Buddhist response to Western ontology

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:30 pm

Wow, guys, a lot of replies here so I'll try to get to everything. I probably won't post the rest of today, so here it is for now. I want to put out there that I am a learner to, so I am not saying I have all the knowledge, but I am not shying away either for saying that something makes sense, and something else does not make sense, and also willing to put out the "western ontological" challenge to the "Buddhist response". In my studies of both sides of the debate, or many sides of the debate, I too have subjected those sides to objections and critiques in my own life, so please understand that I am not a sycophant of any one view. We live in skeptical times, right? And so ...

Goofaholix wrote:
contemplans wrote:If this god was given rise to by itself or another, if that was possible, it wouldn't be god. I am describing something which just is.


Just is, just like the rest of us then, I guess that makes us all gods.


Not like the rest of us. We are a mixture of actuality and potentiality. We are undergoing change in this regard are every moment. Everything is. You can view this from the perspective of the Buddha or Aristotle, they agree in this regard. We are inconstant, or we are constant in our inconstancy. The fact that I am typing right now is an ongoing process of potentialities becoming actualities, in the various ways my desires are prompting my fingers to type, and the physical changes are taking place in my fingers, while I am effecting changes to the keyboard, which are causing the letters to appear right now. Nothing in this chain of causes JUST IS, because otherwise it have anything in it that could change. The change implies something within the system which isn't, but could be. This possibility in itself dequalifies it from being what is called pure actuality. That is why Baka Brahma is not pure actuality as described. We can't say that pure actuality is just really constant, because we are defining him/it as pure constancy. The question is whether this notion is correct in its necessity to explain why anthing exists at all. What else explains why existence is?


Kenshou wrote:The thing that strikes me is that, even if you have a metaphysical explanation for things that makes sense to you personally, that makes no steps towards actually showing that it is true. I question the apparent obligation to have an explanation. Maybe we can't always get what we want.

Science doesn't explain why things exist. Because it can't yet, that information is out of our reach right now. And maybe it will always be, who knows, but better to recognize a lack of information upon which to base such an explanation, than to simply make stuff up and go with it because it feels sensible.

It just doesn't offer anything of value, aside from a bit of diversion, and maybe some warm fuzzy feelings as a result of thinking you've got everything all figured out.


The explanation is on page 5, which explains causal series, and how an essentially ordered one needs something outside of it to explain it. Logic is not making something up. When the Buddha said, "When this is, that is; from the arising of this comes the arising of that." That is logic. He was reasoning. That is what takes place in insight, albeit in a much higher state of refinement. Buddhism is not anti-reason, but selects where to apply that human skill for its specific goals. But we're in the debate, so we ar reasoning about ontology. While human's have applied words to these concepts, they didn't just make them up. Paticca samuppada does not create the causal links, but merely applies human terms to the already existing situation in order to better handle the data, instead of recreating the wheel every time. But this reasoning of hylomorphism is not a diversion. It leads to all kinds of conclusions about this world including that everything has a purpose (teleology). It is no small matter. Whether you agree with it or not, major religions didn't get into this theory becauase they had nothing better to do, but, if we are to be charitable, they adopted it because it blew their minds and gave them better understanding of the world around them, so that with it they can act more skillfully. This is just the raw theory. Many have produced it is "popular" versions for popular consumption. And there it is more palpable. The Buddha did this with his teaching through similes and the like. The raw data is pretty daunting.


Cittasanto wrote:so I have had a black and a white keyboard which on[c]e wasn't a keyboard?
I have also had soft rubber keyboard which could be rolled up and a hard plastic one which was split in two, aswell as rectangle ones, which is not a keyboard?


I am not a scientist. What are keyboardws made of? Polyethelene? I don't know. The point is that you're keyboard(s) didn't pop into existence spontaneously. Humans took plastic, metal, and other things and molded them into the keyboard. That keyboard can be melted and brought back to, say, a state of just being plastic sheets. There is that potentiality in it. It's matter is plastic and metal. Its form is the keyboard. To bring it into something maybe closer to home. My human body has the potential within it to be dust. Right now it is a human body, constantly taking and sluffing off molecules. We have big people, small people, dark people, light people, people missing legs, etc. They are all human. But once we die, the body is buried and/or burned, and all those molecules become earth. This is just in regard to change. The point of ontology is answering the question, Why does anything exist? Hylomorphism goes from the fact of change and reasons out from there. The facts of your keyboard are inetesting, but step one is why what makes up a keyboard, or a human body, even exist. Clearly within themselves they do not have the power to give rise to existence in the same respect in which they exist, i.e., whatever is caused is caused by another.


Cittasanto wrote:please don't alter the statement you quote, the mistake isn't in that word, and you completely changed the question!


I apologize. I misunderstood it. But I did answer your question. You see your beyboard is not self-existent, but formed from parts and remolding. We can go back and back with materials and causes, but nowhere can we explain why anything exists. An essentially ordered series of causes has no explnation within itself of why anything within the series exists. We don't even need to admit a beginning. The series can be infinite. There still is no explanation for the series.

Cittasanto wrote:however, your responce only covers half of the questions, the second question (the one not about colour) actually changed the shape, colour, hardness and texture of the keyboard!


In your estimation, they are still keyboards. They have whatever a keyboard needs to have to be a keyboard. In the human realm, take this examine from my wife yesterday. She saw a patient who probably has mad cow disease. In his 50s. He has many malfucntions in his human body. So much that blood pressure could not even be taken. He is still human. He has whatever it is that makes him human. He isn't just H2O with some carbon and what not mixed in.

Cittasanto wrote:buddhism has causality! everything has a cause and even a cause has a cause.
but I was not referring to the particles, atoms etc, rather how oil metal... came to be. This is an example why a first cause is not discernible.


First in time? First in primacy? Discernable as in known as a bare fact? Or discernable as to its nature? If he didn't see a beginning, as in, "In the beginning ...", I can understand that, because even Catholics admit that a beginning in time is an article of faith. Logic can support a beginning or a world which always existed. The "first" is ultimate, not necessarily first in time. It would take some in depth research to really get a full meaning of what the Buddha was speaking about, which I admit I have not done. You have to go into the Pali and do comparative analysis.

tiltbillings wrote:
contemplans wrote:The acorn has within itself teh potential to be an oak tree. It is actually an acorn
Not really. An acorn is not a singular thing; rather, it is always composite thing. Each bit of the acorn would have to be actual actualities following your logic.


It is a singular entity in the sense that it is more than its parts. It has a unified form. We and the acorn have similar composition, we are made of the same molecules etc., but we are not the same. I don't have the (direct) potentiality to become an oak tree.

tiltbillings wrote:Kamma, on the other hand, refers to the ethical conditioning based upon choice, which is something that is, in fact, workable empirically.


Kamma is more than this. How's the empirical way for the numerous lifetimes you are reaping karma for right now? How about acting and intending without reaping karma? How about Nibbana, which if you've attained it, no one else can measure nor see your attainment? If you say, well we see these things through effects in the empirical world, then I would say that is the same answer I would give in respect to what I am saying.


tiltbillings wrote:Just is what? The problem with this anemic philosophy is that is really does not account for the fact that each bit of the process must be a complete actuality, otherwise how could it exist?


It exists in one respect, while being potential in another. My body does not have pure existence, because it has within it the potential to die. not only that, though, it is constantly undergoing this change. The actuality we have is true, but it isn't steady or constant. There is within it a possibility of change. JUST IS, refers to something that does not have these possibilities.

tiltbillings wrote:No nibbana is not. Nibbana is not a thing, as has been carefully pointed out to you using the suttas. Nibbana has not a thing to do with what you are talking about.


I am not saying it is a thing. It is a state or dimension. It is related, though. It is constant, steady, no possibility of change or dying, outside of samsara. There is a relation there.

tiltbillings wrote:This is something you do a lot, which is conflate, without justification the Buddha’s teaching with your Christian stuff, but there is no justification for it. Actually, nibbana is not a goal outside the sense sphere.


Final nibbana is outside of the sense sphere. When one attains Nibbana, that break through moment, the senses are not involved at all. The senses come back, but they are related to in a whole different way.

tiltbillings wrote:Only if one uses certain base assumptions.


Here are the asssumptions: 1) Things that exist undergoing change. 2) Their existence needs an explanation.

perkele wrote:Okay, I agree that this usage of actuality/potentiality makes some sense. However, you were also and most importantly talking about "pure actuality". Where is this "pure actuality"? Why do you readily explain the trivialities but not the difficulties?


On one level you can say everywhere. On another level you can say, nowhere within space and time. The point of this line of reasoning, at this point, is not to deduce how we experience this pure actuality, or how we are created, or any of those questions. The first level is just coming up with an explanation of why we exist. All those other questions have answers, but they are based upon the initial logic. If we can't come up with an explanation why anything exists, then those other questions are like putting the cart before the horse.

perkele wrote:The Buddha did not equate happiness with being. You are contorting the whole argument.
Happiness can of course be seen as ultimately good, which is actually rather trivial. That has nothing to do with an ultimate cause of existence or with "pure actuality"/"pure being" etc.


If you look at his path and goal, it is a path which affirms "actuality" -- harmlessness (pro-life), truthful (pro-reality), no theft (a type of truthfulness), no intoxicant (another type of pro-reality). Joy, goodwill, harmony, etc. Even his ascetic life was not harsh or ultimately anti-body, like the Jains. Nibbana as a goal is also not anti "actuality". It refers to constancy, undying. It is beyond this round of existence, but he never defined that as annihilation. I am just pointing out that the notion is consistent.


tiltbillings wrote:He may not be hard core proselytizing, but he certainly is evangelizing.


This forum is for people of all religions. The OP asked a question, and I am participating. The topic is western ontology, and the west has been Christian for a long time. If atheists are given free rein to put their views out, then why should I be shy about my views. I haven't invited you to my church. Furthermore I am referring to widely respected people and theories, so it isn't like I am talking about Pastor Chuck at Blah Blah Blah Church, but stuff which will appear in any university level course on philosophy and/or religion.

Sherab wrote:So does this principle create? If it does, then the creation is purposeless. If it does not, then it has no relevance whatsoever to the existence of this world since it is apart from this world. If it has no relevance whatsoever to this world, why bother with it?
[/quote]

Aristotle saw purpose in that all things tended toward an end. He derived this theory from the actualizing of potentials. So the acorn's purpose is to become a tree. This is called teleology.
User avatar
contemplans
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:54 pm

contemplans wrote: i.e., whatever is caused is caused by another.


exactly why no discernible beginning can be discerned!

I apologize. I misunderstood it. But I did answer your question. You see your beyboard is not self-existent, but formed from parts and remolding. We can go back and back with materials and causes, but nowhere can we explain why anything exists. An essentially ordered series of causes has no explnation within itself of why anything within the series exists. We don't even need to admit a beginning. The series can be infinite. There still is no explanation for the series.

only half of it as already been pointed out

In your estimation, they are still keyboards. They have whatever a keyboard needs to have to be a keyboard. In the human realm, take this examine from my wife yesterday. She saw a patient who probably has mad cow disease. In his 50s. He has many malfucntions in his human body. So much that blood pressure could not even be taken. He is still human. He has whatever it is that makes him human. He isn't just H2O with some carbon and what not mixed in.


well by this estimation Chimpanzees are humans also!
However, a patient your wife is caring for should not be brought into discussion, his privacy should be respected, and left at your wife's place of work.

First in time? First in primacy? Discernable as in known as a bare fact? Or discernable as to its nature? If he didn't see a beginning, as in, "In the beginning ...", I can understand that, because even Catholics admit that a beginning in time is an article of faith. Logic can support a beginning or a world which always existed. The "first" is ultimate, not necessarily first in time. It would take some in depth research to really get a full meaning of what the Buddha was speaking about, which I admit I have not done. You have to go into the Pali and do comparative analysis.

see response above.
a cause is not present, although Logic also supports (as has been pointed out by others as well) no beginning.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5654
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby daverupa » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:17 pm

contemplans wrote:We are a mixture of actuality and potentiality.


Maybe we can understand these two terms according to "old kamma" (actuality) and "new kamma" (potentiality); if so:

SN 35.145 wrote:"Monks, I will teach you new & old kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak.

"Now what, monks, is old kamma? The eye is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. This is called old kamma.

"And what is new kamma? Whatever kamma one does now with the body, with speech, or with the intellect: This is called new kamma.

"And what is the cessation of kamma? Whoever touches the release that comes from the cessation of bodily kamma, verbal kamma, & mental kamma: This is called the cessation of kamma.

"And what is the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma.

"So, monks, I have taught you new & old kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of kamma. Whatever a teacher should do — seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them — that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhana, monks. Don't be heedless. Don't later fall into regret. This is our message to you."


Pure actuality and pure potentiality are nowhere evident; that which we experience is a mixture, as you say. So, nevermind the rest of what you'd like to claim with respect to metaphysical proliferations: here is a call to action - truly a Buddhist response.

:meditate:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3696
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Alex123 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:38 pm

contemplans wrote:The explanation is on page 5, which explains causal series, and how an essentially ordered one needs something outside of it to explain it.


If causal series in the universe requires something outside of it (God), then how to explain God? What is outside of God?

If God just is, then why not say that Universe just is. At least we can examine universe and don't create additional unnecessary "entities".
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2788
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:32 pm

contemplans wrote:What else explains why existence is?


Pretty much every religion except Buddhism has such an explanation, just pick one, they are all the same in that they are pure speculation, and what is the use of such an speculative explanations anyway?

A much more honest response to the question is to admit one does not know and make the most of ones actuality.

It appears western ontology is a solution to a non-existent problem.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1710
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Alex123 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:26 pm

contemplans wrote:What else explains why existence is?


Existence is due to causes.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2788
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Kenshou » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:34 pm

When the Buddha said, "When this is, that is; from the arising of this comes the arising of that." That is logic. He was reasoning.
Sure. And this relatively straightforward reasoning can be confirmed for one's own with observation. And can then be seen to directly apply to the real-world problems of suffering and it's causes, without any need to imagine a metaphysics behind it.

But no amount of observation will show us a potentiality, or a purpose. A god or a soul. You can reason out where you think they ought to fit in but that is really all you can do, since these ideas are not really inherent in anything that can be experienced, other than as thoughts bouncing around in your head.

But this reasoning of hylomorphism is not a diversion. It leads to all kinds of conclusions about this world including that everything has a purpose (teleology). It is no small matter.
Great. It leads to conclusions. Problem is, none of it can be shown to be true. So it has no utility other than being food for thought.

This is the difference, to me. The reasoning used in the Buddhist path of practice has a whole lot that can be know by actually seeing it occur, if you do the practice. You'll never find some actuality or a bit of soul, though. The 4 noble truths can deconstruct the problem of suffering in its immediacy. I can actually use this in real life. So why would I ever settle for a line of reasoning with no palpable content? I am unable to base my (for lack of a better term) spirituality on something so petty.

Whether you agree with it or not, major religions didn't get into this theory becauase they had nothing better to do, but, if we are to be charitable, they adopted it because it blew their minds and gave them better understanding of the world around them, so that with it they can act more skillfully.
Okay, but this is kind of an appeal to popularity and doesn't actually contribute to the argument.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1027
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:23 pm

contemplans wrote: When the Buddha said, "When this is, that is; from the arising of this comes the arising of that." That is logic. He was reasoning.
This is not reasoning. This is an expression of direct insight. Big difference.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:56 pm

Once again, well said, Kenshou.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14517
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:35 am

can we rename this thread samsara? cyclic argumentum? or didn't this just get said?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5654
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Kenshou » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:38 am

Ha, yeah, samsara it is.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1027
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:39 am

contemplans wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
contemplans wrote:The acorn has within itself teh potential to be an oak tree. It is actually an acorn
Not really. An acorn is not a singular thing; rather, it is always composite thing. Each bit of the acorn would have to be actual actualities following your logic.


It is a singular entity in the sense that it is more than its parts.
And you can say that about each of the parts.
It has a unified form.
Due to causes and conditions, but there is no need to posit and unverifiable and illogical prime cause.
We and the acorn have similar composition, we are made of the same molecules etc., but we are not the same. I don't have the (direct) potentiality to become an oak tree.
You have an indirect potential to become an oak tree?

tiltbillings wrote:Kamma, on the other hand, refers to the ethical conditioning based upon choice, which is something that is, in fact, workable empirically.


Kamma is more than this. How's the empirical way for the numerous lifetimes you are reaping karma for right now?
Ungrammatical sentence. I am not sure what you are asking.

How about acting and intending without reaping karma?
One does not reap kamma.

How about Nibbana, which if you've attained it, no one else can measure nor see your attainment?
Which makes it like any number of human experiences. The point is that it is a possible human experience, but an omniscience, omnipotent god is not open to direct human experience.

If you say, well we see these things through effects in the empirical world, then I would say that is the same answer I would give in respect to what I am saying.
Damdifino what you mean here.


tiltbillings wrote:Just is what? The problem with this anemic philosophy is that is really does not account for the fact that each bit of the process must be a complete actuality, otherwise how could it exist?


It exists in one respect, while being potential in another. My body does not have pure existence, because it has within it the potential to die. not only that, though, it is constantly undergoing this change. The actuality we have is true, but it isn't steady or constant. There is within it a possibility of change. JUST IS, refers to something that does not have these possibilities.
In other words “JUST IS” is naught more than a figment of your imagination, having no empirical basis.

tiltbillings wrote:No nibbana is not. Nibbana is not a thing, as has been carefully pointed out to you using the suttas. Nibbana has not a thing to do with what you are talking about.


I am not saying it is a thing. It is a state or dimension. It is related, though. It is constant, steady, no possibility of change or dying, outside of samsara. There is a relation there.
Not that you have shown. It certainly is not a “dimension,” but it is certainty the “state” of the mind being free of greed, hatred, and delusion.

tiltbillings wrote:This is something you do a lot, which is conflate, without justification the Buddha’s teaching with your Christian stuff, but there is no justification for it. Actually, nibbana is not a goal outside the sense sphere.


Final nibbana is outside of the sense sphere.
You cannot meaningfully say that.

When one attains Nibbana, that break through moment, the senses are not involved at all. The senses come back, but they are related to in a whole different way.
Wrong, as usual.

tiltbillings wrote:Only if one uses certain base assumptions.


Here are the asssumptions: 1) Things that exist undergoing change. 2) Their existence needs an explanation.
Do they? Do we assume that their explanation is some sort of unverifiable first cause?

contemplans wrote: Will is not a thing, but a process. As I said to retro, you have to prove the jump from all powerful to all doing.
So, you are saying, the supposed god did not create processes.

But a process with justification can be said to be a thing that happens.

Freser: "At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant."
There is nothing here that says a process can not be considered a thing. Will exists, action exist. Certainly our language allows us to speak of action and processes as things happening. You obviously see the incoherence in Freser's excellent statement and are trying your best to get way from it. Even physical things can be seen, with complete justification, as processes. Your attempt to dodge the incoherence of Freser's statement, by trying to make a dichotomy between things and processes, fails.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:49 am

Here are some points we need to get grounded in to understand the theory:

1) There doesn't have to be a beginning. A huge misunderstanding here is that "first" equals chronological first. Kant misunderstood this, all the contemporary atheists mistunderstand it, and even some theists. The infinite regress is not into the past. Aquinas himself rejected the arguments which tried to show that the world must have had a beginning. First means ultimate. The ultimate without which nothing else exists. This is at every moment necessary, not just at a "beginning".

NOT

God > first created thing > second created thing > etc. >
BUT

God
v v v v v v v v
> Creature > Creature > Creature > Etc. >

(Best I can do without a picture.)


2) Caused causes are themselves effects. An increased number of effects does not explain what needs to be explained, it only adds more that needs explaining. Contingent beings (those which rely on a cause to exist) must derive their existence from a self-existence being. An infinite number of contingent beings would still have this requirement.


3) The theory refers to essential causation, not just any old causation like me heating water up to cause it to boil. Only that causation without which something would not exist. It is a theory pretaining to an essentially ordered series of causes.


4) We tend to think of being in a static way. Being is action [actuality]. If you were just "left alone", you would cease to exist.


4) This inquiry has value. In fact it has the most value, because EVERY single human inquiry is based on the answer to the question of existence. The principles learned from it are universally and absolutely true, and apply to all other areas of inquiry. No other object of thought is possible without it. Notions such as unity, truth, and goodness essentially depend on the results of this inquiry. Everything is in the balance. All the principles which you have learned throughout your life, including those you apply to learning the Dhamma, are based here. Whether you take for granted or not does not affect this truth.


Here is the argument, to boil it down.


In order for something to exist, it must be caused by another. The cause which gives rise to a new existence is called an essential cause in respect to the effect. If such essential causes were infinite in number, an infinity of conditions would have to be fulfilled in order for the effect to exist. But an infinity of actual conditions cannot be fulfilled. Hence the effect will not exist.

If no ultimate condition can be reached which is sufficient for the existence of something, that thing will not exist; but if there is an infinite regress in the order of causes actually and presently necessary for the existence of something, the sufficient condition is never attained. Therefore an ultimate condition is needed to explain why things exist.


Basically going back to actuality and potentiality. If there is not ultimate uncaused cause, then all being would be pure potentiality, which means nothing exists, which is an absurdity.

If you cannot argue against this argument, just admit it. I am not here to win. I am here to give you the argument, and to receive the Buddhist response. This argument has already discounted the Buddhist response that essential causes can be infinite without referring to an outside source of existence. The Buddha saying he didn't see a beginning is irrelevant. Aquinas didn't see it either. This does not even need to admit that the Buddha didn't see this truth, but just chose not to speak about it as was his policy in general about these matters. Perhaps it will take more time and study of the theory to understand it and formulate a response. But existence is something which is currently not explained through logic by any other system. Aristotle is unique in this manner.
User avatar
contemplans
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Justsit » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:57 am

Not Theravadan, but...have you read Nagarjuna?
Justsit
 
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:02 am

Greetings contemplans,
contemplans wrote:4) This inquiry has value. In fact it has the most value, because EVERY single human inquiry is based on the answer to the question of existence. The principles learned from it are universally and absolutely true, and apply to all other areas of inquiry. No other object of thought is possible without it. Notions such as unity, truth, and goodness essentially depend on the results of this inquiry. Everything is in the balance. All the principles which you have learned throughout your life, including those you apply to learning the Dhamma, are based here. Whether you take for granted or not does not affect this truth.

A Buddhist response to this Western ontology...

SN 12.15: Kaccayanagotta Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14517
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:Freser: "At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant."
There is nothing here that says a process can not be considered a thing. Will exists, action exist. Certainly our language allows us to speak of action and processes as things happening. You obviously see the incoherence in Freser's excellent statement and are trying your best to get way from it. Even physical things can be seen, with complete justification, as processes. Your attempt to dodge the incoherence of Freser's statement, by trying to make a dichotomy between things and processes, fails.


I am not shying from this statement. It is rather odd you're trying to make a big deal about while every post I have is supporting what he is saying. There is being and process. If you want to say all is process, then you still have to explain what gives rise to "process". The argument is still the same.


Justsit wrote:Not Theravadan, but...have you read Nagarjuna?


Just bits and pieces. I did listen to the whole of Thanissaro's exposition on him, and read the parts about him in Buddhist Religions.




retrofuturist wrote:A Buddhist response to Western ontology...


However one wants to direct their perception, the question is still out there. The fact is that Buddhism take a lot for granted as working assumptions. One big one is that happiness is good and samsara/dukkha is bad. He never explains why. You may say they are self evident. Implicit in that statement is a support of the theory I have described. Or you live in a life of contradiction. There is no reason why dukkha is a bad thing without reference to something that is completely not dukkha.
User avatar
contemplans
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:11 am

contemplans wrote:Here are some points we need to get grounded in to understand the theory:. . . .
Yep.

Freser: "At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant." Yes, such as the AIDS virus, the cancer cell, the TB bacillus, not to mention the Inquisition, Hitler, the horror of Syria, etc., directly caused by god at every instant.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:15 am

contemplans wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Freser: "At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant."
There is nothing here that says a process can not be considered a thing. Will exists, action exist. Certainly our language allows us to speak of action and processes as things happening. You obviously see the incoherence in Freser's excellent statement and are trying your best to get way from it. Even physical things can be seen, with complete justification, as processes. Your attempt to dodge the incoherence of Freser's statement, by trying to make a dichotomy between things and processes, fails.


I am not shying from this statement. It is rather odd you're trying to make a big deal about while every post I have is supporting what he is saying. There is being and process. If you want to say all is process, then you still have to explain what gives rise to "process". The argument is still the same.
Yes, the argument isthe same. God gives rise to process. It can be no other than how it wants it to be.

    "If God designs the life of the entire world -- the glory and the misery,
    the good and the evil acts, man is but an instrument of his will and God
    alone is responsible."
    J V.238.

    "He who eyes can see the sickening sight, why does not God set his
    creatures right? If his wide power no limits can restrain, why is his hand
    so rarely spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
    Why does he not to all give happiness? Why do fraud, lies, and
    ignorance prevail? Why triumphs falsehood, -truth and justice fail? I
    count your God unjust in making a world in which to shelter wrong."
    J VI.208

    "If the pleasure and pain that beings feel are caused the creative act of
    a Supreme God [Issara-nimmana-hetu], then the Niganthas [Jains] surely
    must have been created by an evil Supreme God."
    MN II 222.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:19 am

tiltbillings, your problem of evil statements don't address the argument I gave. Obviously an explanation of the problem of evil would refer to matters of faith, which I have already stated. Either address the argument concerning Western ontology, or just bow out gracefully. I don't intent to address the problem of evil because, like you said, I would be evangelizing. So let both agree to leave that debate for another day on another forum. But I doubt your sincerity about wanting any sort of answer on that either.
User avatar
contemplans
 
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:28 am

contemplans wrote:tiltbillings, your problem of evil statements don't address the argument I gave.
And you have repeatedly not addressed the arguments and the texts I have given.

Obviously an explanation of the problem of evil would refer to matters of faith, which I have already stated. Either address the argument concerning Western ontology, or just bow out gracefully. I don't intent to address the problem of evil because, like you said, I would be evangelizing. So let both agree to leave that debate for another day on another forum. But I doubt your sincerity about wanting any sort of answer on that either.
I am addressing the direct implications of the ontological questions raised, which directly goes to the coherence of the ontological claims of a god's existence. As pointed out, you are simply trying to shift the goal posts, again. I can understand why you would not want to address the problem of suffering in the world created by your god, but it is part and parcel of the issue of the existence of such a thing.

The is very much to the point: Freser: "At least where the sheer existence of things is concerned, He and He alone is directly causing them at every instant."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18349
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Lazy_eye, Unrul3r and 4 guests