A Physicalist Theory of Mind

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:54 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:Me thinks we're doing science here: argue about things and their properties.
Me also thinks Dharma was something to take refuge in, not argue about.
One can endlessly argue about words by shifting, expanding or narrowing their scope and relationships.
And one can argue even longer when one mistakes them for that which is.


That's another 'why bother posting to forums'' entry.




In your case, I often wonder. :smile:
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by LastLegend » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:31 am

jeeprs wrote:I take your point. Actually the view I am developing is that dualism is like a working model. It is impossible, in the end, to completely define either mind or matter - defining the latter has been the task of the above-mentioned LHC, and as everyone now acknowledges, it has been devilishly hard. Defining mind is a fool's errand. Psychology tried it for decades and never got anywhere.
Can you point to text or source that says it?
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Kaccāni » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:44 am

jeeprs wrote: That's another 'why bother posting to forums'' entry.
In your case, I often wonder. :smile:
Maybe my karma for experiencing that some things cannot be resolved on the basis of words hasn't dissolved well enough.
Thought bubbles strike back on everybody. I cannot abolish the brain that has developped and the thoughts the mind babbles. But I can stop caring that it does and leave it alone ;-)

On the other hand, if it had not happened, I had not been pointed to a couple of ressources that I found interesting and helpful when encountering the situation that I talk with others about the subject. So there's many sides to it.

Best wishes
Gwenn
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:50 am

LastLegend wrote:Can you point to text or source that says it?
Not really, but see if you can find an agreed definition of the meaning of the term 'mind' according to the discipline of psychology.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:45 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:What I am saying is that you do not understand Dharma language because you have never studied it.
I've studied it.
What texts, under what teacher, for how long, where?

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:46 pm

jeeprs wrote:
LastLegend wrote:Can you point to text or source that says it?
Not really, but see if you can find an agreed definition of the meaning of the term 'mind' according to the discipline of psychology.
Who cares?

The Buddhist definition of mind is that the mind is an impermanent serially caused entity that is clear and knowing.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:28 pm

Malcolm wrote:The Buddhist definition of mind is that the mind is an impermanent serially caused entity that is clear and knowing.
OK, what are the Buddhist definitions of 'clear' and 'knowing'?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:47 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:Me thinks we're doing science here: argue about things and their properties.
That's not science of course, but this brings the rather amusing point that only the scientific method could make many of Jeepers (the topic starter) claims credible. :tongue:

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Kaccāni » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:54 pm

shel wrote:... that only the scientific method could make many of Jeepers (the topic starter) claims credible. :tongue:
Credible to whom?
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:44 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:
shel wrote:... that only the scientific method could make many of Jeepers (the topic starter) claims credible. :tongue:
Credible to whom?
Ah, another good and amusing point.

Let's look at an example claim that Jeepers has brought:
jeepers wrote:suffering associated with the mental anguish arising from clinging and so on, is not something that either medicine or science are particularly well-equipped to deal with in my opinion.
Of course he clearly states that this is merely his opinion. It may have no basis in fact at all. It is nevertheless a rather big claim, and being so we might want to question it.

He doesn't say it explicitly but it appears that he's comparing medicine/science to religion/Buddhism in efficacy towards reduced suffering arising from clinging and so on. Buddhism, or religion in general, is particularly well equipped to deal with it and medicine/science is not.

How true is this? or what can help to convince us that it's true?

The first and biggest problem with pursuing this point is that religious claims or truths do not require verification. If a religious authority makes any sort of pronouncement or claim it can stand perfectly well on their authority alone. It is credible by mere association. It doesn't need to be true at all. It only needs to be meaningful, because that's the purpose of religion, to give meaning. Science, on the other hand, requires rigorous verification.

So your point is well made, Gwenn, religious claims may be credible by mere association. They don't need to be true because truth is not essential. Meaning is essential. In science truth, or rather reliability, is essential.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by dude » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:08 am

shel wrote:
Gwenn Dana wrote:Me thinks we're doing science here: argue about things and their properties.
That's not science of course, but this brings the rather amusing point that only the scientific method could make many of Jeepers (the topic starter) claims credible. :tongue:
Should we discard the scientific method when inquiring into the nature of mental phenomena? I think not.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:22 am

Taking a scientific approach to the mind is the discipline of psychology. But whether psychology is a 'pure science' is still an open question. Some say yes, others disagree.

It doesn't mean you can't approach the subject scientifically, or use scientific methods to study it. But ultimately the key point about the mind is that the object of the study and the subject studying it are the same. 'We are what we seek to know'. You can't say that about the objective sciences.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by dude » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:57 am

Well of course I agree with you. Science has very limited scope in observation of the mind.
I'm just saying it shouldn't be ignored, or not relied on where appropriate.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Kaccāni » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:11 am

shel wrote: The first and biggest problem with pursuing this point is that religious claims or truths do not require verification. If a religious authority makes any sort of pronouncement or claim it can stand perfectly well on their authority alone.
Yes, that may be true for religions of belief (ok, that's where the term religion originated in). And mere association also work there. And that is, what we're intoxicated with in the west, which is an easy thing to do, because those associations are the basic functions of our mind. And that's particularly why I have a problem with Buddhism as a religion. Because it then starts to behave like such an entity that proclaims facts that appear to not require verification. Then suddenly lineage and ancient books become more important than something else. But it is not true for all aspects of spirituality, when you split science to "find out how things behave which are observed beyond the senses" and spirituality to "find out how things behave between the one who apparently observes or even consciuosness itself and the senses".

And in my opinion, the latter is based on facts (observations written down), that what Buddha pointed towards, does indeed require verification, or it is useless. And not only verification. To whatever method there are a couple of factors:

1. Does it solve the problem? (yes, it does. although it's not a quick drug.)
2. Will the effect stay, i.e. will it be a permanent solution? (yes)
3. Will it eradicate the problem at the root, or down the symptoms? (it will eradicate the problem at the root)
4. Does it come with side effects? (not ones you care once the solution is applied, but you can decide what to do with it. If freedom is something you do not want to have in the first place, then that solution may not be for you. If you want to become free of this world, then it may be the only solution, though not the only road to nowhere.)

And as in science, Buddha laid down two things:

A. A model (which is called the four noble truth). Those were the observations he made, and I would really rather call them "4 basic observations" or "4 simple facts" than "4 noble truths" because the demystification in language does the thing wonders. Buddha, it appears to me, at that time was no longer into mysticism, but rather fed up with it because it did not lead him where he wanted to. To him the methods of mystics appeared to be extremism. So he was searching for something simple, and practical, and he found it.

B. A method (The algorithm to stop suffering). It's a prescription. His lab journal, so to speak. You're free to take it as "This is what I did, and what I'm convinced leads to the cessation of suffering, you're free to try it. If it works, good for you, if it doesn't, scrap it."

Is this non-scientific? Well, there are again a couple of points.

1. This is scientific in that he claims when one follows the method (does what he did), then one will obtain that goal. It's like saying sit down and hit some keys every day and eventually you will be able to type fluently with 10 fingers. That's what science does. This experiment I tried, please somebody confirm my observation. Often times in science only a small group can do that, because you need particular equipment which is not readily available. For Buddha's method all you need is already there.

2. Does this match the medical standards for a medication, where every drug has to induce the same effect in all people and verify by a double blind study? Well, problematic. First of all, it will lead people there at a different pace. Second, because it's interwoven with life, you cannot set up lab conditions for it. Some try by ordination or going into the forest, but since you carry your conditioning along and even those environments are not free from mental traps, it works for better or worse. It may be more or less difficult for some people. And some may not reach it within this lifetime because they simply cannot let go. Does that invalidate the method? Well, for them maybe yes. For the rest, no. Not everybody will be a concert pianist after all, even though we tend to like the illusion that everybody will be able to do everything if we only try hard enough. That western illusion is part of the problem. Trying "hard" is the problem. There's a subtle difference to that and "following through" or persisting in concentration. But if your knees are bad, you will probably not become a record jumper. Can everybody rest in pure consciousness? Well, yes, since consciuosness is already there and working the same for everybody or this couldn't happen. You just have to find the exit from the holodeck labyrinth of your thoughts.

3. Is this like a psychotherapy? Well, in my understanding it can be best compared to that when comparing it to science. Psychotherapy also involves decompiling your mental game and reordering it. It also brings you to some form of realization. But blinded by medicine, many have the illusion that they go to a psychiatrist, he talks to them, maybe they get some medication on top, and the problem will soon be gone. It is not that simple. You will have to do the work for yourself (you will not only have to do that to achieve liberation, but you will also have to do that in psychotherapy). For those who did not accept that, methods like hypnotherapy (oh please lead me there in trance and do something with my problem) or shamanism (dear shaman, do it for me within your own mental game, i believe that works) have been invented. Where there may be some effect from the belief that it works, there is belief involved in those systems. Oh, and for the rest, a ton of drugs are sold (which are necessary in some cases, when the brain chemistry simply does not work right, i.e. the body is broken, or somebody is so out of balance, that other methods will not help).

In Buddha's method, there's a simple invitation to try it out, the stages have been described, and you can opt out at any time. Either it helps you and you suffer less, or you're free to go.

So it is not a "believe that after your physical death you will be reborn in heaven, but there is no solution for the time before than simply believing". And as in science, we have a couple of people who said that they successfully recreated the experiment and its effects. They even smile and say everybody can do that.

It would be so cool if this basic message was more easily available, without all the mystic stuff around. But alas, part of it we carry in our heads, part of it comes from 2500 years of organization around it.

If you now ask me "which part of it is Buddhism"? Then nowadays I tend towards the organization part. That's when I claim I'm not a Buddhist. The eightfold path at some point implies leaving routines and tools behind. Understanding a simple model and following a procedure does not necessarily need an -ism. Even more, an -ism is usually something to be identified with, which is contrary to taking refuge in Buddha.
If you ask me "Does the method work?" Heh. As far as I followed it, yes, it does. Things do indeed lose their grip, and the phenomena described in consciouseness can be observed and worked with.

Best wishes
Gwenn
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Malcolm » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:39 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Malcolm wrote:The Buddhist definition of mind is that the mind is an impermanent serially caused entity that is clear and knowing.
OK, what are the Buddhist definitions of 'clear' and 'knowing'?
Clear means that mind is unimpeded and open; knowing means that a mind has the capacity to know.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:09 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:
shel wrote: The first and biggest problem with pursuing this point is that religious claims or truths do not require verification. If a religious authority makes any sort of pronouncement or claim it can stand perfectly well on their authority alone.
Yes, that may be true for religions of belief (ok, that's where the term religion originated in). And mere association also work there. And that is, what we're intoxicated with in the west, which is an easy thing to do, because those associations are the basic functions of our mind. And that's particularly why I have a problem with Buddhism as a religion. Because it then starts to behave like such an entity that proclaims facts that appear to not require verification. Then suddenly lineage and ancient books become more important than something else. But it is not true for all aspects of spirituality, when you split science to "find out how things behave which are observed beyond the senses" and spirituality to "find out how things behave between the one who apparently observes or even consciuosness itself and the senses".

And in my opinion, the latter is based on facts (observations written down), that what Buddha pointed towards, does indeed require verification, or it is useless. And not only verification. To whatever method there are a couple of factors:

1. Does it solve the problem? (yes, it does. although it's not a quick drug.)
2. Will the effect stay, i.e. will it be a permanent solution? (yes)
3. Will it eradicate the problem at the root, or down the symptoms? (it will eradicate the problem at the root)
4. Does it come with side effects? (not ones you care once the solution is applied, but you can decide what to do with it. If freedom is something you do not want to have in the first place, then that solution may not be for you. If you want to become free of this world, then it may be the only solution, though not the only road to nowhere.)

And as in science, Buddha laid down two things:

A. A model (which is called the four noble truth). Those were the observations he made, and I would really rather call them "4 basic observations" or "4 simple facts" than "4 noble truths" because the demystification in language does the thing wonders. Buddha, it appears to me, at that time was no longer into mysticism, but rather fed up with it because it did not lead him where he wanted to. To him the methods of mystics appeared to be extremism. So he was searching for something simple, and practical, and he found it.

B. A method (The algorithm to stop suffering). It's a prescription. His lab journal, so to speak. You're free to take it as "This is what I did, and what I'm convinced leads to the cessation of suffering, you're free to try it. If it works, good for you, if it doesn't, scrap it."

Is this non-scientific? Well, there are again a couple of points.

1. This is scientific in that he claims when one follows the method (does what he did), then one will obtain that goal. It's like saying sit down and hit some keys every day and eventually you will be able to type fluently with 10 fingers. That's what science does. This experiment I tried, please somebody confirm my observation. Often times in science only a small group can do that, because you need particular equipment which is not readily available. For Buddha's method all you need is already there.

2. Does this match the medical standards for a medication, where every drug has to induce the same effect in all people and verify by a double blind study? Well, problematic. First of all, it will lead people there at a different pace. Second, because it's interwoven with life, you cannot set up lab conditions for it. Some try by ordination or going into the forest, but since you carry your conditioning along and even those environments are not free from mental traps, it works for better or worse. It may be more or less difficult for some people. And some may not reach it within this lifetime because they simply cannot let go. Does that invalidate the method? Well, for them maybe yes. For the rest, no. Not everybody will be a concert pianist after all, even though we tend to like the illusion that everybody will be able to do everything if we only try hard enough. That western illusion is part of the problem. Trying "hard" is the problem. There's a subtle difference to that and "following through" or persisting in concentration. But if your knees are bad, you will probably not become a record jumper. Can everybody rest in pure consciousness? Well, yes, since consciuosness is already there and working the same for everybody or this couldn't happen. You just have to find the exit from the holodeck labyrinth of your thoughts.

3. Is this like a psychotherapy? Well, in my understanding it can be best compared to that when comparing it to science. Psychotherapy also involves decompiling your mental game and reordering it. It also brings you to some form of realization. But blinded by medicine, many have the illusion that they go to a psychiatrist, he talks to them, maybe they get some medication on top, and the problem will soon be gone. It is not that simple. You will have to do the work for yourself (you will not only have to do that to achieve liberation, but you will also have to do that in psychotherapy). For those who did not accept that, methods like hypnotherapy (oh please lead me there in trance and do something with my problem) or shamanism (dear shaman, do it for me within your own mental game, i believe that works) have been invented. Where there may be some effect from the belief that it works, there is belief involved in those systems. Oh, and for the rest, a ton of drugs are sold (which are necessary in some cases, when the brain chemistry simply does not work right, i.e. the body is broken, or somebody is so out of balance, that other methods will not help).

In Buddha's method, there's a simple invitation to try it out, the stages have been described, and you can opt out at any time. Either it helps you and you suffer less, or you're free to go.

So it is not a "believe that after your physical death you will be reborn in heaven, but there is no solution for the time before than simply believing". And as in science, we have a couple of people who said that they successfully recreated the experiment and its effects. They even smile and say everybody can do that.

It would be so cool if this basic message was more easily available, without all the mystic stuff around. But alas, part of it we carry in our heads, part of it comes from 2500 years of organization around it.

If you now ask me "which part of it is Buddhism"? Then nowadays I tend towards the organization part. That's when I claim I'm not a Buddhist. The eightfold path at some point implies leaving routines and tools behind. Understanding a simple model and following a procedure does not necessarily need an -ism. Even more, an -ism is usually something to be identified with, which is contrary to taking refuge in Buddha.
If you ask me "Does the method work?" Heh. As far as I followed it, yes, it does. Things do indeed lose their grip, and the phenomena described in consciouseness can be observed and worked with.

Best wishes
Gwenn
Do you suffer? or have you ever met anyone that doesn't?

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Kaccāni » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:56 pm

shel wrote:Do you suffer?
At times. It has become a ton less. Most of the time I catch myself when it starts to happen. But my mantra goes "So what ..."
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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:30 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:
shel wrote:Do you suffer?
At times.
To use your own words, "what Buddha pointed towards [the cessation of suffering], does indeed require verification, or it is useless."

Not useless, I would say, as it offers meaning, in the very least. But to the point, you accept Buddhist Truths as truth without verification. It is meaningful belief.

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by Kaccāni » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:11 am

shel wrote:To use your own words, "what Buddha pointed towards [the cessation of suffering], does indeed require verification, or it is useless."

Not useless, I would say, as it offers meaning, in the very least. But to the point, you accept Buddhist Truths as truth without verification. It is meaningful belief.
That I do so is your belief. Yet you do not know anything about me. Would you think i am this? If I cannot even find myself, how can you? I'm reading a Sutra and there is no difference between what is read, what is thought and what is.

What should that meaning be for? Who should it soothe? Meaning needs he who does not know the nature of cessation. Some soul-constructing Brahman perhaps? I play and when the game is over, it is over. What should there be more soothing than eternal sleep. Do you want to threaten people with "It's not over when it's over?"

Or do you sell meaningfulness charms?
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

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Re: A Physicalist Theory of Mind

Post by shel » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:06 am

Gwenn Dana wrote:
shel wrote:To use your own words, "what Buddha pointed towards [the cessation of suffering], does indeed require verification, or it is useless."

Not useless, I would say, as it offers meaning, in the very least. But to the point, you accept Buddhist Truths as truth without verification. It is meaningful belief.
That I do so is your belief. Yet you do not know anything about me.
Uh... you wrote that you suffer. If you suffer then suffering hasn't ceased. If suffering hasn't ceased then you have no evidence that there can be a cessation of suffering as described in the 4NTs. You only have belief, and a distinctly religious belief at that.

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