I want to thank Alex for his insightful comments and questions regarding my contribution concerning the nature of the self, with regards to Nagarjuna’s reductionism. I even like Alex's pun on my name, since there is something unbinding and liberating about Nagarjuna’s ruthless undermining of all forms of metaphysical certainty. I also like his reference to Thomas Traherne’s wonderful poem My Spirit, especially the line That Being Greatest which doth Nothing Seem! Alex argues that Traherne is suggesting that being surrounded and within the 'strange extended orb of joy' is a necessary precondition for our experience of apparent individuality within the world of phenomenological experience. I would agree with this idea, especially within the context of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction. It requires the bracketing off, or the withholding of judgment, regarding our examination of the natural world, replacing it with analysis of our experience of it instead. The eidetic reduction, in turn, focuses on the nature of mental objects, with the intention of removing what is perceived, and leaving only what is required in its place. (The notion of individuality would indeed be an example of such a mental object.) For Nagarjuna, it is not merely sentient beings that are "selfless" or non-substantial, however; all phenomena are without any inherent existence and thus without any underlying essence. They are thus empty of being independently existent. While Nagarjuna does indeed seem to be trying to show us how to silence our intellects, Husserl seems to be trying to silence our naive belief in the authority of isolated empirical evidence. We are thus mistaken when we uncritically accept the necessary implications of denotative experience without further consideration of connotative experience as well. Denotation has limits while connotation does not.
Steve Bindeman On May 2, 2016, at 3:01 PM, Alex Hankey <alexhan...@gmail.com> wrote: > Dear Steve, > > What you have written is so supreme and beautiful! > Might I suggest a Deed-Poll application to > Un-Bind-a-man? > > After reading your comments, I had to take time out and simply sit in > "Silence", and let my mind be filled with the 'energy' with which your words > had both filled it and emptied it. > > And currently being with Indian friends in San Jose, I did so in front of the > apartment sacred space, which is adorned with a Buddha, a Radha-Krishna, a > Ganesha, the family Guru and other such pictures. > > As regards this discussion of phenomenology, it seems to me that your > marvellous contribution stands both inside phenomenological experience AND > beyond it, and what takes human awareness to those more permanent states of > Being. > > May I request Maxine who seems to me more experienced in technical > phenomenological analysis of language and expression than any of us to see > how well Steve's contribution conforms to Husserlian requirements to be > considered a valid expression within the boundaries / limitations of > phenomenology? I myself certainly do not feel adequately empowered to do so > in such company as Pedro and his Fis have arranged for us. > > Further: > > RE: ... silence becomes a conduit to enlightenment. One recognizes that the > use of concepts, and the use of reason to work with concepts and to help > distinguish between true and false views, and the very idea of having views > in the first place, are all highly problematic in the sense that they are but > imperfect manifestations of true reality. > > ME: Amen - Omayne - Om / Aum > Is not the Role of Zen to silence the intellect so that the person becomes > open to Sartori? > > May I add the following: one of the most wonderful statements of realization > in the English language can be found in the work of the 17th century poet and > essayist, Thomas Traherne, in his poem, My Spirit, which I append in full > below. > > Note particularly the following sequence from successive stanzas: I have put > in bold those from stanzas 5 & 6 to emphasize that for me these statements > constitute the heart of the poem, and that I equate them with the position of > Advaita Vedanta - though Steve is more than welcome to state how he relates > them, and any other part of the poem, to the position of Nagarjuna (or not > so?). > > Again, I regard these statements as the culmination of phenomenological > experience, and in that sense of the 'phenomenology of life'. In one of his > early books, Deepak Chopra quipped that life is not a material process with > an occasional spiritual experience, but rather a spiritual process with an > occasional spiritual experience. > > Excerpts from 'My Spirit' by Thomas Traherne. Full poem below the quoted > sections. > > 1. My Naked Simple Life was I > > That Act so strongly shined > > Upon the Earth, the Sea, the Sky, > > It was the substance of my mind, > > The sense itself was I. > > ............ > > The Thought that Springs > > Therefrom's itself. ............ > > ................... > > In its own Centre is a Sphere > > Not shut up here, but every Where. > > > > 2. .............................. > > for tis more voluble than Light > > Which can put on ten thousand forms > > Being adorned with what itself adorns. > > > > 3. ................................ > > And every Object in my Soul a thought > > Begot, or was; I could not tell > > Whether the things did there > > Themselves appear, > > Which in my spirit truly seemed to dwell, > > Or whether my conforming Mind > > Were not alone even all that shined. > > > > 4. But yet of this I was most sure > > ........................................... > > That all my Mind was wholey Everywhere > > What e'er it was, twas ever wholey there; > > > > 5. O Joy! O Wonder, and Delight! > > O Sacred Mystery! > > My Soul a Spirit infinite! > > ..................................... > > That Being Greatest, which doth Nothing seem! > > Why, twas my All, I nothing did esteem > > But that alone. A Strange Mysterious Sphere! > > > 6. A Strange Extended Orb of Joy > > Proceeding from within, > > Which ....... > > ......................, > > ......... did Every way > > Dilate itself even in an instant, and > > Like an Indivisible Centre Stand > > At once Surrounding all Eternity. > > > 7. O Wondrous Self! O Sphere of Light, > > O Sphere of Joy most fair; > > O Act, O Power infinite; > > O subtle and unbounded Air! > > O Living Orb of Sight! > > Thou which within me art, yet Me! Thou Eye > > And Temple of His Whole Infinity! > > > > N.B. Please note in the last line quoted from Stanza 6, the use of the word > 'Eternity'. The 'strange extended orb of joy' does not simply surround 'all > space', nor even 'all this universe' or 'all space-time', but rather 'all > Eternity' which I take to mean, 'all possible space times'. He seems to > denote (connote?) that being surrounded and within the 'strange extended orb > of joy' is a necessary precondition for our experience of apparent > individuality within the world of phenomenological experience. (Please say if > you disagree, and /or what grounds there may be for disagreement. If none, > should we send it to Daniel Dennett?!) > > > MY SPIRIT > > by Thomas Traherne > > > 1. My Naked Simple Life was I > > That Act so strongly shined > > Upon the Earth, the Sea, the Sky, > > It was the substance of my mind, > > The sense itself was I. > > I felt no Dross nor Matter in my Soul, > > No Brims nor Borders as in a Bowl > > We see. My Essence was Capacity > > That felt all things. > > The Thought that Springs > > Therefrom's itself. It has no other Wings > > To Spread abroad, nor Eyes to see, > > Nor Hands distinct to feel, > > Nor Knees to Kneel: > > But being Simple like the deity > > In its own Centre is a Sphere > > Not shut up here, but every Where. > > > 2. It Acts not from a Centre to > > Its Object as remote, > > But present is, when it doth view, > > Being with the Being it doth note. > > Whatever it doth do, > > It doth not by another Engine work, > > But by itself, which in the Act doth lurk. > > Its Essence is Transformed into a True > > And perfect Act. > > And so Exact > > Hath God appeared in this Mysterious Fact, > > That tis all Eye, all Act, all Sight, > > And what it please can be, > > Not only see, > > Or do; for tis more voluble than Light > > Which can put on ten thousand forms > > Being adorned with what itself adorns. > > > 3. This made me present evermore > > With whatsoe'er I saw. > > An Object, if it were before > > My Eye, was by Dame Nature's law > > Within my Soul. Her Store > > Was all at once within me; all her Treasures > > Were my Immediate and Internal Pleasures > > Substantial Joys, which did inform my Mind. > > With all she wrought > > My soul was fraught. > > And every Object in my Soul a thought > > Begot, or was; I could not tell > > Whether the things did there > > Themselves appear, > > Which in my spirit truly seemed to dwell, > > Or whether my conforming Mind > > Were not alone even all that shined. > > > 4. But yet of this I was most sure > > That at the utmost length > > (So worthy was it to endure) > > My Soul could best Express its Strength. > > It was so indivisible and pure, > > That all my Mind was wholey Everywhere > > What e'er it was, twas ever wholey there; > > The Sun ten thousand legions off: > > The utmost star, > > Though seen from far, > > Was present in the Apple of my Eye. > > There was my Sight, my Life, my Sense, > > My Substance and my Mind > > My Spirit Shined > > Even there, not by a Transient Influence. > > The Act was Immanent, yet there. > > The Thing remote, yet felt even here. > > > 5. O Joy! O Wonder, and Delight! > > O Sacred Mystery! > > My Soul a Spirit infinite! > > An Image of the Deity! > > A pure Substantial Light! > > That Being Greatest, which doth Nothing seem! > > Why, twas my All, I nothing did esteem > > But that alone. A Strange Mysterious Sphere! > > A deep Abyss > > That sees and is > > The only Proper Place, and Bower of Bliss. > > To its Creator tis so near > > In Love and Excellence > > In Life and Sense, > > In Greatness Worth and Nature; And so Dear; > > In it without Hyperbole, > > The Son and Friend of God we see. > > > 6. A Strange Extended Orb of Joy > > Proceeding from within, > > Which did on every side convey > > Itself, and being nigh of kin, > > To God did Every way > > Dilate itself even in an instant, and > > Like an Indivisible Centre Stand > > At once Surrounding all Eternity. > > Twas not a sphere > > Yet did appear > > One infinite. Twas somewhat everywhere, > > And though it had a Power to see > > Far more, yet still it shined > > And was a Mind > > Exerted for it was infinity > > Twas not a Sphere, yet twas one Power > > Invisible, and yet a Bower. > > > 7. O Wondrous Self! O Sphere of Light, > > O Sphere of Joy most fair; > > O Act, O Power infinite; > > O subtle and unbounded Air! > > O Living Orb of Sight! > > Thou which within me art, yet Me! Thou Eye > > And Temple of His Whole Infinity! > > O what a World are Thou! A World within! > > All Things appear > > All Objects are > > Alive in Thee! Supersubstantial, Rare, > > Above themselves, and nigh of Kin > > To those pure Things we find > > In his Great Mind > > Who made the World! Though now eclipsed by Sin! > > There they are useful and Divine, > > Exalted, there they ought to Shine. > > > P.S. RE: And every Object in my Soul a thought > > Begot, or was; > > Question for Soren Brier: is this not essentially > > an expression of Cybersemiotics? > > > On 2 May 2016 at 09:03, steven bindeman <bindem...@verizon.net> wrote: > Unless I am misunderstanding Nagarjuna, he uses a form of reductionism to > show how all metaphysical positions are untenable. To illustrate this point > in further detail, I will provide the rest of my section on his thinking from > my manuscript on silence: > > Following the implications of the middle way, Nagarjuna uses what is called > the “four-cornered-negation,” whereby he refutes any specific idea by > disproving or negating all four of its appearances: as being, as nonbeing, as > both, and as neither. Belief in any of these four cases is an extreme thesis > in his view and must be transcended by a higher synthesis. In fact, > Nagarjuna’s philosophy can be seen as an attempt to “deconstruct” in this way > all systems of thought which analyze the world in terms of fixed substances > and essences. Since emptiness is in fact the negation of each of the four > appearances of any idea or concept, if it can be shown to be true in all four > instances, then the original idea, whatever it might be, will have been > disproved. By saying that all concepts are false, then, the quality of > emptiness is pointed to as their essential nature. Since all concepts are > false, emptiness is in all of them. (This refers to the being of emptiness.) > The truth of emptiness is, however, the same as the unreality of all existing > elements, which is to say that the nonbeing of the phenomenal world is also > emptiness. But Nirvana is also the truth, so Nirvana is also the same as > emptiness and the same as the impermanence of the phenomenal world (referring > to both the being and nonbeing of emptiness). Furthermore, the Buddha-nature > is the ultimate reality of each person, and thus the Buddha-nature – and > Buddha himself – is empty. Now we may add that since Nirvana is > enlightenment, enlightenment is emptiness too. Nagarjuna is here taking the > logic of Conditioned Arising a step further in order to argue that nothing, > not even Nirvana, is unconditioned. Hence the goal of Buddhist practice in > his view is not merely to attain Nirvana but to realize emptiness. Thus > Nirvana and impermanence are not two separate realities, but make up together > a field of emptiness which is itself not another superior reality but > something that is empty of itself. (This last state refers to the fourth case > of negation, neither being, nor nonbeing, nor both.) > > With all of these positions pushed beyond the limit of their sustainability, > Nagarjuna cancelled the existing definitions of reality and the whole edifice > of Early Buddhism was undermined and smashed. In the process of dismantling > all metaphysical and epistemological positions, one is led to the only viable > conclusion, which is that all things, concepts, and persons lack a fixed > essence — because otherwise they would not be capable of change, and only > change can explain why people live, die, are reborn, suffer, and are capable > of becoming enlightened in the first place. > > Nagarjuna’s explanation of the meaning of emptiness itself provides further > clarification. Its two dimensions of meaning include the idea that emptiness > is “the situation in which conditioned existence arises and dissipates, and > thus it applies to practical everyday experience,” and secondly it is “the > situation of freedom from suffering, the highest awareness.” The latter > formulation is the conclusion of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. Since both > interpretations of emptiness are dependent co-originations, both include the > theme of both the arising and the cessation of pain, which combines Buddha’s > first Noble Truth, namely that life consists in suffering, with his second > Noble Truth, that the cause of suffering is found in human desire, along with > the third Noble Truth, that suffering ends when desire ceases, which leads > finally to the the fourth Noble Truth, which is that desire ceases only when > the eightfold path is cultivated.This eightfold path involves the > understanding and practice of the following activities: right speech, right > action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right > concentration, right attitude, and right view. Following this path > successfully leads to emptiness. > > Once an individual is able by following this path to achieve emptiness and > detachment from the world, he or she will recognize how silence is the > appropriate response to all metaphysical problems. In this way, silence > becomes a conduit to enlightenment. One recognizes that the use of concepts, > and the use of reason to work with concepts and to help distinguish between > true and false views, and the very idea of having views in the first place, > are all highly problematic in the sense that they are but imperfect > manifestations of true reality. But on the other hand, they are all necessary > steps in a process. This perspective, voiced in the 2nd century by Nagarjuna, > closely anticipates Wittgenstein’s propositions at the close of his > Tractatus: > > 6.54 My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who > understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used > them — as steps — to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the > ladder after he has climbed up it.) > > 7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. > > > I find Nagarjuna’s reasoning to be reductive because he demonstrates how, > whether you begin with a belief in the truth of either identity or > difference, in either case you are led by implication to an untenable > position. Since both notions are thus "empty of self-essence;” they can > exist only together and not separately. > > Steve Bindeman > > On May 2, 2016, at 4:34 AM, Alex Hankey <alexhan...@gmail.com> wrote: > >> It is good to note that Reductionism is not appropriate, >> not in this particular context, maybe not in any context. >> >> Most of the oriental philosophers were not aware of any >> reductionist approach, since their teachers were purely >> concerned with integrated and holistic approaches to >> understanding and solving any problem. >> >> Hence their attitudes to understanding experience" >> the question of reductionism does not enter. >> Thank you. >> >> On 30 April 2016 at 22:15, Francesco Rizzo <13francesco.ri...@gmail.com> >> wrote: >> Search Alex e Stan, Search Tutti, >> I fully share the epistemological philosophical-scientific approach of Alex >> and logical-mathematical set theory and / or the "hierarchy of subsumption >> evolving" Stan. However, reductionism does not satisfy neither pays. >> A collective embrace the FIS network. >> Francesco >> >> 2016-05-01 0:38 GMT+02:00 Alex Hankey <alexhan...@gmail.com>: >> It is good to see the discussion developing into deep considerations of the >> history (histories?) of the metaphysical understanding of the nature of the >> self, the soul, and the world(s) of experience, including the material >> universe in which it finds itself. >> >> I do not claim to have any great expertise in understanding Nagarjuna's >> approach, but we have to realise that both he and the great exponent of >> Vedanta, Adishankara, also known as Shankaracharya (meaning teacher of >> liberation), are said to have used almost identical formulations, albeit >> with a different emphasis. While Nagarjuna used the concept of emptiness as >> the foundation, Adishankara stayed within the traditional Vedic scheme where >> 'fullness' or completeness / wholeness is regarded as fundamental. >> >> While it is certainly true that to experience the 'self' clearly, all mental >> content has to allowed to settle down and fade away (one aspect of 'Chitta >> Vritti Nirodha', a definition of Yoga) the condition for maintaining that >> stably is that the subtle energy, prana (life-breath), should be enlivened >> fully, which is why the enlivenment (ayama) of prana i.e. pranaayama (normal >> spelling pranayama, in which the long 'a' is not explicitly emphasised) is a >> fundamental Yoga exercise, usually practised before meditation (Dhyana) >> practices in which the mind moves to its empty state (samadhi). As can be >> seen, increasing the prana (life-energy) to a state of fullness is thus an >> integral part of attaining a stable state of pure consciousness (samadhi). >> >> It is the fullness of the state of prana that stabilizes the mind from >> influences that might bring it out of samadhi. In particular, various >> emotions can block the flows of subtle energies (several websites explain >> this in detail e.g. Google on acupuncture meridians - emotions). Fullness of >> prana is thus considered equivalent to emotional stability, which requires >> balanced positive emotions and feelings. >> >> Both Nagarjuna and Adishankara are then concerned with how it is that >> all-that-exists emerges from the original absolute. Nagarjuna evidently >> shows that all things including all sentient beings have a 'dependent' >> existence - they do not exist in and of themselves. Adishankara on the other >> hand uses Vedic physics and metaphysics to trace how they emerge at various >> levels of perception. The essence of his argument is to show how the mental >> sensory apparatus came from the original source / Absolute, and thus how all >> objects of sensation can be traced back there. >> >> In modern terms, all things we have ever experientially encountered are >> quantum fields, and all quantum fields seem to have emerged from the Big >> Bang via the process of symmetry breaking at its source - the inflationary >> process. But symmetry breaking is an instability, and when one inspects the >> information states that that instability supports, they turn out to have a >> similar structure to O=======>, the one proposed in the material that was >> distributed. >> >> I feel that the role and significance of instabilities in the physical >> world, particularly life processes, has not been adequately expounded and >> that we may only be beginning to understand them. >> >> I hope this helps. >> >> Alex >> >> On 30 April 2016 at 08:18, steven bindeman <bindem...@verizon.net> wrote: >> I hope the following passage I’ve written on Nagarjuna will be of use for >> this discussion on the nature of self. The passage is from a manuscript I’ve >> just completed on silence and postmodernism. >> >> Nagarjuna’s thinking is deeply conversant with silence and with the use of >> paradox as well. For him, contradictory things are never “either/or,” but >> are always “both/and.” Refusing to choose between opposing metaphysical >> problems, he would recommend responding through silence instead. For an >> example of his reductive reasoning process, consider the following: >> >> Whatever is dependently co-arisen >> That is explained to be emptiness. >> That, being a dependent designation, >> Is itself the middle way. >> >> Something that is not dependently arisen >> Such a thing does not exist. >> Therefore a nonempty thing >> Does not exist. >> >> Nagarjuna is criticizing the common paradoxical occurrence that when we >> attribute abstract concepts (“something that does not dependently exist”) >> like emptiness to the status of “reality” (like we do with the Platonic >> forms), then they seem to be applicable to everything, while on the other >> hand when we emphasize instead the individual uniqueness and particularity >> of any one thing (“whatever is dependently co-arisen”), this emphasis makes >> it impossible to categorize its likeness with other things. Nagarjuna’s >> point is that the abstract concept of emptiness and the concrete nature of >> any particular empty thing are in fact codependent. He calls this >> codependency “Conditioned Arising.” His “middle way” resolves the paradox by >> viewing neither the abstract idea nor the concrete thing as having a >> separate reality — both instead are characterized as “‘thought >> constructions’ founded on experience.’ As such, they are not absolutely real >> or absolutely unreal. …This middle path could thus be adopted in >> understanding all forms of experience, whether they be linguistic, social, >> political, moral, or religious.” >> >> Another way of approaching an understanding of the middle way has to do with >> recognizing it as constituting a resolution of the identity/difference >> problem. According to standard Buddhist doctrine the most dangerous false >> view possible is the belief in a permanent, independent self (also commonly >> referred to as the concept of identity). This notion of self is symptomatic >> of our deepest fears, concerning things like death and the possibility of >> our personal nonexistence. The concept of difference, which is the other >> side of the problem, is the belief that nothing is real; it also asserts the >> absence of all identities. This position would lead to the most mundane >> things becoming unintelligible. Nagarjuna’s solution to this problem is his >> assertion that neither identity nor difference is real. Both notions, when >> seen properly, are “empty” of self-essence. They can exist only together and >> not separately. Nagarjuna’s way of resolving this problem, by pointing to >> the interdependency of identity and difference, is remarkably similar to the >> one proposed by Merleau-Ponty many years later. >> >> Steve Bindeman >> >> >> _______________________________________________ >> Fis mailing >> listFis@listas.unizar.eshttp://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis >> >> >> >> >> >> >> -- >> Alex Hankey M.A. (Cantab.) PhD (M.I.T.) >> Distinguished Professor of Yoga and Physical Science, >> SVYASA, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle >> Bangalore 560019, Karnataka, India >> Mobile (Intn'l): +44 7710 534195 >> Mobile (India) +91 900 800 8789 >> ____________________________________________________________ >> >> 2015 JPBMB Special Issue on Integral Biomathics: Life Sciences, Mathematics >> and Phenomenological Philosophy >> >> _______________________________________________ >> Fis mailing >> listFis@listas.unizar.eshttp://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis >> >> >> >> >> >> >> >> -- >> Alex Hankey M.A. (Cantab.) PhD (M.I.T.) >> Distinguished Professor of Yoga and Physical Science, >> SVYASA, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle >> Bangalore 560019, Karnataka, India >> Mobile (Intn'l): +44 7710 534195 >> Mobile (India) +91 900 800 8789 >> ____________________________________________________________ >> >> 2015 JPBMB Special Issue on Integral Biomathics: Life Sciences, Mathematics >> and Phenomenological Philosophy > > > > > -- > Alex Hankey M.A. (Cantab.) PhD (M.I.T.) > Distinguished Professor of Yoga and Physical Science, > SVYASA, Eknath Bhavan, 19 Gavipuram Circle > Bangalore 560019, Karnataka, India > Mobile (Intn'l): +44 7710 534195 > Mobile (India) +91 900 800 8789 > ____________________________________________________________ > > 2015 JPBMB Special Issue on Integral Biomathics: Life Sciences, Mathematics > and Phenomenological Philosophy
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