A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

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Buddha Vacana
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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:14 am

Mkoll wrote:For example, consider a specific aspect of nāma, painful bodily feeling. This requires specialized receptors for pain (nociceptors) that sense a certain form of stimulus (e.g. heat, mechanical pressure) and relay that information through peripheral nerves, up the spinal cord, and to the brain where only then it can be felt. That's why when you stub your toe, it takes a moment for the physical pain to actually arise in consciousness because nervous signals can only travel so fast. If you block that nervous transmission, say via local anesthetic, no bodily pain will be felt, no bodily pain will arise in consciousness. This illustrates the dependence of nāmarūpa and consciousness.

In the case of an embryo or fetus, if those nerves and brain do not exist or have not matured to the point where they can transmit and receive signals, how could there possibly be human nāma and consciousness?

What I am saying is that this hinges on the assumption that whatever happens in our daily life is the same for a fetus. We have no idea what a fetus can feel, how he can feel, whether he is able to feel something without a material nervous system, whether he can feel something with a type of sensory perception we haven't discovered yet that would exist only in the fetus... That's too many unknowns to be able to make any kind of trustworthy reasoning. You would be likely to end up like Descartes 'I think therefore I am'. I believe this is what the Buddha referred to in the famous Kalama sutta as
"mā takka·hetu, mā naya·hetu, mā ākāra·parivitakkena, mā diṭṭhi·nijjhāna·kkhantiyā, mā bhabba·rūpatāya, mā ‘samaṇo no garū’ti."
(not on the basis of logical reasoning, nor on the basis of inference, nor by reflection on appearances, nor by agreement after pondering views, nor by what seems probable, nor by [the thought:] 'The samaṇa is our revered teacher'.)

And I think the above AN 4.77 quote is also relevant.

My point overall is that it is better to discuss on the basis of what the texts say (with proper lucidity as regards to the extent of the knowledge their provide us), because we don't have direct knowledge of what the reality exactly is. We only see it through the lens of present-day scientific knowledge, and assuming there is nothing beyond its scope that could overturn the conclusions we try to make on the basis of its partial understanding of the way reality works.

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Mkoll » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:40 am

Buddha Vacana wrote:
Mkoll wrote:For example, consider a specific aspect of nāma, painful bodily feeling. This requires specialized receptors for pain (nociceptors) that sense a certain form of stimulus (e.g. heat, mechanical pressure) and relay that information through peripheral nerves, up the spinal cord, and to the brain where only then it can be felt. That's why when you stub your toe, it takes a moment for the physical pain to actually arise in consciousness because nervous signals can only travel so fast. If you block that nervous transmission, say via local anesthetic, no bodily pain will be felt, no bodily pain will arise in consciousness. This illustrates the dependence of nāmarūpa and consciousness.

In the case of an embryo or fetus, if those nerves and brain do not exist or have not matured to the point where they can transmit and receive signals, how could there possibly be human nāma and consciousness?

What I am saying is that this hinges on the assumption that whatever happens in our daily life is the same for a fetus. We have no idea what a fetus can feel, how he can feel, whether he is able to feel something without a material nervous system, whether he can feel something with a type of sensory perception we haven't discovered yet that would exist only in the fetus... That's too many unknowns to be able to make any kind of trustworthy reasoning. You would be likely to end up like Descartes 'I think therefore I am'. I believe this is what the Buddha referred to in the famous Kalama sutta as
"mā takka·hetu, mā naya·hetu, mā ākāra·parivitakkena, mā diṭṭhi·nijjhāna·kkhantiyā, mā bhabba·rūpatāya, mā ‘samaṇo no garū’ti."
(not on the basis of logical reasoning, nor on the basis of inference, nor by reflection on appearances, nor by agreement after pondering views, nor by what seems probable, nor by [the thought:] 'The samaṇa is our revered teacher'.)

And I think the above AN 4.77 quote is also relevant.

My point overall is that it is better to discuss on the basis of what the texts say (with proper lucidity as regards to the extent of the knowledge their provide us), because we don't have direct knowledge of what the reality exactly is. We only see it through the lens of present-day scientific knowledge, and assuming there is nothing beyond its scope that could overturn the conclusions we try to make on the basis of its partial understanding of the way reality works.

You are right in that my argument assumes the fetus is a developing human being and thus exists via the same biological rules that apply to all human beings. This argument has mountains of evidence behind it. It seems like you're positing a potentially unknown way in which a human being could exist, for which there is no evidence nor explanation for. You could very well be right, but there is no evidence to support it.

To base an argument on a certain interpretation of the texts is precarious because as we've seen, others such as Ajahn Brahm have a different interpretation of the very same texts. Though I disagree with his conclusion, his interpretation like mine rests on texts like the one I linked to. Who is to say which is correct? The Buddha isn't here to tell us so we're left with competing ideas with no chance of an ultimate resolution---we'd have to wait for Metteyya for that. :P
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:45 am

Mkoll wrote:You are right in that my argument assumes the fetus is a developing human being and thus exists via the same biological rules that apply to all human beings. This argument has mountains of evidence behind it. It seems like you're positing a potentially unknown way in which a human being could exist, for which there is no evidence nor explanation for. You could very well be right, but there is no evidence to support it.

Whether it sounds credible or not, my main point is, as you seem to have noticed, that it cannot be disproved. Therefore, given the seriousness of the issue, we should tread lightly. I know you understand this, since you underlined that you are not jumping to any conclusion, but I just wanted to double down on that last part.

Mkoll wrote:To base an argument on a certain interpretation of the texts is precarious because as we've seen, others such as Ajahn Brahm have a different interpretation of the very same texts. Though I disagree with his conclusion, his interpretation like mine rests on texts like the one I linked to. Who is to say which is correct? The Buddha isn't here to tell us so we're left with competing ideas with no chance of an ultimate resolution---we'd have to wait for Metteyya for that. :P

Therefore, I advocate the principle of precaution. Not performing any abortion cannot be the wrong choice.

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Mkoll » Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:03 am

Buddha Vacana wrote:
Mkoll wrote:You are right in that my argument assumes the fetus is a developing human being and thus exists via the same biological rules that apply to all human beings. This argument has mountains of evidence behind it. It seems like you're positing a potentially unknown way in which a human being could exist, for which there is no evidence nor explanation for. You could very well be right, but there is no evidence to support it.

Whether it sounds credible or not, my main point is, as you seem to have noticed, that it cannot be disproved. Therefore, given the seriousness of the issue, we should tread lightly. I know you understand this, since you underlined that you are not jumping to any conclusion, but I just wanted to double down on that last part.

It can't indeed. And neither can it be proved. "You can't prove me wrong; therefore, I must be right" is a fallacy, not an argument. I don't have to tell you that you're not saying that, but it's worth mentioning because it's quite common.

Buddha Vacana wrote:
Mkoll wrote:To base an argument on a certain interpretation of the texts is precarious because as we've seen, others such as Ajahn Brahm have a different interpretation of the very same texts. Though I disagree with his conclusion, his interpretation like mine rests on texts like the one I linked to. Who is to say which is correct? The Buddha isn't here to tell us so we're left with competing ideas with no chance of an ultimate resolution---we'd have to wait for Metteyya for that. :P

Therefore, I advocate the principle of precaution. Not performing any abortion cannot be the wrong choice.

On a practical level, I basically agree with you. I personally wouldn't advocate for abortion if I was thrust into a situation where I was compelled to give advice. But I probably wouldn't actively advocate against it either, especially in an ambiguous case such as rape, serious danger to the mother, etc.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

atipattoh
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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby atipattoh » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:08 pm

:thinking:

Flesh Eaters: Carnivorous Plants Lure Insects Into Their Deadly


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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Buddha Vacana » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:16 pm

atipattoh wrote::thinking:

Flesh Eaters: Carnivorous Plants Lure Insects Into Their Deadly


Could you explain how in your opinion this relates to the topic?

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby atipattoh » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:48 pm

Oops sorry not for you!

Mkoll wrote:Ven. Brahm says it arises when the embryo-fetus first shows its existence. I disagree with this because there may be a point when name has arisen but the being is unable to give an outward sign that it has due to the sequence of the nervous system's development, e.g. an immature neuromuscular system that's incapable of generating muscle movement to "show" that consciousness is there.

Well i presume plant don't have mind :thinking:
that is to say even if there is responses does not necessary means they have one. Else it's going to be scary!
We can not consider this plant as animal even it is 'capable of setting trap' for its prey.

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby Mkoll » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:00 pm

atipattoh wrote:Well i presume plant don't have mind :thinking:
that is to say even if there is responses does not necessary means they have one.

That is a good point.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

ieee23
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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby ieee23 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:18 pm

santa100 wrote:
ieee23 wrote:
santa100 wrote:Not sure if Ven. Brahm's seen some staggering figures here.


You might want to make your point with a link that everyone can read.

Not sure why you still don't see the obvious point.


Maybe because it isn't an obvious point but a religious view you have and one that Buddhism may not share. Then there is the link you quoted for argument that other people can't read. Embryos aren't little human beings, in your paragraph below you even used the term "potential human beings". Queue the Monty Python song "ever sperm is sacred.

Regardless of all the armchair philosophical debate about what/when human life begins, the ongoing brutal fact is that every year, there're ~800,000 potential human lives being terminated, far more than the number of firearms-related deaths, deaths from the ongoing Syrian civil war, and on par with the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Frankly speaking, it's sheer hypocrisy for any venerable, especially world renowned senior ones, to approve or endorse abortion, particularly up to 16-week abortion, while at the same time preaching about compassion and respect for the life of all sentient beings from tadpoles to elephants!

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Re: A. Brahm's When Does Human Life Begin..?

Postby santa100 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:25 am

ieee23 wrote:Maybe because it isn't an obvious point but a religious view you have and one that Buddhism may not share. Then there is the link you quoted for argument that other people can't read. Embryos aren't little human beings, in your paragraph below you even used the term "potential human beings". Queue the Monty Python song "ever sperm is sacred

Your "sperm" analogy is irrelevant for sperms by themselves won't grow into humans beings. Embryos do. Don't expect that your kamma will be squeakly clean if you consciously and intentionally terminate "potential human beings" from becoming "human beings".
MN 38 wrote:Monks, the descent of the embryo occurs with the union of three things. There is the case where there is no union of the mother & father, the mother is not in her season, and a gandhabba [8] is not present, nor is there a descent of an embryo. There is the case where there is a union of the mother & father, and the mother is in her season, but a gandhabba is not present, nor is there a descent of an embryo. But when there is a union of the mother & father, the mother is in her season, and a gandhabba is present, then with this union of three things the descent of the embryo occurs.

"Then for nine or ten months the mother shelters the embryo in her womb with great anxiety, as a heavy burden. Then, at the end of nine or ten months, she gives birth with great anxiety, as a heavy burden. Then, when the child is born, she feeds it with her own blood — for mother's milk is called blood in the discipline of the noble ones.


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