The Reasoning Show - Miscellaneous Discussion

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

Postby Jason » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:55 pm

Unidian wrote:No, because one doesn't have to rule out the possibility of absolute truth existing to lack belief in its existence. It's exactly the same deal with atheism - nobody can say for certain that god doesn't exist, because you can't prove the negative. But in the absence of compelling evidence that god exists, the rational thing is to lack belief in it.


Sure, but victor wrote:
I refuse to believe your delusion that Truth is achievable.


which reads to me as if he is ruling out the very possibility of absolute truth. Meh, it's probably not worth pursuing.
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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:31 pm

He has seen no evidence that it is achievable. Further (and more importantly), he has seen no evidence that the concept is even meaningful. His statement doesn't contradict what I said, it supports it.
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Postby Jason » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:42 pm

Unidian wrote:He has seen no evidence that it is achievable.


Alright fine, mine was possibly a pedantic criticism anyway. But anyway it still seems to face the problem of on what basis, the evidence itself, is found to be sufficient, or even necessary at all. It all winds up eventually leading back to a particular foundation or else infinite regress, as far as I can tell. What is the evidence for the evidence, or even the evidence for the necessity of evidence, and so on. This is the path of justification, be it justification by evidence or otherwise.
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Postby David Quinn » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:42 am

Sitting around passively, waiting for science to come up with evidence for absolute truth, is futile. It will never be achieved that way. Instead, one has to burrow deeply and purposefully into one's own mind. One has to really want to find it.

Victor's passiveness in the face of this matter is only resulting in self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Postby Blair » Sat Apr 14, 2007 2:22 pm

Just out of interest, what is the music, DJ Dan?
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Postby Dan Rowden » Sat Apr 14, 2007 5:11 pm

You'll need to ask David about that, but I think it's part of an Ozrick Tentacles song..
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Postby David Quinn » Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:37 pm

At this stage, all music on the show will be from the Ozric Tentacles.

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Postby Jason » Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:09 am

David,

Jason: 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?

DQ: Plenty.

Jason: So now reality should include plenty more saying and doing. More reality just as it is.

DQ: What you're describing, while important and true, is only one aspect of Truth.

Jason: I'm actually not describing "one aspect ", I'm pointing to all aspects. What I wrote, the writing itself, is one aspect of reality, but what the writing refers to is all aspects.

DQ: What about the aspect of formlessness, for example? How does simply pointing to the fact that Reality is everything help people break free of the illusion of objective existence and realize the formlessness of everything?


As I said, I am refering to literally all aspects of reality. What you are presenting is again simply another possible aspect of reality. So yes, it is certainly possible for reality to include the viewing of objective existence as an illusion. But that's just another example of "reality just as it is."

I have a feeling you may accuse me of using this technique to evade attempts to introduce other truths, but I see it as the most accurate and fundamental answer I can give.

I could address your question in a more rational/logical/argumentative way, for example I could say: "formlessness is a finite and limited concept/state, and reality is not finite or limited." but I am liable to get us into trouble, because really what I am pointing to is a realization.

I could go back and show you where I may disagree with certain ideas in your "The Wisdom of the Infinite" that lead to your idea of objective existence being an illusion. I could argue "realize that your concepts and ideas are a part of reality, not a hold on reality." but in the end all we would be doing is exchanging our disagreements and this too would be reality as it is. Just more suchess. Do you see?

That's not to say that I myself stand outside this, I operate fully within this type of suchness existence too, all the time, everything I have written here conforms to it too.

-

Now you hopefully understand where I'm coming from, I will enter into one of these arguments, because it still may offer some value. Firstly, and I think you can probably relate to this, I can and do operate from various philosophical viewpoints or levels, depending on what I am discussing and who I am discussing with. When I'm discussing evolution, for example, I would generally fall back to the empirical/scientific level.

My most fundamental understanding of reality, is what I call "suchness" or "isness", which I talked about above. Beyond that I have varying levels of less refined philosophical viewpoints, and these levels largely reflect the path I took to reach my final realization.

So just before the final realization, I viewed reality as being composed entirely of appearances, so this is the next level up from the most fundamental suchness. Then the next level would probably be something similar to idealism, which basically holds that my mind is the creator of all values and boundaries. Then there might be a relativism/post-modernist type view, then after that an empirical/scientific/materialist type of view.

The level that your idea of formlessness relates to, in my opinion, is the one where the mind is seen as creating all values and boundaries. So if I were operating from that particular viewpoint I would tend to agree. But, in my journey, as I began to move beyond that viewpoint I found some problems with this idea. One of the the central problems is: in a similar fashion to the fact that there is no way to get a glimpse beyond our own sense perceptions, there is no way to ever observe anything beyond the boundaries our minds create, the former rules out the possibility that a world existing beyond our direct sense perceptions can be perceived or proven, the latter rules out the possibility of knowing an undivided unity that exists beyond our minds, and also precludes knowing alternative ways that existence could be divided up other than exactly the way we observe that it is divided up.

So in my view you are essentially arguing a variant of the idea that there is a external independent reality beyond the senses and perception, with the associated problems that brings.

The problem I describe, which effects your formlessness idea, also relates to this post you made, and probably makes my points clearer:

David Quinn wrote:"From my perspective, the "I" is nothing more than a conceptual construct, and thus the idea that we really do have an "I" is an illusion. The "I" exists in the same way that the lines of longitude and latitude exist - as a kind of arbitrary demarcation that we project onto reality. The seperation between ourselves and the rest of the world is not really there, and so any pursuit of the "I" will always end in failure. It is like chasing a mirage. "


I also see potential contradiction in the way that you say that the "I" is "nothing more than a conceptual construct". Which thus makes it "an illusion", an "arbitraty demarcartion", something that we "project onto reality" and "chasing a mirage". Yet everything from the infinite, to cause and effect, to every single idea you use is based on conceptual constructs. You appear to want to deny the validity of divisions by using divisions.

I do have other arguments against your ideas of formlessness and the "illusion of divisions" to raise, but I'll leave it at that for now.
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:06 am

Good post Jason, I agree with your aspects of Reality. I don't see what you mean by the contradiction in David's "I" though.

Jason wrote:The problem I describe, which effects your formlessness idea, also relates to this post you made, and probably makes my points clearer:

David Quinn wrote:"From my perspective, the "I" is nothing more than a conceptual construct, and thus the idea that we really do have an "I" is an illusion. The "I" exists in the same way that the lines of longitude and latitude exist - as a kind of arbitrary demarcation that we project onto reality. The seperation between ourselves and the rest of the world is not really there, and so any pursuit of the "I" will always end in failure. It is like chasing a mirage. "


I also see potential contradiction in the way that you say that the "I" is "nothing more than a conceptual construct". Which thus makes it "an illusion", an "arbitraty demarcartion", something that we "project onto reality" and "chasing a mirage". Yet everything from the infinite, to cause and effect, to every single idea you use is based on conceptual constructs. You appear to want to deny the validity of divisions by using divisions.


If one perceives, as David illustrates in WOTI, that everything is just the perception in one's mind, the mind in that reality would be the Infinite ("mind" therefore having to be different from "brain"). The "I" in that case would be the mind, which is the Infinite, but the illusion of "I" would be a much smaller part of the Infinite. Under the paradigm that you are whatever is in your awareness (reminds me of the lyrics in a Pink Floyd song "all that you touch, and all that you see, is all that your life will ever be") - which is true - under a strict A=A one would expect that the reciprocal would also be true. What I see, and what I think you see, is that the reciprocal is not true - but I don't see how you find a contradiction in David's statements.


To David, Jason wrote:I also see potential contradiction in the way that you say that the "I" is "nothing more than a conceptual construct". Which thus makes it "an illusion", an "arbitraty demarcartion", something that we "project onto reality" and "chasing a mirage". Yet everything from the infinite, to cause and effect, to every single idea you use is based on conceptual constructs.


If one were to perceive that all conceptual constructs are illusions, then all of of these things would be illusions as well - and I have heard David say that nothing really exists.

Now this may seem like a contradiction to his staunch position that there is Absolute Truth, but that would not be a contradiction because all the capitalized stuff stands outside the duality (thus, by a hair, escaping by nothing existing but nothing not existing either).

To my mind, that would negate the usefulness of the term "exist" - which is still a handy term to point to a certain level of Reality. As you said though, that is just another aspect. These aspects don't really have to contradict one another, although they may appear to. That is why Reality is more than appearance, although it could also be said that Reality is appearances when referring to that aspect of Reality.

Of course though, only David can speak to what he really meant. This is only my perception.
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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:20 am

Unidian wrote:The first line of the Tao Te Ching, literally translated from the Chinese, leaves a lot of room for interpretation due to the many shades of meaning in Chinese characters.


No, it's never "literally translated" to begin with. Because the various original meanings of the characters, which are only partly understood, don't have an equal in our language structure, not even close. So every translation will have to stem from a deep understanding of what is aimed at. It's unavoidable many aspects will get lost whatever we do. The art is to compensate this with equal qualitative elements. The text is essentially re-written. Something that in the past was quite common with important books (many Greek and New Testament texts come to mind).

Unidian wrote:The interpretation I use is not an uncommon one.


Yeah, that's what I said. It's in my view one of the worst ones but I'm not surprised it's so common because it conveniently avoids the major implications.

Unidian wrote:Tao is what is pointed to by the word "Tao," not the word itself. Or, as it is usually put, "the Tao that can be told is not the true Tao." Using the term "constant" or "eternal" in place of "true" does not necessarily change this interpretation. It's still all about what can be spoken of (conceptualized) and what can't.


Oh, but the character for "Tao" is fine and very deliberately chosen, being a verb and noun at the same time. Every one already knows a word in our language it not pointing to the 'word' itself. The Tao Te Ching has some more advanced thinking in mind, something more sharp and penetrating.

What the obvious difference is between translating with 'constant' or 'eternal' instead of 'true', is that it doesn't imply any 'false' Tao; what is being named or in motion (thought, sense, experience).

Unidian wrote:This interpretation is consistent with many other Eastern sources, including Chuang Tzu, the Diamond Sutra, and others.


I doubt it, perhaps their common translations :) Translations are rarely made by people understanding the original, but are led by concerns to fit it into current common views on things. I know, it sucks, the moment you find out most old beautiful revered texts are pretty worthless and sweet-talking, pandering to what we want to hear which is often the reverse what was intended, to unsettle us.

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Postby Dan Rowden » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:20 am

Elizabeth Isabelle wrote:
Kelly Jones wrote:It may help to slow down, and speak clearly,


Actually, I find Victor's accent more difficult to understand when he is speaking slowly.


Interesting. It could be that accents come through more strongly when a speaker consciously stops to enunciate his words. But then I've experienced the opposite too. Either way I found Victor quite easy to understand 99% of the time. Translating the academie speak was a different matter :)

I also agree with those who think Victor trounced us in the debate. It's simply true, but not because Victor has strong points; I think it's just that neither David nor I have done any real-time verbal "stouching" in more than ten years. We'll get better with that as time goes on.

I'll have to return to my talkback radio calling days and hone my skills again.....
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:30 am

Dan Rowden wrote:Interesting. It could be that accents come through more strongly when a speaker consciously stops to enunciate his words.


It could be, or it could be that when American films and television have a character with a Russian accent, they almost always portray him as angry about something. I could have just gotten used to that particular accent with that tone.
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Postby Dan Rowden » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:55 am

They almost always use someone who isn't actually from the region, too. Worst example: Sean Connery in "Red October".
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:11 am

Dan Rowden wrote:They almost always use someone who isn't actually from the region, too. Worst example: Sean Connery in "Red October".


Wanna hear what Americans think Australians sound like?

Here's another one.
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Postby vicdan » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:32 am

Dan Rowden wrote:Either way I found Victor quite easy to understand 99% of the time. Translating the academie speak was a different matter :)
haha. You poor translator, you.

I also agree with those who think Victor trounced us in the debate. It's simply true, but not because Victor has strong points; I think it's just that neither David nor I have done any real-time verbal "stouching" in more than ten years. We'll get better with that as time goes on.
I have virtually never done real-time debate either, Dan. Furthermore, as can be seen from my stumbling and stuttering and mumbling, I was formulating and re-formulating the ideas on the fly, while David was much smoother and had his entire arsenal at his fingertips. it was just a sucky arsenal.

Don't seek excuses, especially not after how it was the two of you uniting against the one of me -- I trounced you because I did have strong points. The three most important ones were about the 'begging the question' problem with establishing analyticity (as per Quine), the problem with applying formal models to empirical world, as per my Euclidean geometry and black holes examples, and your erroneous attempt to treat 'indubitability' as logical certitude, thus trying to reach logical certainty via intuition appeal, again as per the Euclidean geometry example.

Neither one of those points you can address, as far as I can tell. It's not about the real-time crunch, as I was laboring under the same constraints, and I was further disadvantaged by having no prior radio or interview experience at all -- you folks are hobbled both by inadequate background knowledge (i.e. of physics, informatics, math, logic, history, psychology, cogsci, etc.), and by unfamiliarity with the vast array of philosophical reasoning that was done before you. For me to argue with you is like for a trained martial artist to fight with a self-taught brawler: you may have a trick or two up your sleeve, but standing on the shoulders of giants has distinct and pretty overwhelming advantages. Among other things, you in your self-contained world of a-priori reasoning aren't even aware of the well-known expositions of some of the errors you have committed. You are reinventing the wheel, and yours is square.

Academic background (of which I have little formally BTW, you may be surprised to learn that philosophically I am mostly self-taught) will not turn you into an original thinker, but familiarity with others' work will let you avoid many stupid errors. Or would, if you could be bothered to pull your heads out of your asses long enough, and to exercise enough intellectual humility, to learn what ideas were thought up by other people who spend their entire lives working at this sh!t.

I'll have to return to my talkback radio calling days and hone my skills again.....
Good luck, Dan. :)

P.S. I can't believe I have to lecture others about humility! Philosophy makes for strange fuckbuddies, I guess.
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Postby DHodges » Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:35 am

Dan Rowden wrote:I also agree with those who think Victor trounced us in the debate.


I just got around to listening to this today. Regardless of who made their points better, it was a very intelligent discussion, and very worthwhile. Thanks to all of you for putting it together. There was a lot to think about.

You did seem to get sidetracked on the definition of "infinite." Words can have different meanings in different contexts, and insisting the common usage of a word is wrong is, well, it's not a good way to make your point.
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Postby Unidian » Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:53 am

Diebert wrote:What the obvious difference is between translating with 'constant' or 'eternal' instead of 'true', is that it doesn't imply any 'false' Tao; what is being named or in motion (thought, sense, experience).


Right, which is why I don't like your version. For me, there is a "false" Tao, that being the imaginary Tao that exists only as an intellectual concept in our minds. This is the Tao which can be told, and it is not the true (trans-intellectual) Tao.

I doubt it, perhaps their common translations :) Translations are rarely made by people understanding the original, but are led by concerns to fit it into current common views on things. I know, it sucks, the moment you find out most old beautiful revered texts are pretty worthless and sweet-talking, pandering to what we want to hear which is often the reverse what was intended, to unsettle us.


I know, you guys want everything to be "lofty" and beyond the common experience. But philosophical Taoism just isn't about that, in my view. Your call to make, though. Whatever floats your dinghy.

Here's something lofty that Genius fans might enjoy...
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Postby Dan Rowden » Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:14 pm

Note to self: do not click on links without first checking out the site they're hosted at...
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Postby Katy » Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:12 pm

Well those Outback commercials are intended as a joke... when I worked there I was instructed to use a bad-aussie accent for a while... the crocodile hunter is probably the more stereotypical association.
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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:32 pm

Unidian wrote:
Diebert wrote:What the obvious difference is between translating with 'constant' or 'eternal' instead of 'true', is that it doesn't imply any 'false' Tao; what is being named or in motion (thought, sense, experience).


Right, which is why I don't like your version. For me, there is a "false" Tao, that being the imaginary Tao that exists only as an intellectual concept in our minds. This is the Tao which can be told, and it is not the true (trans-intellectual) Tao.


You are just perpetuating a believe in the dualism between intellectual or imaginary concepts of a mind and something 'trans-intellectual' in opposition to it. The problem is that the mind and our consciousness works only with imagination and the rationalization of such. That's all we got my friend, no matter which feeling, sense or intuition you have in mind.

The world as we're able to experience it "can be told" - that's all it's continuously doing anyway. Fundamentally there's no difference between thought, life or consciousness but this unity still is not the eternal Tao.

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Postby bert » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:31 pm

the eternal Tao burns up all belief.the Tao which can be expressed by conceivable ideas is the patterned originable model of "self",the slavery of mortality.striving to explain it,you(I) write what may be considered the "book of lies".(this "self" ; all conception is teh dual principle,the law which is its condition).the breaking with the general agreement of the originabel - a nimble sight, that puts forth somehow by the incidental that truth is somewhere.the Tao which can be expresse,though vaguely,in words is the "unbalanced" , the unmodified "I" in the sensation of being everywhere at once.
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Postby clyde » Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:11 am

I listened to the first podcast last evening. Thanks to everyone who participated or helped make it happen.

I’ll add that I found this statement by Victor (as transcribed by me) near the end of the podcast worthy of reflection:
You can either push symbols around and have your certainty or you can relate it to the truth about the world and say something useful and lose the certainty. But you can’t have both.

I understand that to mean: We may focus on truths in some abstract, or conceptualized, or some 'mental' fashion, and because this is a mental activity, it has certainty, but has little effect or value in the world; or we may apply our 'mental' energy to this world and communicate 'worldly truths' that benefit people, but the truths are fuzzy and provisional.

There is another way: We examine our experiences and embrace the world. It’s simple; you don’t have to be a genius to examine our experiences; anyone can do it, everyone does do it, because everyone has experiences. And you don’t have to be a genius to embrace the world; anyone can do it, everyone does do it, because everyone lives in the world. Simple.

And then there is another way: The way in which each of the first three ways arises and passes away, arises and passes away based on causes and conditions.

Do no harm,
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Postby Dan Rowden » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:52 am

Re: Vic's quote - What "truth" about the world? Empirical models don't provide us with any "truth" about the world! How absurd. How ontological! But what of those models? Here's a way of thinking about them that takes us beyond how we ordinarily look at things:

- Beyond Empirical Uncertainty -

It's been said many a time - even by me - that empirical matters are always contingent and uncertain, but is this always the case? As useful an idea as it can be in terms of breaking down attachments to false thinking, it is, itself, not entirely true. There is always uncertainty when we draw inferences as to what a certain thing we're experiencing actually is - for example, I may perceive a haze in the distance which I deem to be water, only to find that it is something else, or the girl I see crossing the street, whom I presume to be flesh and blood, may in fact be a hologram of some kind. That element of uncertainty exists in any given situation when we draw an inference as to what any given thing is. However, we tend to extent this notion of empirical uncertainty to all of our empirical models (models of causal relation) but this is not ultimately valid. These models of causation are, in fact, never uncertain. Why? Because like the definitions we create, they too are something we create. How can there be uncertainty in what we have created?

The reason we ascribe uncertainty to our empirical models of causation is because we can always say there could be factors that we are not taking into account in building our model. Whilst this seems reasonable it actually rests on the unstated assumption, a false assumption, that a complete model can exist. But this just isn't so. No complete model of causation with respect to any thing or state can exist. The only sufficient cause of any given thing is Reality itself and Reality is not something that can be modeled. No model can be complete because any such model has to have causes for itself, which are necessarily factors in why a thing or state is what it is (another way of saying that no finite thing can be its own cause or explanation). When we create an empirical theory we always place arbitrary boundaries around it and pretend that the model is whole in itself. But naturally, it isn't; we're just shutting our minds off to related factors because those related factors may not be necessary to the functionality of the model, to its utility in some practical context. Philosophically, however, we can come to understand that no empirical model whatsoever can or should be thought of as a contingent version of a full and complete model of Reality. To refer to any empirical modeling of the world as uncertain is to imply the possibility of a certain and complete model, which is something we can never have. Therefore, applying the term "uncertain" to such things is to commit an error of thought. What would certainty in relation to an empirical model mean? That we had included all possible factors? But that idea is laughable, for not only can we say that we can never know that we have done so, we can, more significantly, say that we can never do so. The reason for that, again, is that no finite thing can exist of itself - it requires that which demarcates it to give it identity and existence (form), and this is a dynamical fact of Reality that is necessarily infinite in scope (and is the reason we may rightly say that existence is infinite).

Since certainty is not a notion that can be meaningfully attributed to such empirical perspectives, neither is uncertainty.

Certainty and uncertainty are no more applicable to empirical models than the terms true and false are applicable to the definitions we create. Like definitions, the empirical models we create are either useful or not; they either have utility for some purpose or other or they do not; if not, we can categorise them as bad models, but they are never true or false, certain or uncertain. When we grant these creations of the mind the quality of uncertainty, we imply the existence of an objective reality, one which we are attempting to accurately model or reflect, but no such objective reality exists. We are merely creatively carving up an infinitely carvable Reality according to the whims of the qualities of our consciousness. That's the real problem: the belief that such an objective reality exists and that we are somehow reflecting it more and more accurately with our theories and models of causal relation. We think we are discovering the world, when all we are really doing is creating it; what we are doing is modeling our own consciousness - projecting it out into the cosmos and deluding ourselves that we are unraveling the mysteries of existence.

How much more utility would our scientific endeavours have if we adopted a more creative rather than interpretive approach? If we started to look forward instead of constantly looking back? If we resolved to build a future for ourselves instead of constantly attempting to invent a history for ourselves? Globally, we spend billions of dollars on cosmology, archeology, the various fields of evolution and so forth and yet we spend a veritable pittance on disease research, sustainable forms of power and resource production, not to mention trivial incidentals like the pursuit of wisdom - all because we are obsessed with the false belief that we can model the world accurately, on the basis of the delusion of an objective reality and that if a model "works" it must reflect that reality faithfully. We vainly attempt to "find" ourselves in Nature all the while oblivious to the irony that our "selves" are actually there in everything we find - creating it!

Both our understanding of ourselves and the utility of science would gain a great boost if we could get our minds around the difference between discovery and invention.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:50 am

Jason,

DQ: What about the aspect of formlessness, for example? How does simply pointing to the fact that Reality is everything help people break free of the illusion of objective existence and realize the formlessness of everything?

J: As I said, I am refering to literally all aspects of reality. What you are presenting is again simply another possible aspect of reality. So yes, it is certainly possible for reality to include the viewing of objective existence as an illusion. But that's just another example of "reality just as it is."

I have a feeling you may accuse me of using this technique to evade attempts to introduce other truths, but I see it as the most accurate and fundamental answer I can give.

I could address your question in a more rational/logical/argumentative way, for example I could say: "formlessness is a finite and limited concept/state, and reality is not finite or limited." but I am liable to get us into trouble, because really what I am pointing to is a realization.

Yes, you would have to be consistent here. The idea that "reality is just as is" is also just a limited concept, and thus in the same boat as the idea of "formlessness" is. However, if you accept that the idea of "reality just as is" can serve as a pointer to a realization (and I agree that it can be), then equally so, the second idea of "formlessness" can also serve as a pointer.

In other words, the reality that the "formlessness" idea points to is just as real as the reality that "reality is just as it is" points to - and just as importantly, each shed a different light on the same Truth.


I could go back and show you where I may disagree with certain ideas in your "The Wisdom of the Infinite" that lead to your idea of objective existence being an illusion.

I would love to hear your objections. To my mind, "objective existence" is a contradiction in terms.


I could argue "realize that your concepts and ideas are a part of reality, not a hold on reality." but in the end all we would be doing is exchanging our disagreements and this too would be reality as it is. Just more suchess. Do you see?

The truth of suchness doesn't undermine the fact that ideas can be true or false, or that people can be wise or deluded. However, clinging to the idea of suchness and treating it as though it were the one ultimate truth, can cause one to block out all the other various aspects of Truth, which are just as important to understand.


Now you hopefully understand where I'm coming from, I will enter into one of these arguments, because it still may offer some value. Firstly, and I think you can probably relate to this, I can and do operate from various philosophical viewpoints or levels, depending on what I am discussing and who I am discussing with. When I'm discussing evolution, for example, I would generally fall back to the empirical/scientific level.

My most fundamental understanding of reality, is what I call "suchness" or "isness", which I talked about above. Beyond that I have varying levels of less refined philosophical viewpoints, and these levels largely reflect the path I took to reach my final realization.

So just before the final realization, I viewed reality as being composed entirely of appearances, so this is the next level up from the most fundamental suchness. Then the next level would probably be something similar to idealism, which basically holds that my mind is the creator of all values and boundaries. Then there might be a relativism/post-modernist type view, then after that an empirical/scientific/materialist type of view.

Understood.


The level that your idea of formlessness relates to, in my opinion, is the one where the mind is seen as creating all values and boundaries. So if I were operating from that particular viewpoint I would tend to agree.

It's more than that. It is realizing that nothing really exists at all, apart from what appears to exist in the moment. Even objective existence, or the solid-looking physical world, is a part of this equation. Understanding formlessness means perceiving the "void" out of which everything springs. It involves a major subjective reorientation of the way we perceive the world.


But, in my journey, as I began to move beyond that viewpoint I found some problems with this idea. One of the the central problems is: in a similar fashion to the fact that there is no way to get a glimpse beyond our own sense perceptions, there is no way to ever observe anything beyond the boundaries our minds create, the former rules out the possibility that a world existing beyond our direct sense perceptions can be perceived or proven, the latter rules out the possibility of knowing an undivided unity that exists beyond our minds, and also precludes knowing alternative ways that existence could be divided up other than exactly the way we observe that it is divided up.

The very notion of an "undivided unity" beyond our minds has no meaning, because by its very nature such a realm is the creation of a division between what is within the mind and what is beyond it. In other words, a boundary is needed from the outset just to bring this undivided unity into being, which automatically undermines its status as an undivided unity.

In short, there is nothing to see, in that regard.


So in my view you are essentially arguing a variant of the idea that there is a external independent reality beyond the senses and perception, with the associated problems that brings.

I have no idea what you mean here. I don't see the connection between what you wrote above and what you conclude here.

It doesn't matter how the world is divided up, or who is doing the dividing, the resulting forms will always lack inherent existence.


The problem I describe, which effects your formlessness idea, also relates to this post you made, and probably makes my points clearer:

David Quinn wrote:
"From my perspective, the "I" is nothing more than a conceptual construct, and thus the idea that we really do have an "I" is an illusion. The "I" exists in the same way that the lines of longitude and latitude exist - as a kind of arbitrary demarcation that we project onto reality. The seperation between ourselves and the rest of the world is not really there, and so any pursuit of the "I" will always end in failure. It is like chasing a mirage. "

I also see potential contradiction in the way that you say that the "I" is "nothing more than a conceptual construct". Which thus makes it "an illusion", an "arbitraty demarcartion", something that we "project onto reality" and "chasing a mirage". Yet everything from the infinite, to cause and effect, to every single idea you use is based on conceptual constructs. You appear to want to deny the validity of divisions by using divisions.

Yes, that's the trick for gaining wisdom - using conceptual divisions to undermine all conceptual divisions. But it does have to be all of them, not just a select few.

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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:11 am

Yes, that's the trick for gaining wisdom - using conceptual divisions to undermine all conceptual divisions. But it does have to be all of them, not just a select few.


How come that was wrong when I said it 200 times? :)
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