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  • Topic: Samkhya, Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta
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Samkhya is one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school. It is regarded as one of the oldest philosophical systems in India. Samkhya was one of the six orthodox systems (astika, those systems that recognize vedic authority) of Hindu philosophy. The major text of this Vedic school is the extant Samkhya Karika. There are no purely Sankhya schools existing today in Hinduism, but its influence is felt in the Yoga and Vedanta schools. Samkhya is an enumerationist philosophy that is strongly dualist. Samkhya philosophy regards the universe as consisting of two realities: Purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (phenomenal realm of matter). They are the experiencer and the experienced, not unlike the res cogitans and res extensa of René Descartes. Prakriti further bifurcates into animate and inanimate realms. On the other hand, Purusha separates out into countless Jivas or individual units of consciousness as souls which fuse into the mind and body of the animate branch of Prakriti.

Purusha|Prakriti|
Consciousness( Self)|Phenomenal realm of matter|
Experiencer|Experienced|
Separates out into countless Jiva or individual units of consciousness which fuse into the mind and body of the animate branch of Prakriti|Bifurcates into animate and inanimate realms| Passivity|Dynamism |

There are differences between Sankhya and Western forms of dualism. In the West, the fundamental distinction is between mind and body. In Samkhya, however, it is between the self (as Purusha) and matter (Prakriti). Epistemology:

According to the Sankhya school, all knowledge is possible through three pramanas (means of valid knowledge) -

1. Pratyaksha or Drishtam - direct sense perception,
2. Anumana - logical inference and
3. Sabda or Aptavacana - verbal testimony.

Sankhya cites two kinds of perceptions: Indeterminate (nirvikalpa) perceptions and determinate (savikalpa) perceptions.

Nirvikalpa: Indeterminate perceptions are merely impressions without understanding or knowledge. They reveal no knowledge of the form or the name of the object. There is only external awareness about an object. There is cognition of the object, but no discriminative recognition.

For example, a baby’s initial experience is full of impression. There is a lot of data from sensory perception, but there is little or no understanding of the inputs. Hence they can be neither differentiated nor labeled. Most of them are indeterminate perceptions.

Savikalpa: Determinate perceptions are the mature state of perceptions which have been processed and differentiated appropriately. Once the sensations have been processed, categorized, and interpreted properly, they become determinate perceptions. They can lead to identification and also generate knowledge. Kinds of Perceptions acc to samkhya:

Nirvikalpa|Savikalpa|
Indeterminate perceptions|Determinate perceptions|
Merely impressions of the empirical or external world- neither labelled or differentiated|Processed,categorized and interpreted impressions| NO knowledge|Leads to identification and generate knowledge| Baby’s intial experience.||

Metaphysics
Ontology
the Samkhya system classifies all objects as falling into one of the two categories: Purusha and Prakriti. Metaphysically, Samkhya maintains an intermingled duality between spirit/consciousness which is Purusha and matter which is Prakrti).

Purusha
Purusha is the Transcendental Self or Pure Consciousness. It is absolute, independent, free, imperceptible, unknowable, above any experience and beyond any words or explanation. It remains pure, “nonattributive consciousness ”. Purusha is neither produced nor does it produce. Unlike Advaita Vedanta and like Purva-Mimamsa, Samkhya believes in plurality of the Purushas.

Prakriti
Prakriti is the first cause of the universe—of everything except the Purusha, which is uncaused, and accounts for whatever is physical, both...
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