Buddhist response to Western ontology

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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:10 pm

contemplans wrote:If people don't want to conceptualize about Nibbana, that is fine, but as described by the Buddha, it is implicit (and sometimes explicit) in it that other qualities can be deduced which accord with a state of divinity. For example, simplicity, goodness, happiness, being. Whenever the Buddha speaks about Nibbana, it has more to do with the concept of God than it does with materialism or with . Buddhism admits a transcendent principle, but says very little.


It's totally unnecessary to deduce such qualities, nor to label them as divine, nor to compare with one of the God concepts.

Can you pioint to a scripture where the Buddha does so?
"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
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:22 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
contemplans wrote:If people don't want to conceptualize about Nibbana, that is fine, but as described by the Buddha, it is implicit (and sometimes explicit) in it that other qualities can be deduced which accord with a state of divinity. For example, simplicity, goodness, happiness, being. Whenever the Buddha speaks about Nibbana, it has more to do with the concept of God than it does with materialism or with . Buddhism admits a transcendent principle, but says very little.


It's totally unnecessary to deduce such qualities, nor to label them as divine, nor to compare with one of the God concepts.

Can you pioint to a scripture where the Buddha does so?


It is not necessary, but possible. I would say that any Buddhist who has risen into the jhanas has some conception of what's ahead of them as simplicity, goodness, happiness, being. Using adjectives as peaceful, exquisite, stilling, beautiful, bright, etc. all point in one direction. He doesn't say that these distinctions don't matter.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:24 pm

Some may find this article interest and/or beneficial. It touches on some of the things mentioned by the OP.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04 ... e-god.html
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:31 pm

contemplans wrote:It is not necessary, but possible. I would say that any Buddhist who has risen into the jhanas has some conception of what's ahead of them as simplicity, goodness, happiness, being. Using adjectives as peaceful, exquisite, stilling, beautiful, bright, etc. all point in one direction. He doesn't say that these distinctions don't matter.


He doesn't say that they do either, so the point remains there is no necessity to define Nibanna in terms of the 5 senses.
"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
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:49 am

contemplans wrote:In the universe as presently structured, free will and evil come hand in hand.
Not that you have shown

If you don't want to be determined, to be a robot of sorts, then you are going to have evil.
God structured evil into the universe, knowing full well how it would all play out, knowing that it would not play out any differently from how he structured the universe. The universe is the way it is -- it functions -- because it how god wills it to be, and one of the functions of the structure of the universe was Hitler, acting out god's will.
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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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:31 am

tiltbillings wrote:
contemplans wrote:In the universe as presently structured, free will and evil come hand in hand.
Not that you have shown

I assume as a Buddhist you believe in karma, and acknowledge dukkha, so what is there to show? Buddhism holds this. Buddhism doesn't teach determinism, and the whole question of the Four Noble Truths is involved with evil. The starting point of Buddhism is free action to get out of dukkha.

If you don't want to be determined, to be a robot of sorts, then you are going to have evil.
God structured evil into the universe, knowing full well how it would all play out, knowing that it would not play out any differently from how he structured the universe. The universe is the way it is -- it functions -- because it how god wills it to be, and one of the functions of the structure of the universe was Hitler, acting out god's will.


You can't have it both ways. Either Hitler was free to do evil or he wasn't. If he wasn't, but God made him, then the the Buddhist path of liberation is impossible (AN 3.110). If he was free, then how could God be imputed with the evil? It seems like you want a perfect atheistic argument. God is evil no matter what. He is evil if he restricts action. He is evil if he doesn't. Along your lie of reasoning, we'd conclude that God was good because the Buddha lived an exemplary life, since God willed it. But if you look at your own reasoning, if we admit free will, then we must admit that humans are responsible for their actions.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby SDC » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:29 am

:shock:

:popcorn:

This thread is a gem.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:29 am

contemplans wrote:You can't have it both ways.
Exactly.

Either Hitler was free to do evil or he wasn't. If he wasn't, but God made him,
Given an omniscient, omnipotent god, free will is meaningless. Hitler, being god's creation, acted as an expression of god's creation.

then the the Buddhist path of liberation is impossible (AN 3.110).
That would be true if there were a god responsible for it all. Fortunately the Buddha rejected such an idea as a creator god, thus the Buddha's teachings are not saddled with such a remarkably incoherent notion.

If he was free, then how could God be imputed with the evil?
The Buddhist texts offer several responses to that:

Anguttara Nikaya 3.61: "Again, monks, I [the Buddha] approached those ascetic and brahmins and said to them: 'Is it true, as they say, that you venerable ones teach and hold the view that whatever a person experiences...all that is caused by God's creation?' When they affirmed it, I said to them: 'If that is so, venerable sirs, then it is due to God's creation that people kill, steal ...[and otherwise act badly]. But those who have recourse to God's creation as the decisive factor, will lack the impulse and the effort doing this or not doing that. Since for them, really and truly, no (motive) obtains that this or that ought to be done or not be done...."'

"If the pleasure and pain that beings feel are caused the creative act of a Supreme God [Issara-nimmana-hetu], then the Niganthas [Jains] surely must have been created by an evil Supreme God." MajjhimaNikaya II 222.

"The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God." MN II 68.

And then let us add these statement from the Pali Canon:

"He who eyes can see the sickening sight, why does not God set his creatures right? If his wide power no limits can restrain, why is his hand so rarely spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to pain? Why does he not to all give happiness? Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail? Why triumphs falsehood, - truth and justice fail? I count your God unjust in making a world in which to shelter wrong." J VI.208

"If God designs the life of the entire world -- the glory and the misery, the good and the evil acts, man is but an instrument of his will and God alone is responsible." J V.238.

But another answer to your question is, what can exist that god does not will to exist? If god is omnipotent and omniscient, nothing. If something existed that god did not will to exist, then god certainly is not omnipotent, and likely not omniscient. So, "how could God be imputed with the evil?" By the fact that all the pain and suffering done by the likes of a Hitler or a pedophile is because god wills it to be. God's choice.

It seems like you want a perfect atheistic argument. God is evil no matter what. He is evil if he restricts action. He is evil if he doesn't. Along your lie of reasoning, we'd conclude that God was good because the Buddha lived an exemplary life, since God willed it. But if you look at your own reasoning, if we admit free will, then we must admit that humans are responsible for their actions.
This is, of course, not my argument, and as usual you do not engage the actual argument made; rather, you go after your strawman arguments.

Also, why would I say that "God was good because the Buddha lived an exemplary life, since God willed it?" I wouldn't. I'd be more inclined to Robert Frost's response:

    Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big joke on me.

Fortunately, I do not have to deal with such a massive incoherence as an omniscient, omnipotent creator god.
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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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:30 am

contemplans wrote: But if you look at your own reasoning, if we admit free will, then we must admit that humans are responsible for their actions.
Sure, but free will is not compatible with an unnecessary omniscience, omnipotent god notion.
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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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:39 am

Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer. In these articles we get a good run down of the content, especially in relation to the types of arguments posted here. Any refutation of these ideas would be worthy of discussion.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09 ... heism.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05 ... eedom.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/11 ... icity.html
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:26 am

contemplans wrote:Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer. In these articles we get a good run down of the content, especially in relation to the types of arguments posted here. Any refutation of these ideas would be worthy of discussion.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09 ... heism.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05 ... eedom.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/11 ... icity.html

Contemplans,
With respect, the OP was interested in Buddhist responses to "Western ontology" - as you knew, of course, since you pointed it out. I agree that "it would be good to [re]start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer," but we won't achieve that by going to your explicitly theistic and Christian links.
wikipedia wrote:Ontology (from onto-, from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος "being; that which is", present participle of the verb εἰμί "be", and -λογία, -logia: science, study, theory) is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence, or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

God/s don't even get a mention in the primary definition, and there are a couple of centuries of ontological theory before JC even gets born.
:focus:

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:34 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: . . . :focus:

Your msg was certainly on topic and appropriate.
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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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:45 am

contemplans wrote:Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer.

isn't this page four, not page one?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:17 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
contemplans wrote:Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer.

isn't this page four, not page one?


This sort of thing is called "moving the goalposts". Instead of engaging with the "Buddhist response", it becomes a fountainhead for repeatedly massaged forms of "Western ontology". Whenever the massaging process begins to result in reductio ad absurdum, a whole new "Western ontology" will be proferred, and the process begun anew with those fresh goalposts as the discourse target.

IMO; meta

:focus:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:01 pm

daverupa wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
contemplans wrote:Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer.

isn't this page four, not page one?


This sort of thing is called "moving the goalposts". Instead of engaging with the "Buddhist response", it becomes a fountainhead for repeatedly massaged forms of "Western ontology". Whenever the massaging process begins to result in reductio ad absurdum, a whole new "Western ontology" will be proferred, and the process begun anew with those fresh goalposts as the discourse target.

IMO; meta

:focus:

you missed the point.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:32 pm

Cittasanto wrote:you missed the point.


I'm not saying that your comment was moving the goalposts, I'm saying that contemplans' post was moving the goalposts. Your point was to highlight the contradiction between being on page four and the citing of 'a good start' with new information, rather than a continuation of the OP, yes? I agreed, and simply referenced the particular method of that contradiction. Your quote was embedded since I was supporting the question you raised.

:heart:

:focus:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:46 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
contemplans wrote:Since the OP was interested in a Buddhist response to Western ontology, it would be good to start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer. In these articles we get a good run down of the content, especially in relation to the types of arguments posted here. Any refutation of these ideas would be worthy of discussion.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09 ... heism.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/05 ... eedom.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/11 ... icity.html

Contemplans,
With respect, the OP was interested in Buddhist responses to "Western ontology" - as you knew, of course, since you pointed it out. I agree that "it would be good to [re]start with a robust understanding of the best Western ontology has to offer," but we won't achieve that by going to your explicitly theistic and Christian links.
wikipedia wrote:Ontology (from onto-, from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος "being; that which is", present participle of the verb εἰμί "be", and -λογία, -logia: science, study, theory) is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence, or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

God/s don't even get a mention in the primary definition, and there are a couple of centuries of ontological theory before JC even gets born.
:focus:

:namaste:
Kim


Hi Kim, with all due respect to you, Western ontology is Christian. It's roots definitely are with the Greeks, but they take the shape we know it through Christian philosophers like Aquinas. Aristotle was already positing God in his ontology, so there is no need to go into Christianity, but Aquinas and other noted philosophers have improved his work so much that it would be absolutely silly to not use them. This philosophy is what is called classical theism. Ontology is not a Buddhist subject, so we are going to stray from the suttas to discuss it. The Buddhist response again would be, don't discuss it.
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:53 pm

contemplans wrote: Ontology is not a Buddhist subject, so we are going to stray from the suttas to discuss it. The Buddhist response again would be, don't discuss it.
Your claim seems to, as they often do, fail:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby contemplans » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
contemplans wrote: Ontology is not a Buddhist subject, so we are going to stray from the suttas to discuss it. The Buddhist response again would be, don't discuss it.
Your claim seems to, as they often do, fail:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


That sutta doesn't posit an ontology, it says, "We don't do ontology." See quote: "Avoiding these two extremes ...". Buddhism is quietistic in this regard, as it often is with philosophical questions. This is why I say it isn't a Buddhist subject.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/realism/#8
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Re: Buddhist response to Western ontology

Postby perkele » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:42 pm

Hello contemplans, all!

When you read the sutta carefully you can see that there is a reason, there is a justification for "avoiding these two extremes", namely:
But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

The premise here is of course that the Buddha "sees the origination/cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment". And based on that, far from being quietistic, he states something to the extent that "ontology ultimately doesn't make sense".
That is how I read it, roughly, although this very short summary can of course not bring home the depth of his message. It is something to contemplate rather than to access, to attack or to support by pure reasoning.
Therefore in order to really get it, some initial trust in the validity of what the Buddha has to say here is necessary, I think. And it does not provide a basis for makig up clever arguments based on logic and reasoning to convince others of this assertion. But that's not to say that he is quietistic about it.

In the light of that and in relation to the OP, I think it is neither possible nor conducive to true understanding to find/search some generic response to refute ontological arguments. In that way one would mostly only contribute to the "thicket of views", as it were. One should rather try to argument based on the other person's understanding as far as one can understand it, I guess.
:thinking:
People who reduce their own or others' understanding to a bunch of logical formulas for the sake of argument can hardly do justice to what they are really able to understand and often come to doubtful conclusions about things that they don't understand I would say.

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