By A.C. Paranjpe
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Extra resources for Theoretical Psychology: The Meeting of East and West
In order to help understand the typical Indian view of the uses and limitations of various types or "levels" of knowledge, it is useful to refer INTRODUCTION 37 to certain conventional concepts. In India there is a traditional distinction between para vidya or the knowledge which is beyond the power of the senses and reason, and apara vidya which is within the reach of reason. Para vidya, which refers to the knowledge of the Individual Self (atman) and that of the Universal Self (Brahman), is considered attainable in a special or superior state of consciousness.
Technology, the systematic application of scientific knowledge, is a double-edged weapon. Whether it is a simple device such as the wheel, or the complex technology of inducing nuclear fission, what one accomplishes depends on the intentions of the user. The wheels that can carry a seriously ill patient to the hospital can also be used to carry guns, and nuclear power that can be used to generate electricity for peaceful purposes can also be used for the destruction of mankind. The scientist can hardly remain neutral 26 CHAPTER 1 concerning use of the results of his research.
One does not need much knowledge of psychology to recognize that, at least in some respects, two single persons are quite different from one another. What is the justification, then, for putting together all the psychologists and psychologies in the whole of the West and contrasting them with those of a large continent such as India? The answer to this question is that, despite diversities within the continents of the Western Hemisphere and the subcontinent of India, it makes sense to study Western philosophy as a field distinct from Indian philosophy.