The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of Logos in philosophy and theology, not restricted to Greek philosophy, but as it is found in the mystical philosophies of the east as well as in modern physics. The main argument of this research work would be that the metaphysical concept of Logos as found in ancient Greek philosophy, leads us to a view of the universe (world, or Kosmos) which is very similar to the views held by mystics as well as by modern physicists. The parallels to the ancient Greek concept of Logos as seen in the fragments of Heraclitus appear not only in the Vedas of Hinduism, in the I Ching, or in the Buddist Sutras, but also in modern physics. The contents of the text aim at showing a striking agreement and an essential harmony between the ancient Greek philosophy, the Eastern philosophical and religious thought and modern physics. The two basic themes of the concept of Logos “the unity and interrelationship of all phenomena” and “the intrinsically dynamic nature of the universe” can be found to a great degree in Eastern wisdom as well as in modern physics. Despite of differences amongst the various schools of Eastern mysticism, they all emphasize the basic unity of the universe, which is the central feature of their teachings. All believe in the cosmos as one inseparable reality forever in motion, alive, organic, spiritual and material at the same time.
With the hypothesis that the concept of Logos, as seen in ancient (Presocratic) Greek philosophy, has parallels in Eastern religious and philosophic thought as well as in modern science, I shall, for clarity and simplicity, examine Logos, as discussed in philosophy, in religion, and science, in separate sections of my paper.
1. Logos in Philosophy
The inquisitiveness to know the world is bound to be as old as mankind is. The earliest, pre-rational or irrational mythical explanations of the world led to many unsolved problems and to dissatisfaction. With the development of reason new forms of explanations emerged: “generalizable and systematic rather than ad hoc, naturalistic rather than having recourse to supernatural gods and powers, and backed by arguments open to inspection instead of assertions based on authority or mere durability”.1 In light of this emergence of a strong desire for a rational explanation of the perplexing problems, the meaning and theory of Logos, perhaps for the first time, is discussed by the Presocratic philosophers” who were Phusikoi (from which comes the world physics), the speculators on the working of nature.”2 The concerns of ancient Greek philosophy were centered on various philosophical problems, one of which was under the heading of permanence and change. In order to have an overall and ultimate explanation of the world, the search of something stable behind the restless world, something that binds the plurality of objects and diversity into one permanent unified cosmos was a necessity. The Greek word Kosmos (from which we derive cosmos) implies a universe, which is ordered and beautiful in arrangement, and therefore in principle capable of explanation.3 With this introductory remark let us deal with the meaning, concept and theory of Logos in philosophy, specially in Greek philosophy
The term Logos is one of the main concepts of Greek philosophy — “a term whose original meaning was universal law.”4 “Logos in Greek and Hebrew means Metaphysics, the unifying principle of the world.”5 It is a common term in ancient philosophy and theology “expressing an idea of immanent reason in the world, under various modifications.”6 Though the idea of Logos, is reflected in one form or the other, in Indian, Egyptian and Persian systems of thought, it was developed mainly in Hellenic and Hebrew philosophy.”7 Before we examine the meaning and development of this concept, let us consider Logos in its clear meaning as conceived and used by some of the philosophers.
The Greek Heraclitus held that “the world is animated and kept in order by Fire — this fire is the Logos. It is the power of order in the world and the power itself. It thus became the unifying feature of the Heraclitean system.”8 Heraclitus spoke of Logos in the sense “that everything proceeds according to Logos, which is eternal, universal and essential.”9 Plato and Aristotle understood Logos as “a law of being and principle of logic.”10 Among the Stoics, the term “Logos, denoted the law of physical and spiritual worlds in so far as they merged in a pantheistic unity.”11 To them God was immanent in the world constituting its vitalizing force and the law guiding the universe, which they called Logos; insofar all things develop from this force, they called it spermaticos Logos.”12 Philo of the Judaic-Alexandrian school (1st century A.D.) developed the doctrine of Logos as “a creative divine force (reason) acting as a mediator between God, the world and man.”13 He hit upon Logos as “a union between the systems, retaining qualities of Stoic Logos and Hebrew Logos.”14 We find Logos in a much- restricted form in the system of emanations of Neoplatonism, in which “Logos was identified with Christ… Hegel in his philosophy described Logos as an absolute concept.”15 In oriental philosophy concepts analogous to Logos are Tao and in a certain sense Rta and/or Dharma.
In our conclusion, the term Logos means a law, which is eternal and universal. But at the same time, the word Logos has more than one meaning. Even in the days of Heraclitus, the word Logos was polysemic, i.e., covered a broad range of notions, which were closely linked in the Greeks’ minds and therefore needs different words to be translated into modern English.16 Logos, thus can mean “word”, “speech”, “story”, “argument”, “teaching” “calculation”, “relationship”, “proportion.” However, the philosophic meaning of the term Logos “can best be expressed by the word “Law” understood as an inner essential connection of things and phenomena.”17
1.2. The Hellenic Logos
As earlier stated, the meaning and theory of Logos were developed in Hellenic and Hebrew philosophy in the ancient periods of the west. Let us first see the stages of development of thought in Hellenic philosophy: Heraclitus, the Stoics, Philo, and the Neoplatonics.
Heraclitus is a figure who stimulates great interest because of his ideas and his method of presenting his ideas. His central problem was that of reconciling change and constancy. Heraclitus’ famous view is that everything is in flux; everything is a process; there is no being, only becoming. Things come to be and pass away under the influence of a tension of opposites; if some quality exists, then so much its opposite. The only factor in the world order not subject to change is the Logos, an objective overall controlling force of the processes, which determines the nature of the world, and which can be known only to the limited extent to which our soul is part of the divine Logos. Sometimes, Heraclitus speaks of the Logos in the abstract terms of controlling law of measure and proportion, at other times it is apparently identified with the cosmic fire.18 For example, he points out that we cannot step in the same river twice since the water is in constant flow, nevertheless, we identify it as the same river. The being of the river is maintained constant. Logos refers to a rational law whereby the existence of a thing is maintained. “God enters Heraclitus’s cosmology as embodying all opposites, and as the fire, which is the reality behind appearance acting on the world in agreement with Logos, and which maintains an equal proportion of opposites producing all things.”19
Logos is the central notion of Heraclitus’s philosophy and to him Logos means not only law but also fire, God, soul, mind, unity and unit. Fire as conceived by Heraclitus is characterized by its Logos. His Fire and Logos were understood as two different aspects of reality: “Fire represents its qualitative and variable nature, Logos, its structural stability, the former stands for change, the later for its proportion.”20
Heraclitus taught that we inhale the Logos by breathing. He says “when a man is asleep, his reason departs, and when he wakes up it returns so that his soul is like coals or amber which glow brighter when brought near the fire and fade when removed from it.” It is indeed worth noting in Heraclitus the affinity of the soul with Logos and of the fire with life and knowledge. The soul in Heraclitus, “is a part of the universe, which is everlasting Fire and Logos.” On the other hand Logos, as the faculty of thinking, is common to all” (Aleksey Bogomolov 1985, 113) and “all men have the capacity of knowing themselves and acting with moderation”( Aleksey Bogomolov 1985, 116). Logos is common and everybody can grasp it and attain wisdom — however, according to fragment 2, “most men live as if they had a private understanding of their own.”
In our conclusion of Heraclitus’s concept and theory of Logos, we can say that Logos is the rational necessity of being, and the intelligence of nature addressed to man, though he may be too stupid to understand it. What nature says when you have listened, not to me but to Law (Logos) is that it is wise to agree that all things are one (Aleksey Bogomolov 1985, 50). Although this Logos exists forever, “men are always incapable of understanding it, both before they hear it and when they have heard it for the first time” (Aleksey Bogomolov 1985, 50).
Heraclitus’s concept of the universe is therefore “a two-story universe.” One is the world, which is material with its conflicting opposites. But there is another with the universal law, which matter obeys and yet is beyond the material: “The name by which the laws of nature have come to be known is the Logos. Men are associated with it, he declared, yet they are separated from it. It is a unity, for all laws are related.”21 Finally, we see in Heraclitus’s philosophy the all-encompassing role of Logos: One divine law governing the world — the Logos.
1.3 The Stoics
Compared to other schools of philosophy, Stoicism is less Greek, as the early Stoics were mostly Syrian and the later ones mostly Roman. Despite of being not typically Greek, its most fitting place, as chosen by Zeno of Citium (340-265 BCE) the founder of the school, was Athens. “Zeno was a materialist, whose doctrines were mainly a combination of Cynicism and Heraclitus.”22 We should know that the main doctrines with which the Stoics were concerned were cosmic determinism and human freedom and their main importance was ethical. Objectively the stoic philosophy is aiming at the true end of life, which is freedom from the disturbing desires and the pressure of external things, and at the discipline of the mind that shall enable it to find satisfaction within itself.23 To the Stoic, his virtue is an end in itself. And even then, there were two respects in which Stoics’s teachings bore fruit; these were, on the one hand, a theory of knowledge, and on the other, the doctrine of natural law and natural rights. “Greek logic was wholly deductive, and this raised the question of first premises. First premises had to be, at least in part, general, and no method existed to prove them. The Stoics held that there are certain principles, which are luminously obvious and the basis of the deduction.”24
To the Stoics, “the reality is an organic whole, an intimate combination of form and matter, soul and body, through which one universal life pulsates.”25 This connected whole is called indifferently God, or Nature’s Logos. Man is a part of universal Nature and conforms with Nature. “The world of material nature is the sole reality but it is not dead matter. It is a living being, informed by a rational soul — it is God. This soul of the world, the Logos or rational principle is everywhere present as a more active and subtle kind of matter.”26 Tertullian says that, according to Zeno, God runs through the material world as honey runs through a honeycomb. According to Diogenes Laertius, Zeno held that the general law, which is right reason pervading everything, is the same as Zeus, the supreme head of the government of the universe; God, Mind, Destiny, Zeus are one thing.27 The doctrine of Logos is therefore a capital element in the system of the Stoics. With their teleological views of the world they naturally predicted an active principle pervading it and determining it. This operative principle is called both Logos and God”.28
1.4 Philo Judaeus
Philo (20 BCE? – 54 AD?) was a contemporary of Christ. Though he was orthodox in religion, he was a Platonist in philosophy. He was much impressed and influenced by the Stoics and Neopythagoreans. Philo’s doctrine is the outcome of three forces — Platonism, Stoicism, and Judaism. Before we expound on Philo’s doctrine Logos, let us briefly indicate the nature of the problem that Philo was dealing with.
Scriptures already described the conception of God and asserted that God is unknowable, God is super-sensuous and has no qualities, he can only be apprehended through revelation. This is what scriptures said, running counter to all philosophical traditions of Greece. In Greek philosophy reason is regarded as Divine and is identified with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. To overcome these apparently inseparable difficulties, Philo resorts to what was, in fact, nothing but a trick: taking advantage of the polysemy of the Greek term Logos meaning both Law and Word, he identifies the rational principle of the universe, the law of nature, with God’s word enabling Philo to reconcile, as if by magic, the Scriptures and Hellenistic philosophy, mystic revelation, and inquisitive thought.29
Philo describes Logos as the “inherent law” and the “soul of the world”, as the “universal reason” that governs the cosmos in the same way as man’s mind controls the movements of the body. The world and man are respectively the Macrocosmos and Microcosmos. By his rational soul man assimilates to divine Logos and by his body made of parts, to the cosmic whole as the abode or body of Logos.30 Philo asserts that “everyman carries a particle of the divine Logos and that the Logos moves in a circle called fate by most people.” In the religious philosophy of Philo, we find that God played a much greater role. “The highest layer next to God Himself contains Ideas, then comes the Logos (the totality of ideas), the Divine Spirit (later to be called the Holy Ghost) the Angels, Man, and finally Matter.”31 Philo’s doctrine of Logos is based on Stoic and Pythagorean concepts mixed with the Biblical image of God as creator; it is a composition of both Greek philosophical doctrines and the Hebrew Old testament. At times Philo’s Logos is independent of God (because of God’s remoteness); at other times Logos is simply the Reason of God. Philo’s monism obliges God to act in the world through His mediating force.32
Philo’s doctrine of Logos preserves the monotheistic idea and yet afforded the description of the divine activity in terms of Hellenic philosophy. He was thus “able to make Logos theory a bridge between Judaism and Greek philosophy.33 Philo’s conception of Logos is not only “the principle of reason informing the infinite variety of things, and so creating the World-Order” but also the divine dynamic, the energy, and self-revelation of God.
Plotinus (204 – 269 AD) the last of the great philosophers of antiquity, born in Egypt and lived in Rome, is considered to be the founder of Neoplatonism. Since Neoplatonism is a new version of Plato’s philosophy it gives a new interpretation to Plato’s theories regarding change and permanence and God. The basic principles of Neoplatonism are “the idea of integration of Platonic philosophy and Aristotelianism, criticism of the stoic doctrine of the corporeal soul, and the doctrine of the unity of intelligence, which divides only by descending into mortal bodies, however, diminishing or losing its identity.”34 We find the Neoplatonists’ interpretation of Logos to be somewhat similar to Philo’s interpretation. The Neoplatonist doctrines, i.e., “The Doctrine of God”, “The Relation of God and the World”, “The Process of Salvation” clearly reflect that it is a religious philosophy, which connects itself closely with the consciousness of evil and the felt need for salvation.35 However, despite of a long discussion about the One, the Soul, the Mind, and the Body, Logos is used as a term identifying Christ. Logos should thus be interpreted as “reason” in this connection. According to Neoplatonism, One reveals itself through emanation in the ideas of Nous (Mind, Intellect, Spirit), which then manifest themselves in the World Soul’s Logos.
In our conclusion of the stages through which the philosophical meaning of the term Logos evolved, right from Heraclitus till Plotinus and the eve of Neoplatonism, we see the concept of Logos as Law, Reason, God, and Christ. Logos, which was just a solution to Heraclitus’s doctrine of change was the only law that passed through Platonism, Stoicism, Judaism, and Neoplatonism, and which finally culminated in a monotheistic idea, the principle of reason, divine, dynamic, and an energy source.
Logos, the only law that is eternal, universal, and essential, formed a Law of Being and a Principle of Logic. It became a law of the physical and spiritual world (Stoics), a creative divine force-reason acting as a mediator between God, the world, and man (Philo), and an inevitable principle in the system of emanations (Neoplatonism). We find that Logos, a Greek thought in its earliest stages, dialectically develops into a theory that combines Greek Reason, and Jewish morality, the two most powerful sources of Western civilization. Logos, a thought which was discussed from Heraclitus of Presocratic Greek Philosophy till the fifth century A.D. (the eve of Neoplatonism), is developed into an idea, which was both an end and a beginning ⎯ an end as regards the Greeks, and a beginning as regards Christendom, which we will discuss under the topic “Logos in Religion”.
2. Logos in Religion
We will now discuss Logos in Christian theology (concerning the West) and in Eastern mysticism with reference to Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen.
2.1. Logos in Christianity
In the Old Testament, we come across a principle called the “Wisdom of God” active in the universe. The idea of the “Word of God”, equally active in the universe, is also a very ancient Hebrew concept. We have already seen how Philo uses Logos as a synthesis between Judaism and Greek thought. In the Fourth Gospel as well as some other books of the New Testament, Logos is discussed with heavy influences from, yet not having the same exact content as that of Philo. In the Gospel, Logos, which is eternal God, took flesh and became man in time. “The Logos is Jesus…The intermediate Logos has been replaced by a Logos that is both God and man.”36 While narrating the life of a person historically, John adopted the Philonic idea of Logos — its eternal existence, its relation to God, its creative, illuminative, and redemptive activity. However, he also made some modifications. The profound modifications of Logos by John in the Gospel are i) the Logos becomes fully personified, ii) the spiritual life resides in the Logos and is communicated to men, and iii) the idea of Logos as reason becomes subordinate to the idea of Logos as word, the expression of God’s will and power, divine energy, life, love, and light. It becomes very clear that the author assumes the familiarity of the idea of Logos in Christian theology and the world. Sufficient references are available to note that the early Christian writers held that Logos or Word emanated from “personified reason”, as well as from God and Truth. God produced his rational power, his agent in creation, who now became man in Jesus. With Titian, “the Logos is the beginning of the world, the reason that comes into being as the sharer of God’s rational power.” With Theophilus, “the Logos was in eternity with God as the counselor of God: Logos is a part of Himself.” With Hippolytus, the Logos produced by God’s proper substance is both the divine intelligence that appears in the world as the Son of God and the idea of the universe immanent in God. Relative to God this Logos or Son was a copy of the original. Nothing very essential or substantial to this has been added to the doctrine of Logos in the later development.
2.2. Logos in Eastern Mysticism
In Eastern Mysticism, at least regarding a higher cosmic unity, we will discuss only the major religious traditions, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen. Let us see what each of these traditions reveals to us, whether they correspond to or differ from the Greek concept of Logos.
Hinduism is a name given to the religious, social, political and philosophical beliefs, which make up the totality of the Hindu way of life. Hindus themselves call their religious tradition “the eternal law” (Sanathan Dharma) which has existed for over five thousand years. It is an aggregation of innumerable religious beliefs, cults, customs, and rituals. However, the main principles and mythologies of Hinduism come from the Vedas (knowledge), the Upanishads (revealing underlying truth), from six orthodox philosophical systems as well as from a rich literature comprising scriptures and commentaries. It is at the same time very rich in its philosophy, mythology, theology, cosmology, astronomy as well as in occult science. It believes in the Soul and Reincarnation of Life resulting from the Law of Karma (deed) and yet it aims at Salvation or Emancipation as the highest goal of life, which makes Hinduism moral and spiritual. With this primary introduction let us see what it has to say about the divine law that keeps the cosmic order.
Logos has its equivalent in Hinduism known, in Vedas, as Rta (cosmic and moral order). Rta also means “divine law”. Ontologically, Rta represents “immanent dynamic order or inner balance of all cosmic manifestations”;37 in theology it refers to divine law; in epistemology, to validity or truth;38 Rta is held to be equivalent to Dharma or Brahman. Arthur Basham in his “The Wonder that was India” notes that “Varuna was the guardian of Rta, the cosmic order, a concept which was perhaps the highest flight of Rg Vedic thought. The world takes its regular course, day follows night and season succeeds season, because of Rta; man must live according to Rta.”39
Logos in Hinduism has been used, however, with one more meaning as well. Logos also means a creative sound, which in the Vedas is called Sabda Brahma (i.e., creative world). The primordial manifestation of the supreme spirit was creative sound or the first word (Adi Nad). This first word or creative sound, the Logos is Om, which is the very creative energy and the very base of the universe. Logos is also used as Brahman (God), the concept which is similar to the concept of “total field energy.” This energy (Logos) is not blind or mechanistic but profoundly intelligent; it has great wisdom and is spiritual.
This Logos or creative sound in Hinduism has been symbolized with the great god Shiva having a drum in one hand and a flame in the other.40 It is the divine expression that attracts, fascinates, and unites different things, even the conflicting forces and opposites. It assumes an attractive gravitational force in Dik and Kala (i.e., in space and time). In short in Hinduism, God (as meant by Logos) is the balanced unity of opposites. This is very near to Heraclitus’s concept and theory of Logos.
One of the schools of Hinduism or Indian philosophy is Yoga. It talks about the three most important centers of human consciousness and how the Logos — the immeasurable and boundless (ananta) — can be experienced and understood within these centers. The three centers are the heart, eyebrow, and the top of the skull.
Like Hinduism, it is a dominant spiritual tradition of Indian philosophy. “It has a strong influence on the intellectual, cultural, and artistic life of the people of India, Srilanka, Tibet, China, Korea, Malesia, Japan”.41 The central problem of Buddha is human suffering, its cause and solution. Buddha was not interested in metaphysical issues like the origin of the world, the nature of the divine. Nevertheless, Buddhism’s highest philosophical aim is to attain direct mystical experience, which the Buddhists call the awakening. The essence of this experience is to pass beyond the world of analytic distinctions and opposites to reach the world of achintya, the unthinkable, where reality appears as undivided and undifferentiated suchness.42 Buddhism, as we all know, like Jainism, does not believe in the creator God. It does not believe that the souls and the universe exist since the beginning of a beginningless time. Like Heraclitus, Buddha says “all things arise and pass away” flow and change are the basic features of nature. The doctrine of impermanence — of change and motion — ultimately leads to Enlightenment through which one gets rid of sufferings.
After Buddha’s death, efforts were made to settle the disputes and develop the doctrines and teachings of Buddha’s philosophy. Nagarjuna, under the strong influence of Ashvaghosha, demonstrated that reality, ultimately cannot be grasped with concepts and ideas. Hence he gave it the name Sunyata, the void or emptiness, a term which is equivalent to Ashvaghosha’s tathata or suchness; when the futility of all conceptual thinking is recognized, reality (Logos) is experienced as pure suchness. Just as the concept of suchness and void, there is also a concept of Dharmakaya (the Body of Being) in Buddhism. This concept is closer in meaning to Brahman in Hinduism and the general meaning of Logos in ancient Greece and Christian theology. In Mahayan Buddhism, whose core is regarded to be in Avatamsaka Sutra, the central theme is the unity and interrelation of all things and events; a conception, which is not only the very essence of the Eastern worldview but also one of the basic elements of the worldview emerging from modern physics.43 This sutra offers a very close meaning to Logos as suchness, as Void, or as Body of Being.
The Chinese Thought
The Chinese thought comprises mainly two distinct philosophical schools, Confucianism and Taoism. Both these trends of thoughts are very much different from one another; one emphasizes social organization, common sense, and practical knowledge, while the other observes and concentrates on Nature and the discovery of its Way. The Chinese, like the Indians, believed that “there is an ultimate reality which underlies and unifies the multiple things and events we observe: There are three terms “complete”, “all embracing”, and the “whole”. These names are different, but the reality sought in them is the same, referring to the One thing.44 They called this reality the Tao, the Way. Tao, in its cosmic sense, is the ultimate undefinable reality just like Hindu Rta or Dharma and the Buddhist “Dharmakaya.”Unlike Buddhism, the Chinese thought believed in both change and constant pattern. The pattern, according to Chinese thought is “cyclic” having ceaseless motion and change, of expansion and contraction. According to the Chinese view, the dynamic interplay of the two polar forces (yin and yang) are all manifestations of the Tao, the Law of Logos. The interplay of yin (female) and yang (male) is the interplay of a Primordial Pair of opposites. In I Ching or Book of Changes, they developed yin and yang into a system of cosmic archetypes. The Book of Changes is unquestionably the most important in the world’s literature.45 At the center of this book is the emphasis on the dynamic aspect of all phenomena. Thus, even in Chinese thought, we find a very striking similarity of Tao with Hindu concepts as well as Western theories, all leading to the fundamental basis of Logos, as discussed earlier.
Taoism and Zen are the main trends of Chinese and Japanese cultures. Taoism, as we have seen, earlier, is mystically oriented and more relevant to modern physics. It is more interested in intuitive wisdom than in rational knowledge. The implicit unity of opposites, yin, and yang, lies at the very basis of Taoist thought. Fritjof Capra in his famous book The Tao of Physics observes that “it is amazing that at the same time when Lao Tzu and his followers developed their world view, the essential features of this Taoist view were taught also in Greece, by a man whose teachings are known to us only in fragments and who was, and still is, very often misunderstood.” This Greek “Taoist” was Heraclitus of Ephesus. He shared with Lao Tzu not only the emphasis on continuous change, which he expressed in his famous saying “Everything flows”, but also the notion that all changes are cyclic.”46
When the pragmatic side of the Chinese thought came in contact with Indian Buddhism, a special kind of spiritual and mystical discipline developed, which was given the name Ch’an, which means “meditation”. This Ch’an thought was eventually adopted by the Japanese, around 1200 AD and was known as Zen. Zen is a mixture of three thoughts; the Indian, the Chinese, and the Japanese. Zen is purely Buddhistic in its essence and the enlightenment experience and is the same as what we find in other mystic schools of Eastern philosophy. Its enlightenment experience is known in Zen as Satori. Just like Taoism it also believes that words can never express the ultimate reality. Chuang Tzu said, “if one asks about the Tao and another answers him, neither of them know it.”47 Both the Rinzai (sudden) and the Soto (gradual) schools of Zen attach the greatest importance to Zazen or sitting meditation, a way to realize one’s pure self or pure nature; body and mind being fused into a harmonious unity and to bring it in contact with the ultimate reality.
The religious traditions of the east not only emphasize the unity of things and events in the universe but also the awareness of this unity, which is a mystic experience. “All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same reality.”48 The world view that emerges from these traditions i.e., from Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen, is having a striking similarity in its basic elements with the fundamental features of the world view emerging from modern physics. We will, therefore, examine now the parallels between Logos as seen in philosophy and in religion, and as it emerges in science, especially in modern physics.
3. Logos in Science
We have sufficiently discussed the concept and theory of Logos in philosophy and religion; and we could note the striking agreements or parallels in their theories. Now, without becoming technical, let us understand what science has to say about Logos or this law of the universe. Of course, by the term science, we will refer to physics and especially to modern physics.
Arthur Ellison of City University, London, in one of his essays on Western Science and Religious Experience, summarizes modern physics very briefly and precisely. According to him in Ratherford’s day, atoms were considered to be like miniature solar systems. Electrons were seen as tiny charged particles rotating in orbits around the nucleus like planets around the sun. Physicists have now discovered that electrons sometimes appear as particles and sometimes as waves. Also particles sometimes disappear at one point and reappear at another point, apparently without crossing the space in between. Unlike Newtonian physics, quantum physics is firmly based on more than just observation and experiment. In quantum mechanics, the experimenters and what they do are not separated from the observation and the experiment. According to Schroedinger’s wave equation, which generates an endless profusion of possibilities when perception takes place, one and only one part actualizes into “reality” by chance. No one knows why one possibility occurs and not another. The modern particle physicist has nothing to say concerning what happens between measurements. As Heisenberg said, “the term “happens” is restricted to the observation. This is an exceedingly important new philosophy of science.”
The basic oneness of the universe is one of the most important revelations of modern physics. According to modern physics, the universe is a web of relations, which is dynamic. This dynamic aspect of matter arises in quantum theory as a consequence of the wave nature of sub-atomic particles. It could only be understood in terms of movement, interaction, and transformation. The material objects, which seem to be passive and dead are, in fact, when seen in their magnified state, full of activity. Even when we go to large dimensions — to stars and galaxies — we recognize the dynamic nature of the universe. It has been now proved in modern physics that the universe is not static but expanding. Leaving the details about the expansion of the universe and how it is measured, we should note that the idea of an expanding and contracting universe, has also been found in Indian as well as in Western mythology. Experiencing the universe as an organic and rhythmically moving cosmos reveals a systematic law-operating phenomenon, where all objects are processes in a universal flux. According to our present knowledge of matter, its basic pattern is the subatomic particles forming a dynamic world. Even modern astrophysicists and cosmologists acknowledge the basic unity of the cosmos. In the words of the astronomer Fred Hoyle “our everyday experience even down to the smallest details seems to be so closely integrated to the grand scale features of the universe that it is impossible to contemplate the two beings separated;”
The discovery of symmetry patterns in modern science has also played an important role in reaching the fundamental laws of nature, which are laws revealing the hidden beauty, harmony, and perfection in the universe. The dynamic nature and essential interrelation of the subatomic world of modern physics are in agreement, to a very great degree, with the theories of ancient Greek Philosophy (Logos) and Eastern mysticism. The unified theory, and even the theory of everything, once the preserve of the philosopher and theologian, has now become the Holy Grail of the scientist.50
In our conclusion let us say that all the parallels establish a strange agreement in the meaning of what we call Logos, as a Divine Law of metaphysics, a God of religious traditions, or a unified world view of modern science. We have clearly seen how the metaphysical concept of Logos as found in ancient Greek philosophy, is very similar to the view held by the mystical oriented philosophies of the East as well as the modern sciences. Similar to the philosophers and sages, the scientists have accepted to cooperate with nature and try to comprehend it, not to dominate it, but to be inspired and to be enlightened. Thus, after a detailed examination of Logos in philosophy, religion, ad science we have found two profound syntheses, the one, is the concept of Logos and its parallels, as well as a seeming agreement between them, and the other is the human attitude from that of domination to that of cooperation with nature. In our final meaning, we found Logos (God) as a Divine Law of the universe, which is an eternal dynamic whole whose parts are interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent through universal Logos. At the same time Logos is a creative divine force acting as a mediator between God, the universe, and man.
© Hemant Shah, Paris, March 15, 2021
This paper was presented to the Seventh International Conference of Greek Philosophy (Samos-Patmos 1995) organized by The International Association of Greek Philosophy, whose director is K. Boudouris. The topic of the conference was The Philosophy of Logos.
1 John Shand. 1993. Philosophy and Philosophers. UCL Press, 2.
2 Ibid. 2.
3 Ibid. 3-4.
4 Dictionary of Philosophy. 1967. Edit. I. Frolov. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 233.
5 New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia.1979. New York: Columbia University Press, Vol, 13, 3989.
6 The Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 919-921.
7 Ibid. 921.
8New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia. 1979. New York: Columbia University Press, Vol, 13, 3989.
9Dictionary of Philosophy. 1967. Edit. I. Frolov. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 233.
10 Ibid. 233.
11 Ibid. 233.
12 New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia.Vol. 13, 3989.
13Dictionary of Philosophy. 1967. Edit. I. Frolov. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 233.
14New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia. Vol. 13, 3990.
15Dictionary of Philosophy. 1967. Edit. I. Frolov. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 233.
16 Aleksey Bogomolov. 1985. History of Ancient Philosophy. Moscow: Progress Publishing, 54.
17 Ibid. 54.
18 John Shand. 1993. Philosophy and Philosophers. UCL Press, 9-0.
19 Ibid. 10.
20 Aleksey Bogomolov. 1985. History of Ancient Philosophy. Moscow: Progress Publishing, 55.
21 James K. Feibleman. 1990. Understanding Philosophy. Bombay: Jaico Publishing, 31.
22 Bertrand Russell. 1972. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 252
23 Ibid. 269.
24 Ibid. 269.
25 Arthur Rogers. 1938. Students’ History of Philosphy. New York: The Mcmillan Company, 139-139.
26 Ibid. 140.
27 Bertrand Russell. 1972. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 256.
28The Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Vol XVI, 919.
29 Aleksey Bogomolov. 1985. History of Ancient Philosophy. Moscow: Progress Publishing, 329.
30 Ibid. 330.
31 James K. Feibleman. 1990. Understanding Philosophy. Bombay: Jaico Publishing, 83.
32New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia. Vol. 13, 3990.
33 The Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Vol XVI, 920.
34 Aleksey Bogomolov. 1985. History of Ancient Philosophy. Moscow: Progress Publishing, 334.
35 Arthur Rogers. 1938. Students’ History of Philosphy. New York: The Mcmillan Company, 167.
36 New Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia.1979. New York: Columbia University Press, Vol, 13, 3990.
37 Betty Heimann. 1937. India and Western Philosophy. London: Unwin Brother, 34.
38 Margaret Stutley. 1993. Hinduism. India: Harper Collins, 165.
39 Arthur Basham. 1985. The Wonder that was India. London: Sidgwisck and Jackson, 236.
40 Haridas Chaudhuri. 1992. The Essence of Spiritual Philosophy. India: Harper Collins, Chapter 8, “Mysticism of Logos.”
41 Fritjof Capra. 1986. The Tao of Physics. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 105.
42 Ibid. 106.
43 Ibid. 112.
44 Chuang Tzu. Op cit. Vol. 11, 51.
45 Fritjof Capra. 1986. The Tao of Physics. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 121.
46 Ibid. 128.
47 Chuang Tzu. 1971. Tran. James Legge. New York: ABC Books, chap. 22.
48 Fritjof Capra. 1986. The Tao of Physics. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 141.
49 Fred Hoyle. 1971. Frontiers of Astronomy. London: Heinemann, 304.
50 John Barrow. 1991. Theories of Everything. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2.
51 Fritjof Capra. 1988. Interview on Modern Physics and New Science. Ed. T. Singh. San Francisco: Bhaktivednta Institute, 274.