• khaled
    1.1k
    I wanted to put this under "History of philosophy" but couldn't find the category

    From my very limited understanding of Daoism, Zen and many schools of Buddhism, they all share the theme of there not being an "objective" reality or morality, that things are arbitrarily divided and given properties by the mind and that in reality there is no multiplicity of "things" in the first place and even that is a reflection of the mind.

    In the East, this is taken as good news as it provides a way to be rid of all suffering in life upon fully realizing the futility and endlessness of intellectual classification of things and the use of those classifications to attempt to solve the problem of suffering. One who's obtained "enlightenment" (with all it's different names) simply stops trying to grasp at solutions this way upon which he realizes that the problem of suffering he was trying to solve has been solved, as it was the search for a solution to suffering that was causing it in the first place (again, I'm new at this, I request a light roasting, or a book recommendation).

    In the west however, the lack of objective reality is seen as depressive (in most philosophies) and a Western philosopher tries to either establish some objective moral of reality (usually ending in yelling matches) or to promote a philosophy of "creating your own meaning". So while the Daoist gives up the Western philosopher keeps trying to deal with the issue usually ending in sharp disagreement with other Western philosophers. What properties of the individual cultures led to this different treatment?
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    That's an insightful post. It's a huge topic, and one I've been studying for a long time.

    Have a look at this page http://veda.wikidot.com/dharma-and-religion . It's not a scholarly work but makes some important points. It differentiates dharma and religion.

    Zen, and all schools of Buddhism, recognize dharma. Dharma is one of those Asian terms hard to translate but can mean 'duty', 'law', or 'way'. Tao, likewise, can be translated as 'way' or 'power'. Dharma is religious in some ways, but puts more emphasis on learning by doing and getting insight rather than blindly following.

    The points you make about there not being an 'objective reality' in these cultures is kind of true, but none of their exponents would necessarily speak about it in those terms. If you look at Buddhism, in particular, the tradition was founded in a vastly different cultural milieu to Christianity. The Buddha lived and taught for 40 years and the Buddhist suttas (dialogues of the Buddha) are models of civil discourse and philosophical reason. Furthermore his teaching took place in the context of a culture which was tolerant of a huge variety of belief and practice. Buddhism was never 'spread by the sword' but always relied on its rhetorical lucidity along with the exemplary deportment and behaviour of the Buddha and his disciples.

    What properties of the individual cultures led to this different treatment?khaled

    In Western culture, the predominant religious tradition, namely Roman Catholicism, became monopolistic and highly formalised, and also became deeply entrenched in political systems. Dissenters were often punished by death and enormous importance was attached to orthodoxy (meaning literally 'right belief'.)

    Going right back to the early history of Christianity, it grew out of a cultural ferment and competition of ideas in the ancient world. I have the view that the sect that became predominant had a particular kind of religiosity which was to have profound consequences for the later tradition. There were alternative traditions at the time of the early church, namely the gnostic traditions, which were in many ways much more like dharmic traditions, but they were ruthlessly crushed by the movement that went on to form the mainstream religion. History, it is said, is 'written by the victors', and no more so than here.

    More later.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    The points you make about there not being an 'objective reality' in these cultures is kind of true, but none of their exponents would necessarily speak about it in those terms.Wayfarer

    Right now I'm reading "Way of Zen" which also makes this point. I'm not sure I fully understand the difference between "objective reality doesn't exist" and whatever an exponent would say. As far as I understand it, to say that objective reality doesn't exist would be admitting to the existence of yet another duality/concept that being "objectivity vs subjectivity" and Taoism, Zen and Buddhism do not admit of the independent existence of any concept and so their exponents would rather follow a more "Socrates like" approach and try to break down any conception their students may have making sure not to establish the conceptions of "objective vs subjective" in the process. As far as I understand, in those 3 philosophies (?), absolutely no classification of the world is acceptable as a final description, not even "objective" and "subjective"
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    As far as I understand it, to say that objective reality doesn't exist would be admitting to the existence of yet another duality/concept that being "objectivity vs subjectivity" and Taoism, Zen and Buddhism do not admit of the independent existence of any concept and so their exponents would rather follow a more "Socrates like" approach and try to break down any conception their students may have making sure not to establish the conceptions of "objective vs subjective" in the process.khaled

    That's actually pretty close to the point. I would say that no classification of the world is acceptable as a final decision, because all classifications, thoughts, cognitions, etc, 'arise dependent on causes and conditions' and so are incapable of disclosing any final truth. That's not to say there is no final truth, but 'discerning final truth' is what makes Buddha a Buddha. 'Those dharmas of which I speak are subtle, deep, profound, difficult to see, only discernable by the wise'. That is much more like gnosticism than Western 'pistic' (belief-based) religions.
  • leo
    704
    I believe that there is an objective reality in Buddhism, considering for instance that they talk about following the "Noble Eightfold Path" which involves following eight "right" practices, there would be no such thing as a "right" practice if they didn't assume an underlying objective reality, even if that reality isn't the one that is directly accessed through the senses.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    Not ‘objective’. If it were objective science could discover it.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    "Right" in the way they use it means "gets you closer to Nirvana" not "morally right"
  • leo
    704
    "Right" in the way they use it means "gets you closer to Nirvana" not "morally right"khaled

    Yes and then Nirvana would be that objective reality, if there is a "right" way, an objectively "true" way, there is something objective.

    Not ‘objective’. If it were objective science could discover it.Wayfarer

    I'm using "objective" in the sense what really exists beyond appearances, are you guys simply referring to "what people agree on"?
  • leo
    704


    Here's how relativism is characterized: "There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth".

    You say "if it were objective science could discover it", but even scientific laws cannot be said to be universal truth because of the problem of induction.

    So what's your definition of objective? And why would you consider for instance dharma to not be objective?
  • khaled
    1.1k
    Yes and then Nirvana would be that objective realityleo

    Nirvana isn't a reality it's a state of mind so idk what this is supposed to mean. If I told you "do this to cure coughing" I don't think it makes sense to say "so the medicine is the objective reality" or "so the state without coughing is the objective reality". There is nothing objective or holy about the medicine, it just works.

    I'm using "objective" in the sense what really exists beyond appearances, are you guys simply referring to "what people agree on"?leo

    What does "beyond appearances" mean? I was using it to mean: "Is the case no matter what the human mind thinks of it" in other words: "is a fact"
  • leo
    704
    Nirvana isn't a reality it's a state of mind so idk what this is supposed to mean. If I told you "do this to cure coughing" I don't think it makes sense to say "so the medicine is the objective reality" or "so the state without coughing is the objective reality". There is nothing objective or holy about the medicine, it just works.khaled

    Nirvana is defined for instance as "a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism."

    Reaching that state can be seen as reaching some absolute place that exists beyond death, so it's more than a temporary subjective state of mind provoked by some medicine.

    What does "beyond appearances" mean? I was using it to mean: "Is the case no matter what the human mind thinks of it" in other words: "is a fact"khaled

    Then we seem to mean a similar thing. I mean for instance the idea that "something exists" is true regardless of appearances. Or think of the allegory of the cave, we see shadows but there are real things beyond which are provoking these shadows. Whereas in relativism there is nothing beyond the shadows.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    Reaching that state can be seen as reaching some absolute place that exists beyond death, so it's more than a temporary subjective state of mind provoked by some medicine.leo

    The "not beyond death" part is a literal reading of karma. Another one is "death and rebirth" from moment to moment, just refers to change. But other than that, it still makes no sense to me to say x MENTAL STATE = Objective reality. They're not the same type of thing. It's a type mismatch like saying "the color red is the objective reality". Are you saying that the state of mind exists despite us acquiring it or not?

    Whereas in relativism there is nothing beyond the shadows.leo

    I don't think this is true. I think relativism is more like "you can't tell if there is something beyond the shadows so you only have the shadows to work with"

    regardless of appearances.leo

    I still don't get what this means
  • Brett
    1.1k


    they all share the theme of there not being an "objective" realitykhaled

    I’ve always had a good feeling forZen Buddhism and always found it very elusive. But my feeling is that they do believe there is an objective reality but that we can’t see it for looking. And so such statements as;

    “Big mind is something to express, not something to figure out. Big mind is something you have, not something to seek for.”

    Edit: Attachment is subjective.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    Here's how relativism is characterized: "There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth".

    You say "if it were objective science could discover it", but even scientific laws cannot be said to be universal truth because of the problem of induction.

    So what's your definition of objective? And why would you consider for instance dharma to not be objective?
    leo

    This is a very complicated issue.

    First as regards to Buddhism: there are many canonical statements in Buddhist texts to the effect that 'those dharmas which I [the Buddha] see are profound, deep, difficult to fathom, perceivable only by the wise'. So the reason I say they're not "objective" is because anything of that nature requires, in some sense, a first-person commitment or insight, which is not amenable to the arms-length, third-party methods of 'the objective sciences'.

    But the point about Buddhism and other forms of contemplative spirituality, is that they emphasise the 'path of practice' i.e. the cultivation of practices that give rise to the insight, that enable the practitioner to validate the truth which they teach. And in that sense they are sometimes called 'the sacred sciences' (scientia sacra), as it is understood that practitioners will indeed discover the same states and insights as those who have traversed that path before them. So in a sense they're 'objective', but in a very qualified sense.

    Second point in respect of Western cultural dynamics is that traditional Western philosophical ethics revolved around Christianity, which had incorporated many of the best aspects of so-called 'pagan' philosophies from Greek and other sources. So the movement away from religion which is marked by 'secularism' means that much of the moral theory that underpinned Western philosophy was discarded along with the religion. So, for example, Platonism made an explicit distinction between 'true knowledge' and 'mere opinion' - but the grounds for that distinction is barely visible in Western culture today. Or rather - the form it has taken is that 'true knowledge' is really only afforded by science, hence the emphasis on 'objectivity'. But the scientific method brackets out the first-person perspective and many qualitative issues - issues of value. That is what results in 'relativism', which is that what is true is only 'true for me', or 'true for you', or 'true according to Western culture’ - along with the absence of any sense of there being an over-arching truth, a capital-T Truth.
  • leo
    704
    The "not beyond death" part is a literal reading of karma. Another one is "death and rebirth" from moment to moment, just refers to change.khaled

    Is there evidence that they didn't mean it literally?

    But other than that, it still makes no sense to me to say x MENTAL STATE = Objective reality. They're not the same type of thing. It's a type mismatch like saying "the color red is the objective reality".khaled

    See it that way: if as long as you haven't reached Nirvana you keep getting reincarnated when you die, but once you reach Nirvana you stay there and stop getting reincarnated, then Nirvana does not reduce to a mental state, it's a place beyond the material world.

    Are you saying that the state of mind exists despite us acquiring it or not?khaled

    I'm saying that according to Buddhists (or at least according to my interpretation of them), Nirvana is not simply a state of mind (as in a brain state of a physical body), it is a state that transcends the material world and exists beyond, so indeed that state would exist whether we acquire it or not.

    I mean if we assume that some people have reached Nirvana, then they are there now, I don't think that according to Buddhists Nirvana ends when the body dies. Well I'm looking at the wikipedia page now and it seems there is controversy on whether Nirvana is a place or not, so ...

    I don't think this is true. I think relativism is more like "you can't tell if there is something beyond the shadows so you only have the shadows to work with"khaled

    Indeed I was incorrect, otherwise relativism would reduce to solipsism. But in order to be relativists I believe they necessarily assume that there is something beyond the shadows (otherwise again they would be solipsists, believing that other humans don't experience anything).

    So if they believe there is something beyond the shadows, don't they have to believe in some objective reality (as in things existing beyond their own mind)?

    So relativism would be more like "there is an objective reality but we can't tell what it is, we can't tell what others think or see or experience".

    But then Buddhism cannot be characterized as relativist, otherwise it wouldn't claim that there exists a state (Nirvana) that people can reach, no? If Buddhism was relativist it couldn't even claim that, it would say "this a state I've reached, here is how I have reached it, but I make no guarantee that this state exists for you or that you can reach it". As soon as Buddhism assumes there exists a state that various people can reach, it makes a claim about objective reality.

    I still don't get what this meanskhaled

    It could be that everything we see is an illusion, that we only see shadows because some powerful entity is deceiving us, but it can't be an illusion that "something exists", that "there is change" or however you want to phrase it, this is true, this is a fact regardless of appearances, regardless of the shadows we see.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    Is there evidence that they didn't mean it literally?leo

    Is there evidence they do? Do you think all ancient myths were meant literally? In standard interpretations myths are not meant literally but are metaphorical. It's the same with buddhism. But no I guess I don't have evidence they didn't mean it literally.

    See it that way: if as long as you haven't reached Nirvana you keep getting reincarnated when you die, but once you reach Nirvana you stay there and stop getting reincarnated, then Nirvana does not reduce to a mental state, it's a place beyond the material world.leo

    Ok I'll go with the literal interpretaion for this paragraph. Now your saying x PLACE = Objective Reality. Still I don't think those are the same type of thing. If I told you "If you climb the top of this mountain you will be safe from the predators that roam the bottom" you wouldn't say "So the top of the mountain is objective reality". I just don't get how you are relating "objective reality" to any of this

    But in order to be relativists I believe they necessarily assume that there is something beyond the shadows (otherwise again they would be solipsists, believing that other humans don't experience anything).

    So if they believe there is something beyond the shadows, don't they have to believe in some objective reality (as in things existing beyond their own mind)?
    leo

    So... Did you just say that in order for someone to be a realtivist he has to believe in some kind of objective reality? Also where did you get that they believe in something "beyond the shadows". Buddhists say "Here is a state I experienced (suffering), and here is how to get out of it to reach a better state (nirvana)" If that means they believe in objective reality to you then how can one ever be a relativist?
    Does someone saying: "Here is a state I experienced (stress) and here is how to get out of it to reach a better state (relaxed), you watch TV" or something mean they believe in an objective reality

    But then Buddhism cannot be characterized as relativist, otherwise it wouldn't claim that there exists a state (Nirvana) that people can reach, no?leo

    At this rate me saying "There is a McDonald's around that corner" would prove I believe in objective reality. Just saying "The case is X" doesn't automatically disqualify you form being a relativist. Saying Nirvana exists doesn't disqualify you from being a relativist.

    "this a state I've reached, here is how I have reached it, but I make no guarantee that this state exists for you or that you can reach it"leo

    "This is a state I've reached".... "But I make no guarantee it exists" How?
    So if I say "There is a McDonald's across the street and I reached it by crossing the road" Then I believe in objective reality? Again, with this definition the mere notion of someone being a relativist becomes impossible.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    I’ve always had a good feeling forZen Buddhism and always found it very elusive. But my feeling is that they do believe there is an objective realityBrett

    If by objective reality you mean something concrete and uncanging that can be put into words then no. If you just mean "There exists a reality outside our minds" then yes. Zen and Buddhism do admit there is an external reality but they don't think it is graspable by thinking and conceptualizing. That's why they have no moral systems (some schools in Buddhism do but it is only done to ensure practitioners can be in a clear minded state as far as I know). A great example is Bushido, which is Zen for samurais as opposed to the original Buddhist teachings of peace.
  • ovdtogt
    377
    My personal experience (under the influence of THC) and which I believe is very similar to what you experience under Transcendental Meditation is that all reality (including you own body) is a 'dreamed' up by your consciousness. As you allow your senses to degrade and die, your consciousness will be released like a butterfly from a cocoon.
  • leo
    704
    Ok I'll go with the literal interpretaion for this paragraph. Now your saying x PLACE = Objective Reality. Still I don't think those are the same type of thing. If I told you "If you climb the top of this mountain you will be safe from the predators that roam the bottom" you wouldn't say "So the top of the mountain is objective reality". I just don't get how you are relating "objective reality" to any of thiskhaled

    Can we at least agree on this: if we are part of an objective reality, then our experiences are part of the objective reality, but there are things that exist beyond these experiences.

    If you agree with this characterization of objective reality, then as soon as you consider that there are other beings besides you who have their own experiences, you consider that there are things that exist beyond your experiences, so you consider that there is an objective reality. The alternative is to think that other beings reduce to your experiences, that they don’t have experiences of their own and don’t exist when you don’t have experiences of them, which is solipsism.

    So if you believe that I am a being with my own experiences who exists even when you are not perceiving me or thinking about me, then you believe in an objective reality. The “top of the mountain” would be an experience you’ve had, but if you believe other beings can experience it then you believe in an objective reality.

    So... Did you just say that in order for someone to be a realtivist he has to believe in some kind of objective reality?khaled

    Yes, otherwise how can there be relativism if there aren’t other points of view beyond our own?

    If that means they believe in objective reality to you then how can one ever be a relativist?khaled

    A relativist believes that there exists other beings who see things from their own point of view (otherwise again he would simply be a solipsist), so a relativist believes in some objective reality, but he doesn’t believe that any point of view is inherently more true than any other. So for instance a relativist wouldn’t say that there exists a state (Nirvana) that everyone can access, the relativist would say I’ve seen that I can access this state but I don’t know whether others can. Whereas a Buddhist says that in principle anyone can attain this state.

    Both the relativist and the Buddhist believe in some objective reality, but the Buddhist claims to have more knowledge about that objective reality as he talks of a state that everyone can attain while presumably a relativist would claim no such thing.

    Just saying "The case is X" doesn't automatically disqualify you form being a relativist. Saying Nirvana exists doesn't disqualify you from being a relativist.khaled

    Yes, it doesn’t disqualify you from being a solipsist either. A solipsist might say Nirvana exists and only me can experience it as there is only me. A relativist might say Nirvana exists but I don’t know whether other beings can attain it. A Buddhist might say Nirvana exists and everyone can attain it.

    If in Buddhism everyone can attain Nirvana in principle then this can be a common goal of all people, so this isn’t relativism in which no such common goal exists.
  • leo
    704
    First as regards to Buddhism: there are many canonical statements in Buddhist texts to the effect that 'those dharmas which I [the Buddha] see are profound, deep, difficult to fathom, perceivable only by the wise'. So the reason I say they're not "objective" is because anything of that nature requires, in some sense, a first-person commitment or insight, which is not amenable to the arms-length, third-party methods of 'the objective sciences'.Wayfarer

    Yes, however the methods of the “objective sciences” fundamentally involve only first-person observations, and it takes first-person commitment or insight to gain wisdom about the world that way, so I wouldn’t say this is a fundamental difference between a Buddhist and a good scientist. One might say that a Buddhist and a good scientist focus on different aspects of reality. And maybe each of them only moves towards one part of the truth.

    But the point about Buddhism and other forms of contemplative spirituality, is that they emphasise the 'path of practice' i.e. the cultivation of practices that give rise to the insight, that enable the practitioner to validate the truth which they teach. And in that sense they are sometimes called 'the sacred sciences' (scientia sacra), as it is understood that practitioners will indeed discover the same states and insights as those who have traversed that path before them. So in a sense they're 'objective', but in a very qualified sense.Wayfarer

    Something similar could be said about a scientist, that a scientist needs to cultivate specific practices which give rise to insight and enable him to become wiser.

    Platonism made an explicit distinction between 'true knowledge' and 'mere opinion' - but the grounds for that distinction is barely visible in Western culture today. Or rather - the form it has taken is that 'true knowledge' is really only afforded by science, hence the emphasis on 'objectivity'.Wayfarer

    Yes, I will soon make a thread about that, today it is the distinction between ‘science’ and ‘pseudoscience’, where supposedly ‘science’ gives ‘true knowledge’ and ‘pseudoscience’ gives ‘fake knowledge’, but that distinction is not warranted, the ‘objectivity’ of science as it is practiced today is an illusion, it has plenty of subjective elements which are arbitrarily elevated to an objective status.

    But the scientific method brackets out the first-person perspective and many qualitative issues - issues of value. That is what results in 'relativism', which is that what is true is only 'true for me', or 'true for you', or 'true according to Western culture’ - along with the absence of any sense of there being an over-arching truth, a capital-T Truth.Wayfarer

    Well scientists usually do not believe in relativism (despite relativity and quantum mechanics), rather they believe in their supposed Truth that everything that happens is solely determined by laws, that we are simply biological machines and as such that the will and morals are illusions, fictions. If they actually were relativists they would be much more tolerant of alternative points of view :wink:
  • khaled
    1.1k
    you consider that there are things that exist beyond your experiences, so you consider that there is an objective reality. The alternative is to think that other beings reduce to your experiences, that they don’t have experiences of their own and don’t exist when you don’t have experiences of them, which is solipsism.leo

    Ok sure, I agree with you using that definition but by that definition one is either a solipsist or believes in objective reality. There is no room for anything else.

    but if you believe other beings can experience it then you believe in an objective reality.leo

    I call that "Intersubjective", as in the experience arises in the mind for all we know (we don't know if there are shapes making the shadows or if the shadows are all there is to use the cave example) and a similar experience arises in many people's minds. Why would believing others can share the same experience mean one is not a relativist? I don't see the points as related. So if I believe that if you stub your toe you will experience pain that automatically means I'm not a relativist

    Yes, otherwise how can there be relativism if there aren’t other points of view beyond our own?leo

    How does this relate to what I asked?

    any point of view is inherently more true than any other. So for instance a relativist wouldn’t say that there exists a state (Nirvana) that everyone can access, the relativist would say I’ve seen that I can access this state but I don’t know whether others canleo

    How are these equivalent? Why would thinking that there is no point of view more true than any other amount to not being able to say "You can feel x by doing y"

    while presumably a relativist would claim no such thing.leo

    Again, I have no idea why you think this is the case

    If in Buddhism everyone can attain Nirvana in principle then this can be a common goal of all people, so this isn’t relativism in which no such common goal exists.leo

    Buddhism never says "You should attain Nirvana" so it's not a common goal, it offers a solution to suffering if you want to take it in the same way that a doctor may write a book about how to improve eyesight but that doesn't mean everyone must have 20/20 vision.
  • leo
    704
    Ok sure, I agree with you using that definition but by that definition one is either a solipsist or believes in objective reality. There is no room for anything else.khaled

    Yes, but there are plenty of positions within “believe in objective reality”, depending on what one believes can be known or is known about that reality.

    Why would believing others can share the same experience mean one is not a relativist? I don't see the points as related. So if I believe that if you stub your toe you will experience pain that automatically means I'm not a relativistkhaled

    I didn’t say that. I said believing others can share the same experience means believing in an objective reality.

    If you believe that others can share the same experience you can still be a relativist. But if you say it’s the Truth that others can share the same experience, or it’s the Truth that others will have such experience if they follow such practice, then you’re not a relativist, because that would mean you would have somehow accessed a Truth beyond your own experiences which applies to others.

    How does this relate to what I asked?khaled

    I don’t get why you don’t see how it relates.

    You asked: “in order for someone to be a relativist he has to believe in some kind of objective reality?”.

    I said yes, a relativist believes that other beings exist besides himself, and that these beings have their own point of view, so if you agree with the earlier definition of objective reality then you should agree that a relativist believes in some kind of objective reality.

    And a relativist can believe that some other people do not believe in an objective reality, but then these other people wouldn’t be relativists they would be solipsists. The relativist himself does believe that these other people exist even when he doesn’t perceive them.

    A relativist believes things exist beyond himself, but he cannot claim to know that it is True otherwise he contradicts himself. He isn’t certain that there is an objective reality but he believes in one.

    Why would thinking that there is no point of view more true than any other amount to not being able to say "You can feel x by doing y"khaled

    You can say it, you can believe it, but you cannot say that it is True beyond yourself. Well if you say it you contradict yourself (if one thinks there is no Truth one cannot then pretend to know a Truth).

    Again, I have no idea why you think this is the casekhaled

    Hopefully you understand now.

    Buddhism never says "You should attain Nirvana" so it's not a common goal, it offers a solution to suffering if you want to take it in the same way that a doctor may write a book about how to improve eyesight but that doesn't mean everyone must have 20/20 vision.khaled

    Sure, I didn’t say that Buddhism says that, I didn’t say that Buddhism tells people what they should do, but the point still remains, Buddhists pretend to know something that is True beyond themselves, so they cannot be relativists.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    the methods of the “objective sciences” fundamentally involve only first-person observations, and it takes first-person commitment or insight to gain wisdom about the world that way,leo

    You say that, and I might agree, but I’m sure most scientific realists would not. As far as they’re concerned, the first person perspective is completely bracketed off. So it’s important in these discussions to understand what actually is being discussed and criticised before discussing and criticising it.

    Furthermore, I think scientists themselves are generally very tolerant of alternative points of view. However the culture which puts science into the place formerly assigned to religion, as ‘arbiter of what is real’, is intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share its assumptions. But that is not the fault of science.

    Buddhists pretend to know something that is True beyond themselves, so they cannot be relativists.leo

    How do you know they’re pretending?
  • Janus
    8.7k
    How do you know they’re pretending?Wayfarer

    How do you know they're not?

    @leo is right; as soon as you say there is some ultimate reality or realization to be attained, then you are no relativist, you are promoting an objective vision of what ultimate reality is, the same for all beings and beyond any mere subjective opinion. You can't reasonably deny this without denying your faith.
  • leo
    704
    You say that, and I might agree, but I’m sure most scientific realists would not. As far as they’re concerned, the first person perspective is completely bracketed off.Wayfarer

    Indeed, but we aren’t going to say they truly are objective simply because they believe they are, if they don’t realize the subjectivity involved in their reasonings that lack of awareness does not make their conclusions objective. History of science shows how scientific realism is problematic.

    Furthermore, I think scientists themselves are generally very tolerant of alternative points of view. However the culture which puts science into the place formerly assigned to religion, as ‘arbiter of what is real’, is intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share its assumptions. But that is not the fault of science.Wayfarer

    That culture of intolerance is spread in great part by many scientists themselves, not all do that fortunately but many do. Obviously the problem doesn’t lie in the endeavor to understand the world and ourselves, it lies in how people treat ideas that contradict their own, scientists are people and many of them see themselves or the methods they employ or the theories they idolize as the sole or best arbiters of truth and consider that everyone should see it that way.

    How do you know they’re pretending?Wayfarer

    That’s what it looks like from my vantage point, they pretend to know something that is True beyond themselves. When I say that I’m not implying that they are wrong or are lying, and I’m not implying either that they are right, I’m simply saying that they pretend to have reached a Truth that extends beyond themselves and as such that they are not relativists.

    Also I don’t see how what I say is particularly controversial, here is what the wikipedia article on relativism says regarding Buddhism:

    Madhyamaka Buddhism, which forms the basis for many Mahayana Buddhist schools and was founded by Nagarjuna, discerns two levels of truth, absolute and relative. The two truths doctrine states that there is Relative or common-sense truth, which describes our daily experience of a concrete world, and Ultimate truth, which describes the ultimate reality as sunyata, empty of concrete and inherent characteristics. The conventional truth may be interpreted as "obscurative truth" or "that which obscures the true nature" as a result. It is constituted by the appearances of mistaken awareness. Conventional truth would be the appearance that includes a duality of apprehender and apprehended, and objects perceived within that. Ultimate truths, are phenomena free from the duality of apprehender and apprehended.

    That presumed absolute or ‘Ultimate’ truth is not relativistic.
  • Wayfarer
    8.9k
    That culture of intolerance is spread in great part by many scientists themselvesleo

    I don’t say this often, but bullshit. Every scientist I know, and most I know of, are truly liberal and most of them also very modest. The problem is never with science or scientists, it’s with treating science as a religion, by the likes of Dawkins.
  • leo
    704
    The problem is never with science or scientists, it’s with treating science as a religion, by the likes of Dawkins.Wayfarer

    Yes, and many scientists do that, like Dawkins, so many scientists are part of the problem...

    I explicitly said that the problem is not with the endeavor to understand the world and ourselves (mainstream science is one example of such endeavor), and I explicitly said that not all scientists are like that so the problem is inherently not the scientists themselves either, the problem is people who attempt to impose their beliefs onto others, and many scientists do that, like Dawkins, what’s wrong with pointing it out?

    It’s important to point out precisely because many people blindly believe what renowned scientists say about the nature of existence, about what we are, about what’s possible and what’s not possible, about what will happen and what will not happen, about what to believe and what not to believe, all of which dictate the whole of our lives. Scientists have a strong influence in society, that’s why the scientists who attempt to impose their beliefs onto others are a great part of that problem.
  • Janus
    8.7k
    When it comes to scientific matters who better to listen to than the experts, just as with any other profession?
  • leo
    704
    When it comes to scientific matters who better to listen to than the experts, just as with any other profession?Janus

    That’s the thing, scientists who study the motion of tiny particles are not experts on the nature of existence, they haven’t shown that we are solely made of these tiny particles, so when they arbitrarily assume that we are solely made of these tiny particles and then reach all kinds of grand conclusions about the nature of existence and attempt to force them down everyone’s throat because it’s “science” and “science works”, they’re proselytizing, their observations do not lead to their conclusions, they aren’t experts on the nature of existence, no more than other religious people or the man on the street who ponders about existence or the adventurer who explores existence with the help of psychedelics. We all see a part of the whole story, being an expert on a tiny part doesn’t imply it’s valid to generalize that tiny part to the whole of existence, that tiny part has to be combined with other parts, not trample on all the other parts as if they didn’t exist. Listen to the experts on how tiny particles move to have a good idea of how tiny particles move, do not expect that they are also experts on the rest of existence that they barely explore.
  • ovdtogt
    377
    Both religions (West and East) propagate a form of fatalism. The West views it as an external determinism (God rules and if you obey Him you will be happy). Everything is the will of God (God's ways are inscrutable and are to be accepted as your lot. The people in power demand obedience),
    Buddhism (internal determinism) also believes you are to accept your 'fate' your 'lot' in life, for it considers your desires as the source of your misery, preventing you from finding happiness.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment