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Is Kant's "pure reason" similar to "absolute mind" in Zen Buddhism?

 
 
chewdak
 
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 05:37 pm
"Absolute mind" is an innate appreciation of things as they are, their universality, which all sentient beings possess. It is accessed through being mindful and aware, when a person realizes the "we are all one" perspective.
Is Kant's "pure reason", which is also an a priori innate knowledge of the reality shared by all men, something similar?
In an ordinary state of consciousness people are preoccupied with relationships among things, "this versus that", "us versus them". This would be considered a "relative mind". It serves as a survival mechanism, but limits one's perspective. Would this "relative mind" be similar to Kant's concept of"practical reason"?
Is acting from one's center, allowing mindful and immediate action, similar to developing an ability to act immediately in accordance to one's ethical principles which might come from living and consistently acting in accordance with "categorical imperative", which considers the universality of one's actions?
I'm not familiar with the literature on either Zen nor Kant, please forgive my ignorance. I would really appreciate a simplified, layman's explanation of my mistakes.
I'm looking at this from a practical perspective, finding an answer to the question 'How can one act mindfully, ethically, and fast'?
Thank you.
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 4,784 • Replies: 15
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 06:05 pm
@chewdak,
I doubt it ! Kant seems to have advocated a "noumenal world" separate from "mental phenomena". I understand his concept of the "a priori" to be equivalent to some "hard wiring" in the perceptual system. None of this seems to suggest the holistic inseparability of observer-observed implied by "absolute mind".

Note that Kant's ideas were a critique of "pure reason". i.e. the impossibility of "knowing" the external world directly.
chewdak
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 07:46 pm
@fresco,
Thank you. I must be totally off understanding the ideas of pure and practical mind.
What is the name of Kant's concept of having a priori reason which enables one to know what is the right thing to do?
I found this little gem online (it's linked to marxists.org page, which does NOT include these words, go figure): "Critique of Pure Reason.
Immanuel Kant's major work in which he argues that we can have a priori knowledge of things in themselves but these things in themsleves can never be manifest in appearance which is known to experience."
I am not sure how this measures up to your "Kant's ideas were a critique of "pure reason". i.e. the impossibility of "knowing" the external world directly." The marxist.org explanation makes sense to me.
What could be an example? Maybe "awareness"? You know what it is, but you could not point at it, or put it on a shelf.
Could it be the same with "right action"? You know what it is, but you can't define it as a separate entity which can be revisited for later inspection?
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 02:03 am
@chewdak,
I am neither a Kantian nor a Buddhist so I cannot claim any insight into what either have said about ethical or moral matters implied by phrases such as "right action". Such ethical matters seem to be involved with that philosophical minefield of accounting for "why we are here". But the pragmatist might argue that this is a no go area, and others might argue that even that the concept of "time" which forms the backcloth for the concept of "action" , has dubious "ontological status". Whether such "others" are "proto-Buddhists" (without its ethical directives) is an interesting point.
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jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 03:49 am
@chewdak,
I know a bit about Kant, and practise Zen. So my response would be as follows.

There are some touch-points between Kant and Buddhism, but it is quite a hard subject to understand. As far as the Zen side is concerned, the answer is practise, practise, practise. Zen is meditation, it is not a philosophical theory or intellectual exercise. In this respect it is completely different to European philosophy. If you want to learn what it has to teach, find a zen centre and do sitting practise.

As far as books go, there is a good book called The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, by T.R.V. Murti, which shows the parallels between Mahayana Buddhism and Kant, Hegel and Hume. It is pretty tough going if you're not up on philosophy. The other good source on Zen philosophy is D.T. Suzuki. There's a lot of zen philosophy on the web, have a look at www.thezensite.com.

But mostly, Zen is about practice.
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 04:02 am
@chewdak,
I am an advocate of Kant's view of the world. My take on it is that Kant reminds us that our knowledge of the world is very much a function of our particular cognitive functionality and intellectual structure. We don't really see a 'mind-independent' world. At the same time, he definitely does not mean that 'the world is in your mind'. He believes that science describes a real world. But this world is not perfectly objective as time and space are intellectual intuitions of the human mind within which all experience is structured. This is the 'phenomenal' realm, which is the only realm of which we have knowledge; we don't know anything as it is itself, only as it appears to us. So I think the description is that he is an empirical realist but a transcendental idealist. If you think this is hard to fathom, you'd be correct.

Have a look at http://www.iep.utm.edu/kantmeta/ and http://www.friesian.com/kant.htm

Also the entry on Kant in Russell's History of Western Philosophy
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 04:27 am
In that second essay I pointed at, there is this interesting note on Kant and Buddhism

Quote:
In the world, everything affects everything else, but the traditional view, found even in Spinoza, is that God is free of any external causal influences. Similarly, Kant can be a phenomenal determinist with science yet simultaneously allow for free will, and that in a way that will not be entirely explicable to us -- a virtue when the very idea of a rational and purposive free will, and not just arbitrary choices, has involved obscurities that no one has been able to resolve. Kant's theory prevents psychological explanations for behavior, however illuminating, being used to excuse moral responsibility and accountability. Thus, the tragic childhood of the defendant, however touching and understandable, cannot excuse crimes committed in full knowledge of their significance.

Kant's approach is also of comparative interest because of the similar ancient Buddhist philosophical distinction between conditioned realities, which mostly means the world of experience, and unconditioned realities ("unconditioned dharmas"), which interestingly include, not only the sphere of salvation, Nirvana, but also space, which of course for Kant was a form imposed a priori on experience by the mind. The connection may be more than a coincidence. Kant's theory of the Antinomies draws on the Greek Skeptics, whose founder, Pyrrhô of Elis, was with the army of Alexander the Great in India. Pyrrho returned with a principle echoing the Fourfold Negation of Buddhist philosophy. While Kant wants to resolve some of the Antinomies with Postulates of Practical Reason (i.e. presuppositions of morality), the principle remains that theoretical reason generates contradictions when applied to transcendent objects. This would be agreeable to Pyrrhô, or even to Nagârjuna.

JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 06:59 pm
@jeeprs,
I believe that I am not inconsistent with either zen or Kant when I say that we can be tentatively described as both noumena and phenomena. Sit in zazen (especially the shikantaza form) and you'll have a foot in the noumenal world and another in the phenomenal world. But of course reality is not really so divided.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 07:13 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
But of course reality is not really so divided.
reality is easily divided, infinitely divided.
cpcp
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2012 10:04 pm
@dyslexia,
IT is not divided, IT is just ONE WHOLE
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2012 10:24 pm
@cpcp,
When Dyslexia passed away recently he became that "whole" in the sense that he no longer suffers--as we still do-- the delusion of separateness.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2012 09:03 pm
@JLNobody,
I forgot to say "our beloved Dyslexia" (B.W.)
0 Replies
 
imans
 
  0  
Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 01:40 am
reality is one truth superiority knowing that truth is absolute freedom values, so reality at some abstract point end up a finite superiority which is finite of infinite so always open free

dont mention whole or one unless u point truth the exclusive boss of

then u would mean one as nothing to u since u cant recognize true superiority and a whole as infinite diversity from knowing that true objective existence superiority is through infinite free moves values which are truly totally else to each others while each absolutely superior value alone
imans
 
  0  
Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 01:48 am
@imans,
the problem with my expressions if i look to objectively, is what it proves that all preachings and means about everything are lies essentially till their living facts, it looks so pathetic how what i say is struggle to prove what u know already being the logics of what exist reference to mean anything there

u know very well that one and whole is the reference to what i say, the infinite right objective intelligence, but no u take that fact abstraction to use it in most inferior concretisation that has nothing to do with its principal source
which explain how what u clone reveal being opposites to what u meant to clone at the first place

0 Replies
 
imans
 
  0  
Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 01:57 am
but to try an answer to the question of here, i would say no, pure reason is its end constancy not the reasons ends, when u put reasons outside then what left is the mean so it would stay constant
bc reason is meant purely so not willing to mean it

that is how kant is a philosopher bc he is real with freedom being the truth as freedom value being above or beyond all reasons so more the reason of objective existence

that is why those zen thing are wrong as they look like, and usually always liars meaning to sell absolute positivism they know being how beyond zero nothing at all
but absolute positive result is not the truth
0 Replies
 
Qaf
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Oct, 2016 06:51 am
@chewdak,
IMHO there might be a divergence between being as an "Absolute Mind" and one that arrives at reason, for in Zen Buddhism, the discursive method of reason is in itself an illusion that distances us from our empty selves, selves which can grasp the absolute.
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