How is Infinity in a Drop structured?

author: Matthijs Cornelissen
last revision: June, 2019

The nature of this text

This text is somewhat of a hybrid. It starts with an unusually long introduction in which an attempt is made to set out an integral, philosophical foundation for science, a foundation that works as well for the subjective reality that psychology is supposed to deal with as for the objective reality of the hard sciences. I hope to show that the ancient Vedic understanding of reality and knowledge — at least in the way Sri Aurobindo has interpreted it — can take up that role. What is more, I think that it can help us to develop something that could perhaps be described as "rigorous subjectivity", which, if enough energy goes into it, might have the potential to make psychology as quickly progressive as the hard sciences already are. This introduction is relatively long because the ideas on which it is based are quite different from those on which mainstream science is built at present, and they make only sense when they are all taken together.

The text that follows on it is in its outer structure more or less similar to many introductions to Psychology. It starts with the basics of cognition and research methodologies suitable for the subjective domain, followed by the self and the structure of the personality. After that we find relationships, emotion, motivation and self-development, and at the end it looks at a few of the usual applications of psychology like education, counselling, therapy, etc. In what it says on these issues it is, however, substantially different from most mainstream texts because it is all based on the centrality of consciousness which one finds in the Vedic tradition. Accordingly, its approach presents science and especially psychology, in the words of Don Salmon, as if consciousness matters.

In some sense, this text is only a proof of concept. I've kept the main text as simple as I could, and I've given most of the context, arguments and details in little side-notes and appendixes. The reason I have done it this way is that this approach to science is not yet well-established and people with different backgrounds and objectives may want to go into detail about different issues. I hope that my attempts at explaining core concepts in history, psychology and Indian philosophy are not too offensive to those who know much more about them than I do.

As may be clear, the ultimate aim of this text is ambitious. Infinity in a Drop hopes to show that it is possible to develop a genuinely integral, consciousness-centred approach to science and especially to psychology which is based on Indian philosophy, uses theories and practical know-how of Indian as well as Western traditions, and still fulfils the demands of rigour and intellectual rectitude developed by modern science.

Side blocks

Many chapters have side blocks that are basically meant for students. They are designed to encourage active engagement with the text: they ask questions, suggest things to do or pay special attention to and so on. As not everybody likes such intrusions in their reading process, the online version of this text has a Student Questions button in the top-right corner of the screen which can switch the side blocks On or Off.

Inline symbols that link to additional texts

DW-INFINITY This icon occurs most often. Its little light links to a short explanation of a word or phrase which is used in a special sense that may not be immediately obvious from the context.
DW-INFINITY This icon refers to a story. (The symbol is not very good, though, as most of these stories were told long before books existed! Suggestions welcome.)
DW-INFINITY This symbol links to a text by Sri Aurobindo.
DW-INFINITY This to a text by the Mother.