A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 1

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1922 | 212,082 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of feelings, the ultimate substances: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the ninth part in the series called the “the kapila and the patanjala samkhya (yoga)”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 9 - Feelings, the Ultimate Substances


Another question that arises in this connection is the position of feeling in such an analysis of thought and matter. Sāṃkhya holds that the three characteristic constituents that we have analyzed just now are feeling substances. Feeling is the most interesting side of our consciousness. It is in our feelings that we think of our thoughts as being parts of ourselves. If we should analyze any percept into the crude and undeveloped sensations of which it is composed at the first moment of its appearance, it comes more as a shock than as an image, and we find that it is felt more as a feeling mass than as an image. Even in our ordinary life the elements which precede an act of knowledge are probably mere feelings.

As we go lower down the scale of evolution the automatic actions and relations of matter are concomitant with crude manifestations of feeling which never rise to the level of knowledge. The lower the scale of evolution the less is the keenness of feeling, till at last there comes a stage where matter-complexes do not give rise to feeling reactions but to mere physical reactions. Feelings thus mark the earliest track of consciousness, whether we look at it from the point of view of evolution or of the genesis of consciousness in ordinary life. What we call matter complexes become at a certain stage feeling-complexes and what we call feeling-complexes at a certain stage of descent sink into mere matter-complexes with matter reaction.

The feelings are therefore the things-in-them-selves, the ultimate substances of which consciousness and gross matter are made up. Ordinarily a difficulty might be felt in taking feelings to be the ultimate substances of which gross matter and thought are made up; for we are more accustomed to take feelings as being merely subjective, but if we remember the Sāṃkhya analysis, we find that it holds that thought and matter are but two different modifications of certain subtle substances which are in essence but three types of feeling entities.

The three principal characteristics of thought and matter that we have noticed in the preceding section are but the manifestations of three types of feeling substances. There is the class of feelings that we call the sorrowful, there is another class of feelings that we call pleasurable, and there is still another class which is neither sorrowful nor pleasurable, but is one of ignorance, depression (viṣāda) or dullness.

Thus corresponding to these three types of manifestations as

  1. pleasure,
  2. pain,
  3. and dullness,

and materially as

  1. shining (prakāśa),
  2. energy (pravṛtti),
  3. obstruction (niyama),

there are three types of feeling-substances which must be regarded as the ultimate things which make up all the diverse kinds of gross matter and thought by their varying modifications.

Footnotes and references:


Kārikā, 12, with Gauḍapāda and Nārāyanatīrtha.