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Posted on August 23 at 4:18 p.m.
The mill has sufficient grist already.
I'm sure you understand why I don't take your laugh test and the "I can't believe you believe that" objection very seriously. In particular, having read a fair amount in philosophy, theology, and the social sciences generally on such issues as subjectivity, self-hood, free will, etc., when I read what you say about quarks having an inner self and form of self-consciousness, I laugh in wonderment at how a very intelligent person could have ignored thousands of years of engagement with the subject as though it had no bearing on the meaning of his claims.
The sheer fact of experience is primary and undeniable evidence of experience. That's it. The rest is confusion between the categories of grammar and the categories of reality (Russell) and a formulation of grammatical custom based on logical-metaphysical assumptions about how the world supposedly must be (Nietzsche).
As for your take in some of your other comments:
You say that the Buddha taught that we should "not follow any particular set of views on authority or faith alone. We should test statements, test methods, and find our own path." You also point out that "Our worldly knowledge has undeniably improved vastly since the time of the Buddha."
Somehow you manage to construe these as showing that, "Based on his own teachings, if the Buddha were alive today, it is highly unlikely that he would wholeheartedly embrace Buddhism. Why? Because human knowledge has improved since the Buddha’s time, and because we have also become more humble in our approach to knowledge."
The Buddha's teachings were based on observations about, and insights into, the general human condition. What advances in the knowledge base since his day would lead him to pull back from those teachings? And in what sense are "we" more humble in our approach to knowledge than he was?
You describe Christianity and Buddhism in particular as resting on the notion that there is no improving our collective knowledge because all has been previously revealed. However, you then point our that such traditions do in fact "evolve, through insight, dialogue, schisms, conflicts, and so on." So even if a given believer or set of believers might claim that their understanding of the world is unchangeable, history of religions shows that a dynamic tension exists in these religions that leads to reevaluation as knowledge and historical conditions change.
I must admit that I'm not a "spiritual seeker," but perhaps I'll find your future columns on "deep science," about which I've already expressed my misgivings at length, as well as its relation to the process you mentioned elsewhere "of co-creating God as Summit," more coherent than what I've seen so far.
On A Mini-Discourse on Spiritual Method
Posted on August 23 at 4:02 p.m.
TamYou agree with only part of Russell's point; you ignore the part about his claim that it's illegitimate to go from "there is thinking" to "there is a thinker." Your partial agreement with Russell doesn't change the fact that he, I, and Nietzsche disagree with you on the fundamental issue here, notwithstanding your incredulity about our doing so.
On Something from Nothing?
Posted on August 23 at 8:11 a.m.
You equate "awareness" with "self." I don't. So this isn't being hung on language, but on metaphysical assumptions.
You go on to say, "we can conclude, with absolute certainty, that there is an experiencer here, now, from the mere fact of experience being here, now."
This is precisely what we can't conclude, for reasons Russell and Nietzsche point out in the material quoted in my comments on your next Mini-Discourse in this series.
Posted on August 23 at 7:15 a.m.
No, we aren't on the same page. I’m on the page with Russell's full account, in which, according to the author of the article, Russell denied “that thinking, or thoughts, entail a thinker, and he [Russell] explained the temptation of inferring a thinker from the occurrence of thoughts by appealing to what he regarded as the questionable metaphysical commitments of ordinary language. Again in his own words:‘Descartes believed in “substance,” both in the mental and in the material world. He thought that there could not be motion unless something moved, nor thinking unless someone thought. No doubt most people would still hold this view; but in fact it springs from a notion – usually unconscious – that the categories of grammar are the categories of reality.’”
And with Nietzsche in The Will to Power: “‘There is thinking: therefore there is something that thinks’: this is the upshot of all Descartes’ argumentation. But that means positing as ‘true a priori’ our belief in the concept of substance – that when there is thought there has to be something ‘that thinks’ is simply a formulation of our grammatical custom that adds a doer to every deed. In short, this is not merely the substantiation of a fact but a logical-metaphysical postulate.”
Posted on August 22 at 12:19 p.m.
Posted on August 21 at 5:24 p.m.
"There is thinking here, and we can conclude from the very act of thinking that there is a thinker." No.
See in particular the Criticism section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_e..., also objections in Ayer and elsewhere.
Posted on August 21 at 10:08 a.m.
Yes, awareness is primary; but awareness of an experiencing self as subject, arrived at through introspection, is secondary, and since I'm denying the identity of "awareness of existence" with "awareness of self," there is no contradiction. Not only is the "true" nature of existence inferred, so is the "subject" of "subjective awareness." Both are narrative constructs.
Descartes mis-spoke. Not "I think," but "thinking is". The "I" built into "Cogito" is a fine example of begging the question.
Posted on August 20 at 11:33 p.m.
I'm not saying that there's a reality that can be described in an objectively true way, just that a person would have to be of rather odd neurological construction to sincerely believe that neither he nor anything else existed. That's the simple sense in which I say that existence exists. If you want to call that attributing to existence "some kind of objectivity," fine, but I think that to deny that existence exists would be an odd place from which to construct a worldview.
If by "subjective awareness" and "subjective experience" you mean the simultaneous experience of existence and of ourselves as experiencing subjects, then we disagree. Awareness of existence is prior; construction of personal subjectivity follows.
You acknowledge that "intersubjective confirmation is what science is about," but you don't seem to realize what that implies for the rest of your claims: The "real insights about the nature of reality" you say can derive from the "traditionally defined internal realm" can't be made into science simply by adding the term "deep" to the latter unless those claims can be confirmed intersubjectively. If they can't be confirmed in that way, they aren't, on your own account, "what science is about," and everything else you say completely misses the point.
Posted on August 19 at 7:23 p.m.
TamYour distinction between "certain knowledge" and "reasonable inference" doesn't address my comments in the slightest.
"Intersubjective confirmation" is exactly what "traditional science" does. If "deep science" has another way of determining the validity of claims to knowledge, it would be of interest to see that other approach spelled out, including how that still qualifies as doing science.
By the way, all we know with certainty is existence. The "our subjective" part is construct and narrative. How and out of what we construct and narrate are the truly deep and fascinating questions.
To be continued ...
Posted on August 19 at 9:55 a.m.
Our two most recent comments crossed in the aether. I don't think yours clarified any of the confusions I tried to point out.
One of Hawaii’s most popular artists, Keali‘i (kay-ah-LEE-ee) Reichel performs ... Read More
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