Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby sunyavadin » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:42 pm

Alex123 wrote: Actually, dualism suffers this problem and what happens from that -> problem of interaction. It is quite possible that there is only one substance, matter (in physicalist sense) that can produce emergent quality such as mind.


Where does this idea occur? What is it that creates this analysis? What defines matter and mind? What is 'matter'? It is defined in 'the standard model' which is an intellectual construction.


Alex123 wrote: Of course materialism (or physicalism) is a bit more complex than theory that there are "bricks" or tiny balls of matter that constitute everything. Sub-atomic forces, gravity, and strings, for example, are not some tiny indivisible spheres or bricks floating around.


Quite right. Which is why 'materialism' doesn't actually mean anything, any more. We have lost sight of the fact that what it used to mean was that 'the eternal and imperishable' comprised the 'fundamental building blocks' of reality. Everything we saw, then, was simply permutations of these eternally existent indivisibles ('a'- not 'tom' - divisible). So now this has become the hope that one day science will reveal all. Instead what we are doing is supercharging samsara. :tongue:
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:20 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:But don't you believe we behave as though mind exists?


as a complex physical process, yes. But not as substance totally separated from matter.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:In reality, we all function, regardless of belief, on the unspoken assumption that both mind and matter exist. I have yet to see a materialist live their life in a way truly consistent with the idea that all mental phenomena have physical causal bases.


Whenever we make any choice it is done depending on belief. For example, if one feels hungry, one go get something to eat. One doesn't merely imagine oneself being well-fed, some material action is required to stop feeling of hunger. When someone feels sleepy, one could take coffee or other stimulant to feel more alert. Drinking alcohol (physical action) can alter one's state of mind.

If certain part of the brain gets damaged, then certain aspect of mental functioning alters.
If another part of the brain gets damaged, another type of mental functioning alters.

LonesomeYogurt, when you get cold - do you imagine warm temperature, or do you put on more cloth?
If you are thirsty, do you imagine water or do you actually drink it?
If you are hungry, do you imagine food or do you actually eat it?


Now tell me if we live in material or idealistic world.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby Alex123 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:25 pm

sunyavadin wrote:Where does this idea occur? What is it that creates this analysis? What defines matter and mind? What is 'matter'? It is defined in 'the standard model' which is an intellectual construction.


It occurs in the brain.

Thought is a complex action of matter in the brain which is why it can be altered if the functioning of the brain is altered.

This is why if the brain gets damaged, so does intellect and behaviour.

If one takes a hammer and hits one's thigh hard, one will not pass out unconscious. But if one hits one's head in a certain spot...
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby sunyavadin » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:20 am

Alex123 wrote:
sunyavadin wrote:Where does this idea occur? What is it that creates this analysis? What defines matter and mind? What is 'matter'? It is defined in 'the standard model' which is an intellectual construction.


It occurs in the brain.

Thought is a complex action of matter in the brain which is why it can be altered if the functioning of the brain is altered.

This is why if the brain gets damaged, so does intellect and behaviour.

If one takes a hammer and hits one's thigh hard, one will not pass out unconscious. But if one hits one's head in a certain spot...


If you hit a television with a hammer, it will stop transmitting. But drama and comedy don't originate with the television. And if you take a brain, removed from the context of a living body which exists in an environment, what you have is complex organic matter which is inert. It doesn't do or contain anything. Conversely, the brain can be reconfigured by the application of conscious attention and is also capable of re-configuring itself after accident or injury, both of which indicate 'top-down causation'.

I am curious as to why you are interested in the subject of this particular forum, if you advocate a materialist view? Surely you're aware that Buddhism, right from day one, did not support materialism?
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:32 am

sunyavadin wrote:If you hit a television with a hammer, it will stop transmitting.


TV does not transmit, it converts signal into audio/video


sunyavadin wrote:But drama and comedy don't originate with the television.


The signal, is material, so are actors, camera, setting, etc. If they are gone, the show is gone.


sunyavadin wrote: Conversely, the brain can be reconfigured by the application of conscious attention and is also capable of re-configuring itself after accident or injury, both of which indicate 'top-down causation'.


Yes, neurons in the brain can rewire themselves. This process is purely physical. As you may know, there is problem of interaction. If we posit only one substance, then there is no problem of interaction.


sunyavadin wrote:I am curious as to why you are interested in the subject of this particular forum, if you advocate a materialist view? Surely you're aware that Buddhism, right from day one, did not support materialism?


I am having my little "crisis of faith" (at least into idealism/dualism) after being aware of more and more facts.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby sunyavadin » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:35 am

Alex123 wrote:The signal, is material, so are actors, camera, setting, etc. If they are gone, the show is gone.


But, interestingly, a 'show' can be cast with any alternate characters. A story can be told a million ways. Earth could be wiped out, but some other Earth will develop, and on it, there will be drama and comedy. The point I am (somewhat clumsily) trying to make is that ideas do not only exist in 'the brain'.

As for physicalist ideas of the mind, there is the theory that 'the brain contains ideas that correspond to reality'. But the idea of that correspondence is established in thought. It is an explanatory model, but in my view, all 'explanatory models' of consciousness must assume what they set out to prove. This is because the naturalist or materialist view of the world assumes an intelligent subject in a world of objects. It doesn't drill down to any deeper level than that, and in fact, declares it out-of-bounds. It won't even ask the question.

Alex123 wrote: Yes, neurons in the brain can rewire themselves. This process is purely physical.


That is not at all proven. What does 'purely physical' even mean, here? Take all the physical components of the being, and then kill said being. You thereby have all the purely physical ingredients. But no rewiring or anything of the kind will take place in this case. So what actually does the work? What causes the organism to seek homeostasis, what element understands how to re-route all the signals so that the functionality is restored? This is certainly not something that can be explained in terms of physics. So how is it 'physical'?

I am having my little "crisis of faith" (at least into idealism/dualism) after being aware of more and more facts.


I do sympathize, as I said, but don't get sucked in by the materialist meme. Science itself has actually demolished materialism in my view. What with super-symmetry, dark matter, field theory, multiverses, and the rest, there is no way to declare what the idea of 'nature' rules in or out any more. 'Materialism' as espoused by Dennett et al is simply one viewpoint amongst millions, and its explanatory value is diminished by the day. Sure it produces great technology, but there is something more to life, is there not?
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby Alex123 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:02 am

sunyavadin wrote:
Alex123 wrote:The signal, is material, so are actors, camera, setting, etc. If they are gone, the show is gone.


But, interestingly, a 'show' can be cast with any alternate characters. A story can be told a million ways. Earth could be wiped out, but some other Earth will develop, and on it, there will be drama and comedy. The point I am (somewhat clumsily) trying to make is that ideas do not only exist in 'the brain'.


But even if a "show" is cast with different characters, it still requires characters, settings, camera, tv, etc,. All these are material objects. Just like there can't be running without someone who is running, there can't be consciousness without its causes.

sunyavadin wrote:As for physicalist ideas of the mind, there is the theory that 'the brain contains ideas that correspond to reality'. But the idea of that correspondence is established in thought. It is an explanatory model, but in my view, all 'explanatory models' of consciousness must assume what they set out to prove. This is because the naturalist or materialist view of the world assumes an intelligent subject in a world of objects. It doesn't drill down to any deeper level than that, and in fact, declares it out-of-bounds. It won't even ask the question.


It appears to me that it is possible that any thought is a very complex material process in the brain. Thought "reality" is one of such thoughts.

As for "intelligent subject in a world of objects", we need to be careful. Sure some material processes are more complex than others. But is there such a substance called "intelligence" that is outside of matter and brain?

I wonder, what does it means "to think"? Can there be thought that doesn't rely on functioning of the brain?

sunyavadin wrote:Take all the physical components of the being, and then kill said being. You thereby have all the purely physical ingredients.


In the dead body there are no physical processess required for life and intelligence. Ex: dead body doesn't breath, its core temperature is low, and there are no processess in the brain like in the alive person!


sunyavadin wrote:Science itself has actually demolished materialism in my view. What with super-symmetry, dark matter, field theory, multiverses, and the rest, there is no way to declare what the idea of 'nature' rules in or out any more. 'Materialism' as espoused by Dennett et al is simply one viewpoint amongst millions, and its explanatory value is diminished by the day. Sure it produces great technology, but there is something more to life, is there not?


It is more correct to call it physicalism, but for convenience sake I still say materialism. Gravity, dark matter, etc, are still physical forces. They can indirectly be observed by the effects they do, and have some form of explanatory power. They are mind independent. Even if I am not aware, gravity still functions.

Due to materialist assumptions it is possible to alleviate pain. During my visit to the dentist this thing struck me as an important point for materialism.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby nowheat » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:25 pm

sunyavadin wrote:If you hit a television with a hammer, it will stop transmitting. But drama and comedy don't originate with the television. And if you take a brain, removed from the context of a living body which exists in an environment, what you have is complex organic matter which is inert. It doesn't do or contain anything. Conversely, the brain can be reconfigured by the application of conscious attention and is also capable of re-configuring itself after accident or injury, both of which indicate 'top-down causation'.

If the above is meant to compare a TV with the brain/mind then you seem to be saying that one's thoughts arise from some source entirely outside the body. I'm sure you don't mean that but I can't see the comparison working any other way.

I am curious as to why you are interested in the subject of this particular forum, if you advocate a materialist view? Surely you're aware that Buddhism, right from day one, did not support materialism?

Right from day one, Buddhism (aka what the Buddha taught) denied eternalism too -- that there was something of us that survived death and went on to another birth. And yet folks in this forum speak of our next birth without batting an eyelash.

When the Buddha "denied materialism" he wasn't saying that "materialism is mistaken", only that holding to an unprovable view is a mistake. The point the Buddha was trying to make with his stance on materialism applies to our mind-body split discussions: all this argument over whether the mind has elements related only to the body or not is a waste of breath and energy that could, instead, be spent on practice. It's all speculative. Except for the ways we invest in beliefs about whether things we can't prove are true or not, whether or not the mind has some feature that comes from elsewhere does not matter at all to the reduction of dukkha. Put another way: If when we speculate about these things what we are really doing is trying to find what is special about us humans, the mystical "beyond what anyone can see" elements, looking for whatever survives death or is preserved in the Great Eternal All, then we are still simply attaching to self, by trying to find what it is about us that is greater and cooler than what is obvious about us (that we are born, change, decay, die). To the degree that these conversations are actually about "What I am" we are failing to practice what the Buddha teaches. Whether mind is produced by material form alone or comes from somewhere else is not actually relevant.

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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby kirk5a » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:13 pm

nowheat wrote:what is obvious about us (that we are born, change, decay, die).

What is obvious is birth, change, decay, and death.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby sunyavadin » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:30 am

nowheat wrote:If the above is meant to compare a TV with the brain/mind then you seem to be saying that one's thoughts arise from some source entirely outside the body. I'm sure you don't mean that but I can't see the comparison working any other way


The nature of consciousness is a puzzle. I don't claim to have any answer to it, but I reject that materialist notion that 'mind is produced by matter'. It is true that if the brain is damaged, that has consequences for the workings of consciousness for that being. But consciousness has many other attributes and characteristics which cannot be understood solely through the lens of the neurological sciences. For example it is collective. Bring up a human child in complete isolation from society, and his/her consciousness will not develop. But these arguments will take us too far afield.

nowheat wrote:When the Buddha "denied materialism" he wasn't saying that "materialism is mistaken", only that holding to an unprovable view is a mistake. The point the Buddha was trying to make with his stance on materialism applies to our mind-body split discussions: all this argument over whether the mind has elements related only to the body or not is a waste of breath and energy that could, instead, be spent on practice. It's all speculative. Except for the ways we invest in beliefs about whether things we can't prove are true or not, whether or not the mind has some feature that comes from elsewhere does not matter at all to the reduction of dukkha. Put another way: If when we speculate about these things what we are really doing is trying to find what is special about us humans, the mystical "beyond what anyone can see" elements, looking for whatever survives death or is preserved in the Great Eternal All, then we are still simply attaching to self, by trying to find what it is about us that is greater and cooler than what is obvious about us (that we are born, change, decay, die). To the degree that these conversations are actually about "What I am" we are failing to practice what the Buddha teaches. Whether mind is produced by material form alone or comes from somewhere else is not actually relevant.


I beg to differ. The Buddha - or at least, the early Buddhist texts - were extremely clear about what materialism is, what it stands for, what it means, and what is wrong with it. Despite the intervening 2,500 years, many of the arguments are still substantially similar now to what they were then. The materialists then said that the human was nothing other than the composite of 'earth, fire, water, air' - the elements, as they were understood then - and that when the body breaks up, there were no further consequences, no life beyond, and so on. Without the possibility of 'fruition of action', then the idea of liberation from samsara is not really meaningful. That is why these views are called 'annihalationist' (ucchevavada).

The 'eternalist' views you refer to are based on the idea that 'Self and world' are eternal, that is, will be reborn in perpetuity, either here or in some other realm, for ever and ever. This is also rejected.

When you say 'it's all speculative', what does that refer to? According to the texts, 'the Tathagata sees and know something beyond the cycle of birth-and-death'. 'Speculation' consists on wondering what that might be, prior to realizing it for oneself. But declaring that there is nothing there to be seen, or that there is nothing beyond this body and mind, is also a form of speculation. I agree that speculation might be pointless or confusing, but Buddhism does have a highly elaborated philosophy of mind, probably far more so than many of the forms of that in the modern world. It also definitely has a 'transcendent' component which cannot necessarily be explained in terms understandable to the secular-scientific mindset.

Thanissaro Bikkhu discusses many of these matters in this article.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby nowheat » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:12 am

sunyavadin wrote:The Buddha - or at least, the early Buddhist texts - were extremely clear about what materialism is, what it stands for, what it means, and what is wrong with it.

Yes, they were; yet we moderns apply our own interpretation to what's there. If you can find anyplace where the Buddha says that materialism is wrong view because that's not the way the cosmos actually works, I'll take your point. But what I find him saying -- when I read the suttas, that is, rather than taking on faith what others tell me he means -- is that it's wrong view because it is a View and because, as with Views in general, Views lead to trouble particularly when they revolve around Self -- which views about mind/body dualism do.

Despite the intervening 2,500 years, many of the arguments are still substantially similar now to what they were then. The materialists then said that the human was nothing other than the composite of 'earth, fire, water, air' - the elements, as they were understood then - and that when the body breaks up, there were no further consequences, no life beyond, and so on. Without the possibility of 'fruition of action', then the idea of liberation from samsara is not really meaningful. That is why these views are called 'annihalationist' (ucchevavada).

The 'eternalist' views you refer to are based on the idea that 'Self and world' are eternal, that is, will be reborn in perpetuity, either here or in some other realm, for ever and ever. This is also rejected.

I disagree that it's quite as simple as the above; I'm working on a paper to show that it's not as simple as that. One of these days I'll have it whipped into shape but what's in the Pali canon on (for example) ucchedavada is a bit of a tangle; since I'm not ready to defend the complexity that's there I'm just going to leave this with "I disagree".

When you say 'it's all speculative', what does that refer to?

It refers to our ability -- yours and mine and other modern practioner's ability -- to sort out mind-body dualism and whether it is all coming from body or any coming from elsewhere. I take the agnostic stance I see the Buddha taking -- if I haven't got so much direct experience with it that I am confident I have the facts and the world in general isn't clear on it yet either, then it's speculative. And all such speculation gets us is argument (unless it's your field or your calling and you want to go do research -- then speculation is quite a good thing, as long as it's recognized *as* speculation).

According to the texts, 'the Tathagata sees and know something beyond the cycle of birth-and-death'. 'Speculation' consists on wondering what that might be, prior to realizing it for oneself. But declaring that there is nothing there to be seen, or that there is nothing beyond this body and mind, is also a form of speculation. I agree that speculation might be pointless or confusing, but Buddhism does have a highly elaborated philosophy of mind, probably far more so than many of the forms of that in the modern world. It also definitely has a 'transcendent' component which cannot necessarily be explained in terms understandable to the secular-scientific mindset.

As far as I can see -- and (no surprise here) this is not the Theravadan view; I do understand that it is not the traditional view -- the Buddha does know something beyond the cycle of birth-and-death that he described in dependent arising. The Theravadan view is that DA describes a literal cycle of birth-and-death-and-birth but I am pretty sure that's based on a misunderstanding of DA. I *do* have a paper that shows this (it's called "Burning Yourself" and you can pick it out from a google search like this one: http://tinyurl.com/dabyjocbs). What the Buddha understood to be beyond *that* cycle of birth-and-death is all stuff that happens in this very life on awakening in it. The references to rebirth in the suttas are to DA, not to literal rebirth -- DA being the core teaching.

So, yes, you're also right that speculating about "what he saw" is speculative, too. As such is not a skillful use of one's time in practice. This is why I don't concern myself with whether I will have future births after death -- or whether I will not. I am working on this life because it is what I can see and test and improve upon with visible, non-speculative results. The Buddha has a sophisticated theory of mind, but its focus is on what we can see for ourselves here and now, not on what is beyond our ability to discover with direct knowledge, work with, and see results with. I will agree that it has a transcendent component, because the results clearly transcend the way we normally live -- how could it not be transcendent? -- but again, where DA is describing "how we normally behave, why we do, and the results of behaving that way" it is this that we are transcending. Misunderstanding DA's terms and taking them literally turns the transcendent factor into something mystical -- going beyond a lifetime; given the structure of the thing, this is surely a mistake.

Thanissaro Bikkhu discusses many of these matters in this article.

Yes, he does.

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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby Kenshou » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:23 am

It also definitely has a 'transcendent' component...

I'm not out to get engaged in a debate, but, this very much depends on who you ask. The range of perspectives on this is wide, even within only Theravada. Some which might fit into a scientific understanding, some which wouldn't, and some that would be irrelevant to it anyway. Every permutation of interpretations you could imagine is out there, so it really isn't definite.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby sunyavadin » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:29 am

Nowheat wrote:It refers to our ability -- yours and mine and other modern practioner's ability -- to sort out mind-body dualism and whether it is all coming from body or any coming from elsewhere


Interesting, I can see you know the material, but I think the 'Secular Buddhism' approach leaves out the one thing that it is most important not to omit, which is, release from the cycle of dependent arising. It is for that reason that the whole teaching exists. I agree it is quite possible to have a secular philosophy based on Buddhist principles, but I think this omission is something that needs to be acknowledged.

As far as the mechanics of rebirth is concerned, I have read up on it to some degree and I think it is a hopelessly difficult thing to systematize. However, I am interested in the notion that the 'samkharas' are actually related to Sheldrake's 'morphic fields' and 'morphic resonance'. The basic idea behind all of this is that 'nature has habits'. When something happens in the realm of organic matter, it leaves a trace which influences the way that thing will develop in the future. This is something that characterises all organic life, from the very simplest traces of it. Furthermore, the very term 'samkharas' can be translated as 'habits' without too much of a stretch. (I know the pundits might differ, but it's close.) So in this sense, all 'intentional action' leaves a 'trace' in the morphic field, which will continue to express itself in the future. This is precisely what the Buddha found freedom from.

With this mechanism, you have, at least, a means to understand how information 'travels' from one life to another. Actions, thoughts, and so on, all leave their imprints in the morphic field, which will continue to influence the formation of similar life-forms in the future.

I don't know if Sheldrake has explored this particular idea - I suspect he is already embroiled in enough controversy without adding Rebirth to the mix - but it certainly seems to me to support the idea of rebirth.
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby ground » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:29 am

sshai45 wrote:Hi.

I'm wondering about this. How is it that Buddhism can claim itself to be a more "rational" religion? Some seem to make this claim because it includes "atheism" -- it doesn't believe in a God. Yet it has no problem accepting many concepts that would be considered by a scientist and rationalist to just as laughable as theism -- karma, rebirth, the Buddhaverse, magic, etc. What gives?


From my perpective if you believe (and cling to that belief) what you do not have evidence for in the context of "world views" and/or "views of existence (i.e. life and death)" and/or "philosophies" than it may be rightly called "religion". Further differentiation as "rational" or "irrational" does not make sense to me.
Religion is just a human response to the human dilemma of being conscious of life, self and the certainty of death. There is nothing "laughable" about it and much that scientist and rationalist say is "religious" in its own way.

Kind regards
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby danieLion » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:55 am

Hi,
It is clear that we cannot make any significant statements about the Buddha being a rationalist or not, unless there is a clear and consistent use of the term 'rationalist' and since we are trying to evaluate the thought of Buddhism philosophically it is desirable that we use the term in its strictly philosophical connotation. Rationalism is used in philosophical language in opposition to empiricism [A.C. Ewing, The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy, p. 30: London, 1958] and it is defined as 'a theory of philosophy in which the criterion of truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive--usually associated with an attempt to indtroduce mathematical methods into philosophy as in Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza' [D. Runes (Ed.), The Dictionary of Philosophy, s.v. Rationalism: London: 1945.].
-K.N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, p. 403.


Or, as my epistemology professor taught us:
Empiricism: the belief that all our knowledge comes from sense experience.
Rationalism: the belief that at least some of our knowledge does not come from sense experience.

Best,
Daniel
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby daverupa » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:16 pm

danieLion wrote:Empiricism: the belief that all our knowledge comes from sense experience.
Rationalism: the belief that at least some of our knowledge does not come from sense experience.


Since a Buddhist considers the mind as a sense which functions in the same manner as the five physical senses, rationalism is impossible according to the Dhamma and empiricism is correctly descriptive of the Dhamma, at this general level.

(If we are strict about keeping the mind and the five senses in separate Venn spheres according to Western notions, in addition to this basic misunderstanding we will also fail to grasp certain practical subtleties surrounding the different terms citta, vinnana, mano.)
    "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: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby danieLion » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:50 am

daverupa wrote:
danieLion wrote:Empiricism: the belief that all our knowledge comes from sense experience.
Rationalism: the belief that at least some of our knowledge does not come from sense experience.


Since a Buddhist considers the mind as a sense which functions in the same manner as the five physical senses, rationalism is impossible according to the Dhamma and empiricism is correctly descriptive of the Dhamma, at this general level.

(If we are strict about keeping the mind and the five senses in separate Venn spheres according to Western notions, in addition to this basic misunderstanding we will also fail to grasp certain practical subtleties surrounding the different terms citta, vinnana, mano.)

Hi Dave,
I'm pretty sure we're in agreement. Let's test it.

When I first started studying Buddhism I was persuaded that the Buddha was an empiricist (by the definition above--and setting aside, for now, the proposition that the Western philosophical distinction between rationalism and empiricism is irrelevant/was not on the BUddha's radar ), but now I'm not so sure. It seems to me like he did teach a type of knowledge that does not come from sense experience. What I think makes the problem so thorny though is that it necessarily (but perhaps only partly) connects to how one (at least conceptually) understands jhana and nibbana.

Before I go on though, I'll stop here to ask, "Do you follow?" or am I on the wrong track?

Kind wishes,
Daniel
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:24 am

danieLion wrote:the problem... connects to how one... understands jhana and nibbana.


The resolution (empiricism-6 > rationalism) ought to prevent certain misunderstandings; beyond that, those terms need to be understood in their own contexts.

Are we in accord?
    "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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daverupa
 
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby danieLion » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:15 am

daverupa wrote:
danieLion wrote:the problem... connects to how one... understands jhana and nibbana.


The resolution (empiricism-6 > rationalism) ought to prevent certain misunderstandings; beyond that, those terms need to be understood in their own contexts.

Are we in accord?

I don't know because I don't know what "resolution (empiricism-6 > rationalism)" means.
danieLion
 
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Re: Buddhism as a "rational" religion.

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:26 am

If we resolve to say that empiricism, with the six senses, is a better descriptive fit than rationalism, then it is the case that we will be able to avoid certain misunderstandings of jhana and nibbana, the terms you've indicated. However, those words need their contexts in order to be fully understood; even a careful descriptive approach using Western philosophical categories will never quite 'square the circle'.

:?:
    "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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