Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

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Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:33 am

So lately I've been finding that people are confusing the Buddha with Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta. A notorious skeptic, fully agnostic existentialist, relativist and moral pluralist in the Buddha's time. His theories of moral relativity, existential relativity, and agnosticism were called "Eel wriggling" by the Buddha and were refuted. Why then do people take the Buddha to be an agnostic, relativist, and amoral?

In the Brahmajala sutta. When hearing Buddhist teachings, the Buddha claims that people would react with four forms of ambiguous evasion:
Evasion out of fear or hatred of making false claims.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of attachment.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of debate.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of admitting ignorance.

In other words, when a person would hear the Dharma, they would respond, "I don't know. Maybe it is true. Maybe it is not true. I can't say it's true because I don't know and I can't deny it's true because I don't know."
The idea is that the person isn't considering the arguments presented (Kalama Sutta), but stubbornly adhering to irrational agnosticism out of feelings of fear or hatred.

So now I'd like an explanation on how the relativist ideas and objectivist ideas relate and tie together to the doctrine (other than being an example of 2 ideas) , because I thought the ultimate truth was selflessness? Without a point of reference, wouldn't one not be constrained and limited by ignorance thereby constantly gaining knowledge and insight?
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Cloud » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:59 am

Not sure I understand the question. All the -isms usually confuse me. :) Can you put the question in layman's terms?
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:07 am

Perhaps this post was clearer:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=2294&p=103110#p103107
Wizard in the Forest wrote:The Buddha did not say that truth did not exist, while he pointed out the failures of the conventions of language. Ideas like 'actions have consequences'; 'behavior founded in greed, hatred and delusion produces misery'; 'becoming less attached we become more creative'; are simply descriptions of the way the world actually works. They give us a basis for a system of values which are not arbitrary. They are truths.

Perhaps WITF is wondering why the Buddha's refusal to answer certain questions and his comments about certain views being speculative seem to sometimes be used as an excuse to dismiss any discussion of truth or views.

:anjali:
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:12 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps WITF is wondering why the Buddha's refusal to answer certain questions and his comments about certain views being speculative seem to sometimes be used as an excuse to dismiss any discussion of truth or views.

:anjali:
Mike


Yup, thanks for clearing it up Mike.
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Skaffen » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:10 am

http://www.quantumbuddhism.com/about.html

The general dividing lines between those who see significant parallels and deep similarities between Eastern philosophies and other who pour scorn and opprobrium upon such ideas are looked into. An initial indication that the weight of evidence now clearly supports the former view is indicated. The particular suitability of Buddhist philosophies for comparison with modern physics is outlined and some of the important contributions within this area is outlined and evaluated. An initial discussion of the significance of the core Buddhist philosophical notion of ‘emptiness’, the lack of inherent self existence in all phenomena, is provided, together with significant evidence that this crucial Buddhist notion has deep significance for understanding the nature of quantum paradoxes. In a recent issue of New Scientist for instance we read that precise quantum experiences clearly suggest that:

… we now have to face the possibility that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words measuring those properties is what brings them into existence.

The recently performed experiments that have demonstrated lack of inherent reality of the measured properties involve testing a special formula at the quantum level; if the ‘numbers add up’ then ‘we have to abandon the idea of an objective reality’. When the experiments were performed the numbers did add up and the conclusion that has to be drawn, according to one of the quantum physicists involved, is that:

Rather than passively observing it, we in fact create reality.
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Skaffen » Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:10 am

http://www.quantumbuddhism.com/about.html

The general dividing lines between those who see significant parallels and deep similarities between Eastern philosophies and other who pour scorn and opprobrium upon such ideas are looked into. An initial indication that the weight of evidence now clearly supports the former view is indicated. The particular suitability of Buddhist philosophies for comparison with modern physics is outlined and some of the important contributions within this area is outlined and evaluated. An initial discussion of the significance of the core Buddhist philosophical notion of ‘emptiness’, the lack of inherent self existence in all phenomena, is provided, together with significant evidence that this crucial Buddhist notion has deep significance for understanding the nature of quantum paradoxes. In a recent issue of New Scientist for instance we read that precise quantum experiences clearly suggest that:

… we now have to face the possibility that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words measuring those properties is what brings them into existence.

The recently performed experiments that have demonstrated lack of inherent reality of the measured properties involve testing a special formula at the quantum level; if the ‘numbers add up’ then ‘we have to abandon the idea of an objective reality’. When the experiments were performed the numbers did add up and the conclusion that has to be drawn, according to one of the quantum physicists involved, is that:

Rather than passively observing it, we in fact create reality.
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby ground » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:58 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:In other words, when a person would hear the Dharma, they would respond, "I don't know. Maybe it is true. Maybe it is not true. I can't say it's true because I don't know and I can't deny it's true because I don't know."
The idea is that the person isn't considering the arguments presented (Kalama Sutta), but stubbornly adhering to irrational agnosticism out of feelings of fear or hatred.

This agnostic position can be the only valid one depending on what kind of truth is being discussed. E.g. there is a difference between discussing what traditions says and discussing whether what tradition says is true. Seeking evidence for the former is quite straightforward, seeking evidence for the latter is not possible in many cases and agnosticism appears to be the appropriate position.

Wizard in the Forest wrote:So now I'd like an explanation on how the relativist ideas and objectivist ideas relate ...

They relate in that objectivism is based on convention and thus it is actually relative.


Wizard in the Forest wrote:... because I thought the ultimate truth was selflessness?

This begs the question what "ultimate truth" means and what "selflessness" means in this context.

Wizard in the Forest wrote:Without a point of reference, wouldn't one not be constrained and limited by ignorance thereby constantly gaining knowledge and insight?

The point of reference is either a conventional truth or some sort of "private" truth. In case of the former the collective should be specified because conventional truth is not necessarily valid for all persons generally, i.e. the conventional truth of natural scientists may differ from the conventional truths of Theravadins or other buddhists or Christians or ...


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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:53 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:So lately I've been finding that people are confusing the Buddha with Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta. A notorious skeptic, fully agnostic existentialist, relativist and moral pluralist in the Buddha's time. His theories of moral relativity, existential relativity, and agnosticism were called "Eel wriggling" by the Buddha and were refuted. Why then do people take the Buddha to be an agnostic, relativist, and amoral?

In the Brahmajala sutta. When hearing Buddhist teachings, the Buddha claims that people would react with four forms of ambiguous evasion:
Evasion out of fear or hatred of making false claims.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of attachment.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of debate.
Evasion out of fear or hatred of admitting ignorance.

In other words, when a person would hear the Dharma, they would respond, "I don't know. Maybe it is true. Maybe it is not true. I can't say it's true because I don't know and I can't deny it's true because I don't know."
The idea is that the person isn't considering the arguments presented (Kalama Sutta), but stubbornly adhering to irrational agnosticism out of feelings of fear or hatred.

So now I'd like an explanation on how the relativist ideas and objectivist ideas relate and tie together to the doctrine (other than being an example of 2 ideas) , because I thought the ultimate truth was selflessness? Without a point of reference, wouldn't one not be constrained and limited by ignorance thereby constantly gaining knowledge and insight?

People take the Buddha to be an agnostic, relativist, etc., because they misunderstand; being a Buddha is to be free from views. People also misunderstand "freedom from views" as sophistry and relativism and ignorance, because they are still bound by views.

Ultimate truth is not "selflessness," the principle, but the moment. Many words about selflessness do not lead to moments of selflessness and these are not rightfully regarded as truth.

Without a point of view, there is no gain and loss.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: Relativity, objectivity, and ultimate truth

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:52 pm

Skaffen wrote:... quantum physicists ...
:roll:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_e ... _mechanics
The Wikipedia Page wrote:... there is no 'observer effect', only one vastly entangled quantum system ... The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is also frequently confused with the "observer effect". The uncertainty principle actually describes how precisely we may measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time — if we increase the precision in measuring one quantity, we are forced to lose precision in measuring the other. Thus, the uncertainty principle deals with measurement, and not observation
I'm not a fan of the Copenhagen interpretation.
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