A Physicalist Theory of Mind

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Lotus_Bitch
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Lotus_Bitch » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:57 am

Malcolm wrote: Since we are relying on Abhidharma here, this not really the case. For example, Vasubandhu writes:
  • The so-called four great elements [mahābhūta] are great for the reason that they support all other matter [rūpa].
You are mistaken their action, bearing, cohesion, and so on for their material nature, which are respectively, hardness, moistness or lubricity [sneha], etc.

Clearly, in this instance the four elements are merely describing some category of perception.

Nor is it the case that they are doing so in the Garbhāvakrānti-sūtra:
  • In the same way, since those four great elements mutually support and maintain one another, for that reason, the bodies in the oval stage arise because of the cause of the four great elements of the male, the female and the karmic wind.
Hmmm, I see where the mistake was made now. You would agree both frameworks are predicated on a different worldview, no? I personally don't find it appropriate to make comparisons between the table of elements and 5 mahabhuta.
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But only a few know how to dismantle [mental clinging].
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by DGA » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:17 am

shel wrote:
Jikan wrote:My point was that for mundane purposes, one hermeneutic is just as good as another. if one insists on a mundane view, as I think shel seems to, then either of these mundane views (that of the elements in a vulgar sense or the periodic chart you learned in the 7th grade) may be acceptable.
My question, which as far as I can tell hasn't been addressed, was what is the fundamental difference between these two hermeneutics?

And I don't insist on any particular view. Why would I? I just don't see the fundamental difference between the two models. It seems to me that if there were a fundamental difference, and someone understood what that fundamental difference was, they could easily explain it.
Ah, sorry for misreading you. The reason why the difference matters has to do with practice. What kinds of practice does the periodic chart open onto? Ask a petrochemist. What kind of practice does this or that Buddhist description of the elements inform? That's what matters. To give one example already brought up, the hermeneutic of the elements informs the practice of Dzogchen in fundamental ways. How should or could or would it inform your practice? Ask your teacher.

Speaking for myself, I found it hard to wrap my mind around the 5 elements as a plausible way to describe anything of significance. It took a long time for me to have an open mind about such things, to be frank. Years. I tried reading the Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) about seventeen years ago and stopped reading at the description of the Earth Kasina. It seemed absurd. Evidently Buddhaghosa hadn't read Jack Kornfield, I thought to myself... :emb:

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Sherab
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Sherab » Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:24 am

Malcolm wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:I don't think I'm particularly invested in scientific materialism, but I have never really understood the five elements thing.
If you understand solidity, liquidity, motility, heat and dimension you have understood the five "elements".
Solidity, liquidity etc., are properties that is understood in modern science at the molecular level. Here the law of chemistry applies. Once you go to the atomic level, a different set of properties apply because a different set of laws apply, namely, the laws of quantum physics. And so on.

The point I am trying to make is that the understanding of "solidity", "liquidity" etc. as understood in Buddhism cannot correspond to the understanding in modern science. Should they correspond? I don't think so since both understanding are efficacious in their own ways.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:16 am

smcj wrote:I'm not into Dzogchen, but that sounds like you've missed the point. You might want to review the material. Dzogchen view is pretty out-there.
Well, from Kunjed Gyalpo:

"The inanimate appearances and the animate beings (of the universe) are the one real condition."

There is the idea that objects and beings are part of the same condition. Which you also find in the Suttas. And that this real condition has an existence that is independent of the being that perceives it. That beings are born into the condition since they are part of that condition. The material or elements are also part of that condition. The condition is a condition of energy. What type of energy?

Again from KG:

"Even dualistically hypothesized phenomena manifest my nature"

All phenomena are seen to be the nature of Pure Perfect Presence which is energetic or the energy of dependently originated manifestations (tsal). This is the guiding principle within Dzogchen. So materialism is fine. Dzogchen works well for realists.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:34 am

Malcolm wrote:Abhidharma is realist, not materialist.
You have been using the term 'materialist' as though it was a bad thing for Buddhists to accept. So bad in fact that if you identify with materialism you might as well not call yourself a Buddhist. But you are wrong. You are wrong because you have mixed up materialism with physicalism. What materialism is really is an unfinished POV that depends on how you interpret matter. That Buddhist Abhidharma has an interpretation of matter, implies that it also has a materialism. In this case a Buddhist Materialism. So I think that when you are narrowly defining materialism you are making a mistake.

If we look closely at Abhidharma materials then we see a lot of detailed references to matter and what makes up matter. We find for example the term hadaya vatthu which the Buddha defined as "that material thing depending on which mind-element and mind-consciousness-element arise." You also find terms like utuniyaama which means physical law related to the inanimate. And also terms like biijaniyaama which focuses on laws that govern the animate world such as genetics and so on.

So there is a kind of materialism going on within Buddhism because quite clearly there is a claim as to what makes up matter and the material world. In the end it comes down to energy. Consciousness when depersonalized is a type of energy. And the 'higher' teachings add to this idea (tsal energy in Dzogchen) rather than dismiss it or undermine it.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:41 am

Sherab wrote: The point I am trying to make is that the understanding of "solidity", "liquidity" etc. as understood in Buddhism cannot correspond to the understanding in modern science.
The four or five elements apply at all levels of matter, whether molecular, atomic, subatomic and so on. From a Dzogchen perspective, they even apply to mind, but in a slightly different way.
Last edited by Malcolm on Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:31 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
All phenomena are seen to be the nature of Pure Perfect Presence which is energetic or the energy of dependently originated manifestations (tsal). This is the guiding principle within Dzogchen. So materialism is fine. Dzogchen works well for realists.
I don't think you really understand the term byang chub sems, so I will help you out. The commentary on the rig pa'i khu byug from the Bairo rgyud 'bum states:
  • The meaning: “Purity [byang]” means all phenomena that have nature [rang bzhin] of delusion have never been established in the core of the true state, bodhicitta [byang chub sems]. Also there is no purifying antidote, its intrinsic essence beyond thought and expression is pure.

    However all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana or the universe and beings appear, they are one in bodhicitta through the principle of being free from departing and gathering and are inseparable. Since those are free from partiality, they are perfectly [chub] pure.

    That “Mind of” [kyi sems] is the unmixed totally complete essence, the primal nature of the eight consciousnesses endowed with a luminous [‘od gsal] identity which inherently never wavers into any extreme at all, free from all extremes, naturally pure and unwavering in the three times.
So, actually, Śrī Singa here defines bodhicitta opposite the way you do.
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

Andrew108
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:27 pm

When you depersonalize sems what do you get? This is a key point here. I think you are equating sems or citta with just clinging and ignorance. In it's personal aspect then yes, that is what it is, but depersonalized all you can say about citta is that it is 'Presence'. This is also talked about in Abhidharma texts. So then depersonalized - byang chub sems can be translated as Pure Perfect Presence. Bodhicitta in this sense has this energy as a natural fact. Rather than 'mind' it is 'presence' that underpins all manifestation.

The mistake I believe you are making is that you are not differentiating between sems that is a the foundation of grasping and the sems that when depersonalised is seen as the fact of 'presence' underpinning all manifestations. It would help if you dropped your objection to materialism.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:00 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
The mistake I believe you are making is that you are not differentiating between sems that is a the foundation of grasping and the sems that when depersonalised is seen as the fact of 'presence' underpinning all manifestations.
Andrew, sems here is very clearly defined as the luminous core of the eight consciousness — that makes it personal, rather than universal.
It would help if you dropped your objection to materialism.
It would be helpful if you dropped your materialism. Then I would not need to object to it.

M
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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gad rgyangs
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:38 pm

materialism/scientism is the misapplication of a purely practical set of skills to the realm of talking about the nature of reality. If you want to design and build computers, technological skills are a must. If you want to understand the nature of reality, they are irrelevant. If, instead of recognizing their irrelevancy, you proceed to make an "ism" out of them and imagine they are saying something about the nature of reality, that is even crazier. Its like deciding that, because a hammer is useful for building stuff, you are going to establish "hammerism" as a view about the nature of reality.

reifying mind or matter is equally silly, they're both just stories.
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.

"I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind."
- Descartes, 2nd Meditation 25

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Sherab
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Sherab » Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:46 pm

Malcolm wrote:The four or five elements apply at all levels of matter, whether molecular, atomic, subatomic and so on...
Really? What then is the meaning of solidity, liquidity, motility, fire and dimension for a bunch of free electrons or for the electrons within an atom?

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:05 pm

Just to make it a true 3 ring circus, I believe what is being described is a form of monism, which is definitely not compatible with materialism. Malcolm will say that it is not compatible with Buddhism either. Historically he would be correct, in ancient India that was the ultimate no-no. But later developments in Tibet evolved to embrace the heresy. However Malcolm is doing a heroic job of holding the line on it here at Dharma Wheel.

non-dual means "not two".
monism means "just one"
It is not a stretch to say that "just one"="not two".
Andrew108 wrote: The mistake I believe you are making is that you are not differentiating between sems that is a the foundation of grasping and the sems that when depersonalised is seen as the fact of 'presence' underpinning all manifestations.
a.k.a. monism. Well, at least you've got the idea that there is an underlying reality, and that there is nothing other than that reality, even if you can't see the forest for the trees and recognize it as monism.
Malcolm wrote:Andrew, sems here is very clearly defined as the luminous core of the eight consciousness — that makes it personal, rather than universal.
As you have conceded elsewhere, Dudjom R. (both incarnations) subscribes to the "Great Madhyamaka" view, which is basically a form of monism (universal in the above quotation). I know you disagree, and as a qualified expert that is your right, but there are other qualified experts that do hold that view.
Last edited by smcj on Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:48 pm, edited 10 times in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:19 pm

Sherab wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The four or five elements apply at all levels of matter, whether molecular, atomic, subatomic and so on...
Really? What then is the meaning of solidity, liquidity, motility, fire and dimension for a bunch of free electrons or for the electrons within an atom?
Do I really have to spell it out for you?
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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Malcolm
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:19 pm

double post
Last edited by Malcolm on Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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

Andrew108
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:59 pm

@smcj. Yes I'm a monist. But just to make it more complicated, I understand both existence and non-existance to be characteristics only. 'Freedom from extremes' is the 'just one'.
Last edited by Andrew108 on Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:05 pm

Andrew108 wrote:@smcj. Yes I'm a monist. But just to make it more complicated, I understand both existence and non-existance to be characteristics only.
And you see monism as being compatible with materialism? I see it as being on the extreme other end of the scale.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:06 pm

Andrew108 wrote:@smcj. Yes I'm a monist. But just to make it more complicated, I understand both existence and non-existance to be characteristics only.
And you see monism as being compatible with materialism? Really? I see it as being on the extreme other end of the scale.
Last edited by smcj on Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Andrew108
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Andrew108 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:14 pm

smcj wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:@smcj. Yes I'm a monist. But just to make it more complicated, I understand both existence and non-existance to be characteristics only.
And you see monism as being compatible with materialism? I see it as being on the extreme other end of the scale.
Again it depends on how you define matter. It's common knowledge that the universe is pervaded with fields. Each elementary particle is part of a corresponding field. We also know that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just changes. Matter is a particular form of energy. Mass as a property depends on interaction with the higgs field. And so on. So perhaps the materialism you have as a pejorative concept is out of date? Certainly I am not a physicalist. But yes I am a monist. More of a thing monist than stuff monist. I certainly don't accept the monism that puts personalised mind or consciousness as source of all.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.

Lotus_Bitch
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Lotus_Bitch » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:20 pm

smcj wrote: As you have conceded elsewhere, Dudjom R. (both incarnations) subscribes to the "Great Madhyamaka" view, which is basically a form of monism (universal in the above quotation). I know you disagree, and as a qualified expert that is your right, but there are other qualified experts that do hold that view.
:crazy:

Madhyamaka explains emptiness as the absence of extremes of "one" and "many"; alayavijnana, in Yogacara doctrine, is an individual continuum. It's highly skeptical Dudjom Rinpoche would've parsed it in this fashion.
Last edited by Lotus_Bitch on Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Many meditators know how to meditate,
But only a few know how to dismantle [mental clinging].
- Je Gyare

smcj
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by smcj » Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:32 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
smcj wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:@smcj. Yes I'm a monist. But just to make it more complicated, I understand both existence and non-existance to be characteristics only.
And you see monism as being compatible with materialism? I see it as being on the extreme other end of the scale.
Again it depends on how you define matter. It's common knowledge that the universe is pervaded with fields. Each elementary particle is part of a corresponding field. We also know that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just changes. Matter is a particular form of energy. Mass as a property depends on interaction with the higgs field. And so on. So perhaps the materialism you have as a pejorative concept is out of date? Certainly I am not a physicalist. But yes I am a monist. More of a thing monist than stuff monist. I certainly don't accept the monism that puts personalised mind or consciousness as source of all.
My own school's perspective on "other emptiness"/monism has the Prasangika Madhyamaka as a premise. P.M. refutes any facticity in the material world at all. The principles of modern physics you quote also deny any object an inherent self-existence. Nothing in the paradigm of physics has a separate, independent, lasting nature of its own. Obviously if energy can be turned into matter, and matter into energy, nothing has a stable existence that is not subject to causes and conditions. I like Tsongkhapa's version of P.M. because he takes that into account, but the point remains that nothing in the phenomenal world has an unassailable facticity to it that does not change. If you are looking for the essential, eternal truth about an object you will find it does not have one.

That's defeats the materialist view.
Last edited by smcj on Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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