something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

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Shonin
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Shonin » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:30 am

If everything was really in a state of utter, chaotic flux then it would indeed be impossible - in a very real not just a philosophical sense - to ever assert that something exists. All there would be was a homogenous ocean of energy or utter randomness. However, this is not the nature of reality. In reality, orderliness and a fair amount of predictability emerges out of the flux. And even at the smallest scale the flux has a lawfulness to it (we call it the 'laws of nature').

Also this argument seems to be premised on a certain relationship between words and 'things', which I don't think is how language actually functions. Statements are speech acts not about absolutely real things but about conventionally real things - things that are agreed as things not on the basis that they are utterly unchanging but on the basis that these are provisionally useful designations.

To say that A exists does not mean that there is a never-changing entity referred to by 'A'. It means that there is a relatively stable pattern within the flux about which we can make certain predictions about it's behaviour and characteristics.
Last edited by Shonin on Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But would that not mean that it for an instant does not change; for that instant it is changeless? If that is the case, then how does the changeless come to change?
the common view is that change is itself a functioning thing which acts on the physical or mental aggregate. this happens so quickly that things cant last for a second moment, but it is an "it" for a brief moment.
I am certainly positing that point of view./ It is not necessary to the suttas, not is it necessary to the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts.
certainly are or certainly arent? how is it not necessary to the suttas? how else can change occur?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Prasadachitta » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:34 am

What is the difference in meaning between "flux" and "change"?
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:40 am

Would be SUPER grateful if someone could clarify, with evidence, the Mahavihara 'party line' on anicca and flux. I've stated what I think to be the party line but I must admit I am not certain what the commentaries actually say on the matter.

Nope, not this 'party line':

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:45 am

BlackBird wrote:Would be SUPER grateful if someone could clarify, with evidence, the Mahavihara 'party line' on anicca and flux. I've stated what I think to be the party line but I must admit I am not certain what the commentaries actually say on the matter.
Start here: http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/a/anicca.htm
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:03 am

tiltbillings wrote:
BlackBird in another thread wrote:
Nanavira Thera wrote:. . . This, of course, destroys the principle of self-identity, 'A is A'; for unless something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time you cannot even make the assertion 'this is A' since the word 'is' has lost its meaning. . . .
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5815&p=94863#p94863
Wow! Thanks for exposing that bit of really bad philosophy. I guess being a self-proclaimed stream-winner is no guarantee against bad philosophizing.


Looking through the four pages so far of this thread, I'm surprised that nobody has pointed out the rather obvious (well, to me anyway!) logical problems of Ven Nanavira's statement.

If "something endure for at least a certain interval of time", then that interval can be divided up. Let's just say (in technical jargon), time(t) and time(t+1), for any two consecutive moments of time. The "t" part can be anything.

Now, if between any two moments time(t1) and time(t+1) there is enduring, ie. no change, then by very simple logic one can also say that from time(t+1) to time(t+2) there is also no change. Just simply substitute the next "t", so to speak. Well, very quickly we then also can say that there is no change from time(t+2) to time(t+3), and if one can see this, then it is easy to point out that this continues on ad infinity.

The positing of no-change between any two consecutive moments of time, time(t) to subsequent time(t+1), necessarily entails that said phenomena will never in fact change, up to time(t+n) or time(t=) (that is an "infinity" sign, just in case it doesn't come out on your PC).

I'm not sure if it is this exactly which Tilt is referring to as "bad philosophy", but it is pretty bad.
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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby Shonin » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:17 am

The argument that Nanavira is using is similar to a type of argumentation found in Mahayana thought, most influentially and effectively used by Nagarjuna. This sort of logic is often misunderstood as an argument for the nonexistence of things. However, Nagarjuna rejects nonexistence just as he rejects existence. It is not an argument for nonexistence. It is an argument against Essentialism.

Anyway I'm off on holiday now.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:24 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:If "something endure for at least a certain interval of time", then that interval can be divided up.
not if indivisible ultimates exist.

Nanavira Thera wrote:..that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Failing to make the necessary distinctions (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]), they understand this as implying perpetual flux of everything all the time. This, of course, destroys the principle of self-identity, 'A is A'; for unless something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time you cannot even make the assertion 'this is A' since the word 'is' has lost its meaning.
why is this?

if a thing abides for a moment then it can still have an identity in the sense that it is something in and of itself, in dependence on its causes and conditions.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:26 am

Actually, tilt, that is philosophy 301, In which I indulge my favorite students.
There is no reason to believe something cannot go from an entity to a non-entity--or from a stop to a start. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with anything we Buddhists need to contemplate.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby alan » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:29 am

Ven. Pan,
You are using an argument that has been debunked.
Zeno tried it a long time ago.

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:38 am

alan wrote:There is no reason to believe something cannot go from an entity to a non-entity--or from a stop to a start. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with anything we Buddhists need to contemplate.
according to sautrantika, it is the sole purpose of what buddhists must contemplate.

for, at the time of being a nonentity, its necessary cause is by defintion not there. likewise if the cause is there, how could it be a nonentity.

therefore rather than establishing anatta based on momentariness, sautrantikas establish anatta based on the elimination of the innate misapprehension present even in momentariness
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:40 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:

I'm not sure if it is this exactly which Tilt is referring to as "bad philosophy", but it is pretty bad.
I would have gotten to it eventually, but thanks for your very clear exposition.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:43 am

5heaps wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:If "something endure for at least a certain interval of time", then that interval can be divided up.
not if indivisible ultimates exist.
Theravada does not teach that they do, not in the way you are talking about.

Nanavira Thera wrote:..that they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Failing to make the necessary distinctions (see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]), they understand this as implying perpetual flux of everything all the time. This, of course, destroys the principle of self-identity, 'A is A'; for unless something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval of time you cannot even make the assertion 'this is A' since the word 'is' has lost its meaning.
why is this?

if a thing abides for a moment then it can still have an identity in the sense that it is something in and of itself, in dependence on its causes and conditions.
If it is something in and of itself, it is not dependent upon causes and conditions.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:48 am

tiltbillings wrote:If it is something in and of itself, it is not dependent upon causes and conditions.
now youre just being silly. things exist in dependence on causes and conditions. furthermore they exist for a moment. so they have at least this kind of identity, in and of itself (since its not something else)
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:55 am

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If it is something in and of itself, it is not dependent upon causes and conditions.
now youre just being silly. things exist in dependence on causes and conditions. furthermore they exist for a moment. so they have at least this kind of identity, in and of itself (since its not something else)
Well, silly, indeed. Their identity is based upon conditions and causes, which means that do not have, in and of themselves, an independent existence. "In and of themselves" is an idiom that means standing by itself, not dependent upon anything else. You need to choose your words more carefully before you call what I say "silly."
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:05 am

alan wrote:Ven. Pan,
You are using an argument that has been debunked.
Zeno tried it a long time ago.
Geez, Alan, I think you need to reread Ven P's msg again, slowly, maybe outloud, using your finger running under each line as you read.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:10 am

alan wrote:Actually, tilt, that is philosophy 301, In which I indulge my favorite students.
There is no reason to believe something cannot go from an entity to a non-entity--or from a stop to a start. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with anything we Buddhists need to contemplate.
No reason not to believe in unicorns. It may not have to do with what Buddhists need to "contemplate," but it has to do with the questionable comment Nanavira made. The question is not unlike the unmoved mover. How do you account for motion in something that has no motion; how do you account for the movement of time in relationship to what is not moving, that is time stopped.

Nanavira's "constant flux" and "something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval" are rather poor philosophy and rather poor Buddhism.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:13 am

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But would that not mean that it for an instant does not change; for that instant it is changeless? If that is the case, then how does the changeless come to change?
the common view is that change is itself a functioning thing which acts on the physical or mental aggregate. this happens so quickly that things cant last for a second moment, but it is an "it" for a brief moment.
I am certainly positing that point of view./ It is not necessary to the suttas, not is it necessary to the Abhidhamma Pitaka texts.


Correction: I am certainly not positing that point of view.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:17 am

alan wrote:Since the tenor of the discussion has turned towards definitions, I'll go ahead and define.
"Bad Philosophy" to me means an argument that:
A) is based on a flawed premise, or,
B) contains illogical assumptions, or,
C) is irrational on it's face.
We shall see.

None of those apply in this case. Agree or don't--but there is no doubt Nanavira had important things to say, and he was a thinker well worth your time.
I spent time with his writings. My time is better spent elsewhere.
I certainly will not be throwing his book out the window.
Packed in a moldy cardboard box in the basement under several other boxes.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: something endures unchanged for at least a certain interval

Postby 5heaps » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:17 am

tiltbillings wrote:Correction: I am certainly not positing that point of view.
then how does a thing change? if not due to other, then due to itself?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."


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