. But they do not go this far. They just give this as an
analogy. So this is meant only as an analogy so that we may understand individual electrons as very
difficult whereas the collection is at least statistically simple. This saves us from the collapse of the

So we go back to the poor cat. It is according to this interpretation definitely alive or definitely dead. It
is only that we do not know. We can only achieve knowledge of it by looking. But in reality, it is one
or the other. It is very complicated to predict what will be because of this chaotic nature of this
information field but at least reality has one definite thing. Thus, as far as the experiment is concerned,
we get the same predictions but the fundamental outlook is radically changed by the ontological

13.6 The Classical Limit

It is evident that there is no way to prove that any particular aspect of our knowledge is absolutely
David Bohm & Basil Hiley

As things get larger in the world of quantum mechanics, there is the classical limit; in other words,
classical physics. Newtons physics works very well on scales of human beings but not on scales much
smaller or much larger. For events that happen and that are approximately as big as we are (chairs,
buildings and cars), Newtonian physics works very well and this is known as classical physics. If we
take the quantum theory and we work out its predictions as the size of objects becomes very large, it
approaches the predictions of Newtonian physics. It is this limiting behaviour that is known as the
classical limit and this is deemed a very important feature of a quantum theory because classical

physics is very well verified and thus should be included in any new theory of the world. The classical
limit also exists for general relativity. If we make gravity very weak (i.e. the curvature of space-time
approaches zero or space-time approaches flatness) we achieve Newtonian physics again.

Theoretically this limit is very important and so we shall have to look at how it is constructed in the
various interpretations of quantum mechanics. First of all, Bohm says that we can only get approximate
knowledge by experimental measurements (cf. quote above). In everyday life, we do not observe nonlocal interactions; between people every action is local. Only on the quantum domain do you get this
non-local interaction and uncertainty.

In the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, von Neumann introduces a cut. He says this is
quantum physics and that is Newton physics and there is no connection. The two theories must be
viewed as distinct and one should not want to build up a connection between them. This is not very
appealing because you would like to say that the two theories merge into each other at some point.

According to Bohm, the active information field gives rise to everything. On the quantum domain
active information gives rise to all the quantum features but as objects get bigger the information field
from all these little particles has to be added up. Remember that big objects are really composites of a
large number of little particles so that physical size goes hand-in-hand with the number of elementary
particles present. The total active information is the sum of all the individual active informations. As
the number of particles gets large, eventually you get an active information field that is constant. Many
little contributions that each have structure will effectively give rise to a virtually constant sum whose
variation is so small that it can not be observed on the scales of the composite objects. A constant
active information field will have no quantum mechanical effects and so the system behaves
classically. In other words, the classical limit emerges extremely naturally in the Bohmian
interpretation as a limit of the number of particles involved getting large.


Just a note of caution. We have effectively said that the variation contained in the active information
field of a large number of particles is insignificant. Chaos theory has taught us that the word
insignificant should be used with extreme caution because in many cases (almost every complicated
system) small changes in initial conditions can cause large changes in final conditions. One could thus
conceive that the small variations of the active information field will give rise to some quantum
mechanical behaviour even on human scales. Thus events such as the Earth suddenly moving to the
Andromeda Galaxy can actually happen. The reason we do not regularly observe such events taking
place is that their probability is very low. The point is you cannot determine which changes are not
significant and which ones are. Because if you knew that this small change is significant then that
means the system will be predictable which it is not. That is the very essence of the chaos theory. Thus
there are changes that are truly insignificant but it is very difficult to tell for a particular change
whether it will be significant or not.

One may think that non-locality opens the door to instant communication. However it turns out that
because of some technical limitations it is not actually possible to use this non-locality to communicate
instantly. So we have this non-local effect, if we take two electrons, separate them we can the
properties of this one from measuring that one but I cannot use this to produce a piece of technology
that allows me to build a radio that works instantly. So if I have an actual radio that I communicate to
myself it propagates by the speed of light. On the earth that is fast enough, of course. It is basically
instantaneous for human purposes but it is a limitation. One can give a mathematical proof that nonlocality can not be used for instant communication and in fact that it can not be used to communicate
faster than with the speed of light but this is so technical that we will not try to give it here.

13.7 The Pauli Exclusion Principle

Wolfgang Pauli invented what is called the exclusion principle. He got the Nobel prize for this in 1945
and basically it says in quantum mechanics you cannot distinguish between two electrons except if they
have some different properties (these properties are called quantum numbers). Two electrons floating in
space can not be distinguished. It is a practical observation however that an atom has several shells
around it in which electrons reside. The shells are not rigid but represent regions in which a electron is

vastly more likely to reside than outside it. How many levels contain how many electrons gives rise to
the chemical properties of the atom. In this way, the whole body of chemistry reduces to one of
electron configuration of atoms and so chemistry may be viewed as a small branch of applied quantum
mechanics (this is the view of physicists which leads to amusing battles between them and the chemists
who, of course, do not cherish this point of view as they feel it belittles their subject; nonewithstanding
peoples emotional reaction, this is true).

How does one explain that there can be at most two electrons in the first shell but more than that in the
next and so on? Pauli invented the brilliant scheme in which electrons get a series of labels (quantum
numbers) that specify certain properties. Electrons may reside in the same shell if and only if they had
at least one quantum number different. If they shared all quantum numbers, they would have to be in
different shells. This principle explained electronic structure to a very large degree and is one of the
most important principles of quantum mechanics.

There have been some physicists who claim that since you cannot distinguish between electrons, there
is only one electron in the whole universe. It might sound funny at first but this actually is quite a
respectable claim that it is possible for a single electron to act for all electrons in the universe because
we cannot distinguish them. This can be reduced to the assumption that reality is what we observe. If
we cannot observe that these two electrons are different (distinguish them experimentally), we must
regard them as the same. Ergo, there exists only one electron. This theory has not been taken seriously
by many people but it serves as a nice illustration of what happens if one drives the experimental view
of reality to an extreme.

The Pauli exclusion principle can be proven in the Bohmian approach and not in the Copenhagen
approach. This is another important plus point of the ontological interpretation.

13.8 Other Interpretations


Observation simply correlates the observer to the system The mouse does not affect the universe
only the mouse is affected.
Hugh Everett

Aside from the Copenhagen interpretation of Bohr and Heisenberg, the variations on it by Schrodinger
and von Neumann and the ontological interpretation by Bohm and Hiley, there are a number of other
prominent interpretations. The Copenhagen interpretation is the most common one that physicists use
to compute predictions to experiments. It is the authors opinion that the ontological interpretation is
greatly superior. The other interpretations have serious drawbacks that make them good ideas and
useful to think about but exclude them from serious consideration as actual full-fledged interpretations
of quantum mechanics.

Einstein thought that the Copenhagen interpreation was ridiculous and asked: Are you going to tell me
that if a mouse looks at the universe then the whole universe changes its state merely because of the
mouse? (paraphrase, not a quote) Remember that the Copenhagen interpretation necessitates the
collapse of the wave-function and so a mouse observing the universe should cause a collapse of the
wave-function. Viewed this way (just like the cat experiment) seems to show that the theory can not be
true of reality; this was Einsteins point.

Hugh Everett in his own interpretation answers this by saying that observation sets up a correlation
between observer and system. The system remains but the observer is changed in that the observer is
enriched in terms of memory and so on. His interpretation is often called the many-worlds
interpretation but this is not right, it should be called the many-minds interpretation. I as the observer
who observed the universe am influenced, I do not influence the system. I do not influence the universe
but my consciousness is impressed with the picture of the universe that I see. So the collapse does not
happen out here it is consciousness. That is the fundamental principle that goes from superposition of
various states such as an alive cat to definite stage. So if there were no conscious observer everything
would proceed very nicely and consciousness invokes this collapse. This interpretation correlates

awareness and memory. You must have a conscious observer that has a memory. It gets very strange
how he interprets this to happen but basically for him it is the observer by being conscious that is
impressed by the universe.

Now most people who want to interpret quantum mechanics start with the mathematics and then want
to build up some physics based on this and that makes it relatively difficult. The ontological
interpretation starts by reformulating the mathematics. It starts with physical principles and then
reforms all the mathematics according to it.

There is the many worlds interpretation different from Everetts which says: At each point where we
observe the universe, the universe splits into many possibilities. So with the cat, for example, we had
two possibilities: dead cat or alive cat. As soon as we observe it and see that the cat is alive, at that
instant the universe splits into two universes: one universe in which I am which observes the cat as
alive and the other universe in which I observe the cat as dead. Now this happens at every observation.
Of course, this seems a bit ridiculous because there are many observations that we make all the time.
By looking at this room in every fraction of the second I make extremely many observations. You can
imagine just by what extra-ordinary factors the number of universes multiplies just by having a
conversation. This interpretation is thus very strange and should be adopted with caution.

None of these interpretations give really adequate explanations of how things are measured, none of
them can really explain the classical limit very well; there is this all have the basic cut we make
between the quantum domain and the classical domain and none of them can really give rise to good
explanation of why things happen probabilistically, of why we can only make statistical predictions.

They also fail on one philosophical principle. William of Ockham (1285 1349) was a British cleric
and philosopher who is famous for a principle called Ockhams razor: Pluralitas non est ponenda sine
neccesitate. This means that you should not introduce further assumptions unless they are absolutely

necessary. In other words, he acknowledges the neccesity to construct axioms of a theory but says that
of all the possible theories that explain what is observed, the theory with the least and simplest axioms
is to be preferred over the others. Clearly, the many minds and many worlds interpretations are
excluded by comparison to the ontological interpretation and one may argue for the Copenhagen
interpretation to be excluded on these grounds also.

13.9 Unity of the Laws

I have the long and constant persuasion that all the forces of nature are mutually dependent, having
one common origin, or rather being different manifestations of one fundamental power.
Michael Faraday (1850)

We would like to have one theory that explains all phenomena regardless of whether they are to do
with electrons or planets. This unified theory is the holy grail of theoretical physics. General relativity
and quantum mechanics have both been verified to be correct experimentally to within an erro of 1:1014
and 1:1011 respectively. It is not commonly known that general relativity is the better verified theory.
As both theories hold so well in their respective domains, the unified theory should reduce to them in
the appropriate limits.

Where might these two theories meet? The basic object in quantum mechanics is the electron which
sometimes acts as a particle and sometimes as a wave. When it encounters things of the scale of its
Compton wavelength (a technical measurement for when an electron behaves as a wave), then it
behaves as a wave. The basic object in general relativity is a black hole which has an even horizon. We
expect the predictive power of both theories to break down when the Compton wavelength of an object
is comparable to its event horizon. Setting these two concepts equal to each other yields what are called
the Planck scales, namely 5.5 ? 10-5 grams, 4 ? 10-33 cm and 10-43 seconds. Events that happen at such
scales can be expected to be predictable by neither theory and really require a unified approach. While
the distance and duration scales are very small indeed, curiously the mass scale is roughly the mass of a

fruitfly. Nevertheless, experiments that can probe these scales are not possible, by a long way, using
current technology.

People have been looking for this unified theory for a long time and it is very difficult because firstly
gravity is extremely weak on small scales compared to all the other three forces and secondly the
mathematical assumptions of general relativity are very different from that of quantum mechanics. In
quantum mechanics, we have the background Newtonian space that does not get influenced by the
system. In general relativity, the system very much influences the space and the space influence the
system. Somehow we have to put this things together: the dynamic space and the dynamic uncertainty
in the quantum system and put them together. There is an approach called string theory which is a
candidate for this theory but it is not very promising. While quantum mechanics and general relativity
are obtained in their respective limits, string theory has not been able to make any new predictions that
are accessible to experiments.

13.10 Conclusions

You cannot make any absolute measurements. You can construct an ontological interpretation of
quantum mechanics, ontology meaning what the system actually is not meaning finding out things
about it. In this interpretation, you start with the assumption that all particles have a definite position
and definite momentum at all times. They are influenced by a necessarily non-local field called active
information which guides their evolution. Uncertainty arises from this information field by it being
chaotic. This interpretation is much simpler to understand because all you have to postulate is a new
force. You do not get into the complications of the cat being dead and alive at the same time and you
do not have fundamental uncertainty in nature. You keep causality. It gives rise to all the observation of
the properties that we had before, it explains the classical limit very well which we did not have before.
It has fewer assumptions than the other quantum mechanical theories. People are working very hard on
trying to be able to experimentally distinguish these different interpretations. This is a very active
research area that has not yet been decided fully but people are trying to come up with experiments that
will be able to distinguish between this ontological interpretation from the other interpretations and it is
very much believed by the experts that the experiments will go in the direction of this ontological

interpretation. I have given you an overview of the classical interpretation of quantum mechanics that
almost all physicist believe in and I have given you another interpretation which is controversial but is
much better than the previous one.

Lecture 15: Tibetan Buddhism I

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in
religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something
better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama

Lama is the Tibetan word for teacher and it implies that the person called a Lama is a spiritual teacher,
one who has gone far along the spiritual path and is capable of leading others on it. The Dalai Lama is
the highest Lama in the Tibetan tradition. He is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan society.
As a spiritual leader, he may be compared to the Catholic Pope but the Dalai Lama is traditionally also
the political leader of Tibet. After China invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet, he resides
in Dharamsala in India and leads his Tibetan Government in Exile in an effort to free Tibet from the
Chinese invasion.

Buddhism believes in reincarnation. The Dalai Lama is regarded to be the reincarnation of

Avalokiteshwara, the Buddha of compassion (called Chenrezig in Tibetan). Iconographically this
Buddha can be recognized by being depicted with one thousand arms that according to legend sprouted
from his body as he was so distraught at not being able to help other living beings fast and effectively
enough. When the Dalai Lama dies, a search is carried out to find his new reincarnation who then
becomes the new Dalai Lama. During the youth of the new Dalai Lama, it is typically the Panchen

Lama who assumes the leadership responsibilities. The current Panchen Lama is believed to be under
house arrest in China but no one has seen or heard from him since his abduction by the Chinese
government in 1995. A global campaign to free him is under way. I will not go into the political
problems. The Dalai Lama has written many books on it and also the Buddhist path which are heartily
recommended to anyone wishing for more details.

Approximately 2500 years ago, a man called Siddharta Gautama was born in what is now Nepal. He
was the son of a local king in that area. He lived in opulence at the time. He was very rich, he had all
the things that he wanted, he did not have pain, he did not see suffering of people outside the palace as
he was not allowed to leave his perfect environment. He had a very comfortable childhood and at some
point he got very unhappy with this. He felt that there was something missing. For the first time in his
life when he was already grown up (he already had a wife and child), he left the palace and during his
walk around the city he saw many things. He saw people who were suffering because of sickness, he
saw a dead person, and a many other things that he was not used to and he came to the conclusion that
he had been living in an illusionary world, He had not been confronted with the suffering that
everybody else has to encounter in everyday life and he decided that he did not want to be king so he
left everything behind and went into the forest where he joined a group of Yogis to meditate. This
group was very extreme in their practise. For example, they would perform long fasts over weeks.
Siddharta realized that this practise was doing him good as he did not have the energy to meditate
properly because of fasting. He left them as well and he went on all by himself. When he was alone, he
sat underneath a particular tree (now in Bodgaya, India) and resolved to sit there and meditate until he
reached enlightenment. After some time he did so thereby obtaining the title of Buddha, i.e. the
enlightened one and then wandered around India teaching people how to reach enlightenment.

Buddha means the enlightened one. It is simply a word or a title that a person gets when they become
enlightened. The Buddha normally refers to Siddharta Gautama the actual historical person that
created the religion but many people over history have achieved the state of enlightenment and
therefore they get the Buddha.


It must be emphasized that Buddha did not construct a religious system. He gave personal advice to
many followers of his on how they could reach enlightenment. As all people are different, he gave a lot
of different advice. This has given rise to Buddhism being split into many groups that all differ from
each other. However the differences are mainly in ceremonial and clerical matters and not in
fundamental questions of belief.

When Buddhism arose, the dominant religion in India was Hinduism. One prime characteristic of the
practise of the Hindu religion is the caste system. The Hindu religion as such has no caste system built
into it. In history there was one reformer of the religion and he introduced a few laws into it. His idea,
among many others, was that people should choose that profession in life for which they are most
suited. If you are an energetic young man, you should become a soldier. That is the most well-suited
profession for you. If you are a very introspective quiet person, then you should become a priest. Based
on your personality, inclinations and abilities, you should choose the profession that most strongly suits
you. What you like to do, what you are best at, that you should do. It is a good advice that we follow
even nowadays. However, he was misunderstood by a lot of people. He lived a long time before
Buddha so by that time there had been many different schemes and the rule was established that you
inherit the position of your father (in this scheme women did not have many professions). So if your
father was a priest, you also became a priest. In other words, you belonged to the caste of priests.
Priesthood was the highest profession you could have. Soldiers, or warriors, were the next one and so
forth down to the untouchables. Even though it is frowned upon, this system is still in place in Indian
culture and many social dynamics depends on which caste one belongs to. There are many categories
and sub-categories in the caste system so that the compartmentalization of people is worked out in
detail. Unfortunately, the system has a strict ranking of castes and this is the origin of much

The Buddhist religion is against this and regards everyone as equal. This was a direct challenge to the
authority of the priesthood which was the highest caste. Naturally the priests did not appreciate this
challenge and thus a conflict arose between the two systems. Just like the Jews in Israel at the time of
Jesus, the Hindu priests in India at the time of Buddha had a great deal of temporal power in addition to
their spiritual role and sought to defend this power. The challenger who argued for equality and peace

had significant problems being accepted by the authorities. Buddha was definitely a left-wing rebel at
the time. The fight between Buddhism and Hinduism lasted some centuries but eventually Buddhism
lost in India. It is common now in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Tibet, Nepal and many others.

Because Buddha did not develop a unified system himself but gave advice to individuals, a number of
schools formed. They can be divided into two main categories that differ philosophically from each
other and whose members mainly differ in matters of ceremony and rules of conduct. These two are
Mahayana and Hinayana meaning the large and small vehicle respectively (Maha = great, Hina = small
and Yana = vehicle). The greater vehicle says that you should achieve enlightment from the motivation
to help other people. Hinayana says that you should achieve enlightment for yourself. So the Hinayana
principle is quite selfish in the sense that you want to receive Enlightment, keep it and that is enough.
Mahayana says that your motivation to achieve it should be to then subsequently help other people
achieve this enlightment also and so is the altruistic version of Buddhism.

Buddhism traveled in various directions. Hinayana Buddhism primarily travelled South and East into
countries like Thailand whereas Mahayana Buddhism travelled mainly North and West into countries
like Nepal and Tibet. Tibet is the only country nowadays where Tibetan Buddhism or the original
Mahayana Buddhism reasonably closely to how it was originally. You can actually go to a monastery
in Tibet and have a look at the books that have been stored there for more than a thousand years.

15.1 The Four Noble Truths

The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that philosophy deals with the answers to exactly three questions:
What do I know? What shall I do? What can I expect? The first is a question about the past, the second
about the present and the third about the future. We ask for the basis of our actions, those actions
themselves and their consequences. Buddhism concerns itself with the answers to these questions.
Buddha stated four so called noble truths. These are considered to be the fundamental statements of the


Firstly, life contains suffering. By the very fact that you are alive, you have to suffer. You get some
disease, grow old and die. Suffering comes with the connotation that it is undesirable. The point is that
you do not want suffering. However, suffering is contained in life. This gives rise to the fundamental
problem of life the search for happiness or enlightenment.

Secondly, the origin of suffering is ignorance. Ignorance of how the world works, the basic law of how
reactions are attributed to actions. This is called the law of Karma. I will explain this in detail later on.
The point here is that we must combat the unwanted suffering through its root cause and not
symptomatically as we are used to in everyday life. Ignorance is thought to lead to desire and
attachment for things and that indirectly desire is the cause for suffering also. However instead to
shuning desire, Buddha teaches us to embrace and experience desire to some carefully controlled
degree so that desire is fulfilled in some fashion. This comes from the practical observation that
prohibiting something desirable leads to greater problems than if that thing were normally available.
Having experienced our desire and felt that it indeed leads to suffering, that desire can be given up
freely by oneself and not by a process of either force or intellectualization from being told by others
that this desire leads to suffering.

Thirdly, it is possible for the suffering that we have in life to end. By some actions that we can perform
we can make suffering stop. This is the good news of the system. Roughly speaking this third truth is
the Buddhist equivalent of the Gospel of Christianity. It tells you that there is a light at the end of the
tunnel. By now, we have defined the problem, we postulated a cause for it and we claim that there is a
solution. All we need now is a method to get to the solution and then we have everything we need.


Fourthly, to make suffering stop you must remove ignorance by performing certain actions that are
collectively called meditation. What exactly meditation is, is a huge topic. There are many techniques
of doing it. You have to assess essentially where you are in this spiritual path and thereby select the
exercises properly and so on. Through meditation you get insight into how the world works, this
removes the ignorance, thereby removing the cause for suffering, and of course suffering is the thing
that it wants to get rid of all the time. Buddhism for a large part is basically a study of what to do. I will
not go into what meditation really is and how to
do it here. Suffice it to say that this can be made
extremely precise, that the literature available on
the subject is vast and that help in terms of real
life teachers is available to anyone who wants it.
We will go into the philosophical components of
Buddhism here and not into the practical
components of meditation.

15.2 The Wheel of Life

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven

in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of
your hand And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake,
Auguries of Innocence

I would like to explain the basic outlook of Tibetan Buddhism through a piece of iconography that is
very commonly used, the wheel of life. One could have chosen many other starting points but I believe
this one to be preferable. It is one unified pictorial description of the basic philosophy. It is easy to
understand the relationships of all the components based on this picture.


The wheel has twelve stages which I will explain in detail later. First let us look at the general
structure. The figure holding the wheel is called Yama and he is the Lord of Death. He is basically in
charge of beginning and ending life. He is the actual cause or embodiment of this suffering. He holds in
his claws the wheel of life, he controls it. Around the rim of the wheel are the twelve stages of human
life. However there are not only humans in the world. The six regions within the wheel show the six
realms of existence.

In the center of the wheel, you have three animals:

A boar, a snake and a rooster. These three bite
each others tail and chase each other around the
center of the wheel. The boar symbolizes
ignorance being the root of suffering. The rooster
symbolizes greed and desire. The snake represents
anger in a broad sense. They all bite each others
tail to symbolize that they are all dependent on
each other. If you are ignorant of how the world
works, then you have negative desires and you
become a greedy person. If you become a greedy
person and you are ignorant then you also become angry, you become a nasty individual. Angry should
be interpreted in a very wide sense. These are definitely three characteristics that we do not want to
have and they are but what is involved in everyday life, this is one of the things that we should get rid
of. In this way, the center of the wheel tells us that negative character traits are a result of ignorance but
that these traits serve to further our ignorance as well. We must break free of this vicious cycle, that is
the message of Buddhism.

In the western traditions you frequently see a snake biting its own tail. The Egyptians, Greeks and
Nordics and many other western traditions had it. The serpent goes by many names but the most
common one is Ourobourous and it usually symbolizes cosmic unity. The center of the wheel of life is
the eastern analogue of Ourobourous. The three animals are also associated with sounds. Together they
form part of a mantra. The boar is associated with AUM, the rootster with AH and the snake with

HUM. Around the rim of the three animals, we are shown the two possibilities of life. We have a
choice to walk the road of spiritual improvement culminating in enlightenment or to walk the road of
darkness leading to ever more suffering. It is important to note that this is a choice that we can make in
our lives.

15.3 The Six Realms of Existence

Around the center of the wheel, there are six regions which are called the six realms of existence.
Starting from the top region and going around in the clockwise direction, the realms are those of gods,
humans, hungry ghosts, hell, animals and demi-gods.

The gods must not be misunderstood with the Christian connotation of the word God. These are simply
beings that are more powerful than humans. They live a very long life but they still die. They are very
powerful and happy, they have palaces, they are rich, and they can do whatever they want. However,
they still have suffering in the sense that they still die and loose their powers before they die. However,
as their life is on the whole very happy, they do not have much suffering to motivate them towards
spiritual progress.

The regions of the demi-gods is connected to that of the gods because the demi-gods constant fight
with the gods. The major suffering in the realm of the demi-gods is jealousy of the gods. Because of
this, they wage constant war agains the gods.

Q: Is a God the highest form of existence?


The basic idea in Buddhism is that reincarnation is something that you do not want. Once you have
reached a certain stage, it is not necessarily true that you will get to that stage again. Basically your
karma gives you certain results but then in your lifetime you still have to live according to the
principles, you also have to be nice person in order to keep having good karma. If you are not, then you
get bad karma and therefore you degrade in the next life. So it is perfectly possible for a god to come
down. In fact it is very difficult for a god not to come down into another realm because in the realm of
the gods performing virtuous deems is very difficult. This is true simply because the realm is so nearly
perfect. In other words, after existence as a god, the good karma that allowed that being to be a god is
used up and that being has to reincarnate in another realm. In fact, the human realm is considered the
best one for spiritual progress because you have a healthy medium between the amount of suffering in
the world and the amount of free will that you have to do something about it. The gods have a hard
time because there is so little suffering giving them the motivation to try to become better. For us
humans, we also have plenty of suffering but we also have the intelligence and free will to do
something about it and make spiritual progress.

The human realm is the realm of balance of suffering and ignorance. Both are present to a large enough
degree that we receive motivation to act but not to such a large degree that acting is very difficult. The
sufferings of human beings are birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from things that we like,
encountering things that we do not like, and not obtaining the things that we want.

For animals the main suffering is ignorance. They do not have enough free will to be able to regularly
make conscious decisions to become a better animal so they are caught up in ignorance.
Then come the hungry ghosts. They are beings that have very thin necks and therefore they cannot eat
and drink fast enough to relieve their hunger and thirst so they suffer mainly by this.

Lastly, there is the hell realm. The hell realm is a very nasty place, the description of hell in Buddhism
is very similar to that of Christianity. Hell is very hot and one get tortured all the time.


This picture of the six realms can be interpreted in many ways. Many people say that all six of these are
different stages in human life. A god would be a person who is very rich and very powerful. Demi-gods
is just below the god realm sort of vice-presidents who are jealous of the big man but still are
elevated above most people. The human realm is the middle ground in which many people live.
Animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings are three categories of lower human life. This is a view which
is less guided by the materialistic properties of the person and more by their psychological outlook, i.e.
the persons suffering.

The karma law is the deterministic law of the Universe. If you like, it is a mathematical equation that
holds throughout the Universe and it determines what actions are good and bad. Then the interpretation
of the religion is that certain actions are moral, these are good actions. But this is a law throughout the
Universe that it is an impartial judge. There are many statements that tell you what actions are regarded
to be good and what actions are regarded as bad. The most important thing about any action you
perform is the motivation. If you perform an action with the explicit motivation to harm somebody,
then it is definitely a bad action. If you perform it with the definite motivation to help somebody, even
if your action goes wrong by accident, it is still mostly a good action. So it mainly depends on the

To give an example, there is a rule in Buddhism that you should not lie. That rule is contained in most
codes of morality. However, not all lies are equal. Buddhism specifically allows white lies. To be a
proper lie, it has to satisfy four properties: (1) The statement has to be false, (2) I must know that it is
false, (3) you have to believe me and (4) I have to tell it to you with the intention to deceive. If it tell
you a lie that I do not know to be false, it is not a lie. If you do not believe me, it is not a lie. And if I
tell you this lie with the intension to help you, then it is not a lie also. One very significant example of
recent years has been the extreme discrimination against Buddhists in Tibet. If a person in Tibet
publicly states that they follow the Dalai Lama, they can expect torturing and imprisonment. The Dalai
Lama has thus explicitly said that Tibetan should denounce him to save their own lives. This is a white

15.4 The Twelve Stages of Life 1: Ignorance

Give a man a fish and he shall eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he shall eat for a lifetime. Give a
man a religion and he shall die of hunger while praying for a fish.

Ignorance is a belief in the inherent existence of

something. Inherent existence means that it exists
in and of itself. A self-created or self-moved prime
mover would be something inherently existing.
This is claimed as ignorance. In other words,
Buddhism stipulates that nothing inherently exists.
Also it is the lack of knowledge concerning the connection between events. If something is not
inherently existent, it depends on other things. By depending, there are connections between these
things, there are causes of events, there are effects of events, so there is always a connection and a
dependent cause. We call this dependent arising. Things arise because they are dependent on a cause.
So Buddhism effectively says that every event has a cause without exception. This immediately leads
to the conclusion that the past extends indefinitely. There is no beginning of the Universe. If everything
has a cause, then there cannot be a beginning. If there was a beginning then there had to be one point
which does not have cause which is self-caused. But this is denied so it is a conclusion that we
immediately draw from this. Things are dependent arising and this says that they are empty of
independent existence. We are ignorant of the exact nature of this dependence however and this is the
ignorance of which we speak here.

We recall Machs principle from general relativity that the inertia of a mass depends on the presence of
other masses. If you had only one body in the universe, it would have no inertia because it is defined
through the presence of others. This is very similar to this idea of dependent arising everything
depends on something else. If only that one thing were there it would have no properties because you

can only ascribe a property to something if you have something else to distinguish it from. It makes
sense only to define objects in relation to other objects. An object in and of itself is meaningless. You
have to be able to distinguish it.

15.5 The Twelve Stages of Life 2: Karma

If he desireth to see with pure and heavenly vision

in that state of self-concentration, if the mind be
fixed on the aquirement of any object, that object
will be attained.
Buddha (Lonaphala Vagga)

A person making pots symbolizes the law of karma. The law of karma says that you reap what you
sow. The word karma means action and the word samskara means reaction. In other words, everything
I do is a karma. Every action I perform is a karma and it carries with it certain consequences because
every event has a cause and every event is itself a cause of further effects. Every action I perform, must
have a reaction, a samskara. The law of karma states that actions are labelled by a value (simplistically
good or bad) and that the samskara we will reap has the same value. If I do something good, I get
something good in return. If I do something bad, I get something bad in return. Every karma causes an
equal and oppositely directed reaction. The law of karma is essentially Newtons first law.

Every choice has certain consequences. The law of karma can be described like this: If I make a choice,
I then begin to limit myself. For example, I graduate from high school, I have to make a choice to go to
university and if so, which one. Suppose I make this choice and I come to IUB. Having made this
choice, my options for the future are limited. The avenues available to me for my life have been
narrowed by this choice. To a greater or lesser degree this happens with every choice and every action
we make.


Holding a USC, for example, has a lot of consequences. I have to prepare for each individual lecture. I
have to be here on all of those days. I have to read all of your essays. If you choose not to come then
that choice has consequences. Now the important thing is that the reaction you get is not necessarily
immediate. In other words, if you, for example, choose not to hand in an essay, the reaction to this will
only happen at grade assignment time several weeks later. In other words, it is possible to perform a lot
of actions and have the reactions accumulate in the background. Then you have to live them off at
some time in the future. This accumulation is one of the crucial problems that Buddhism maintains.
Under normal behaviour, Buddhism says that the acuumulation is faster than the speed at which the
samskaras naturally ripen and are lived through. One must make a conscious effort by meditation and
performing virtuous deeds to help them to manifest.

15.6 The Twelve Stages of Life 3: Consciousness

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present
moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one
fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and
nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo

After Karma acts your acquire consciousness. Consciousness acts moment

by moment, time consists of succession of moments in Buddhist philosophy. The past is over; you can
no longer change it. You know nothing about the future; it is yet to come. The important thing is the
here and now. It is precisely the here and now that we are conscious of.

The law of karma leads from an action to a reaction. It connects the past to the present and the present
to the future. The actions are performed now or cause an event that will take place in the future. The

law of karma is the connection that links together these little moments and consciousness is generated
out of these links. The law of karma connects the moments and the element that actually represents this
connection is consciousness.

After you have become conscious you have the ability to distinguish forms and attach names to forms.
This is a problem because what I perceive and what you perceive is not necessarily the same thing.

15.7 The Twelve Stages of Life 4: Name and Form

Even the red flower I see before me on your table may not be the same to you and me.
Albert Einstein

This is a quote from a conversation that Einstein had with Rabindranath

Tagore, one of the foremost poets of India. Something is present in the room
but how it is perceived by two different people is not necessarily the same.
Yet you have the ability to attach names to phenomena and to ascribe some
form to things.

I see a bag before me and I can attach the name bag to it on the basis of its
form. You, on the other hand, see it from a different angle and you may
conclude that it is not a bag. In our experience, we know that distance, angle,
lighting and all sorts of external factors can lead two different people into
identifying an object in two different ways. Of course the term bag is
described by both of us and this is what makes it useful; namely that we
agree in most cases. In some instances, we will disagree.


Giving a name to things is a very basic and crucial operation in order to understand the world through
interactions. This is because it enables you to distinguish things. By being able to look at a form and
give a name to it, I distinguish it from other things that do not have that form or that name. Naming
necessarily creates a dichotomy. This bag is a bag because it is not paper, a box of chalk or the table.

15.8 The Twelve Stages of Life 5: Six Senses

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither
yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and
chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

The basic ability to perceive forms and name things has

to be backed up by senses. In the west, we have five
senses. In the east, one adds the ability to think as a sixth
sense. In addition one has touch, taste, sight, hearing and
smell with which you can perceive things.

In other words, thinking is in their sense a form of

perception also. So just by thinking of objects you
perceive them and this is an important point because
later on in the philosophy we will deal with the philosophy of sense perception. So imagination of
objects you do not actually see or touch or feel is also part of sense perception in this connotation.


Having named objects and having the ability to conceive of forms allows us to perceive objects through
our senses. This sensory perception creates a relation between the observer and the observed, the
relation of contact.

15.9 The Twelve Stages of Life 6: Contact

When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of I its red leaves, you will not see all the others.
When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number
of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the
remaining leaves were not there.
Takuan Soho

In the sixth stage you have actual contact with

things. So you have senses now and these
senses begin to actually perceive things. What
you perceive is essentially up to you. You have







consciousness and limit your abilities of perception to very small things: single leaf on the tree or you
widen your perspective to look at the entire tree at once. This is the essence of these senses having
contact with the environment.

15.10 The Twelve Stages of Life 7: Feeling

If you have no voice, scream; if you have no legs, run; if you have no hope, invent. I see a spark of
life shining. I hear a young minstrel sing a beautiful roaring scream of joy and sorrow. There is a love
in me raging. Alegria.
Cirque du Soleil


In contact you distinguish not only bag from table

but also pleasant as opposed to unpleasant. Seeing
pictures in the Van Gogh exhibition, for example,
you could call pleasant. Seeing pictures on TV of
the Iraq war is unpleasant. Your senses having
contact with their sense objects generates a
classification of experiences into categories of good and bad, pleasant and not, desirable and
undesirable. Different pictures generate a distinguishing feeling. This distinguishing between different
experiences generates a feeling or an emotion.

Lecture 17: Tibetan Buddhism II

17.1 The Twelve Stages of Life 8: Attachment

The magic of life is eternal and never dies

So why complain about darkness that would disappear
The morning comes, and the seasons would pass
A spring will come, once another elapses.
Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi, The New Morning (1933)


Having obtained feelings and classified them into

pleasant and unpleasant, we generate attachment
towards the pleasant object.

Attachment means that you crave for the things

that you feel are good and that you try to avoid
things that you do not like. We like pudding and
so, in the back of our minds, there is the wish that
the university canteen will serve pudding for
dessert. Futhermore, there are some things that we
do not like and we hope that these foods will not appear on the menu. Attachment differs from the stage
of feeling by having an element premeditation in it also. Over time, we gain a memory of what was
pleasant in the past and we look forward to obtaining those things in the future.

17.2 The Twelve Stages of Life 9: Grasping

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Aleister Crowley

Having become attached to things, we are then not only hoping to get them in the future but also
willing to actively do something to obtain them. This is the stage of grasping after these objects of
sensory pleasure. Grasping involves an element of action. Not only do we like choclate pudding and
hope to get it but we now buy the ingedients and make it.


Aleister Crowley was a very famous British esoteric of the 19th century. The quote above is his most
famous statement. Many people take exception to it because they believe that he is saying: Do what
you feel like doing. In other words, they believe that he is advocating anarchy independent of any code
of morality. If Crowleys works are read more carefully, it emerges that what he meant is far more
subtle. The operative word want is meant in a deeper philosophical
sense that you should really analyze what it is that you really absolutely,
after all the consequences of your actions have been executed, want.

If, at the moment, I am attached to and grasping after chocolate pudding,

I do realize that if I do this too often and too much I get very fat and
unhealthy and I will die sooner than I would otherwise. This is, of
course, something I do not want. My immediate desire after chocolate
pudding and my long-term desire for a healthy long life are incompatible
unless I take the pudding in moderation. When Crowley is saying do
what thou wilt, he is not saying eat all the chocolate pudding you
want, but really analyze what the consequences are and then do what
you want after all those have been taken into account.

Craving after what we want leads to clinging to that object, to actively doing something about it. We
begin after this to somewhat rely on this. Not only do I like the pudding, I make active measures
towards getting it and if I do this more and more, then, of course, I begin to rely somewhat on this and
begin to get addicted to it. This is what happens with smoking, for example. Initially you see other
people at school, they tell you to try it out, then you try it and get some feeling from this, you begin to
get attached to it because it is nice to hold or whatever, you begin to crave it, to grasp after it so as to
actively seek it out. In other words buy you own packet of cigarettes. Then you begin to rely on it, you
begin to get addicted to it, you have to have more and the choice of you smoking gets reduced. After
some time of smoking you no longer have a choice because your body craves after it. This is what
grasping then leads to.


The object of grasping can be anything, it can be an actual object in the case of cigarettes or chocolate
pudding, but it can also be a principle, a principle of ethics or modes of conduct. Lots of
fundamentalists around the world stick to their principles, to the point of addiction. You can make all
sorts of very well-phrased arguments against their point of belief and they will not listen Tthey will not
change their mind, not because they do not understand what you say, but because they are so fixated on
their belief. They are entirely unwilling to change this no matter what arguments you might bring to the
opposition. This is an addiction to a principle.

17.3 The Twelve Stages of Life 10: Existence

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart

The holy tree is growing there.
William Butler Yeats; The Two Trees

There is one particular object of grasping, which is after your body. We

eat lunch and we have dinner, we take a shower in the morning and we
go to sleep. We do all these things to sustain our biological body. You
are attached to your body, you actively look after it, you crave it and you
grasp at it. The fact that you grasp after your body according to the Buddhist philosophy is the most
fundamental reason for your existence. Not only your birth but your continued birth. You are grasping
after your body more than ever on your deathbed and this engenders a new existence.


17.4 The Twelve Stages of Life 11: Birth

This day is a special day. It is yours. Yesterday slipped away. It can not be filled with any more
meaning. About tomorrow nothing is known. But this day, today, is yours; make use of it. Today you
can make someone happy. Today you can help another.
Anonymous Indian Poet

To exist we must be born and to exist after we die,

we must be born again. If you get born, that means
that this birth is dependent arising as it depends on a
number of causes and conditions to bring about this
birth. Not only do certain biological events have to
take place for you to be born. Birth leading to your
existence depends on several other factors. You as
an individual do not exist inherently in and of
yourself but you exist dependent on certain actions
and events that happened before you birth. It is very important to realize that you exist and you were
born subject to a huge number of causes and conditions.

17.5 The Twelve Stages of Life 12: Death


In the cicada's cry

No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.
Matsuo Basho (1644 1694)

If you are born, you must also die. Birth

gives rise to old age and eventually death.
Death and old age are also dependent arising,
just like birth. They depend on you being
born and on a large number of events in
between. All events are interlocked and none
happens in and of itself.

Death is certain. All of us will die. It is probably save to say that in 100 years no one in this room will
be alive. However, the method by which you will die and the exact time at which you will die is
unknown. It is this uncertainty and the uncertainty of what happens after you die that makes people
afraid of death. In the west, people assume that death is a bad thing. The Buddhist philosophy is
optimistic about death. The idea of reincarnation and enlightenment make the idea of death less
threatening. The time of death is actually considered the most fruitful time for spiritual progress. The
Tibetan Book of the Dead is a old work intended to be read to the dying and dead to assist their
spiritual journey. If the mindset of the dying person is right, enlightenment may be achieved in the
moment of death.

One philosophical implication of this view of death is because you have no idea when and how you
will die, you should always live in the current moment. This should not prevent you from making
plans. It helps however to keep life in perspective if one acts each day as if it were the last. If one rises
in the morning and thinks that at night you may die, this thought should motivate one to live a full and

happy life and to be friendly and forthcoming to others during this day. If you have something
important to say to another person, do not delay but do it now.

17.6 The Western Wheel of Life

Every human being is free and is as his own God, he may transform in this life into anger or light.
Jacob Bhme (1682)

Having discussed the Buddhist conception of life, is there some connection to the philosophies of the
west? In fact, there are so many connections that one might say that the mystic traditions of different
types of countries in different continents are virtually the same. This, of course, hints at the claim that
the mystic traditions really have discovered some measure of the truth. My personal opinion is they
simply choose different words, a different language to describe exactly the same ideas.

As we have discussed the Buddhist wheel of life, it will be illustrative to look at the western wheel of
life. This is one example of very many. The picture is by D. A. Freher (Paradoxa Emblemata, 19th
century manuscript). Just like in the Buddhist wheel of
life, life proceeds in a circle without end. During the
circle, sometimes we are children and sometimes we are
old, sometimes we are male and sometimes female,
sometimes we are born and sometimes we die. However
there is no beginning and no end, the circle of life keeps







reincarnation and in spiritual growth over the lifetimes.


How would one verify that one has had a past life? There is, at present, no physical method that can do
this and indeed science does not agree with this viewpoint. There are some individuals who have
recollections of their past lives. Furthermore there are meditative techniques in both the western and the
eastern spiritual practises that allow one to develop the memory of past lives.

Spiritual truths, says the mystic, can not be taught. They must be experienced. Scientific evidence that
past lives exist will therefore not benefit the individual seeker because the seeker must experience the
memory to really have the spiritual benefit.

The basic problem of the spiritual journey is that we do not have complete knowledge of the world and
this creates the entire problem. Buddhism encapsulates this in its noble truth that says that ignorance is
the root cause of suffering. Having a memory of past lives would help to remove ignorance from our
lives. Moreover, there is thought to be a global storehouse of all past knowledge. This goes by many
names, a popular one is the Akasha chronicles. Access to this wealth of past knowledge is a significant
step on the spiritual journey of the individual. It is remarkable that the existence of this library has been
independently claimed by all mystical traditions in the world.

The whell of life is not a wheel of time. It does not mean that everything that happens now will
eventually be repeated. What it is saying is that when you die you will be born again. It is a very
important statement to see that you have free will. Both the eastern and the western traditions
completely agree that the human being has a free will limited by the circumstances and consequences
of the actions. You can choose whether you are going to go on to what is called the left-hand path to
hell or lower spritual levels or the right-hand path to heaven or higher spiritual levels. You can
transform yourself into anger or light.

A significant portion of the western mystic tradition is a method of divination by means of cards called
Tarot. The Tarot is a collection of cards in five suits that gave rise to the playing cards we use

nowadays to have fun and to gamble. The mystic uses the cards to get in touch with the human
subconscious. It is a fact (even according to science) that the subconscious harbours greater powers of
the intellect and mind that the consious. Tapping into this power is a major goal of spiritual practise.

One suit in the Tarot is called the major arcana. This includes 22 cards that evolved into the jokers of
the modern playing cards. The other four suits or minor arcana became the four suits of our playing
cards. The 22 cards of the major arcana are numbered and the order is very significant because it is
thought that a spiritual aspirant progresses in that order. However, the first card is by no means the
beginning. Neither is the last card the end. Generally, the first card is called the fool. The fool can be
viewed on several levels. First you can say the fool is a foolish person; somebody who acts without
thinking and therefore gets himself into a lot of trouble. It is the lowest stage of the spiritual evolution.
However, if you view the fool slightly differently, the fool does not care much about what other people
think of him or the fruits of his actions. He does not become attached to his actions or to the products of
his actions. The fool in this interpretation is a wise fool and is considered the highest stage of spiritual
evolution. If one can act without being attached, at all, to the consequences of those actions (praise
from others, material gain, pride, self-confidence or also failure), then one is truly wise.

17.7 The Tabula Smaragdina

True, true, without doubt and certain: As

below so above and as above so below for the
completion of the miracles of the One. And as
all things are of the One, from the meditation
of the One, are all things born from the One
through change. His father is the sun, his
mother the moon; the wind carried him in his
belly; the earth nursed him. He is the father of
all miracles in the world; his power is flawless
when it has been transformed into earth. Part
earth from fire and the subtle from the gross, gentle and with keen wisdom. He ascends from the earth

to the heavens and returns to the earth from there so that he may obtain the might of the above and the
below. In this way, thou wilst receive the grandeur of the whole world and all darkness will flee thee.
This is the energy of highest potency as it vanquishes the subtle and pierces the dense. The world was
made thus. Thence are wonderful treatises and applications performed for which here are given the
means. Hermes Trismegistos am I called as I call the three parts of the wisdom of the world my own.
Heinrich Khunrath in Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae, Hannover, 1606

The basis of the western mystic tradition known as Hermeticism is the Tabula Smaragdina, the emerald
table shown in the picture. Hermeticism was founded by a man called Hermes Trismegistos (Hermes
being the Greek messenger of the gods and Trismegistos meaning three times great) who may or may
not have been a historical figure. The aim of alchemy is to achieve the spiritual fusion of opposites and
to thereby achieve enlightenment or unity with the cosmos. As they were persecuted as heretics, they
had to be careful how they phrased their discoveries. In addition, they desired to be secretive for their
own purpose. Only initiated members were given the keys to their secrets. The chose to use the
language of physical objects to hide their spiritual discoveries and this is how the science of alchemy
was founded. The finding of gold was by no means meant to be real physical gold but rather spiritual
gold. The founder of hermeticism, the three times great communicator between humans and gods,
wrote a summary of his path to enlightenment on a slab of emerald that is the Tabula Smaragdina. The
text is translated in the quote of Khunrath above.

As above, so below is one of the major statements that alchemy makes and what it means is that
above is the spiritual plane, below is the physical plane and they are the same. So what happens here
happens there. There is an interlinking. That is exactly what you have to do to become enlightened.
You have to be able to unify the physical below and the spiritual above. The unity of the whole means
that you have achieved the goal as such. Change is absolutely necessary. It is necessary to have a
cause-and-effect relationship. If nothing changes, nothing exists. The moon is the opposite to the sun;
they are taken as examples of pairs of opposites here. They symbolize the right and left hand paths.
You can choose to go towards the sun or towards the moon.


What you have to do is part earth from fire and the subtle from the gross. You have to make a
distinction between different types of things (opposites in particular) to be able to achieve unification
of them in the end. First you have to be able to distinguish between things with keen wisdom, so you
have to do this with your goal in you mind. After you have done this you return to the Earth from the
heavens to unify these elements again with keen wisdom and receive the grandeur of the whole world
and all darkness will flee thee, in other words you have reached the goal. It is very important to realize
that according to this, achieving the spiritual goal presupposes intellectual understanding. After you
achieve the goal, you can vanquish the subtle and pierce the dense. There are no physical limitations
for you anymore; you have achieved miraculous powers.

17.8 The Eightfold Path

The noble eight fold path is not a philosophy or a dogma or a mechanical ritual. It is an art of living
a way of life the path as shown by Buddha. It is actually living the teachings The perfection of the
noble path is insight or wisdom.
Vipassana (Maha-Salayatanika Sutta)

Buddhism gives a moral code which we are to follow. Like any religion, Buddhism has its social
aspects that teach its followers how to behave in a society. The overriding principle is that of doing
nothing that causes harm to anyone. The eightfold path is this moral code and is the equivalent of the
ten commandments of Christianity.

The eightfold path is not meant to be taken as a rigid prescription of what you should do but rather as
suggestions that you could choose to adopt. Sometimes it is difficult for us to keep a rule. Buddhism
teaches that one should only swear to uphold those moral rules that one actually intends to follow and
can follow rather than swear to all of them and then try to hide ones failure from the world. Take from

the path what you can and what will be useful for your spiritual journey. Trying to keep rules that are
too difficult to keep right now are just going to hinder us and not help us on our way.

The first is right understanding. What is to be understood are the four noble truths: Life contains
suffering, the source of suffering is ignorance, suffering may cease and the way to make it cease is to
follow the practices as outlined. You should understand, through these noble truths, reality as it is. This
is supposed to be knowledge and not belief. Belief is something that you think is true but is based on a
little leap of faith. Knowledge is something that you have actually confirmed as being true.

The second is right thought. In Buddhism, thinking is a form of perception. Touching something and
thinking about something are two different forms of perceiving that object. In other words, not only if I
actually perform a physical action but also if I perform a thought action, that action counts. Not only
should I act in the right manner physically but I should also think about actions in the right manner.
Renunciation means we should try much as possible not to grasp after things. You may really like the
chocolate pudding but you should try as much as possible not to actively engage in searching for it.
Even if you are rich person you should not become attached to your riches. I should be kind to people
but not only in deed but also in thought. I should have kind thoughts, harmless thoughts. If I imagine
that I hurt you this is the same as if I actually hurt you. Thoughts count in full but good thoughts count
in full too. If I see somebody in a bad state I should not only help him but I should develop thoughts of

The third is right speech. Through speech we can influence many things. Of course one should not lie,
except in cases where the lie is capable of bringing great good such as saving someones life. In
addition, one should not plagarize or slander. Using harsh words, insulting people and engaging in
gosip are also considered forms of verbal misconduct.


Fourthly, one should make right actions. You should not kill anything, you should not steal anything
and you should not commit adultery. All of these are pretty clear. The general view is that one should
not invade the rights of other people. This is basically the human rights act formulated a few millennia
it was formulated in the west. My own personal freedom has to stop where yours begins. Everybody
has certain rights and privileges. Those rights and privileges should be exercised with the limitation
that the other people in the game also have rights and privileges. In other words, I cannot do everything
that I may want to do because that limits your freedom. If I act in a way as to remove your freedom of
action then that is a bad action.

The fifth component is right livelihood. Dealing in weapons, killing for money, selling or buying
slaves, selling or buying intoxicants or poisons are considered bad means of livelihood. The principle
here is you obtain your livelihood in a way as to cause no harm.

Sixthly, one should make right effort. Of course this goes with the action. One should act in such a way
as to discard existing evil, prevent evil from arising, develop good things and promote good things. If I
am not actually able to get rid of evil things and develop good things at least I should prevent and
promote. If we are not able to have a direct influence in the events of the world at least we can voice
our opinion. In other words, if we cannot go to Iraq and stop the war, we should at least protest. This is
right effort.

In seventh place, one should have the right mindfullness. Now this is the most complicated of all of
them because this means you have to control your thoughts all the time. You have to be mindful of the
state of your body, the state of your emotions, your mind or the mental objects that your mind is
dealing with at this moment. In other words, this is kind of a supervisor principle of yourself. This
becomes important in the practice of meditation where you have to assess your own state of mind as it
currently is so that you can guide yourself through the practice.


Lastly, you should develop right concentration. Concentration in this case means single pointed
meditation. Single pointed means that you can sustain one thought, one mental object over a large
duration of time. For most people this is not possible. We sit there and we think about different things.
According to one statistic, at any moment in time during a university lecture, 20% of the students are
thinking about sex. Sometimes you pay attention to the lecture, sometimes you think about this and
sometimes you think about that. Different thoughts come and go all the time. Try to think about only
one single things for five to ten minutes. Really watch your mind that no other thought creeps in during
that time. You will find it very difficult. Developing this concentration is one of the aims of meditation
and it is through this that meditation has practical importance for many people who require
concentration. This right concentration is considered an essential ingredient towards being able to put
the other principles into practise. These eight principles should be considered as points to work on

17.9 The Concept of Guru

Live with compassion. Work with compassion. Die with compassion. Meditate with compassion.
Enjoy with compassion. When problems come, experience them with compassion.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Guru is a Sanskrit word meaning teacher and in this sense it means spiritual teacher. He is meant to
guide people through their spiritual evolution. He is a person who is there as an individual, leading you
as an individual. He does not teach a course to series of people but he gives individual personal advice
to people. If you have problems in your life, if you need advice for your spiritual development, the guru
is the person to go to. To be able to give advice, this person has to have a certain number of qualities to
make him eligible to be a good teacher. The most important thing as illustrated by the above quote is
compassion. He should have compassion for the student, a completely selfless interest in the student, a

completely altruistic interest. One should not become a guru out of a desire to become famous, rich and
have a lot of influence but it should be an actual interest that students improve spiritually and no more
than this.

One of the most important things is that the guru should know what he is talking about. In order to lead
you to the goal he should have actually reached the goal himself. So enlightenment is one of the prime
requirements. You cannot have a leader along the path who is not been to the end of the path. Many
who claim to be gurus do not satisfy these requirements and it is then dangerous to become their

Choosing a guru is something extremely important. The student benefits so greatly from having a
spiritual guide that it is said that enlightenment without a guru is impossible. The relationship set up
between student and guru is a very close one that will be stable even over death lasting many lifetimes.
Why is a guru so important?

The individual lacks perspective over their own life. We as individuals experience our life in great
detail. We cannot escape from our life. We know every single little event that happens to us and
because of this we lose sight of the big picture. You do not see the forrest for the trees. The guru is the
person who is able to perceive the big picture. He can guide you along the general direction because he
is able to see much further than you. Making the selection of a guru is extremely important if you are
serious about progressing along spiritual lines because you should follow the advice that you get. Your
journey depends on the advice. So selecting the right person for the spiritual journey is crucial.

Q: Where are gurus and where can we find them?


There are many in the world who label themselves as gurus. A certain lesser number are actually gurus
who satisfy these requirements. The first problem is distinguishing them but there are many in the
world and you can find them. There are number of people who fulfill the characteristics of guru but
they do not desire to advertise themselves. There is an ancient saying that says that when the student is
ready, the teacher will come. This is the view of the mystic traditions and so this search is not to be
rushed. In countries like India, Nepal and Tibet gurus may be found with relative ease but they also live
in the west. If you are willing to make the effort to look, then you will be rewarded and find your guru.

17.10 Liberation

If the abysm could vomit forth its secrets...But a voice is wanting, the deep truth is imageless; for what
would it avail to bid thee gaze on the revolving world? What to bid speak Fate, Time, Occasion,
Chance and Change? To these all things are subject but eternal Love.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

We find ourselves in the cycle of rebirths and experiencing the necessary suffering that comes with
this. We want to move towards happiness, the absence of suffering and so we want to break free of the
cycle of rebirths. This goal is called liberation. What is meant is liberation from the cycle of

From the Tibetan Buddhist point of view the responsibility that this brings is that you are responsible
for helping all those people who have not achieved this stage to achieve it. Once you reach a spiritual
state (not necessarily the actual enlightenment), you are given the responsibility for the people below
that state. You ar expected to help them to achieve it. This is the principle of compassion and altruism.
When you achieve enlightenment, you have the responsibility for everyone.

17.11 Meditation


In Buddhism the mentality of seriousness is not the deepest level Completely forget about the mind
and you will do all things well.
Takuan Soho

We achieve the state of liberation through meditation. Meditation is not something very serious. It is a
very flexible process. It centers around the removal of ignorance. It is an introspective process during
which you try to understand world better starting from yourself. Analyze your own mind; analyze how
this works with the world and through that understand the world as whole. The ignorance about Karma,
about dependent arising and emptiness has to be removed. In other words, what you are trying to find,
the links between events. You will eventually gain knowledge of these interconnections of different
events in the world which will eventually lead to a memory of your past lives and once you have
achieved this it entails complete knowledge of the world.

There are many techniques that you can choose to do and this is one thing that the guru is good for. He
tells you what specifically to do what works for you. There is no universal technique that everyone
should practise; it differs from person to person just like personalities. There are many techniques to
allow the mind to focus on one spiritual thought. Repeating words over and over again are a popular
method known as mantra. Focusing and controlling the flow of ones breath is a very simple but
extremely deep and powerful technique known as pranayama. Several forms of visual stimulus such as
geometrical shapes (yantra) or more complex drawings (mandala such as the wheel of life) are also
chosen. You use these techniques to train the mind to be capable of thinking about one particular object
of thought for a long period of time and when you have achieved this one-pointed concentration,
insights into the world will come. It is these insights that meditation is truly after. These insights are not
intellectualizable. One can not be told or taught the fundamental truths of the cosmos but one must
experience them by meditative means.

Obtaining insights is done via meditation but this requires the development of concentration. Hand in
hand with meditative concentration come calmness, relaxation, depth of thought, increased well being,

increased health and self esteem. Meditation has many practical and psychological benefits apart from
spiritual ones. While teaching meditation in London, I observed that people who meditate have
significantly improved their university grade. Not only will this lead you to enlightenment but it will
give you a number of practical benefits that you can use in the real world. It will improve your life in
many ways.

17.12 Conclusions

The basic problem is that we all are ignorant about the workings of the world. We know something but
we do not know everything and some things that we believe in are not correct. This ignorance leads to
suffering. We act incorrectly because we are not aware of all the possibilities, we are not aware of all
the consequences and this suffering leads to rebirth. Everyone is totally responsible for their own
actions. In other words, if you do bad things you have to experience the result for that. You are
liberated from the cycle of rebirths through enlightenment, which is achieved through a series of
realizations that are obtained through the practice of meditation assissted by a guru. Meditation is, at
the moment, a very loose term but the literature on this topic is enormous and so it can be made very
precise. Now you have an idea of what the religion is. In the next lectures, I will tell you what the
philosophy of Buddhism is.

Lecture 19: Dignaga and Dharmakirti

19.1 Know, Do, Expect!

All these activities should be performed without attachement or any expectation of result. They should
be performed as a matter of duty That is My final opinion.
Krsna in Bhagavad-Gita 18:6


The point, not only of Buddhism but of all Oriental religions, is that the attachment to and the grasping
after objects is what is responsible for us being trapped in the cycle of rebirths and that the solution to
this is to get rid of the attachment. The Bhagavad Gita is one chapter in a very long story called the
Mahabarata, which is a story of an ancient war that took place in India a long time ago. The war is a
historical event and so much of the Mahabarata is historical. Throughout the work, several moral
problems are analysed. Particularly in the chapter called Bhagavad Gita. This chapter is quite short and
is heartily recommended to anyone having an interest in Oriental religions and philosophies.

The Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Krsna and Arjuna. Krsna is a manifestion of the Hindu
creator God Brahma and Arjuna is the commanding general of one army in this war. Arjuna is an
archer who stands on a war chariot driven by Krsna. Arjuna is in a dilemma because the war he is about
to start will involve fighting against some members of his own family. In the discussion of this moral
problem, Krsna and Arjuna discuss all religious aspect from what good moral conduct is to the ultimate
purpose of human existence and how to reach it. As illustrated by the quote above, one of the most
important aspects is that all activities should be performed without attachment to their fruits. Any
attachment to the fruits of your actions will only serve to strengthen the ego and this is detrimental to
spiritual progress.

Q: How do you figure which expectations you need to disregard and which are important?

In deciding what to do, one should take into account all the consequences of the actions. However, one
should not become attached to these consequences. For example, making a pudding in order to make a
group of children happy is a good action. However, you should not become attached to the results of
the actions. In other words, you should not be attached to the gratitude the children will demonstrate to
you. If you are attached to that, you are strengthening your ego and that is going against spiritual


You do not need to be attached to things to do things. You can do things just because they are
necessary. You can do things because they come up, they need to be done, they are necessary. You
should do them not because you desire the results or you expect certain results, but you should do them
because they need to be done. What is important is that it is not the action itself that is being criticised
here but the attitude with which that action is performed. On the path to enlightenment, it is necessary
to leave ones ego behind.

We have been through mathematical logic. You have seen that logic has two main limitations. First,
you have to make assumptions about the world and second, you can never prove everything; there are
unprovable truths. But logic is very useful to systematize things. If you have a large body of statements
that you claim to be true, you can use the principles of logic to pick out several of them, hopefully few,
and deduce all the rest from them. This is the basic spirit. We made certain assumptions and from these
assumptions we have been able to obtain general relativity and from a few others we have been able to
obtain quantum mechanics. These assumptions that we have made are very likely to be correct. You
can never make this absolutely clear but they are likely to a high degree. In the case of quantum
mechanics we have found that it is necessary to decide what philosophical spirit you want to do it in.
So if we are just concerned about epistemology, what we know about the world, then we obtain a very
different theory of quantum mechanics than if we are concerned with ontology, what reality actually is.

According to one position, we have seen that particles have no independent existence at all. We must
observe them for them to exist. If we do not observe them, it makes no sense to talk about them
existing, to talk about them having a position. According to the other position, it makes perfect sense to
say something has an existence and a position independent of the observation. We just do not know
where it actually is until we look at it. It is a very different viewpoint and it gives rise to a very
different theory and they actually make different predictions. At the moment experimental physicists
are trying to build experiments that will decide between these two.

The third component is we want to look at the Buddhist philosophy and systematize this. The ancients
some millennia ago have developed some logical theories about reality, which are now considered to be

the Buddhist philosophy. I want to discuss here one of the many systems. Just like in Christianity,
Buddhism has many schools and this derives from the fact that the historical Buddha did not design a
religion he gave advice to individuals and since individuals are different, you need different pieces of
advice. He basically constructed little different systems for each individual and this is why the big
dispute nowadays is which one is correct. None of them is any more correct than the others if you view
them from the historical perspective, so there is a lot of bickering between the individual sects.

I will choose one particular system and one particular work of that system to show you the philosophy
primarily because it has turned out in historical events to be very important. This system makes a lot of
claims and it argues some of those claims and gives examples for things. However, it is still very
difficult to understand. My aim of what to do with this is to systematize it. I propose that we take this
relatively large collection of statements, we fix our attention on very few of them, or even construct
very different ones as assumptions for this system and that we then deduce all the others as theorems
from this logical basis.

If our body of statements is systematized, we have only the axioms and the logical methods to believe
it. The rest follows. This makes the theory much simpler because in fundamental questions we need
only examine the assumptions since the other statements are contained in the assumptions.
Philosophers argue a great deal and much of it needlessly because they have different bases. If my
theory has different assumptions from yours, our theories can not be compared except perhaps
experimentally if we both claim them to be true of reality. If we do have the same basis but make
different conclusions this can only arise if at least one of us has made a logical error (or in practise one
has actually introduced further unstated axioms or uses a term in a different way; both of these are
results arising from the lamentable imprecision of human language). We wish to construct the logical
basis for one school of Buddhist philosophy so that it may be meaningfully compared to other
philosophies in the future.

19.2 The School of Dignaga


However clever a man may be, without the aptitude for critical examination, hes like the lustre of
burried gold.
Tibetan Proverb

Here we see Dignaga on the left and Dharmakirti on the right.

The lineage started with Vasubandu (420 500). Dignaga
(460 520) was his student who then taught Isvarasena.
Dharmakirti (600 660) was his student who then taught
Devendrabuddhi and Dharmottara (750 810) followed him.
It is a strange historical fact that only every second student
was very prolific and celebrated. Dignaga started the system
even though he had Vasubandu as his master. Dharmakirti
expanded and improved it and Dhamottara wrote excellent
commentaries on Dharmakirtis work. As such Dignaga is
known as the Indian Aristotle. He had a pervasive influence
on Indian thought but not the dogmatic strangehold that
Aristotle had over European thought as enforced by the
Catholic church.

There are many books written by this school of thought. As often in eastern religious philosophy, these
works are either very short or very long. The masters have tended to write books of only a few pages in
which every sentence contains a wealth of information. These books were little more than annotations
or reminders for their students who knew the system very well. These books were then commented on
by the students who wrote veritable essays for every sentence of the original work explaining all the
facets of it and thereby making the work very large indeed. A further problem is that most of these
works have not yet been translated into English and so one would have to learn Tibetan and Sanskrit
before being able to read them all.


We will choose one work by Dharmakirti which is quite short and is available in English in several
translations. It is called Nyaya-Bindu and it is just eleven pages long. There is a commentary by
Dhamottara which makes it several hundred pages long.

19.3 Know the World

All successful human action is preceeded by right knowledge.


We want to act. This is the second thing, according to Kant, that philosophers want to discuss. First, we
want to discuss what we know, then we want to discuss what we shall do, and then we can talk about
what we can expect from that action. Dharmakirti says that all successful human action is based on
right knowledge. First of all, you have to know something correctly in order to be able to base
decisions about what you are going to do on it. Obtaining right knowledge is difficult. How to obtain
right knowledge is what the Nyaya-Bindu is concerned with.

You have to know something first in order to make an intelligent decision about what to do. The choice
has to depend on law of cause and effect. You have to consider not only what you know but also what
you consider to be the consequences of that action. Every action has a past to it, leading up to it. The
past makes it possible for that choice to be taken, for example, you have to go to school first in order
for you to be able to make the choice to come to university. Then you have an action that you can
decide whether to go to university immediately or start a job. To be able to make that decision, you
have to consider the consequences. If I go to university first and then take a job, I will be more
educated, therefore, possibly get a higher salary or a nicer job. If I take a job immediately, I will have
the consequence of not having such a high salary and perhaps being in a job that makes me much less
happy. These are possible consequences, I am not saying these are necessarily true but one has to
weigh the possibilities. As we do not have all the knowledge, we sometimes choose to do an action that
will lead to suffering.

Buddhist theory according to Dharmakirti differentiates between direct knowledge and indirect
knowledge. Direct knowledge is defined to be that which we perceive. As soon as we operate on this
knowledge, such as give it a name, differentiate it from other objects or think about it, it becomes
indirect knowledge.

19.4 Reality is like an illusion

Nothing exists the way it appears, it is all up to our karma.


What you immediately perceive through the senses is not exactly how the world is. It is always said
that reality is like an illusion. The emphasis here is very much on the word like because an actual
illusion is not present at all. We say that reality does exist but just not in the form that we perceive it to
exist. If I say that I am seeing a chair here, there is something that actually exists but I in my mind am
putting the name chair and the form chair. I am projecting everything that makes it different from
non-chairs and similar to other chairs onto the object. All this projection onto reality makes it like an
illusion. There is something that actually exists but for me it is a chair with all the additional human
constructed connotations and therefore this is like an illusion. A mirage in the desert is a good example
of this. The oasis actually exists but not in the form and certainly not in the place perceived. The
illusory world in which we live is called samsara by the Buddhists. We live in samsara and it is our
goal to escape from it, to see reality as it is.

With every perception, you judge the objects you perceive. This judgment gives rise to a dichotomy. I
perceive this thing in front of me and I make the judgment that it is a chair. Judgment means I give a
name to something. Judgment does not mean good or bad, it does not entail a value judgement.
Judgment means this belongs to the group of objects that are called chairs. A judgment immediately

means that while this is a chair, it also happens not to belong to the group of non-chairs. It gives rise to
a differentiation, to a dichotomy. I break up the universe into two parts: chairs and non-chairs. I am not
only labeling this thing but I am making it similar to other objects and I am making it dissimilar to yet
other objects. This dichotomy is clearly a human construction. It is we who are labeling these things
and this similarity and difference is not something inherent in the object itself. Nature is harmonic in
the sense that everything just is. Differentiating this from that is a human construction.

That immediately brings up the huge discussion nature vs. nurture. How much of human thinking
and ability is contained in the physical aspect in the DNA code and how much do we get taught as
we grow up. Buddhisms view is that everything is nurture because nature as such has no
dichotomizing aspect. The most basic things that humans do is to label objects and from that we can
construct our thinking. But nature as such does not contain this dichotomizing, there is no difference
between anything in nature as such. All of the differentiation is made by humans. Therefore, humans
being a part of reality, have to learn this judgment. The theory here is that basically everything is
nurture. But there is a large component of self-nurturing. So you do not learn everything from the
outside but you learn a great deal by reasoning yourself. A lot of self-education takes place. The goal of
the whole thing is to see reality as it is. We do not want to look at reality and immediately make the
judgments and the reasoning, that is the goal. We want to expand our consciousness so we want to look
at things the way they really are. We can expand our senses to be able to perceive things that we are not
at the moment capable of perceiving and we want to try to refrain from these judgments. Not judge that
this is a chair, not judge that it is good, it is bad, tasty or not. And this is one of the things that
Buddhism claims to achieve through meditation.

19.5 Probabilistic Actions

It is truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow
what is most probable.
Ren Descartes (1637)


Given as our basis what knowledge we actually have, the probable, I have said, is that which it is
rational for us to believe. This is not a definition. For it is not rational for us to believe that the probable
is true; it is only rational to have a probable belief in it or to believe it in preference to alternative
beliefs. To believe one thing in preference to another, as distinct from believing the first true or more
probable and the second false or less probable, must have reference to action and must be a loose way
of expressing the propriety of acting on one hypothesis rather than on another. We might put it,
therefore, that the probable is the hypothesis on which it is rational for us to act. It is, however, not so
simple as this, for the obvious reason that of two hypotheses it may be rational to act on the less
probable if it leads to the greater good. We cannot say more at present than that the probability of a
hypothesis is one of the things to be determined and taken account of before acting on it.
John Maynard Keynes (1921)

Based on our obviously incomplete knowledge, what shall we do? How are we going to answer Kants
second question? Descartes advice is to prioritize actions and choose the top one on the list. As far as
truth is concerned we should order statements by their probability to be true. If our choice is based on
facts of questionable truth, then it is their probability to be correct that will sort the actions. This is the
answer of a mathematician.

Keynes was an economist largely responsible for starting the scientific study of economics. First of all
you have to assess, by some means, the probability of something happening. Merely because something
is more likely than another it does not mean that it is better. In other words, you have to attest not only
the probability but assess number of other things and here. Keynes concludes that it is not necessary
that you should act on the more probable but probability is just one of the things to be taken into
account. Just like Descartes, he is advocating a prioritizing principle in which probability somehow
figures but not as the only parameter. When you have two parameters, for example probability and
benefit to humankind, which is more important given that each gives rise to a different optimal action?
Somehow you must decide. Buddhism says that in such situations, you sometimes choose incorrectly
and this is what gives rise to suffering.


19.6 Properties of Objects

The logicians believe that suffering is constructed by oneself, by another, by both, or by chance; but
you teach that it arises in dependence. Whatever is originated in dependence, you regard as void.
There is no independent entity, that is your incomparable lions roar.
Lokatitsatava (19-20)

Objects have properties but these properties are all interconnected. We perceive an object, we judge it,
we put a name to it and label it as in this is a chair. That points out a property of that object. This
object has the property of being a chair and clearly things are related and distinguished by their
properties. So this is a chair and that is a chair. They are related by the property of being a chair. But
this one is made of wood and that one is made of several materials but not wood and so they are
different in that sense. I can point out a property of both objects that makes them similar and I can point
out another property that makes them different. However, I can only relate them through these
properties. So it becomes very important what properties objects have to be able to distinguish things.

A property is a set of individual objects. The property of being a chair is simply the set of all chairs.
This is very reminiscent of what we did in the mathematics discussion before. We have defined the
number one to be all the sets that have a single element. We were able to define what a single element
meant without reference to the number one. So this defnition is not circular. Just like that it makes
sense to speak of the property of being a chair as the set of all chairs.

19.7 Deductions about Reality

For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do
so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.


Krsna in Bhagavad-Gita 6:6

We know objects through our senses. Our senses perceive properties; our senses see certain aspects of
this thing and then we judge, put a label to it. We how can we, from this state of judging, then make
deduction about reality? We have some direct knowledge through our senses and we want to make then
deductions. You have perceived some things, if you make the wrong deductions from this because your
mind is not sufficiently trained then you will suffer. If your mind is sufficiently trained and then draw
the correct conclusions from your sensory input then you will be ok.

So how do we do this? First of all, you make a distinction when things are similar and when things are
not. So objects A and B are going to be similar with respect to a property C if both of those objects
belong to that set which makes up the property. So I can say that this object and this object are similar
but I have to say with respect to what? They are similar with respect to the property of being a chair
because they are both members of the set of all chairs. They are not similar in terms of the material of
which they are made. So they are dissimilar with respect to the property of the material. We have wood
and we have plastic and metal. They do not belong to the set of all objects that are made of wood, only
this one belongs to this and the set of objects that are made of plastic and metal, this one belongs but
this one does not. So they are similar with respect to one property and they are dissimilar with respect
to another. Whenever you want to make the statement that something is similar to another object you
have to say with respect to what property.

For example, lets say you look at a cow and you say, this is a cow. You also have some knowledge
of what a mammal is. We all know that there are mammals that are now cows but all cows are
mammals. We want to be able to get to grips with the fact that a cow is a mammal, in other words, the
set of all cows is a proper subset of the set of all mammals. So this is something that we might like to
prove. Subsumptions means that something is contained in another. The set C which the property of
being a cow is contained within the set D which is the set of all mammals. Not only it is contained but
is properly contained that we have mammal that are not cows as well. So what we require is the
presence of C in all similar and the absence in all dissimilar cases. So presence in all similar cases

means that every mammal has to be a cow or not and absence in dissimilar cases is that we may not
have a cow which is a non-mammal.

All S, all D
(everything is a cow)

All S, no D
(all mammals and
others are cows)


All S, some D
(all mammals and some
non-mammals are cows)

Calling the

Too many cases

Sets are equivalent


No S, all D
(no mammals but all nonmammals are cows)

No S, no D
(nothing is a cow)

No S, some D
(no mammals but some
non-mammals are cows)


Too few cases



Some S, all D
(some mammals are cows,
all non-mammals are

Some S, no D
(some mammals are cows,
no non-mammals are
We have a proper subset

Some S, some D
(some mammals and some
non-mammals are cows)

we list all

cases S and



possibilities. Either you can have all of something, none of something or some of something. This is the
classification that comes out of Dharmakritis work and it is exactly the same as that is done in modern
mathematics. Dignaga calls it hetuchakra (the wheel of reason) and in mathematics we call it Venn
diagrams. It is precisely the same thing, of course, Dharmakriti invented this about 14 centuries before
Venn did.

Seven out of nine cases, give rise to a mistaken deduction and two mean that the set under
consideration (cows) is either a proper subset of or equal to the reference set (mammal) with respect to
which similar and dissimilar was defined. See the diagram for all nine possibilities.

19.8 Conclusions

You know the world by perceiving it. You have some senses and that is how you perceive properties of
objects. We reason about them through direct knowledge and indirect knowledge. Clearly the

perceptions are limited and through this limitation they give a bias to the world that is like an illusion.
If you are going to act based on your perceptions and reasonings about your perceptions, you have to
consider all the different possible consequences that this action might give. You might want to act on
the most probable while taking into account some other properties as well.

The reasoning about these properties is to be done by our logic and the logic in the sense includes set
theory. We saw that, in the beginning of this course that we can construct all of set theory based on
logic. The logic that we exhibited in the lectures contain all of mathematics. We can make use of set
theory and the rest of mathematics to systematize this as well and we have seen in that here the
deductive strategy of Dharmakriti was the same as that being implied by set theory.

Lecture 21: The Nyaya-Bindu

All successful human action is preceeded by right knowledge.

Dharmakirti (A.1)

Nyaya-Bindu, translated to a short treatise of logic, was written by Dharmakirti. It is one out of seven
books that he wrote and it is by far the shortest one and essentially a summary of the system. [An
English translation by Stcherbatsky of the Nyaya-Bindu was handed out during the lecture.] The book
comes in 3 chapters: perception, inference, and syllogism.

Both words nyaya and bindu are Sanskrit words. Nyaya comes from the root of to go and implies
a movement towards a complete understanding of the bindu. Bindu means point. In this philosophical182

religious lingo it does not simply mean point as in the mathematical point. It is identified in the
religious sense with the Big Bang. This is from the Sanskrit, which is the Hindu language the
Hinduistic system has a Big Bang, the Buddhist system does not. From the Hinduistic tradition the
bindu implies the first point where the entire universe was concentrated on a single mathematical point.
It had no extension in space and time and then the universe was created. That view is very similar to
the Big Bang view that we have now. In the Buddhist philosophy such a Big Bang does not exist but
the word bindu comes from that tradition. In the Buddhist sense bindu implies the ultimate particular.

Things are described by properties. Two properties of an object are the place where it is and time at
which it is there. If I am in motion, I am at a particular point in space only at a particular time.
Otherwise, I have to specify both my location and my time in order to specify myself uniquely. If I
have specified exactly a location and a time and I assume that two bits of matter cannot occupy the
same space at the same time, then those two pieces of information identify that object uniquely. The
combination of the two is the extreme particular: the point instant. That is the bindu. The basic point of
Dharmakirtis philosophy is that only the particular is real. Any combination of point instants that make
things like chairs or humans is a set of point instants but identifying that set as having similarities in
itself and differences from other things is a human construction.

The quotes given below are indexed by chapter and verse. The chapters are indicated by a letter (A
refers to perception, B to inference and C to syllogism) and the verses are numbered through the

21.1 Perception

Knowledge exempt from such (construction) when it is not affected by an illusion produced by colorblindness, rapid motion, traveling on board a ship, sickness or other causes, is perceptive (right)
Dharmakirti (A.6)

By construction he means here judgment. Judgment in the sense of naming things. I look and I call
something a chair-that is a construction. I see the set of point instants in front of me and I combine
them together in a set, I make them similar by calling them a chair, I make them different from other
things by meaning a chair is different from a table or a floor, and all that is a human construction. That
is not what is meant here. It is simply the immediate sense input that comes from these point instants,
that is, perception.

Perception can be flawed to some extent. I can be color-blind and not see the difference between green
and red, I can travel aboard a ship and see things moving that are not actually moving, I can be sick and
have hallucinations, etc. This brings us back to a discussion that we had in the very first lecture of this
course: How can you judge whether or not you are affected by such a deviation of sense perception?
We had the example of schizophrenia where you see people that do not exist. We also discussed the
possibility of voting who exists and who does not. I see a whole bunch of people in this room but
suppose I were schizophrenic and I saw every seat filled, then I would have more imagined people than
real people. Then who is to agree who is real and who is not? I could take a vote, in other words, ask
each individual. For me this means 120 people. Presumably all my imagined friends here will answer
as I would. Only 30 would say that there are really 30 of them. Therefore, the democratic vote would
go in my favor. This is a very difficult thing to do and this is one of the main problems of the
philosophy. It says that if you are affected by such a condition, then your perception is not right. Then
the question comes: How do you judge whether or not you are suffering from such a condition? This is
extremely difficult to answer. Effectively you have to ask other people and rely on this external

Let us ignore this difficulty for a moment and say that everything we perceive is perceptive knowledge
without naming it. Right action presupposes right knowledge. You have to know something before you
act on it. Right action is very important because if you act incorrectly, then you get bad reactions. For
example, you have to know the law to be able to obey the law. There are some obvious laws such as:
You should not kill anybody. There are also some very complicated ones such as copyright law. In

order not to break it, you really have to study it. You might do something that actually has bad
reactions upon you. It is pretty clear that right action presupposes right knowledge.

We obtain this right knowledge only in two ways: perception and inference from perception. We
perceive something and we make deductions from it based on logical means, that is, inference. Those
are the only ways that we can obtain right knowledge according to this system. It seems quite clear
perception is basic input and inference is everything that happens inside, so these two basically
dichotomize everything possible.

Judgment in the Buddhist sense means merely naming things. In the western philosophical tradition
judgment can mean different things depending on which philosopher you listen to and typically it is a
bunch more than this. It can include judgments of good and bad or right and wrong, for example. But in
the Buddhist sense judgment is nothing else but putting a label to things. This collection of point
instants is a chair is a judgment. I am not labeling it as a comfortable chair or as an uncomfortable

You can perceive, according to Dharmakirti, in four different ways. I can see, hear, smell, touch, and
taste. Sensory perception is clearly one kind of perception. Thought is another one. I can think of things
or imagine things that is also sensory input. Consciousness is another one and is slightly
differentiated from the rest because this consciousness principle does not need to be active. You are
conscious of yourself, you have the idea of I exist, which is very fundamental. This is one point
where the eastern traditions differ from the western ones. Western philosophy thinks of the idea of I
exist or I am as a very advanced stage that only human beings can reach. You need to develop a lot
of philosophy before you reach this statement. This view is encapsulated by the stateent I think,
therefore I am by Descartes. In the eastern traditions, I am is the most basic fundamental thing that
there is. The feeling of self awareness is so basic in world that all living beings have it. Intuition is the
fourth and last kind of perception and is very important. Intuition, in this sense, means enlightenment.
Dharmakirti and Dignaga perfectly well knew that all knowledge is not accessible via logical means.
They knew that you can experimentally test only a finite number of cases that are accessible to you,

you can make only a certain number of deductions from this and there is a whole body of truths simply
inaccessible to you. These you have to access by some other means and this means is called intuition,
translated here as intuition of the Saint. This is reached via meditation and is encapsulated by the
concept of enlightment. This becomes very important because in the western tradition of logic it has
only become apparent that there are logical truths, which are inaccessible by deductive means through
Gdels theorem. Buddhism has had the basic idea, that there are logically inaccessible truths, for a
long time and says that meditation is necessary to obtain knowledge of these truths. The cognition of
such truths are called insights which lead to personal development and eventually give rise to

The object of perception is the particular, the absolute individual point instant. The object of perception
is not a collection of point instants. I do not perceive a chair but individual little point instants that I
then, upon mental reflection and construction, call a chair as being similar to its parts and different
from other things. Only this ultimate particular is considered to be real. Everything else is a
construction and it is different and similar by properties.

21.2 Inference

A cognition which is produced (indirectly) through a mark that has a threefold aspect, and which
refers to an object, (not perceived, but) inferred is internal inference.
Dharmakirti (B.3)

Identity is a reason for deducing a property when (the subject) alone is by itself sufficient for that
deduction. As e.g. Thesis. This is a tree. Reason. Because it is an Asoka.
Dharmakirti (B.16-17)


Dharmakirti differentiates inference into two flavors: inference for oneself and inference for others.
Inference for oneself is the normal implication: If , then . Inference for others is the syllogism. If I
perceive this set of keys and I perceive that somebody lets them go, it is a necessary conclusion that it
will fall and create some noise. This is an inference for myself. My explanation to you, the
verbalization of this internal inference, is the inference for others. The difference here is one of
articulation of the argument. If you want to see it on a logical level, the for oneself is a simple if,
then statement, a simple implication, and the for others is the concatenation of several of these
statements, otherwise, a syllogism.

We need to make an inference. We perceive one thing-a hill full of smoke. Because it is full of smoke,
we cannot see anything beyond the smoke so we have to infer that there is a fire. This is an inference
for me because I have not yet given a reason for it. At the time it was considered that if you have a fire,
you get smoke and if you have smoke, then that was caused by fire. Nowadays we know that we can
create smoke in other ways, so this inference is not completely scientifically accurate. We are talking
here about a particular hill which has a time and a place and at that time this inference was made this
was a correct inference.

What makes it true is that, at that moment in time, it was true that smoke was caused by fire only. This,
of course, is a generalization. If I say that all smoke is caused by fire, then that in itself is a problem
because of all. That would mean that I would have to check all smoky hills at that time. That is, of
course, a practical impossibility. That will lead us into problem later on. This is an example of an
inference for oneself. I know from experience that fire gives rise to smoke and I have no experience of
smoke occurring for any other reason. Therefore, I make the inference that if I see smoke on a hill,
there must be fire beneath.

A property of something is a set of particulars. I perceive a set of particulars, I call them chair and I am
going to define the concept chair to be the set of all the point instants that make it up. Of course, this
is a time-dependant set. I presume that 5 years ago that set did not exist because this chair was
manufactured recently. Those point instants did not exist because they are point instants now.

If I want to make inferences about properties such as the chair is black, then I have to consider two
sets of things the set of all chairs and the set of all black things. To be able to say that this is a true
sentence, I have to put those two together; I have to look at the intersection of the set of all chairs and
the set of all black things. Finally I have to see if the object I am referring to is in that intersection. I
basically need to make some inferences about set inclusion. Here we want to make the inference of
whether set A is included in set B. A is the set of points making up this particular chair and B is the set
of all black things. (also: A is the set of all smoky hills, B is the set of all fiery hills for making the
inference that all smoky hills are fiery hills) Should that be the case, there are two possibilities: a
proper subset and set equivalence. Two properties can be the same. This chair is the same set as this
chair. However, the set of all birches and the set of all trees, that is a proper inclusion. Every birch is a
tree but there are trees that are not birches. Therefore, the set of all birches is actually a proper subset of
that of trees. One needs to differentiate these two possibilities. The equivalence is simply a different
name for the same thing. The set of humans and the set of Homo Sapiens-that is the same thing because
those are synonyms. One must differentiate between those two possibilities.

Dharmakirti constructs three conditions of how this differentiation should be made. First of all, A must
in fact be a property of something. There must be some element of A, it cannot be an empty set. For
instance, the statement Flowers in the sky are black. A would be the set of all flowers in the sky a
typical Buddhist example of something that does not exist. Thus A is not a property of anything,
therefore, we can deduce that its inclusion in anything else is meaningless. The first condition is that A
must, in fact, exist. We establish this by giving an example. The second condition is that some As
must be Bs. Some could be all. If all of the As are Bs, then they will be equal and if it is less
than all of them, then it is an inclusion. The third condition says that no As must be non-Bs, that is,
the entirety of A must be included in B.

This three-aspected logical mark comes in three aspects: negation, identity and causation. Identity is a
translation and I do not like it because it is not identity in the mathematical sense that is meant. I call it
subsumption because it includes both possibilities that it be included in the property, like birches and

trees, and that it be identical to each other, as in humans and Homo Sapiens. Subsumption is A birch is
perceived and thus a tree is perceived. This is obvious if I perceive something specific, then the
general category that includes this thing is also perceived. Negation goes as follows: An X (a chair) is
not there because it is not perceived. Clearly this is a negative judgment. If I do not perceive it, it is
not there. Causation is the difficult part because that requires knowledge that certain things cause
certain other things. If I see smoke, then I infer fire but I can only do that if I know previously that fire
and only fire causes smoke. Causation is difficult because I need to have knowledge to base my
inference on and this knowledge is necessarily inductive, which is a problem because I cannot perceive

Dharmakirti makes the interesting statement that apodictic (self-evident) negative judgment is not
possible. He is saying that negative judgments are never obvious. This is simply true because we have
limited perception. An example is No ravens exist. But how can we verify this? If we claimed that
ravens exist, all we would need to do is find one. This might be a practical problem but it is
theoretically possible. Verifying a statement like no ravens exist, means that somehow you have to
demonstrate that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to catch one. We have postulated
that the only way to infer knowledge is through perception and inference and we can never perceive
everything. Therefore, it is never obvious that some things do not exist.

What is implied here is negative judgments. These are labels about the real world. Mathematical
statements can be absolutely true and absolutely false and proven to be so based on axioms of the
theory. However, they are not self-evident either. The statement that no true or false statements exist is
not obvious in the sense that it only becomes clear once certain assumptions are laid down for a logical
theory. That is what I tried to argue some weeks ago, that in effect nothing at all is self-evident.
Everything is based on assumptions that you make to begin with. Only then can you prove things but
you have to prove them.

21.2 Syllogism


Inference for others (or syllogism) consists in communicating the three aspects of the logical mark
(to others).
Dharmakirti (C.1)

A (sound) thesis is (a proposition to be maintained by the disputant, i.e., a proposition) which he

himself accepts just as such, (i.e., just as the point he bona fide intends to maintain, if from the start)
it is not discredited (by self-contradiction).
Dharmakirti (C.40)

For others, one has to somehow articulate an argument. Inference for others, or syllogism, consists of
communicating to others the aspects of a logical deduction. We have made a perception, we have
assessed that these three aspects are present that is the inference for oneself now we simply have to
communicate it. You communicate this with four terms: a major premise, an example, a minor premise,
and the conclusion of the argument.

The major premise states some general law: For all Bs, C holds. An example is, Whatever has a
beginning is impermanent. Then you give an example a particular point instant for which the major
premise is true. This satisfies the first aspect of the logical mark, in other words, we demonstrate that
the major premise is not empty. A jar is made, so it has a beginning, and it is impermanent it will
eventually cease to be. This is an example of where the major premise is correct. The first aspect of
logical mark is satisfied. Then we give a minor premise, which states a somewhat less general law.
That is, it gives a subset to the set of all things with an origin. For example, the sounds of our speech
have an origin. We said before that things that have a beginning are impermanent. Here we say that this
thing has a beginning. Of course, the conclusion now is obvious we conclude that the sounds of our
speech are impermanent.


Q: What exactly is the difference between inference for oneself and inference for the other?

The difference is only communication. At the time this came out, public debates were extremely
popular. Two famous people would meet in the public with the large audience and have a discussion.
There would be a referee and he would declare a winner of the contest. The winner would get a very
large amount of money through having won the favour of the king by winning this public debate. In
fact Dignaga, because he was a very successful arguer in public, founded a lot of monasteries around
northern India because of winning all of these contests. Everywhere in these documents, you will find
prescriptions for how to find errors in somebody elses argument and how to argue cleverly against the
people so that you can win an argument. But basically here it comes in communication of logical
inferences made to other people.

21.3 The World

That alone (which is unique) represents ultimate reality.

Dharmakirti (A.14)

Coming back to the point, that alone which is unique, represents ultimate reality and unique is the
particular instant because specifying location and time specifies that uniquely. Any grouping that gives
rise to properties, that gives rise to name, is not real. They are made up of real things but not real in
itself. This is Russels theory of types. At the bottom we have these ultimate particulars that are
considered real then we bring them together into such of such particulars and then set is not itself a
particular of course and therefore it is considered not real. This is the same thing that Russell did in his
theory of types to avoid this Russells paradox. At the bottom level we have objects, we combine these
objects together to form sets of objects and we must not compare objects and sets of objects. These two
things are on a completely different level of mathematical existence and a comparison must not be
made and if you make this restriction then all of these mathematical paradoxes disappear. And this is


what Dharmakriti does here as well. Only the ultimate particular is real combinations there of sets of
these are not real and we must not compare sets of particulars with individual of particulars.

Knowledge is obtained by perception, i.e. by perceiving the absolute individual and reasoning about it
that is making judgments, putting the particulars into a set and then differentiating that set obviously
through naming it from other sets. And we perceive objects through the properties. We perceive and
then we judge the object to be a chair, to be a table; that is, we include the particular into a particular
set and then the set is given a name. It is different from other sets by this property. This is a table. It is a
member of a set of all tables. But there is a set of all non-tables, for example this chair is a member of
set of all non-tables. So the distinction is immediately made. If I perceive and then judge this is a table I
have immediately introduced the dichotomy into the world. And this is where the spiritual aspects start.
In the world itself there is no dichotomy. All of that is a human construction. We label things to be this
set of al table and everything else is a set of non-tables. This is a set of all beautiful objects, this is a
set therefore of non-beautiful, i.e. ugly objects. This is the set of all good actions therefore
everything else is the set of wrong actions. That is all human construction. In nature, in reality as such
there is no good and bad, there is no right and wrong, no dichotomy at all. All of this is projected on by
the human being. This is the claim of Buddhism.

This labeling of good and bad is again a human construction. The law of Karma is merely a cause and
effect. If there is some cause then there will be some particular effect. Whether I label this effect to be
good or not that is a construction. So clearly I can say if I break the law I will go to jail. That is the law
of cause and effect. Then saying breaking the law is wrong and going to jail is undesirable is a human
construction. The law of cause and effect is there in the universe. A code of morality is not inherent.
This is our construction. And really all of Karma is bad in spiritual sense because you want to escape
this cycle of continual rebirth. In other words what you really want to be able to do according to the
spiritual philosophy of Buddhism is cut the law of Karma and escape from having to live through all of
these reactions, all the time.


21.4 Knowledge

The source of cognizing consists in coordination (between the constructed image and its real) object.
Dharmakirti (A.20)

The source of scrutinizing consists in coordination between the constructed image and its real object.
So this is what we have been through. We perceive if something then we judge it then we infer things.
So those are real objects and the constructed image of these real objects is the name for it and it is the
inferences that we make from it. So we have real object then we construct an object like calling it chair,
thereby differentiating from tables and the source of scrutinizing lies in the coordination between it. In
another words we must be able to identify that will be called chair to be here and so on.

So you can make inferences of course in a straight forward way if then construction or you can make
them in a much more complicated way. Of course a lot of deductions that we make in everyday life are
fairly complicated. We see something simple and then by a whole chain of deductions we reach in a
different conclusion. And this is called syllogism.

Now comes the problem. The premises of deductions are assumed to be true. If you call the major
premises the general law, saying for instance as we had all things that have original and permanent, that
premise has to be experimentally verified. The experimental verification is contained in Dharmakritis
requirement that you give an example. So you must state your general law and you must give an
example. In other words you must give experimental evidence that your general law is correct. Then
you have to assume that the induction of these examples that you have given is correct. This is an
assumption, and then you can make the deduction. You can only perceive a certain number of examples
but the general law is general and so an inductive step takes place that must be justified.


Two very interesting things said here: Firstly he acknowledges in his philosophy that induction cannot
be completely certified (made certain by experimental or perceptual means) and secondly he explicitly
says that the general laws must be experimentally verified by giving an example. This is natural
science. You postulate a general law; you do not know if it is true, you are perfectly aware that you can
never completely be certain that it is true. How do you become at least approximately certain? You
check it against reality. You come up with examples where this law holds and you try to come up with
examples where that law does not hold. If you cannot come up with any examples where it does not
hold and you have a large number of examples where it does then you can attach some belief to this
theory. Both of these points are explicitly stated in this philosophy. So it is very interesting to read this
because we consider Galileo in the 17th century in Italy to be the founder of this conception. Now this
is the 7th century in India so you may very well say that science as such started much before this.

Q: What is the difference between this logic and Aristotles?

The logical arguments here are very similar to those by the Greeks. The main difference that I can see
between this philosophy and Aristotles is that you have this extra possibility of nonsense. Aristotle
would say any nonsensensical statement is false. Dharmakriti actually reserves special category for
this. But of course there is a big philosophical difference in the sense that these people are trying to
justify different things. Dharmakriti is trying to build the foundation of philosophy for the Buddhist
spiritual thinking, which of course is very different from what Aristotle wanted. Both want to do much
more than just construct logic. They want to construct a theory of the world using logic and so
assumptions about reality have to come into it and this is where the major differences are.

21.5 Conclusions

Sophistic answers are discoveries of non-existing fallacies.

Dharmakirti (C.141)


Fallacies are logical mistakes. Sophistic comes from sophist in Greece. By now this is identified with
very clever arguments but intentionally wrong ones. The common use of the word sophisticated is
used slightly differently but it comes from this and it is meant to be very fancy and clever but
intentionally flawed. The person who gives a sophisticated argument, according to the classical
definition, gives a very complicated but wrong argument and intentionally deceiving you into believing
it is a right one. So this is the sense in which this is used here. Intentionally incorrect arguments are
discoveries of fallacies that are not present.

Perception and inference lead us to knowledge of the real world. Knowledge of the real world then
leads us to actions and this action has a reaction. So in this way we can answer Kant: what do I know,
what shall I do, what can I expect?

Knowledge is covered. Once you know and you have made your humanly constructed judgement of
good and bad and right and wrong you therefore know what to do. According to the law of cause and
effect, which we put into the system, you therefore know what you can expect. So this is the basis for
how to answer this sequence of questions.

The most particular point is that only the individual particular point instant is considered to be real.
This implied various things. It implies a logical theory of types but it implies also that this philosophy
assumes that both space and time are discrete. If space and time are discrete, everything else is discrete
also. Matter cannot be infinitely divisible because space is not. All of the measurable quantities like
speed, location, time and energy and so on. They have to all be discrete because the very essence with
which they are measured is discrete; space and time.

With the real number line I can say this is a point, that is a point and no matter which two points I
chose there are an infinite number of points in between. Now he is saying that there is a moment and

there is a next moment and there is nothing in between. So he is explicitly making the assumption of
discreteness. Continuity does not exist here. Just because of this there is nothing in between one
moment and the next, i.e. saying the next or the adjacent one makes sense in this theory. The next real
number does not make any sense mathematically because there is none. But the next moment in this
philosophy of the world does make sense and that implies discreteness.

As we said before, actually experimentally verifying that nature is continuous is not possible. So this
point whether nature is continuous or whether nature is discrete has to be an assumption. You have to
simply agree on this because if it is continuous this is inaccessible to experiment. Because every
particular experimental apparatus is limited in its resolution and therefore it can measure to certain
resolution. But if space is continuous you need infinite resolution but that is impossible on a practical
level. This is in agreement with certain interpretations of quantum mechanics that say that we perceive
the electron here and we perceive an electron there but we cannot say anything meaningful about what
it did in between. We cannot even say if this electron is the same as that one and what does the same
mean anyway. It has changed its state, changed its properties. Over here it has the different properties
then it had over there. So even if it is the same it is changed and thus it is not the same.

Lecture 23: The Terms of the Nyaya-Bindu

In this lecture I would like to explain to you what I think are the primitive terms of this system, how to
define the other concepts in terms of those and then give some axioms. In the next two lectures I will
then try to prove some theorems from this and then try to use this whole system and extend the theory
beyond this book.


This is the beauty of mathematics - you take a body of statements, you distill then down to the absolute
bare bones trying to find primitive terms and axioms, and then building up the system that you had as
theorems with proofs. Once you have that, you can go further. With the assumption that the whole
thing is consistent, you can build up further statements that were not contained originally in the system
and prove them as still being a part of the system. That is what we want to do.

How do we begin with systematization? First of all, as the basic logic for this whole endeavor we will
take the three-valued logic that we had some time in the past. The thing to remember is that we had
three different values for logical statements true, false, and nonsense. Three possibilities are inherent
in this system, we will take each of them as possible. All of the standard logical things that we know
about extend to this system. The notable exception to this is the law of double negation. Not-not
something does not necessarily get you back to where you started from. Double negation of nonsense,
for example, is not nonsense. It is not necessary for this to understand exactly in each and every detail
what this three-valued logic did in all the symbolism but keep it in mind that you have these three
different values and you will have to deal with them.

23.1 Primitive Terms

Logic itself does not do the whole job. We will have to introduce some more terms, some more axioms,
because what we really want to do is develop an ontology of the world. We want to be able to make
statements about the world as such. Therefore, we have to introduce into our system the world in terms
of primitives and axioms. Then we shall try to define all the other concepts of the theory in terms of
those and prove some theorems and then extend the theory. That is what we want to do.

Let us have a look at what we will take as primitives. What is the most basic thing about the world? It
exists, is a basic thing. Another thing that western philosophers like to say is that things have an
extension, things take up space. Let us take space as a primitive. Space-time, of course, in this
extension because time is just another variation on space as we have learned before.


You have the world being space-time and you somehow have to be able to interact with this world.
Perception will be our other primitive concept. Perception is an interactive concept; it is a relation
between bits of space time and consciousness. Perception really has to be primitive because I am not
really able to supply a definition for it. Something has to be basic to the world. Perception is pretty
intuitive we know what perception means. We touch, feel, see, hear, smell and taste. These are all the
usual senses. We also think about things and have an imagination. Consciousness is also perceptive.
The feeling that I am for example is, according to the eastern tradition, the most basic element of
consciousness and is an extra sense. Then because this whole thing is inspired by a religious feeling of
enlightment, the extra sense of perception is the intuition of the saint. This is the state of meditation and
that allows you to gain knowledge about the world which is not given to you be immediate sensory
perception, not by thought and not by consciousness. We will find out that this is quite necessary
because of Gdels theorem. There are improvable truths and to be able to gain access to such truths,
you have to go beyond the system of logic. The traditional way to go beyond logic is meditation.

23.2 Some Definitions

What is discrete? We know what continuous is. The line is continuous because inbetween every two
points I can find another one. Discrete is the opposite of continuous. In other words, there are pairs of
points in between of which there is no third point. Take a chessboard as an example. A person can
move towards me one square at a time. When the person is at the next square, he cannot get any closer.
The concept of the next square being adjacent to a square makes sense on a chessboard. Discreteness
is opposite to continuity and it will be crucial because in one of our axioms we will assume that spacetime is discrete. Most of physics assumes that space-time is continuous so that this assumption deviates
from standard natural scientific ideas.

Space-time is made up of mathematical points that have no extension. It is in a four dimensional

discrete collection of point-instants so I can locate a point in space-time by giving its coordinates.
Coordinates are always relative, of course. I have to define something as being the origin and then I can


define axes with respect to which we can measure the position of a particular point. One particular
point is going to be an individual. I do not mean by this a conscious person but an individual in this
case is just one single point-instant in space-time. It is a point not only in space but also in time. A
composite is something that is made up of more than one individual. In other words, my body is a
composite. Clearly there is more than one spatial point and there is more than one temporal point
because I live over a certain extended period of time. If space-time is discrete, there is only a finite
number of them because I am only so tall and so wide and I have a birth and I have a death. In other
words, there is a finite number of point instants that make up this composite being me. The same
thing is true for any material object. Anything has a finite extension in space and time.

A property of something is a set of individuals. For example, my body is also a property. It is a property
that many point-instants have. Every point at this moment in space that are contained in this body have
the property of belonging to my body. Properties can be very nicely defined as a set of individual pointinstants. The Russel theory of types is also contained in this Buddhist system. One system is called
apoha, which is exactly the same as Russels theory of types. It basically says that you must not
compare objects with properties. For example, saying that this upper right hand corner individual is a
chair, is nonsense. You must not make comparisons like this because individuals and sets of individuals
are totally different things. They are not on the same footing and cannot be compared. I can say that
this individual is a member of such and such a set but I must not equate them. This is Russels theory of
types and it gets rid of Russels paradox. So we can say that a particular individual belongs to a chair
but we must not say that it is a chair.

What does it mean to be identical? Identical means that you share all properties with the individual that
you are identical to. If you think about the way we interact with the world, we can only see properties
of things. We perceive things but then we make a judgment. Judgment in the Buddhist sense means
merely naming things. I look at things, I perceive these, and I name them. Keyboard, chair, computer,
and so on. That is a property. It is again a set of individuals. I can only compare and contrast things by
means of their properties. I can only interact with them by means of properties, therefore, for me to be
able to judge if one thing is the same as another, I have to do that with respect to a property. If I want to


say that something is identical to something else, what I mean is that I cannot differentiate them by
means of any property. Identical means that it shares all properties.

This is distinct from similar and dissimilar because if I say that the table and this jacket are similar, I
have to point out how they are similar or with respect to what quality they are similar. They both have
the property of being inside this room. With respect to the property of being inside this room those two
objects are similar. With respect to the property of being red they are dissimilar because the jacket is
red but the table is not. If I want to make statements of similarity and of dissimilarity, I not only have to
say which two things I am considering to be similar or not similar but also with respect to what. This is
just having one property in common or not.

As I said before, judgment is merely naming things. We have a property, which is a set of individuals.
Attaching a label to this property is judgment. I perceive a set of individuals here and this set of
individuals is now labeled by me as a jacket. That is a judgment. In particular the judgment is also this
particular object or this particular individual, for example, this particular point instant there is a
member of this set that I have called jacket. I perceive something and I make the judgment that this is
an X. I have basically made a statement of set inclusion. This particular point instant is a member of
that set. Therefore, the statement This A is an X would be an example of a judgment. The universe is
simply the set of everything. That is very simple. The set of all individuals is the universe. Making the
judgment that an object belongs to the universe is equivanlent to saying, it exists.

What is a cause and what is an effect? If you want to say that something causes something else, such
as, fire causes smoke, what you are really saying is that you have two properties: that of being fire and
that of having smoke, and that those two are in relation to one another. We call this relation a causation
and it has the peculiar property that for every member of the effect set I can have one member of the
cause set that precedes it in time. In other words, for every bit of the smoky portion of that space-time I
can find a portion of fiery portion of space-time that preceded it. If I want to say that something is the
effect of something else, I always have to be able to find the presence of the thing I call cause at the
same place at a time before it. If there is one instant in which I am able to precede this effect and this

cause did not happen before, then it is impossible to say that this thing is a cause for that effect. On the
other hand, if I am able to see this thing all the time, then it is possible to say that thing is an effect.

Q: What would happen to the second law of thermodynamics if we reversed the arrow of time?

The law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases. Therefore, order in the universe
decreases. If you want to order something and create a structure in space time here, then I must spend
some energy that exceeds the amount of order created, i.e. I must create disorder somewhere else. The
concept of orderliness can indeed be measured in physical terms. This is basically what defines the
arrow of time. An action takes time and it expends a certain amount of energy to construct a structure.
After this has happened, the entropy of the system is higher than it was before. That defines the arrow
of time. So far, in the theory, we do not have an arrow of time. No physical theory has an arrow of time
explicitly built in. It always comes in through the second law of thermodynamics which we would have
to introduce here too if we wanted to do some physics.

Q: Then isnt there a possibility that at a certain point time will just stop?

If entropy always increases, who is to say that it will ever stop increasing? It is discrete and gets bigger
and bigger in a series of jumps. But discreteness does not mean it is bounded. This second law of
thermodynamics does not mean that time has to stop. It merely says that the measure of entropy
increases and it can increase indefinitely.


A piece of knowledge I will call an articulated truth. The articulation of the truth is very important here
because there are truths out there that we do not know. How can we make a distinction? Piece of
knowledge is only real knowledge if we can write it down, if we can explain it to other people.

A cognition is a way of obtaining truth. There are truths out there in the universe some of which I
know and therefore can articulate, and some of which I do not know but I want to get to know them and
therefore cognition is getting more knowledge.

Q: Is it really necessary to be able to explain them?

The articulation of the truth in itself does not involve the understanding of that articulation by someone
else. For example, if you know something and you formulate it but the other person does not
understand it, that is a problem for the second person. That, however, does not mean that you do not
know it. In practice, if someone has deep experiences and tries to convey them in mere words, it is very
difficult to explain and very difficult to understand for the other person. From the way I am presenting
it, this does not involve the understanding of the person I am talking to. That would definitely make it
worse. This means that it is not possible, in general, to learn lifes experiences by listening to people
who know. You must experience it for yourself so that you may gain the knowledge. They nevertheless
know it and can tell you about it, we simply do not understand explanations about things we have not
experienced. How, for example, should we explain to a blind man the beauty of a sunset so that he
really understands us? We can tell him but sadly he will not be able to fully grasp what we mean.
Intellectual knowledge posses no problems, the issue at hand is transferal of experiential knowledge.

Enlightment is the knowledge of all truths. This is exactly what the religion tries to do. Curiously you
observe from Gdels theorem that there are some truths that are unprovable. This will lead us later on
that introspection leads us to obtain unprovable knowledge.


Individuals and sets of individuals have relations between one another. For example, this jacket is on
top of the table. Jacket is a set of individuals, table is a set of individuals and they have some relation
between them, namely the relation on top of. A relation is a set of ordered pairs of properties. An
ordered pair means that I have two properties, such as table and jacket and they must be ordered
because I am trying to get across the concept of on top. It really matters if I say that the jacket is on
top of the table or the table is on top of the jacket. In other words, I need this to be ordered. I can
construct a very large number of relations because I have a very large number of properties. One of
these, I am going to label as being on top. Experimentally, of course, this has some intuitive notion to
us. Mathematically speaking this is a set ordered pairs and one of them can be labeled by being on top.
We have the intuition of what this means. We have a frame of reference that allows us to measure
distances. The floor for us is normally the frame of reference and the direction towards the sky is up
and therefore we can measure the distances to the floor the table is closer to the floor than the jacket
is. It makes sense for us to say that this jacket is on top of the table rather than the other way around.
This is merely a convention. From a mathematical point of view this is all we need to define a relation.
To be definite the relation on top is the set of ordered pairs (a, b) where both a and b are properties.
In this case (jacket, table) is one member among an infinite number of members of this set; (I, floor) is
another member.

I have the set of humans and the set of IUB students and clearly there are some humans that are not
students at IUB and there are some students in IUB. Both sets are non-empty and there is also a nonempty set of humans that are not students at IUB. This is a proper subset. By this I mean that the
exclusion also has members, in this case, there are also humans that are not students at IUB. There are
such people and therefore the set of students at IUB is a proper subset. Consider the set of humans and
the set of Homo Sapiens. There are no differences between these. They are two formulations for
exactly the same set of individuals. Those are identical/equivalent sets. You can still say that the set of
humans is a subset of the set of Homo Sapiens but this does not make too much sense because you
know that they are equivalent. Mathematically we differentiate a subset and a proper subset in the sense
that a subset could be a proper subset and could be equivalent. Proper subset definitely excludes the
possibility of identity.


To be able to get a value judgment, we have to introduce the concept of suffering. At every instant in
time and space we have choices between actions. These actions have consequences through the law of
cause and effect in the universe. If I make the decision to let go of something, I have to accept the
consequence that it drops. If that thing is fragile, I will have the further consequence of costs to replace
it and so on. Therefore, I have freedom of will in a very restricted from only. I can have a little bit of
freedom now involving a lot of consequences later on. So my course of action now determines to a
very large extent my choices in the future, the choices I have available in the future and the course of
the action I will take then. Because space-time will be assumed to be discrete, actions proceeds in
jumps of moments. In other words, I can meaningfully speak of chain of moments. The future
intersecting with myself is basically my lifeline as far as the future is concerned. This can take different
paths depending on the action I take now. My goal according to this philosophy is to gain
enlightenment, to know all truths. So I can measure, abstractly of course, the length of the chain of
moments from here to enlightenment. Practically I cannot make this measurement because I have not
any means by which to do this. But abstractly and theoretically I can consider that there is a length,
number of moments. If I perform a certain action now this either gets me towards it or it gets me away
from it and actions in the future get me towards and away from it. I can assess a distance and I will say
that you want to take the shortest path possible. Any non-minimal path that you choose to go along is a
bad one and this is then labeled suffering. So you have a series of choices, one of them is optimal, the
other ones are not optimal and the word for a non-optimal choice is suffering.

Ignorance of course is the opposite of enlightenment so that there are some truths that are not known.

23.3 Some Axioms

Lets see what the axioms are. First of all space-time is discrete. We have been through this a couple of
time so that is quite clear. Second of all, nothing occupies the same space at the same time. This
basically means to say that the property of happening at a certain time and space definitely and
uniquely defines an individual. So giving a time and giving a place uniquely specifies a single point
instant. Individual is uniquely identified a position and a time. In other words, if I say it happens now


that is large number of possibilities. But it happens here and now, that is unique. There are no two or
more possibilities for this.

And thirdly, sense perception is the only way to interact with the universe and it causes judgment. So
there are no other interactions possible except through the various means of perception. Of course
perception is a primitive term. It causes judgment. In other words it leads you to give a name to
properties or end to identify the facts that certain individuals belong to certain properties. So statements
like this individual here is a member of a jacket for example, that is a judgment.

We have just defined causality to be in this time ordered structure. Very importantly what was not said
is that necessarily the cause has to be at the same place or very close to the place of the effect. We
simply said it has to happen before. So this still leaves the possibility open of a cause happening over
here having an effect way over there at a time very close. In other words it includes the possibility of
non-local causes. So in one moment in time I can have an event here and at the next moment in time I
can have an event very many space bits away and this is fine as a cause. In normal classical physics this
would not be allowed. Every effect has to have a cause, which is very close to it in both space and time.
But quantum mechanics, we discovered few lectures ago, actually necessarily includes this non-locality
where you can in fact have causes and effects separated by a very large distance in space
infinitesimally in time. We include this possiblity by our loose definition of causation.

The certification of induction is not absolutely possible. Induction means that we make general
statements particularly about causation. For instance, if we want to say that fire causes smoke. The set
of all fiery things and all smoky things are two definite sets but from our perception we only have
access to several little pieces of these sets. We cannot perceive all fiery things. Some of them happened
very long ago and we were not born yet, some of them will happen in the future and some are
happening right now in far away places. So we cannot have perceptual access to all the individuals
involved in the claim fire causes smoke. To get from a few bits of information to the general
statement, we are making an induction. Is this induction justified and to what extent is it certain or can
be certified? On the logical level the answer is we cannot do that. Mathematics definitely says, if you

have such a general statements such as all X are Y it is impossible to prove this by a list of examples
because there is always the possibility that there is an exception to your claim that you simply have not
listed (or, in the above case, not perceived). If I observe a fire that does not cause smoke then I have
what is called a counterexample. Then my induction is definitely false. So disproving an induction is
very easy. All I have to provide is one single example of where that statement is not true. Then
everything is over. But inducing itself, saying that this is true for all possible cases, that is only possible
with a certain measure of probability because we only have access to a finite number of things in
perceptual experience and this is really the root of ignorance.

There is knowledge which is definitely inaccessible and this is if you are looking for an exact proof of
this, this is Gdels theorem which tells you that there exist unprovable truths. There are truths, which
are inaccessible by logical means yet they are true and for this the only way in practice is to step
beyond the system of logic. Gdels theorem says, within the system this is not possible. You can
construct a meta system that analyzes the previous system and is able to prove its truths but then of
course Gdels theorem applies to the meta system and there exists theorem in the meta system that are
true but not provable in that system. So you have to construct a meta meta system that proves those but
then it and so on. So this leads basically to ignorance and this has to be broken somehow.

Now the question is: Is this whole thing consistent? In other words: Is it ever possible to prove
something and to prove its negation also. This is Gdels second theorem, which tells you that this is
also not possible if the system is sufficiently powerful which it is because it contains mathematical
logic. In other words, our logic is powerful enough to define what consistency means and therefore
according to Gdels theorem it will not be possible to actually prove that the system is consistent
within itself. Again we can construct a meta system by which means we can prove it but then this
consistency of our own system is relative to the consistency of a bigger system but the bigger system
can be proven consistent wither unless again we construct a meta meta system and so on. So again the
question of consistency becomes relative one.


The principle of relativity is also included in this philosophical outlook because what we are saying
here is that only change is observable. You can really perceive only differences. We perceive
properties. We perceive individuals and we judge them to be members of properties and judgment of
something having a property is logically equivalent to it not having some other property. So for
example, if I say this individual has the property of being red, it is a member of the set of red things
that is logically equivalent to saying it is not the member of non-red things. In other words,
immediately perception, which causes judgment, differentiates things and that is change. So I only
perceive things in relation, i.e. on difference or in similarity to another and that is the principle of
relativity. I can only measure things in relation to other things.

23.4 Conclusions

We just had two primitives and three axioms. Space-time and perception were the primitives and
axioms were: space-time is discrete, you interact via the perception and space and time identify
uniquely the individual. Then we defined many other concepts and we found that the two main
principles that gave rise to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics are contained here just in
terms of philosophical perception. There was relativity because we gain knowledge about things
through their properties. Therefore we can measure only things in relation to others. We do not have an
absolute reference frame. We always have to have a relative reference frame that depends on the
individual property. There was the non-locality by our way of defining what cause is going to mean.
We only have time related causes, not space related causes so that we can get non-local effects.

Lecture 25: Deducing the Nyaya-Bindu

So far we have been discussing what the Nyaya-Bindu says, what it includes and what it claims to be
true. In the last lecture I have introduced some primitive terms, some axioms and I have defined a
number of other words in terms of the primitives so that you get some idea of how you can systematize

this whole thing. What we want to be able to do is to deduce the statements of the Nyaya-Bindu from
the described foundation.

25.1 The Three-Aspect Theorem

One of the most important things in this philosophy is the three-aspect theorem. We begin with two
basic properties A and B and we want to show that one includes or is equivalent to the other one.
For the moment we do not know which is which. We say A is included in B or A is equal to B. For
example, humans are mammals but there are also some other mammals that are not humans. That is an
inclusion. At the same time, however, the set of homo-sapiens is equal to the set of all humans; there
are no non-human homo-sapiens and all humans are homo-sapiens. These are two possibilities and in
general we have to care which one we are dealing with.

The Nyaya-Bindu claims that there are three conditions that have to be satisfied in order for this
inclusion or equivalence to hold. All three are claimed to be necessary and sufficient for this. There is
some dispute among philosophers who claim that only two are necessary. I claim that as stated in the
original work, this is correct. Of course, the original does not use mathematical symbols, so you have to
interpret slightly what those words in the book really mean.

The first condition is that the property A of which we say is included in property B has to be a real
property in the sense that it cannot be an empty set. If we say that the set of all humans is included in
the set of all mammals, the first condition is that the set of all humans is a set, that is we are able to
demonstrate an example of a human. If we are not able to demonstrate this, we have to conclude that
this set of humans does not exist because we cannot demonstrate even a member of it. Therefore,
making statements of it being included in some other set does not make any sense.

The second condition is that there is some overlap between the two sets. We have already demonstrated
that the set of all humans is not empty we have been able to show at least one human. Now we are
able to say that there has to be some overlap between these two. You have to show that some of these

humans are also mammals. The intersection of these two sets has to be non-empty as well. We are
trying to make statements about set A using set B as a reference point. We are trying to say that A is
included in B and it is understood that this reference set set B is known. We are only talking about
this new set A, so that has to have some conditions attached to it.

The third condition is that the intersection of the set A and the complement of the set B is empty, i.e.
there are no humans that are non-mammals. So one has to show first of all that there are humans,
second of all that the intersection of humans and mammals is not empty, and that there are no overlaps
between the set of humans and the set of non-mammals. Then we can conclude that the set of humans
is properly included in the set of mammals.

These are three aspects that we have to fulfill to be able to make these statements. If you want to say
that A is properly included in B, or you want to say that A is equal to B, then you need only two
conditions. Saying that A is not empty and saying that the intersection between A and B is either equal
to B or the intersection between A and the complement of B is specifically empty will be sufficient.
But if you want to include both the possibility of inclusion and the possibility of equivalence, you have
to have all three cases. Matilal believed that only two conditions are necessary. If you read what he
wrote you can infer that he basically misunderstood what Dharmakirti is doing he is including both of
these possibilities. Matilal seems to think that there is only inclusion present here, in which case this
statements are correct. But what Dharmakirti is trying to do here is include both the possibility of
inclusion and equivalence. Because we have these two possibilities, we have to have an extra condition.

Another example is if you want to make a statement that all ravens are black (this is the example that
this philosopher brought up). Black is the reference class and therefore we are supposed to understand
what black is. Ravens are the problem. First of all, you have to demonstrate that there is a raven. Here
is one. So the first condition is satisfied. Then all the ravens and all the black things has to be nonempty. That is fine as well because the example of the raven that we have just shown is black and this
also serves to show that the intersection is not empty because this single example is an example of a
raven and a black object. Now comes the problem. Now we have to say that among all the non-black

objects there is no raven. We have been able to get away with giving an example for the first two
conditions by just supplying one specific object with both these properties. The third condition is really
problematic because you have to examine the entire set of non-black things and that is a very large
class of things so we cannot really examine them. This is where the problem of induction comes in.
Essentially you look in a certain large number of specific instances, do you get this condition or not,
and then you have to make a quantum leap of faith. So if you want to speak about human experience, it
is very difficult to assert this third condition.

Logically it makes sense because we have the empty set (that we have been able to define long ago in
our lectures through logic), the concept of equal or not equal we have been able to define long ago, the
concept of set was defined through logic, so all of this makes sense. The only thing we need is
intersection. Intersection is quite clear. That we have been able to define through logic as well. All the
concepts set, empty set, equality, and intersection we have been able to define. We have also been
able to define what it means for sets to be equal. We have defined what it means for sets to be included
in one another. All of this came out of the logical discussions many lectures ago. If check back, these
three conditions actually give you necessary and sufficient conditions for that inclusion or equality. It
perfectly holds up mathematically. The only claim that you might make, as this other philosopher has
done, is that in fact these preconditions are not independent. They are independent, because the first
statement only makes a statement about set A. it does not make any statements about set B. Therefore,
it is independent from the other two conditions that are statements about the combinations of A and B.
The second statement is a statement about combination of property A and B. Two sets that are part of
the universe. The third statement is about the complement of B. of course, the complement of B
depends on B and it also depends on the universe because it is all the elements of B subtracted from it.
These three conditions really are independent of each other as they make statements about three
different things. Therefore, you need all three.

25.2 The Hetuchakra

This is Dharmakirtis version. The version that Dignaga brought up is called the hetuchakra. I have
discussed this a couple of lectures ago, so I will be brief. We want to show again that A is either
included in B or equal to B. Let us draw them on the plane as a figure. What we are trying to do now is
to classify the different possibilities of intersection. We have sets A and B and we have their

intersection and we have the intersection of A with the complement of B. There are three basic
possibilities. Either this intersection is the empty set or it is everything, or it is less than everything. So
the first set has three possibilities and for each of these three the second set has three possibilities. We
end up with nine different possible intersections. Again Matilal wants to introduce some more
categories here. As we see from the diagram, really there are none. You can introduce new categories
by hair-splitting some of these categories into subcategories but from a mathematical point of view
these nine are all that is necessary.

The thick circle on the picture represents the


entire universe, so that is the set of everything. In


there we then have nine different possibilities of

inclusions. The circle named 1 is the set of all
similars and dissimilars. We have this reference


set B (the set of mammals or the set of black


things) and this is the set that we define

similarity and dissimilarity with respect to. For
example, that chair and that chair are similar
with respect to the property of being black. The
table and the chair are dissimilar with respect to
the property of being black simply because the

table is not black but the chair is black. The second circle includes some of the similars but not all but it
includes all of the dissimilar things, so all of the non-black things and some of the black ones. In the
third category you have none of the similars at all but all of the dissimilars. And it goes on like this.
Between similars and dissimilars you either have all, some, or none. If I have all of the similars, I can
have all, some, or none of the dissimilars. For some of the similars I can have all, some, or none of the
dissimilars again and I have these nine possibilities. Clearly, we want at least some of the similars
present and none of the dissimilars. We want to say that all ravens are black, therefore we want none of
the dissimilars present there should be no ravens of a different color. We want at least some of the
similars present in the sense that every raven should be a black object but not necessarily every black
object should be a raven. This is what is meant by some. Some of the black things are ravens but not all
of them. This is what is meant by proper set inclusion. If you can demonstrate that all ravens are black

but there are some black things that are not ravens, the set of ravens is properly included in the set of
black things.

The other possibility is when the sets are equal. This is the case with humans and homo-sapiens they
are different words for the same thing. You have no dissimilars present, that is, you cannot demonstrate
humans that are not homo-sapiens, but you can also demonstrate no homo sapiens that are not humans
at the same time, in other words, you have presence of all similars and no dissimilars.

Two among these nine possibilities give you a correct deduction. One of them is that set A is properly
included in set B and the other possibility is that set A is equal to set B. The other possibilities give rise
to either a nonsense statement or a false statement.

25.3 Negation
Dharmakirti proceeds with several forms of negation. Negation is important to him because you want
to make statements about things that you do not perceive. This is more complicated. I can say that this
chair is black and I have made judgments from which I can deduce some causality; for example, it has
to have been manufactured at some point. I also want to say, I do not perceive a plant and therefore
there is no plant. This is much more complicated because I want to make deductions about stuff that I
do not perceive. I have to say that this is what I perceive and then the complement of what I perceive
does not exist here.

Dharmakirti lists eleven types of differentiating or negation. They are all different formulations of one
basic principle of negation. The basic principle of negation is: If I do not perceive it, it does not exist.
This comes straight from our axiom: Perception is the only way in which we gain knowledge about
the universe. The eleven forms are:


If no A is perceived (but conditions for perception satisfied), no A exists.



If no A exists, there exist no unimpeded causes for A.


If A is contained in B and there is no B, there is no A.


If we know that A leads to the absence of B and that A, then there is no B.


If we know that C leads to A and A leads to the absence of B, then if C we have no B.


If every A is a B and some A does not have property C, then some B does not have property C.


If we know that A causes the absence of B and that A, then there exist no unimpeded causes for


If we know that A causes B and that C causes the absence of B, then C causes the absence of

effects of A.If A causes B, absence of B causes absence of A.


If A causes the absence of B and B causes C, then A causes the absence of C.


If A causes B, B causes the absence of C and C causes D, then A causes the absence of D.

We have also assumed that all things are caused. So if I perceive something, I can make a deduction
that the things that I do not perceive do not exist. That was the first statement of negation. Since the
plant that is not in front of me does not exist, there cannot have been any causes for it to exist unless
those causes were impeded.

The concept of impeded causes is important. There are some causes for things. If I hit the table for
instance, I get hurt. So there is a cause and an effect. This is local have to have a contact, i.e. my hand
and the table are close to each other both in space and in time. So I have local causality. However, this
could be impeded somehow. If I have a causal chain of events, there could be something that prevents
the effect from happening. For example, if I crash into a house, my car and the house will both get
broken. There is a cause and effect relationship. But in the meantime my car may break down. If this
happens, I cannot drive and I cannot hit the house so nothing breaks. Here is a possibility that we have
a cause and effect relationship that can be interrupted. I have a cause and I have to have several steps of
events in between before I reach the effect. Me driving is the cause and the eventual effect is going to
be the destruction of my car because I hit the house. But many things have to happen in the meantime. I
have to reach the house, I have to intersect it, etc. I have to do many things for that to occur. There is a
possibility that something goes wrong in a certain sense. If my car breaks down, I will not be able to
reach the house and the effect will not happen. This cause and effect relationship is not local in the

sense that these two events, me driving and me hitting the wall, are separated by some appreciable
distance in time and space and some other things may happened in the meantime to impede this effect.
The basic thing is that you cannot predict the future based on the immediate (local) present. If I know
the causes, I might not necessarily know the effect because something in the meantime might prevent
the effect from happening. This is what is meant by unimpeded causes. I do not perceive a plant. The
possibilities are that either there are no causes for a plant being here, or those causes were somehow
interrupted. If I make the statement that there are no unimpeded causes, then it is correct.

Q: What about hallucinations?

This is a big problem. The statement is made here that perception gives you sense of reality if it is not
interrupted by some sort of fault. If you have hallucinations, perception is considered faulty. That leads
to the question of how you asses that the perception is faulty or not. And this is a problem that I do not
have a solution for. Suppose I am schizophrenic and I saw more people than than you in this lecture
hall, how would you tell whether my perception is faulty or your perception is faulty? Saying that
perception only leads you to true reality if it is not impeded by some sort of faulty apparatus, is difficult
because you do not know when it is faulty and when it is not.

Prof. Crowther: The biggest progress that has been made in western philosophy in the 20th century it
tends to show skepticism about the criteria of truth on the basis of repulsive private experience, the idea
being, that there is no sophisticated human type word that can be done without shared language and by
initiating language you distinguish between right and wrong and also people who are on the margins of
reality. You can identify those by how they behave. In other words, this is a criterion of knowledge
connected with language and by connecting with language it connects with the public third party
behavioral criteria.


Who is the third party? If these imagined people were included in this third party verification, then the
schizophrenic still wins

Prof. Crowther: The thing is that schizophrenic reality breaks down at some point and it intersects
again with what is shared by everybody. You can only find out by testing on the basis of language.

Not only the philosophers but also behaviorists and psychologists are saying that language is the prime
thing that makes humans intelligent and different from animals. Personally I have to say I do not abide
by this at all. This might be a good idea where we can have some conversation here. I think language is
very limiting. The experiences that I have, I can formulate in language only to a very approximate
degree myself. By the time it arrives in your ear with your past experiences and knowledge it will be
interpreted to something very different and then by the time you get to read the scripts of what I have
said, it means something typically quite different from what I have in my head, I think. This is my
personal opinion and it is basically something like the Chinese whispers experiment. Even after five or
six people of saying something in each others ear, at the other end total nonsense will come out. I
think there is a big problem with this approach. Additionally I believe that animals have far more
sophisticated communication abilities than they are typically given credit for. Just because we can not
speak dog does not mean that there is no dog language.

So if we have set A which is contained in set B but there is here in front of us no Bs then there are also
no As. This is quite clear. If we have proven that humans are mammals then we see before us there is
no mammal then there are also no humans. Now again some casual relationship: if we know that the
presence of the A leads to the absence of a B and we perceive in front of us the presence of this A then
we know that there is no B. Of course you can combine all of these things in terms of syllogism. This
basically was syllogism. A leads to the absence of B: one term. We perceive here an A. So A is true. A
leads to the absence of B. We know both of these things, so absence of B has to be correct. You can get
slightly more complicated. You can attach another term to this. You can say if C leads to A and A then
leads to the absence of B you still have A leads to the absence of B, and now in front of it we say that
some C leads to A. Do we have a cause for A? And A is the cause for the absence of B. now we see in

front of us the C, the initial cause therefore in this causal chain we conclude that the B is absent also.
So if we see the first condition for the cause of the absence of something we must conclude that thing is
actually absent. If every A is a B, so if every human is a homo-sapiens and some A does not have the
property B, lets say some human does not have the properties of having three arms then some B does
not have the property C. this is not the obvious thing. Some homo sapiens therefore has them, does not
have the property of having three hands simply because the properties of being humans and homosapiens A and B are the same. So this is just reformulation. I can for one set stick in the different levels
for the same thing.

If we know that the A causes an absence of B then we see the cause. So we have cause and effect
relationship, we observe the cause. Before we have said that therefore this effect, this B, does not exist.
However, we can also conclude that because the B does not exist there can not be any causes
(unimpeded ones at least) for B.

Now once more, slightly reformulating the syllogism again if we have a cause for an effect and we
have another cause for the absence of the same effect. So A causes B, C causes the absence of B then
we can turn this around in the syllogism and say that C causes the absence of effects of A. This is just
reformulating in this language. C causes the absence of B that is stipulated. It is also stipulated that A
causes B, in other words B is an effect of A, if we observe C, B is not present. That was the first
statement. B being an effect of A. A is not present therefore there are no effects of A. So all it is is
clever arrangement of words. These are all the same things. Now if A causes B, the absence of B
causes the absence of A. that is another thing which is very underlying all of this: is that if you have an
implication (A implies B), you can turn this around by saying that not B implies not A. It is not that B
implies A. That is not right. That is only true if the implication goes both ways. If you have a one way
implication, if A then B is logically equivalent to if not B then not A. We just resolved into this
here and we get the statement that if we know that A causes B therefore the absence of B has to be a
cause for the absence of A.


The basic statement is that Dharmakriti distinguishes between eleven different types of negation but
does say that, as I have hopefully shown, they are all clever use of words. They are all just differences
in formulation; different uses of the words implies and cause. All these statements are equivalent
to: This is not observed and so it is not there. And that was the assumption of the entire system that
we make. That is an axiom and then all of these reformulations are merely that, reformulations. They
are not in any way new. In other words they are theorems that we can prove from this axiom using the
principles of logic.

25.4 Syllogism
The syllogism is constructed as follows. We have two implications. Statement A implies statement B
and the statement B implies the third statement C. In other words, we have if A then B and if B then C.
In this chain we can ignore the element B altogether and we can say, if A then C. That is the syllogism
and this allows you to prove theorems. Every single little step in the proof of a theorem is simple.
Every single step is supposed to be easy, supposed to either be an axiom or immediately follow from
the logical deductions. Then you put them together into a long chain. All of the second terms are equal
to the first terms of the following statements, you can cancel all of this out leading you from the very
first statement of the proof to immediately give you the very last one and this is the theorem. The
syllogism allows us to cut through a very long communication and simply give the statement. It is a
question of efficiency. So if in everyday communication we make a lot of statements and those
statements presuppose a very large amount of knowledge and experience and so on all the words are
used. You have to know all these words. The words have connotations to you. You have life
experiences and a memory. If at every stage I would have to explain every little detail to every word I
use, define what I mean by that and what I have experienced in my past. All this stuff would make
communication totally impossible. This is why the syllogism is absolutely crucial. But it can be

The way I have just said it, it is called the method of agreement in this philosophy. It is simply a label
as opposed to the method of difference which is slightly different simply because it includes negation.
If you have the implication, if A then B, you can turn around and say if not B then not A. You can take
this principle, the fact that these two statements are logically equivalent and slot them into the
syllogism and then the syllogism reads slightly differently. While the method of agreement looked like

[(A ? B) ? (B ? C)] ? (A ? C), the method of difference looks like [(A ? -B) ? (C ? B)] ? (A ? -C). If
A then not B; if I have the cause for the absence of something and at the same time if C then B; I have
both a cause for the absence of B (that is A) and I have a cause for the presence of B (that is C) then I
can deduce from this if A then not C. So if I have the cause for the absence then I cannot have the
cause for the presence of the object. That is quite clear because if I had both then it would make no
sense. Of course again with the qualification of unimpeded causes. This is called the method of
difference. It is simply a reformulation that you get from the method of agreement by this logical
equivalence of if A then B and if not B then not A.

These two methods are equivalent and Dharmakriti states that they are. They are simply different
formulations. Again this is a question of language. Just like in this negation example we will be able to
construct all these difficult chains of this cause and that. They are logically equivalent. They are just
different ways of formulating the same statements.

25.5 Fallacies
I have mentioned the topic of fallacies before and in some philosophy books on logic you find that a
large portion of the book is devoted to fallacies. I just want to make a few remarks. From a
mathematical point of view discussing fallacies is not necessary.

What are fallacies? First of all, you can make additional assumptions in your proofs that you did not
state. In our axiomatic system we had primitive terms and axioms then we defined other terms and we
proved some theorems. Of course, it is taken for granted in the whole construction that in the definition
of a new term we use only the primitives and in the proofs of the theorems we use only the axioms. If
you need an additional assumption for the proof of a theorem that you did not state in the mean time,
you are cheating. You are claiming that you can do something with a system that you cannot do
without bringing in something new and this cheating is a form of fallacy.


Secondly, you can use terms without defining them. I can present lots of fancy words that will impress
people but if they do not know what they mean these words are useless for communication. If I use
terms in my logical proof without having definition of these beforehand and without them being
primitives of course then this is also a fallacy because any statements made about an undefined term
are useless.

Thirdly, you can use ambiguous terms. I can have one term with several definitions for it. This occurs
in the English language a great deal. If you look in any dictionary, many many words have several
definitions and the human being is supposed to be capable of distinguishing which of these meanings
was intended from the context. Now in a logical debate this cannot be allowed. If it is not clear to the
people that I discuss with what exactly I mean, I am basically cheating again. The use of ambiguous
terms is considered to be a fallacy. If you use a term, which has several definitions, you must make it
absolutely clear which of the several definitions you mean. Otherwise this will lead you into trouble.

Lastly, the basic concept of a fallacy is simply that of a mistake. You have rules of logical deduction
that you can apply. If you do not apply them properly then you have made a mistake. This occurs of
course sometimes unintentionally, sometimes because we want to reach a certain conclusion we
actually intentionally do that. But nevertheless it is wrong, it is a mistake and therefore it is also
considered in this umbrella of fallacy.

The important thing with respect to fallacy is to realize is that the only that can be criticized is the
proof. If I give an argument for something and in that argument I commit one of these fallacies, that
means the argument as I have presented it is wrong. It does not mean that the argument can not be fixed
by removing this error. It does not mean that the claim I am trying to argue for is wrong. There might
exist some entirely different argument, which is preferably logically correct, which does prove that
statement, it is just that the argument I gave is wrong. So the existence of a fallacy merely demonstrates
that this particular articulation of a proof is wrong and says nothing at all about the statement in


25.6 Conclusions
Now just to quickly sum up in the last lecture we had some primitive terms, some axioms and some
definitions. This time I have shown you that we can deduce the statements of the Nyaya-bindu from
this basis. There were no statements in the Nyaya-bindu that had an explicit contradiction with the
axioms that we have had. We were able to demonstrate the statements in terms of the system we had
before. So a systematization is possible.

Consistency is a very tricky issue. You would like to be able show that a system is consistent. In other
words, not only are a few specific examples of statements not contradictory but a contradiction can
never arise. Now this leads us through the discussion of Gdels theorem in our logic. Gdels theorem
is included in the sense that our logic is powerful enough to define consistency within the system.
Therefore according to the Gdel we can not ever prove consistency in this system. We can only prove
relative consistency. So while being able to claim that we have a systematic foundation for the
statements of the Nyaya-bindu we can not claim that this is absolutely consistent. Not only is this too
lengthy or too difficult, it is just not possible on a very fundamental level. The only way that we might
be able to somehow argue consistency basically comes down to some measure of belief. Effectively
you have to believe in the consistency of the system. By mathematical means it is not possible to prove
it. Not only has nobody accomplished it, it can be proven to be impossible.

So what have we achieved? We have reduced the content of eleven pages of logical statements to two
primitive terms and three axioms. We have made it much shorter. That makes it simpler to understand
and it reduces the belief required. If you want to be a follower of the system what do you have o
believe in? All you have to believe in is the primitive construction, i.e. the axioms because the rest
follows based on these axioms. You can, of course, disagree. I am making no statements whatsoever
about the truth of this system. All I am saying is it hangs together logically if you make certain
assumptions. If you believe in those assumptions, because of the logical relation, you necessarily have
to believe in the rest. This makes it very simple. You have all these statements that have been shown to
be equivalent to very few others. However the belief is necessary and you can prefer to disagree. I am
not saying that it is true in reality. I am only saying that the certain systematization has been performed.

The other thing this will allow us to do is because we have a foundation available, we can go beyond
what we have so far and deduce more things to extend our picture of reality as based on these

Lecture 27: Extending the Theory beyond the Nyaya-Bindu

I presented the statements of the Nyaya-Bindu and we showed that we can deduce them from a small
number of assumptions and primitives. Here I want to extend this into statements that are found in
Buddhism but not in Nyaya-Bindu. I will just illustrate a few major statements but this can be extended
to include many more than this.

27.1 Dialetic
One statement that is often made is: Any non-trivial judgment is necessarily dialectical. This
includes a bunch of things that need to be explained and once you understand what these statements
actually say, it is almost trivial.

What is a judgment? We said that judgment in the Buddhist connotation simply means that an element
A is a member of a set X. For example, saying that this particular thing here is a member of the set of
black chairs, I make a judgment. Judgment in this connotation does not entail a judgment of good or
bad, or right or wrong. It simply means that this is an element of some collection. Some western
philosophers attach more meaning to the word judgment but in this sense it is just the sense of
belonging. Dialectical is a word with many meanings. If you actually look it up in the Oxford English
dictionary, you will find rather many different meanings of the word dialectical or dialectic. To my
understanding, it stems from western philosophers not making it entirely clear what they mean so a lot
of different philosophers mean slightly different things by it. Therefore, it sometimes becomes difficult
to distinguish what it means. What I mean by dialectical is simply a dichotomy. A dichotomy means

this is a member of this set, that is not a member of this set. Basically I have divided the universe into
two pieces, the piece of black chairs and the piece of non-black chairs. To me, that is all that dialectical
means. But there are a lot of uses of that word out there.

What is non-trivial? The set X is not the universe. In other words, non-trivial judgments are all
judgments other that This thing belongs to the universe. A reformulation of this statement is It
exists. That is a trivial judgment because by the very fact that we can point to this, it necessarily
entails that this exists, otherwise it would be nonsensical. As soon as I can point this out, that it is a part
of the universe is obvious, I call it trivial. Non-trivial judgment is something that is telling you
something useful, such as This is a black chair. That is very restrictive among the set of all things
that exist.

If I make a judgment that gives me non-trivial information, this necessarily produces a dichotomy.
Now that we understand the terms, that is obvious. Given the set X and given the fact that it is not
everything, the complement of this set, the set X, is defined. It is a perfectly uniquely defined set and
it has elements. Therefore, we know exactly what it is. You can prove this logically by the method of
truth tables that the statement of A belongs to X is logically equivalent to the statement that A does
not belong to the complement of X. In other words, a positive judgment (A belongs to X) is equivalent
to a negative judgment (A does not belong to X). That is why I say it is necessarily dialectical, given
that the set X is not the universe.

27.2 Emptiness

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

Heart of Wisdom Sutra


We have started out easy but now comes the really difficult one the theorem of emptiness or the
statement that everything is empty. What are things empty of? Things are empty of independent
existence. This is one of the major statements of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and the realization of
this, meaning, not the intellectual learning of something but the actual experiential feeling of it through
the experience of meditation is considered to be one of the highest states of development.

We have assumed that perception is the only way to interact with the universe. That perception causes
judgment was part of the axiom as well. Judgment, we have just shown, is necessarily dialectical.
Therefore, perception introduces a dichotomy. Clearly, any object has many properties. We defined a
property to be a set of objects including that one. Any object belongs to many sets. An object has many
properties but an object is not a property itself. This is this, it belongs to the set of black chairs but
saying that it is a black chair does not uniquely identify it because there are others. It is not a black
chair, black chair is nearly a property of it. I am a human being, but that does not uniquely identify me,
it is just a property of me but it does not define me. I am not equal to one, I am only a member of that
set. One must carefully distinguish the concepts of belonging to a set of objects (the word is) and the
concept of identity (the word identical).

Q: Is there something that has only one or two properties?

No. I have defined property as a set of individual objects. I can form a set in many ways. I can form a
set of only this particular object, I can form a set of this object and some others, so of the things in the
universe I can make many sets. Using an infinite number of objects or point-instants, I can make a
infinite number of sets and all these are properties by definition. Any object belongs to an infinite
number of sets and thus has an infinite number of properties.

I have defined an object as a single point instant. One of our assumptions was that space and time are
discrete so that I proceed both in space and time in jumps. One of them is an individual. A property is a

set of such individuals. The here and now, if I specify a particular space and a particular time, I have
specified uniquely one point instant and that is the individual. The black chair is already a set of many
point instants. It is of all of these individual points but it is also of all of these over time. It was
manufactured, so one year ago there were some point instants at the manufacturing company at a
totally different place and a totally different time but they are still members of the set of this chair. This
is not only an object that is extended in space, it is also extended in time. The set of this black chair
includes those point instants that will be here tomorrow. It is a collection of very many individual point
instants. The set of black chairs is a set of sets. You must not compare sets of a different number of
sets. This is the theory of types: a set of things must not be compared to the set of sets of things.
Otherwise, we get into a huge mess with Russelss paradox.

We can have many sets that include one particular point instant. Any object has many properties but it
is not identical to any property. This piece here is not itself a table. It is a part of a table. With respect
to a particular property, some pairs of individuals are similar and some others are not. Since perception
is our only way to interact with the world, this causes the dichotomy, this allows us to say this is a
member of such and such a set, thereby introducing a similarity between members of this set and a
dissimilarity between members of that set and members of other sets. We effectively have said that
what we perceive, what we construct in our mind, is necessarily a dependence between things and
everything else. We are only able to compare things by similarities and dissimilarities with respect to
some sort of properties. This is necessarily so because the only way we interact with the world is to
prescribe some sense of belonging. Any perception causes a judgment. Therefore, necessarily we label
things. I see things and I say that this is a black chair and that is a jacket and so on. This necessarily
produces a similarity and dissimilarity between different things. So effectively to me and to my
consciousness, the existence of a particular point instant depends on the existence of other point
instants that I can prescribe a similarity and dissimilarity to. If there existed only one point instant,
there would be nothing else that it would be similar or dissimilar to. Is that then real? No. Everything
depends on everything else for its own existence. There is a necessary interdependence between one
point instant and another point instant. This is what is meant by emptiness. Every individual point
instant or object is empty of independent existence; everything depends on other things.


This is very general. The Buddhist philosophy regards this as true for all properties. We compare it
very easily to Machs principle that we encountered in general relativity that said exactly the same
about one particular property. It said that the inertia of a massive body (a body that has a certain mass)
depends on the existence of other massive bodies. The fact that the Earth has a resistance from being
changed in its state of motion necessarily depends on the fact that the Sun has a mass as well. If there
were only one massive body, it having an inertia is meaningless. It is imparted an inertia through the
presence of others bodies. That was Machs principle. Emptiness generalizes this from the property of
inertia to all properties.

Q: What if we were in a world where only one thing exists?

The statement that everything is dependent on other things is a statement about the world in which we
live. The fact that we can then extrapolate and think about worlds where only one thing exists is merely
an analogy for imagination to better understand what is meant by this statement. It is not to be taken
very seriously.

The wisdom sutra states: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. A form is an object or a property and
we have learned that it is empty. The main thing to note from this sentence is that emptiness is also a
property. Emptiness being a property, is therefore itself empty. Emptiness and form are the same thing.
A form is empty but emptiness is also a form.

27.3 The Four Noble Truths

That was one of the main statements of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. When Buddhism
first started there we four noble truths. They were supposed to give the main motivation.

Truth 1: Suffering exists.


We know how we defined suffering. We find ourselves here and now and we have a choice between
the different courses of action. Some of those lead to enlightment in a number of moments and some
lead there in a different number of moments, some may not lead there at all. We count over all the
different possible paths of the future and we choose the shortest one on which we could go and all the
other ones we call suffering. A is the set of all sufferers, all these paths that are not optimal. U is the
universe. Basically, suffering exists and is a member of the universe. The first noble truth is saying that
A ? U.

We have had the theorem before that if we want to prove that one set is included in another set, we
have to prove three conditions. We have to prove that set A is not empty, it includes some element, we
have to prove that it is present in similar cases, at least some, and we have to prove that it is absent in
dissimilar cases. The universe being the universe, it has no dissimilar elements at all. Nothing is in the
complement of the universe by definition. Everything is in the universe, therefore, the second and the
third conditions are trivial. In other words, we need to prove only one thing. There exists at least one
suffering path.

What does presence of A mean? It means that there are at least two intersecting paths of causation of
different length. There exists at least one choice here and now that will lead to an outcome of
enlightment sooner than other choices. We can see that from practice as well. We can perform very bad
actions and this will definitely not yield spiritual progress. We can say that from empirical evidence,
from perception, which is our way to interact with the universe, we observe that this is defined. We do
have choices. There are more than one causations that intersect particular moments. That they are of
different lengths, we can also deduce simply by perception. In other words, we have effectively seen
truth by perception.

Truth 2: We suffer because of ignorance.


Ignorance we have defined as not being enlightened yet. Not being enlightened yet means we do not
know what we are doing. If we have complete knowledge, we can distinguish whether this path was
longer than that one. Therefore, you always make the correct choice and you do not suffer anymore. If
you do not have enlightment, if you are ignorant, you do not know that. So we define ignorance as the
complement of enlightment, in other words, we do not have complete knowledge, we do not know
which path is the shortest one, we have to make a choice, we make the choice and clearly, on a
statistical level, sometimes we make the wrong choice. Local wisdom is bad for the long run. Right
now you have certain knowledge, you think what is wise to do, you choose the option you think is best
for you and the results are not what you wanted. This is because you either did not know about some
other options or you did not think carefully enough. Take the case of applying to a university. There are
thousands of universities on this planet. Making a real informed decision to choose between all of them
is practically impossible. You clearly have very little knowledge. You would probably go for Harvard
or Yale because you have heard of those names but you would not go for Alabama State. So you
choose at that time what you considered to be most wise. Is that a good choice or not? You do not
know because you can not assess it. You do not know before hand and in many cases you do not know
even afterwards. You have to suffer to achieve enlightment. To become a better person, you need to
experience what happens if you are not. If you just do not know that life is bad, what is the motivation
to make it better? So you have to suffer to some extent to put some energy into it.

Truth 3: Suffering is not necessary.

This is true by definition. We have defined suffering to be a non-optimal path. You might not choose
this path, therefore, it is not necessary.

Truth 4: Complete understanding follows from introspection.


So far we have said that you suffer because you do not know what you are doing but suffering is not
necessary. The real essence of it is that this is how to clear it out. Complete understanding removes
ignorance and removes suffering.

We have shown by the theorem of emptiness that everything is interrelated. If you completely
understand one thing you completely understand everything because everything is empty. If you
understand one thing you understand it by being similar and dissimilar with all its properties. By
understanding all of its properties you understand in particular the trivial property of existence, which
includes everything.

So if I focus on any particular object to be able to understand that completely and engage with that, if I
then understand it completely I will therefore understand everything. A particular object is this I,
whatever that may be. We do not know what that is of course, that is the whole point. By introspection,
by looking at the I or I exist, enlightment will eventually follow and that is the system of
meditation. An important things to notice are this is one path among many. You could choose to reach
enlightment in many other ways. This is simply one. So Buddhism does not claim that it is the true or
the only religion. It is one possible way to go. The advantage of it is that it is a very systematized way
to go. There really is a system that you can follow and it has many many benefits even in the short
term. That is all and if you have your own system perfectly good.

It is very important that the issue of introspection, meditation and enlightment is not an intellectual
process at all. You cannot learn. You cannot be told. You have to experience yourself.

27.4 Mahayana Buddhism: Enlightenment entails compassion.

Buddhism comes in various kinds. Like in the Christian religion there have been historical divisions.
One of them is Mahayana as I have said before, meaning great vehicle. On one of its primary
statements is that you can only reach full enlightment if you have element of compassion. Another


branch is called Hinayana, the small vehicle, and they say that you can achieve enlightment just for
yourself and out of selfish endeavor.

So what does compassion mean? If you look this up in the dictionary you will find rather a lot of
meanings of what this can be. For these purposes, I have distilled it down a little bit and to me it means
that we are simply conscious of another persons suffering. So compassion in this sense does not
necessarily mean that you act on it or that you suffer also. It merely means that you are conscious of the
suffering. Clearly in everyday life if you really have compassion, if you really feel another persons
suffering it generally leads to you trying help them out.

The argument here is if you are enlightened you have complete knowledge of the universe. In other
words you must, by definition, know when other people are choosing some optimal path by the very
statement that you understand the entire universe. In other words you are conscious of other peoples
suffering simply because you are enlightened. This statement only says if you are enlightened then you
have compassion. It does not say anything about what happens when you are not enlightened. What I
mean is if you are enlightened you are compassionate. If you are not enlightened you may or may not
be compassionate.

27.5 Mahayana Buddhism: Global selfishness is local altruism.

If you are globally selfish you act along the shortest path to enlightenment for yourself. Selfishness of
course is that you are trying to get the best for yourself. In the present sense the best for yourself is to
get enlightened so you somehow act on the shortest path.

What does it mean to be locally altruistic? It means that in this moment through the next moment in
that transition there is a global reduction of suffering. It is not necessarily in the future. So this
statement is again basically true by the definition of the terms. If I move to reduce my own suffering I
therefore reduce the some of the suffering of the world and so acting in a selfish manner globally is
acting in an altruistic manner locally.

27.6 Circular Reasoning

In Buddhist logic, there is a clear prohibition of circular reasoning. If A then B then C and then A again
is chain of deduction, this is called circular as we return to the beginning. It establishes the truth of no
statement because by the rule of syllogism, this chain says if A then A which is always true
regardless of what A is. It is if A then A that is always true but it is not A that is always true. Thus
circular reasoning concludes nothing that we did not know before and thus it is prohibited to use in an
argument. The practical troubl is that it is usually difficult to detect a circular argument that is
articulated clevely and includes many statements before returning to the source.

27.7 Apoha
We said before that we must not compare individuals to sets of individuals or to sets of sets of
individuals and this is what is meant by this Apoha. We said that point instants are the only things that
are real. Therefore properties are not real because they are not point instants. The Apoha principle is
that we must not compare objects and sets of objects.

Clearly property changes over time. The sort of black chair is now and the sort of black chairs
tomorrow may be different, different point instants. Even if it looks to us exactly the same the point
instants will have been changed because the point instants now are exactly this; they are point instants
(in the next instant, there will be different point instants). Properties necessarily change over time and
this can explain very easily why one may use the same term now and tomorrow with a different
meaning. For instance I can use the term my bag to mean different bags over the course of time
because they get broken and I buy a new one. But the term my bag is always meaningful even though
it applies to different objects all the time. So this very easily explains why we can meaningfully use the
same term for different objects.

27.8 Conclusions
We were able to extend our theory to cover the theory of emptiness, the four noble truths and the main
goal of Mahayana, which is compassion. The main points of Buddhism follow from the theory that we
have outlined.


In the beginning, we met logic. We said that logic has several important components; we have
primitive terms that are undefined. We define terms in terms of these primitive terms. We have axioms.
They are assumed and agreed to be true. We can then formulate theorems in terms of the primitives and
the defined terms and prove them in terms of those axioms. So theorems are true only relative to the
axioms and in relation to the primitive terms. In other words there is a very serious limitation of any
axiomatic system. It has a basis and that basis is simply agreed upon. If you want to say it is true of the
real world you can do that to some extent within limits of experimental error but you can never
absolutely do that. The second limitation by Gdels theorem is that there are some truths in any
suitably powerful axiomatic system that are not provable. But they are still truths. We have two serious
limitations of any axiomatic method.

We have seen by constructing a particular system out of primitive terms and axioms that we were able
to construct and systematize theory of what might reasonably be called Buddhist philosophy. We have
seen that this has a basis therefore. We have seen that by Gdels theorem that there must be Buddhist
truths that are not provable, that have somehow to be understood by process of intuition and we have
seen that this actually works. We have not found any explicit contradictions but saying that the theory
is consistent is not answered because by Gdels second theorem consistency cannot be proven within
the system. So we have gone as far as we can go.

Q: Does the Guru feel my suffering?

Guru can feel your suffering and he will tell you where you go wrong. That is the very purpose of a
guru is that you go to him and say, look I have these choices. I do not know what to do. Give me
advice. And he will. He will tell you what the right thing to do is.

Q: Why can we not get enlightened right now if we have a Guru?


First of all you will because of lack of understanding not be able to perform each step perfectly and
second of all it will still take you sometime to get there. Because of the actions that you made in the
past you have to live through the reactions. So even if at every stage you do the proper thing it still
takes time to reach enlightenment. I am trying to do, to the best of my abilities, what my guru tells me.
Sometimes I do the right thing and sometimes I do the wrong thing but it still takes me sometime to
live through all of these experiences, to be able to then finally reach enlightenment. So it is not merely
by the fact that I have someone who gives me advice that I am immediately there.

Q: Can you put this into context with the prisoners dilemma?

The prisoners dilemma is a very difficult situation. It depends how you formulate it and you can solve
it only if you make an assumption about what is considered good. Once you defined what is considered
good then you can solve the prisoners dilemma on this basis. For example the min-max solution
depends upon a particular choice of what is considered good. You have to choose a cost function.

There are various choices that the prisoners can make. What is the most intelligent choice for you? The
question what the most intelligent choice for you is, is entirely meaningless until you define what it
means to be intelligent. As soon as you define what a good choice is, you will solve the problem. It is
not a dilemma in that sense. It is a dilemma only if you were in that situation because the problem is of
course that the two people involved may have different opinions of what a good cost function is. As a
theoretical exercise, I can say that I will prescribe some cost function and this immediately tells me
how all the prisoners must act. When Im in the situation, I can only choose the cost function for
myself and I do not know what the others will do. There is thus no rational solution to the problem
because you must make a choice about what is a rational action. If one were in this situation, one could
not rely on the other person making the compatible decision even if that person acts rationally. It all
depends on the foundational assumption of the axiomatic system to deal with problem. Using the same
logic, different axioms lead to different answers to the problem.

On a theoretical level if you define goodness or intelligent choice to be one particular parameter you
can definitely isolate one action and this is what is meant by global selfishness that if you act in a way
to be globally selfish that is to choose the one path that is optimal at this moment and time then you
will necessarily cause global reduction of suffering right now locally. So altruism means suffering for
everybody and locally means right now and that is necessarily entailed in there. So this would be a cost
function. For example for you prisoners dilemma you can say, it is of interest for me to act in such a
way to reduce everybodys load. So I am to act in such a way that the sum of all the jail terms for all of
the people involved is lowest possible and then that would prescribe selfish action. It does very much
depend on the definition of what you consider to be a good action. In this Buddhist philosophy we have
prescribed that a good action is considered to be an action that leads us towards enlightment in the
shortest way.

Knowing the Instant Through Wisdom: A Systematization of the NyayaBindu


The Nyaya-Bindu is a philosophical work written by Dharmakirti, student of Dignaga (student of

Vasubandu), and commented on by Dharmottara in the Nyaya-Bindu-Tika. The importance of NyayaBindu is that it is the central work of a collection of books written by one school of Buddhist
philosophy started by Vasubandu but chiefly championed by Dignaga and Dharmakirti. It is being used
to this day to educate many members of the Buddhist clergy and layfolk. In spite of its continued
popularity, impact and importance, little work has been done to extend it. Most of the work done
revolves around settling some historical points of origin and influence upon and from other systems
and bickering about its truth.


In this document, it is assumed that the reader has a good foundation in the concepts of mathematical
logic, their application in the natural sciences and the basic ideas of Buddhism. This foundation is
necessary for the analysis of the Nyaya-Bindu and has been given (at the required level) in the course
for which this document is written. First we explain some technical words that occur in the original
translation of the Nyaya-Bindu the entirety of which is contained in the appendix to this document.
Then we outline a unified logical theory that encompasses all of Nyaya-Bindu. Note that while it is the
authors private opinion that the Nyaya-Bindu represents a correct theory of apprehending reality, this
point is not argued herein. It is the purpose of the present document to systematize the theory.

We will find that: (1) Nyaya-Bindu makes a series of claims which can be structured logically (they do
not contain explicit contradictions), (2) the number of claims made can be reduced by the use of
mathematical logic through the introduction of explicit axioms and deriving the other statement by
means of proof, (3) further statements, not contained in Nyaya-Bindu, can be derived from this basis
and thus the philosophy can be extended in a logical fashion.

1. Technical Vocabulary and Introductory Remarks.

There a number of works of ancient authors relevant for the study of the system constructed by
Dignaga and Dharmakirti. At the time, it was common to hold public debates between two famous
contenders and the declared winner would gain much by his victory. Most monasteries were founded
by funds won at such competitions and the art of public debate is an important part of monastic
education from the ancient times until today. Many of the logical works are meant as manuals for
people wishing to learn debate and many others are a debate in themselves, i.e. they are trying to
defend their system against others. We think that such oppositional efforts are not as important as
understanding one system and also that real comparison is only possible once the foundational
principles of the system are clearly identified and the rest of the system reasoned from them. This
allows foundational principles to be compared. If these differ, all we can argue about is whether they
are true of reality but it is clearly obvious that the systems will differ (being based on incompatible


axioms). Should the axioms not differ but the inferred theorems, then at least one party has made a
logical error (committed a fallacy) and thence stands to be corrected. The identification of the existence
and then the location of the error is important but shall not be covered here. We simply wish to
determine the foundation of the system of Dignaga and Dharmakirti and nothing more. Some of the
other works alluded to are contained (and commented on) in1.

Listed below are a series of technical words occurring in the translation of Nyaya-Bindu. They should
be understood before reading the translation which should be read before continuing to read the

Nyaya-Bindu (Sanskrit) The word nyaya is derived from the Sanskrit root i and contains the
meaning of the verb gam, i.e. to go. In this context nyaya is taken to mean the understanding of an
object under consideration of all of its properties (which include its relations to other objects). In this
way, a complete understanding of a single object leads to complete understanding of the cosmos as a
whole. The word bindu means point. More specifically it refers to the point-instant of space-time.


Alex Wayman (1999): A Millenium of Buddhist Logic. (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi).

Dharmakirti (1968): Pramanavarttika. ed. by Swami Dwarkidas Sastri (Bauddha-Bharati, Varanasi).
Dharmakirti (1972): Vadanyaya and Sambandhapariksa. Ed. by Swami Dwarkidas Sastri (Bauddha-Bharati,
P.P. Gokhale (1993): Vadanyaya of Dharmakirti: The Logic of Debate. (Sri Satguru Pub., Delhi).
R.S.Y. Chi (1969): Buddhist Formal Logic: A Study of Dignagas Hetucakra and Kuei-chis Great Commentary
on the Nyayapravesa. (The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, London)
R. Hayes (1988): Dinnaga on the Interpretation of Signs. (Kluwer Pub.: Studies of Classical India Vol. 9,
S. Katsura (1983): Dignaga on Trairupya. Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, 32, 15-21.
B.K. Matilal and R.D. Evans (editors) (1986): Buddhist Logic and Epistemology: Studies in the Buddhist Analysis
of Inference and Language. (Kluwer Pub.: Studies of Classical India Vol. 7, Dordrecht)
Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany)
E. Steinkeller (1967): Dharmakirtis Hetubinduh. (Hermann Bohlaus, Wien)
E. Steinkeller (1974): On the reinterpretation of the svabhavahetuh. Wiener Zeitschrift fur die Kunde Sud-undOstasiens (WZKSO) 18, 117-129.
E. Steinkeller (1991): Studies in the Buddhist Epistemological Tradition. Proceedings of the Second International
Dharmakirti Conference, Vienna, 1989.
G. Tucci (1930): The Nyayamukha of Dignaga: The Oldest Buddhist Text on Logic. (Otto Harrasowitch:
Materialen zur Kunde des Buddhismus No. 15, Heidelberg)
Tom J.F. Tillemans (1999): Scripture, Logic, Language. (Wisdom Pub.: Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism,
Georges B.J. Dreyfus (1997): Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirtis Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations.
(State University of New York, Albany)
Daniel E. Perdue (1992): Debate in Tibetan Buddhism. (Snow Lion, Ithaca)


Bindu is also used in many religious contexts of Hinduism and there denotes the center or the crux of
the universe from which everything is born, i.e. a kind of Big Bang event. The bindu is also used to
denote certain spiritually important points on the human body, i.e. the chakras. Many people in India
(main Hindus) wear a smear of blessed ash or a specially made ornament called a bindu on their
forehead. This practice (originally religious but now taken by many as a form of decoration or jewelry)
is to denote the importance of the chakra between the eyes as that point that allows people to see
beyond the usual confines of our consciousness various forms of clairvoyance.

Nyaya-Bindu-Tika (Sanskrit) Tika means commentary and this work is a commentary on the
Nyaya-bindu written by Dhamottara.

Substratum the object being talked about and possessing properties. We describe an object by its
properties. The substratum of a collection of properties is the object that has these properties.

Asoka (Sanskrit) a particular kind of tree.

Concomitant occurring together with. In logical terms this is logical equivalence. A property is
concomitant with another property means that these are the same property but have two different
names. The property of being an unmarried man and the property of being a bachelor are two
concomitant properties.

Predicate a property being ascribed of an object. In the statement the glass is full, the object (glass)
is being ascribed a property (fullness) which is called the predicate. Predicates qualify the object and
are used to restrict the objects under consideration (here we restrict the class of glasses to that subclass
of full glasses).


Apodictic self-evident or conceptual truth. Something that is true based on incontrovertible evidence.
A statement which does not need to be checked.

Syllogism A logical construction that formally looks like this [(A ? B) n (B ? C)] ? (A ? C).
Expressed in language, (A, B and C being any kind of statement) if it is true that if A then B and it is
also true that if B then C, then it must be true that if A then C. A complex argument may be built up
using little steps. Individual implications (if then ) may be joined into a sequence if the second
statement of the former implication is the same as the first statement of the following implication. This
long sequence may then be cut to the simple implication connecting the very first and very last
statement. The form of the syllogism is true for all statements A, B and C and is the basis for
mathematical proof.

Efficient An event is efficient if it is the effect of some cause and can be a cause itself.

Cosmic Ether a substance pervading the whole universe. Its existence is advocated by some schools
of thought but argued against by the Buddhist school.

Contraposed Two statements are contraposed if they are both stated with a view to determine their
link, if any. This link could be that one excludes the other, they are equivalent, one includes the other
or that they depend on each other in some way.

Logical Mark a property of an object by which (obviously) it can be distinguished and compared to


Contradistinction distinguishing two objects or statements by demonstrating that they possess

different (and possibly mutually exclusive) properties or implications respectively.

Vaisesika; Naiyayikas; Sankhya; Mimamsaka schools of philosophy. These three may be most
easily contrasted by comparing their attitutes to apprehending truth and falsehood. A theorem (prama)
is proven by means of a logically consistent proof (pramana). A proof may be called internally (svatah)
true or externally (paratah) true. The distinction between these is that an internal proof is a deduction
immediately (within a single deduction) from the axioms of the theory and an external proof is a
deduction which relys on previously proved theorems. In present mathematical practise, an internal
proof is not given but considered obvious, immediate or the theorem is considered true by
definition. An external proof is, by definition, complicated enough to have to be written down in order
for the theorem to be accepted. These schools of thought differ in how they consider that truths and
falsehoods about reality are apprehended by the observer in the following ways:




Mimamsaka; Vaisesika












The Mimamsaka were orthodox Brahmins who were mainly concerned with sacrificing in order to
obtain spiritual benefits. Their logic was virtually the same as that of the Vaisesika but they differed in
one point; the eternal existence of sounds which the Mimamsaka claimed to be true of the basic sounds
of the Sanskrit language. Stcherbatsky chooses to call internal proofs direct and external ones


Adduced claimed.

Composite made of more than one component.

Ratiocination the process of reasoning, logic.

Ubiquitous omnipresent or appearing everywhere and everywhen.

Universal A universal in the context of Nyaya-Bindu is a set having more than a single element, i.e. a
proper set as distinguished from an individual particular object. Tree is an example as it encompasses
several objects, namely all trees.

Kapila, Risabha, Vardhamana, Gautama - proper names of people.

Trustworthy In the context of the Nyaya-Bindu, trustworthy does not only mean that the person is
not intentionally telling false statements but that the person speaks only truths. Absolute
trustworthiness requires the state of enlightenment which is the only state in which one is able to
perceive truth in all circumstances.

Brahmin A member of the social class (caste) of priests in India as set up by the Hinduistic tradition.
This caste is the highest possible and is usually associated with power, wealth and access to (amongst
other things) good education.


Veda The word Veda means knowledge. The Vedas are a series of three books written in India a
long time ago (exactly when is a matter of great dispute and is anywhere from 13000 to 1500 B.C.).
These books are however known to be the most ancient writing at least in the orient if not the world.
They form the basis of a religion known as Vedanta which has very strong connections to Hinduism
one may say that Hinduism is an outgrowth of Vedanta. Apart from giving a story of creation, these
books advocate rules of ethical and moral conduct and are generally very wise in the advice they give
to the individual. They are highly esteemed by all spiritual seekers of the eastern traditions. Complete
understanding of the Vedas is said to be tantamount to enlightenment.

Passion any emotion, i.e. any non-rational feeling or action.

Acquisitiveness the propensity to acquire possessions. According to Buddhism, attachment to

anything is a flaw as it binds the person to the world and as such this propensity is to be reduced to a
minimum (this reduction is then referred to as renunciation).

Avarice greed. (see acquisitiveness)

Fallacy A mistake in logical reasoning. Philosophers have historically paid much attention to
fallacies for two reasons: (1) They are often very difficult to spot in lengthy verbal arguments using a
large vocabulary. (2) The practice of philosophy is founded on disputes in which two philosophers
attempt to illustrate the others flaws. For both points, it is necessary to study under what circumstances
a logical mistake can be made in order to be able to correct it and to be able to point it out to win the
argument respectively. From a logical point of view, no attention needs to be paid to fallacies as they
constitute a failure to obey the rules of the game and thus constitute a self-disqualification.


Refutation In the Nyaya-Bindu refers to refuting an argument by exposing a fallacy in it.

Sophist The sophists were a group of people in ancient Greece who engaged in the pursuit and
communication of knowledge about the world and who offered to teach the results of their labors to
people in return for money. This word is typically being used to denote a person or statement who
argues in a very clever way but fundamentally incorrectly. A sophistic argument is phrased very well
but contains a fallacy which is very difficult to unearth due to the journalistic quality of the argument.
[sophisticated and sophistication are derived from this and both include reference to something
skillful but wrong and moreover intentionally wrong.]

2. Correspondence between Logic the Statements of the Nyaya-Bindu.

In the table below, I give a very brief commentary of the Nyaya-Bindu which is meant to elucidate the
reasons for the theorems to be proven and their relationship to the text.




States the purpose of the book


Divides knowledge into perception and inference

A.4, A.6-11 Perception is divided into senses, thought, consciousness and intuition

Judgment is a type of inference


Object of perception is the particular


Definition of particular


Definition of cognition


Inference divided into inference for oneself and others



Three aspect theorem: We wish to prove that A ? B, for this we must have: (1) A ?
? , (2) A ? B ? ? and (3) A ? -B = ? .


Three varieties: negation, identity and causation


Negation: Perceive A. Judge A ? B. Conclude that A ? C, the set of all current

events. (for example: a jar ? -A)


Identity: Perceive A. Judge A ? B. Know B ? C. Conclude A ? C. (A = particular, B

= Asoka, C = tree)


Causation: Perceive A. Judge A ? B. Know C is a cause for B. Conclude that A ? C.

(A = particular, B = smoky hill, C = fiery hill)


There are no other varieties except these three.


Negation comes in eleven different formulations (proved above)


These eleven formulations are all equivalent.


Negation may only meaningfully be applied to individuals accessible to observation.


Inference for others is communication (this is the concept of mathematical proof, i.e.


There are two different formulations that are the same in essence of the syllogism:


The methods of agreement and difference. (see theorem of syllogism)


Method of agreement (as illustrated by examples which all fit this scheme): [(A ? B)
? (B ? C)] ? (A ? C). Each individual implication must be a valid inference for
oneself (i.e. must possess the three-aspects named above). The first condition of the
three-aspects involves showing that the (B ? C) implication be demonstrated by an
example. Thus the syllogism has four positions: The general or major premise (B ?
C), the example demonstrating that the major premise is true at least in one case, the
specific or minor premise (A ? B), and the conclusion (A ? C).


Method of difference (as illustrated by examples which all fit this scheme): [(A ? B)
? (C ? B)] ? (A ? C). For example C = exits, B = perceived, A = jar. The general
law (C ? B) must again be illustrated using an example, e.g. a patch of blue color.


Relations can be classified into identity (set inclusion and set equivalence) relations
or causal relations (ordered pairs of properties). That is all relations are subsets of the
identity relation or a causal relation. This is mathematically obvious as any relation of

more terms (such as between which is a three-member relation) can be broken into
several hierarchical two-member relations.

Subsumption is a relation and all three aspects of the three-aspect theorem are really


As the syllogism is a logical theorem, when [(A ? B) ? (B ? C)] has been established,
the conclusion (A ? C) must not necessarily be stated as it is implicit. Mathematically
this is just another way of stating that the syllogism is a theorem. These comments are
to be viewed as advice to an orator and not statements with mathematical
significance. Remember that holding public debates (the outcome of which was very
significant) was a major object of these schools of philosophy.


A good thesis is a thesis which: (1) is intended to be proven, (2) is believed by the


disputant and (3) is not self-contradictory. The statements are again statements of
presentation and oratory rather than logical remarks.


The third condition above is explained and it emerges that what is meant is that the
thesis must be true and not merely not self-contradictory. An untrue thesis is proven
by a fallacious argument, i.e. by making a logical error. These errors are classified
into four kinds: (1) counterexample by perception, (2) contradicting an axiom of the
system, (3) failure of the three aspects to hold and (4) contradicting the definition of
defined term of the system.


The fallacy of unreal is added. It states that in a syllogistic deduction [(A ? B) ? (B

? C)] ? (A ? C) in which the first term (A ? B) is false, the conclusion (A ? C) will
be false. This is essentially a variety of fallacy 3 (the first aspect does not hold in this


The fallacy of uncertain is added and emphasizes the essential character of

experimental error. If we are uncertain whether an assumption is true, the conclusions
inherit this uncertainty. This is also a failure of the three aspects to be satisfied but in
particular it is uncertain because some of the three aspects (in particular the first) are
satisfied but not all three.


Two sets A and B can be mutually exclusive in two ways. Both ways have A ? B =
? . But they distinguish themselves by their union. Namely, the first way has A ? B
? U and the second way has A ? B = U where U is the universe. That is the first way
has mutually exclusive properties and the second way has B = -A, i.e. two

contradictory properties. As with the three-aspect theorem, the essential point to note
is the difference between set inclusion and set equivalence, i.e. the difference between
some and all.

The fallacy of inverted reason is again a particular kind of the three-aspect fallacy. It
is committed when the negation of what we wish to prove is actually true. That is the
first aspect is satisfied and the second two aspects are inverted. This includes a brief
discussion of the mathematical concept of proof by contradiction (we want to prove
A so we assume A and show that this leads to a contradiction, thus A can not be
true and so A must be true). This holds for properties for which the property and its
complement exhaust all possibilities.


This expresses the logical fact (in our three valued logic!) that the law of double
negation does not hold. Remember that unlike properties, logical statements come in
three varieties so that the exclusion of one does not immediately lead us to a definite
conclusion. This difference is made clear by examples here.


Enumerates again the different kinds of fallacy.


Claims that real contradiction is impossible. That is contradiction is impossible if

no fallacy is committed or, in other words, the logical system is consistent. It is
interesting that only motivating examples are given but a proof of consistency is not
attempted in the slightest. We know, of course, from Gdels theorem that such an
attempt is doomed.


A summary of the discussion so far.


The point of giving an example is to satisfy the first of the three aspects. If the
example does not fulfill this function, the deduction must be rejected based on a
fallacy of the three aspects. (so now we have enumerated all possible failures of three
aspects to be satisfied) All fallacies can be unified under the simple heading: A
fallacy is the failure to obey the rules of logic and any such failure leads to the
rejection of the argument that contains it.


One refutes an argument by pointing out its fallacies; it is then clear that the argument
was wrong. This leads to victory in the dispute (again the emphasis on public


A refutation is itself a logical argument capable of possessing fallacies; should it do

so, it is labeled as sophistry. Dharmakirti thus makes the accusation that a wrong

refutation is intentionally wrong.


A fallacy that does not exist, can not be pointed out. A fallacy which is pointed out in
a refutation but is found not to exist means that the refutation is wrong and hence
sophistic. This statement contains many negations. What it means is: An incorrect
refutation is precisely that, namely incorrect (i.e., the object it claims to establish
the fallacy is, in fact, not established).

This completes the ordering of the concepts. We will find below that in addition to the three valued
logic constructed earlier, we shall need very few primitive terms and axioms to be able to prove all
other statements of Nyaya-Bindu elucidated in mathematical terms above. This constitutes the
systematization of the Nyaya-Bindu and allows us to extend the treatment to prove other theorems
important for Buddhist philosophy such as the conception of emptiness.

3. Construction of the Logic and Correspondence to Reality

In the previous lectures of the course, we have seen how to construct a logic. We shall use this logic
here. Logic alone is not sufficient however, as we are trying to make statements about reality. Thus we
shall have to introduce certain terms, axioms and principles of deduction that stem from the world.
These can then be verified by experiment either directly or indirectly through the predictions they

Physical primitive terms:


Space-time the meaning of space-time is intuitive to us all.


Perception this can be circumscribed more closely using biology, neuroscience and such fields
but for the moment, we shall take our understanding of the senses as sufficient for this primitive term.
Senses include: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell and thinking. In Buddhist terms perception includes

the senses, thought, consciousness and intuition. With intuition we mean the mystic intuition of the
Saint or Buddha achieved by meditation.

Correspondence and Interpretation of Logical Concepts (definitions):


Discrete We were able to define continuous from our logic. The opposite of continuous is
discrete (i.e. it is defined by negation). Thus the definition is that for a given point of space-time there
exists a (finite and positive) number such that one can not choose another point in space-time for which
the distance between these two points is less than this number.


Individual An individual is an indivisible physical object, an elementary particle; i.e. a single

point-instant in space-time.


Composite A set of individuals.


Property A property is a set of individuals. We can understand this as follows. The set of all
yellow things is defined as the property to be yellow. This follows the standard mathematical
treatment of numbers wherein the number one is defined, as we have seen, to be the set of all sets of
a single element. Here we simply take a set of individuals to define a property. This will be a most
crucial definition as most of the statements about the real world have to do with properties.


Identity An individual is identical to another if they share all properties, i.e. one is a member
of a set (a property) if and only if the other is also.


Similar, dissimilar An object (or property) is similar to another with respect to some given
property X if and only if both are members of the set X; two objects (or sets) are dissimilar with respect
to property X if they are not similar with respect to it.


Judgment the identification of a property of an individual. Mathematically, a judgment is the

statement that a is a member of X being equivalent to a has property X or a is an X. In linguistic
terms, a judgment is giving a name to an individual. Sometimes in Western philosophy, judgment is
something more than simply attaching a name but in the Buddhist sense, naming is meant. (see for


Universe set of all individuals.


Causation an ordered pair of properties such that each property includes individuals only at
one specific time and the second property has a later time than the first. The first property is then called

Anne C. Klein (1998): Knowledge and Liberation. (Snow Lion, Ithaca)


the cause of the second and the second is called the effect of the first. Note that this is where we deviate
significantly from normal natural science. The difference and a restriction of this general definition will
be made later in the remarks.

Knowledge any articulable truth. This makes sense in terms of our everyday use of the term.
If we truly know something, we can explain it to others. The statement need not actually be made but
must be possible to be made.


Cognition the acquiry of knowledge.


Enlightenment knowledge of all truths.


Relation a set of ordered pairs of properties (this is more than a set of causations as causations
are a restricted set of ordered pairs). The relation of next to is the set of all pairs of sets of individuals
which can be said to be next to each other. Clearly there exist an infinite number of relations as an
infinite number of sets of individuals gives rise to an infinite number of properties etc. We may attach a
name to each relation and so call one particular relation next to. In this way, it is clear that these
relations are not defined circularly. One may give a more precise definition for next to involving
concepts of distance or touching (i.e. other relations) and in such a way construct relations by
intersecting known relations. Note that identity is a special relation in which each member of each pair
is the same property.


Subset Given two sets A and B, we say that A is a subset of B (denoted A ? B) if all the
members of A are also members of B. This includes the possibility that A and B are actually the same
sets, i.e. all members of B are also members of A (denoted A = B). If this possibility of equality is
explicitly denied, we say that A is a proper subset of B (denoted A ? B).


Suffering Given a point-instant P (the here and now), select all causations that contain P
and assign a positive integer, called the length of the causation, to them that counts the number of
future moments contained in that causation before enlightenment is reached. It is clear that there is at
least one path of shortest length. All causations not of shortest length are to be considered suffering
causations as they are chains of experience which do not carry the observer to enlightenment in a
optimal way.


Ignorance the opposite of enlightenment, i.e. knowledge of less than all truths.




Space-time is discrete.


The principle of no overlap: The property of occurring at a specified time and the property of
being at a certain location both include many objects but their intersection is to contain exactly one
individual. I.e. no two objects are allowed to occupy the same space at the same time, giving the time
and location of an individual completely specifies it and finally, every individual has a definite time
and location.


Sense perception is the only way to interact with the universe and it causes judgment.

Remarks on the definitions and axioms:

In the standard treatment of natural science, we assume that a cause occurs locally, that is if the time
difference tends towards zero then the spatial difference between cause and effect tends to zero also.
We did not require this, all we required is that the cause precede the effect. In this way, we explicitly
allow non-local causality (cf. the Bohmian interpretation of quantum mechanics). Dignaga and
Dharmakirti make the extremely important remark that even though it may be in our experience that B
always followed upon A in the past, we can not make the prediction that as we have observed A, B will
now follow with certainty (but only with a particular probability). The reason is that another event
could take place which prevents B from happening3. As we allow non-local causality, full knowledge
of the causes for a single future event would imply full knowledge of the state of the whole universe.
This is impossible except through the mystic intuition of the Saint. The law of karma (cause and effect)
is transparent only to the enlightened being who is able to directly perceive the entire universe at once.

Causation can be made more precise as follows. Focus on two properties S and F (for example smoky
hills and fiery hills respectively). Partition each property into sub-properties each at equal times. If we
can make an one-to-one identification between these sub-properties (leaving out none of them, i.e. a
bijection in mathematical terms) such that the sub-property of S that is identified with a sub-property of
F precedes it in time, then we shall call S a cause of F. In practice, we have only limited information

Georges B.J. Dreyfus (1997): Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirtis Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations. (State
University of New York, Albany), p. 63.


and thus we can not construct such a mapping we can only construct a local mapping covering the
portions of S and F accessible to our experience. This is the source of all deductive problems according
to Buddhism. Thus it is effectively the practical impossibility of certifying induction (except by
enlightenment) that is the root cause (ignorance) of our suffering in the world. This fits well with our
definition of enlightenment. Not all truths are provable according to Gdels theorem and thus
acknowledging them as true requires methods outside of the system (the system here being the
perceptual and inferential machinery) and these methods are, according to Buddhism, types of

One may now ask for a consistency proof of the present axiomatic system (which includes
mathematical logic). If one believes (recall that in a system complex enough to define consistency only
a relative proof of consistency can be given) that enlightenment was actually achieved by at least one
person (for example, Siddharta Gautama, the historical Buddha), then it is clear that he must have
realized any inconsistencies by definition. Hence there are none.

Dharmakirti equates reality with momentariness, for only momentary phenomena act as causes of
other phenomena and thus make an observable difference.4 Compare this with the renormalization
idea of quantum field theory in which we remove the infinite amount of energy of the vacuum by
noting that it can not be measured and thus defining the energy of the vacuum to be zero and measuring
energies in relation to it. Dharmakirtis motivation for this assumption is effectively the principle of
relativity: Knowledge of the world is obtained by measurements and these are necessarily relative to
some frame of reference. It is integral to the system that we assume that only that which is capable of
causing a change is real. We are able to measure change and only change. Furthermore (also according
to quantum theory) the continued identity of a particle over several moments can not be completely
ascertained and thus must be denied. Through this assumption, this ontology is intensely practical and
bound to the experimental sciences. As in general relativity, an individual must not be seen so much as
an object as an event because the time at which it happens and thus its causal relationships (its causes
and its effects) serve to define its identity.

Georges B.J. Dreyfus (1997): Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirtis Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretations. (State
University of New York, Albany) p. 66.


4. Logical Systematization of the Nyaya-Bindu (Theorems)

Based on the above primitive terms, definitions and axioms and drawing on our knowledge of
previously proved logical theorems, we are able to recast the Nyaya-Bindu in modern logical language.
In other words, we are able to derive its statements from ours. This shows that the whole construction
and presentation of Buddhist Logic (as illustrated by the Nyaya-Bindu) can be reduced to the basic
terms and axioms given above. Whether either holds true of reality as such is a matter of belief and, to
some extent, experimental verification (absolute verification is only possible in the state of
enlightenment which, as long as it is not reached, must also essentially be believed in or taken as a
working hypothesis). However, this shows that belief in one necessarily engenders a belief in the other
(as they are logically equivalent). Our formulation may be regarded as preferable as it is more
systematic and includes fewer assertions and rather more provable theorems. It also shows that the
Buddhist Logic is actually logical, i.e. it stands up to mathematically rigorous treatment. In what
follows we shall illustrate some statements of the Nyaya-Bindu and deduce them from our formulation.
The references are given in terms of the section and verse number of the statements of the NyayaBindu given in the appendix; for example A.2 refers to the second statement of section A, i.e. Right
knowledge is twofold. It should be noted that our formulation allows us to deduce a number of
statements not made in the Nyaya-Bindu but which necessarily follow. This is a further advantage of
the mathematical treatment it is easier to see and obtain extensions of the theory.

Remark: If we know that A ? B, then we may conclude that B ? A for any two statements A and
B. The corresponding statement for sets is if A ? B, then B ? A. Furthermore, the implications go
backwards as well so that A ? B and B ? A are logically equivalent (recall the definition of
logically equivalent was mutual implication). Let us take A to mean raven and B to mean black.
Then we have all ravens are black being logically equivalent to all non-black things are nonravens. Both directions of implication are clearly valid in this example. Dignaga makes an important
point. While these statements are logically equivalent, they are true of reality only if both A and B


actually exist. In other words, one must be able to find an example of either property (see the
trirupalinga theorem below).

Theorem (trirupalinga theorem by Dharmakirti, B.3-10): We wish to prove that A ? B, for this we
must have: (1) A ? ? , (2) A ? B ? ? and (3) A ? -B = ? .

Proof: Condition 1 asserts that the set A is actually a real set, i.e. it has members. Condition 2 asserts
that at least some members of A are also members of B and condition 3 asserts that no members of A
are members of the complement of B. These conditions are the translations of Dharmakirtis
requirements that the condition A be (1) present at all, (2) present in at least some similar cases and (3)
absent in all dissimilar cases. It is obvious that no two conditions imply the third and so all three
conditions are necessary. It is also clear that these three conditions establish the conclusion that A ? B.

Remark: It has been argued before that only two conditions were necessary (namely 1 and 2)5. This
does not hold on mathematical examination. In the following theorem we wish to study conditions
under which we may prove whether a property is logically included in another or whether it is identical
to another. It is just this existence of two possibilities that makes it logically necessary to have all three
conditions present. The misunderstanding that set equivalence and proper set inclusion are very
different leads to the presumption that only two conditions were necessary (which would be true if we
were only trying to establish one of these two possibilities). Note that in this and the next theorem, we
establish set inclusion as based upon set intersection which is the proper mathematical way to do this.
In fact, these theorems may be given as definitions of what set inclusion is to mean mathematically. We
believe that this remark answers Matilal in asking: What did Dinnaga have in mind when he
insisted upon the second condition as being necessary?

Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany) p. 91ff.


The three aspect theorem has three major applications (B.11-30) which do not need to be proven
separately but follow as corollaries. We illustrate the theorem by the method of Venn diagrams here:

The Hetuchakra (Wheel of Reason)





The thick line represents the universe. The other lines are (proper) subsets thereof. Only in the region
of some or all similars and no dissimilar do we obtain the true conclusion. This is the diagrammatic
version of the trirupalinga theorem. The correspondence is: (1) all S all D, (2) some S all D, (3) no S all
D, (4) all S some D, (5) some S some D, (6) no S some D, (7) all S no D, (8) some S no D, (9) no S no
A further remark must be made upon this important theorem. Matilal says: I have tried to show that
there is a deep philosophical problem that is implied by a rather odd claim by Dinnaga: a positive
example is still necessary even when there is a negatively-supporting example.6 Dignaga is a logician
and from the point of view of logic a positive example is indeed necessary. The reason very simply is
that even if we know that A is not empty (by a negatively supporting example), it is not at all certain
that A is non empty (A could be the universe) and so must be demonstrated by an example. It is

Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany) p. 98.


regrettable that even great philosophical scholars (such as Matilal) suffer from fundamental
misunderstandings of basic mathematical concepts.

Theorem (hetuchakra theorem by Dharmakirti): Given two sets A and B, there are nine possible
kinds of overlap (we call member of A that are also members of B similar cases and members of A that
are also members of B dissimilar cases):

(A ? B = B) ? (A ? -B = -B)

(A ? B = B) ? (A ? -B = ? )

(A ? B = B) ? (A ? -B ? ? )

A is present in all similar and A is present in all similar and A is present in all similar and
all dissimilar cases, i.e. A is the no dissimilar cases, i.e. A = B.

some dissimilar cases.


(A ? B = ? ) ? (A ? -B = -B)

(A ? B = ? ) ? (A ? -B = ? )

(A ? B = ? ) ? (A ? -B ? ? )

A is present in no similar and A is present in no similar and A is present in no similar and

all dissimilar cases, i.e. A = -B.

no dissimilar cases, i.e. A = ? .

some dissimilar cases, i.e. A ?


(A ? B ? ? ) ? (A ? -B = -B)

(A ? B ? ? ) ? (A ? -B = ? )

(A ? B ? ? ) ? (A ? -B ? ? )

A is present in some similar A is present in some similar A is present in some similar

and all dissimilar cases.

and no dissimilar cases, i.e. A and some dissimilar cases.


? B.

We establish that A ? B in the case that (A ? B ? ? ) ? (A ? -B = ? ) and we establish that A = B in

the case that (A ? B = B) ? (A ? -B = ? ).

Proof: It is clear that these nine possibilities named above exhaust all possibilities. The claim that these
conditions allow us to deduce whether A is a proper subset, subset or neither of B based on these
conditions is a trivial corollary of the trirupalinga theorem above.

Remark: Sometimes basic mathematical concepts are misunderstood and this leads to difficulties. For
example Matilal7 argues not non-B is not always equivalent to B. It must be understood that
non is operation of set complementation and not a logical negation. Even in ordinary Aristotelian
logic these two operations do not negate each other. If we take B to be a set, then non-B is its
complement and not non-B makes no sense, i.e. it is mathematically undefined. If we take B to be an
assertion, then non-B is not defined. In either case, not non-B is a nonsensical construction. The set
non-non-B is always the set B by definition of set complementation. But the statement not-not-B is not
always the statement B as we have seen in our logical discussion the reason for this being our
construction of the primitive logical relation neither, nor together with the three truth values a
statement is allowed to have. Matilal, following other philosophers, tries to argue that there are sixteen
cases and not nine8. This results from a fundamental misunderstanding of set theory as seven cases are
subsumed by the other nine and there nine cases (as illustrated above) suffice as Dharmakirti has said.

Theorem (B.31 to B.49): We have the following forms of negative judgments:


Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany) p. 96ff.
Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany) p. 106ff.



If no A is perceived (but conditions for perception satisfied), no A exists.


If no A exists, there exist no unimpeded causes for A.


If A is contained in B and there is no B, there is no A.


If we know that A leads to the absence of B and that A, then there is no B.


If we know that C leads to A and A leads to the absence of B, then if C we have no B.


If every A is a B and some A does not have property C, then some B does not have property C.


If we know that A causes the absence of B and that A, then there exist no unimpeded causes for


If we know that A causes B and that C causes the absence of B, then C causes the absence of
effects of A.


If A causes B, absence of B causes absence of A.


If A causes the absence of B and B causes C, then A causes the absence of C.


If A causes B, B causes the absence of C and C causes D, then A causes the absence of D.

Proof: Note first of all that (A ? B) is logically equivalent to (B ? A). All these statement follow
trivially from this fact, the syllogism and the definition of causation.

Theorem (theorem of syllogism, C.3-32): The methods of agreement and difference are different
formulations of the same law.

Proof: The method of agreement is [(A ? B) ? (B ? C)] ? (A ? C) and is readily shown to be a

tautology, i.e. true no matter what the truth values of A, B and C are. We can do the same for the
method of difference [(A ? B) ? (C ? B)] ? (A ? C) and so establish that they are both theorems.
The correspondence becomes obvious when we note that the implication (A ? B) necessarily contains
the reformulation (B ? A). Start with the method of agreement and put B = D and C = E. Then we
have [(A ? D) ? (D ? E)] ? (A ? E). Now use the transformation on the second term to get [(A ?
D) ? (E ? D)] ? (A ? E) and now put D = B and E = C to get [(A ? B) ? (C ? B)] ? (A ? C). All
of the variable replacements are just manipulations of variables to prove the structural statement that is

the method of difference, no actual material equivalence is implied. We simply replace some symbols
by other and only endow them with meaning after the method of difference has been reached.

Remark: That the syllogism is a theorem has been previously established in the discussion of
mathematical logic.

Theorem (fallacy, C.39-141): Any argument in which at least one link does not obey the rules of logic
(in most cases that of the syllogism) is a wrong argument and does not establish the truth value of the
desired assertion (i.e. it leaves its status uncertain).

Proof: A theorem is established only by means of a proof. A proof is an ordered list of implications
which depend upon each other in a syllogistic way. In this way, the theorem (connecting the predicate
of the first implication to the conclusion of the last in an implication) is proven to be true. If an
argument is presented which does not follow this procedure, it is not a proof (by definition). As a
theorem requires a proof to establish its truth, the theorem remains a conjecture, i.e. a statement of
uncertain truth value, by the axioms of mathematical logic.

Remark: Some (but not all) fallacious arguments can be fixed and made into acceptable proofs. It is
important to note that the entire discussion (very popular among philosophers) of fallacies first reduces
simply to that of logical error (which from a mathematical point of view needs no discussion at all) and
secondly makes a statement only about the argument and none whatsoever about the proposition in

Theorem: A non-trivial judgment is necessarily dialectical.


Proof: A judgment is the statement that a is a member of X for some individual a and some property
X. The property X divides the universe U into two parts, namely X and X, the complement of X.

If X = U, then X = E, the empty set and thus the judgment is merely one of a exists. We call this a
trivial judgment because it is necessarily true once a has been identified. It is always possible to specify
any individual by its time and location and once this is done, the existence of the individual is clear.
Thus, a trivial judgment need not concern us here.

A non-trivial judgment has X ? E and so the judgment a ? X implies that a ? X. In fact, these two
statements are logically equivalent, i.e. (a ? X) ? (a ? X). Therefore, a judgment is equal to a
corresponding negative judgment and thus any judgment gives rise to a dichotomy in the universe
which means that any non-trivial judgment is necessarily dialectical.

Theorem: An individual is identical to itself and to no other individuals.

Proof: Follows immediately from the definition of identity and the principle of non-overlap.

Theorem (fundamental theorem of emptiness): An individual is apprehended as real only by

possessing properties.

Proof (mathematical reformulation of the four-point analysis of Pabongka Rinpoche9): By

assumption, the only way in which we interact with the world is sense-perception. This causes

Pabongka Rinpoche (1997): Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment.
(Wisdom Pub., Boston). For a detailed religious, philosophical and historical analysis of emptiness see Hopkins, Jeffery
(1987): Emptiness Yoga. (Snow Lion Pub., Ithaca).


judgment and thus is dialectic. An individual is sensed and thus judged as having a certain property and
thus (judgment being dialectic) as not having some other property. Any individual has some properties
as many sets with it as a member may be chosen [Mathematical note: This is not the axiom of choice as
all individuals are ordered by assumption of the discreteness of space-time. As the set of all objects
with which this theory deals is well-ordered, the axiom of choice is a provable theorem of set theory for
this universe.] but it is clearly not identical to any such set.

Remark: This is known as emptiness meaning emptiness of independent existence. If an individual is

real only by its properties, it is similar to other individuals and dissimilar to yet others. In this way, it is
found to be real only in relation to other objects and thus it has no independent existence, i.e. it depends
on the existence of other objects for its own reality (it is thus a generalization of Machs principle as
formulated by Einstein). Chandrakirti: Therefore this proof employing interdependence cuts the net of
every mistaken view.10 Note that the property of being empty is itself empty as encapsulated by the
Heart of Wisdom Sutra lines: Form is emptiness, emptiness form. It is also written : The logicians
believe that suffering is constructed by oneself, by another, by both, or by chance; but you teach that it
arises in dependence. Whatever is originated in dependence, you regard as void. There is no
independent entity, that is your incomparable lions roar. Lokatitsatava (19-20)11. [A lions roar is a
wise statement made by a very advanced spiritual person (for example a Bodhisattva) that is taken as
proof of their advanced status.]

Theorem (Buddha, first noble truth): Suffering exists.

Proof: We take the statement as saying A ? B where A is the set of all sufferers and B the set of things
existing, i.e. the universe. As the set B is the universe, conditions 2 and 3 of the three aspect theorem
are automatically satisfied and condition 1 is, in fact, equivalent to this theorem. We must thus show

Tsongkapa (1988): The Principal Teachings of Buddhism. (Classics of Middle Asia, Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Press,
Howell, NJ, USA). [commentary by Pabongka Rinpoche, translation by Geshe Lobsang Tharchin and Michael Roach.] p.
Tsongkapa (1978): Calming the Mind and Discerning the Real. (Columbia Uni. Press, New York). [translation by Alex
Wayman] p. 195


that there is at least one sufferer. From the definition of suffering all we must therefore demonstrate is
that there are at least two causations intersection at least one point-instant which have different lengths.
This is clearly so from direct experience of the world.

Theorem (Buddha, second noble truth): We suffer because of ignorance.

Proof: If several causations intersect a single point-instant, a choice of free will must select the chain to
be taken. The shortest path can only be selected if the (at least comparative) lengths of all paths are
known. Knowledge of all paths intersecting a particular point-instant requires complete knowledge of
that point-instant and thus enlightenment. Since ignorance is defined as the complement of
enlightenment, the theorem is proved.

Remark: A person chooses an action and this has consequences. Some consequences may be desirable
and thus the action was chosen. This does not prevent the chain of causation thus selected from being
suffering. Basically this reduces to the mathematical fact that functions may have both local and global
minima. A course of action may look as if it is the best at present (local minimum) but only because the
person is not able to see far enough and realize that another course of action would be preferable.
Mathematically this is the problem of global optimization which is extremely difficult to solve, i.e.
there is no algorithm (definite executable method) which gets one from a particular place to the global
minimum in all cases.

Theorem (Buddha, third noble truth): Suffering is not necessary.

Proof: This is true by definition of the concept of suffering, i.e. there always exists at least one choice
(one causation) which is of least length and thus not suffering.


Theorem (Buddha, fourth noble truth): Complete understanding of the whole universe can be gained
from introspection.

Proof: Since every individual is dependent upon others by some of its properties and every individual
has some properties is it clear that the union of all properties is the universe. To be totally understood,
an individual needs to be understood from all of its properties point of view (all of its properties need
to be understood because an individual can only be apprehended by its properties). Thus to completely
understand an individual, the whole universe must be understood. However if the whole universe is
understood, every individual is necessarily understood as it is a part of the universe. Introspection, by
definition, is the practice of gaining understanding about the I which is a part of the universe. By the
above argument, understanding the I will lead to understanding the universe.

Remark: It is crucial to realize that this theorem does not say that complete understanding can be
gained only from introspection. Buddhism thus provides one path to enlightenment but does not claim
that this path is the only path. In fact, within Buddhism the path of introspection is differentiated into
many kinds and some are considered faster than others but they all are said to lead to enlightenment
in the end. Thus Buddhism accepts other religious systems as providing valid paths to the ultimate goal.

Theorem (fundamental theorem of Mahayana Buddhism): Enlightenment necessarily involves


Proof: Enlightenment is the knowledge of all truths. In particular, it is the knowledge of which chains
of causation are suffering and which are not. It is the goal of the individual to reach enlightenment. The
conscious realization (i.e. knowledge) that an individual is acting so as to move away from
enlightenment is what is commonly called compassion. Thus every enlightened being has compassion
for the others still on the path.

Theorem (fundamental theorem of Eight-Fold Path): Global selfishness is local altruism.

Proof: An action is considered

Theorem (exclusion of circular reasoning): A circular argument may not be used to establish the
truth of any statement.

Proof: A circular argument is A ? B ? C ? ? A. Each implication is reasoned correctly but the

argument as a whole merely asserts (by the theorem of the syllogism) that A ? A which is a tautology.
It does not prove that A is true based on the axioms of the theory but only proves that A implies itself
which is true for any statement A. Therefore circular reasoning does not prove anything and should
thus be prohibited.

Remark: A lengthy discussion in philosophical circles centering around Dharmakirtis system12 may
be cut short by the principle: Circular reasoning is not a valid proof. It seems that a number of
philosophical debates are so lengthy and controversial because their authors use language in different
ways and employ different assumptions which they do not clearly state. From a mathematical point of
view, the opinions of these authors are equally valid insofar as they differ in their assumptions and so
they can not meaningfully compared in their arguments but only in their correspondence to reality.
They may be criticized by pointing out unstated assumptions and loose language which from a
mathematical point of view can be called lack of rigor. It is largely to simplify such debates that the
present paper is attempted as an example of systematization.


For an introduction and further references on this debate see Tillemans, Tom J.F. (1999): On Pararthanumana, Theses and
Syllogisms. In Tillemans, Tom J.F. (1999): Scripture, Logic, Language. (Wisdom Pub., Boston)


Remark on the Apoha Doctrine of Dignaga: One is lead to question to what extent universals are real
or what justifies the use of a term for different particulars. In our theory this is simply the concept of a
property, i.e. a set of indiduals. This set can then be named and this is the universal. It is clear from our
theory that a property is not real. Its parts are real but the property itself is not a point-instant and
thus not real. The Apoha doctrine of Dignaga is a logical principle that says that one must not compare
sets of objects with these objects as they are fundamentally different things. In modern language the
Apoha doctrine is exactly equivalent to Russells theory of types. It is remarkable that a logical theory
so celebrated after Russell published it as this was in fact constructed at least 13 centuries earlier than
commonly known. To be clear, the theory was made precise by Russell but all of its ideas and
statements are contained in the works of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. Matilal claims that this theory
solves the problem of universals in philosophy but we shall not discuss this13. Let us merely remark
that from the point of view of modern logic, the theory of types is the only logical principle capable to
removing a large class of logical paradoxes (such as Russells paradox) from logic. It is thus essential
in a very real way to obtain a consistent theory.

When we use a term at different times and mean different things, this is apparently a problem for
philosophy. From our theory this is quite natural. A property contains point-instants. If we fix the time,
then time-slices through a property yield different properties. In this simple way, it is clear that the
meaning of a property must change over time and that this is by no means a problem.

Appendix: Nyaya-Bindu: A Short Treatise of Logic

By Dharmakirti

Translated by
TH. Stcherbatsky (1993): Buddhist Logic. Vol. 2. (Motilal Banarsidass Pub., Delhi).
An alternative translation is available from


Bimal Krishna Matilal (1998): The Character of Logic in India. (State University of New York, Albany) p. 100ff.


Alex Wayman (1999): A Millenium of Buddhist Logic. (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi).

A. Perception


All successful human action is preceded by right knowledge. Therefore this (knowledge will be
here) investigated.


Right knowledge is twofold.


Direct and indirect (perceptive and inferential).


Direct knowledge means here neither construction (judgment) nor illusion.


Construction (or judgment) implies a distinct cognition of a mental reflex which is capable of
coalescing with a verbal designation.


Knowledge exempt from such (construction) when it is not affected by an illusion produced by
color-blindness, rapid motion, traveling on board a ship, sickness or other causes, is perceptive (right)


It is fourfold.


Sense knowledge (sensation).


Mental sensation follows (the first moment of every) sense-cognition (which is thus) its
immediately preceding homogenous cause. (The latter) is cooperating with (the corresponding moment
of) the object, (i.e. with that momentary object) which immediately follows the proper (momentary)
object (of sensation).


Every consciousness and every mental phenomenon are self-conscious.


The (mystic) intuition of the Saint (the Yogi) is produced from the subculminational state of deep
meditation on transcendental reality.


Its object is the (extreme) particular.


When the mental image varies according as the object is near or remote, the object then is the


That alone (which is unique) represents ultimate reality.


Because the essence of reality is just efficiency.


Different from it is the universal character (of the object).


It is the province of indirect knowledge (inference).



This direct cognition itself is the result of cognizing.


It has the form of a distinct cognition.


The source of cognizing consists in coordination (between the constructed image and its real)


Owing to this, a distinct cognition of the object is produced.

B. Inference


Inference is twofold.


For one self and for others.


A cognition which is produced (indirectly) through a mark that has a threefold aspect, and which
refers to an object, (not perceived, but) inferred is internal inference.


The distinction between a source of cognition and its result is here just the same as in the case of


The three aspects of the mark are (first) just its presence in the object cognized by inference.


Its presence only in similar cases.


Its absolute absence in dissimilar cases is necessary.


The object (cognized in) inference is here the substratum whose property it is desired to cognize.


A similar case is an object which is similar through the common possession of the inferred


A case which is not similar is dissimilar (it can be) different from it, contrary to it or its


And there are only three varieties of the three-aspected mark.


Negation, Identity and Causation.


Between these (three, the formula) of Negation is as follows. Thesis. On some particular place
there is no jar. Reason. Because it is not perceived, although the conditions of perception are fulfilled.


The presence of (all) the conditions of cognition consists in the presence of an individual entity
and the totality of all other conditions of cognition.


It is a thing which, being present, is necessarily perceived when all other conditions of
perceptibility are fulfilled.


Identity is a reason for deducing a property when (the subject) alone is by itself sufficient for that


As e.g. Thesis. This is a tree. Reason. Because it is an Asoka.


The effect is as follows. Thesis. Here is fire. Reason. Because there is smoke.


(Cognition) is either affirmation or negation, (and affirmation) is double, (as founded either on
Identity or on Causation).


Because one thing can convey the (existence of) another one when it is existentially dependent
(on the latter).


Because a fact which is not so dependent upon another one, cannot be invariably and necessarily
concomitant with the latter.


This is a dependence of the logical reason upon the fact which is deduced from it, (upon the


Because, as regards (ultimate) reality, (the entity underlying the logical reason) is either just the
same as the entity (underlying) the predicate, or it is causally derived from it.


Because when a fact is neither existentially identical with another one, nor is it a product of the
latter, it cannot be necessarily dependent upon it.


It is (simply) because Identity and Causation (causal origin) belong just either to a comprehended
property or to an effect. Inferential reference to Reality is possible exclusively on this basis.


The success of negative behavior is only owing to a negative cognition of the form described


Because when a real object is present (it is perceived and it) becomes superfluous (to imagine its


Because otherwise, (sc. If the absent thing has not been imagined as present, its absence, and the
entailed successful actions, cannot follow with logical necessity). Because when entities do not
conform to the conditions of cognizability, when they are inaccessible in space and time and (invisible)
by nature, since all human experience is then excluded, apodictic negative judgments are not possible.


Negative behavior is successful when a present or a past negative experience of an observer has
happened, provided the memory of this fact has not been obliterated.


It is exclusively on the basis of such (negation) that absence can be ascertained (with logical


This (negation) has eleven varieties, according to difference of formulation.


(The first formula) is existential (or direct) negation, it is the following one. Thesis. There is here
no smoke. Reason. Since, the conditions for its perception being fulfilled, none is perceived.


Negation of an effect is as follows. Thesis. There are here no efficient causes producing smoke.
Reason. Because there is no smoke.


Negation of a term of greater extension is as follows. Thesis. There is here no Asoka tree.
Reason. Because there are no trees.


Affirmation of something incompatible (with the fact which is being denied) is as follows.
Thesis. There is here no sensation of cold. Reason. Because there is fire.


The affirmation of an incompatible effect is as follows. Thesis. There is here no sensation of cold.
Reason. Because there is smoke.


(A negative reason consisting in) the affirmation of something subordinate to an incompatible

fact is as follows. Thesis. The evanescent character, even of such things which have an origin, is not
something constant. Reason. Because (their destruction) depends upon a special cause.


Affirmation of something incompatible with the effect is as follows. Thesis. There are here no
efficient causes of cold. Reason. Because there is a fire.


Affirmation of something incompatible with a fact of greater extension is as follows. Thesis.

There is here no sensation produced by snow. Reason. Because there is a fire.


Negation of causes is as follows. Thesis. There is here no smoke. Reason. Because there is no


The affirmation of a fact incompatible with the causes of something is as follows. Thesis. He
betrays no symptoms of cold, such as shivering etc. Reason. Because there is an efficient fire near him.


Affirmation of an effect of something incompatible with the cause is as follows. Thesis. In this
place nobody exhibits symptoms of cold, such as shivering etc. Reason. Because there is smoke.


All these then formulae of a negative judgment, beginning from the second, are (virtually)
included (in the first), the (direct) non-perception of the existence of something.


Indirectly. There is a difference of formulation, (a fact is denied indirectly) through affirmation of

negation of something else.


The formulae have been specified under the head of internal inference, because by their repeated
consideration the distinct conception of what a negative judgment represents internally (as a process of
thought) becomes thus also clear to the (scrutinizing individual) himself.


Negation is the process through which either the absence of something or some practical
application of the idea of an absent thing is deduced. Whether the facts be denied by way of an
affirmation of something incompatible with them or through the negation of their causes etc.,
everywhere negation, on analysis, refers to possibilities of sensation.



Because (the laws of) Contradiction and Causality do not extend their sway over other (i.e., over
metaphysical) objects.


Negation of objects inaccessible (to experience) is the source of problematic reasoning, since its
essence is exclusive of both direct and indirect knowledge.


When there are altogether no means of cognition, the non-existence of the object cannot be

C. Syllogism


Inference for others (or syllogism) consists in communicating the three aspects of the logical
mark (to others).


Metaphorically, (by naming) the cause instead of the effect.


It is twofold.


Because it is differently formulated.


(Method) of Agreement and (method) of Difference.


There is no virtual difference between the two (meanings).


Except the difference of formulation.


Among these two (methods, the method) of Agreement (is now illustrated by examples).


(Major premise). Wheresoever we do not perceive the presence of a representable thing, we

exhibit corresponding behaviour towards it. (Example). Just as when we fail to perceive another thing
known from experience to be quite unexisting, though representable, e.g., the horns on the head of a
hare etc. (Minor premise). On a certain place we do not perceive the presence of a jar which is
representable. (Conclusion. We behave without expecting to find it there).


The analytical reasoning can be expressed according to the same (method).


(Major premise). Every thing that exists is momentary. (Example). Just as a jar (representing a
compact chain of momentary existences). (Minor premise. The sound exists). (Conclusion. It is a chain
of momentary existences.) This is the formula of a simple (unqualified) analytical deduction.


The formula of an analytical syllogism with a middle term which is differentiated by a

qualification existentially identical with I, is the following one. (Major premise). Whatsoever has an


origination is impermanent. (Example). (Just as a jar etc.). (Minor premise). (The sounds of our speech
possess origination). (Conclusion). (The sounds of our speech are impermanent).

The formula of an analytical syllogism with a dmiddle term containing an additional (accidental)
qualification is the following one. (Major premise). Whatsoever is a product is impermanent.
(Examples). (As a jar etc.). (Minor premise). (The sounds of our speech are products). (Conclusion).
(The sounds of our speech are impermanent).


A product means an existence (viewed as something) which for its own concretisation is
dependent upon the efficiency (of entities) other (than itself).


The (expression) variable concomitantly with a change in the causes and other (similar
expressionhs) must be understood in the same way.


The sounds of speech are existent, they have a (real) origin, they are produced these are the
minor premises.


All these attributes (which are given as) reasons (for the deduction of corresponding predicates)
should be conceived (as logical reasons) for deducing only such predicates whose necessary
dependence on nothing but (the presence of) the reason is established by proofs, (whatsoever they may
be) suiting every special case.


Because (what we call an analytical reason) is just the fact that the predicate is a natural outflow
of the reason, (not a fact outside it), it is contained in the essence of the latter.


The underlying reality is the same for both (the reason and the fact deduced from it).


If the reason could exist without the predicate, the latter would not be contained in the essence of
the former.


(If it were no co-existent, if the consequence) could have appeared without the reason having also
appeared, it could not represent an inherent property of the latter.


Because they can exist separately.


(The deduction by causality, where) the reason represents the effect, has the following formula,
also (expressed by the method of Agreement). (Major premise). Wherever there is smoke there is fire.
(Example). As e.g., in the kitchen, etc. (Minor premise). Here there is smoke. (Conclusion). (Here there
is fire).


Here also, we can assert that an effect is the logical reason for deducing from it the cause, only
when the fact of their causal relation is already known (in general).


The method of Difference (will be now exhibited). Negation represents then the following
formula. (Major premise). What exists, all conditions of perceptibility being fulfilled, is necessarily
perceived. (Example). As, e.g., the particular case of a patch of blue colour etc. (Minor premise). But

on this (spot) we do not perceive any existing jar, although all conditions of perception are fulfilled.
(Conclusion). (Therefore there is here no jar).

(Major premises). What is changeless is neither existent nor has it an origin nor can it be a
product. (Example). (As e.g., the Cosmic Ether etc.). (Minor premises). But the sounds of speech exist,
have origination, are a product (of causes). (Conclusion). (Hence they are impermanent).


The formula of a reason representing an effect is as follows. (Major premise). Where there is no
fire, there neither is smoke. (Example). (As e.g., on the water of a lake, etc.). (Minor premise). But
there is here some smoke. (Conclusion). (Hence there must be some fire).


From a formula of agreement the corresponding formula of difference follows by implication.


Because if that were not so, the reason could not be invariably concomitant with the consequence.


Similarly (when the deduction is expressed) by the method of Difference, the original (positive)
concomitance follows (by implication).


Because otherwise the absence of the reason in cases where the consequence is absent would not
be established.


(No!) If their concomitance is not (ascertained), then the absence of one term cannot necessarily
follow from the absence of the other.


It has then been stated above that there are only two kinds of depedent existence, whatsoever the
case may be. (The dependent part represents either existentially) the same thing or the effect of
(another existent).


It follows therfore that if the (concerted) absence (of two terms) is expressed, their
interdependece must reveal itself. Therefore the contraposed general propositions always contains an
indication of their interdependence. This indication is nothing but the general proposition (in its
positive form). Thus it is that one single general proposition, either directly or in its contraposed form,
declares that the logical mark is present in similar and absent in dissimilar cases. Therefore it is not
indispensable to express both these propositions.


(This rule applies) also to (Negation, i.e., to a deduction of absence whose reason is) nonperception. When we state (the contraposed formula of negation, viz.). Whatsoever exists, all
conditions of perceptibility being fulfilled, is necessarily perceived, the original concomitance, if
such an object is not perceived, it is absent, is established by implication.


When either of these two (methods) is applied, it is not always necessary explicitly to mention the
thesis (or the conclusion).


In our formula of Negation, expressed according to the method of Agreement, it is likewise

(superfluous to mention the conclusion separately). When it is stated that. (Major premise). Whatsoever

is not perceived, altough being in conditions of perceptibility, is practically non-existent. (Minor

premise). On this place no jar is perceived, altough all other conditions for its perceptibility are
fulfilled. (The Conclusion) There is here no jar follows entirely by implication.

The same refers also (to this formula expressed according to the method) of Difference. (Major
premise). Whatsoever is present (as an object of our purposive actions) and is in conditions of
perceptibility, is necessarily perceived. (Minor premise). But on this place no such jar is being
perceived. Through mere implication (the conclusion) follows that as an object of our purposive actions
this thing is absent.


Nevertheless what is it that we can call a (sound) thesis?


A (sound) thesis is (a proposition to be maintained by the disputant, i.e., a proposition) which he

himself accepts just as such, (i.e., just as the point he bona fide intends to maintain, if from the start)
it is not discredited (by self-contradiction).


As such means accepted as (the proposition) to be maintained.


Just as such means accepted as the fact which must be deduced, in contradistinction) from the
reason from which it is deduced.


Supposing the non-eternal character of the sounds of speech must be established (as against the
Mimamsaka), and the reason would be, (say), its visibility. Since the visibility of sounds does not exist,
it might be regarded as a fact which is in need of proof. But it is expressed as the reason, therefore it is
not here intended to be proved, (albeit it is unproved).


Himself means the Disputant.


That one who at this occasion sets forth an argument.


The following is meant. Supposing someone takes his stand on a definite system and quotes
arguments accordingly. Supposing the framer of the system has admitted several facts characterizing
the same subject. Nevertheless the thesis will be represented by that fact alone which at a given
occasion, a definite disputant himself chooses to argue, not by any other one.


The word accepts (in the above definition of a sound thesis) means (that there is sometimes no
necessity of expressing the thesis in words). When an argument is adduced in answer to an objection on
a subject which one wishes to establish, the thesis, even if it is not expressly specified, is (understood
from the context).


Because it represents the point against which the opposite view is directed.


An example. (Thesis). The sense of vision and other senses (are organs) to be used by someone
else. (Reason). Because they are composite (substances). (Example). Just as beds, chairs and other
implements (composed for the use of man). (Major premise. Whatsoever is a composite substance is

not an independent existence). The aim is to prove that (the senses) are the organs of the Soul (which is
a simple and independent substance), although this is not expressly stated. Thus the thesis is not always
that alone which is expressed. That is the meaning (of the word accepts).

The words not discredited (from the start by self-contradiction) are an indication of the fact that
according to this definition a (proposition) can be accepted (by the disputant as expressing) the fact to
be established and nevertheless not represent a thesis, if it is in contradiction with perception, with
inference, with (the identity) of a conception or with the very words (in which it is expressed).


Among them, contradicted by preception is, e.g., (the following proposition). The sound is not
perceived by hearing.


A thesis contradicted by inference is, e.g., (when an adherent of the Vaisesika system affirms),
the souds of speech are eternal entities.


A thesis contradicted by the (identity) of a conception is as follows, The word hare-marked

does not mean the moon.


A proposition contradicted by the words in which it is itself expressed, is as follows, Inference is

not a source of knowledge.


The four kinds of inadmissible thesis are thus rejected.


Thus (a sound thesis should not be) 1) a fact already proved, 2) a fact, altough not yet proved, but
adducted as a reason, (not as a consequence), 3) a fact which the disputant himself does not intend to
prove at that occasion, 4) it must not necessarily be a fact explicitly stated, 5) it must not be a fact
impossible (by self-contradiction). (All this is excluded), and just this contrast will show that our
definition (of a sound thesis) is unimpeachable, namely, 1) it is a point which the disputant himself has
chosen to establish, 2) which he himself admits and 3) which is not (internally) impossible.


We have defined the syllogism as the verbal expression of the three aspects of the reason. Now, if
even one the three aspects is not (correctly) expressed, (the result) is a fallacy.


And also (there will be a fallacy) if they are, although expressed, but either unreal or uncertain,
either for the opponent or for the speaker himself.


If one aspect of the reason, namely, its (first aspect), its presence upon the subject of the
conclusion, is either non-existent or uncertain, the reason is called unreal.


E.g., when it must be proved that the sounds of speech are not an eternal entity, the reason
because they are invisible is unreal for both parties.


Trees are animate beings. This should be deduced from the fact that they die when the entire
bark is taken off. This is not accepted by the opponent. He defines death as an extinction of
sensations, sense-organs and life. Such a death does not occur in trees.


Supposing a supporter of the Sankhya system wishes to prove that the emotions, pleasure etc., are
unconscious, and refers to the fact that they have a beginning or that they impermanent. This argument
is unreal for the disputant himself.


If doubt prevails regarding the very (fact adduced as a reason) or regarding its localization, the
reason is unreal.


If something is suspected to represent (not smoke, but) vapour etc., and if it is adduced as a proof
for the presence of fire, it will be an unreal, because uncertain, reason.


There is a peacock in this cave, because we hear its cries.


There can be a mistake as regards the direction from which the cry comes.


And when the subject is not a reality, the reason will likewise be unreal. E.g., when the
omnipresence of the Soul (of an individual) is deduced from the fact that its attributes may be
apprehended anywhere, this reason is unreal.


When another aspect of he reason its absence in counter-instances taken singly is unreal, the
fallacy is called uncertainty.


Supposing we must prove the eternal character of the sounds of speech or some other (property to
be mentioned presently). If the fact of its being cognizable and other properties are quoted as their
(respective) reasons, they being present, either partly or completely, in dissimilar cases also (are
uncertain reasons).


When this aspect of the reason is dubious, the fallacy is likewise one of uncertainty.


Supposing we wish to prove that a certain person is non-omniscient, or that he is subject to

passions. If the fact that he is endowed with the faculty of speech (and other attributes of a man) is
quoted as a reason, its absence in contrary cases (i.e., with omniscient beings) becomes problematic.


A negative judgement of the form there are no omniscient speakers in existence concerns a fact
which is essentially beyond any possible experience. Therefore the absence of speech and (human
attributes in omniscient beings, i.e.) in cases contrary to non-omniscience, cannot be warranted.


The contraposed proposition, viz., an omniscient being does not resort to speech cannot be
proved by negative experience, neither (can it be deduced from incompatibility with speech), because
there is no contradiction between omniscience and the faculty of speech, (omniscience) being


Opposition between objects is of a double kind.


When (one fact) has duration (as long as) the sum-total of its causes remains unimpaired, and it
(then) vanishes as soon as another, (the opposed), fact appears, it follows that both are incompatible,
(or efficiently opposed).


Just as the sensations of heat and cold.


There is also (opposition between two facts) when their own essence consists in mutual
exclusion, as between the affirmation and negation (of the same thing).


Now, neither of these two kinds of opposition does exist between the faculty of human speech
and omniscience.


Even when a fact has never been observed, its non-existence cannot be deduced from the
presence of another fact, if the latter has not been established (by experience) as incompatible with it.


Because a causal relation between passions and speech has never been established.


We cannot conclude that the faculty of speech must be absent when something that is not its
cause is absent.


Thus the faculty of speech is an uncertain mark. Its (necessary) absence in contrary cases (where
there is the gift of omniscience and passions are extinct) is subject to doubt.


When the reverse of two aspects of the (adduced) reason is true, (the fallacy is called) a contrary
(or inverted) reason.


What are the two?


Its presence in similar and absence in dissimilar cases.


E.g., the attributes of being a product, or of being volunarily produced, become contrary reasons,
if the eternality of the sounds of speech is to be deduced from them.


Being absent in similar and present in dissimilar cases, they prove just the contrary.


They are contrary, because they establish just the inverted (conclusion).


There is a third variety of a self-contradictory argument? That which contradicts a (tacitly)

admitted principle.


This is an example. (Thesis). The sense of vision and other senses are serviceable to another
ones needs. (Reason). Because they are composite substances. (Example). Just as beds, chairs and
other requisites.


It is a contrary reason, because it proves just the reverse of (the principle) admitted by the
(disputant), viz., the reverse of an existence for the sake of a simple substance.


Why is it not mentioned here (as a separate variety)? Because it is implied in the two other ones.


It does not differ from them, in that it proves the reverse of the consequence.


There is indeed no material difference between an expressed and an intended predicate.


When one of the two forms is wrong and the other dubious, the reason becomes uncertain.


An example. (Thesis). Someone is passionless or someone is omniscient. (Reason). Because he

possesses the faculty of speech. (Major premise). (Whosoever is a human being possessing the faculty

of speech, is omniscient and passionless). The contraposition is here wrong, the positive concomitance

Since omniscience and (absolute) absence of passions are unaccessible to experience, it is

uncertain whether the gift of speech coexists (with these attributes) or not.


When there is doubt regarding these same two forms of the reason, the fallacy is (also) called


(Thesis). The living body is endowed with a Soul. (Reason). Because it possesses breath and
other (animal functions).


Because except the class of entities possessing a Soul, and the class not possessing it, there is no
(third) group where animal functions are found.


Because presence and absence of the Soul embrace between them every existing object.


Neither can the presence (of the reason) in one of these (classes) be apprehended with certainty.


Since neither in the entities supposed to possess a Soul, nor in the entities known not to possess
it, is the presence of animal functions certain.


Therefore, since it is not proved that animal functions inherent in a living body exclude it either
from the class of all objects possessing a Soul of from all objects not possessing any, (it is impossible
to point out that one among) these two groups in which they are necessarily absent.


Neither is there any positive concomitance.


Because (the necessary presence of the reason) in one of the groups is also not established.


Whether the Soul exists or whether it does not exist, we cannot in any case deny at once both the
presence and the absence of animal functions (in soulless beings).


Because the denial of the one implies the affirmation of the other.


The necessary presence and the necessary absence (of animal functions wheresoever a Soul is
absent), (these two facts) are exclusive of one another. Since neither of them can be established, (the
adduced reason for proving the existence of a Soul) is uncertain, (it proves nothing).


Neither can we affirm (on such grounds) the necessary existence of a Soul, nor can we deny it.


Thus there are three kinds of fallacies, the Unreal, the Contrary and the Uncertain. They are
respectively produced when either one aspect of the mark singly, or in any pair of them, are either
unreal or uncertain.


One more (variety) of an uncertain reason has been established, viz., the (Counterbalanced)
reason which falls in line with its own contradiction, (which is self-contradictory).


Why is it not mentioned here? Because it cannot occur in the process of (natural) ratiocination.



A (real) contradiction is indeed impossible (in the domain of the three varieties of logical
dependence), as established by us, in the cases of necessary Succession, of necessary Coexistence and
of Negation.


There is no other inseparable connection.


Therefore Dignaga has mentioned it as a mistaken argument establishing two contradicting facts,
such arguments occuring in dogmatic systems where inference concerns metaphysical problems and is
founded on dogmatic (premises) and not upon an (unbiassed) observation of real facts.


If often happens that promotors of systems are mistaken and ascribe (to entities) such attributes as
are incompatible with their nature.


When the argument is founded on the properly observed real condition of real things, when either
a case of (necessary) Succession or of (necessary) Coexistence or of Absence is thus established, there
is no room for contradiction.


An example of this fallacy are (the following two contradictory deductions. The first is), (Major
premise). A (thing) which is simultaneously inherent in different objects, wheresoever they be situated,
(must be) ubiquitous. (Example). Just as the Cosmical Ether. (Minor premise). A Universal is
simultaneously inherent in different objects which are to be found everywhere. (Conclusion). (Hence a
Universal must be ubiquitous).


The deduction is an analytical one. The real presence of (a Universal) in a definite place is
deduced merely (by analysis) of the fact that it is inherent in the objects occupying that place. Indeed,
(the opposite of that is impossible), if something is absent from (a definite) place, it does not fill up that
place by its own self.


The second, (the contra-) deduction runs thus. (Major premise). If something preceptible is not
perceived upon a place, it is absent from it. (Example). As e.g., an absent jar. (Minor premise). A
Universal, although (supposed) to be perceptible, is not perceived in the intervals between the
(corresponding) particulars. (Conclusion). (Hence it is absent). This negative conclusion and the former
analytical deduction, since they contradict one another, produce together an uncertain (conclusion).


The exposition of the three-aspected logical reason is finished. Such a reason is quite capable
alone to produce cognition of the (inferred) object. Hence the example is no separate member of the
syllogism. Its definition is not given separately, because it is implied (in the definition of the reason).


The essence of a logical reason, in general, has been defined by us as consisting in its presence
only in similar cases, and its absence from every dissimilar case. Further, we have specified that the
causal and the analytical reasons must be shown to represent, (the first) an effect (from which the
existence of a cause is inferred), (the second, a necessarily coexisting attribute) which alone is

sufficient for deducing (the consequence). When the reasons are so represented, it is then shown that 1)
wherever smoke exists, fire exists, like in a kitchen; if there is no fire, neither is there smoke, like in
contrary cases; 2) wherever there is production there is change, like in a jar; if something is changeless,
it is not a product, like Space. It is, indeed, impossible otherwise to show the existence (of the reason)
in similar and its absence from (all) contrary cases with the qualification that we have introduced, viz.
1) the causal deduction (of the existence of a reason) necessarily follows from the existence of the
effect, 2) the (analytically deduced) property is necessarily inherent in the fact representing the
analytical reason. When this is shown, it is likewise shown what an example is, since its essence,
includes nothing else.

Fallacious examples are also virtually rejected by this (account of the reason).


(Thesis). The sounds of speech are eternal entities. (Reason). Because they are not impenetrable
bodies of limited dimensions. (Examples). As, e.g., motion, atoms or a jar. These examples are
deficient in regard of the consequence or of the reason or of both.


The same applies to cases where the presence of the predicated attribute and (of the reason) is
uncertain. 1. E.g., (Thesis). This man is subject to passions. (Reason). Because he is endowed with the
faculty of speech. (Example). As e.g., a man in the street. 2. (Thesis). This man is mortal. (Reason).
Because he is subject to passions. (Example). As e.g., a man in the street. 3. (Thesis). This man is nonomniscient. (Reason). Because he is subject to passions. (Example). As e.g., a man in the street.


(Next come examples where) necessary concomitance is either absent (because of incomplete
induction) or not rightly expressed (because of the carelessness of the speaker). 1. (Thesis). Whosoever
speaks is subject to passions. (Example). Like, e.g., our Mr. So and So. 2. (Thesis). The sounds of
speech are impermanent. (Reason). Because they are products. (Example). As e.g., a jar.


This also refers (to an example whose meaning has been expressed through) an inverted
concomitance, e.g., (Thesis). (The sounds of speech are impermanent). (Reason). (Because they are
produced from causes). (Example). (Just as a jar etc.), whatsoever is impermanent is a product.


(Such are the fallacious examples when the syllogism is expressed) according to the method of


The same (applies to deductions by the method) of Difference. The examples in which either the
consequence (or the reason, or both) are not absent, (as they should be in a syllogism of difference), are
the following ones atoms, motion and Space (respectively).


Similar ar also the cases where the (necessary) absence of the predicate, (of the reason and of
both) is uncertain, e.g., (Thesis). Kapila and others are not omniscient, or are not (absolutely)
trustworthy. (Reason). Because their knowledge cannot stand the special test of omniscience and

(absolute) trustworthiness. An example by contrast is the following one. (Contraposed major premise).
Omniscient or (absolutely) trustworthy is a man who teaches astronomy. (Example). As e.g., Risabha,
Vardhamana and others. The absence of the predicates not-omniscience and not absolute
trustworthiness in these examples, is subject to doubt.

A negative example in cases where the exclusion of the reason is uncertain is as follows.
(Thesis). A Brahmin possessing the knowledge of the three Vedas should not trust Mr. So and So.
(Reason). Because (the man) might be subject to passions. A contrasting example (must illustrate the
rule that) whosoever is to be trusted is not subject to passions, e.g., Gautama and other promoters of
legal codes. The reason, i.e., the absence of passions in Gautama and consorts, is uncertain.


A case where the exclusion of both is uncertain is as follows. (Thesis). Kapila and consorts are
not free from passions. (Reason). Because they are subject to acquisitiveness and avarice. A contrasting
example should prove the rule that a person who is free from passions neither does acquire nor is
subject to avarice, e.g., Risabha and consorts. The absence in Risabha and consorts of both the
predicates, i.e., freedom from passions and of acquisitiveness and avarice, is uncertain.


An example not proving the contraposed general proposition is as follows, (Thesis). He is not
free from passions. (Reason). Because he possesses the faculty of speech. An example by contrast
(should illustrate the rule that) if something has no passions, it cannot speak, as e.g., a piece of stone.
Although both the attributes are absent in a piece of stone, (it neither has passions nor does it speak),
nevertheless the negative proposition, that every one who is free from passions does not speak, in its
generality is not proved. Therefore (the example is not a proof) for the contraposed (general


An example in which the contrast is not properly expresed is as follows. (Thesis). The sounds of
speech are not eternal. (Reason). Because they are produced (from causes). (Example). (In contrast
with) Space (which is not produced and eternal).


(An example attached to an inverted) contraposition is the following one. (Major premise). What
is not subject to causal laws is eternal. (Example). (As e.g., Space).


These wrong examples are no capable to demonstrate neither the general character of a valid
logical reason, viz., its presence in the similar cases alone and its absence in every contrary case, nor
are they capable to demonstrate the the special characters (of its varieties, the uniformity of
Coexistence and the uniformity of Succession). Consequently it is implicitly evident that they must be


To refute means to indicate the insufficiency and other (fallacies in an argument).



Refutation means exposing the fallacies which have been explained above, the fallacies
consisting in failure to prove something. Refutation prevents the triumph of the doctrines advanced by
the opponent.


Wrong refutations are sophistry, (evasive answers).


Sophistic answers are discoveries of non-existing fallacies.