Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Moth
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Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Moth »

I am currently reading Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter and I am finding the parallels to Buddhism very interesting.

Edit 10/29/2012
While the subject is interesting, over the following months I have found the effort to correspond logic/mathematics and Buddhist ultimately pointless, as I feel now it would be a disservice to the Dhamma. The Buddha's teachings are more than enough for contemplation. I cannot reemphasize enough the advice Ben gives below about unnecessary papañca.
Last edited by Moth on Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ben
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Ben »

No Moth, I haven't.
I wish you all the best with your pursuit though I hope it doesn't lead to unnecessary papanca.
with metta,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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pulga
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by pulga »

Moth wrote:I am currently reading Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter and I am finding the parallels to Buddhism very striking.
I recall that Ven. Bodhesako was impressed with the book.
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piotr
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by piotr »

Hi,
pulga wrote:I recall that Ven. Bodhesako was impressed with the book.
He played a lot with the idea of recursiveness in his book titled Change: an examination of impermanence in experience.
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Moth
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Moth »

Thanks for the reference to Bodhesako's essay.
Last edited by Moth on Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sarva
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Sarva »

Moth wrote: This strikes me because the formula for the five aggregates appears to be recursive as well. This is how I understand it: Form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations are all necessary for consciousness as the fifth aggregate to arise. However, consciousness is necessary for the first four aggregates to arise. This creates an infinite loop, which completely ties into the notion of Samara being a type of infinite loop. The entire structure of experience, as the Buddha describes it, seems to have a lot to do with recursion and escaping recursion.
.
Hi Moth
Perhaps I have overlooked something, but could you briefly tell me why the first four aggregates depend on conciousness (like a loop), please?
I will plan to read the link you provided. :)
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
pulga
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by pulga »

I'm not really into the phenomenology of mathematics, but it's interesting that Husserl's theory of categorial intuition had a marked influence on some of Godel's ideas. While Frege relegated numbers to an ontological third realm, Husserl contended that even abstract things like numbers are ultimately derived from sensual intuition. From a Buddhist perspective sensual intuition more or less corresponds to phassa. Under the influence of Russell the Anglo-americans sided with Frege, though his Third Realm became a bit of an embarrassment. Analytic philosophy is oddly disembodied: it deals with language, truth, and logic in an inherently abstract manner, whereas phenomenology is grounded in the here-and-now, in one's own personal -- and embodied -- experience.
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Moth
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Moth »

Sarva wrote: could you briefly tell me why the first four aggregates depend on conciousness (like a loop), please?
I will plan to read the link you provided. :)
If I am not mistaken, form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations cannot arise without consciousness
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Sam Vara
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Sam Vara »

This is how I understand it: Form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations are all necessary for consciousness as the fifth aggregate to arise. However, consciousness is necessary for the first four aggregates to arise.
Please could you explain this a bit more? I don't understand how something can be the condition of its own conditions. If we are talking about arising, how could something arise before the conditions necessary for its own arising?
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by pulga »

I think we're dealing with parts and wholes. To use Ven. Bodhesako's analogy, the note is the foundation for the melody. The hierarchy that ensues is one of generality: the presence (or consciousness) of things, each determined as what it is by the context or whole of which it is a part. Each thing is constituted by its own set of pancakkhandha.
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by daverupa »

This is how I understand it: Form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations are all necessary for consciousness as the fifth aggregate to arise. However, consciousness is necessary for the first four aggregates to arise.
avijja --> sankhara --> vinnana <--> namarupa --> {internal sense base + external sense base + vinnana} --> phassa --> {vedana + sanna + sankhara} --> tanha

I'm not sure about form = internal/external sense base, due to mind as the sixth sense base, but the gist is there.
SN 22.2 wrote:"And what is name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form."
Fairly complex, which seems to me to be made worse when one attempts to understand it as a chronology. Instead, try thinking of it as a series of nested Russian dolls; the smallest central doll is avijja, and each iteration of larger doll is a non-temporal concatenation based on that.

Sort of like this:

[[[[[[[avijja] sankhara] vinnana-namarupa] salayatana] phassa] vedana] tanha]...
  • "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]
santa100
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by santa100 »

A schematic of the Five Aggregates and how they interact below might be helpful..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:PancaKhandha" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Sarva
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Sarva »

Sam Vega wrote:
This is how I understand it: Form, feeling, perception, and volitional formations are all necessary for consciousness as the fifth aggregate to arise. However, consciousness is necessary for the first four aggregates to arise.
Please could you explain this a bit more? I don't understand how something can be the condition of its own conditions. If we are talking about arising, how could something arise before the conditions necessary for its own arising?
Hi
I am still with Sam at this point, how can consciousness be necessary for the first four aggregates to arise? If I understand Daverupa's reply, consciousness arises together bit is itself not a catalyst.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
pulga
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by pulga »

Sarva wrote:I am still with Sam at this point, how can consciousness be necessary for the first four aggregates to arise?
I think paticcasamuppáda is meant to be descriptive rather than explanatory, i.e. when the Buddha teaches viññānapaccayā nāmarūpam, he isn't trying to expain how or why it is so, only that it is so.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Godel, Escher, Bach ...and Buddha

Post by Sam Vara »

Sarva wrote:
I am still with Sam at this point, how can consciousness be necessary for the first four aggregates to arise?


I think paticcasamuppáda is meant to be descriptive rather than explanatory, i.e. when the Buddha teaches viññānapaccayā nāmarūpam, he isn't trying to expain how or why it is so, only that it is so.
My perplexity is to do with a slightly different issue - that of making sense of something being the condition of its own conditions, especially as regards a causal process - but the same general principles apply.

If the Buddha's words on this or any other matter are indeed descriptive and not explanatory, then I am fine with that. I will take it on faith if I need to. But if I can't make sense of something, I am more likely to assume that translators got it wrong and that the current form of words is misleading, than give up on an account that squares with logic.
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