Question 1: How Do We Know?
Of all the epistemological theories that we have read, the metaphysical system of Shankara is the best. The theory presented pinpoints the main hindrance to knowledge. The Brahmasutra commentary goes a step further to explain ways through which the obstacle may be removed, resulting in the acquisition of the ultimate knowledge. In this metaphysical approach, it has been clarified that the hindrance to enlightenment is as a result of misconstruction that leads to the mixing up of the real and non-real. Consequently, the world is seen as ostensibly consisting of a duality of objects and subjects. It is evident that this misconception exists in us. On the other hand, the metaphysical system of Vaisheshika leaves out strong arguments. Instead, this metaphysical system is built upon weak arguments, most of which would be unacceptable to the learned individuals. On the other hand, the metaphysical system of Jains mistakenly attributes the destruction of karma that cannot be verified or observed as a way to end suffering instead of eradicating evil states of mind such as hatred. In my view, these other theories have an inherent weakness given that they can result in nihilism if an individual decides to follow them to their proposed logic to the end. For instance, since the Jains theory asserts that objects are dependent on subjects, and that dream world objects are not real, then it occurs that the real world objects will also be considered as being unreal since they are simply just another dream. Moreover, it is impossible to prove that the reality of the waking world exceeds those that are present in the dream world. Additionally, it theory implies that the mind is characterized with unreality, which indicates that the philosophy is nihilistic in nature.
Question 2: What is the Nature of Reality?Metaphysical system
Of all the metaphysical theories that have been read, Plotinus’ is the best. His metaphysical system provides a reasonable answer to most of the problems faced in the other theories such as that of forms by Plato. Plotinus metaphysical system clearly explains the cause of the existence of the universe. If its existence is explained as being caused by another spatiotemporal entity, then the existence of this object must have been caused by something else. If this causal connection continues infinitely, a logical paradox is created. If the process of is allowed to an endless regress, there would never be a beginning since it would require an endless time and entities to create the universe. The most reasonable conclusion would require assuming a first cause that is not part of the causal chain and that does not cease to exist. This assumed cause cannot be a dependent thing. Instead, it must exist by necessity. Consequently, the existence of the universe must be as a result of uncaused cause since it is not possible to have an endless regress of causes. Based this argument, the universe must be as a result of a superior cause.Metaphysical system
The other theories by philosophers such as Descartes, Plato, John Locke, and Aristotle exhibit some element of weakness. For instance, Aristotle’s and Plato’s metaphysical systems fail to fully explain why things exist. While making specific reference, Aristotle explains that all physical objects have their purpose. However, there are things that don’t have a purpose. Therefore, Aristotle’s and Plato’s metaphysical systems are weak. On the other hand, Descartes theory is problematic since although the philosopher reasonable defends his claim that the body and the soul are different, he fails to prove how the two exactly interact. If the soul and the body are two entities that are entirely separate and distinct, it then becomes questionable how a material body interacts with a mind that is immaterial. In another metaphysical theory advanced by John Locke, this philosopher regards the body and the mind as not being distinct. This view contradicts that of Descartes. Unfortunately, these two metaphysical theories are not entirely convincing and need additional arguments to make them stronger. Kant’s metaphysical theory as presented in the Critique of Pure Reason is also valuable and well-informing. The author successfully identifies pure reason, its scope and limit. His distinction between a posterior and a prior knowledge and the claim that science and mathematics contain an element of a priori knowledge seem reasonable. There are no weakness that I could point out in both Plotinus’ and Kant’s theories.