Is Theravada "Realist"?

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Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:46 am

Greetings,

Friends, is Theravada Realist? If so, in what form?

To start with, here's a definition from our friends at Wikipedia...

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism
Realism, Realist or Realistic are terms that describe any manifestation of philosophical realism, the belief that reality exists independently of observers, whether in philosophy itself or in the applied arts and sciences. In this broad sense it is frequently contrasted with Idealism.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc. Realism may be spoken of with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought. Realism can also be promoted in an unqualified sense, in which case it asserts the mind-independent existence of a visible world, as opposed to idealism, skepticism and solipsism. Philosophers who profess realism also typically believe that truth consists in a belief's correspondence to reality.

Realists tend to believe that whatever we believe now is only an approximation of reality and that every new observation brings us closer to understanding reality. In its Kantian sense, realism is contrasted with idealism. In a contemporary sense, realism is contrasted with anti-realism, primarily in the philosophy of science

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:50 am

No. It is nominalist: The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:52 am

Greetings Tilt,

No. It is nominalist: The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.

Does Theravada hold that these "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to a "reality, or some aspect of it, [that] is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:55 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

No. It is nominalist: The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.

Does Theravada hold that these "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to a "reality, or some aspect of it, [that] is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?Metta,
Retro. :)
There is no reality in those terms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:59 am

Greetings Tilt,

Does that make the answer "no", or does it mean you wish to redefine the terms to show what the "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Does that make the answer "no", or does it mean you wish to redefine the terms to show what the "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Damdifino what you mean here. The no means
[that there] is [no] ontologically [something or other] independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:08 am

Greetings Tilt,

[that there] is [no] ontologically [something or other] independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Does this mean according to Theravada, that outside of "our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc", nothing (ontologically) exists?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:03 am

this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

or
The world in general, Kaccaayana, inclines to two views, to existence[2] or to non-existence.[3] But for him who, with the highest wisdom, sees the uprising of the world as it really is,[4] 'non-existence of the world' does not apply, and for him who, with highest wisdom, sees the passing away of the world as it really is, 'existence of the world' does not apply.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.wlsh.html


In my opinion Theravada is not realist. I think there is value in attending to objects with discernment as if they existed as the Abhidhamma instructs. I think it helps for becoming more lucid to the nature of that "existence". It also helps to see the "existence" as not wholly "objective". Therein lies the lucidity. In my opinion individuals might interpret the detailed Abhidhamma "map" as a definitive description of actuality. In which case they might find themselves holding a realist position. On the other hand, while holding this realist position, they might look into it with practice and find that it does not perfectly describe actuality. They still benefit from Dhamma. If they dont practice then they will certainly find no benefit. I dont think there is a perfect description of actuality.

Only individuals hold views. Theravada is the conveyance of a way which leads beyond views. Its mode's of conveyance are varied and include many practices as well of descriptions of how those practices unfold if successful.

Take care

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:15 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

[that there] is [no] ontologically [something or other] independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Does this mean according to Theravada, that outside of "our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc", nothing (ontologically) exists?
What would it be?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:17 am

Greetings Prasadachitta,

Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Reading the sutta you present, I share your conclusion that what is presented in SN 12.15 does not advocate a Realist view.

Only individuals hold views.

A point well made.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:23 am

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
[that there] is [no] ontologically [something or other] independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Does this mean according to Theravada, that outside of "our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc", nothing (ontologically) exists?
What would it be?


Immaterialism is the theory propounded by Bishop Berkeley in the 18th century which holds that there are no material objects, only minds and ideas in those minds.

Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaterialism

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Prasadachitta,

Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Reading the sutta you present, I share your conclusion that what is presented in SN 12.15 does not advocate a Realist view.

Only individuals hold views.

A point well made.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Which is even better in its fuller context: Only individuals hold views. Theravada is the conveyance of a way which leads beyond views. Its mode's of conveyance are varied and include many practices as well of descriptions of how those practices unfold if successful.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:26 am

retrofuturist wrote:Immaterialism is the theory propounded by Bishop Berkeley in the 18th century which holds that there are no material objects, only minds and ideas in those minds.

Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaterialism

Metta,
Retro. :)
Not at all.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:47 am

Greetings Tilt,

It is not Immaterialist then.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:27 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

No. It is nominalist: The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.

Does Theravada hold that these "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to a "reality, or some aspect of it, [that] is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Could the 3 characteristics be pointing to a "reality" which is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes?

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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:28 pm

If philosophy is "beliefs about reality" I think the answer is that Theravada is not philosophy. To treat it as such is a disservice.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby pulga » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:40 pm

That abstractions and ideas are the same thing; and, though they do not exist apart from images, they are not anchored to any one particular image; but, in the sense that they necessarily have one or another concrete (even if multiple) imaginary content, the abstraction is illusory: abstraction is a discursive escape from the singularity of the real to the plurality of the imaginary -- it is not an escape from the concrete." (from Ven. Ñanavira's Shorter Note on Mano) (my emphasis)

This is about as close to Ven. Ñanananda that Ven. Ñanavira comes. The whole note is worthy of a careful read. What he is explaining is his interpretation of Husserl's theory of categorial intuition (though he may have come by the idea by way of Sartre).
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Nicro » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:18 pm

I don't think its realist.

Reality is what we experience of it. We can't say anything exists outside of our experience. We can't even say if anything exists outside of what our sense doors tell us. I am looking at my computer now, so I am experiencing looking at my computer, but I can't even say if it is real. It is just what my eyes and hands tell me.
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:56 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

No. It is nominalist: The doctrine holding that abstract concepts, general terms, or universals have no independent existence but exist only as names.

Does Theravada hold that these "abstract concepts, general terms, or universals" point to a "reality, or some aspect of it, [that] is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc"?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Could the 3 characteristics be pointing to a "reality" which is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes?

Spiny

Hi Spiny,

What is ontological independence?

What is ontological dependence?

Im at a loss to understand these terms. I barley understand "ontology".

Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Is Theravada "Realist"?

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:59 pm

I don't get it.....the Buddha taught that The World contains only fabricated things and that all fabricated things are contained in The World. Can this be the same as realism? Can this be different from realism?
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