An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

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Circle5
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An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Circle5 »

It's actually the second time. It has been done here before, but why change a catchy title ? https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/an ... forum/7387

As a responso to recent discussions about self existing or not that happened in the lounge, I propose all who believe a self exist or that a self might exist a challange: Let’s do something super unique, something that has never been done on a buddhist forum. It is done countless times in the suttas, but it has yet to be done on a buddhist forum:

Let’s debated the problem itself, not weather Buddha had this opinion or that opinion about it. Let’s just debate the problem itself. Where is this self that you believe might exist hiding ? Is the body yourself ? Nope, cause it is changing. It was in one way when you were little. It didn’t even exist before. The body that you have now is different than the one that existed when you were a baby.

Most people can easily see their body is not their self because of this. They then go to believe “it is a self that is observing all of this. The self is the thing observing it all”. When questioned even further, they either believe consciousness is the self or that the aggregates as a whole somehow make a self. These are the 2 main ideas that the mind will jump towards next.

If anyone believs there might be a self hinding somewhere, that the human is not as selfless as a computer, etc. - then present your arguments. Say what is on your mind. We see this happening all the time in the suttas, it’s the natural thing to do when hearing about these no-self teachings. And yet, to my knowledge, it has never been done on a buddhist forum in so many years.

If you believe a self might exist, then bring your argument to the table.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by cappuccino »

Anything about a self or no self, is a self doctrine.

The unique Buddhist teaching is to abandon self doctrines.

By regarding form not self, feeling not self, etc.
Last edited by cappuccino on Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by DNS »

Actually, it's been done many times, on this forum and others. Just do a google search for anatta, no-self, not-self, true self, etc. There are a number of threads here, SC, other Buddhist forums, including the great nibbana thread here where some talk of no-self, nihilism, eternalism, not-self, true self, a subtle self, Thanissaro's "fire unbound" etc.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by rightviewftw »

Self- A word and Idea. Can be when there is thinking. Conceptual idea used by humans to make sense of the data about themselves and the enviroment. Thinking is thus a tool to make sense of the system in which it is gaining footing. Therefore very important to use it and not live in a twilight zone, a fantasy world, this one avoids by understanding what is possible & impossible, true & false, that would be first and foremost imo.

If one can not do it one wont be able to conceive the true and comperhensive model of the system, therefore one will not be able to intend on what one can not conceive of. It is my opinion that if one can not give rise to this model one will have to understand it one by one, jhanafactor by jhanafactor...
Last edited by rightviewftw on Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Circle5
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Circle5 »

DNS wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:30 pm Actually, it's been done many times, on this forum and others. Just do a google search for anatta, no-self, not-self, true self, etc. There are a number of threads here, SC, other Buddhist forums, including the great nibbana thread here where some talk of no-self, nihilism, eternalism, not-self, true self, a subtle self, Thanissaro's "fire unbound" etc.
And all the discussion there was about weather Buddha said there is a self or not, making a case based on suttas and etc. This topic, same as the one on STC, is something totally different, something truly unique. The one on STC went pretty well and to my knowledge there is no such topic in existence except that one.

In this topic, the discussion is about the problem itself, not about what suttas have to say about it. And this is a huge difference.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by DNS »

So you mean making a case for self without using the suttas, without quoting them? That's been done too, many times, for example my post here:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=31083&p=454555#p454555

An argument can be made that there must be a self to explain the continuation in rebirth, obtaining the fruits of kamma, receiving or giving out metta; it is a continuation of some sort. You can call it anatta, but there is still "something" that goes to another and something that receives kamma and its results. Otherwise there could be no kamma, no fruits of kamma and no rebirth.

(of course I accept anatta, but that is a good case that could be made for the eternalist side without using suttas and then I explain in the linked post how anatta could still work)
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Sam Vara »

Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:49 pm
And all the discussion there was about weather Buddha said there is a self or not, making a case based on suttas and etc. This topic, same as the one on STC, is something totally different, something truly unique. The one on STC went pretty well and to my knowledge there is no such topic in existence except that one.

In this topic, the discussion is about the problem itself, not about what suttas have to say about it. And this is a huge difference.
I've already offered Bill Vallicella's sympathetic but unconvinced approach when you raised this on another thread. Still, if the mountain won't come to Muhammed, then Muhammed will have to go to the mountain.

In addition (or, more precisely, as a supplementary angle) to DNS's excellent points above, Vallicella takes a broadly Kantian approach to the existence of the self as that necessary component by which our experience of the world is unitary, both diachronically and synchronically conceived.
http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... -self.html

Starting from the premise that the type of analysis you present in the OP (above and on SC) is making a mistaken inference regarding not finding something and its non-existence, he goes on to outline the necessity of moving from objects of consciousness to the subject of consciousness:
What I want to suggest is that each of us, as a self, is just such a whole. Each one of us is a synthetic unity of consciousness and self-consciousness. Analysis may lay bare the contents of our mental lives, but it will never disclose their unifying principle: not because there is no such principle, but because it is not the sort of thing that can turn up under analysis.
The whole thing is worth a read, as is the summary form intended for one of his readers who was made depressed and anxious by the Humean arguments found in Sam Harris' work:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... rance.html
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Circle5 »

Yes that is an argument that can be made. And it is good to see arguments like that so that the topic can start going.

My answer to such and argument would be: There is just one thing conditioning another, with no receiver of the kamma. Same as a candle might be used to light another candle. There is no self of a candle there, nobody to receive the lighting. Yet, it is the lighting of the candle happening, even without a self of the candle to receive it. There is just the wax of the candle, the rope of the candle, the oxigen, the motion of the other candle, etc. - with no-one to receive the lighting, just a conditioned process.

But arguments about a self existing or not generally go in another direction, the direction that the STC thread took. When people are questioned about why do they believe a self might exist, it all comes down to a feeling. If that feeling would not be there, their opinion would not be the same. That opinion is based on a specific feeling.

Every single person who believes a self might exist, when he is questioned about why does he have that opinion, it always comes down to a specific feeling. It is on that feeling that his opinion is based upon.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Circle5 »

Sam Vara wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:46 pm
Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:49 pm
And all the discussion there was about weather Buddha said there is a self or not, making a case based on suttas and etc. This topic, same as the one on STC, is something totally different, something truly unique. The one on STC went pretty well and to my knowledge there is no such topic in existence except that one.

In this topic, the discussion is about the problem itself, not about what suttas have to say about it. And this is a huge difference.
I've already offered Bill Vallicella's sympathetic but unconvinced approach when you raised this on another thread. Still, if the mountain won't come to Muhammed, then Muhammed will have to go to the mountain.

In addition (or, more precisely, as a supplementary angle) to DNS's excellent points above, Vallicella takes a broadly Kantian approach to the existence of the self as that necessary component by which our experience of the world is unitary, both diachronically and synchronically conceived.
http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... -self.html

Starting from the premise that the type of analysis you present in the OP (above and on SC) is making a mistaken inference regarding not finding something and its non-existence, he goes on to outline the necessity of moving from objects of consciousness to the subject of consciousness:
What I want to suggest is that each of us, as a self, is just such a whole. Each one of us is a synthetic unity of consciousness and self-consciousness. Analysis may lay bare the contents of our mental lives, but it will never disclose their unifying principle: not because there is no such principle, but because it is not the sort of thing that can turn up under analysis.
The whole thing is worth a read, as is the summary form intended for one of his readers who was made depressed and anxious by the Humean arguments found in Sam Harris' work:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... rance.html
It would be indeed good if Mohammed could come to the mountain, cause I do not understand what the argument here seems to be.

The argument is that there is a self, or a giant monkey, or an evil banana, or a god, that is hidden somewhere so deep that nobody can even make an argument for it. But, the fact that nobody can make an argument for it, does not mean it does not exist. It is in a way a defense of a giant spaggete monster. You can't disprove the giant spaggete monster, so it might very well exist. This is not a new argument, it has been used by Christians and many others. It's the good old defense of the giant spagghete monster.

Is this the type of argument that the paper is trying to make, or is it a different one ? (I have not read it)
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by cappuccino »

Sam Vara wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:46 pmmade depressed and anxious by the Humean arguments found in Sam Harris' work

Depressed and anxious? Yes, because no self implies annihilation.

Not self doesn't imply annihilation.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Sam Vara »

Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:50 pm Yes that is an argument that can be made. And it is good to see arguments like that so that the topic can start going.

My answer to such and argument would be: There is just one thing conditioning another, with no receiver of the kamma. Same as a candle might be used to light another candle. There is no self of a candle there, nobody to receive the lighting. Yet, it is the lighting of the candle happening, even without a self of the candle to receive it. There is just the wax of the candle, the rope of the candle, the oxigen, the motion of the other candle, etc. - with no-one to receive the lighting, just a conditioned process.
It's an answer, of course, but one which misses the point that Vallicella and other Kantians might make about the transcendantal nature of the process. For there to be a conditioned process, there needs to be some unifying principle behind that process, which prevents it from being unrelated events which bear no relation to each other. There is no self in the candle, to be sure, but within the analogy of lighting candles there would need to be something that makes it a process, and (unless it were the only process that ever happened) which also recognises the similarity between that and other processes.

It occurred to me that this is a potentially very confusing topic to separate from sutta references. Using those suttas raises the question of what we actually mean by a "self" - which conception of "self" are you interested in here?
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by Sam Vara »

Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:58 pm
The argument is that there is a self, or a giant monkey, or an evil banana, or a god, that is hidden somewhere so deep that nobody can even make an argument for it. But, the fact that nobody can make an argument for it, does not mean it does not exist. It is in a way a defense of a giant spaggete monster. You can't disprove the giant spaggete monster, so it might very well exist. This is not a new argument, it has been used by Christians and many others. It's the good old defense of the giant spagghete monster.

Is this the type of argument that the paper is trying to make, or is it a different one ? (I have not read it)
It is a different one. I'm rather glad you haven't read it, as I would be perturbed if you had, and then produced the critique above.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:10 pm
Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:50 pm Yes that is an argument that can be made. And it is good to see arguments like that so that the topic can start going.

My answer to such and argument would be: There is just one thing conditioning another, with no receiver of the kamma. Same as a candle might be used to light another candle. There is no self of a candle there, nobody to receive the lighting. Yet, it is the lighting of the candle happening, even without a self of the candle to receive it. There is just the wax of the candle, the rope of the candle, the oxigen, the motion of the other candle, etc. - with no-one to receive the lighting, just a conditioned process.
It's an answer, of course, but one which misses the point that Vallicella and other Kantians might make about the transcendantal nature of the process. For there to be a conditioned process, there needs to be some unifying principle behind that process, which prevents it from being unrelated events which bear no relation to each other. There is no self in the candle, to be sure, but within the analogy of lighting candles there would need to be something that makes it a process, and (unless it were the only process that ever happened) which also recognises the similarity between that and other processes.

It occurred to me that this is a potentially very confusing topic to separate from sutta references. Using those suttas raises the question of what we actually mean by a "self" - which conception of "self" are you interested in here?
Sure, but the process of a car engine is just the same. It has a unifying principle of course, they are not random events that one picked up and called a process. But there is no self within the car. The fact that it is a process, unified in a way, does not make it have a self or a giant monkey, or an evil banana, or a god inside. It is just a process, different pieces of an engine working together making the car move.
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

Post by DNS »

Since you said you want a debate . . .
Circle5 wrote: Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:50 pm There is just one thing conditioning another, with no receiver of the kamma. Same as a candle might be used to light another candle. There is no self of a candle there, nobody to receive the lighting. Yet, it is the lighting of the candle happening, even without a self of the candle to receive it. There is just the wax of the candle, the rope of the candle, the oxigen, the motion of the other candle, etc. - with no-one to receive the lighting, just a conditioned process.
If there is no receiver of kamma, why would anyone do wholesome actions? If one did wholesome actions how would the kamma-vipaka take place, who gets it?

If there is a candle lighting another, then the flame is the self, not a permanent self, but an impermanent self?
Circle5 wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:04 am Sure, but the process of a car engine is just the same. It has a unifying principle of course, they are not random events that one picked up and called a process. But there is no self within the car. The fact that it is a process, unified in a way, does not make it have a self or a giant monkey, or an evil banana, or a god inside. It is just a process, different pieces of an engine working together making the car move.
Is not the whole greater than the sum of the parts? An engine is pretty useless on its own, but with the other parts, can make a very useful machine. Do the coming together of significant parts of consciousness and other parts (aggregates) in unison produce a being or not?
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Re: An unique experiment - First time on a buddhist forum

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Circle5 wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:04 am Sure, but the process of a car engine is just the same. It has a unifying principle of course, they are not random events that one picked up and called a process. But there is no self within the car. The fact that it is a process, unified in a way, does not make it have a self or a giant monkey, or an evil banana, or a god inside. It is just a process, different pieces of an engine working together making the car move.
I absolutely agree, but the car, or candles, or whatever, are not the point here to which the transcendental continuity applies. These are objects of consciousness, whose unity is known empirically. It is the subject of consciousness which is the candidate for selfhood here.
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