Solipsism

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Simon E.
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Simon E. » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:25 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:31 pm
I don't understand how there can be a conversation about solipsism. If solipsism is true, then none of you exist. You're not even dependently arisen because I made it all up from my solitary perspective. Solipsism is awareness from only one perspective whereas dependent origination implies multiple perspectives. If it is possible to have a dialogue about solipsism, it is thereby disproved.
Hence that old Buddhist forum favourite ''so who posted that message then?" usually addressed to those with Zen sickness or it's equivalent who have just assured someone that they (and their problem) don't exist.. :smile:


Actually, the whole 'are we just part of a computer simulation' is a modern variation on the fallacy of solipsism.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Solipsism

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:45 pm

Jeff H wrote:I don't understand how there can be a conversation about solipsism.
The reason solipsism is discussed at all, is as a consequence of a debate in Western academic philosophical circles, going back to Descartes’ famous ‘cogito ergo sum’ (usually translated as ‘I think, therefore I am’.)

Descartes meditation here was based on arriving at a truth that cannot be doubted. According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!

So this establishes the ‘thinking being’ as an indubitable reality. Then he develops the argument. But it has also lead to the notion that the only indubitable thing is one’s own first-person sense of being - hence, solipsism, which is the view that I can only know my own existence without any doubt.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Sherab
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Sherab » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:28 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:45 pm
Jeff H wrote:I don't understand how there can be a conversation about solipsism.
The reason solipsism is discussed at all, is as a consequence of a debate in Western academic philosophical circles, going back to Descartes’ famous ‘cogito ergo sum’ (usually translated as ‘I think, therefore I am’.)

Descartes meditation here was based on arriving at a truth that cannot be doubted. According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!

So this establishes the ‘thinking being’ as an indubitable reality. Then he develops the argument. But it has also lead to the notion that the only indubitable thing is one’s own first-person sense of being - hence, solipsism, which is the view that I can only know my own existence without any doubt.
I suppose Zhuangzi would disagree with Descartes.

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, a veritable butterfly, enjoying itself to the full of its bent, and not knowing it was Chuang Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and came to myself, the veritable Chuang Chou. Now I do not know whether it was then I dreamt I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man." https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zhuangzi

Jeff H
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Jeff H » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:59 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:45 pm
Jeff H wrote:I don't understand how there can be a conversation about solipsism.
The reason solipsism is discussed at all, is as a consequence of a debate in Western academic philosophical circles, going back to Descartes’ famous ‘cogito ergo sum’ (usually translated as ‘I think, therefore I am’.)

Descartes meditation here was based on arriving at a truth that cannot be doubted. According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!

So this establishes the ‘thinking being’ as an indubitable reality. Then he develops the argument. But it has also lead to the notion that the only indubitable thing is one’s own first-person sense of being - hence, solipsism, which is the view that I can only know my own existence without any doubt.
Yes, and I've heard Buddhists say that Descartes was establishing a permanent self with that meditation. That would probably correspond to "establishes the 'thinking being' as an indubitable reality" in your third paragraph. And that may indeed have been his intent, but I'm not sure that's true if his meaning was closer to your second paragraph.

For example, if what is usually translated as "I think" is closer in meaning to "I am aware", and if "therefore I am" can mean "the present awareness can't be denied", then his meditation seems to come pretty close to this:
ChNN wrote:Do this visualization for a short time and then observe yourself and relax. In other words, do not work with your mind but be in the presence of the movement: this is called clarity. Remain in this clarity for a bit, then observe “who” is in it. The clarity is your experience. If you are now aware of who is in this experience, you will discover instant presence and the clarity becomes contemplation.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

muni
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Re: Solipsism

Post by muni » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:42 am

Thanks for all clarifications about solipsism. I see the value in this in order to eradicate confusion!
As the mind only is been mentioned, I agree, it needs contemplation-meditation- guidance.
Thanks!
Ascertaining the View:
The confused appearances of habitual tendencies are devoid of inherent nature.
Therefore, since the apprehender too is without inherent nature,
It is said that [the true nature] exists empty of the duality
Of apprehender and apprehended,
And that mere clarity-awareness, empty of duality, exists.

Meditation:
When certainty is stabilized in this way,
Free of fixation, let go and relax within emptiness of duality.
Through resting in mere clarity-awareness,
The confusion of dualistic appearances will gradually dissolve.
http://www.ktgrinpoche.org/quote/mind-o ... meditation
:meditate:

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Re: Solipsism

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:55 am

JeffH wrote:I've heard Buddhists say that Descartes was establishing a permanent self with that meditation. That would probably correspond to "establishes the 'thinking being' as an indubitable reality" in your third paragraph. And that may indeed have been his intent, but I'm not sure that's true if his meaning was closer to your second paragraph.
This is a subject more of interest to academic philosophy than Buddhism but it's of interest to me. The 20th century philosopher Edmund Husserl analysed Descartes in his last (posthumously published) book, The Crisis of the European Sciences. On the one hand, he recognised Descartes' genius; but he also faulted Descartes, for dealing with res cogitans - the 'thinking substance' - as if it were an object, a literal 'thinking thing'. He said that Descartes approach tended to 'naturalise' the mind, as if it could be thought of as an objective reality - which it never really can be, as it is never the object of consciousness, but always 'that which thinks'. (And this is recognised in the Upanishads).

When questions come up in Western phlosoohy as to how 'the mind ' interacts with 'the body' - the modern 'mind-body problem' - this is a consequence of taking Descartes' philosophical dualism as a literal description of two separate kinds of substance. Descartes himself was guilty of that. But there is actually no 'thinking substance', nor is there any 'purely physical substance'. Both these are abstractions, which then became' reified as actual with many adverse consequences in Western philosophy. Chief amongst these consequences was the wish to completely reject the notion of 'thinking stuff' and to seek explanations for everything in terms of mechanistic materialism. It is one of the primary sources of modern materialism. (Actually I don't blame Descartes entirely, as he wasn't around to refine his philosophy. But I'm sure he never would have agreed with materialism, even if his ideas were used to support it.)
Muni wrote:It is said that [the true nature] exists empty of the duality
Of apprehender and apprehended,
And that mere clarity-awareness, empty of duality, exists.

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.
This is, of course, perfectly and profoundly true - except that the last word, 'exists', is a bit problematic. It is not a problem with the original text, but a limitation of modern English. In modern English, 'what is', and 'what exists', are understood to be the same. But this doesn't allow for the transcendent nature of non-dual reality. Non-dual reality never comes into, or goes out, of existence; it is beyond existence (which is what 'transcendent' means). So a more correct expression would be: 'mere clarity-awareness, empty of duality, is.'
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

muni
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Re: Solipsism

Post by muni » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:10 am

the last word, 'exists', is a bit problematic. It is not a problem with the original text, but a limitation of modern English. In modern English, 'what is', and 'what exists', are understood to be the same. But this doesn't allow for the transcendent nature of non-dual reality. Non-dual reality is beyond existence, because it never comes into, or goes out, of existence; it is beyond existence (which is what 'transcendent' means). So a more correct expression would be: 'mere clarity-awareness, empty of duality, is.'
Thank you.
Descartes meditation here was based on arriving at a truth that cannot be doubted. According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!

So this establishes the ‘thinking being’ as an indubitable reality. Then he develops the argument. But it has also lead to the notion that the only indubitable thing is one’s own first-person sense of being - hence, solipsism, which is the view that I can only know my own existence without any doubt

Of course it then depends how is that "my own existence.
" I can be wrong but it seems this reasoning has a subject me what doesn't doubt in object "own thinking-thoughts" only.

Buddhist methods can be said, are helps to be freed of being conditioned, conditioned by dual perception subject-object, causing suffering.

While this solipsism, is it a kind of self-satisfaction?
:meditate:

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Re: Solipsism

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:15 am

No, it is realising the unconditioned, the unborn, the unmade, just as all the texts say. But that is ‘un-knowing’, as the Zen teachers instruct. ‘He that knows it, knows it not’.


Descartes was actually on his way towards realising that but I think Western philosophy lost the thread somewhere along the line.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

muni
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Re: Solipsism

Post by muni » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:20 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:15 am
No, it is realising the unconditioned, the unborn, the unmade, just as all the texts say. But that is ‘un-knowing’, as the Zen teachers instruct. ‘He that knows it, knows it not’.


Descartes was actually on his way towards realising that but I think Western philosophy lost the thread somewhere along the line.
Thank you to say I was wrong.

Since this sentence leaves no ground for any further analyses, thinking:

According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!
:meditate:

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Re: Solipsism

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:45 am

That is what he said. And in fact, it wasn’t even a new idea. St Augustine, who lived a long, long time before Descartes, said much the same:
But who will doubt that he lives, remembers, understands, wills, thinks, knows, and judges? For even if he doubts, he lives. If he doubts where his doubs come from, he remembers. If he doubts, he understands that he doubts. If he doubts, he wants to be certain. If he doubts, he thinks. If he doubts, he knows that he does not know. If he doubts, he judges that he ougth not rashly to give assent. So whoever acquires a doubt from any source ought not to doubt any of these things whose non-existence would mean that he could not entertain doubt about anything.


Augustine, On the Trinity
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

Jeff H
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Jeff H » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:35 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:15 am
No, it is realising the unconditioned, the unborn, the unmade, just as all the texts say. But that is ‘un-knowing’, as the Zen teachers instruct. ‘He that knows it, knows it not’.

Descartes was actually on his way towards realising that but I think Western philosophy lost the thread somewhere along the line.
Nicely put. Thanks.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Drenpa
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Drenpa » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:26 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:45 pm
Jeff H wrote:I don't understand how there can be a conversation about solipsism.
The reason solipsism is discussed at all, is as a consequence of a debate in Western academic philosophical circles, going back to Descartes’ famous ‘cogito ergo sum’ (usually translated as ‘I think, therefore I am’.)

Descartes meditation here was based on arriving at a truth that cannot be doubted. According to his reasoning, the one truth that cannot be doubted is that even if you doubt everything else, you cannot doubt that you are doubting!

So this establishes the ‘thinking being’ as an indubitable reality. Then he develops the argument. But it has also lead to the notion that the only indubitable thing is one’s own first-person sense of being - hence, solipsism, which is the view that I can only know my own existence without any doubt.
Solipsism, like any other concept rejected by Buddhism and dependent origination, like the extremes of nihilism or eternal ism is useful (in creating other concepts) precisely because it goes too far. Like mind-only proponents go too far, or someone who says that if you turn your back on the moon, it ceases to exist etc. etc.

But points as subtle as the view explained by the great masters of Tibet, for example, like Longchenpa, are very hard to make without first having the boundaries & extremes in mind that are fleshed out through concepts like solipsism, which is why I took exception earlier in the thread when someone dismissed it out of hand as "silly".

To your final comment - the final arbiter IS our self, our own mind. Who's else could it be?

I'm curious about Climb-ups mention of inter-subjectivity and want to check it out. Thanks for that.

Nice discussion people, phenomenology I find fascinating. We can always check any ideas against our own experience. In fact, what else can we do? As I pointed out in the other thread running that is similar 'who's karma, ours or theirs?'

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