Buddhist Epistemology

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sam Vara
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:59 am
[quote=robertk
As far as I can see, given my very limited knowledge of pali, this type of space seems to be denoted as some sort of special pannatti.
Lately I'm interested in if it could be the equivalent to Kant's intuitions. Space then would be a conceptual construct of the mind that is necessary in order to understand dhammas.
Only external ones, presumably, as space for Kant was the form of outer sense. Are all dhammas external and spatial?
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:10 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:59 am
[quote=robertk
As far as I can see, given my very limited knowledge of pali, this type of space seems to be denoted as some sort of special pannatti.
Lately I'm interested in if it could be the equivalent to Kant's intuitions. Space then would be a conceptual construct of the mind that is necessary in order to understand dhammas.
Only external ones, presumably, as space for Kant was the form of outer sense. Are all dhammas external and spatial?
No, but space is never applied to mental dhammas only rūpa. I'm currently working my way through the "Critique of Pure Reason". So far I see things which could easily be incorporated into the Abhidhamma, being quite useful in giving it greater modern depth.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:13 am
Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:10 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:59 am

Lately I'm interested in if it could be the equivalent to Kant's intuitions. Space then would be a conceptual construct of the mind that is necessary in order to understand dhammas.
Only external ones, presumably, as space for Kant was the form of outer sense. Are all dhammas external and spatial?
No, but space is never applied to mental dhammas only rūpa.
Then Kant would be happy with that! Internal events such as pains and mental constructs are non-spatial. :)
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Re: ākāsa- space

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One reason why I find it interesting is that it affords an argument against Hume's devastating attacking on causality which of course, if it holds, would unravel the whole Abhidhamma and much of what we find in the suttas themselves. Causality is the chink in the armour of the Abhidhamma. Kant seems to offer a means to strengthen that weak spot.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:17 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:13 am
Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:10 am

Only external ones, presumably, as space for Kant was the form of outer sense. Are all dhammas external and spatial?
No, but space is never applied to mental dhammas only rūpa.
Then Kant would be happy with that! Internal events such as pains and mental constructs are non-spatial. :)
The Abhidhamma has the same idea. Mental dhammas have no "location" within space.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:18 am One reason why I find it interesting is that it affords an argument against Hume's devastating attacking on causality which of course, if it holds, would unravel the whole Abhidhamma and much of what we find in the suttas themselves. Causality is the chink in the armour of the Abhidhamma. Kant seems to offer a means to strengthen that weak spot.
Both accounts are subjective, though, in the sense that for Hume it is mental habit, whereas for Kant it is an a priori condition (of the intuition) for experience to be possible. What is the chink in the armour?
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:46 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:18 am One reason why I find it interesting is that it affords an argument against Hume's devastating attacking on causality which of course, if it holds, would unravel the whole Abhidhamma and much of what we find in the suttas themselves. Causality is the chink in the armour of the Abhidhamma. Kant seems to offer a means to strengthen that weak spot.
Both accounts are subjective, though, in the sense that for Hume it is mental habit, whereas for Kant it is an a priori condition (of the intuition) for experience to be possible. What is the chink in the armour?
The epistemology. For Hume causality is synthetic a posteriori, always being contingent and never certain. Thus, for Hume, causality is not known. Its not knowledge. Its a best guess at best, mere irrationality at worst. For Kant causality is synthetic a priori. It known for certain apart from simple definition/tautology and without recourse to experience. It is knowledge. If Hume is right then the Buddha was deluded, since he believed that synthetic a posteriori claims were certain knowledge. They can't be. If Kant is right then synthetic a priori knowledge, the basis of all metaphysics, is possible and the Buddha wasn't deluded. Valid synthetic a priori propositions are knowledge. Naturally the Abhidhamma itself rests or falls on who wins here; Kant or Hume.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:03 am If Hume is right then the Buddha was deluded, since he believed that synthetic a posteriori claims were certain knowledge. They can't be. If Kant is right then synthetic a priori knowledge, the basis of all metaphysics, is possible and the Buddha wasn't deluded. Valid synthetic a priori propositions are knowledge. Naturally the Abhidhamma itself rests or falls on who wins here; Kant or Hume.
The Buddha believed that synthetic a priori claims were certain knowledge? :o
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:16 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:03 am If Hume is right then the Buddha was deluded, since he believed that synthetic a posteriori claims were certain knowledge. They can't be. If Kant is right then synthetic a priori knowledge, the basis of all metaphysics, is possible and the Buddha wasn't deluded. Valid synthetic a priori propositions are knowledge. Naturally the Abhidhamma itself rests or falls on who wins here; Kant or Hume.
The Buddha believed that synthetic a priori claims were certain knowledge? :o
The Buddha taught dependent origination. That is to say, conditionality and causality. Either that is a synthetic a posteriori claim or a synthetic a priori one. If it is synthetic a posteriori then I can't see how it is knowledge. I can if it is synthetic a priori. Of course, that doesn't mean that all synthetic a priori claims are knowledge. This is where Kant comes in. Some metaphysics are bunk.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:36 am
Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:16 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:03 am If Hume is right then the Buddha was deluded, since he believed that synthetic a posteriori claims were certain knowledge. They can't be. If Kant is right then synthetic a priori knowledge, the basis of all metaphysics, is possible and the Buddha wasn't deluded. Valid synthetic a priori propositions are knowledge. Naturally the Abhidhamma itself rests or falls on who wins here; Kant or Hume.
The Buddha believed that synthetic a priori claims were certain knowledge? :o
The Buddha taught dependent origination. That is to say, conditionality and causality. Either that is a synthetic a posteriori claim or a synthetic a priori one. If it is synthetic a posteriori then I can't see how it is knowledge. I can if it is synthetic a priori. Of course, that doesn't mean that all synthetic a priori claims are knowledge. This is where Kant comes in.
Ah, I see. I don't know if the Buddha had the same conception of causality that we have.

It might be, of course, that our understanding of such matters is essentially Humean, a psychological habit, but that the Buddha knew differently.

How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:44 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:36 am
Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:16 am

The Buddha believed that synthetic a priori claims were certain knowledge? :o
The Buddha taught dependent origination. That is to say, conditionality and causality. Either that is a synthetic a posteriori claim or a synthetic a priori one. If it is synthetic a posteriori then I can't see how it is knowledge. I can if it is synthetic a priori. Of course, that doesn't mean that all synthetic a priori claims are knowledge. This is where Kant comes in.
Ah, I see. I don't know if the Buddha had the same conception of causality that we have.

It might be, of course, that our understanding of such matters is essentially Humean, a psychological habit, but that the Buddha knew differently.

How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
I feel this has opened up a fascinating discussion into Buddhist epistemology, so I'm going to ask for the topic to be split and then will respond further there.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Re: ākāsa- space

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Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:44 am

Ah, I see. I don't know if the Buddha had the same conception of causality that we have.

It might be, of course, that our understanding of such matters is essentially Humean, a psychological habit, but that the Buddha knew differently.

How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
In the mean time:

It is quite likely that the Master's understanding of ultimate reality surpasses my own knowledge as well as Hume's and Kant's, limited by convention and concepts as they are with only minimal insight into the dhammas. Still, I feel there is a need to defend the Dhamma/Abhidhamma from a philosophical perspective for those who are outside of the Dhamma but who are interested, especially those coming from the West.
How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
The Abhidhamma would have to side with Kant, thus Kant would have to be shown to have the correct understanding over Hume who's insights, if they are true, would destroy the Dhamma. The devastation of Hume would not only effect the Dhamma but also science itself of course. I have a vested interest in both being rational systems ;)
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Ceisiwr
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

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How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
Since knowledge in the Dhamma = that which is certain we need causality/paṭiccasamuppāda to be synthetic a priori, thus siding with Kant. If it is synthetic a posteriori then Hume wins and the Dhamma falls.
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


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Sam Vara
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Re: ākāsa- space

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:56 am
Sam Vara wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:44 am

Ah, I see. I don't know if the Buddha had the same conception of causality that we have.

It might be, of course, that our understanding of such matters is essentially Humean, a psychological habit, but that the Buddha knew differently.

How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
In the mean time:

It is quite likely that the Master's understanding of ultimate reality surpasses my own knowledge as well as Hume's and Kant's, limited by convention and concepts as they are with only minimal insight into the dhammas. Still, I feel there is a need to defend the Dhamma/Abhidhamma from a philosophical perspective for those who are outside of the Dhamma but who are interested, especially those coming from the West.
How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
The Abhidhamma would have to side with Kant, thus Kant would have to be shown to have the correct understanding over Hume who's insights, if they are true, would destroy the Dhamma. The devastation of Hume would not only effect the Dhamma but also science itself of course. I have a vested interest in both being rational systems ;)
Are we insisting that the limits to knowledge expounded by 18th Century western philosophers also apply to the Buddha? Is it possible that he knew the unconditioned in ways that neither Hume nor Kant had insight into? If so, it's perfectly possible that one might be a Humean or Kantian with regard to our current knowledge of the world, but believe that the Buddha's knowledge was something entirely different. How, for example, would Hume or Kant even allow the possibility that human experience, as per the Buddha's, might be of the unconditioned?

It's perfectly possible to be a Humean scientist. All our knowledge of the material world is uncertain in principle, but displays enough regularity to allow scientific generalisations to be generated. From this flows the Logical Positivists' close association with science.

Interestingly, Bill Vallicella does a good demolition of what he terms "the anatta doctrine" of Buddhism using the Kantian Transcendental Unity of Apperception. Kant as the enemy of the Dhamma! But that's definitely another topic.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

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Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 11:18 am
How might one decide between Kant and Hume on this? Is it which one allows Buddhism to be true or cogent?
Since knowledge in the Dhamma = that which is certain we need causality/paṭiccasamuppāda to be synthetic a priori, thus siding with Kant. If it is synthetic a posteriori then Hume wins and the Dhamma falls.
Trouble is, our knowledge of paticcasamuppāda is not certain, so we don't need Kant to make it so. Maybe the Dhamma stands anyway, if the Buddha managed to free himself from those conditions which Kant insisted were limits to knowledge of the empirical world.
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