On Buddhism and Nominalism

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Astus
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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Astus » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:50 pm

Queequeg wrote:my understanding is that the real dharmas you refer to arise in the contact between sense object and sense apparatus. Red, for instance, arises on the eye seeing something 'red'. Red, however, is nothing more than the sensation of red. The object itself is not red, nor is it not not red... it is inconveivable.
Of the four ultimate dharmas only nirvana is unconditioned. Red is a rupa-dharma (see: Comprehensive Manual, p 237), of the category of objective material phenomena (gocararupa), and within that it is a visible form (rupa). So, red is not a dharma, but only a derivative of a dharma.
So then what you're describing as a Buddhist universal is the consciousness that arises on contact.
Universals are the dharmas, and not all dharmas are mind (citta) or mental (cetasika).
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Kaccāni » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:01 pm

Wayfarer wrote: There is a method in Buddhist logic called 'apoha'. From the Wiki entry on Buddhist logic:
The word apoha…means the 'exclusion of negation of others (ataddvyavrtti)'. For example, the word 'cow' gives its own meaning only by the exclusion of all those things which are other than cow. Dingnaga declares that a word can express its own meaning only by repudiating opposite meanings, just as words like 'krtaka' (i.e. that which has origin) designate their meanings only through the exclusion of their opposite like 'akraka' (i.e. that which does not have origin).
Thanks for this pointer.

There is an interesting 20th century "universal logic" (don't know if you know it, if not, it may be an interesting read):
George Spencer-Brown defined a logic (the Laws of Form: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_Form) by dividing a piece of paper, creating a "thing" (by a mark that denotes its space). It becomes immediately apparent that what the mark does is exclude all the rest of the space to define the thing. It nicely resembles the mental image we superimpose upon reality when creating things. He emphasises, that the mark contains the act of drawing that distinction, as well as that which becomes distinct. In my eyes, that's the best modern abstract model to give us an impression of what "form" stands for, and how to handle it.

When developping his logic, so that the graphical marks match the rules of logic, he ends up needing to define that distinction operator as "not". You answer just reminded me of that. Interestingly, the potential goes well beyond Boolean algebra.

Or as ChNN wrote (freely summarized): Relax, yes, but into what? If you don't know what to relax into, attention will be wandering around.

For me, that characterizes awareness-meditation as giving your attention an anchor, but one which isn't in any part of direct experience or memory, but one which comprehends all perception from a superposition. If you attend to being aware, all that becomes aware is still contained in that attention. But if your attention anchors there, you won't get lost. Or, in another practice, experiencing for everything that becomes aware, that "I'm not that."

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:18 pm

Wayfarer wrote: I think this is as near as Buddhism gets to acknowledging universals.
Buddhism accepts universals as abstractions from particulars. The universal "Buddha" comes from having experienced buddhas.

Buddhism in general is a form of pure nominalism.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Bakmoon » Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:43 am

Wayfarer wrote:But there is a particular point that perplexes me. It seems to me that there is an example of a universal right at the centre of Buddhism - namely, the Buddha! Because it seems to me, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, that 'the Buddha' is more than simply the individual who was Siddhartha Gotama (although he was also that). The Buddha (and the Bodhisattvas) are the archetype of all wisdom. And archetypes are, in fact, 'universals', of which individuals are examples or instances. And to my mind, that is how come the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas are real beyond their particular, individual existence (which I certainly believe is so).

So I think the problem is that either I am thinking incorrectly about universals, or they have been wrongly characterised in the Buddhist scholastic tradition. It might be that how I am interpreting the meaning of universals is incorrect. But as this is the academic section, and as it's a very academic question, I thought I would post it here and see if anyone has any thoughts on it.
I don't quite see the problem. Nominalism doesn't deny the usefulness of universals, it just reduces their ontological status to that of a name, and Buddhist texts really aren't shy about applying that even to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In the words of the Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8000 lines
Subhuti: The various classes of saints, from Streamwinner to Buddhahood, also are like a magical illusion, like a dream. [40]
Gods: A fully enlightened Buddha also, you say, is like a magical
illusions, i s like a dream? Buddhahood also, you say, i s like a magical illusion, is like a dream?
Subhuti: Even Nirvana, I say, i s like a magical illusion, is like a dream.
How much more so anything else!

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:38 pm

Astus wrote:Particular things have the dharmas in common, and those are their true characteristics and qualities. Dharmas are repeatable and recurrent as well, they exist in all the different experiences.
This is a wrong understanding, and the source you quote confirms it:
Astus wrote:"Different characteristics of rupa can be experienced through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-sense and mind. These characteristics are real since they can be experienced. We use conventional terms such as 'body' and 'table'; both have the characteristic of hardness which can be experienced through touch. In this way we can prove that the characteristic of hardness is the same, no matter whether it is in the body or in the table. Hardness is a paramattha dhamma; 'body' and 'table' are not paramattha dhammas but only concepts.
This passage states that ultimate (paramattha/paramartha) dharmas come from contact of the senses with their objects. That is the opposite of a universal. Universals such as "table" are just concepts. So this confirms that (non-Mahayana) Buddhism's answer to the problem of universals is a kind of conceptualism.
Buddhism approaches from a different angle, where both "chairness" and "a chair" are superficial, and the underlying universal qualities of dharmas are the true reality. However, just because it's the other way around, it does not mean they are not alike.
This statement just confirms that you're confused about what "universal" means in this context. You're wanting to state that dharmas in Buddhism are universals because they have predicates like impermanence, etc. which are true of all (conditioned) dharmas. But Buddhism does not say that impermanence per se is a real entity. It just says that conditioned dharmas are impermanent.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Kaccāni » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:48 pm

Vima Repa wrote:It just says that conditioned dharmas are impermanent.
There's no way out of the "being" problem with statements. It's an endless recursion.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:52 pm

Kaccāni wrote:
Vima Repa wrote:It just says that conditioned dharmas are impermanent.
There's no way out of the "being" problem with statements. It's an endless recursion.
What's the problem, exactly?

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Kaccāni » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:01 pm

Vima Repa wrote:What's the problem, exactly?
In my view, discussing Buddhism against universals is the problem. When discussing Buddhist terms, particularly ontological ones, one will find different verbal descriptions from different ages, dependent on the basic arguments of the time, the sect, or similar. So when one comes to the very end of comparing Buddhist with Nominalist concepts, there's the problem that there is no one and accurate description in words of the essence that Buddhism points to. The main point of that discussion being the word "is". Language is based on making "is"-Statements. So it traps itself in a corpus where the Buddhist concepts try to point beyond.

So it can be doubted that the discussion can be led to an agreement.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:19 pm

Except that Buddhist discussion of universals is limited to Dignaga, Dharmakirti, and their commentators. So if there is a "Buddhist position" on universals at all, it is theirs. Otherwise we can try to glean the possibility or impossibility of universals from other schools of Buddhism which do not actually address the issue, but may have metaphysical commitments relevant to it.

You're right to point out the multiplicity of Buddhist perspectives that evolved over time, which problematizes statements that "Buddhism says this or that." So let's consider that Mahayanists (Yogacara, Madhyamaka) are generally committed to metaphysical antirealism. If they don't even allow for the reality of tables, then the reality of an abstract entity of "tableness" will be a howler for them. As for the so-called Hinayana schools, they're reluctant to allow for the existence of anything that's outside the experience of sentient beings and buddhas. And "tableness" is by its very nature outside any and all experience. So much for that.

I don't see the point of your statements about "is" and "being." It's just muddying the waters. Anyone can derail a discussion of this sort with some vague points about ineffability. Has an anti-intellectual air to it. Let's try not to conflate relative and ultimate.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Kaccāni » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:24 pm

Vima Repa wrote:I don't see the point of your statements about "is" and "being." It's just muddying the waters. Anyone can derail a discussion of this sort with some vague points about ineffability. Has an anti-intellectual air to it. Let's try not to conflate relative and ultimate.
Just consider it a verbal sigh.

Now we can discuss whether tableness is outside of any experience or a mental construction, thus a concrete imagination that can be experienced as a thought, but a thought, not more or less.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:08 am

Kaccani wrote:The main point of that discussion being the word "is". Language is based on making "is"-Statements. So it traps itself in a corpus where the Buddhist concepts try to point beyond.
That is a really important point. It's not muddying the waters at all. Think about the origin of madhyamaka logic - that nothing either really is, or is not.

I think the nub of the issue is this: Buddhists are always saying, don't try and conceive of 'the ultimate'. As soon as you try and conceive of it, say what it is or isn't, then you're entangling yourself in the domain of relative/verbal/conventional descriptions, 'mistaking the finger for the moon'. The point of Buddhist praxis is always practical: you have to realise the nature of the ultimate, which is indeed ineffable from the viewpoint of conventional philosophy. (cf Wittgenstein 'that of which we cannot speak...'.) So I think that this resistance to the consideration of metaphysical propositions such as universals is consistent with that. Dharmakirti's attidude is: 'so you say there are "universals"? Where is one? Show it to me! What difference does it make!' That is the characteristic pragmatist attitude of Buddhism to not reifying abstracta.

So I think I understand why Buddhism doesn't deal with universals and the like - they're all part of what amounts to speculative metaphysics.

But my interest in universals actually came out of my debates on Philosophy forums, about Western philosophy in particular. In that context the question has a different meaning. There, the eclipse of Platonism and the rise of nominalism is one of the principle factors underlying the origins of scientific materialism. So there's no grasp of an ineffable light at the end of the tunnel - neither any moon nor finger pointing to it - but simply the endless accumulation of empirical facts against the background of an intrinsically meaningless physicalism. So in that context, the question has a different import.

So - I guess I could reconcile all this by saying that from the Buddhist perspective, such questions as the nature of universals are indeed irrelevant or tangential. But from a modern Western perspective, some insight into the thinking associated with Platonism needs to be understood, to see how we got to the barren materialism that now dominates the Western mindset - in other words, to realise what the West has lost, of what had to be jettisoned for materialism to become ascendant.
A genuine realist [i.e. 'scholastic realist', not scientific realist] should see “forms” not merely as a solution to a distinctly modern problem of knowledge, but as part of an alternative conception of knowledge, a conception that is not so much desired and awaiting defense, as forgotten and so no longer desired. Characterized by forms, reality had an intrinsic intelligibility, not just in each of its parts but as a whole. With forms as causes, there are interconnections between different parts of an intelligible world, indeed there are overlapping matrices of intelligibility in the world, making possible an ascent from the more particular, posterior, and mundane to the more universal, primary, and noble.

In short, the appeal to forms or natures does not just help account for the possibility of trustworthy access to facts, it makes possible a notion of wisdom, traditionally conceived as 'an ordering grasp of reality'.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH OCKHAM? Reassessing the Role of Nominalism in the Dissolution of the West, Joshua P. Hochschild. (Notice the name of the journal means 'un-forgetting' ;) )
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by White Lotus » Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:11 pm

Mentally what you look for is what you find. This applies to nominalism and realism. that is the nature of "this". :hi:
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:03 am

Wayfarer wrote:In that context the question has a different meaning. There, the eclipse of Platonism and the rise of nominalism is one of the principle factors underlying the origins of scientific materialism. So there's no grasp of an ineffable light at the end of the tunnel - neither any moon nor finger pointing to it - but simply the endless accumulation of empirical facts against the background of an intrinsically meaningless physicalism.
Whoa, that's a big change of subject. But I'm not convinced the scientific revolution has its roots in the rejection of realism about universals, which, let's face it, is as close as you can get to a purely intellectual topic with no practical consequence in the world.

I think it has more to do with "disenchantment," and a shift from viewing the world as colored by subjective affect, meaning, and symbolism, to viewing it as a place containing discrete, measurable objects in space. The modern worldview is basically Newtonian rather than nominalist, and it's taking a long time to catch up with Darwinism and recent physics.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:08 am

Vima Repa wrote: Whoa, that's a big change of subject. But I'm not convinced the scientific revolution has its roots in the rejection of realism about universals, which, let's face it, is as close as you can get to a purely intellectual topic with no practical consequence in the world.

I think it has more to do with "disenchantment," and a shift from viewing the world as colored by subjective affect, meaning, and symbolism, to viewing it as a place containing discrete, measurable objects in space. The modern worldview is basically Newtonian rather than nominalist, and it's taking a long time to catch up with Darwinism and recent physics.
It's not a change of subject. It is why I brought up the topic in the first place. I am trying to reconcile two aspects of my own worldview.

The point about universals is that they are associated with the Aristotelean (and more broadly, the Platonist, tradition). And that is why it the rejection of traditional realism was part of the advent of modern materialism which conceives of the Universe in terms of 'matter in motion'. I have debated this topic for six years on Philosophy Forum, and I've come to see how thoroughly the nominalist attitude, which is one of the main sources of modern empiricism, conditions how our culture thinks about it. It conditions it so deeply that we literally can't see beyond it, it defines what we regard as real. It shapes our mind and language so deeply we (or at any rate a vast number of people) never see beyond it.

As for all this having 'no practical consequences', one of the books about this very topic is called Ideas have consequences! It's by a US academic, published in 1948. I confess to not having read the whole book, and furthermore it is highly regarded amongst US conservatives, which is not a plus in my view.
Weaver attributes the beginning of the Western decline to the adoption of nominalism (or the rejection of the notion of absolute truth) in the late Scholastic period. The chief proponent of this philosophical revolution was William of Ockham.

The consequences of this revolution, Weaver contends, were the gradual erosion of the notions of distinction and hierarchy, and the subsequent enfeebling of the Western mind's capacity to reason. These effects in turn produced all manner of societal ills, decimating Western art, education and morality.
There's a more recent book, which I highly recommend, called The Theological Origins of Modernity, M A Gillespie, which makes a very similar point in locating the origins of modern so-called 'scientific thinking' (as distinct from scientific method) in the debates between nominalism and realism.

Now I think the term 'absolute truth' in the first snippet, would be better expressed as 'the domain of values' - so nominalism, in effect, undermined the connection between reason and meaning, which has extremely grave consequences. For the advent of modern materialism is the precise point which Hume articulated in the 'is/ought' problem. For Buddhists, the seeing of 'what truly is' (yathābhūtaṃ) is itself a factor of purification; insight into the truth of 'how things are' is the factor of enlightenment itself. Whereas, modern Western thought is grounded on what is measurable, what is subject to quantitative analysis; and then values are basically subjectivized, that is, held to be a matter of individual conscience rather than what the West grants to be 'objective fact'. (You can also see how Lutheranism plays into that with the supremacy of the individual conscience.) And in the Western mind, 'what truly is', is essentially meaningless. We project meaning onto it, mainly as a consequence of our evolutionary history.

I admit, all this is tangential to Buddhism, proper. What I have now realised is that whilst nominalism in Western thinking is associated with philosophical materialism, Buddhism tends towards nominalism for very different reasons. As I said, Buddha represents higher truth (paramartha-satya), a notion which is completely rejected in modern Western philosophy. So Buddhists don't need to bother with the Platonist analysis. Perhaps I could say, the Buddha rejects metaphysics from a point beyond it, whereas the West has rejected it and fallen back into nihilism; the West has failed to surpass Platonic metaphysics, instead it has simply forgotten the truths it pointed to and relapsed into the 'cave', to use another Platonic analogy.
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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Kaccāni » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:48 pm

If universals would exist they could be defined as "substance" of the experience they're seen in. Reminds of Michel Foucault with his invisible magic grid.

So we come down to the one phenomenon that appears to be constant: change.
Does that make it a "universal"? Meh. "Universal" is a creature of the mind when there "is" only change. And even that change is just an appearance in that what consciousness points at. If it ends, it ends. Universe done or universal done? You decide.
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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:18 am

Kaccāni wrote:If universals would exist they could be defined as "substance" of the experience they're seen in. Reminds of Michel Foucault with his invisible magic grid.

So we come down to the one phenomenon that appears to be constant: change.
Does that make it a "universal"? Meh. "Universal" is a creature of the mind when there "is" only change. And even that change is just an appearance in that what consciousness points at. If it ends, it ends. Universe done or universal done? You decide.
change is not a dharma, it is a characteristic. subtle point, but important.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:28 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Weaver attributes the beginning of the Western decline to the adoption of nominalism (or the rejection of the notion of absolute truth) in the late Scholastic period. The chief proponent of this philosophical revolution was William of Ockham.

The consequences of this revolution, Weaver contends, were the gradual erosion of the notions of distinction and hierarchy, and the subsequent enfeebling of the Western mind's capacity to reason. These effects in turn produced all manner of societal ills, decimating Western art, education and morality.
Oh, this all sounds very dubious. It's not at all clear to me that we've experienced a diminishment of our "capacity to reason." If his idea is that the rise of nominalism let to the "decline" of Western civilization--well then, aside from the fact that it's not at all clear that Western civilization is in decline, it definitely was not declining in 1948. Although it's easy to see how a conservative thinker might have felt that way in the wake of WWII.
There's a more recent book, which I highly recommend, called The Theological Origins of Modernity, M A Gillespie, which makes a very similar point in locating the origins of modern so-called 'scientific thinking' (as distinct from scientific method) in the debates between nominalism and realism.
Again, I see the move away from realism with regard to universals as a symptom rather than a cause of the transition from pre-scientific to scientific thinking. I think it has a more to do with a Newtonian view, which sees the world in mechanistic terms, as a collection of measurable objects. In that sense, most of us modern people are still Newtonians, even though Darwinism and current physics undermine this mechanistic "scientific" worldview.
Now I think the term 'absolute truth' in the first snippet, would be better expressed as 'the domain of values' - so nominalism, in effect, undermined the connection between reason and meaning, which has extremely grave consequences. For the advent of modern materialism is the precise point which Hume articulated in the 'is/ought' problem. For Buddhists, the seeing of 'what truly is' (yathābhūtaṃ) is itself a factor of purification; insight into the truth of 'how things are' is the factor of enlightenment itself. Whereas, modern Western thought is grounded on what is measurable, what is subject to quantitative analysis; and then values are basically subjectivized, that is, held to be a matter of individual conscience rather than what the West grants to be 'objective fact'. (You can also see how Lutheranism plays into that with the supremacy of the individual conscience.) And in the Western mind, 'what truly is', is essentially meaningless. We project meaning onto it, mainly as a consequence of our evolutionary history.

I admit, all this is tangential to Buddhism, proper. What I have now realised is that whilst nominalism in Western thinking is associated with philosophical materialism, Buddhism tends towards nominalism for very different reasons. As I said, Buddha represents higher truth (paramartha-satya), a notion which is completely rejected in modern Western philosophy. So Buddhists don't need to bother with the Platonist analysis. Perhaps I could say, the Buddha rejects metaphysics from a point beyond it, whereas the West has rejected it and fallen back into nihilism; the West has failed to surpass Platonic metaphysics, instead it has simply forgotten the truths it pointed to and relapsed into the 'cave', to use another Platonic analogy.
I agree with the general picture you're painting, but maintain that it doesn't have much to do with where you fall on nominalism vs. realism. On the one hand, I don't see this debate being at front and center of Buddhist thought. As for the West, I also don't see it having much relevance after the medieval scholastics, who were obsessed with it. Your typical modern intellectual (a bit of a caricature, I admit) doesn't turn to scientific thought because they reject realism. They reject realism because it's so abstract and unscientific. If you presented the problem of universals to them, their instinct would be: "Well, of course such things don't really exist."

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Vima Repa » Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:18 pm

Let me clarify my point. When you talk about the "domain of values," I agree with its importance, but maybe I see it a bit differently. I'm interested in how we actually come to form moral judgments. We do that because we project our subjective affect "out there" into the world.

This is not a very abstract process. Tiger = bad. Why bad? Because it's dangerous. When we encounter a tiger, we feel scared. We want to run.

It's the same with moral judgments. Murder is bad because it's dangerous to individuals and to the social fabric of a community. If murders are allowed to happen, the community is thrown into chaos. Chaos means uncertainty, it means there are fewer things you can take for granted, and it means you'll probably be constantly in fear.

So there's your affectively colored perception of the world, where everything is good, bad, or neutral (i.e. "I don't have to pay attention to that, it's not relevant"). Then you act based on that. You also form ideas about how to act within the world. Sound familiar? It's not so far from certain Buddhist ideas.

This way of thinking is so obvious because it's our default "theory" of the world. If you're a good Darwinist, you have to admit it's adaptive. If it's adaptive, that means that it enhances our fitness for survival. That's about as close as you can get to "truth" from a purely Darwinian perspective. Natural selection is not concerned with whether a theory is true or false objectively. It only requires that a theory be good enough to enhance fitness and give you an edge.

The only problem is this "default theory" is totally incompatible with modern scientific thinking, which sees the world as a value-neutral collection of measurable objects. That tiger from before? It's not "dangerous"--a subjective judgment--it's an organism taking up certain dimensions in space and time, with all sorts of intelligible, quantifiable processes going on with it at a biochemical level, etc. Is this "scientific" thinking adaptive? It's pragmatic and useful, but only in a specially defined context of a) inquiring into the nature of physical phenomena and b) developing technology. Otherwise, it doesn't seem to have ANY value for survival of the species--certainly less value than the pre-scientific worldview (if we can speak very generally) that preceded it.

I'm preaching to the choir here, but science has no values, which is why nukes now exist, or why abominations like Unit 731 ever took place. Scientific inquiry can be guided by values, but those values must come from outside of it. Nietzsche was right that the "natural" morality of modern-day secularists is just Christianity in drag. So left to itself, in its pure amorality, uninformed by value systems that ultimately arise from religion, science is just as likely to destroy us as help us.

Much of religion (but not all of it) can be understood as a symbolic articulation of this "default theory," with many different versions emphasizing different sides. This point is both reductionist and not, in that it positions itself against the popular reductionisms of the day and offers a revaluation of religion as a positively adaptive worldview. Call it a pragmatic argument for religion in general.

As a thinker trying to find epistemic common ground with secularists, I prefer this kind of explanation. It also has the advantage of not requiring a multiplication of speculative metaphysical entities such as "universals," which I don't really see as that relevant to the big picture--they are more the product of trying to answer certain philosophical riddles.

As a Buddhist, I don't really agree with the foregoing Darwinian reduction, but see the world as filled with humans, gods, asuras, pretas, hell-beings, past and future lives, the effect of karmic actions, guru's blessings, etc. But I'm taking a page from Dharmakirti, who mainly just adopted the language and categories of his opponents in order to work them.

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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:03 pm

Astus wrote:
Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:18 pm
Buddhism is filled with universals, they are known as dharmas. The dharmas are not considered derivatives of particulars, it's the other way around.
Only in Sarvastivada.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Astus
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Re: On Buddhism and Nominalism

Post by Astus » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:03 pm
Only in Sarvastivada.
How so? Who says that conventional phenomena are not based on dharmas?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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