L. Cousins' "de-quantification" of dhammas

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L. Cousins' "de-quantification" of dhammas

Postby sphairos » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:26 pm

Hey guyz,

You all know that L. Cousins has proposed a curious interpretation of the "Abhidhamma dhammas problem". In his writings on Buddhism and Abhidhamma he always presumes that Abhidhamma authors by the instant succession of the "momentary" dhammas meant an almost opposite thing: that there is no discrete entities in space-time and in our mental/psychological processes in the first place -- there is only an ever-changing continuity, which renders it literally impossible to dissect that flow into atom-like, indivisible entities. It is obvious that this idea - in its form at least - is quite different from the Abhidhammic view. I have always wondered, how come L. Cousins never explicates this great presupposition. What do you think about that?
Last edited by sphairos on Sat May 24, 2014 11:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: L. Cousins' "de-quantification" of dhammas

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:13 am

Hi sphairos,

sphairos wrote:Hey guyz,

You all know that L. Cousins has proposed a curious interpretations of the "Abhidhamma dhammas problem".


Well, perhaps all the other subscribers knew this, but I didn't. :(

.

In his writings on Buddhism and Abhidhamma he always presumes that Abhidhamma authors by the instant succession of the "momentarily" dhammas meant an almost opposite thing: that there is no discrete entities in space-time and in our mental/psychological processes in the first place -- there is only an ever-changing continuity, which renders it literally impossible to dissect that flow into atom-like, indivisible entities. It is obvious that this idea - in its form at least - is quite different from the Abhidhammic view. I have always wondered, how come L. Cousins never explicates this great presupposition. What do you think about that?


Could you specify where in his writings Cousins presents these views? In the only article by him in my possession (The Paṭṭhāna and the Development of the Theravādin Abhidhamma JPTS, [1981] 22-46) Cousins speaks much like any other ābhidhammika, using 'process' when talking about the various vīthis, and the stock (modern) simile of frames-in-a-movie when speaking of individual cittas. I vaguely recall that in other writings he tends to depart from the widespread tendency of modern Abhidhamma writers who place a near-exclusive emphasis on the analytic side of the subject, while treating the synthetic side (i.e., conditional relations) as scarcely more than an afterthought. Cousins, as I recall, reverses this emphasis, but in doing so I can't recall his ever departing from the post-Anuruddha Theravādin consensus in any matter of substance.
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Re: L. Cousins' "de-quantification" of dhammas

Postby sphairos » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:08 am

Dear bhante Dhammānando,

I am pleased to have you answering my questions here.

I don't know much about modern ābhidhammikas, as I have never been deeply interested in Abhidhamma.

It seems to me that the idea that dhammas are processes and not momentary quanta of consciousness and space-time is also quite contrary to the formal presentation of dhammas of most of the Abhidhamma literature which insists that they are quantum-like (writings of Ronkin, Cox, ven. Dhammajoti, Kalupahana etc. substantiate that view). Of course there still exists an old "paradox" of their (i.e. dhammas) momentariness: how could they be "momentary" if they last at least for three moments: "nascent" (uppāda), static moment (ṭhiti) and "cessant" (bhaṇga).

Unfortunately right now I can't find the articles where Cousins states what he states. I clearly remember that this was in his "Buddhist Jhāna", "Paṭṭhāna" and some other works. When I manage to find them I'll cite here the passages of interest.
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Re: L. Cousins' "de-quantification" of dhammas

Postby Stefan6874 » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:17 am

Great idea.
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