Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Mind Over Matter, Jan 3, 2012.
What is the address of Heaven ?
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I personally abandoned attempts to grasp Eastern thought -- or to believe that I could ever feel confident that I had apprehended any one school of its variety accurately -- when a Daoist nun once told me that most of what she read in the West about "Taoism", she didn't even recognize as pertaining to actual Daoism. There appeared to be an interpretative/cultural gap there far wider than what's applicable to the translating of an European author like Kant from German to English, so my inner reaction was: "To heck with it; probably a waste of time if pseudo-versions are what I'm going to assimilate."
Sounds vaguely similar to William James' improvements on or possible reformulation of David Hume's bundle theory. Or, if not for the suggestion of being able to transit in any "direction" of a complex network of phenomenal events / thoughts.... Then a touch like Hermann Weyl's explanation for the perception of change in a block-universe-like structure, as being the result of cognitive judgments shifting consciousness along events in the worldline of a human body/brain:
Hermann Weyl - "The objective world simply is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along the life line of my body, does a section of this world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time." --expanded English version of "Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science"
She sounds very xenophobic. Maybe the west has the better version. Taoism degenerated very quickly in the east into alchemy and superstition.
I am somewhat familiar with Buddhism. There is by now a phenomenon of "Western Buddhism" which has produced considerable amounts of texts and teachings, so we can compare them to the Pali Canon. There are also traditionalist Buddhist teachers who comment on the developments in Western Buddhism.
I find that this sheds light on our Western preconceived notions, and helps to understand what appear to be the originally intended meanings of the Buddha.
There are also East-West studies (such as those by Richard Nisbett) that help to begin to understand the differences between Eastern and Western thinking.
So I don't think that attempting to grasp Eastern thought is such a hopeless endeavor (even when, literally, it is, given the grasping Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! ).
A line of reasoning like this shows its weakness when we try to apply it to the everyday problems of birth, aging, illness and death, in the various forms that we are afflicted by them.
A solution that seems philosophically elegant and convincing enough proves to be useless when dealing with the practicalities of what it addresses theoretically.
This is why Western philosophers say that there was never yet a philosopher that could endure a toothache.
The whole point of philosophy ought to be to be able to think - and then act - in such a manner so as to not suffer. To endure a toothache.
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Well, in the West there's more of the sub-tradition of trying to go beyond appearances to some supposed Truth, regardless of its consequences on the practical beliefs of everyday life. It's the battles over "how reality and knowledge hang together" that often underlies such. Especially as pertains to the Anglophone shade of philosophy, that has more of a tendency to revolve around science. With continental philosophy tending to regard society or its role as more fundamental to its scrutiny.
Philosophy in the East featured these involved practices appended to or woven with its schemes, with the result of westerners initially ascribing it to or entangling it wholly with religion; "therapeutic praxis" might have been a better choice by those foreign onlookers.
Whereas occidental philosophy, with its earliest pre-Socratics, wrestled, again, with that focus on "how reality hangs together", seemingly detaching itself from personal life. Even retaining that spirit of detachment when it diverged into specialties that included reason's interest in human affairs (morality, politics, etc).
Thus not surprising that an Aristotle and the road to contemporary science eventually sprang from its loins, with its continuing, gradual diminishing of the importance or centrality of humans (as if the circumstance ever was much otherwise, what with this or that occult agency posited by most as looming over them). Not until Kant came along did a semblance of a counter-trend arise (even Berkeley, Leibniz, etc., still presented humans as subordinate to God; and non-theists had replaced the latter with subordination to Nature).
Kant... "Philosophy is not some sort of science of representations, concepts, and ideas, or a science of all sciences, or anything else of this sort; rather, it is a science of the human being, of its representing, thinking, and acting. It should present the human being in all of its components, as it is and ought to be, that is, in accordance with its natural determinations as well as its relationship of morality and freedom. Ancient philosophy adopted an entirely inappropriate standpoint towards the human being in the world, for it made it into a machine in it, which as such had to be entirely dependent on the world or on external things and circumstances. It thus made the human being into an all but merely passive part of the world. Now the critique of reason has appeared and determined the human being to a thoroughly active place in the world. The human being itself is the original creator of all its representations and concepts and ought to be the sole author of all its actions." --The Conflict Of The Faculties
Needless to say, this autonomy was short-lived, as the German idealists that came after Kant usually discarded his "things-in-themselves" for conventional fare of individuals arising from extrinsic relations, or by-products emerging from processes conflicting on a grand scale, or just relegated to being illusions of yet another overarching ego, principle of the One, or aimless Will.
Well I am existing fine. Back from the fact finding mission in Haiti. What a trip .
Mikel crossed the equator and all . Unbelievable . I won a nation . The door to heaven . Wow it does give you an edge to know how to speak the wind fluently . Unbelievable . Un fucking real . The Haitians understood what I was saying . There minds are growing to the point they are recognizing deception by the ruling thumb of deception . I am helping them . I learn a few more things about cronyism too . God I am glad I speak wind. Fuck to you all need to learn it . You can't believe the power of it . Fuck to . Unbelievable
I speak wind. Out of my butt.
But whence this detachment from personal life? Whence the idea that "how things really are" has precious little to do with humans and how they go about their daily life?
Yeah I can hear your wind well . Flapping like butterfly wings. Defiantly not that tight of an anus. More of a loose gurgle wind . Better check your pants for skid marks
Most of even that era's much smaller perception and conception of reality didn't consist of everything involving human activities. For a lad helping an elderly woman across a street, what would the grounds be for factoring such into the "how" of the sun radiating? A proposed answer to the latter would be metaphysical speculation back then, in the absence of theoretical and experimental natural philosophy.
IOW, there were Greek thinkers actually interested in knowledge that extended beyond just "how to go about feeling good" in regard to personal life. Which included the rivalry of skeptics doubting that knowledge was even possible. These eventual science (knowledge) pursuit distinctions are no more remarkable than hubby taking a broken metal bar to a welding shop to be mended, and the welder there being more interested in welding rather than offering psychotherapy services, marriage counseling, or a sermon. If "Eastern Philosophy" was limited to merely an investigation of ending or decreasing suffering / dissatisfaction, then it's no unexpected marvel that the West eventually dominated the world with its developments. I don't feel that's the case, though -- China, India, Islamic philosophers, etc., contributed something at least indirectly to the bonfire of thought and innovation that ignited in later Europe.
Its the obvious conclusion of modern science.
Wynn feels that the devaluation of the significance of conscious experience is a horrible thing. So what we could do is to simply point out that while science tends to suggest that in the grand scheme of things we are relatively insignificant, and that the consciousness of a single individual (or even 7 billion individuals) seems to have no impact upon this grand universal scheme of things, it need not (and can not - if we don't want it to) reduce us to nothing more than a particular configuration of inherently insignificant matter. We will always have the richness of our own inner experience, which is something we are free to embrace for the seemingly miraculous thing that it is. But even more than that, the fact that a phenomenon such as conscious experience can emerge in a physical universe at all says something about the nature of the universe itself that is usually missing from the conservative scientific analysis because science is, after all, currently unable to fully account for such things.
In a nutshell, it's perfectly possible to be an atheist without being a nihilist. I know because I am such a person. The universe is a miraculous place, I just see no reason why there needs to be a "god" behind it. Certainly not a god that even remotely resembles any of the obviously mythological entities that have evolved in the minds of the superstitious throughout the ages.
It indeed is a wonderful world we live in -
It's a fantastic book. One of the best. It goes to show (among many other things) why Richard Dawkins isn't the person that many people think he is; why so many of us aren't, and how theists are so hopelessly lost when they try to project their own closet nihilism onto us.
Ya, he is outspoken. Btw, did you read his new book the magic of reality, its an absolute charmer!
Btw, - http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=112080
Haven't read that one yet, but I'll get to it eventually.
The most science can offer is sentimentalism. Which is fine enough, as long as the going doesn't get rough. And it is just a matter of time before it does.
The main problem with Western science - and scientists - is that they are intellectually dishonest, more specifically, epistemologically dishonest: they make claims, but refuse to acknowledge that it is them, humans, who are making them, and not an omnimax entity, but they nevertheless expect that the kind of credence be given to their claims (and the scientists making them) as would behoove to be given to an omnimax entity.
Well you see, when the onimax thingy doesnt know that a bat ain't a bird but scientists can and can even decode their genome, you start to get the feeling that this omnimax thingy is highly suspect!
That doesn't make sense. Sentimentalism is actually in stark contrast to a strictly scientific treatment of reality. Perhaps what you meant to say is that the most atheism can offer is sentimentalism, but you would have been wrong there too because atheism isn't a philosophy, or a way of life, it's merely a generic term relating to one's position regarding a single philosophical question. An atheist need not be restricted in their world-view by the limited picture of reality that science is currently able to paint. In fact an atheist can embrace all manner of interesting metaphysical possibilities, perhaps even going so far as to believe that some sort of continued existence is inevitable. And then of course there are certain forms of pantheism that are entirely compatible with atheism, and the more open minded amongst this group may even go so far as to view consciousness itself as a much more fundamental part of reality than more conservative atheists might envision. I myself am a pantheist of sorts, and I can tell you that your implied characterization of me is way off the mark. I naturally and regularly entertain all manner of fantastic possibilities, some of which I post about here, and some of which I don't. In a nutshell, I tend to believe that the true scope of reality is much wider and much richer than what we currently understand it to be, and that future scientific discoveries are likely to lead us towards something profound rather than something cold, empty and ultimately meaningless. I can believe all these things and more, and still be atheistic with respect to certain ancient mythological conceptions relating to the nature of existence.
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