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Ananda Coomaraswamy - Gradation and Evolution 2

Ananda Coomaraswamy - Gradation and Evolution 2

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Gradation and Evolution--II
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
 Isis
, Vol. 38, No. 1/2. (Nov., 1947), pp. 87-94.
 Isis
is currently published by The University of Chicago Press.Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtainedprior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content inthe JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/journals/ucpress.html.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community takeadvantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.http://www.jstor.orgThu Nov 29 07:28:41 2007
 
Gradation and Evolution
-
I1
BY ANANDA
K.
COOMARASWAMY
* 
I
HAVE shown in a former article that the concepts implied by the terms "Grada-tion" and "Evolution" are not incompatible alternatives, respectively true andfalse, but only different ways of envisaging one and the same spectacle; or in otherwords, that the mythical notion of a creation of the world
in
principio and
ex
temporeis in no proper sense a contradiction of that of the succession and mutability of speciesin time. This proposition seems to demand, for its further clarification, at least a sum-mary statement of the traditional doctrine of evolution, in which the emergence of aninfinite variety of forms, past, present and future, is taken for granted.In this doctrine, every one of the forms, every phenomenon, represents one of theiipossibilities of manifestation" of an "ever-productive nature" that may be calledeither the God, the Spirit, Natura Naturans or, as in the present context, the "Life"according to which we speak of the forms of life as "living." This Life is the "FirstCause" of lives; but the forms which these lives take is actually determined by the"Second" or "Mediate Causes" that are nowadays often called "forces" or "laws"notably that of heredity. No difficulty is presented here by the variability of the spe-cies; the shape that appears at any given time or place in the history of a "genus,""species," or "individual" is always
hanging.^
All the definitions of these categoriesare really, like "round numbers," indefinite, because the reference is to "things" thatare always becoming and never stop to be, and that
can
only be called "things" by ageneralisation that ignores their variation over some longer or shorter, but alwaysrelatively short "present." The traditional doctrine takes this
flux
for granted, andthat every creature's "life" is one of incessant death and regeneration
(yivca~~,
hava,"becoming"). There are no delimited and monads or egos, but only one ~nlimited.~Every form of life, the psychic included, is composite, and therefore mortal; only thebeginningless Life, that wears these forms as garments are worn, and outworn, can bethought of as endless. There can be no immortality of anything that is not immortalnow and was not immortal before our planet was, before the farthest galaxies began
*The author completed his reading of theproof a few days before he died.
I.
B.
C.
1
"Gradation and Evolution," in Isis
XXXV,
19\44,
PP.
1.5,
16.
Platojs dsrysv+s +bars, Laws
773
E,
,-f.
Sta-sinus as cited in Euthypkro
12
A, and +bars
daAi
in Philo, LA.
2.2.
Gk. +bw=Skr. bhli, to becomeor make become;
$bars
from
$cia
may be corn-pared with Brahma, from blh, to grow or makegrow. ~h~ word PrLva, spiration
or
breath, anddesignating the Spirit ((itman) present as thevital principle in living things, is often translatedas "Life."
8
~t is too often overlooked that "individual"is as a generalisation as "species"; in rela-tion to s~&universals,"
or
much rather,stractions," the realist becomes a nominalist.i~~~b~,.~~emains one, nor <<is" ne; but
we
be-come (yryv6p~~a
 
bhavantj) many
.
.
.
and ifhe is not the same, we cannot say that "he
is,''
but only that he is being transformed as one selfcomes into being from the other
.
. .
"shall be"and "has been," when they are spoken, are ofthemselves a confession of "not being," and it isonly of God, in whose "now" there is neitherfuture nor past, nor older nor younger, that wecan say that "He is" (Plutarch, Moralia
392
D-
393
B)
for which innumerable parallels couldbe cited from traditional sources. The word"phenomenon" implies an "of what?", and ananswer to this question can only be made interms of metaphysics; of the phenomena them-sehes, which are by definition the proper fieldof an empirical and statistical science, which ob-serves their succession, and predicts accordingly,Wecannot say that they are, but only that theyappear.'It is obvious that "we," whose only experi-ence is always in terms of past and present, can-not have an empirical experience of a "nowwithout duration," or "eternity"; our so called"present"
is
not a "now" but only a "nowadays."'AS personalists and individualists we use theexpression
"I"
only for convenience, but do sounconsciousl~; he Buddhist, or any other of themetaphysicians who maintain that to say
"I"
belongs only to God, likewise use the pronounonly for convenience, but do this consciously.
87
 
88
Ananda
K.
Coomaraswamy
their travels. An immortality for "myself" can only be postulated if we exclude fromthe concept of our Self all that is composite and variable, all that is subject to persua-sion; and that is our "end" (entelechy) and "finish" (perfection) in more senses thanone. "Salvation" is from ourselves as we conceive them; and if it appears that "noth-ing" remains, it is agreed that in fact no thing remains; in terms of the traditionalphilosophy, "God" is properly called "no thing," and knows not wlzat he is, becausehe is not any "what."From this point of view, which by no means excludes the facts of evolution asobserved by the biologist, what we have called "Life"
-
and this is only one of thenames of "God," according to his "ever-productive nature" -seeks "experience.""Outward the Self-existent pierced the eyes, therefore creatures see"; which is tosay that eyes have "evolved" because the immanent Life desired to see, and so for allother powers of sensation, thought and action, which are all the names of his acts10rather than "ours." Because of this desire or "will of expression" there is a "descentinto matter" or "origin of life," universally and locally,10
-
La circular natura, ch'8sugello alla cera mortal, fa ben szia arte, ma non distingue l'un dall'altro ostel10,~~sadasad yonim dpadyate.12 The different forms of these births or inhabitations aredetermined by the mediate causes referred to above and which science also knows; norcan any beginning or end of their uniform operation be conceived.13 When and when-ever these causes converge to set up the temporal and spatial environment or contextwithout which a given possibility could not be realised, the corresponding form emerges
l4
or appears: a mammal, for example, could not have appeared in the Silurian, while itcould not but appear when the operation of natural causes had later on prepared theearth for the life of mammals. Every one of these transient forms of species and in-dividuals reflects an archetypal possibility or pattern (pater, father) subsistent in whatis called the "intelligible" as distinguished from our "sensible" world or locus (Skr.loka) of compossibles. There is, for example, an "intelligible Sun," "Sun of the sun,"or "Sun that not all men know with their mind," other than, but represented by thephysical sun; an Apollo other than Helios; and it is actually only of the invisiblepowers, and not of the "irisible gods" that images are made to be used as "supports ofcontemplation."
l5
It is only to the extent that we think and speak of distinct "species"
'This via remotionis is the recognized tech- places
. . .
other fell into good ground
.
. .
thenique of self-naughting and Self-realisation; forfield is the world." For the metaphor of sowingexample, in Buddhism, where my body, feelings, cf. Timaeus 41 and 69. Naught-y=evil, becausethoughts, etc., all "that
is
not my Self," and in ens et bonum convertuntzlr; cf. G. Unthat=Skr.the same way for Walt Whitman, "not Me, my- akytam, sin being always of omission, a gettingself." Modern psychology is an analysis of "what nothing done.is not myself" rather than a technique of Self-""The world is pregnant with the causes ofrealisation. things as yet unborn" (St Augustine, De trin.Maitri Upanisad 11.6 and related BrHhmaaa 3.9, quoted with approval by St Th. Aquinas).texts.Man is the product and heir of past doings'Katha Upanisad 4.1, with the corollary that,(Aitareya Aranyaka 2.1.3, and Buddhism, pas-to see our Self, the direction of vision must besim). Cf. Walt Whitman, "Before
I
was bornreversed. Similarly for Plato (Phaedo 83 B, Rep.out of my mother, generations guided me," and5268 E. Symposium 129).William Blake, "Man is born like a garden, readyByhaddranyaka Upanisad 1.4.7 Similarly forplanted and sown."Philo, and in Islam.
l
"Emerges," i.e., from its prior state of being"'It should be observed that "life"
is
attrib-"in potentia." No reference is intended to theuted to minerals as well
as
to higher organisms; "emergent evolution" or ''emergent mentalism"the problem of an "origin of life" preceding thatof S. Alexander and Lloyd Morgan. Cf. myof the transition from inorganic to organic forms.Time and eternity, 1947, p. 19, note
21.
=Dante, Paradiso 8.127-9. The circular na-
"
Plato, Laws 931
A.
The indication is im-tura is that of the Unmoved Mover who fromportant for the theory of iconography and "imi-his station at the centre of the Wheel of Life is tation" generally. Abstraction ("taking away")its motive power and that of each of its living eliminates qualities, and this is the technique ofwh~elswithin wheels.the "negative theology," or in other words ofProceeds to aughty or naughty (i.e., goodiconoclasm. Iconography or "adequate symbol-or evil) wombs," Maitri Upanisad 3.1. Similarlyism," verbal or visual, attributes qualities, andMatth. 13.3-9 and 27: "Some fell upon stonyis the method of the "affirmative theology"; the

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