The Reasoning Show - Miscellaneous Discussion

Some partial backups of posts from the past (Feb, 2004)

Postby Sapius » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:53 am

Diebert,

Why would there be anything mystical about arriving at this particular concept? It would be no different from other conceptual thought processes. Tao can be named after all, only weasels deny that. Applying logic and honesty would be key, as well as having interest to delve in this particular topic.


Yes I know Tao can be named, but at the same time, it is not the eternal Tao, nor is it the eternal name, which I believe points to wishful thinking.

By mystical (which actually did not relate to what the speakers said) I meant as in “mystical” experiences. It was Just an offshoot of a thought in seeing connections between mystical experiences and the gap of missing proofs, which I believe will not remain once majority of humanity, or at least a vast portion experiences such things.

Kevin says that they are not really two different things, and dual and non-dual exist at the same time.


A claim of the existence of non-duality made while remaining in and of duality, and knowing and stating that nothing lies beyond consciousness (which is duality itself), tells me that that is but a wishful thinking. How logical is it to claim that some un-conceptualizable thing lies beyond conceptualizations. The, not the eternal Tao... not the eternal name... thing.

However, you don’t seem to have such problems. Do you? I am not satisfied yet, so I simply want to understand what the speakers really mean by, or how did they arrive at the existence of a thing such as non-dual.
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Postby Unidian » Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:24 am

Tao is not a thing.
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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:55 am

Unidian wrote:Tao is not a thing.


The Tao is named all the time, ongoing, and in doing so it becomes a thing, or actually the 'mother of things'. The fact that you could conceive of it as being eternal and nameless doesn't change a thing - the naming doesn't stop. Pretending doesn't help.

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Postby David Quinn » Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:09 am

Diebert,

The problem then with the discussion with Victor shows itself as a failing to create any bridge between these two approaches. I think it's really inflexible from all participant in the discussion to insist on 'correct' definitions of 'infinite' or 'totality'. It's indeed an immense challenge to find a way to link the more mystical or religious concepts of the infinite, totality and god to the world of formal logic and science. It might be those two worlds never really will meet or perhaps it's something for future science to explore its own metaphysical origin and method a bit deeper. And its build-in limitations, which are also part of the question: 'prove it'.

There is no real way to bride the gap, other than for scientists to become philosophers. As philosophers, both Dan and I embrace science within the larger philosophical context, and I think we made that fairly clear on the show. But if a scientist decides to remain firmly stuck within the empirical mindset and close his eyes and ears to everything beyond it, then it is very difficult for a philosopher to connect with him. I personally found talking to Victor hard going because of this.

Science and philosophy aren't really at odds with each other, but the likes of Victor create a false conflict between them.

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Postby David Quinn » Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:35 am

Shahrazad wrote:

BTW, the argument Victor gave on how QRS redefine terms, reach conclusions and later try to sell those conclusions as applying to the whole world is similar to an argument that I made here about a month ago, about the same redefinition trick being used with terms such as "feminine" and "masculine". Needless to say, nobody even attempted to refute my argument.

Probably because it is an empty argument.

Terms and definitions aren't sacrosanct; we can give them whatever meaning we want to give them. It is no less valid to redefine terms than it is to define them from the outset, and a redefined term is no less applicable to the world than an originally-defined term is.

When Victor is talking about the "world" in this context he isn't referring to the actual world as it is. He is simply referring to world of social consensus and agreed-upon definitions. He is upset that we are ignoring this realm of consensus and appropriating terms for a different purpose. He is like a fundamentalist Christian who gets upset if the word "God" is used to mean Nature, rather than some Jehovah-like being.

This relates to the point Diebert raised about bridging the gap between science and philosophy. A philosopher can recognize the value of socially-agreed upon definitions, such as those used in science, but he can also recognize the value of breaking away from this consensus and becoming mentally free to view the world from different perspectives, which is what tinkering with definitions and terms can help achieve. In other words, a philosopher can occupy both of those modes effortlessly, whereas a scientist stuck firmly within the world of consensus only closes himself off.

A philosopher isn't a slave to the terms and definitions he uses. He doesn't get upset if other people want to use these terms differently. He sees them for what they are - namely, mental tools and nothing more.

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Postby Shahrazad » Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:36 pm

Probably because it is an empty argument.

Well then, it could've been refuted in a single line of text, couldn't it?
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Postby Sapius » Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:13 pm

Nat,

Tao is not a thing.



Sure, if you say so, but then, nature is not a “thing”, and yet I understand it and that depends on something understanding it, (In and of duality). Causality is not a “thing”, and the same goes for that too. So what is so special about Tao?

I can perfectly conceive of a “unity” already through the word nature, which is not any particular thing; neither is A ‘unity’ a stand alone thing, for that cannot exist without me conceiving of it, in and of duality.

Tao, if at all, is nothing more than duality itself. Carry water, chop wood… if you remember. Why superimpose an idea of non-dual when it is actually impossible to hold absolutely any idea beyond in and of duality – consciousness?

By pointing AT something (although claiming that it is not a "thing") like non-dual, we are already creating a God of some kind; something Ultimate, something Absolute. Chopping up Reality into Ultimate or Absolute - which automatically implies that there is something that is NOT-Absolute, NOT-Ultimate, which is not the case as far as existence - totality is concerned; and that too is not a thing, but simply a conceivable thought that without any doubt points to absolutely ALL that there is, conceivably.

Nothing can escape logical reasoning, if thought deeply enough, including the impossibilities of what a word may point to.

The words nature (with a small ‘n’), and causality (again with a small ‘c’), things (with a small ‘t’) are more than enough to understand the nature of existence, totality. What the ‘chop wood carry water’ really implies. I see no need to introduce a non-conceptualizable idea that a word Tao could point to. In fact, it seems pointless actually.

I think that is one of the main reasons that we have so many misconceptions emerging from words like Tao, Emptiness, Nothingness, Ultimate Reality, Absolute Truth, so on and so forth. All following a capitol alphabet indicating that those are not ‘things’ in themselves, but something to be realized. What exactly can those words achieve that the understanding of the words nature – causality – things – can’t? Which are perfectly understandable, logically.

Nat, I know that I am kind of shaking the foundations of what you or some great people have worked so hard on to express their realizations, but actually, Tao implies a philosophical God in my books. Look at it closely, and you shall see the reflection of ‘toilet brush’; once and for all.

I am terribly sorry if I speak out of place or through ignorance, but I know that people here are philosophically tolerant, hence I speak what I think. But I’d love to know where my ignorance lies.

Keep up with your Toa in any case, Nat; at least it is not for me.

With all due respects :)
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Postby Sapius » Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:23 pm

Diebert van Rhijn wrote:
Unidian wrote:Tao is not a thing.


The Tao is named all the time, ongoing, and in doing so it becomes a thing, or actually the 'mother of things'. The fact that you could conceive of it as being eternal and nameless doesn't change a thing - the naming doesn't stop. Pretending doesn't help.



Yep!
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Postby Unidian » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:06 pm

Dialectical monism

The above addresses most of the concerns about duality and non-duality.
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Postby Kelly Jones » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:16 pm

Nat, if you prefer that name:


Can you fill in the "blanks" in these two replies of yours, please? I couldn't catch what you said.


Nat: Ok, Kevin. I just want to address a couple of things. I may need like, two minutes to address them. The first one being, this idea of unselfish love being a love that's shared equally through all things. And in Mahayana Buddhism, that is the ideal that they're striving for. And I think that we, as individuals, can also strive for that ideal. of course, we're not perfect. I know of very few people, or no people, really, who perfectly embody that. Or practise it. We can mention ------------------ but it's not something that we can really have the capacity to master. But I think that the expression of love in a small context, in family, between friends, and so on, is an expression of that larger instinct, which is the instinct to become one with all. That sounds like "guru-speak", but I think it follows, from what we know about Taoism, and about Zen, and how it is a monistic reality. All things are connected. And we do need to learn to have the same regard for all things.




Nat: We're back at a value judgment, here, though. There's still a value judgment being made here, that: "With an understanding of cause and effect, this is the valuable way to proceed. This is the way a person should think about this." I just don't think we can get an "ought" from "is". ---------------- naturalistic fallacy.




The second quote is right at the end of the podcast.


Thanks.

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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:17 pm

Sapius wrote:
Tao, if at all, is nothing more than duality itself.


Aha! But that same duality would automatically introduce non-duality to contrast with itself. There you have non-duality as the ultimate artifact of duality itself!

The only conclusion I see is that both are descriptions of Tao, both are false and true. Non-dualism is false because its very conception is an illusion; it remains as the unmanifested. And dualism is false because it isn't able to describe itself; with what can you contrast it? It remains singular, the 'first born', or immaculate conception, as other traditions named it.

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My take

Postby vicdan » Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:52 am

David Quinn wrote:I pretty much agree with that. It was a solid enough opening show, but I would only rate my own performance as 6 out of 10. That middle section in particular, although amusing in its own way, could have been done better.
Oh come on, David, most of that show was basically the second session, a week later. In the first take we talked extensively about A=A, and I think that show, were it made public, would have been far more embarrassing to you. The second take was more substantive though, as simply explaining 12 different ways in which 'A=A' cannot be a base for anything, and pointing out your pervasive logical superficiality, is not very enlightening.

Frankly, I think you did about as well as you could have. You had nowhere to go. By moving away from A=A, you at least avoided painful public embarrassment, anд provided some interesting discussion to boot. :)

On the other hand, I was very unhappy with my presentation (content was fine). I am more used to writing that talking about these ideas, and I constantly took a few seconds, while mumbling, to formulate a response. Presentation-wise, you definitely did better.

It wasn't helped that the show was plagued by technical problems from the start,
Yeah, that was annoying. It seems to have been some weird interaction problem -- the echo only appeared when you joined; when it was just Dan, the echo was almost gone. Perhaps it was something to do with the conference issue, but I had the latest Skype installed.
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:18 am

Victor,

I think that, other than when you lost your temper, you came across quite well. I think David's self-assessment of 6 out of 10 was pretty accurate. He sounded like he'd been run over. David doesn't have the same spunk verbally that he does in writing, and if that had been take 4 that we heard most of, that could explain some of his complacency in his rebuttals.

I would like to hear the A=A one if it is at all listenable.
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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:29 am

Unidian wrote:Dialectical monism

The above addresses most of the concerns about duality and non-duality.


Nat, allow me to begin with expressing one thing first.

A ‘unity’ of any kind cannot exist except through a thoughtful conceptualization that depends on a certain level of consciousness that is capable of conceptualizing, but consciousness itself, which is purely awareness, (say that of animals as against their environment, or a –ve charge to a +ve charge, or even things to things deep beyond that, ad infinitum), necessarily needs separated-ness (duality) for awareness to be what it is; and awareness does not depend on any kind of conceptualized ‘unity’ to be what it is.

Further more, separated-ness (duality) itself does not depend on any kind of conceptualizations to be what it is, not even A=A as a concept, but that (A=A, recognition through differentiation) is exactly the process through which any kind of consciousness or awareness operates, it is ingrained in each and every “thing” itself. Which actually means “self-awareness” between things to things. Absolutely nothing underlies this awareness, since it is simply a humble process itself, and is literally empty (not as in emptiness which is and is not) of any contents itself. It is but a self-reliant process, in and of infinity, underlined by absolutely nothing at all.

Honestly, personally I have absolutely nothing against ‘dialectical monism’, but however, it IS a description of what one says is un-describable. Right? It tries to make conceptual sense of that which otherwise is claimed to be beyond the world of thoughts.

What I have described above, is perfectly within the world of thoughts, and does not need any lofty or profound pointing to that which is not, but yet it is. Nor do I ascribe to ' "nothingness" has the potential to bring forth existence ‘.

I didn’t have the enough time to properly read the link you provided. I will get back soon and point to what I absolutely agree with, (saw quite a few things), and what not (a few other things), and why.

In the meanwhile, if what I said is not clear enough, please point it out.
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Postby vicdan » Tue Apr 10, 2007 3:51 am

Elizabeth Isabelle wrote:I would like to hear the A=A one if it is at all listenable.
Might be a good idea -- to provide the 'outtakes' section, or perhaps just the raw recordings en masse, merely labeled for a modicum of coherence.
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Re: My take

Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:52 am

vicdan wrote:The second take was more substantive though, as simply explaining 12 different ways in which 'A=A' cannot be a base for anything, and pointing out your pervasive logical superficiality, is not very enlightening.


Although Quinn probably had some greater existential truth in mind, outside any formal discipline, I don't think it's correct to say "a=a isn't the base for anything".

For example we have the reflexive axiom of equality that could be seen as a provisional for all (classic) logical and mathematical systems that contain equality.

Even when one could come up with all kinds of logical systems not containing any equivalence relation (anyone?), it would still hold that at least a=a taken in a formal logical sense is a fundamental base for some things of scientific value.

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Re: My take

Postby vicdan » Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:27 am

Diebert van Rhijn wrote:Although Quinn probably had some greater existential truth in mind, outside any formal discipline, I don't think it's correct to say "a=a isn't the base for anything".
He was talking about logic (albeit informal) and using 'A=A' to say that any thing is itself and not something else -- as Dan so colorfully put it, not his big toe. However, even here the problem manifests already -- to be able to say that not-A is different from A, you have to introduce the axiom of non-contradiction (i.e. that A and not-A cannot both be true).

For example we have the reflexive axiom of equality that could be seen as a provisional for all (classic) logical and mathematical systems that contain equality.
It sure it; but it's not sufficient. To get even the most basic classical logic, you also need to add in non-contradiction and excluded middle (the axiom that of A or not-A, at least one must be true; i.e. that there is no third alternative to A and not-A).

Even when one could come up with all kinds of logical systems not containing any equivalence relation (anyone?), it would still hold that at least a=a taken in a formal logical sense is a fundamental base for some things of scientific value.
The identity axiom is necessary. My point is that it's not, my itself, sufficient for anything -- it cannot be a base, just a piece of the base.
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Postby David Quinn » Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:49 am

Elizabeth,

I would like to hear the A=A one if it is at all listenable.

Unfortunately, it was part of a take that failed to get recorded, which is why we had to do another take a few days later.

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Postby David Quinn » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:39 am

Victor,

I was very unhappy with my presentation (content was fine). I am more used to writing that talking about these ideas, and I constantly took a few seconds, while mumbling, to formulate a response.

That's only natural. In my opinion, you came across well. I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of in that regard.


DQ: It wasn't helped that the show was plagued by technical problems from the start,

V: Yeah, that was annoying. It seems to have been some weird interaction problem -- the echo only appeared when you joined; when it was just Dan, the echo was almost gone. Perhaps it was something to do with the conference issue, but I had the latest Skype installed.

That's interesting. It does seem that a particular Skype network is very sensitive to changes, such as people joining or leaving a conference. For example, when you dropped out around 15 minutes in, Dan's voice suddenly became a lot worse.

And the main reason for the poor audio quality of Nat's show was the fact that four people were connected to the conference - the three participants and myself, who was recording the show. Because of this, we've subsequently decided to limit the number of participants (active or passive) to a Reasoning Show conference to three.


DQ: I pretty much agree with that. It was a solid enough opening show, but I would only rate my own performance as 6 out of 10. That middle section in particular, although amusing in its own way, could have been done better.

V: Oh come on, David, most of that show was basically the second session, a week later. In the first take we talked extensively about A=A, and I think that show, were it made public, would have been far more embarrassing to you.

That's a matter of opinion.


He was talking about logic (albeit informal) and using 'A=A' to say that any thing is itself and not something else -- as Dan so colorfully put it, not his big toe. However, even here the problem manifests already -- to be able to say that not-A is different from A, you have to introduce the axiom of non-contradiction (i.e. that A and not-A cannot both be true).

The axiom of non-contradiction is necessarily implied in the principle of A=A, at least in respect to how I conceive of it.

If A=A states that a thing is what it is and not something else, then it automatically becomes a contradiction to conceive of a thing being both itself and something other than itself. In fact, this is the source of all illogical thinking - namely, subconsciously changing the identity of a thing over the course of a line of reasoning, thus creating a contradiction.

At the same time, A=A underlies the axiom of non-contradiction, since it affirms the very identity of the axiom itself. So even the axiom of non-contradiction is bound by its own identity which isn't contradictory in nature.

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Postby Unidian » Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:00 am

Sapius:

Honestly, personally I have absolutely nothing against ‘dialectical monism’, but however, it IS a description of what one says is un-describable. Right? It tries to make conceptual sense of that which otherwise is claimed to be beyond the world of thoughts.


Yes. It's basically a way of coming as close as I think we can to conceptualizing reality in an ontological sense. Ontological thought taken to its limits is doomed to failure because it attempts to make "ultimate" statements which cannot be meaningfully made. However, I think it can be useful insofar as it points beyond itself to direct experience.

I essentially agree with Wittgenstein: "That of which we cannot speak, we must pass over in silence." But I'd soften that stance a bit. That of which we cannot meaningfully speak, we can point to.

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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 1:06 pm

Nat,


Yes. It's basically a way of coming as close as I think we can to conceptualizing reality in an ontological sense. Ontological thought taken to its limits is doomed to failure because it attempts to make "ultimate" statements which cannot be meaningfully made. However, I think it can be useful insofar as it points beyond itself to direct experience.


I agree; in so far as “ultimate” statements are stated in an Ultimately Absolute sense, for they too are necessarily dependant on, if nothing else, then at least on being stated, which necessarily entails the rest of the totality. So, in that sense, any particular statement cannot be an Ultimate in its self, or an Absolute. However, certain truth’s can be established, and they can be considered to be ultimate-ly true in and of relativity.

I essentially agree with Wittgenstein: "That of which we cannot speak, we must pass over in silence." But I'd soften that stance a bit. That of which we cannot meaningfully speak, we can point to.


There is nothing to soften there. It depends on how you interpret it in your mind. I say that there is actually nothing in that direction that can be spoken about nor pointed. Hence, one should simply remain quite rather than start pointing to illogical absurdities. I have never read any of W's work; I am just familiar of what is said here.

That of which we cannot meaningfully speak (or think), we cannot meaningfully understand. The thing that you cannot meaningfully speak of, you do understand it meaningfully – don't you? Or do you understand it meaninglessly; in which case, such a thing can only be as absurd as a theological God.

I will address ‘dialectical monism’ if you are up to discussing it here; unless you are tired of explaining it. So please let me know.
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Postby Sapius » Tue Apr 10, 2007 1:09 pm

.

Victor, I would like to express what I think is where you come from; that is, what is the crux of your over all understandings and realizations.

‘Nothing absolute can be said in any absolute sense, however, truths can be established, but truth itself is contingent, hence no true absolute-ness can be established.’

Do I read you correctly?
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Postby Unidian » Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:00 pm

Sapius wrote:That of which we cannot meaningfully speak (or think), we cannot meaningfully understand. The thing that you cannot meaningfully speak of, you do understand it meaningfully – don't you? Or do you understand it meaninglessly; in which case, such a thing can only be as absurd as a theological God.


I don't "understand" it at all. I live it.

Things can be understood, because their meaningful existence as things is dependent being distinguished from other things in ways that are useful to us. In other words, our minds chop up and label in various ways and for various purposes. That is what thought is all about. However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against. Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought. It can be experienced and pointed to, but not conceptualized in an "Absolute" sense.

I tried to get at some of this in the show.
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:18 pm

Unidian wrote:Things can be understood, because their meaningful existence as things is dependent being distinguished from other things in ways that are useful to us. In other words, our minds chop up and label in various ways and for various purposes. That is what thought is all about. However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against. Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought. It can be experienced and pointed to, but not conceptualized in an "Absolute" sense.


That might be a tad overcomplicated. Reality is right here, right now, everywhere, everything. Isn't it obvious? How could you ever avoid it? Is there anything more that needs to be said or done?

(Good job on the show nat, I really enjoyed it.)
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Postby Jason » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:45 pm

Unidian wrote:However, the whole of existence is not a thing because there is nothing outside itself to distinguish it against. Therefore, it cannot be understood through thought. It can be experienced and pointed to, but not conceptualized in an "Absolute" sense.


Don't you believe that experience is a form of duality? Like conceptualization is?
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