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Where is the self? How can dualism stand if it's just a fiction?

 
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 04:50 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

The buddhist believes in reincarnation, so from that standpoint it's not strange.

That isn't correct. Reincarnation is taught as a 'stepping-stone' for those who previously believed in reincarnation e.g. Hindus because the Buddha was mainly teaching Hindus. The deeper meaning is that there is no evidence of non-existence so why in the West do we (most Westerners) believe in it?
igm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 04:54 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

I'll just note that you stated the Buddha insisted on proof of the self. Now, if the Buddha had no beliefs about the existence of the self -- if he was, in other words, a total skeptic on the issue -- then I take everything back.

He was a total skeptic on the issue.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 05:05 pm
@igm,
I'm not sure what you mean by "stepping stone."
igm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 06:00 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

I'm not sure what you mean by "stepping stone."


This should help ci:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

The Buddhist doctrine of the two truths (Tibetan: bden-pa gnyis) differentiates between two levels of truth (Sanskrit: satya) in Buddhist discourse: relative or commonsensical truth, and absolute or ultimate truth.

The doctrine was first expressed in complete form by Nāgārjuna...

...Madhyamaka
The distinction between the two truths (satyadvayavibhāga) was fully expressed by the Madhyamaka-school. In Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā it is used to defend the identification of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) with emptiness (śūnyatā):

The Buddha's teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: a truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth. Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha's profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved.[7]

In Nagarjuna's own words:

8. The teaching by the Buddhas of the dharma has recourse to two truths:
The world-ensconced truth and the truth which is the highest sense.

9. Those who do not know the distribution (vibhagam) of the two kinds of truth
Do not know the profound "point" (tattva) in the teaching of the Buddha.

10. The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior,
And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana.[8]

Nāgārjuna based his statement of the two truths on the Kaccāyanagotta Sutta. In the Kaccāyanagotta Sutta, the Buddha, speaking to the monk Kaccayana Gotta on the topic of right view, describes the middle Way between nihilsm and eternalism:

By and large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by a polarity, that of existence and non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, "non-existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, "existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one.[9]

cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 06:03 pm
@igm,
Can somebody translate that into simple English for me? Thx. I'm still missing the "stepping stone."
igm
 
  2  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 06:26 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

Can somebody translate that into simple English for me? Thx. I'm still missing the "stepping stone."

The stepping-stone is the first of the two truths:

ci...There are two truths taught by the Buddha... the commonsense truth is reincarnation for Hindus and those who can't face being told immediately that there is no way a permanent soul can go from one life to the next.

The ultimate truth is there is no evidence for nonexistence.

Quote:
...the middle Way between nihilsm and eternalism...
igm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 06:32 pm
My post above to 'ci' was amended, slightly later.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 06:47 pm
@igm,
Thanks Igm,
Not that I accept an appeal to authority in the form of fresco (knowledgeable though he is).
However, I do not feel as though the general audience is familiar with second-order cybernetic systems. From my limited understanding of a nested systems approach, the "picture" you have painted is in no way equivalent.
It really had seemed to me prior to very recently that your goal was to "disprove" the concept of self.
So again I apologize if I was mistaken.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 07:38 pm
@igm,
Quote:
Quote:
Re: cicerone imposter (Post 5257178)
cicerone imposter wrote:

Can somebody translate that into simple English for me? Thx. I'm still missing the "stepping stone."

The stepping-stone is the first of the two truths:


ci...There are two truths taught by the Buddha... the commonsense truth is reincarnation for Hindus and those who can't face being told immediately that there is no way a permanent soul can go from one life to the next.

The ultimate truth is there is no evidence for nonexistence.


And the Buddha knows this because....

...???

Or is it simply something the Buddha guesses...just as his followers guess he was correct in that guess?
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Feb, 2013 07:56 pm
@igm,
You wrote,
Quote:
The ultimate truth is there is no evidence for nonexistence.


This sentence doesn't make any sense. You're presenting a double negative.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 02:10 am
@MattDavis,
"Nested systems" can be another way of describing a solution to logical paradoxes, by advocating different levels of context for assignment of "truth" of separate premises. (I seem to remember that Tarski was involved in an equivalent approach with respect to Russell's paradox). The transcendent (no-self) level of Buddhism with respect to the "self" level, seems to lend itself to such an approach.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 02:25 am
@fresco,
I agree that such an approach is very much equivalent to the way I can reconcile the Buddhists teachings with my logical bias and sentiment toward a structured understanding of reality.

In regards to the utility of nested systems in escaping Russell's paradox or Godel's Incompleteness theorem, I would raise a few concerns.
My understanding is that such an approach will require more and more axioms ... on to infinite regress, to be added to any axiomatic system that falls under the privy of both paradoxes.
I would consider an infinite number of starting rules to be an absurd corruption of what is meant by an axiomatic system.

The relation of such an approach, or extension of this analogy to "reality" however, I think is de-finitely (pun intended) germane, especially in regard to reconciling such a "world view" with the views of conventional Mahayana Buddhism.

The reconciliation (from my perspective) will depend on whether the basic constituents of "reality" are finite or continuous.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 03:37 am
@igm,
igm I say this from a place of love,

I seem to detect a need in you to rationalize your faith. I don't think such rationalizations are needed so long as your enlightenment is informed through ethical practice and meditation.

Regarding not letting go of the attachment to needing justification from others, whether they be Buddha, Frank, Matt, Your worst "enemy", or anyone else, I can think of no wiser words than those of the Borg from Star Trek.
Borg wrote:
Resistance is futile.

I don't think that an enlightenment through Buddhism or many other traditions is wrong so long as that enlightenment is guided by meditation and ethical practice.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 07:02 am
@MattDavis,
Quote:
In regards to the utility of nested systems in escaping Russell's paradox or Godel's Incompleteness theorem, I would raise a few concerns.
My understanding is that such an approach will require more and more axioms ... on to infinite regress, to be added to any axiomatic system that falls under the privy of both paradoxes.
I would consider an infinite number of starting rules to be an absurd corruption of what is meant by an axiomatic system.


Nesting implies a repetition of embedding structures within structures and that repetition is sometimes thought of as a type of "circularity of method". Your concerns may be alleviated by this quotation from Bernard Scott on the subject of second order cybernetics.

Quote:
Fortunately, the circularity is not vicious, as in the statement "I am a liar". Rather, it is virtuous or, as von Foerster calls it, it is a creative circle, which allows us to "transcend into another domain".


Now just to add a bit of meat to that, we might consider Newtonian physics to embedded in relativistic physics by virtue of replacing Newtons axiom of "fixed spatial reference frames" with relativistic ones. This means that Newton's laws are still "true" in a limited domain, but break down in a more general one. i.e "truth" is domain specific. Pragmatists say "Truth is what works".
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 07:02 am
@igm,
igm wrote:
He was a total skeptic on the issue.

I'd like to believe that. It is, however, puzzling when so many Buddhists apparently believe otherwise. Do you have any evidence for the Buddha's "total skepticism" regarding the existence of the self?
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 04:32 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Nesting implies a repetition of embedding structures within structures and that repetition is sometimes thought of as a type of "circularity of method". Your concerns may be alleviated by this quotation from Bernard Scott on the subject of second order cybernetics.
Quote:
Fortunately, the circularity is not vicious, as in the statement "I am a liar". Rather, it is virtuous or, as von Foerster calls it, it is a creative circle, which allows us to "transcend into another domain".

Thanks fresco,
I am somewhat familiar with constructive vs. destructive loops. I did not mean for my "absurd corruption of what is meant by an axiomatic system" to be that any such system is absurd in the sense of "can't be real".
I meant it more to illustrate that it creates a system that neither Russell's paradox or Godel's Incompleteness theorem can "speak of". The proof of Godel's theorem relies upon an assumption of a finite number of axioms.
To extrapolate from this to "reality" is simply saying I grant as axiomatic that axioms can be infinite (in the sense of a constructive circularity). This requires a sort of "meta-axiom" a rule for how to create new axioms when needed by the system.
My humble opinion is that existentialists prefer the "meta-axiom".
Naive realists prefer some simple "axioms".
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 04:40 pm
@fresco,
Discrete or Continuous that IS the question. Laughing
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 05:15 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

You wrote,
Quote:
The ultimate truth is there is no evidence for nonexistence.


This sentence doesn't make any sense. You're presenting a double negative.

ci, not really. I'm just saying that ordinary non-critically thinking people believe they exist and when they die then they cease to exist i.e. become non-existent.

There is no evidence anywhere that something that exists can become non-existent. Just as 'Joe' said in a post above to me, when he referred to the 'conservation of energy', nothing is destroyed it just changes. So, why do we believe in something i.e. non-existence, when there is no evidence for it, but plenty of evidence that phenomena that appear do 'not' disappear they just change form.

Mind is a phenomenon and is therefore part of phenomena. It appears to each of us ‘privately’ so there is no evidence it ceases because of the same ‘conservation of energy’, it just changes. There’s no evidence that mind ceases to exist but there is evidence that it changes.

My argument is all about not believing in ‘anything at all’ without evidence for it.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 05:26 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

igm wrote:
He was a total skeptic on the issue.

I'd like to believe that. It is, however, puzzling when so many Buddhists apparently believe otherwise. Do you have any evidence for the Buddha's "total skepticism" regarding the existence of the self?

The Heart Sutra.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/heartstr.htm

The Buddha says that phenomena lack 'all characteristics'. This is the meaning of the Buddha's term 'emptiness'.

Added soon after:

A 'self' would need 'characteristics' so the Buddha is skeptical because he can't find any, anywhere.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 05:30 pm
@igm,
igm wrote:
Mind is a phenomenon and is therefore part of phenomena.

I think this was very well said.
0 Replies
 
 

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