Friday, 25 January 2013

Umaswati & Entropy

Jainism was late in coming to the attention of Western savants. Interestingly, Jacobi, the pioneer in this regard, started off as a Mathematician and Umaswati too was a mathematician of repute. His doctrine of the perfectibility of all beings has an interesting consequence viz. the heat death of the karmic world such that all beings attain a univocal kevalya and thus Time with its infinite cycles is but the vanishingly small denumerable component of the nondenumerably dense eternity of universal bliss.
This result arises because, though all beings have free will, nevertheless
1) acts which generate karma have to involve some other jiva and acts which prevent the ingress of karma determining particles can't arise by Grace because substance can't act directly on substance. For Narratology, such a doctrine gives rise to something like a stable marriage problem such that out of the tangled events of the jiva's innumerable past lives there emerged stable antagonists or reciprocal obstructors. Umaswati treats of this in his consideration of the concept of VIGHNAKARANAMANTARAAYASYA |6-27|- 'Creating obstacles  constitutes  the  cause of  the influx of obstructing karma. Obstructing karma prevents a worldly soul from achieving its potential.'
2) Since an askesis exists such that some jivas can migrate out of the world of karma to kevalya it follows that the amount of Gibbs free energy in the system degrades.  Indeed, karma is 'exergy' because it alone can produce work, kevalya can't do so, thus- considered as a closed system, which it must be if jivas are eternal, the Jain Universe is subject to entropy and suffers a heat death when all Suffering ends and Time itself becomes but an evanescent, far-from-equilibrium aberration governed by a sort of Fluctuation Theorem such that though Jainism's ontological distinctiveness is preserved,  it becomes indistinguishable, from the point of view of eschatology, from other optimistic soteriologies, including Theistic ones.

It is interesting that the various Sociological Theories of History that Thermodynamic notions of equilibrium- predating even Carnot's Theorem, for example, the sorts of Utilitarian Utopianism inspired by 'the baronised Yankee, Benjamin Thompson (alias Count Rumford)'- similarly postulate the heat death of Profit, Speculation, which, of course, was the original meaning of karma. Only when it allowed itself to be degraded to work, that too of a ritualistic or rule governed sort,  did it become the victim of Soteriology.
The irony here is that, to whatever degree of atheism we might aspire, we remain caught in the reciprocal process of Vighnakaranam- maliciously obstructing each other but doing so in the name of Philosophy and the Greater Good- both now regarded as work, not profit, a joyless audit, not a giddy speculation, and subsumed under a wider Socio/Ecological askesis which repudiating poetry- or repudiated by it, for Suka flies by the nets of his father, Ved Vyasa- drags down the kavi, the maker, the shaper, the widsith, to the fallen world of karma.

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