• PeterJones
    415
    …. For, as the world has never been, and, no doubt, never will be without a system of metaphysics of one kind or another, it is the highest and weightiest concern of philosophy to render it powerless for harm, by closing up the sources of error…. — PeterJones


    Is this from Bradley? Do you have a reference?
    T Clark

    I did not post this quote. Not sure where it comes from but it sounds like Bradley. .
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    What this shows is that even though the ideas of the East may be an appealing alternative, the dark side of religion, or human nature, shows up in Eastern as well as Western religions and spiritual movements.Jack Cummins

    For sure. But, ‘there would be no fool’s gold, were there no gold’, says Rumi.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I suspect Kant would have seen this if only he'd known something of Buddhist philosophy, . . . . . .PeterJones

    Strongly recommend a 1955 book, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, T R V Murti, which has extensive comparisons between Kant and Buddhist philosophy. Not well favoured in today’s academia, but I recommend it nevertheless.
  • PeterJones
    415
    Thanks for the recommendation. It's not a topic I want to further research, but it looks like a good read.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    Non-dualism is a fairly difficult perspective because it involves going beyond splits, or binary divisions. It is a bit like the title of the Waterboys' song, in trying to see, 'The Whole of the Moon'. It involves awareness of partiality in epistemology in trying to be aware of the 'other side' of perception.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    All is well if one avoids extreme positions. Non-dualism is not directly opposed to theism or atheism. They are two extreme ideas that oppose each other. Thus folks on both sides of the God debate reject mysticism.PeterJones

    I wasn't thinking of any particular metaphysical position when I wrote that, I was thinking that believing any metaphysical position is truth apt, as they say, is dualistic. That was just off the top of my head.

    Lao Tzu's remark 'True words seem paradoxical' is better translated (and sometime is) as 'Rigorous words seem paradoxical' - to avoid the idea that they are true as opposed to false in a dialectical sense. If they were true or false in the usual dialectical sense then hey wouldn't seem paradoxical. . . .PeterJones

    I'm a fan of R.G. Collingwood's "An Essay on Metaphysics," which gave me words to support my intuitions about metaphysics. Collingwood wrote that metaphysics is the study of absolute presuppositions. Absolute presuppositions are the unspoken, perhaps unconscious, assumptions that underpin how we understand reality. Collingwood thought that absolute presuppositions are neither true nor false, they have no truth value.

    So, we agree that metaphysical positions are neither true nor false, but I'm not sure I understand the logic behind your reasons. I think you and I may be kindred spirits when it comes to metaphysics.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    I treat the concept of “mind” as something everybody knows what is meant by it even if there really isn’t any such thing, and from that, I prefer to say pure reason is a purely logical system, but the subject at the time this came up was mind, and the nonsense of getting beyond it, so……Mww

    Maybe we can talk about this some other time.

    Oh absolutely. I treat noumena as the proverbial red-headed stepchild….he’s here, by accident, can’t pretend he isn’t so obligated to set a place at the table for him, but no freakin’ way he’s gonna be included in a will. Noumena in the Kantian sense are born from the faculty of understanding over-extending itself into the forging of general conceptions for which neither the remaining components of this particular type of cognitive system, nor Nature Herself as comprehended by that same system, can obtain an object.Mww

    Well, I disagree with this - strongly. Kant's discussion of noumena is, for me, the most interesting part of "A Critique of Pure Reason." It parallels the thought of Lao Tzu, whom I think highly of.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    I neglected to respond to part of your post.

    It is Kant, B422, and concerns expositions surrounding the self as a closed, private, all-encompassing concept represented by “I think”, what Kant calls the “unity of consciousness”, and how that concept is misused by treating it as an object, which is what I meant by reification of pure conceptions...

    ...Kant, Bxxxi, (translator-specific). Yeah, true, huh. Guy’s every-damn-where. Think of something having to do with theoretical human cognition, pre-quantum physics, morality/religion….plate techtonics, tidal friction, rotational inclination, relativity of space and time (sigh)……there’s a Kant quote relatable to it.
    Mww

    As I've said elsewhere, I need to reread the Critique.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Hmm. I wonder why you think this. I can state definitively that all positive metaphysical theories are logically indefensible,and can be reduced to absurdity. This is what Bradley means by saying metaphysics does not endorse a positive result. I can also state that a neutral theory, which is the only alternative, cannot be reduced to absurdity. I'm not sure why,. as a fan of Lao Tzu, you would think this doesn't work. After all, there's got to be one theory that works.PeterJones

    I don't say metaphysical positions are true or false, but they are unavoidable and can be useful at particular times in particular situations. I see them as tools in the philosopher's tool box. You need the right tool for the right job.
  • Mww
    4.7k
    Maybe we can talk about this some other time.T Clark

    Sure. Whatever suits you.

    I disagree with this…..T Clark

    Yeah, I get that a lot. But I don’t mind; it merely exemplifies the earlier blurb….

    “…. those who are engaged in metaphysical pursuits are far from being able to agree among themselves…”

    ….in Bxv, and this in Bxxxiv:

    “…. useful truths make just as little impression (…) as the equally subtle objections brought against these truths…”

    And while no metaphysical theory is properly judged by its true/false quality, none of them should be judged absurd, merely from disregard of that relative attribute, but from each one’s internal logical consistency and each one’s non-self-contradictory construction.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    none of them should be judged absurd, merely from disregard of that relative attribute, but from each one’s internal logical consistency and each one’s non-self-contradictory construction.Mww

    I would judge them based on usefulness.
  • Mww
    4.7k
    ….judged (…) from each one’s internal logical consistency and each one’s non-self-contradictory construction.
    — Mww

    I would judge them based on usefulness.
    T Clark

    Ok, but how would you recognize usefulness? What does a metaphysical theory do, such that it is useful for that thing?
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    Non-dualism is a fairly difficult perspective because it involves going beyond splits, or binary divisions.Jack Cummins

    There is a strong revival of classical philosophy around right now. I’m subscribing to a couple of feeds on Medium and Substack about stoicism and other schools of ancient philosophy. All of them concern ‘the transformation of perspective’, it is fundamental to ‘philosophy as a way of life’ that they were concerned with. The required change in perspective is more than conceptual or hypothetical, which is what makes it so hard to communicate or discuss. A term I’ve learned from those sources I mentioned is ‘anagoge’. In ancient philosophy, the term "anagoge" (from the Greek "ἀναγωγή") refers to a process of spiritual or intellectual ascent. It signifies the act of rising or leading upward, often used to describe the movement from a lower, more material or literal understanding to a higher, more abstract or spiritual comprehension.

    In particular, "anagoge" has been employed in various philosophical and theological contexts to indicate spiritual elevation and the soul's journey towards a higher state of knowledge or insight beyond the mundane. It also refers to an allegorical or mystical interpretation of sacred texts, where the reader is led from the literal or historical meaning to understanding a deeper perspective.

    This is not so much discussed as assumed in classical schools of Indian philosophy including Advaita (non-dualism). It is understood and expected that the student (chela) will maintain high moral standards in the pursuit of philosophical insight, under the direction of a spiritual preceptor (guru).
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Ok, but how would you recognize usefulness? What does a metaphysical theory do, such that it is useful for that thing?Mww

    As I understand metaphysics, it consists of the underlying assumptions, what Collingwood calls "absolute presuppositions," that provide the foundation for our understanding of the world, reality. As a possible example - Science, at least as it is commonly understood, operates in a material universe. One of the absolute presuppositions of science and materialism is that the world is lawful and that those laws apply everywhere and at all times. That's impossible to verify, it has no truth value, but without it, science can't work.

    Another - Taoism works on the assumption that the fundamental ground of reality is unnamable - it can't be conceptualized or understood. This formless entity is known as the "Tao." Lao Tzu fully recognizes the irony of giving a name to the unnamable.This from Stephen Mitchell's translation of Verse 1 of the Tao Te Ching.

    The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.
    Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching

    Particular things, which Lao Tzu sometimes calls the 10,000 things, represent the objects, ideas, things, that exist in our world, including horses, wavefunctions, love, 1040 forms, Immanuel Kant, i.e. all of reality. This is from Verse 40.

    Return is the movement of the Tao.
    Yielding is the way of the Tao.

    All things are born of being.
    Being is born of non-being.
    Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching

    Being is the world of the 10,000 things. Non-being is the Tao. I am oversimplifying. In a sense, the world we know doesn't exist until it is named. This way of seeing things was revolutionary for me. It brings together ideas that I had been thinking about for a long time. What we learn empirically, what we can know and understand, includes factors that we, human beings, provide as we name, conceptualize, things in the world. That means that materialism's objective reality is not the only way of seeing things.

    These two perspectives seem to contradict each other and to a certain extent they do. But they also can work together to temper each other. Materialism is useful for methodological purposes. Taoism is useful for showing us that we need to take human understanding in to account too.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    I have been reading about Spinoza's philosophy and as far as I can see there is a lot of ambiguity over how his ideas are interpreted.Jack Cummins
    If I may – go to the source and read Ethics (Edwin Curley's translation); however, if you must read secondary literature, I recommend Spinoza by Stuart Hampshire. Careful reading of either book should clear up (most of) this "ambiguity" you're finding.

    God was 'nothing other than the whole universe'.
    Spinoza does not argue this. Regardless of the laziness of centuries of academic fashion, Spinoza is an acosmist¹, not a "pantheist" or "atheist".

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/528116 [1]

    [ ... ] This is the God of pandeism.
    I don't think so. "The playwrite" would have to transform himself into "the play itself" – (analogously) that's pandeism².

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/718054 [2]

    In ancient philosophy, the term "anagoge" (from the Greek "ἀναγωγή") refers to a process of spiritual or intellectual ascent.Wayfarer
    A modern expression of this process ...
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittgenstein%27s_ladder

    Being is the world of the 10,000 things. Non-being is the Tao.T Clark
    Akin to atoms swirling swerving & recombing (in) void ...
    [³M]aterialism's objective reality is not the only way of seeing things.
    Yes, ³it's the least rational and pragmatic "way of seeing things" except for all the others tried so far.

    [naturalism [physicalism [ materialism ]]] [3]
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    I have gone back to reading Spinoza(not sure which translation on my Kindle), although I am finding it 'heavy weather). It may be that Spinoza was challenging the theism with which he was familiar. However, it still has to be recognised that he was writing in a historical period so different from the current one. This makes his correspondence with current thinking, such as neuroscience, mere speculation. Of course, it is possible to reframe his writings in such a way but that does mean acknowledging that it is interpretation, as is any use of a historic philosopher in thinking about issues of the current time.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    I guess it is very different when one is reading books, such as ones on non-dualism in the pursuit of philosophy as opposed to under the guidance of a 'guru'. It is important to remember the context, and how it was connected to ideas for application in spiritual searching and living as opposed to simply being about analytical issues.
  • PeterJones
    415
    Collingwood wrote that metaphysics is the study of absolute presuppositions. Absolute presuppositions are the unspoken, perhaps unconscious, assumptions that underpin how we understand reality. Collingwood thought that absolute presuppositions are neither true nor false, they have no truth value.T Clark

    A great deal of confusion arises over this issue. It is not difficult to prove that most presuppositions are rejected by analysis, but when we say an extreme view is false we usually mean that the opposite view is true, (eg theism vs atheism). This is the A/not-A logic of the dialectic.

    For the Middle Way 'view' we have to reject both A and not-A,but both would normally contain something of the truth. On this view our presuppositions do have a truth-value, but their value is partial. It is therefore better to say they are wrong or unrigorous rather than strictly true or false in a dialectical sense. But if we presuppose that the Middle Way doctrine is true no problems arise.

    This issue deserves a thread of its own. I see what Collingwood is saying, but the reason metaphysical problems arise is that we can, in fact, decide that most presuppositions do not make sense and don't work. Hence, for instance, Nagarjuna argues that all positive positions (presuppositions) are logically indefensible, rather than strictly true or false. That is to say, theism and atheism would be wrong, but neither would be false in the sense that the opposite view would be true. Both would describe an aspect of the truth, or contain some truth, and both would be wrong. .

    To sort this one out would require going back to Aristotle and his laws of logic. I'd say Collingwood 's view (as stated) is roughly correct but rather misleading . . .
    .
    So, we agree that metaphysical positions are neither true nor false, but I'm not sure I understand the logic behind your reasons. I think you and I may be kindred spirits when it comes to metaphysics.

    I'd be happy to dive into the logic if you want to go down that rabbit-hole. I feel that one reason metaphysicians struggle with metaphysics is that they don't pay enough attention to the rules for the dialectic and often violate them. .

    It certainly seems we're on the same wavelength, which is a happy situation.. . . . .
  • PeterJones
    415
    Non-dualism is a fairly difficult perspective because it involves going beyond splits, or binary divisions. It is a bit like the title of the Waterboys' song, in trying to see, 'The Whole of the Moon'. It involves awareness of partiality in epistemology in trying to be aware of the 'other side' of perception.Jack Cummins

    Yes. It requires seeing the unavoidable divisiveness of our perceptual/cognitive system, as noted by Kant, thus the need to look beyond perception and cognition for the eternal Tao. . .
  • Mww
    4.7k


    Fair synopsis, yes.

    One man’s “absolute presupposition” is another man’s “principle”?
    —————

    In a sense, the world we know doesn't exist until it is named.T Clark

    Ok, I can live with that, as long as the world (as it is) and the world (as we know it), are taken as two very different things.
    —————-

    …..materialism's objective reality is not the only way of seeing things.T Clark

    Agreed, in principle, but with two distinct and separate paradigmatic conditions, re:
    …..first, whether or not the senses are involved on the one hand, and “way of seeing things” is a mere euphemism for “understanding”, on the other. Understanding a material thing is possible without that which is objectively real, but for knowledge of that which is material, the objective reality of it is a necessary condition;
    …..from which follows the second, insofar as for humans generally, materialism, being a monistic ontology, is necessarily conjoined with some form of epistemological foundational procedure, in order for the intellect, as such, to function.

    Does your Taoist metaphysical theory satisfy these conditions? And if not, how does it get around them and still maintain its usefulness?
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    A great deal of confusion arises over this issue. It is not difficult to prove that most presuppositions are rejected by analysis, but when we say an extreme view is false we usually mean that the opposite view is true, (eg theism vs atheism). This is the A/not-A logic of the dialectic.PeterJones

    But if neither is true and either false, there is no problem.

    It is therefore better to say they are wrong or unrigorous rather than strictly true or false in a dialectical sense. But if we presuppose that the Middle Way doctrine is true no problems arise.PeterJones

    Again, I favor the neither true nor false position. Again, no problems arise.

    This issue deserves a thread of its own.PeterJones

    I have started three or four discussions on this and similar subjects over the years and I mention Collingwood in almost every thread I don't mention Lao Tzu.

    I see what Collingwood is saying, but the reason metaphysical problems arise is that we can, in fact, decide that most presuppositions do not make sense and don't work.PeterJones

    As I wrote in a recent post to Mww, metaphysical positions don't have to be true or false and they don't have to "work," they only have to be useful.

    I'd say Collingwood 's view (as stated) is roughly correct but rather misleading . . .PeterJones

    It strikes me, ironically enough, that Collingwood's view is neither correct nor misleading, it's metaphysics.

    I feel that one reason metaphysicians struggle with metaphysics is that they don't pay enough attention to the rules for the dialectic and often violate them. .PeterJones

    Now that would be a good subject for a new discussion - I've never understood the value of the dialectic or what it even means. I'm all for moderation in all things, but it feels pretty namby-pamby. It seems more complicated than Collingwood's formula.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Ok, I can live with that, as long as the world (as it is) and the world (as we know it), are taken as two very different things.Mww

    I guess the world as it is would be the Tao and the world as we know it would be the 10,000 things in your formulation, similar to Kant's noumena and phenomena.

    Agreed, in principle, but with two distinct and separate paradigmatic conditions, re:
    …..first, whether or not the senses are involved on the one hand, and “way of seeing things” is a mere euphemism for “understanding”, on the other. Understanding a material thing is possible without that which is objectively real, but for knowledge of that which is material, the objective reality of it is a necessary condition;
    Mww

    I probably don't agree with this. When I wrote "way of seeing things" here, I'm talking about metaphysics. Also, I don't understand what you mean by putting "knowledge" in opposition to "understanding."

    …..from which follows the second, insofar as for humans generally, materialism, being a monistic ontology, is necessarily conjoined with some form of epistemological foundational procedure, in order for the intellect, as such, to function.Mww

    I don't understand this.

    Does your Taoist metaphysical theory satisfy these conditions? And if not, how does it get around them and still maintain its usefulness?Mww

    I have three possible responses 1) No, 2) I don't know, and 3) I don't understand.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Another thought - I wasn't trying to sell either of the metaphysical positions I described, although I think they make sense. I was only using them as examples of what it might mean for a position to be useful, which is the question you asked.
  • PeterJones
    415
    s I wrote in a recent post to Mww, metaphysical positions don't have to be true or false and they don't have to "work," they only have to be useful.T Clark

    It seems we are far from kindred spirits after all. If I held your view I'd abandon philosophy immediately.as a waste of time. A theory that doesn't work would be completely useless. I'm very confident that a neutral theory works and that all others do not. How would you go about proving otherwise?. .

    It strikes me, ironically enough, that Collingwood's view is neither correct nor misleading, it's metaphysics.

    II wondering why you bother with metaphysics if this is your opinion. What would be the point in talking about it? Do you really believe that the Perennial philosophy has a metaphysical foundation that doesn't work and is incorrect? Wow.

    I feel that one reason metaphysicians struggle with metaphysics is that they don't pay enough attention to the rules for the dialectic and often violate them. . — PeterJones

    Now that would be a good subject for a new discussion - I've never understood the value of the dialectic or what it even means. I'm all for moderation in all things, but it feels pretty namby-pamby. It seems more complicated than Collingwood's formula.

    You've just made my point for me. If you haven't studied the dialectic then metaphysics will be incomprehensible and you won't understand what I have to say about it, or indeed what anyone who endorses the nondual doctrine has to say about it. I see metaphysics as a science of logic, and I can't see any way to reach an understanding of it without having a clear grasp of the rules.

    Only if one knows the rules can one see the mistake that most philosophers make and avoid making it, I'm,gobsmacked by your approach. If you're right then what would be the point of doing philosophy?

    .
  • Mww
    4.7k
    I don't understand what you mean by putting "knowledge" in opposition to "understanding."T Clark

    Not in opposition, as a consequence. Understanding is means, knowledge is ends, in accordance with Kantian theoretical metaphysics.

    Perhaps one could say the usefulness of this theory is the explanation for how knowledge is possible.
    ————-

    ….what it might mean for a position to be usefulT Clark

    I think to be useful is to explain something I want to know. But you’re right; some things can be explained quite well, without the possibility of ever being proven right or wrong. Admittedly, I don’t have enough experience with Taoism to know whether it explains anything or not, but I suspect that theory relies less on pure logical constructs than does speculative idealism, and because of that, is more susceptible to self-contradiction when reduced to principles, which may happen when one asks of it….well, just how does that come about?

    Anyway….to each his own?
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Anyway….to each his own?Mww

    Sure. This has been a good conversation.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    I (mostly) agree but, since the relevent context of this thread discussion implicitly concerns "religion" (and explicity and more broadly concerns metaphysics), I think anti-supernatural is more precise and specific than "anti-delusional" (or, as you said earlier, "rational/logical").180 Proof

    Don't limit yourself.

    Is it not relevant in a thread discussing religion and metaphysics to assert that religion is a type of delusion? And does this assertion provide a non-dual "bridging" between theism and atheism in showing that applying logic to all beliefs, not just religious ones, is a monistic solution to the duality of faith vs. reason, and an attempt to get at the inconsistent (dual) application of logic/reason to some beliefs and not others (faith)?

    Would the answer to the thread's question not provide some useful implications for other types of beliefs, like in unicorns, dragons, aliens, mutants, dark matter and energy, etc.?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Nature = self-governed
    Supernatural = over nature

    supernatural is only meaningful in the light of the natural, then it would seem that everything is fundamentally natural including God and the domain God resides in.
    — Harry Hindu

    …supernatural is only meaningful in the light of the natural, then it would seem that everything is fundamentally natural including God and the domain God resides in.

    The conclusion’s soundness seems to depend on the prefix “super-”, which of course means ‘over’. However, ‘over’ covers up two distinct concepts. Does it mean ‘above’ (over and not touching) or ‘on’ (over and touching)? If it means ‘on/connected to’ then supernatural just means artificial. Humans trick nature into doing things beyond their natural ends all the time. But at the same time, it is just human nature to do artificial things. Therefore, the difference is just direct and indirect. So, in this sense, we have a mutually arising relationship like the one you described.

    On the other hand, Platonic monotheists have actively pushed the unconnected sense. Their God creates ex nihilo and is the unmoved mover. It is the radical other that by definition can not be embraced. It always sits outside any harmonization project like non-dualism.

    In short, above all else it rests on ‘over’.
    Keith
    The only relationship between supernatural and natural I'm interested in is causal. It doesn't matter where God is relative to it's creation. God is the cause, the universe is the effect. Our actions in the natural determine where we end up in the supernatural after we die. It's all causal and temporal. Whether it be indirect or direct, it's all part of the same reality.
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