Yes Indeed, Life is Complicated. The complexity of Life involves the fundamental nature of existence. Philosophers and Theologians have for a very long time are using terms such as Soul and Spirit without bothering to clarify the distinction between the Living and the Nonliving Matter and further, they leave things to the readers’ imagination without specifying the substance that constitutes the Spirit or Soul.
September 05, President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India. On Monday, September 05, 2022, I want to share my reflections on the philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888—1975)
As an academic, philosopher, and statesman, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) was one of the most recognized and influential Indian thinkers in academic circles in the 20th century. Throughout his life and extensive writing career, Radhakrishnan sought to define, defend, and promulgate his religion, a religion he variously identified as Hinduism, Vedanta, and the Religion of the Spirit. He sought to demonstrate that his Hinduism was both philosophically coherent and ethically viable. Radhakrishnan’s concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions has earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West. He often appears to feel at home in the Indian as well as the Western philosophical contexts, and draws from both Western and Indian sources throughout his writing. Because of this, Radhakrishnan has been held up in academic circles as a representative of Hinduism to the West. His lengthy writing career and his many published works have been influential in shaping the West’s understanding of Hinduism, India, and the East. In my analysis, his philosophical thought did not embrace the progress made by Science in the understanding of life and matter.
Radhakrishnan located his metaphysics within the Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta tradition (sampradaya). And like other Vedantins before him, Radhakrishnan wrote commentaries on the Prasthanatraya (that is, main primary texts of Vedanta ): the Upanishads (1953),Brahma Sutra (1959), and the Bhagavadgita (1948).
As an Advaitin, Radhakrishnan embraced a metaphysical idealism. But Radhakrishnan’s idealism was such that it recognized the reality and diversity of the world of experience (Prakrit) while at the same time preserving the notion of a wholly transcendent Absolute (Brahman), an Absolute that is identical to the self (Atman). While the world of experience and of everyday things is certainly not ultimate reality as it is subject to change and is characterized by finitude and multiplicity, it nonetheless has its origin and support in the Absolute (Brahman) which is free from all limits, diversity, and distinctions (Nirguṇa). Brahman is the source of the world and its manifestations, but these modes do not affect the integrity of Brahman.
In this vein, Radhakrishnan did not merely reiterate the metaphysics of Shankara (8th century C.E.), arguably Advaita Vedanta’s most prominent and enduring figure, but sought to reinterpret Advaita for present needs. In particular, Radhakrishnan reinterpreted what he saw as Shankara’s understanding of Maya strictly as illusion. For Radhakrishnan, Maya ought not to be understood to imply a strict objective idealism, one in which the world is taken to be inherently disconnected from Brahman, but rather Maya indicates, among other things, a subjective misconception of the world as ultimately real. [See Donald Bauer, Maya in Radhakrishnan’s Thought: Six Meanings Other Than Illusion (1985) for a full treatment of this issue.]
We need a methodology to study philosophy and to understand philosophical statements. Logical Positivism, also known as Scientific Empiricism aims to clarify concepts in both everyday and scientific language. It describes analysis of language as the function of philosophy. This analysis of language and of concepts is important to understand questions of belief and ideology which affect what we think we ought to do individually and socially. I would use this method of ‘Applied Philosophy’ to analyze the philosophical doctrine of ‘Advaita’ and to study the views and philosophy of Adi Shankara and his efforts to interpret the true or real identity.
In the study of a man, the know-er and the known are one. The man is the observer and the observed fact is that of the man’s nature. If a man has to know the truth about his true or real self, the man has to understand the truth and reliability of his own cognitive powers. If the Subject called man is identified as an Object called Soul, or Spirit, the Truth or Reality of Soul, or Spirit involves a structural/functional relationship between the Subject and its Object.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s metaphysics fails to account for the existence of the Spirit in the physical, material, terrestrial, or immanent realm called Earth. Just like Shankara, Radhakrishnan claims that the Absolute (Brahman) is identical to the true or real Self (Atman) without clarifying the structural and the functional relationship between the human body and its indwelling Soul, Spirit, or Atman.
In any case, Hinduism cannot be defined as the Religion of the Spirit. In my experience, most Hindus worship Mother Earth as the physical manifestation of the Absolute (Brahman). In my analysis, the Spirituality of the Hindu experience always includes a Material Basis to account for the relationship between the man, the Earth, and God.
Rudolf is reborn as Rudi to describe the spiritual connection between the Cell and its Energy Provider
Rudi acknowledges his German heritage at Whole Foods when he discovered the spiritual connection between man, food, and Providence.
Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet are connected by a material substance called Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, a divine plan to provide nourishment to Life.
The Rudolf and Rudi Connection at Whole Foods, Ann Arbor can be best described as the concept of Whole Spirituality, the three dimensional spiritual relationship between the multicellular human organism, food, and the Divine Providence.
Spiritualism – The Cell Theory of Spirituality:
In Biology, cell is the basic or fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things or it is the building block of life. Let me begin with my respectful tribute to some of the people who contributed to ‘The Cell Theory’, one of the foundations of Biological Sciences. Cells were first observed in the 17th century shortly after the discovery of the microscope. Robert Hooke, british curator of instruments at The Royal Society of London, during 1665 coined the word cell. Dutch microscopist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) made over 247 microscopes and examined microorganisms and tissue samples. He gave the first complete descriptions of bacteria, protozoa (which he called animalcules), spermatozoa, and striped muscle. He also studied capillary circulation and observed Red Blood Cells.
Improvements in microscopy during early 19th century permitted closer observation and the significance of cells had received better understanding. Matthias Jakob Schleiden (1838), German botanist, Theodor Schwann (1839), German physiologist, and Rudolf Virchow (1855), German pathologist, and others made important contributions to the Cell Theory that describes cell as the building block of all Life.
The Cell is the smallest unit in the living organism that is capable of carrying on the essential life processes of sustaining metabolism for producing energy and reproducing. Many simple, small, single-celled organisms like Protozoa perform all life functions. In higher, complex, bigger, multicellular organisms, groups of cells are structurally and functionally differentiated into specialized tissues and organ systems. Thus, the Cell Theory includes the following foundational principles of the Biological Sciences:
1. All living things are made up of cells. Cell is the most elementary or basic unit of Life.
2. Cell is a fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things including plants and animals.
3. Cells only rise from division of previously existing cells.
4. All cells are similar in composition, form, and function. All cells are basically the same in chemical composition (in spite of variations) in organisms of similar species. For example, all the solid tissues in the human body can be shown to consist largely of similar cells; differing it is true, but that are essentially similar to an Ovum.
5. The cells exhibit functional autonomy. The activity of an organism depends on the total activity of ‘INDEPENDENT’ cells.
6. Energy flow (metabolism and biochemistry) occurs within cells.
7. Cells contain hereditary, biological information (DNA) which is passed from cell to cell during cell division.
The Cell Theory of Spirituality:
The basic or fundamental unit of life in the human organism is derived from the fertilized egg cell that eventually develops into a complete organism. The most significant feature of similarity between the cells of the human body is the presence of a soft, gelatinous, semi-fluid, granular material inside the cell. This substance known as Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, or Cytosol is similar to the ground substance found in the Ovum or the Egg Cell.
This viscous, translucent, colloidal substance is enclosed in a membrane called Cell Membrane, Plasma Membrane or Biological Membrane. A small spherical body called nucleus is embedded in the Protoplasm of the cell. The three essential features of any living cell in the human body are that of the presence of protoplasm, the nucleus, and the cell membrane.
Protoplasm – The Ground Substance of Spiritualism and Spirituality:
I seek the existence of Soul or Spirit in a substance that is basic to life activities, and in a material that is responsible for all living processes. I, therefore, propose that the understanding of the true or real nature of this ground substance of all living matter will help man to discover peace, harmony, and tranquility in all of his internal and external relationships while man exists in a physical environment as a member of a social group, social community, and Society. In this blog post, I would like to pay my respectful tribute to Jan Evangelista Purkinje and Hugo Von Mohl for their great contribution to the scientific understanding of the living substance, living material, and living matter.
Purkinje conducted his research on human vision at the University of Prague and later on, he served there as a Professor of Physiology (1850-69). He went to Germany and was appointed the Chair of Physiology and Pathology (1823-50) at the University of Breslau, Prussia. There Purkinje created the world’s first independent Department of Physiology (1839) and the first Physiological Laboratory (Physiological Institute, 1842). He is best known for his discovery of large nerve cells with many branching extensions found in the cortex of Cerebellum of the brain (Purkinje Cells, 1837). He discovered the fibrous tissue that conducts electrical impulses from the ‘pacemaker’ called Atrioventricular node or A-V node along the inside walls of the ventricles to all parts of the heart to help in Cardiac contractile function (Purkinje Fibers, 1839). In 1835, he invented and introduced the scientific term ‘Protoplasm’ to describe the ground substance found inside young animal embryo cells. He discovered the sweat glands of the skin (1833); he discovered the nine configuration groups of Fingerprints used in biometric identification of man (1823); he described the germinal vesicle or nucleus of the unripe ovum that now bears his name (1825), and he noted the protein digesting power of pancreatic extracts (1836).
Hugo Von Mohl named the granular, colloidal material that made up the main substance of the plant cell as “Protoplasm” in 1846. Purkinje invented the word, but Hugo gave more clarity, understanding, and knowing the nature of this ground substance. He viewed cell as an “elementary organ” and in Physiology he explained Protoplasm as an organ of Motion or Movement, Nutrition, and Reproduction. It is the preliminary material in cellular generation. He was the first to propose that new cells are formed by division of preexisting cells and he had observed this process of Cell Division in the algal cells of Conferva glomerata. His observations are very important to understand the Cell Theory that explains cells as the basic building blocks of Life. He was the first to investigate the phenomenon of the stomatal openings in leaves.
Protoplasm is a complex, viscous, translucent solution of such materials as salts and simple sugars with other molecules, mostly proteins and fats, in a colloidal state, that is dispersed but not dissolved in one another. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen constitute more than 90 percent of Protoplasm.
It exhibits properties such as Protoplasmic Streaming or Cytoplasmic Streaming or Motion that is called “Amoeboid Movement.” It has the intrinsic power to change its shape and position.
Protoplasm has the power of Nutrition by which it can attract and obtain the materials necessary for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter/environment.
The living functions such as Nutrition, Cellular Respiration, and Reproduction performed by Cytoplasm involve acquiring, processing, retaining, and using information to perform tasks in a sequential manner for a predetermined purpose and hence describe Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence.
The terms Soul and Spirit belong to the materialistic realm where the Physical Reality of man’s biological existence is established. I have not yet discovered any good reason to use the terms Soul and Spirit as a metaphysical or transcendental Reality.
The Inheritance of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell or Plasma Membrane:
The Functions of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell Membrane or Biological Membrane:
1. Protection: It protects the cell from its surroundings or extracellular environment. Plant cell possess wall over the plasma membrane for extra protection and support.
2. Holding cell contents: Plasma membranes hold the semi fluid protoplasmic contents of the cell intact; thus keeping the individuality of the cell.
3. Selective Permeability: Cell membrane allows only selected or specific substances to enter into the cell and are impermeable to others.
- Gases like O2 and CO2 can diffuse rapidly in solution through membranes.
- Small compounds like H2O and methane can easily pass through where as sugars, amino acids and charged ions are transported with the help of transport proteins.
- The size of the molecules which can pass through the plasma membrane is 1-15 A0. This property is responsible for keeping a cell ‘as a cell’, an individual unit.
4. Shape: It maintains form and shape of the cell. It serves as site of anchorage or attachment of the cytoskeleton; thus providing shape to the cell (especially in animal cells without cell wall).
5. Organelles: Cell membrane delimits or covers all sub-cellular structures or organelles like nucleus, mitochondria, plastids, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, microbodies etc. thus protecting them form the surroundings and also helps in maintaining a constant internal environment.
6. Compartmentalization: Cell membrane separate the cells from their external environment and cell organelle from cytosol. It help the cells and their organelles to have their own microenvironments, structural and functional individuality.
7. Cell Recognition: With the help of glycolipids and glycoproteins on its surface, cell membranes are able to differentiate similar cells from dissimilar ones, foreign substances and cells own materials. Cell recognition is useful for tissue formation and defence against microbes.
8. Antigens: Cell membranes possess antigens which determine blood grouping, immune response, acceptance or rejection of a transplant (graft rejection by MHC’s on plasma membrane).
9. Microvilli: They are microscopic finger like projections of plasma membrane present on some cells like intestinal epithelial cells, which are involved in a wide variety of functions, including increasing surface area for absorption, secretion, cellular adhesion etc.
10. Sheaths of cilia and flagella: Cilia and flagella are projections from the cell; made up of microtubules which are covered by an extension of the plasma membrane.
11. Cytoplasmic bridges in plasmodesmata and gap junctions: Plasmodesmata in plant cells and gap junctions in animal cells; meant for intercellular transport and communication, form cytoplasmic bridges between adjacent cells through plasma membrane.
12. Endocytosis and Exocytosis: Bulk intake of materials or endocytosis occurs through development of membrane vesicles or invagination and engulfing by plasma membrane.
Exocytosis: It is reverse of endocytosis that provides for releasing waste products and secretory materials ot of the cells with the help of plasma membrane.
13. Impulse transmission in neurons: The transmission of a nerve impulse along a neuron from one end to the other occurs as a result of electrical changes across the plasma membrane of the neuron
14. Cell metabolism: Cell membranes control cell metabolism through selective permeability and retentivity of substances in a cell.
15. Electron transport chain in bacteria: In bacteria; Electron transport chain is located in cell membrane.
16. Osmosis through cell membrane: It is movement of solvent molecules (generally water) from the region of less concentrated solution to the region of high concentrated solution through a semi permeable membrane. Here the semi permeable membrane that helps in osmosis is the cell membrane. Eg: Root cells take up water from the soil by osmosis
17. Carrier proteins for active transport: They occur in the cell membranes and control active transport of substances. Example, GLUT1 is a named carrier protein found in almost all animal cell membranes that transports glucose across the bilayer or plasma membrane.
18. Plasma Membrane enzymes: Many enzymes are present on the plasma membrane with wide variety of catalytic activity. Example: Red blood cell plasma membranes contain a number of enzymes such as ATPases, anion transport protein, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, protein kinases, adenylate cyclase, acetylcholinesterase.
19. Cell Membrane Receptors: Receptor on the plasma membrane performs signal transduction, converting an extracellular signal into an intra-cellular signal. Membrane possess receptors for hormones, neurotransmitters, antibodies and several other biochemicals.
20. Plasma membrane assisted Cell movements: Undulation and pseudopodia are cell membrane phenomenon involved in cell movement. Amoeba, macrophages and WBCs move with the helps of temporary organelles like pseudopodia. Pseudopods are temporary cytoplasmic projections of the cell membrane in certain unicellular protists such as Amoeba. Some mammalian cells such as fibroblasts can move over a solid surface by wave like undulations of the plasma membrane.
The Ground Substance of Spiritualism and Spirituality. The vital characteristics, the animating principles of Protoplasm could be known by observing Amoeba proteus. The Living Substance works as an organ of Motion or Movement, as an organ of Nutrition, and as an organ of Reproduction to generate new cells which have a life span of their own. In these physiological functions, I describe the characteristics such as Cognition, Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence as spiritual attributes of Life as they bring functional unity and harmony in the interactions between different parts of the same individual organism while it exists in an environment as a member of a biological community.
The Spirituality of Substance, Function, Organization, Action, and Interactions:
To establish the biological existence of the human organism, I add the concept of Spiritualism and Spirituality to the Cell Theory.
The Single Fertilized Egg Cell has ground substance that is of Spiritual nature and the Spiritualism and Spirituality consists of the following functional, and organizational characteristics:
1. The Cell is Conscious of its own existence and knows its internal condition and knows it external environment.
2. The Cell is intelligent and it has the cognitive abilities like perception and memory to acquire information, to retain information, to recall information, and to use information in the performance of its complex tasks in a sequential manner.
3. The Cell has the ability to show characteristics such as mutual cooperation, mutual tolerance, and display functional subordination and subservience while being independent.
4. The Cell grows, divides, and develops into a complete organism while it acquires substances and energy from an external environment. The power of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm to attract matter found in its external environment is called Nutrition. The Cell continuously transforms matter to build matter of its own kind for its own benefit to sustain its existence with its own identity and individuality. The Organism represents a social group or a biological community of Cells. The Spiritual nature of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm brings this functional harmony and unity in the Social Group or Biotic Community of Cells by bringing together its Essence and Existence.
5. The Cell Theory is incomplete for it does not describe the conditioned nature of the Cell’s existence. The Cell represents a Living System that is thermodynamically unstable. It requires a constant supply of matter and energy from its external environment to sustain its living functions. The concept of Whole Spirituality formulates the connection between the Cell and its external source of matter and energy.
The theoretical claims about Spirit and Soul, the religious and philosophical doctrines of Spiritualism and Spirituality must be verified using the Cell Theory that defines the human organism. To describe Soul or Spirit as nonmaterial or immaterial Self will not help man to know the real or true man.
Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet come together in a Wholesome Relationship as God is the Energy Provider, the Original Source of Matter and Energy for Life.