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Vidyā and Avidyā: Simultaneous and Coterminous?: A Holographic Model to Illuminate the Advaita Debate

Stephen Kaplan
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 57, No. 2 (Apr., 2007), pp. 178-203
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4488090
Page Count: 26
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Vidyā and Avidyā: Simultaneous and Coterminous?: A Holographic Model to Illuminate the Advaita Debate
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Abstract

The Advaita Vedānta notion of ātman/Brahman presents a serious philosophical challenge to this school-namely, it demands that they explain how all (reality) can be undivided, unchanging, and pure consciousness, yet appear to be everything but nondual, unchanging, and pure consciousness. The Advaita answer is avidyā, ajāna (ignorance). This answer tells us that Brahman does not really change; it is only ignorance that makes it appear to change. This answer has engendered as many questions as it has resolved, and it is possible that they can be boiled down to the following: how can vidyā and avidyā be simultaneous and coterminous? After reviewing the Advaita responses to the debates regarding avidyā, which arose within Advaita and between Advaitins and their opponents, a traditional Advaita path will be followed by offering an analogy to illuminate this quandary. The strength of this contemporary analogy, based on holography, lies in its ability to illuminate the nature of Brahman as being without parts, without duality, without change; yet holography presents us with images that appear to change and be with parts.

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