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What makes a philosopher?
Posted: 28 July 2008 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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unsmoked - 28 July 2008 05:23 PM

Zen Philosophy

“To learn to be a Zen philosopher, first you should break through the seeds of habit with great determination, and then be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.  Transcend all mental objects, stop all rumination.  Don’t let either good or bad thoughts enter into your thinking, forget about both philosophy and things of the world.  Let go of body and mind, like letting go over a cliff.  Be like space, not producing subjective thoughts of life and death, or any signs of discrimination.  If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”

Adapted from the writings of Zen Master Xiatang, circa 1050 A.D. - quoted in ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.

(In the above quote, Unsmoked has replaced the word ‘Buddha’ with ‘Zen philosopher’ and the word Buddhism with the word ‘philosophy’).

The Madhymaka would say that ‘the obstacle is the path’ which means that what we cling to in terms of philosophy or direction gets in the way of buddha or enlightenment.  But at the end of the day we still have to make daily decisions about how we will treat our fellow man and this is where philosophy makes the difference for me.

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 05:31 PM
unsmoked - 28 July 2008 05:23 PM

Zen Philosophy

“To learn to be a Zen philosopher, first you should break through the seeds of habit with great determination, and then be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.  Transcend all mental objects, stop all rumination.  Don’t let either good or bad thoughts enter into your thinking, forget about both philosophy and things of the world.  Let go of body and mind, like letting go over a cliff.  Be like space, not producing subjective thoughts of life and death, or any signs of discrimination.  If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”

Adapted from the writings of Zen Master Xiatang, circa 1050 A.D. - quoted in ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.

(In the above quote, Unsmoked has replaced the word ‘Buddha’ with ‘Zen philosopher’ and the word Buddhism with the word ‘philosophy’).

This is probably the optimum sort of philosophy. Start with no premises. Make no conclusions. Where you have not traveled, write no Baedeker.

Even Gautama weighs in…

“Do not believe in what you have heard; do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations; do not believe anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many; do not believe merely because the written statements of some old sage are produced; do not believe in conjectures; do not believe in that as a truth to which you have become attached by habit; do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

~ Gautama Buddha (2,600 years ago)

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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JETurnbull - 28 July 2008 07:09 PM

Even Gautama weighs in…

“Do not believe in what you have heard; do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations; do not believe anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many; do not believe merely because the written statements of some old sage are produced; do not believe in conjectures; do not believe in that as a truth to which you have become attached by habit; do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. After observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

~ Gautama Buddha (2,600 years ago)

You are quoting from the Kalama Sutta.  I like the fact that you highlight observation and analysis as well as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all.  The question that the Kalamas ask of the Buddha is a question of epistemology:  “Which of these venerable priests & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?”  The Buddha’s answer is

[those] devoid of greed, devoid of ill will, undeluded, alert, & resolute — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with good will. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

If we take Keith’s “we can see that x is observably the case” as a translation of the Buddha’s wisdom, he is saying that when the life of the teacher displays a lack of greed, hate, and delusion, he can be trusted. 

btw delusional is ethically ground:  One who is hateful and greedy is deluded because he violates dharma; he cannot be trusted because he is deluded.

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 05:08 PM
John Brand - 28 July 2008 04:58 PM

When you have something other than an ex cathedra, I’ll be sure to tune in ... for the present you are only trying to make the argument about me because you are not familiar enough with the subject matter to posit anything of real import.

You asked me why I think philosophy is just “showing off”, and I told you. In turn, you quoted my entire post in lieu of addressing any of its points, because you cannot. One of the show-off-y aspects of philosophy is using Latin to name what it considers fallacies. This is one more aspect of the way philosophy tries to isolate itself until it becomes nothing but an intellectual hobby. You cannot name any problem that philosophy has solved. So, once again:

Salt Creek - 22 July 2008 11:51 PM
JETurnbull - 22 July 2008 02:44 PM

Must one write at great length in order to be considered a philosopher?

Sallltttyyy??  Oh Salty??  Where are you Mr. Creek?  Here’s another reason for you to live yet one more day.

Must one write at great length? Not at all. One must, however, be willing to polish one’s dick with jeweler’s rouge until the sparkle can be seen for miles. Not to mention the length.

So: No progress in nearly a week. Philosophers travel in their own circles. C = 2?r.

Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 04:50 PM

We can see that there is somebody here being considered a “fuckwit” (and it ain’t Socrates, though some consider Socrates to be a fuckwit, as well). Oddly enough, that same somebody is trying desperately to persuade somebody else that happiness can be enhanced by trying to understand fuckwits, when it is only the fuckwits who will be happier upon seeing others attempt to simulate an understanding of the aforementioned fuckwits.

John Brand - 28 July 2008 02:56 PM

All of this is getting complicated but can be simplified by looking at your own experience.  Through the eyes of the early Greeks, when you determined that it was not desirable to hate you had gained a knowledge of the forms.  By overcoming hate, you began to participate in the forms.  If you were to continue to pursue this course (by for example learning to understand people you may think are fuckwits), you would increase in your happiness.  Why?  Because you would be learning that your full humanity (and, therefore, your happiness) is realized in connection with all other human beings.

Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 04:50 PM

Now the above is some maximum-overdrive fuckwitticism, and my or H’s simulation of understanding it may make some philosopher who thinks that showing off his highly-polished, um, er, argument, may make said philosopher “happier”, but this need have nothing to do with the happiness of the interlocutor who has to pretend to understand more dreary word-salad.

The great boon that philosophy has bestowed on me today is that my argument comes ex cathedra. Yes, indeed, in the house that science built are many mentions. Philosophy, on the other hand, has a long list of names for fallacies which take place in philosophical arguments, but no list of conjectures known to be incorrect.

If you are up for it, I’ll return to your reduced-to-what-merits-addressing version of your argument. I don’t think I should be obliged to cut through all the ex cathedra and ad hominem crap of your posts to dissect the kernals which might be worth addressing.  Seeing as you have attempted this in the above, I’ll re-engage your argument tomorrow.

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:26 PM

If we take Keith’s “we can see that x is observably the case” as a translation of the Buddha’s wisdom, he is saying that when the life of the teacher displays a lack of greed, hate, and delusion, he can be trusted.

Oh, that’s the life, all right.

One side has to do with an observation and one is a judgement call. Observing people is a hazardous occupation, but I guess somebody has to do it. There is such hubris involved in the choice of a teacher (a figurehead) and such humility in the scientific organization of simple observation. Those who place too much emphasis on the act of choosing a teacher are not to be trusted. One suspects they are hoping that someone will choose them.

This is why I counsel people to keep their own counsel. If you’re stupid, your own counsel won’t be sufficient, but if you’re stupid, you won’t be capable of choosing a very good teacher, either. If you are clever enough to choose a good teacher, you don’t need one in the first place.

[ Edited: 28 July 2008 03:43 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 28 July 2008 06:08 PM

If the writer followed his own advice and cut off any views that he had, how would he have ever written this paragraph, which constitutes “a view” about something? If he became aware of cause and effect, he would have “a view” about it, which he would then have to “cut right off,” at which point he would no longer have a view about it. How can he follow his own advice and still have any advice to give? This is why Zen Buddhism is BS - it travels in never-ending circles and goes nowhere.  At least Christianity has a particular view and direction, whether you agree with it or not.

If I might interject, Bruce, I would beg to differ with you on your dismissal of this Buddhist gem.  The connection between Christianity (and I would say early or pre-Augustinian Christianity) and early Buddhism is the correlation of dharma and logos.  There are some differences between these but, also, some important similarities.

To lose oneself in dharma is similar to the Socratic ‘true wisdom is to know that you know nothing of the good and the beautiful;’ however, ‘to know the good is to do the good.’  In other words, although we ‘see through a glass darkly,’ we recognize the great value of love however feeble our attempts at loving are when compared with the ideal.  Plato used ‘see through a glass darkly’ in The Phaedrus:

Few only retain an adequate remembrance of them; and they, when they behold here any image of that other world, are rapt in amazement; but they are ignorant of what this rapture means, because they do not clearly perceive. For there is no light of justice or temperance or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass dimly; and there are few who, going to the images, behold in them the realities, and these only with difficulty.

To connect this to the use of logos in early Christianity:  Jesus was identified as the logos in his pre-existent form (John 1:1ff).  As a human being, he was said to have retained his divinity. For example, in the textus receptus John calls Jesus ‘the son of man who is in heaven’ (John 3:13 KJV).  This means that Jesus was (and this according to the teaching of John) working in a blind trust that is he retained his divinity but was in the same state as any human being would have been (Philippians ‘being made in human likeness’).  Thus, Jesus would have thought the world was flat, etc.. 

What this means for the Christian, in my view, is that there is a whole lot more to christos than the dogma which is a door into the faith.  What buddhism (and taoism, etc.) can do for the Christian is show him dimensions of the logos that he had not thought possible.

That’s my view of the matter and why I disagree with your dismissal of the Buddha’s teaching.

For what its worth,

John

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:47 PM

That’s my view of the matter and why I disagree with your dismissal of the Buddha’s teaching.

But for that matter, the tautology you have outlined from Phaedrus is no more illuminating:

The great value of love is that it teaches us the great value of love.

Is it any wonder that I do not trust such teachers, who are largely manufacturers of veiled tautologies?

The principal cause of their having written only in tautologies is that they did not know anything else, and if they had poor premises, were forced to live with the consequences.

[ Edited: 28 July 2008 03:56 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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unsmoked - 28 July 2008 05:23 PM

Zen Philosophy

“To learn to be a Zen philosopher, first you should break through the seeds of habit with great determination, and then be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.  Transcend all mental objects, stop all rumination.  Don’t let either good or bad thoughts enter into your thinking, forget about both philosophy and things of the world.  Let go of body and mind, like letting go over a cliff.  Be like space, not producing subjective thoughts of life and death, or any signs of discrimination.  If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”

Adapted from the writings of Zen Master Xiatang, circa 1050 A.D. - quoted in ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.

(In the above quote, Unsmoked has replaced the word ‘Buddha’ with ‘Zen philosopher’ and the word Buddhism with the word ‘philosophy’).

If I might just add something from Rumi which moves in the same direction as your quote (and I suspect you meant it as a dig against philosophy):

I am a fly caught in your honey
then, closer, a moth caught in flames’ allure
then, empty sky stretched out in hommage

This is what happens to the philosopher (the ‘friend of wisdom’).  Wisdom has a ‘friendliness’ about it which draws one to it like a fly to honey.  But when tasted one becomes stuck in it because it is true to our essential humanity.  Then, like the moth drawn to the flame, all of our intellectualizing and human props begin to burn up and we are left, eventually, like ‘empty sky stretched out in hommage.’  This is understandably a frightening prospect but, according to the wisdom of the ancients, it is the final experience of being human.

For Rumi, as for the other wisdom writers, love is the evidence of the experience.  Philosophy is as philosophy does or ‘to know the good is to do the good.’

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Posted: 28 July 2008 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 07:52 PM
John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:47 PM

That’s my view of the matter and why I disagree with your dismissal of the Buddha’s teaching.

But for that matter, the tautology you have outlined from Phaedrus is no more illuminating:

The great value of love is that it teaches us the great value of love.

Is it any wonder that I do not trust such teachers, who are largely manufacturers of veiled tautologies?

The principal cause of their having written only in tautologies is that they did not know anything else.

“We learn to do things by doing the things we are learning to do” (Aristotle)

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Posted: 28 July 2008 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:57 PM

“We learn to do things by doing the things we are learning to do” (Aristotle)

I hope Aristotle would not expect me to pay for such advice. Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free. Kristofferson and Aristotle both have the same number of syllables.

Such tautologies are why some people consider early (or even later) philosophers to be fuckwits. We cannot learn from people who do not know anything, or whose conclusions are only as good as a bunch of very-limited premises.

[ Edited: 28 July 2008 04:06 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 28 July 2008 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 08:03 PM
John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:57 PM

“We learn to do things by doing the things we are learning to do” (Aristotle)

I hope Aristotle would not expect me to pay for such advice. Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free. Kristofferson and Aristotle both have the same number of syllables.

Such tautologies are why some people consider early (or even later philosophers) to be fuckwits. We cannot learn from people who do not know anything, or whose conclusions are only as good as a bunch of very-limited premises.

Yet, you recognize that doing an experiment helps you to understand it better than merely reading about it.  You cannot understand what a life lived from non-hate is all about until you abandon hatefulness (that’s what Buddha was saying).

[ Edited: 28 July 2008 04:09 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 28 July 2008 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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John Brand - 28 July 2008 02:56 PM

Let me quote from Plato whom Sander regards as a fuckwit bearing Rules #1 and 2 in mind that we shouldNEVER take anything Sander posts seriously, no matter how realistic, erudite or intelligent it sounds.:

Read that post again John, I never suggested that Plato was a Fuckwit. I only acknowledged to H that he was using the word correctly.

As it happens I hold Plato in high regards, much as I do the rest of the Walt Disney gang.

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Posted: 28 July 2008 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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Sander - 28 July 2008 08:21 PM
John Brand - 28 July 2008 02:56 PM

Let me quote from Plato whom Sander regards as a fuckwit bearing Rules #1 and 2 in mind that we shouldNEVER take anything Sander posts seriously, no matter how realistic, erudite or intelligent it sounds.:

Read that post again John, I never suggested that Plato was a Fuckwit. I only acknowledged to H that he was using the word correctly.

As it happens I hold Plato in high regards, much as I do the rest of the Walt Disney gang.

It is helpful in this case to appeal to Rule #2 ...  wink

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Posted: 28 July 2008 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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[quote author=“John Brand” date=“1217300853"Yet, you recognize that doing an experiment helps you to understand it better than merely reading about it.  You cannot understand what a life lived from non-hate is all about until you abandon hatefulness (that’s what Buddha was saying).

Sure, but can you propose an experiment that distinguishes “hate” from “non-hate”? No, I do not think you can, but you are welcome to try. If not, then the only recourse is to “read about non-hatefulness”. Pick a teacher. Take a number.

I do not know enough about “hate” to practice it. What I do know about is science, and I can become impatient with those who do not quite have the hang of it. Doing science experiments helps one to become familiar with it.

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Posted: 28 July 2008 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:47 PM

That’s my view of the matter and why I disagree with your dismissal of the Buddha’s teaching.

But remember what the quote said: “If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”  So, you should cut your “view” right off and not let it continue. Again, this goes in a circle. The logos at least has some content, some definition, which, from a Christian perspective, we find excellently portrayed in John 1:1-18. It is embodied in a person, and a person is something we can grasp. I John 1:1-5.

The quote from unsmoked has you jumping off a cliff without any goal in mind and not even know why you are jumping. That sounds insane.

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