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They wrongly assume that the self comes into existence through the I-consciousness which contrasts itself with consciousness of objects; rather, it is because the self exists as a synthetic principle that the I-consciousness can emerge with pure consciousness as its transcendental presupposition (NS, 333). Therefore, while there is a ‘strong tendency’ on the part of some Indian philosophers such as Haldar to minimize the distinctions between Advaita and Hegelian absolutism, there is in fact a ‘deep chasm’ between the two: Hegelian idealism is based on the mediated unity of the concrete universal, whereas Advaita is grounded in a pure immediacy which is not an organic unity of distinct individuals (NS, 277–79).

Advaita as the Fulfilment of Hegel and Bradley

Mukerji’s basic theme that Advaita rejects the Hegelian Absolute as a spiritual unity-in-difference which expresses itself in parts also appears in Raju and Shrivastava, who expressly present the Absolute of Advaita as the most consistent resolution of the conceptual puzzles involved in ‘relating’ the one and the many. By drawing on various classical Advaitins such as Śrī Harṣa, they argue that the Hegelian Absolute, which they read as a relational whole of the eternal and the temporal, is logically contradictory—the Advaita of Śaṁkara, in contrast, cannot be placed under any categories of thought, including identity-in-difference which is a relational category. They highlight the point that Bradley places his Absolute above the operations of categorical thought: according to Bradley, relational experience is riddled with inner contradictions which can be resolved only in the ‘immediate experience’ of the supra-rational Absolute. Bradley’s Appearance and Reality contains various turns of phrase which, for his Indian Vedantic interlocutors, are reminiscent of the Advaita theme of māyā as the principle of the phenomenal world’s inexplicability, for instance, Bradley’s statement that ‘[t]he fact of appearance, and of the diversity of its particular spheres, we found was inexplicable. Why there are appearances, and why appearances of such various kinds, are questions not to be answered’ (Bradley 1893: 511). However, while Bradley’s Absolute approximates to the Absolute of Advaita in some respects, his Vedantic readers ultimately reject his system on the grounds that he retains the Hegelian error of regarding the Absolute as an organic whole of interrelated elements.

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