The trap of binary thinking.

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The trap of binary thinking.

Postby sshai45 » Mon May 20, 2013 6:44 am

Hi.

I saw this:

http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2013/0 ... s-another/

It talks about the pitfalls of "binary", "either/or" thinking. I was wondering if anyone had any comments on this from a Buddhist point of view.
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 20, 2013 7:32 am

See, for example:
Hi sshai45,

Do these help?
Ajahn Buddhadasa – The Middle Way

Middle way = balance?
Ajahn Pasanno wrote:Although these passages portray the Middle Way as balancing two ends of a
continuum, there are other instances where the Buddha defines the Middle Way as a
precise approach that cuts through the continuum entirely. This is especially apparent
in passages where he discusses the Middle Way in terms, not of behavior or
motivation, but of Right View.


SN 12.15 Kaccaayanagotto Sutta

:anjali:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby ground » Mon May 20, 2013 7:52 am

If you believe in logic then you are bound to binary thinking because a statement is either true or false, a reason does either apply or does not apply, something is rightly called "X" and when it is not so rightly called then it is actually "non-X". :sage:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby Kim OHara » Mon May 20, 2013 7:58 am

ground wrote:If you believe in logic then you are bound to binary thinking because a statement is either true or false, a reason does either apply or does not apply, something is rightly called "X" and when it is not so rightly called then it is actually "non-X". :sage:

Not necessarily. There are other logical systems.

:reading:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby ground » Mon May 20, 2013 8:02 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
ground wrote:If you believe in logic then you are bound to binary thinking because a statement is either true or false, a reason does either apply or does not apply, something is rightly called "X" and when it is not so rightly called then it is actually "non-X". :sage:

Not necessarily. There are other logical systems.

:reading:
Kim

Yes. What was said referred to "classical logic" (Dharmakirti, Dignaga) and debate which some buddhists are very interested in. E.g. "fuzzy logic" (and there are many other systems called logic) is applied to artifical intelligent systems but is not really applicable to debate. :sage:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby binocular » Mon May 20, 2013 11:39 am

sshai45 wrote:It talks about the pitfalls of "binary", "either/or" thinking. I was wondering if anyone had any comments on this from a Buddhist point of view.



"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.042.than.html


Ven. Sariputta said: "All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of five motivations. Which five?
"One asks a question of another through stupidity & bewilderment. One asks a question of another through evil desires & overwhelmed with greed. One asks a question of another through contempt. One asks a question of another when desiring knowledge. Or one asks a question with this thought,[1] 'If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly [for him].'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.165.than.html


Some pitfals are due to asking questions for unskillful reasons.
Some pitfals are due to answering questions in unskillful ways.
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby Kim OHara » Mon May 20, 2013 11:40 am

... so this statement ...
ground wrote:If you believe in logic then you are bound to binary thinking because a statement is either true or false

... is false.

:focus:

OP wrote:I saw this:

http://www.commongroundgroup.net/2013/0 ... s-another/
It talks about the pitfalls of "binary", "either/or" thinking. I was wondering if anyone had any comments on this from a Buddhist point of view.

I think of logic (binary or any other variety) as a tool and try to remember to use it when (and only when) it is appropriate.
If your only tool is a hammer, you find that every problem begins to look like a nail.

:thinking:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby ground » Mon May 20, 2013 12:26 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:... so this statement ...
ground wrote:If you believe in logic then you are bound to binary thinking because a statement is either true or false

... is false.


No it is correct because it reads if you believe in logic.

ground wrote:... because a statement is either true or false, a reason does either apply or does not apply, something is rightly called "X" and when it is not so rightly called then it is actually "non-X". :sage:



Kim O'Hara wrote:I think of logic (binary or any other variety) as a tool and try to remember to use it when (and only when) it is appropriate.

So you do not believe in logic. :sage:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby ground » Mon May 20, 2013 12:42 pm

"Logic" is just another name for "circuit". "circuit" is an appropriate name in the context of logical thinking too because it refers to the circuit of neurons in the brain. Cultivating this kind of logical thinking people condition themselves to believe that the effects of this neuronal circuit corresponds to an (external) reality and so they become believers in logic and are bound to binary thinking. :sage:
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Re: The trap of binary thinking.

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon May 20, 2013 1:39 pm



I think there's a lot of truth in this section at the end:
"Binary thinking is easy—okay, I’ll call a toad a toad—it’s lazy thinking. It spares us the effort of forming opinions based on fact, reason and values by insisting that if not A, then surely B. It spares us the embarrassment of admitting that we don’t have a grasp on the nuances of every situation or issue. It saves us the trouble of wading through the facts (and knowing when we have enough of them at hand), weighing the complex issues, understanding the dynamics, weeding out the distractors, and applying the relevant values and principles that go into comprehending what is going on around us."

Maybe it's about accepting uncertainty, admitting that we just don't know, that on many questions we will never have sufficient data on which to base an objective conclusion?
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