Center for Foundational Study (CFS), PPISR, Bidalur

SMOPh-2015: Science Meets Oriental Philosophy 2015

Poornaprajna Institute of Scientific Research (PPISR) conducted the above one-day international symposium on Dec 8, 2015, at our campus in Bidalur (about 45 km from NIAS), held under the aegis of the Center for Foundational Study, PPISR and as the Bangalore chapter of the Nalanda Dialogs, held almost yearly since 2005.


The scientific enterprise tends to be extrospective. It presupposes that scientists are objective observers, who can study the world around as something external to themselves. But Oriental philosophy tends to be introspective, every now and then turning the gaze inward at the observer herself. The tools of science are experiments and rational analysis. By contrast, those of philosophy are typically a sharpened introspective intuition, certain faith-based or intuitive postulates and rational analysis based on them. The objectives, methodology and language of science and philosophy are quite divergent.

Experience has shown that it is difficult to establish beneficial rules of engagement between the scientific and philosophical communities. Yet their two approaches are complementary and can enrich each other. Philosophy can impart depth, while science imparts rigor.

The "Center for Foundational Study" (CFS) at PPISR attempts to bridge these two knowledge systems, as a particular interpretation of the dream held by Senior Swamiji HH Shri Vibhudesha Teertha Swamiji. The present meeting is an initial step in that direction.


Prof. A. B. Halgeri, Director, PPISR

Scientific Organizing Committee:

  1. Prof. Sisir Roy (NIAS, Bengaluru, India)
  2. Prof. Debjyoti Gangopadhyay (VBU, Jharkhand)
  3. Dr R. Srikanth (PPISR, Bidalur/Bengaluru, India)

Local Organizing Committee:

  1. Mr. S. Aravinda (PPISR)
  2. Mr A. Animesh (PPISR)

External Participants:

  1. Prof. Narasimhan (NIAS, Bengaluru, India)
  2. Prof. Alex Hankey (SVYASA, Jigni, India)
  3. Prof. Ralph Abraham (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, US)
  4. Prof. Henk Barendregt (Chair Found. Math. Comp. Science, Radboud University, Nijmegen)
  5. Dr. Ravindra Pinna (Akash Hospital, Bengaluru, India)
  6. Mr Marek Lyczka (Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland)
  7. Mr Suraj (CFRCE, Bangalore)
  8. Ms Hanaan Hashim

Details of the two panel discussions:

Panel discussion #1: Concept of reality, knowledge and identity: historical, philosophical and physics perspectives

Anchor: Prof. Debajyoti Gangopadhyay

The issues considered will be:

  1. How much of what was ‘traditionally considered to be Knowledge’ can be meaningfully integrated with ‘ another knowledge system of the-then Western origin ‘ reached India by that time? Is there an East/West dichotomy with identifying knowledge with factual information vs experiential understanding.
  2. What are the areas in which classical Indian philosophy and modern science overlap and can gainfully learn from each other. Are there genuinely areas of knowledge where the scientific method of experimentation and deduction must give way to a more intuitive, introspective, faith-based methods? What is the role of societal culture here?
  3. What should be the rules of engagement for science and philosophy to hold a meaningful dialog?
  4. What is the fundamental nature of identity and individuation in neuroscience,  philosophy of consciousness and physics? Is the basic nature of identity epistemic (“state of knowledge”) or ontic (“state of Nature / Reality”)?

Panel discussion #2: Concept of reality, knowledge and causality: physics and neuroscience perspectives

Anchor: Prof. Sisir Roy

The issues considered will be:

  1. What constitutes knowledge? Neurobiologically speaking, in the absence of a model for the cellular basis for cognition, how is knowledge to be thought of as represented in the brain? From the perspective of physics, would the process of gaining knowledge correspond to a discernible reduction in statistical (Shannon) entropy with an associated thermodynamics cost (i.e., requiring consumption of energy). How would philosophers of consciousness relate to such models based on physics or neuroscience?
  2. What is reality? What is its nature in science and philosophy?
  3. Measurement uncertainty and measurement disturbance represent fundamental limits to knowability about physical reality. What is their philosophical significance, if any? Is it related to uncomputability? Is the religious exhortation on faith/belief an acknowledgment of such unknowability?
  4. Nature of causality and physical laws: What fundamental cause engenders physical laws? What source upholds their constancy in space and time? Are they unavoidable or an act of free will on Nature’s part, i.e., a random choice from a space of possible laws? What should be the nature of the putative deepest level of lawfulness or of structure?