The Nominalist Conundrum

An attack on Bhattacharya’s stance concerning the Ātman revolves around the philosophical position of the Nominalists. Nominalism rejects the reality of Universals positing that everything has to do with individual particulars as they are in themselves, ergo not really any Absolute but just distinct units of physical, tangible material. Nominalism is the direct antecedent of Modernism. Hence it is a rhetorical device at the expense of the Real and Absolute.

Nominalism turned this world on its head. For the nominalists, all real being was individual or particular and universals were thus mere fictions. Words did not point to real universal entities but were merely signs useful for human understanding. (Michael Allen Gillespie, The Theological Origins of Modernity, pg. 14)

A Nominalist would accuse Bhattacharya of relying exclusively on the notion that what is not ātman apophatically points to what ātman really and truly is—the ātman-brahman, but in doing so depends upon one believing in one actual transcendent thing; another way of stating this is by negating something indicates that something must exist in the first place in order to be negated. This is faulty reasoning as indicated in the following from our series on Vasubandhu and the Absolute:

What is meant by the Essence of the Absolute?

Stcherbatsky’s translation:

The unreality of both (The object and the subject),
And the reality (subjacent) of this unreality,
(This is the essence of the Absolute),
T’is neither (exclusively) assertion,
Nor is it (exclusively) negation
(And the Constructor of phenomena)
Is neither different from it Nor is it quite the same.

This indicates the [unreality] of duality. Yet, the Real all-encompassing background of this unreality is the Monistic Absolute. If the Monistic-Essence were not the background [sole Reality] of the defiled [duality], then the duality would somehow subsist on its own.

All of this is critical because the Absolute is not [a thing].

Conclusion. We have thus elucidated the essence of this our Absolute from all (kinds of view-points, viz.) 1) it has a negative essence (as a negation of duality), 2) it has a positive essence (subjacent to) the negative one, 3) it has a monistic essence (as the merger of object and subject), 4) it has an (undefinable) essence, being neither identical nor separate (from the Thing-in-ltself).

It is our stance here at Unborn Mind Zen that the best way out of the nominalist trap is through this Monistic Idealism—or the Absolute primacy of the One Unborn Mind. It is the via antiqua vs via moderna.

There is, then, in this qualitative monotheism a final divine unity beyond the multiplicity of the world, a deeper unifying nature behind the cosmos. Divinity seems thus to be the final inclusive unity behind the manifest plurality of the world’s plurality, the ultimate completeness that transcends but resolves its fractured multiplicity. (John Peter Kenney, Mystical Monotheism.)

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