Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

He was born into a Telugu family at Tirutani in Tamil Nadu. He was inspired by the Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions.

Metaphysics – He was of the opinion that reality is Brahman who is spiritual, transcendent and absolute. He called it spiritual because it is not material. He called it transcendental because world cannot exhaust it and it is absolute because it is pure consciousness and pure freedom with infinite possibility.

Epistemology – Radhakrishnan accepts three sources of knowledge which are as follows;

    • Sense experience – It acquaints us with the outer characteristics of the external world, thereby we come to know the sensible qualities of the objects.
    • Intellectual cognition – It depends on analysis and synthesis of the data of perception. He calls logical knowledge indirect and symbolic. We are able to handle and control the objects of nature with such knowledge.
    • Intuitive Apprehension – It is a higher mode of apprehension where thought, feeling and volition are blended into a whole (there is no duality). It is a type of knowing by becoming. Here, the knower establishes an identity with the known. For example, No intellectual deliberation can give us any idea of the emotion of anger that can only be known by being angry.

Intuition – It finds expression in the world of action and social relations. Intuition is the ultimate form of experience, in the sense that it constitutes the fullest and therefore the most authentic realization of the Real (Brahman). In such experiences, thought and reality come together and a creative merging of subject and object results”. While the experience itself transcends expression, it also provokes it. The provocation of expression is testimony to the creative impulse of intuition.

Universality of outlook – It refers to his faith in the basic oneness of humanity, as all are identical with Brahman or sharing the same qualities of God from whom all came or received the common quest.

Religion – It is a personal intuitive experience which gives an insight into the nature and experience of reality. In his book, Idealistic view of Life, he calls it spiritual life – the culmination of intellectual, moral and aesthetic activity. Religion also means spirituality which is impossible without ethics. Religion is universal to the human race. Wherever justice and charity have force of law, there is God’s kingdom’, there is Religion.

Hindu ethics – Ancient Rishis of India were not only spiritual masters, they were also psychologists, who looked at the motives behind our actions and realized that desires are the very center of our life, thereby explained purushartas (the four supreme ends of human craving). Basically they are four – parental instincts and sexual instincts (Kama), desire for power and wealth (artha), desire for social harmony and common good (dharma), and union with the unseen (moksa). The greatness of the person consists in making a co-operation of the four and bringing an overarching unity in life.

Freedom is one of the foundations of ethics – It can be understood in three levels;

    • Psychological freedom – It is freedom to act in a way that one desires.
    • Moral freedom – It is freedom to choose between alternatives with knowledge and volition but here knowledge may not be perfect, so error may occur. For instance, we have made enormous progress in scientific inventions but in absence of moral and spiritual progress, our natures are becoming mechanized and we are reduced to atoms in a community.
    • Spiritual freedom – It leads to integral liberation (liberation of the ‘whole human’), not like economic or political liberation. For the cultivation of a complete human being, we require the cultivation of inward peace, the grace and joy of souls overflowing in love.

Education – The object of education is to bring forth the ethical human, the human in whom all the capacities are fully developed. Being truly educated means having the light to see the truth and the strength to make it prevail.

Social and Political Philosophy – All human beings are of equal worth, entitled to the same fundamental rights. Human being is the most concrete embodiment of the Spirit on earth and anything that damages one’s dignity is morally wrong. The state that governs least is the best, thus he supports Democratic form of government.

Economics – Social justice is possible with economic justice. He opposed both communism and capitalism. He advocated an international state in which the differences need not be fused, but they need not conflict.