• Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    We're part of an unimaginably huge universe and fall into despair because it's not what we think it should be. It fails to meet our expectations. Doesn't it seem we're a bit too full of ourselves? The ancients, like Horace, were wiser than we are.

    Leucon, no one’s allowed to know his fate,
    Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
    In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
    This could be our last winter, it could be many
    More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
    Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
    And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
    As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.
  • Constance
    178
    One of the perspectives that one can derive from Early Buddhism is that an insight into rebirth follows from an insight into the workings of karma. As in: There is karma, therefore, there is rebirth. Which is why rebirth is not a metaphysical idea the way heaven, hell, etc. in Christianity or Hinduism are, or Platonic forms.baker

    If karma were to be conceived within a social and ethical framework of our affairs then it would be fairly clear" you reap what you sew. But reincarnation carries this idea into the great beyond, where an enduring core entity carries vices and virtues onward after physical death to another life. This cannot be confirmed empirically, but is meant to be required ethically, or, metaethically, into affairs unseen.
    I actually think this has merit. I have often argued for moral realism. One does have to put side naïve religious metaphysics, though, in order to consider things clearly, and after one then reviews the ancient writing and discovers what is there that is important and enduring.




    It's difficult to have a conversation on a very specific topic when not all involved are familiar enough with Buddhist doctrine. And it's too much to try to bring in all relevant references and clarify all points of contention at once.baker

    I am currently reading relevant references of the Pali canon. So far, everything is question begging. This is NOT a criticism, but a naturally occurring failing of ancient thinking. Reading on.


    One could reflect this way and act accordingly, over and over again, day in day out. With nothing further, in terms of doctrinal points.
    It's a kind of actionable religious/spiritual meta-minimalism that I haven't seen in any other religion/spirituality that I know of.
    baker

    Essentially this passage says one thing: Quiet is quiet, the absolute absence of attachment-affect and thought. A good passage, I thought, because it speaks to the struggle to earnestness which is self defeating. Of course, it does not speak about the structure of the quite interior, which is the philosophy of quietude, which is liberation into the present moment. The point I would make is this: The events in the middle of a consciousness in the karmic "struggle not to struggle" are not nonsense to description.

    A case in point: karma is an ethical necessity, for the world is not stand alone, not ethicall complete unless the meaning of our affairs extends beyond our sight. This is the, well, REAL basis of karmic postulation, and the details of which regarding desert, responsibility, guilt and so on, are beyond our ken; we just know that it cannot stand, children being tortured at birth, etc. I take this as imposing and apodictic as causality itself. This quietude, then, what is the real basis of it? What happens when one goes quiet and attachments vanish? This is also, and foundationally, a question about language and value, for the subtlest attachments lie with "taking the world AS" language, thereby allowing language hold sway over experience, and this is existentially reductive--very slippery idea that the ordinariness of our perceptions of the world is made so by the language that conceives it, for to think it is to use language! And this is why I think Buddhism is so important, for it underscores this quietude of thought as well as affect, thereby shutting down the engaged self in the world. Death with a pulse, meant here not in derogation, but simply description. But conscious death? Fascinating, not just to theory, but to existence.
    Issues such as these are not in the Pali canon as I have seen. You can say they are outside of Buddhism, but this is simply not true. They follow through on Buddhism's basic claims; they are the philosophy that gives analysis to these.

    For this, you'd actually need to know what Early Buddhism is, which you don't seem to.baker
    Then, if would, disabuse me on this. I claim that any passage you can provide, I can show where the questions are begged and analysis wanting. Keep in mind, it is not the method I am interested in, for the many things put out in the many dialogues do present method, discipline, a way to conceptually penetrate through apparent aporias. What I want is a philosophical exposition of Buddhism at the level of basic assumptions. One cannot say this is not about Buddhism.

    No, rather it's that you simply don't know the suttas. You're dismissing something without even knowing what it is. You're tailoring Early Buddhism after Christianity. I'm trying to show that it's not like it.baker

    The more I read, the more it is confirmed that there is a deficit of analysis. I don't think Christianity is helpful. There just happens to be an analogous error in sticking to Biblical scripture for a compelling understanding of, say, God's grace, redemption, sin, and so on.

    Further evidence that you don't know the suttas, yet are dismissing them.
    You're devising your own parallel Buddhism, and I don't quite see the point in doing that.
    baker

    I am guessing this is due to not be interested in a penetrating philosophical account of what your passage says:not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome
    These "nots" go where? Relative to what? What is there in the egoic center that does not vanish, and how is this related to meaning, value. What is a phenomenological description of the temporality in the "effort" toward noneffort? What is happening at the level of basic assumptions? the implications regarding a concept of self and the world?
    Buddhism possesses many possible avenues of inquiry. Of course, you could take the Wittgensteinian approach and simply dismiss it all and do as directed. But I think liberation and enlightenment holds more than this. Likely much more.

    In fact you do, with your implicit dogmatism, in the way you approach religious epistemology.baker

    Not dogmatism. I head in exactly the opposite direction of this, you should observe. Hinduism has an explicit metaphysics that agrees with meditation in some ways. to put it enigmatically, the only way to put it, I hold that eternity and finitude are coextensive, co existent, and the living moments, trivial as they may be, are eternal "as well"; and the reason I take a shine to Hinduism is that it talks about the (shankaracharya, et al) illusion, maya, the error in daily perception, in a way that has some sense to it: the "error" lies in the finitude, and the finitude is language, culture, familiarity, and all the hallmarks of Heidegger's "dasein". (Know that this curious bit of metaphysics does not take eternity as endless counting of time sequences or spatial extensions. It is here, in the eternal present)


    Things are simply the way they are. They don't give us suffering. Like a thorn: Does a sharp thorn give us suffering? No. It's simply a thorn. It doesn't give suffering to anybody. If we step on it, we suffer immediately.

    Why do we suffer? Because we stepped on it. So the suffering comes from us.
    baker

    Things are simply the way things are? But this statement is descriptively empty. I am not saying a person should not abide by this. I am saying there IS such a thing as a phenomenological analysis of the way things are. Massively descriptive in ways unimagined unless one reads the texts. The book Skill in Questions is, as I read through it, a demonstration of the Socratic method present in the Buddha's teaching. Note that these are verbal strategies to enlightenment, and I am not that curious about these. I want to know what enlightenment IS, and the only way to address this question is to look not at the how the Buddha cleverly responded to questions, but the a description of the phenomenal context. Do you really think the Buddha was the quintessential phenomenologist? The only way to bear this our is by meditating oneself, understanding the nature of meditation and how it serves to "suspend" the thought that would otherwise take possession of the moment. Then where are the writings to show this?
  • Constance
    178
    We're part of an unimaginably huge universe and fall into despair because it's not what we think it should be. It fails to meet our expectations. Doesn't it seem we're a bit too full of ourselves? The ancients, like Horace, were wiser than we are.

    Leucon, no one’s allowed to know his fate,
    Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
    In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
    This could be our last winter, it could be many
    More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
    Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
    And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
    As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.
    Ciceronianus the White

    Or perhaps not full of ourselves enough. I lean more towards Emerson. From his Nature, walking through a bare common:

    There I feel that nothing can befall me in life,.— no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    Interestingly, both quotes may be considered expressions of the Stoic views that we disturb ourselves needlessly with things beyond our control, and have within us a part of the divinity immanent in the universe.
  • baker
    600
    What I want is a philosophical exposition of Buddhism at the level of basic assumptions.Constance
    Such a thing exists:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhidhamma_Pi%E1%B9%ADaka:

    The Abhidhamma Piṭaka (Pali; Sanskrit: Abhidharma Piṭaka; English: Basket of Higher Doctrine) is a collection of canonical texts in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.[1] Together with the Vinaya Piṭaka and the Sutta Piṭaka it comprises the Tipiṭaka, the "Three Baskets" of canonical Theravada Buddhist texts.[1]

    The Abhidhamma Piṭaka is a detailed scholastic analysis and summary of the Buddha's teachings in the Suttas. Here the suttas are reworked into a schematized system of general principles that might be called 'Buddhist Psychology'. In the Abhidhamma, the generally dispersed teachings and principles of the suttas are organized into a coherent science of Buddhist doctrine.
  • baker
    600
    We're part of an unimaginably huge universe and fall into despair because it's not what we think it should be. It fails to meet our expectations. Doesn't it seem we're a bit too full of ourselves?Ciceronianus the White
    Not at all. This is where the ancient Stoics differ importantly from modern popular stoicism.

    The ancient Stoics believed that one is part of nature, that one has something divine in oneself. As a modern person, can you really believe that?

    This ancient belief about being part of nature and having some part in the divine is what makes ancient Stoicism livable, it's what stops it from being merely a quietist nihilism.
    Whereas modern popular stoicism, stripped of all metaphysical foundations, is just a quietist nihilism, implicitly telling us, "You're worthelss. You should just bow your head, kneel, and accept your fate. There is no place for you in this world."

    "Doesn't it seem we're a bit too full of ourselves?" -- I don't think the ancient Stoics would say that.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    The ancient Stoics didn't think that that we stand in judgment of the universe, though. They didn't believe that the universe must conform with our expectations or be condemned if it doesn't conform. According to them, we share in the Divine Reason which infuses the universe and carry a part of it within us, but shouldn't complain because the world is what it is. So, this quote from Cleanthes appears at the end of The Enchiridion of Epictetus:

    Conduct me, Zeus, and thou, O Destiny,

    Wherever your decrees have fixed my lot.

    I follow cheerfully; and, did I not,

    Wicked and wretched, I must follow still.


    It's our part to live in accord with nature, and that means (partly) not be disturbed by events beyond our control. If we complain about the world being the way it is or think it indefensible, I think the Stoics would clearly believe that we're too full of ourselves.
  • baker
    600
    The ancient Stoics didn't think that that we stand in judgment of the universe, though. They didn't believe that the universe must conform with our expectations or be condemned if it doesn't conform. According to them, we share in the Divine Reason which infuses the universe and carry a part of it within us, but shouldn't complain because the world is what it is.Ciceronianus the White
    This completely misses the point, or even deliberately detracts from it.

    It is possible to feel demoralized about the world while this has nothing to do with one's expectations not being met. It's the demoralization that comes with the belief "There is no room for me in this world".

    Many people were told that there is no room for them in this world, and were deprived of their property, their health, and their lives.

    It's that when one doesn't meet the expectations of the world, the world condemns one. This is the reality of living in this world. How does one accept it, make peace with it?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    This completely misses the point, or even deliberately detracts from it.baker

    You made statements about the ancient Stoics. I responded to those statements. I think my interpretation of their position is accurate.
  • baker
    600
    You made statements about the ancient Stoics. I responded to those statements. I think my interpretation of their position is accurate.Ciceronianus the White
    My point is that you're addressing a different problem than I.

    Can you imagine a person feeling demoralized, where this demoralization doesn't have to do with "the world not living up to the person's expectations" about the world?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    Can you imagine a person feeling demoralized, where this demoralization doesn't have to do with "the world not living up to the person's expectations" about the world?baker

    A person can be "demoralized" in the sense of being disheartened, losing confidence or spirit, for a number of reasons, none of which would address expectations regarding the world in general. Members of a team can be demoralized by losing all the time. Members of an army may lose morale for the same reason or due to the poverty of supplies or not hearing from loved ones. But it seems to me that this thread, or at least Constance, has focused on a far broader, very generalized, feeling towards the world at large, vaguely referred to as Horror, for example, which is "without context." To the extent I can understand this, I don't know how to describe it except as being in some sense a feeling about the entire world, that it's deficient and inspires a kind of revulsion.
  • Constance
    178
    Such a thing exists:baker

    Should have led with this.

    Reading: https://www.saraniya.com/books/meditation/Bhikkhu_Bodhi-Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma.pdf
    Also here: https://www.buddhistelibrary.org/en/displayimage.php?album=2&pid=1947#top_display_media

    So I went to these texts and after I waded through the sheer bulk, I conclude that all is for one thing and only one thing, all of the nuanced emotional, tendentious descriptions of unwholesome and wholesome experiences, serve to encourage the purification of Citta. The rest, impressive in its bulk, is contingent, could have been accounted for, listed, enumerated, categorized, differently, or really, not at all. The irony strikes me: this that I read through is a reduced form of the Abhidhamma, the Abhidhammatha Sangaha, so, such massive bulk belies the simplicity of the Buddhist essence. I have to wonder what the need is for all this analysis if the point is NOT complexity but simplicity. Sure, some of this is useful, but passages like the one that says animals are reborn due to evil kamma. or the teaching that one should associate putrid thoughts with desires to be rid of the desire, these are the products of ancient thinking, and can produce terrible neuroses, I imagine.
    I have also read that much of this not to be part of the original teaching. I suspect that extraordinary person 2500 years or so ago was certainly NOT the overwrought anal retentive type that would commit this to the "canon".
    I tried to be objective, but in the final estimation, all that is essential to Buddhism is what happened when that man experienced the purity of Citta and the liberation from the "becoming" of psycho-physical existence. I think this nibbana was a deeply profound event, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the point of it all the fuss of being human.
  • baker
    600
    So I went to these texts and after I waded through the sheer bulk, I conclude that all is for one thing and only one thing, all of the nuanced emotional, tendentious descriptions of unwholesome and wholesome experiences, serve to encourage the purification of Citta. The rest, impressive in its bulk, is contingent, could have been accounted for, listed, enumerated, categorized, differently, or really, not at all. The irony strikes me: this that I read through is a reduced form of the Abhidhamma, the Abhidhammatha Sangaha, so, such massive bulk belies the simplicity of the Buddhist essence. I have to wonder what the need is for all this analysis if the point is NOT complexity but simplicity.Constance
    Purifying the citta is not an easy task; or at least some think it's not an easy task.
    The basic principles are easy enough, but putting them into action, every hour of every day, is quite another matter.

    Sure, some of this is useful, but passages like the one that says animals are reborn due to evil kamma. or the teaching that one should associate putrid thoughts with desires to be rid of the desire, these are the products of ancient thinking, and can produce terrible neuroses, I imagine.
    If one superimposes one's own stances on Buddhism, that can surely lead to neuroses ...

    I have also read that much of this not to be part of the original teaching. I suspect that extraordinary person 2500 years or so ago was certainly NOT the overwrought anal retentive type that would commit this to the "canon".
    You wanted a meta-level text, and I suggested a standard one.

    The Abhidhamma has replies to the questions you were asking. But its sheer size can be overwhelming, to say the least.

    I tried to be objective, but in the final estimation, all that is essential to Buddhism is what happened when that man experienced the purity of Citta and the liberation from the "becoming" of psycho-physical existence.
    The point of Buddhist practice is to bring about this "purity of citta". Having that purity and getting to it are two quite different things.
    There would be little use in offering up a brief account of the Buddha's enlightenment, if this wouldn't be accompanied by an outline of a course of practice acting in accordance with which other people could attain enlightenment as well. Without such an outline, the Buddha would be yet another fancy religious/spiritual figure who supposedly attained some high religious/spiritual goal, but the narrative would leave us forever wondering how he got there, or if, maybe, he ws just born this way.

    I think this nibbana was a deeply profound event, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the point of it all the fuss of being human.
    The idea that the purpose of human life is to become free from suffering / to become enlightened is not a given in Early Buddhism, nor in some other schools of Buddhism.
    These schools don't operate with notions like "everyone should become enlightened", "everyone can become enlightened".
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    You sound like Derrida.Constance

    That sounds sorta nice. Can I boast to my friends and impress them that I sound like Derrida? Or does "derrida" in Latin mean "pile of horse droppings".

    People demand to know.

    ----------------------

    I'm being silly. Sorry, but I've been away from these boards for so long that my developing Alzheimer's took the better of me to reply to your kind and thoughtful post in kind. Sorry. I apologize.

    What is a "Derrida"? I actually don't know, and now it bugs me.
  • Wayfarer
    11.3k
    Purifying the citta is not an easy task; or at least some think it's not an easy task.
    The basic principles are easy enough, but putting them into action, every hour of every day, is quite another matter.
    baker

    That’s why monasteries/viharas/ashrams exist.
  • baker
    600
    And now for a lyrical intermezzo:
  • Constance
    178
    Purifying the citta is not an easy task; or at least some think it's not an easy task.
    The basic principles are easy enough, but putting them into action, every hour of every day, is quite another matter.
    baker

    But the point I want to emphasize is that it really has nothing at all to do with basic principles. These are just a means to an end, and the every hour every day putting to action is not to be understood as a principle based life, not at all. It is supposed to be about living beyond principles.

    I like to think of it as if I were that man himself under the Bodhi tree 2500 years ago. What happened? It was not in the abstract, as a discursive argument running through the mind. Rather, it was a moment of complete freedom in which "ultimate reality" was understood to be what was there all along, but occluded by the everydayness of language and culture. Ultimate because language IS the finitude that interprets the world for us, and it is feeling-toned, as the psychologists would put it, a "sublimation" of our desires. Language, the phenomenologists tell us, is the hermeneutical binding of object to perceiver, out of which is constructed the personality and its affections. If you read existential thinking, you would understand that thought itself is the enemy of enlightenment. Thought is not some weak symbolic label; it is the individual's history, memory, familiarity and experience that construct the present moment's reality. We do not live in the "present". The present is "impossible", the absence of time and identity and knowledge. I think under the tree, he experienced complete freedom in the "eternal present" where eternal is understood (and this is Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard, et al) as an absence of time, an absence of anticipating what comes next, a freedom from recollection's spontaneous hold on the here and now that entirely possesses science and what Husserl calls the "naturalistic attitude".
    This is what is missing in the Abhidhammattha Sangaha: an account of the structure of enlightenment. Buddhism is essentially an apophatic practice that cancels language's pragmatic imposition of Time upon experience (as to pragmatic, see Heidegger, see the pragmatists).
    I think this is what Buddhism is really about. Hinduism, too. And Christianity.
  • Constance
    178
    What is a "Derrida"? I actually don't know, and now it bugs me.god must be atheist

    Why ask me? Go read Derrida. But then, you would have to read more than Derrida for this. Why not do what I did: I just decided one day that I wasn't going to not understand Heidegger any more, so I got an pdf copy of Being and Time and read it. One thing led to another. Derrida is post Heidegger.
    It "bugged" me enough that I had to read it. I can't tell you what it is, and if I tried you would think it nonsense.
    That is just the way it is. I can say it is worth every page, torturous as they might be on occasion. I have many, many such pdf's. You are welcome to them.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Thanks. In my experience if people can't tell in their own words what they just read, then they either did not read it, or read it and did not understand it. There is proposition by Heimleitslaufen, "Anything that can be said can be said clearly." If it is beyond the reader's ability to say clearly what they read, then they can't say it at all, and if they can't say it at all, then they have no clue what it is about.

    Please don't take my opinion to heart. It is, after all, only an opinion, and site unseen, too.
  • Constance
    178
    Thanks. In my experience if people can't tell in their own words what they just read, then they either did not read it, or read it and did not understand it. There is proposition by Heimleitslaufen, "Anything that can be said can be said clearly." If it is beyond the reader's ability to say clearly what they read, then they can't say it at all, and if they can't say it at all, then they have no clue what it is about.

    Please don't take my opinion to heart. It is, after all, only an opinion, and site unseen, too.
    god must be atheist

    Well, you have to see that some things are embedded. To explain them takes time, for the clarity is not really simple. It is contextually conceived, as are all things. For example. I am reading, slowly, through John Caputo's Weakness of God. He finds Derrida to be an apophatic philosopher who destroys all attempts to ground and center thinking, rendering the spoken word hanging, something of a lost cause to respond to philosophy's inquiries. Language is structured to make this impossible. Language is the "totality" that is "always, already" in place to construct meanings, and this totality has no, as Wittgenstein would put it, boundaries (for, to keep with W, a boundary makes sense on both sides, and there is no "other side" of logic and language; such a thing cannot be conceived)
    Now, I am no professional philosopher (thank God! All the meetings and need to publish and argue constantly entirely offends philosophy's mission), but I read, and read about what I've read and understand as best I can. I say this as a disclaimer in case someone comes nosing around and notes an error. Certainly possible!; but clearly, it is Husserl we have to deal with first. To understanding Derrida, one has to see things through the eyes of the transcendental reduction. For this, you would have to read his Ideas I. But for here: sit in a nice comfy chair and observe the world. You are NOT having a purely perceptual experience. Rather, it is apperceptive: you bring into the event of simple observation structures of experience and its recollections. If you've read Kant, you know that reason pervades the simplest of encounters. Here, it is the same, only more so, much more. Husserl builds eidetic heirarchies of "regions" of thought that attend the simplest observations. I see my cat under the table. I know tables, and chairs, that cats sit under them, and there is the idea that things are under, over, on top, and that tables qualify as something that cats can be under, as opposed to tractors and super novas, and so on, and so on. If you look at the way observations are grounded in familiarity, how they just appear "as they are" with no questions asked, you find that what it is that grounds them is not some material "isness" that presents itself, but the past that constructs a future IN the fleeting present.
    It is this "present" that I find very close to the holy grail of philosophy. Kierkegaard (Wittgenstein chiming in) in his Concept of Anxiety refers to the "eternal present". I argue that while one sits comfortably considering these ideas, one is, as the Buddhists say, already the Buddha. What does this mean? It means that beneath the language that streams through our minds when we discuss matters, and beneath the "instrumentality" of what Heidegger calls ready to hand, and beneath the unconscious engagements in t he world, there is the liberation and enlightenment.
    Such thinking has one purpose, which is to lead one to liberation and enlightenment. It is an attempt to "talk one's way" into understanding the most simple of things. Derrida is just a part of this. He was no Buddhist, but he was "right" about language.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k
    In my experience if people can't tell in their own words what they just read, then they either did not read it, or read it and did not understand it. There is proposition by Heimleitslaufen, "Anything that can be said can be said clearly." If it is beyond the reader's ability to say clearly what they read, then they can't say it at all, and if they can't say it at all, then they have no clue what it is about.god must be atheist

    Mirabile dictu!

    It's my experience as well, with this caveat: If something just read can't be related clearly by the reader, it may also be the case that what was read makes no assertion of any kind which can be the subject of argument, analysis or explanation. It may instead evoke or inspire certain feelings or insights. Great poetry, for example.

    Happily (in my opinion, in any case) philosophy isn't poetry, (nor are many other things), primarily because philosophers aren't poets and shouldn't pretend philosophy is poetry. When we treat philosophers as if they're poets we forgive them a great deal, and try to explain their vagaries away by claiming it's necessary to know certain things about them or the way they express themselves or the words they use which their critics don't and perhaps even can't know. It's what initiates do--they maintain they have hidden or superior knowledge because they've been initiated, and you must be an initiate yourself to understand.

    Call it a theory.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Thanks, Consance, for your spirited and exhaustive reply. Indeed you were right, at this point I am looking at the text and I don't understand it. However, I only skimmed it and read it superficially. So please give me some time to go over it with some more focussed attention. I'll get back to you when I absorbed it to a satisfactory level. Thanks.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    And in turn I agree with you. With the caveat that I've developed a vague theory that the thing that separates western philosophy from the eastern (Asian), is that in western philosophy you spell out all the little steps in your thinking, and hopefully you leave no gaps or holes where your critics can force your logic open with a crowbar, so to speak. And in Easter philosophy the teachers say something quizzical, which the disciples buzz and swoon over, and their job is to explain what the teacher meant. Zen is like that, and so are the Keons.

    Another way to compare the Western with the Eastern is a visual one. If you are familiar with Albrecht Durer, you'll remember his wood print "The rhinoceros". It is a detailed figure, robust, standing, static, and well-circumdescribed in every detail. Nothing left for the imagination, all surfaces and muscles and intentions of the rhinoceros are precisely depicted. Now please think of horse-paintings of the Eastern masters. They are dynamic, their hair and tail are flapping in the wind, they are full of vigour and enthusisam; but they are not detailed to the precision expected in the West. They are painted with large, wide brushtrokes.

    Both are beautiful: the horses and the Rhinoceros. But I'd rather write something that tells the reader what I think, in precise, unmistakable terms and style, than write something that the reader has to use as a guide to connect the dots.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.5k

    I know too little of Eastern thought to comment. I'm of the West by birth, upbringing and education. But I know there are similarities between Stoicism, which I admire as a guide on how to live, and some forms of Buddhism, and often wish that the culture of the West in antiquity had been allowed to grow unfettered by institutional Christianity, though I don't think East and West would be any closer than they are now had that been the case.

    If you read Heidi and others and thereby see the light, like Paul on the road to Damascus, let me know.
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Sorry; can't read. My attention span is very short. I pick up knowledge from nuggets, not from continuously reading an entire book. So alas: Heidi will not be read, Paul on the road to Damascus was okay in his times, but to follow him now is an anachronism.
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Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.