at Victor’s Way in Roundwood, Ireland
Our patron is the systems analyst Alan Turing
The split human
The sculpture represents the miserable state of mind of the undecided human.
Refining the Charvaka mind-set
The Charvakas were ancient Indian observers/scientists who probed1 their sense-perceptions of the everyday world2 for their trueness3 content.
They were called nastika4 because they claimed the soul was identical with the body and died with it. Traduced priestly wisdom (i.e. astika) had it that the soul was different from the body and immortal.
The Charvakas claimed that the observed emerged as transient combination of 4 primary, hence true bodies, i.e. earth, water, fire and air.5 At death the combination dissolved without residue.6 They claimed that perception of the given did not validate notions such as God, the immortal soul (or self), karma, heaven, hell, moksha, reward and punishment for moral failings. And that those notions were simply fantasies7 invented by priests to enrich and empower themselves.
From the foregoing the Charvakas deduced that the smartest thing to do in the here and now was to increase one’s pleasure.8
Fast forward to the 21st century. The Charvaka mind-set9 has not changed. But its perception capability has been upgraded by vastly enhanced instruction sensing and in-formation analysing technology.10
And so the modern Charvaka asks the same questions as did his ancient and rather primitive ancestor. He too wants to understand the nature of realness/truth, how life/bodies emerge, the purpose of life, if any,11 and how to get from A to Z12 with greatest amount of pleasure.
© 2021 by Victor Langheld
1. To wit: ‘chewed on’, analysed, zoomed in and so enlarged the given/perceived to gain a more precise view.
2. Because they probed the given, i.e. the every day world, they were also called Lokayatas.
3. Or realness. In short, the Charvaka mind-set sought valid/true (i.e. real) knowledge.
4. To wit: ‘deniers or negativists’ (Frauwallner 1973)
5. For which reason later translators simple renamed them materialists.
6. Meaning that there was no after-life, i.e. future, no immortal soul and no retribution for good and bad deeds.
7. Indeed placebos; or pain reducing opioids (so Marx).
Tiffany, the dung beetle
The dung-beetle (or scarab) was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as manifestation of universal renewal, rebirth, regeneration and so on. Here, in Victor’s Way, the Charvaka Ashram, it represents the recycling function basic to all dynamic emergent systems.
The dung-beetle was made by D.V. Murugan in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.
8. For which reason they (like the Epicureans in Greece) were vilified as hedonists.
9. To wit: the scientific mind-set
10. For instance by electronic microscopes and radio telescopes.
11. i.e. in particular and in general.
12. i.e. from birth to death.