Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue May 18, 2010 3:20 am

Dan74 wrote:Impermanence refers to form and phenomena, I think, not ideas and concepts.


Ideas and concepts arise and fall in our minds, but their content may not be subject to impermanence. Hence my identification with platonism.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
 
Posts: 1936
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Funchal, Portugal

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 18, 2010 3:27 am

Pannapetar wrote:Any intelligent alien species that might exist somewhere in the universe will discover exactly the same laws, although they might codify them in a different way.


This is a big claim! It is based on an assumption that the way we observe the universe is more or less, the only way.

But they may actually observe in a radically different way and perceive different patterns to us and develop different 'science/maths" to deal with those.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 18, 2010 3:52 am

Dan74 wrote:This is a big claim! It is based on an assumption that the way we observe the universe is more or less, the only way. But they may actually observe in a radically different way and perceive different patterns to us and develop different 'science/maths" to deal with those.


Why should aliens observe different patterns? After all, the patterns themselves are universal. Fundamental manifestations are likewise universal. For example, gravitation is universal, electromagnetic force is universal, light is universal, etc. Aliens might indeed perceive patterns in a different way. For example, they might perceive different bands of electromagnetic radiation as light, or they might not perceive light at all. They might use a base 8 system instead of a base 10 system for counting. But they would not observe a different value for pi. They would not observe different prime numbers. They would not observe a different truth tables for Boolean logic. That is to say if aliens had developed a concept of circles, natural numbers, and Boolean logic, then these items would exhibit the same patterns/properties that we observe.

Cheers, Thomas
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 18, 2010 3:59 am

Well, to me these are claims. Including "universal". All these are rooted in our perception which is conditioned, and in Buddhadhamma we learn that even the perception of arahats is fundamanentally different, because the conditions are changed.

There is self-reference and circular logic in these kinds of arguments and I am not convinced.

Again I think you start off by attributing a "universal" aspect to our perceptions and pattern-recognition and then other supposed universals follow. To me all these are conditioned and not universal.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 18, 2010 4:23 am

:goodpost:

From MN 1: Mulapariyaya Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.

"He perceives water as water... fire as fire... wind as wind ... beings as beings... gods as gods...Pajapati as Pajapati...Brahma as Brahma... the luminous gods as luminous gods... the gods of refulgent glory as gods of refulgent glory... the gods of abundant fruit as the gods of abundant fruit... the Great Being as the Great Being ... the dimension of the infinitude of space as the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness as the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness as the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither-perception-nor-non-perception as the dimension of neither-perception-nor-non-perception ... the seen as the seen... the heard as the heard... the sensed as the sensed... the cognized as the cognized ... singleness as singleness... multiplicity as multiplicity ... the All as the All ...

"He perceives Unbinding as Unbinding. Perceiving Unbinding as Unbinding, he conceives things about Unbinding, he conceives things in Unbinding, he conceives things coming out of Unbinding, he conceives Unbinding as 'mine,' he delights in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.

:buddha2:

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: 14609
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Goofaholix » Tue May 18, 2010 4:26 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Whether or not a circle has an essence is besides the point, the circle itself is subject to the laws of impermenence, unsatisfactoriness, and not self.


How so?


Because all things are subject to the laws of impermenence, unsatisfactoriness, and not self.

Can you give me an example of a circle which is permanent, totally satisfying, and a self?
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1828
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Sobeh » Tue May 18, 2010 4:45 am

Pannapetar wrote:We observe entities and forces "out there" that manifest according to mathematical rules.


They may manifest according to mathematical principles, but that's putting the cart before the horse. There is a manifestation, and our maths can describe it. Those maths are not the cause of the manifestation, they simple describe the way in which the whole thing functions. An equivalent claim to the one you're making is that not only is paticcasamuppada a good description of how suffering arises, but that paticcasamuppada is also a thing out there. This is patently ridiculous.

Pannapetar wrote:Neither is a formula such as C/2r=pi or F = G (m1 * m2) / r^2 (Newtonian gravity) subject to impermanence (anicca). They remain unchanged for eternity. These formulas are as valid in a billion years as they are now and they are as valid in the Andromeda galaxy as they are here on Earth. Any intelligent alien species that might exist somewhere in the universe will discover exactly the same laws, although they might codify them in a different way.


General relativity showcases the approximation that Newton's equations are; terribly useful, but things did not operate according to those equations a mere picosecond after the Big Bang - just as the language of maths is anicca, so too is all that the language describes.

Your premise was:
Pannapetar wrote:Well, the class of synthetic a priori statements appears to describe atta/atman, or perhaps better: the essence of things. <example>


I contend (based on my understanding of the Dhamma) that, ultimately, all a priori statements are only possible within matrices of language structures that are necessarily anicca. In other words, all possible a priori statements are subject to anicca. You haven't gotten your premise off the ground yet.
User avatar
Sobeh
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:35 am
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 18, 2010 6:00 am

Dan74 wrote:Well, to me these are claims.


To call them "claims" doesn't really say very much. What type of claims? Empirical? Epistemic? We have to distinguish propositions about empirical facts from logical propositions, for example. To say that the patterns we express with mathematics have no reality beyond our conditioned mind amounts to epistemological constructivism. Are you arguing in favour of "pure" constructivism?

Goofaholix wrote:Can you give me an example of a circle which is permanent, totally satisfying, and a self?


It appears that you confuse phenomena with concepts. You cannot argue about concepts in the same way you argue about phenomena. I had hoped this thread had at least established that much.

Sobeh wrote:An equivalent claim to the one you're making is that not only is paticcasamuppada a good description of how suffering arises, but that paticcasamuppada is also a thing out there. This is patently ridiculous.


Why is that ridiculous? in a sense, dependent origination is out there, in Africa, in Australia, in America, and everywhere else where sentient beings are.

Sobeh wrote:All a priori statements are only possible within matrices of language structures that are necessarily anicca.


This likewise amounts to epistemological constructivism, does it not? What you seem to say here is that symbolic systems, languages, are properties of mind and that their contents are therefore also just properties of mind. Well, I can't really argue with that, because you start off from a different epistemological premise, but neither can I agree with it. As previously stated, I don't have a fixed opinion, though I find epistemological constructivism not very attractive, because it seems that for epistemological constructivism to be consistent you must also argue in favour of idealism.

Here is another question: Do you think that Buddhism is more compatible with these views?

Cheers, Thomas
Last edited by Pannapetar on Tue May 18, 2010 6:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby alan » Tue May 18, 2010 6:03 am

The reason his statements have not got off the ground has nothing to do with anicca, or any other Buddhist ideas.
The problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea of "essence".
Defining essence as "suchness" should set off alarm bells.

This is why going over to that Pali word of the day thread is so interesting. Many shades of meaning are contained in one word; context is always important.
alan
 
Posts: 2476
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 18, 2010 6:18 am

alan wrote:The problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of the idea of "essence".


Perhaps you could enlighten us about its proper meaning then?

Cheers, Thomas
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 18, 2010 6:30 am

I'm sorry, but I'm reminded of a recent talk I attended by a philosopher of mathematics (Peter Smith from Oxford if anyone cares) who was discussing the claims from Penrose and others that Godel's Incompleteness Theorems may be used to prove things about artificial intelligence.

His rather catchy summary was:
"If someone produces a rabbit, and the subject matter is not rabbits, then the rabbit has most likely been snuck in through the back door at some point..."

Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10097
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby alan » Tue May 18, 2010 6:32 am

Thomas:
Pretty sure I've defined my terms.
*Edited after Mike's post so as not to step on his toes*
alan
 
Posts: 2476
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 18, 2010 6:43 am

math or circles or formulas etc aren't beings so what does it have to do with a self or not?

what you're saying, at least what i'm reading is there are certain formulas that are truths, and since this truth is unchanging it is or has a self but that's a huge leap isn't it?
would you ascribe all truths an atman or as an atman? the 4 noble truths?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 18, 2010 7:45 am

alan wrote:Pretty sure I've defined my terms.


No, you have certainly not defined anything. You have stated that I misused the word "essence", but you failed to explain why. You did not inform us how you see the term misused, and what is is actually supposed to mean (in your view).

jcsuperstar wrote:math or circles or formulas etc aren't beings so what does it have to do with a self or not?


JC, in my first posting (first few lines) I explained two different forms in which the term anatta/anatman is used. The proposition that synthetic a priori statements exhibit qualities of atta/atman relates to the second form, in which it means inherent existence, not soul or self. Candrakriti has described it as follows: "Atman is an essence of things that does not depend on others; it is an intrinsic nature."

Cheers, Thomas
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Goofaholix » Tue May 18, 2010 9:33 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Can you give me an example of a circle which is permanent, totally satisfying, and a self?


It appears that you confuse phenomena with concepts. You cannot argue about concepts in the same way you argue about phenomena. I had hoped this thread had at least established that much.


Actually when I argue I pretty much argue the same way no matter what the topic, however this may be due to my limited experience with arguing.

It doesn't really matter whether concept or phenomena, circle or square, animal vegetable or mineral, I have yet to come across anything to which impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not self did not apply.

In the unlikely event there was something I doubt it could be proven with mathematics.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1828
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue May 18, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi Thomas,

I have just one point. You are labeling some people as "constructionist". I had to look it up as I am not a student of classical forms of philosophy. Thanks by the way. Its nice to learn a little.

Anyway...

From what I can tell a constructionist view is built around the idea that there is a self that constructs. No self=No constructionist view. Apparently the constructionist view is a response to the "Objectivist" view but this also requires a self. No self= No objectivist view.

Thinking is fun.

Learning is fun.

Time to Meditate.

Love Love

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue May 18, 2010 6:34 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
JC, in my first posting (first few lines) I explained two different forms in which the term anatta/anatman is used. The proposition that synthetic a priori statements exhibit qualities of atta/atman relates to the second form, in which it means inherent existence, not soul or self. Candrakriti has described it as follows: "Atman is an essence of things that does not depend on others; it is an intrinsic nature."

Cheers, Thomas

well then does a circle inherently exist due to a mathematical formula or do we have an idea of a circle which we define based on a formula we have created thus making it really not inherently existing at all beyond that we agree that if you have certain properties then we will call it a certain name?

and do circles really exist in nature, sure you can point to circles on the moon etc but is that really an inherently existing object separate and unique from the rest of the moon dirt and rocks that go on and on over the rest of the moon? or is it really that we choose to define a boundary of an area in a certain shape such as in how a mountain does not exist, the ground just goes up, yet we like to think of mountains as something external to the ground or resting on the earth. a circle may just be the same sort of mental construct, nothing more.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Kenshou » Tue May 18, 2010 6:55 pm

Will proving that mathematical formulas are an atman of some sort end your suffering?

If not, I'm afraid I don't see the point here. I truly do not mean to be patronizing in saying this but I think this is pushing the dhamma beyond it's intended bounds into areas it wasn't meant to deal with, and so the results are going to be awkward. Wrong tool for the job.
Kenshou
 
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Dan74 » Tue May 18, 2010 7:19 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Well, to me these are claims.


To call them "claims" doesn't really say very much. What type of claims? Empirical? Epistemic? We have to distinguish propositions about empirical facts from logical propositions, for example. To say that the patterns we express with mathematics have no reality beyond our conditioned mind amounts to epistemological constructivism. Are you arguing in favour of "pure" constructivism?

Cheers, Thomas


Hi Thomas,

I am no philosopher and have only a vague familiarity with the terms you use above. What I meant when I said "these are claims" was simply that you were claiming certain notions as universals and making claims about aliens without any proof that I could see.

But suppose they are universal. It's certainly hard to conceive of an intelligent species without some rules of logic like if A implies B, and there is A, then there is B. Then it's not a huge step to suppose that the laws of geometry and physics will likewise follow. So what does it mean for the Buddhadhamma?

To me this presents no problem at all. The Buddha, the way I see it, taught anatta as an antidote for the prevailing clinging to atman. These notions cannot be said to be atman because their existence depends on the logical system which it its turn depends on certain level of intelligence and consciousness. And besides it is the clinging that is the problem. Reifying or believing something has inherent essence blocks insight into the conditions that give rise to it, like intelligence, thought, consciousness, all conditioned formations. If we don't do that, ascribing some sort of a provisional universal status to these phenomena is no big deal, but going further into the platonic theory of forms as eternally existent out there, clashes with Buddhadhamma and something to investigate carefully then.

Like you said dependent arising may be said to have universal applicability but it has no essence apart from the world of phenomena it relates to.

So I don't see atman :shrug:
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Sobeh » Tue May 18, 2010 10:34 pm

Pannapetar wrote:This likewise amounts to epistemological constructivism, does it not?


No, it is not constructivist epistemology (and to be precise, you really are putting those two words in the wrong order). Let's be clear:

"Constructivist epistemology is an epistemological perspective in philosophy about the nature of scientific knowledge. Constructivists maintain that scientific knowledge is constructed by scientists and not discovered from the world. Constructivism believes that there is no single valid methodology and there are other methodologies for social science: qualitative research. It thus is opposed to positivism, which is a philosophy that holds that the only authentic knowledge is that which is based on actual sense experience."

I've put in bold the portion you must intend when you claim that my position is that something like the equation of a circle does not exist eternally. You take me to mean that the equation, because it is located in a language, is not a discovery about the world, but is instead some other construct. I hope I understand you accurately as holding something approaching an opposite view - that something like the equation of a circle is somehow 'out there' which then becomes known but which exists whether it is known or not, eternally even.

The point is this: in every Western philosophical tradition of epistemology, the mind is not considered as a sense in the same way that the five physical senses are. In the Dhamma, however, the mind is simply a sixth sense alongside the other five; or, alternatively, the five physical senses are rolled up into 'form' and the mind is sub-divided into four other categories of functioning: feeling, perception, volitional determinations, consciousness.

None of this is reflected in the epistemological foundations of constructivist epistemology. Furthermore, you seem inclined to take the discussion into metaphysics (per "the equation really exists", which is ontology), and metaphysics are a vile nest of mere speculative views and idle meanderings (paraphrased per the Suttas).

The comparison completely misses the mark here.
User avatar
Sobeh
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:35 am
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, US

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 7 guests