tiltbillings wrote:that he is talking some aspect of the mind/body process that would be unchanged for some interval that would allow from one time to the next their to be a sense of continuity, so I don’t think your analysis here is quite to the point.
Perhaps the following may be able to shed some more light for you:
Ven. Nyanavira wrote: Failing to make the necessary distinctions (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]), they understand this as implying perpetual flux of everything all the time.
Ven. Nyanavira wrote:[c] The notion of flux can be expressed thus: A = B, B = C, A C, where A, B, and C, are consecutive (Poincaré's definition of continuity). This contradiction can only be concealed by verbal legerdemain. (The origin of this misleading notion, as of so many others in the traditional interpretation, seems to be the Milindapañha, which, to judge by its simile of the flame, intends its formula na ca so na ca añño to be understood as describing continuous change.) The misunderstanding arises from failure to see that change at any given level of generality must be discontinuous and absolute, and that there must be different levels of generality. When these are taken together, any desired approximation to 'continuous change' can be obtained without contradiction. But change, as marking 'the passage of time', is no more than change of aspect or orientation: change of substance is not necessary, nor is movement. (See ANICCA [a], CITTA [a], & FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE.) Kierkegaard (op. cit., p. 277) points out that Heraclitus, who summed up his doctrine of universal flux in the celebrated dictum that one cannot pass through the same river twice, had a disciple who remarked that one cannot pass through the same river even once. If everything is changing, there is no change at all.
The assumption of a single absolute time, conceived as a uniform continuity (or flux) of instants, leads at once to a very common misconception of the Dhamma:
A. Even if I now perceive things as self-identically persisting in time, my present perception is only one out of a flux or continuous succession of perceptions, and there is no guarantee that I continue to perceive the same self-identities for two successive instants. All I am therefore entitled to say is that there appear to be self-identities persisting in time; but whether it is so or not in reality I am quite unable to discover.
B. The Buddha's teachings of impermanence and not-self answer this question in the negative: In reality no things exist, and if they appear to do so that is because of my ignorance of these teachings (which is avijjá).
But we may remark: (i) That A is the result of taking presumptively the rational view of time, and using it to question the validity of direct reflexive experience. But the rational view of time is itself derived, ultimately, from direct reflexive experience -- how can we know about time at all, if not from experience? --, and it is quite illegitimate to use it to dig away its own foundations. The fault is in the act of rationalization, in the attempt to see time from a point outside it; and the result -- a continuous succession of isolated instants each of no duration and without past or future (from a timeless point of view they are all present) -- is a monster. The distinction in A (as everywhere else) between 'appearance' and 'reality' is wholly spurious. (ii) That since our knowledge of time comes only from perception of change, the nature of change must be determined before we can know the structure of time. We have, therefore, no antecedent reason -- if we do not actually encounter the thing itself -- for entertaining the self-contradictory idea (see Poincaré above) of continuous change. (iii) That, whether or not we do actually perceive continuous change, we certainly perceive discontinuous changes (so much is admitted by A), and there is thus a prima-facie case at least in favour of the latter. (iv) That the experiments of the Gestalt psychologists indicate that, in fact, we perceive only discontinuous changes, not continuous change (cf. Sartre, op. cit., p. 190). (v) That if, nevertheless, we say that we do at times and in the normal way have intuitive experience, distinct and unambiguous, of continuous change, and if we also say that continuous change, in accordance with B, is what is meant by the teaching of impermanence, then it will follow that at such times we must enjoy a direct view of 'reality' and be free from avijjá. Why, then, should we need a Buddha to tell us these things? But if we reject the first premiss we shall have no longer any grounds for having to assert a uniformly continuous time, and if we reject the second we shall have no longer any grounds for wishing to assert it. (On the question of self-identity, see ATTÁ.)
Our undeniable experience of movement and similar things (e.g. the fading of lights) will no doubt be adduced as evidence of continuous change -- indeed, it will be said that they are continuous change. That movement is evidence of what it is, is quite certain; but it is not so certain that it is evidence of continuous change. We may understand movement as, at each level of generality, a succession of contiguous fixed finite trajectories (to borrow Sartre's expression), and each such trajectory, at the next lower level, as a relatively faster succession of lesser trajectories, and so on indefinitely. But, as discussed in FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE [h], our ability to perceive distinctions is limited, and this hierarchy of trajectories is anomalously apprehended as a series of discrete continuities of displacement -- which is, precisely, what we are accustomed to call movement. In other words, it is only where our power of discrimination leaves off that we start talking about 'continuous change'. (Consideration of the mechanism of the cinematograph -- see the foregoing reference -- is enough to show that continuous change cannot safely be inferred from the experience of movement; but it must not be supposed that the structure of movement can be reduced simply to the structure of the cinematograph film. See also FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE [m].)
In fact, if you read the book, I'm sure you'd have a better grasp on what he's talking about, and from that perhaps you could even write about why you think he's such a bad philosopher.