Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

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

Postby Sobeh » Thu May 20, 2010 5:03 am

As to atta: note that the Buddha never used atta to refer to anything other than the five aggregates or the six sense bases, showing that in each case every component is 'not-self'. If you want to declare this to mean that in each case every component has no 'inherent existence', that's probably accurate but the language use is too imprecise. The Dhamma is for the cessation of suffering, not fractal mountains or circles, and as such persistently avoids all metaphysics because they cannot help with this task.

Pannapetar wrote:Furthermore, the terms "objectivism" and "philosophical realism" are often used synonymously in philosophy.


Yup, that's what I said: "the objectivism you refer to is otherwise known as philosophical realism..." Agreement!

Pannapetar wrote:I must also reject your objection that "phenomenalism is epistemology, not metaphysics". Such a broad claim would bring any philosophy professor to tears. Phenomenalism is firmly rooted in ontology. Actually, your very citation: "phenomenalism the view that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves" is a giveaway. It has ontology written all over it.


Since you don't like Wikipedia, here is Princeton University:

S: (n) ontology (the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence)


Phenomenalism is a specific school of thought within the broader realm of ontology, itself a branch of metaphysics. Epistemology is not metaphysics. You are simply wrong on this point, and obviously so.

Pannapetar wrote:Since your argument is based on questioning terminology, and since you haven't established a firm grasp of the same, I am afraid I have to reject your critique.


And, since I actually got the terms right, and you got them wrong, where does that leave us?
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 20, 2010 5:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:It's not intended to be condescending... it's intended to give you the opportunity of seeing how the Buddha might guide you on such matters if he were here today.


Pardon me? Giving me an opportunity like the Buddha would? And you don't consider this condescending? If it is not "intended" that way, perhaps you should consider the possibility of a gap in accurate self-perception. You instrumentalise sutta to make a rhetorical point. The point suggests that the entire venture of mathematics is unessential and that all mathematicians (and by implication all scientists who use mathemtics) are really just missing the point. That is not condescending?

retrofuturist wrote:It is for the individual to discern according to their own reason whether my selection of Buddhavacana is relevant to their situation, and in turn, if they wish to adopt it in their practice.


Again, this couldn't have been phrased more pompously. Thank you, but I have already adopted the dhammapada for my practice. Incidentally, it is my favourite piece of Buddhist literature and I have even reproduced it on my website. If you think that parts of the dhammaphada somehow apply to the matter being discussed, I will gladly consider your reasoned argument. But I will not deal with sutta being cited to make purely rhetorical points.

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

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 20, 2010 5:29 am

Sobeh wrote:As to atta: note that the Buddha never used atta to refer to anything other than the five aggregates or the six sense bases, showing that in each case every component is 'not-self'.


He might. Since I don't know the entire canon, I would have to admit that it may be possible. However, I did not claim to use the word in that narrow meaning. The word atta still has a larger meaning. For example, it is used in Hinduism and Indian philosophy, as well as in Mahayana Buddhism.

Sobeh wrote:Phenomenalism is a specific school of thought within the broader realm of ontology, itself a branch of metaphysics. Epistemology is not metaphysics.


I am in total agreement. Have I said anything else?

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

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 5:41 am

Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:The point suggests that the entire venture of mathematics is unessential and that all mathematicians (and by implication all scientists who use mathemtics) are really just missing the point.

In the context of the Dhamma, yes... that is precisely what I'm saying.

The Buddha spoke of certain "Animal Arts" (Tiracchāna Vijjā). In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) it is said that those who partake in the Animal Arts "make a wrongful living by means of low arts contrary to correct practice conducive to the attainment of deva realms and Nibbana"

As you'll see on Bhikkhu Pesala's website, this list of Animal Arts includes mathematics - http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Path/ ... dices.html

Most mathematicians won't care, because most aren't focused on "practice conducive to the attainment of deva realms and Nibbana" at those times when they partake in their mathematical pursuits... but perhaps you'll see now why some who are here and interested in the Dhamma, aren't particularly interested in your comments which are totally irrelevant to their goal.

In order to understand some people's disinterest in worldly matters, you need to better distinguish between the Dhamma and that which is worldly.

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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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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

Postby Sobeh » Thu May 20, 2010 5:55 am

Pannapetar wrote:For example, it is used in Hinduism and Indian philosophy, as well as in Mahayana Buddhism.


This is a bad baseline fallacy. The term 'atta' takes on numerous meanings depending on the context, and my context is the Dhamma. Yours seems to be a much broader context, as you say, but I will not join you in exiting the Dhamma for those other realms.

Pannapetar wrote:
Sobeh wrote:Phenomenalism is a specific school of thought within the broader realm of ontology, itself a branch of metaphysics. Epistemology is not metaphysics.


I am in total agreement. Have I said anything else?


Pannapetar wrote:I must also reject your objection that "phenomenalism is epistemology, not metaphysics".


Sure did.
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 20, 2010 6:19 am

Sobeh wrote:The term 'atta' takes on numerous meanings depending on the context, and my context is the Dhamma.


Sobeh, I have made this clear from the beginning. I have stated the meaning in which I use the term "atta" in the very first paragraph in my very first posting. If you missed it, I am sorry for the misunderstanding. Please reread it.

PP: I must also reject your objection that "phenomenalism is epistemology, not metaphysics". Sure did.


What is this? A double negation that you misinterpreted. You furnished your objection with the claim that "phenomenalism is epistemology, not metaphysics". I rejected that claim. Please reread it.

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

Postby Dan74 » Thu May 20, 2010 6:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Pannapetar,

Pannapetar wrote:The point suggests that the entire venture of mathematics is unessential and that all mathematicians (and by implication all scientists who use mathemtics) are really just missing the point.

In the context of the Dhamma, yes... that is precisely what I'm saying.

The Buddha spoke of certain "Animal Arts" (Tiracchāna Vijjā). In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) it is said that those who partake in the Animal Arts "make a wrongful living by means of low arts contrary to correct practice conducive to the attainment of deva realms and Nibbana"

As you'll see on Bhikkhu Pesala's website, this list of Animal Arts includes mathematics - http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Path/ ... dices.html

Most mathematicians won't care, because most aren't focused on "practice conducive to the attainment of deva realms and Nibbana" at those times when they partake in their mathematical pursuits... but perhaps you'll see now why some who are here and interested in the Dhamma, aren't particularly interested in your comments which are totally irrelevant to their goal.

In order to understand some people's disinterest in worldly matters, you need to better distinguish between the Dhamma and that which is worldly.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Apart from the fact that as far as I know there was no such profession as a mathematician in India at the time, my understanding of Tiracchana Vijja is that it is aimed at monks. Linking it to Brhmajala Sutta and a general conclusion about Right Living seems a bit of a stretch?

Tiracchana Vijja has also been interpreted in different ways even as regards healing which is its main subject. Now if we proclaim that doctor is a wrong livelihood, well... you are creating a bold new Theravada! ;)
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 6:38 am

Greetings Dan,

I think I just addressed that point in Manapa's new topic dedicated to the Animal Arts.

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4421

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


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

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 20, 2010 6:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:The Buddha spoke of certain "Animal Arts" (Tiracchāna Vijjā). In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) it is said that those who partake in the Animal Arts "make a wrongful living by means of low arts contrary to correct practice conducive to the attainment of deva realms and Nibbana"


Animal arts?

Obviously, without these "animal arts" people would still live in caves and hunt prey for a living. People would still be ignorant about the forces of nature, pray to imagined gods, and die of trivial injuries and infections. Life would be crude and short; there would be vast suffering and ignorance and very little time and opportunity to hear the dhamma.

Without mathematics, my friend, we would not even have this conversation, because computers are based on mathematical concepts just as every modern technology. Perhaps you would not even have heard the dhamma. All the technology that makes the circulation of information (such as the dhamma) possible, relies to a certain degree on "animal arts".

retrofuturist wrote:...but perhaps you'll see now why some who are here and interested in the Dhamma, aren't particularly interested in your comments which are totally irrelevant to their goal.


Well, if you are not interested in it, then don't comment. Case solved.

I can understand why monks would not engage in these specific arts (like mathematics). Monks have other priorities. That is perfectly acceptable. However, we all live in a world that is to a great extent determined by technology. Our well-being depends on technology. And the monks depend on us, or rather the communities that support them. You should be able to see that sort of "interdependence".

Speaking of "animal arts" and looking down on science speaks a very condescending and self-righteous language. So far I was under the impression that colossal arrogance is something that Buddhists avoid. I might have just been proven wrong.

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

Postby nathan » Thu May 20, 2010 1:49 pm

Pannapetar wrote:Our well-being depends on technology.
We have by means of continually increasing our reliance on technology created a technological dependence on a vast scale. There are growing indications that this dependence will prove shortsighted on an equally vast scale. In that event our well being will have been brought to a tragic conclusion on a vast scale by our dependence on technology.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 20, 2010 2:14 pm

nathan wrote:
Pannapetar wrote:Our well-being depends on technology.
We have by means of continually increasing our reliance on technology created a technological dependence on a vast scale. There are growing indications that this dependence will prove shortsighted on an equally vast scale. In that event our well being will have been brought to a tragic conclusion on a vast scale by our dependence on technology.


:thumbsup:

And although useful in so many worldly ways, it does not eradicate dukkha. It can be used in wholesome ways, such as spreading the Dhamma, providing information, etc., but it does not in itself eradicate suffering. In the end it is up to the same individual effort that has been used for aeons.

The 'animal arts' are prohibitions of what the monastic community should not do. For lay people, there is a need to engage in many of those in their livelihoods.
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 20, 2010 2:34 pm

Pannapetar wrote:Obviously, without these "animal arts" people would still live in caves and hunt prey for a living. People would still be ignorant about the forces of nature, pray to imagined gods, and die of trivial injuries and infections.


Hi Thomas,

I agree that without these 'animal arts' we might be still at a less than successful technological pace. But this does not move us closer to the eradication of dukkha. We are still beset with all sorts of cravings and attachments and in fact we may have added some more with the advancement of technology. There are some positive effects, such as those you and I listed above, including an easier spread of the Dhamma and teachings. But these are just aids to get to the goal, they are not the goal.

I happen to like the natural sciences and mathematics and the scientific method and the use of logic in mathematics and philosophy. But they will only take you so far. They do not advance to the goal. The sciences and mathematics, for example, can show us that the earth is not 6,000 years old, that there is no god of thunder who throws lightning bolts down to earth, etc. We have scientific knowledge of the natural processes at work. But science and mathematics, like other worldly matters will only take us so far. They might even encourage us on the path, at least it did for me. But mathematical concepts cannot prove or disprove atta.

I think this analogy may be appropriate: A university opens up and is still un-accredited. So they open up an 'accrediting organization' and then give 'accreditation' to themself and other universities (to look legitimate). And then they advertise that they are fully accredited. (There are actual colleges who have done this in the past.) I think this is what happens using mathematical concepts to try and explain atta or anatta. It is basically using the mundane, the worldly man-made concepts to try and prove a supra-mundane.
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Thu May 20, 2010 3:12 pm

nathan wrote:There are growing indications that this dependence will prove shortsighted on an equally vast scale.


Nathan, I think you got a point. There seem to be quite a few problems with how we use technology. My personal view is that this is caused by a disproportional development in society: high technology vs. low spirituality. But I don't really want to go further into this, as it would lead too far away from the original topic. Enough discussion material for an whole new thread.

David N. Snyder wrote:I agree that without these 'animal arts' we might be still at a less than successful technological pace. But this does not move us closer to the eradication of dukkha. We are still beset with all sorts of cravings and attachments and in fact we may have added some more with the advancement of technology. There are some positive effects, such as those you and I listed above, including an easier spread of the Dhamma and teachings. But these are just aids to get to the goal, they are not the goal.


David, it sounds like a balanced view of the situation. I'd like to add that at least for the population of the OECD countries there has been a noticeable reduction in suffering over the last centuries, at least a reduction in suffering at the crude level. This manifests in longer lifespans, better health, more free time, not having to toil on the fields and scramble for survival, having access to education, and of course having access to dhamma. All of these blessings can be used in very positive ways. We know that they are not always used that way, but we've come a long way since the time of the Buddha.

David N. Snyder wrote:I think this is what happens using mathematical concepts to try and explain atta or anatta. It is basically using the mundane, the worldly man-made concepts to try and prove a supra-mundane.


To be honest, I don't think atta can be proven using mathematics. It was more intended as a suggestion, a possibility, food for thought. Ultimately, anything supra-mundane is beyond language and therefore beyond proof. What can be proven are concepts and ideas, and some of these concepts have interesting and useful properties, because they do model reality and the phenomena we observe. In addition, they are not subject to impermanence or dukkha. But that's as far as it goes. My personal experience with mathematics is that mathematics leads to emptiness: emptiness is form, form is emptiness - the very mantra of the heart sutra. But, that's again material for another thread.

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

Postby Sobeh » Thu May 20, 2010 5:23 pm

Pannapetar wrote:Sobeh, I have made this clear from the beginning. I have stated the meaning in which I use the term "atta" in the very first paragraph in my very first posting. If you missed it, I am sorry for the misunderstanding. Please reread it.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers this sum: "While Buddhists share with other Indian philosophers the view that the domain of the mental encompasses a set of interrelated faculties and processes, they do not associate mental phenomena with the activity of a substantial, independent, and enduring self or agent. Rather, Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of no-self (Pāli anatta, Skt. anātma), which postulates that human beings are reducible to the physical and psychological constituents and processes which comprise them."

So basically, I'm responding from the Dhamma, and you're responding from..., well, elsewhere. I suppose we are thus necessarily speaking at cross purposes, as it were. No misunderstandings here, I'm simply not accepting your definition of atta because it isn't attested in the Suttas. My concern is the Dhamma, which is to do with suffering and the cessation of suffering. Your concern seems otherwise, and surely it is my mistake in thinking that we shared a concern at the beginning.

:toast:

Pannapetar wrote:What is this? A double negation that you misinterpreted. You furnished your objection with the claim that "phenomenalism is epistemology, not metaphysics". I rejected that claim. Please reread it.

<earlier>

Phenomenalism is firmly rooted in ontology.


So, I reread it. Phenomenalism is still epistemology, with no roots in ontology, as you claim. I cited sources for my claim, you have yet to do so. :shrug: I'll let you have the last response, and go in peace.
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby alan » Sat May 22, 2010 6:10 am

You could have all gone in peace a long time ago, if my suggestion had been take seriously.
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby Pannapetar » Sat May 22, 2010 8:21 am

alan wrote:You could have all gone in peace a long time ago, if my suggestion had been take seriously.


For someone who has vowed to boycott this thread, you post quite consistently, Alan. :tongue: Besides, what peace? Did it occur to you that boycotting a discussion in a discussion board isn't the most logical thing to suggest? Now let's get back to topic and if you have something to say about the issue itself, I will gladly respond.

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

Postby chownah » Sat May 22, 2010 1:34 pm

Pannapetar wrote: Here is why: A simple equation, such as C/2r=pi expression a relation of entities or -if you want- interdependence. Among other things, it implies that we know what the symbol "2" means; the symbol "2" implies natural numbers and for natural numbers we need the Zermelo-Fränkel set theory. Thus we find interdependence on a larger scale. Does this somehow constitute a deficiency? Does mathematics depend on conditions in any other way than the Buddhadhamma depends on conditions? That is to say, does the Buddhadhamma not depend on ideas, postulates, and theorems, some of which are simple, some of which complex, many of which are interdependent, all of which are expressed in symbolic language? Is the Buddhadhamma therefore deficient?


I think you are treating alot of ideas as if they had "self". The equation above is an idea...it is not a relationship...it is an idea about other ideas...it does not apply to anything except ideas. There are no circles except within the mind....quantum science has pretty much shown that measurement is not an absolute....things can not actually be measured....straight lines can not be shown to exist much less circles....in mathematics a circle is usually defined as a locus of points and a point is defined as being dimensionless......these are neat ideas but they are ideas only. You can spin ideas in whatever way you want but you will only end up with ideas which is fine....I think the Buddha taught that one must become disillusioned with ideas in progressing towards the end of dukkha but I'm not sure. It seems like you think this idea is going to help you find the way out but I'm not sure.

Mathematics is an idea and indeed in that sense it depends on condition just like all other ideas but there is nothing about mathematics that makes it particularly exceptional as an idea (in terms of the Buddha's teachings) other than perhaps its usefulness in the modern world.

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

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 22, 2010 11:29 pm

Greetings Chownah,

chownah wrote:.I think the Buddha taught that one must become disillusioned with ideas in progressing towards the end of dukkha but I'm not sure.


Perhaps you were thinking of this extract from MN 18... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If, monk, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods & bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive tale-bearing, & false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder." That is what the Blessed One said

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

Postby alan » Sun May 23, 2010 4:30 am

Ok then pan, what really is the issue?
I don't see any issue here. All I see is your love of complication.
VedantaWheel is looking for new members...perhaps you would be happier there?

--Edited for right speech. I'm learning from Ben.
(Seems that any response to pan will just throw you into a vortex. I don't want to be there).
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Re: Synthetic a priori, mathematics, and not-self

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 23, 2010 4:43 am

This thread seems to have become one of these:
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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
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