I was riffing about these guys last week when discussing a return to a more 'traditional' practice. P. in the relation to his wager and K's 'Leap of faith'. I've been trying to decide which is most appropriate.
At first I was going to go with Pascal. He's basically addressing the question of Certainty. He comes to the conclusion that we can't know/prove rationally, and with Certainty, that there is a God. Therefore in the absence of certainty we can look to the wager. Do I have more to gain from believing in God than not. He concludes that we do ( for the sake of the argument anyway), IE. everlasting life, therefore it's better to bet on God.
'Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation...'.
Pascal's Wager from Pensées section III 233 (Dutton p67)
I don't know if the Ashtanga method works or not. Seems to work for a lot of people and when it does seem to work it's quite something. I'm going to be practicing yoga anyway so might as well practice the method, all to gain nothing to lose.
In Fear and Trembling, a glorious little book by the way, K, is looking at the question of faith. He considers the example of Abraham. God tells Abraham he will have a son whom he will name Isaac who will grow up and become the father of a nation. Isaac is born but a few years later God speaks to Abraham once again and tells him to sacrifice Isaac. Now there's a problem. How can Isaac be sacrificed and yet still grow up to be the father of a nation, both can't be true. K concludes that in sincerely deciding to sacrifice Isaac, at his gods command, Abraham is making a 'Leap of faith',
Both instances can't be true, that would be absurd (principium contradictionis, Nice irony here in that the rule of contradiction itself can't be subjected to reason, but I digress ). A leap of faith is a leap into the absurd, the absurd being the non rational, the absence of reason. Or something that can not be subjected to reason, to rational thought IE. outside of our pervading rationale.
I've spent the last twenty-five years studying western Metaphysics and Ontology and still barely get what's going on half the time and yet I'm born into, and trained in this tradition. Now perhaps I can read some Indian metaphysics, study the Vedas and Upanishads a little and chant my YogaSutra's, (I have, somewhat and I do) I can compare Sankara with my boy Heidegger, but to what extent can I really understand this from my western perspective?
Perhaps if I lived and studied there long enough, though even then I wonder.
I'm not sure I can reason when it comes to the metaphysical aspect of Ashtanga. I can't seem to be be rational when I consider the Subtle body, Prana and Bandha, or the Chakras. These fit comfortably within Indian metaphysics perhaps but awkwardly within our own. I suspect we have to transform them too much, to grasp them from our own tradition.
The Tao that can be spoken isn't the Tao
If we can talk about these from a western perspective then perhaps we aren't talking about them at all.
If it is indeed the case that I cant consider the Indian metaphysical aspect of Ashtanga from within the Western Philosophical tradition then I cant subject it to reason and by default should perhaps refer to it, by definition, as absurd (in a logical rather than critical sense).
Please don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying the 'Subtle body' say, is an absurd notion as in, it's a stupid idea. I'm just questioning whether we can approach the subtle body rationally from a western perspective and tradition.
If this is indeed the case then perhaps I have recourse to K's Leap of faith.
I don't understand how or why it works, it makes no sense to me how it can work but I will follow the method having faith that it will work.
Of course if you want to argue that the method and it's result isn't absurd, is, indeed, rational, and can be subjected to reason within our own tradition then it's not a question of faith at all and there's no need to call upon K or P.
I don't have faith, my apologies, Soren. I do accept the rules of induction, however (for what they are). It (the Ashtanga method) worked for them and there's a good chance it'll work for me. So here's a tenner, Blaise, put it on the grey.
* Despite the above I should point out that I'm very much aware that India has a glorious Logical tradition that predates Aristotle by several hundred years. Patanjali, for instance, refers to Logic as being one of the three forms of correct knowledge in the Sutra's. My argument above is based on metaphysical and cultural traditions rather than logical ones.