What is The Role of Religion and Philosophy? – by Deepak Chopra

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The Future of God (A Conversation between Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Kyra Phillips, CNN)

Deepak Chopra speaks of the role philosophy serves in helping us question the foundations of how we gain knowledge by examining the observer, or consciousness.

Kyra: So what’s the role of religion and what’s the role of philosophy?

Deepak: I think philosophy especially (pauses)… religion has a role, it brings people together, makes them sometimes at the cost of guilt and punishment, makes them you know… you must behave well, treat others properly. I don’t believe in imposed morality which is just jealousy with a halo. So, I think religion traditionally as ideology and dogma has a very little role if any.

But then there’s philosophy and I think philosophy is something very relevant particularly if you understand the two domains: epistemology and ontology. So let me define them. So you know if you go to the dictionary you will find these definitions, which might make it quite difficult to understand what epistemology is. Epistemology is how do we, how do we know what’s true and how do we get knowledge of what’s true? The answer in science is we get knowledge by observation and empirical evidence. But as I just explained to you, observation and empirical evidence already presumes that there’s a consciousness in which you can do the observation and you can measure… it already presumes that without explaining consciousness. So epistemology says can we trust this method to giving us the truth? Is what we see what is? Is what we don’t see the result of what we see? And how does that happen? So also epistemology looks at the limits of our perceptual apparatus, limits of the extension of our senses, limits of the brain. Why do we assume that the brain right now as a conscience is the final product of evolution? So epistemology says how do we gather knowledge and how do we trust it?

What about a honeybee that’s looking at a flower? Does it see the same flower that you and I see? Because… it doesn’t respond to the same wavelengths of light. What does a honeybee see when it sees a flower? It couldn’t see the same flower but yet it must see honey from a distance so it must have some sense of honey because it goes for it.

What is a bat who experiences the world through the echo of ultrasound experience?

What is a chameleon? A chameleon’s eyeballs moves on two different axes. You can’t even remotely imagine what the world looks like to a chameleon. What about a dolphin, what about elephants, what about an insect with 100 hundred eyes looking at Deepak and Kyra? What’s he see? So the question is what’s the real look of the world? What is the real texture of the world? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What does it sound like? And the answer, there’s no such thing. It depends on who’s looking, what kind of brain they have, what kind of sensory apparatus they have, what kind of information is going in, and ultimately what’s happening in the brain. And we don’t know how that turns into perception, reality. But we say its reality, but there’s no such thing. Epistemology says question the method of knowing and the limits of knowing. There’s the known, the unknown, and the unknowable. Mostly it’s invisible anyway to begin with.

The second discipline is ontology.


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