Moral Realism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Coëmgenu »

Wicked deeds (i.e. "karmas") produce demerit. This demerit has consequences. Thus, morality is as real as karma. The generation of "demerit" is deemed "unskillful" (akusala) because it is the opposite of skillfully navigating the path. Producing demerit is the opposite of being "skillful" in general.
The many dharmas are alien to existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan is without imputations of existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan, as he is alien to the imputations, cognitions, and views of these two, in this sense is known as "mindless."
The mind of a Buddha is alien to all things:
the skandhas, the dhātus, the āyatanas, the grasper, the grasped.
His pure dharmas are anātmaka, like his unarisen mind.
Thus it is said: "the Great Void of Self-Nature," "the Abyss of Prajñā,"
"the Ocean of Nothing," and "the Eyeless Vision"
Radix
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Radix »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 7:25 pm Wicked deeds (i.e. "karmas") produce demerit. This demerit has consequences. Thus, morality is as real as karma. The generation of "demerit" is deemed "unskillful" (akusala) because it is the opposite of skillfully navigating the path. Producing demerit is the opposite of being "skillful" in general.
But the question is, what is wicked?

Is killing others wicked? Is telling lies wicked? Is wishing ill upon your parents wicked?

When we say, for example, that killing brings much demerit, we're assuming that there is a moral law of cause and effect "woven into the fabric of the universe" and that kammic repercussions will follow regardless whether the killer believes that killing is wrong or not.

Some defenders of moral subjectivism seem to believe that an action will only have negative kammic consequences if one believes the action was wrong to do, but not otherwise.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Coëmgenu »

I think the easy way to answer that is "does it produce demerit?" It is possible to intentionally murder without ill-will? Buddhism says "No."

Accidental murders do not produce demerit, because there was no underlying intention to perform the activity. It is the underlying intention to perform the activity that, when followed through, actually produces the demerit associated with the activity. There's a sutta for this, but you'll have to give me a while to find it.
The many dharmas are alien to existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan is without imputations of existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan, as he is alien to the imputations, cognitions, and views of these two, in this sense is known as "mindless."
The mind of a Buddha is alien to all things:
the skandhas, the dhātus, the āyatanas, the grasper, the grasped.
His pure dharmas are anātmaka, like his unarisen mind.
Thus it is said: "the Great Void of Self-Nature," "the Abyss of Prajñā,"
"the Ocean of Nothing," and "the Eyeless Vision"
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Ceisiwr »

Sam Vara wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 9:51 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 7:43 pm Is morality objective in the Dhamma? Is it an external reality? Does it matter?
I don't think that morality could possibly be "external", as in "independent of our mind". Because the intention behind our actions is a personal matter, as "internal" as a physical pain or a good mood. The intention is nothing if it is not ours, and the Buddha was interested in whether those intentions were rooted in defilements, or not. Apart from our intentions, the only "good things" out there are other good people, and recognising their goodness is entirely dependent upon our own personal goodness. It means nothing to one not good enough to see it.
Unwholesome mind states do exist external to our minds no, just like how minds exist externally to us?
“In the same way, great king, when a bhikkhu sees that these five hindrances are unabandoned within himself, he regards that as a debt, as a sickness, as confinement in prison, as slavery, as a desert road.

“But when he sees that these five hindrances have been abandoned within himself, he regards that as freedom from debt, as good health, as release from prison, as freedom from slavery, as a place of safety.”


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Sam Vara
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Sam Vara »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 8:04 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 9:51 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 7:43 pm Is morality objective in the Dhamma? Is it an external reality? Does it matter?
I don't think that morality could possibly be "external", as in "independent of our mind". Because the intention behind our actions is a personal matter, as "internal" as a physical pain or a good mood. The intention is nothing if it is not ours, and the Buddha was interested in whether those intentions were rooted in defilements, or not. Apart from our intentions, the only "good things" out there are other good people, and recognising their goodness is entirely dependent upon our own personal goodness. It means nothing to one not good enough to see it.
Unwholesome mind states do exist external to our minds no, just like how minds exist externally to us?
That might be taken as some kind of assumption, but the problem would be that we don't have any way of knowing whether those mind states are unwholesome. All we can be sure about is the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness of our own intentions.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Ceisiwr »

Sam Vara wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 9:19 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 8:04 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 9:51 pm

I don't think that morality could possibly be "external", as in "independent of our mind". Because the intention behind our actions is a personal matter, as "internal" as a physical pain or a good mood. The intention is nothing if it is not ours, and the Buddha was interested in whether those intentions were rooted in defilements, or not. Apart from our intentions, the only "good things" out there are other good people, and recognising their goodness is entirely dependent upon our own personal goodness. It means nothing to one not good enough to see it.
Unwholesome mind states do exist external to our minds no, just like how minds exist externally to us?
That might be taken as some kind of assumption, but the problem would be that we don't have any way of knowing whether those mind states are unwholesome. All we can be sure about is the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness of our own intentions.
I think we can tell on occasions, but even if we can't if we accept the reality of other minds then we accept the reality of unwholesome and wholesome mind states. If unwholesome and wholesome mind-states are real, and kamma is real, then Buddhadhamma accepts moral realism.
“In the same way, great king, when a bhikkhu sees that these five hindrances are unabandoned within himself, he regards that as a debt, as a sickness, as confinement in prison, as slavery, as a desert road.

“But when he sees that these five hindrances have been abandoned within himself, he regards that as freedom from debt, as good health, as release from prison, as freedom from slavery, as a place of safety.”


Sāmaññaphalasutta
thepea
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by thepea »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 8:01 pm I think the easy way to answer that is "does it produce demerit?" It is possible to intentionally murder without ill-will? Buddhism says "No."

Accidental murders do not produce demerit, because there was no underlying intention to perform the activity. It is the underlying intention to perform the activity that, when followed through, actually produces the demerit associated with the activity. There's a sutta for this, but you'll have to give me a while to find it.
There is no such thing as accidental murder.
Murder is previously meditated upon then action taken.
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Coëmgenu »

Substitute "accidental killing" if the usage of "murder" in this very colloquial way confuses.
The many dharmas are alien to existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan is without imputations of existence and nonexistence.
The Āryan, as he is alien to the imputations, cognitions, and views of these two, in this sense is known as "mindless."
The mind of a Buddha is alien to all things:
the skandhas, the dhātus, the āyatanas, the grasper, the grasped.
His pure dharmas are anātmaka, like his unarisen mind.
Thus it is said: "the Great Void of Self-Nature," "the Abyss of Prajñā,"
"the Ocean of Nothing," and "the Eyeless Vision"
thepea
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by thepea »

Radix wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 7:50 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 7:25 pm Wicked deeds (i.e. "karmas") produce demerit. This demerit has consequences. Thus, morality is as real as karma. The generation of "demerit" is deemed "unskillful" (akusala) because it is the opposite of skillfully navigating the path. Producing demerit is the opposite of being "skillful" in general.
But the question is, what is wicked?

Is killing others wicked? Is telling lies wicked? Is wishing ill upon your parents wicked?

When we say, for example, that killing brings much demerit, we're assuming that there is a moral law of cause and effect "woven into the fabric of the universe" and that kammic repercussions will follow regardless whether the killer believes that killing is wrong or not.

Some defenders of moral subjectivism seem to believe that an action will only have negative kammic consequences if one believes the action was wrong to do, but not otherwise.
What is wicked?
When you meditate you will clearly see where your mind is stuck rolling in thought. If something is troubling you take action to mend that.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Sam Vara »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 9:35 pm
Sam Vara wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 9:19 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 8:04 pm

Unwholesome mind states do exist external to our minds no, just like how minds exist externally to us?
That might be taken as some kind of assumption, but the problem would be that we don't have any way of knowing whether those mind states are unwholesome. All we can be sure about is the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness of our own intentions.
I think we can tell on occasions, but even if we can't if we accept the reality of other minds then we accept the reality of unwholesome and wholesome mind states. If unwholesome and wholesome mind-states are real, and kamma is real, then Buddhadhamma accepts moral realism.
If I can't tell whether other minds have wholesome and unwholesome mental states, then I can't tell whether such things exist at all. If you mean that a doctrine claims that such things definitely exist, and you equate that doctrine with the Dhamma, then the Dhamma accepts moral realism.
thepea
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by thepea »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 02, 2022 9:48 pm Substitute "accidental killing" if the usage of "murder" in this very colloquial way confuses.
Murder is one thing killing is another.
With this substitution in place, I will answer yes it is possible to intentionally kill without ill will.
I would look to native North American Indians as they hunt.
Nothing but love and total respect for both the physical and spiritual aspects of the animals taken.
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by cappuccino »

thepea wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2022 10:43 am I would look to native North American Indians as they hunt.
they’re not Buddhists
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If we ignore the need of beauty, we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. -Roger Scruton
Bundokji
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by Bundokji »

Ceisiwr wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 7:43 pm Is morality objective in the Dhamma? Is it an external reality? Does it matter?
I do not think the teachings has any answers to these questions.

If you mean by objective that actions have consequences, then yes. If you mean by objective that they have independent existence, then no.

If you mean by reality that it cannot be disputed, then no. If you mean by reality that you cannot afford to deny it, then yes.

If you mean by matter the role of physical substance in determining "things", then yes. If you mean by matter the basis of materialism as to what is worth grasping, then no.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
thepea
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by thepea »

cappuccino wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2022 10:55 am
thepea wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2022 10:43 am I would look to native North American Indians as they hunt.
they’re not Buddhists
Are they immune to kamma?
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cappuccino
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Re: Moral Realism

Post by cappuccino »

thepea wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2022 11:53 am Are they immune to kamma?
No…
Art of the 21st Century
If we ignore the need of beauty, we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. -Roger Scruton
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