"Is there a Self?"

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Sam Vara
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm

aflatun wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:27 pm

I am with you for the most part! I think its true that most of the arguments put forward to remove the subject quite neatly destroy the object as well. Humean style phenomenalists seem quite willing to bear the fall out of being logically consistent here, and that is to their merit. But this all comes back to "what cannot be found in the present moment, does not exist" and reminds me of Bradley's long and compelling tract against solipsism in Appearance and Reality.
Ah, Bradley! You'll have to forgive me, as I haven't read a word of him, other than Nanavira's ironic juxtapositioning of his account of The Absolute with the Buddha's statements about nibbana. It looks very daunting. I remember David Reynolds (Pannobhasa) blogging that he was finding A&R very heavy going while living in a cave in Burma, and it might have led to his current disquietude! :shock:
but I would ask: can we retain the personal unity of experience-the togetherness, directionality, and for-ness of experience- without rendering it a subject? We might also ask, in the other direction, if we can retain the togetherness, directionality, and what-appears-ness of the experience without rendering it as an object?
I actually think that I'm OK with subjects ( :jawdrop: - stand by to repel boarders!) providing they are merely that personal unity by which we are identified, and nothing more. You are partly responsible for this, as you sent me the Sue Hamilton articles which augmented the Gombrich I had been reading! Whereas RG focuses on the necessity of an enduring something by means of which the Buddha's ethical theory can be made to stand up, SH goes one further and talks about the nonsense involved in an entity realising that it doesn't actually exist, and has never done so. I believe she talks about lunatic asylums at one point... As for objects as well as subjects, SH sidesteps the whole issue by referring to the Buddha's (humanistic) focus upon experience rather than ontology, and thus his refusal to answer certain questions - and the "middle way" - is simply a misunderstood tactic to stop amateur philosophers being waylaid. This then makes anatta nothing more than a reiteration of the fact that the self, and every aspect of it, is dependently originated. I would rather have this as a problem than the reverse: which is that it would certainly be impossible for any being to know that things were dependently originated if there was not an enduring thing (and it doesn't have to be a substance!) as the precondition for understanding causality and dependency. As such, the subject (as unity of experience) can never be an object, except through being conceptualised. What we talk about is as objective as trees and emotions, and subject to the same exigencies. We just have to be careful (as per MN 1) not to talk as if the objects were "coming out of" the subject, etc.
Are you saying you see those who would posit khandas-as-essences as succumbing to a form of eternalism? (I think this is true, by the way)


Yes. Essences are eternal. Five big indestructible objects rolling on through time, and happening to produce by their own efforts (one of which is sankhara/intention, of course) a person like me. It might be the case, but the Buddha's pronouncements seem more geared towards us seeing them as personal processes. This is what Hamilton goes on about in most of her articles: when everything else in the teachings is "how", it's difficult to see them as being a "what". And although there are probably hundreds of boiler-plate accounts of what the khandas are, they are invariably about differentiating them one from another, rather than pointing to them or defining them sui generis. Whether it is easier to see them as continuing and constituent parts of experience, or as conditions which give rise to our experience, is currently above my pay grade.
I just wanted to add something, possibly off topic. There is a difference between how the chariot is understood in Theravada vs. Mahayana (Madhyamaka). For the former, the unity is (supposedly) refuted but the parts are "ultimately real." For the latter the unity is refuted but the parts are refuted for the same reason, ad infinitum in both directions, i.e. no ultimate is found, wholes and parts are interdependent and neither can be established: the chariot appears, but cannot be found; its components appear, but cannot be found; their parts appear, but cannot be found...the rabbit hole never ends
That's very interesting. I prefer the latter, if only for the points on dependent origination mentioned above. So you send me stuff about transcendental unities which is heretical here, for some reason they make me a moderator, and only then do you finish me off with a conversion to Mahayana! Get thee behind me, Mara... :jumping:

As ever, many thanks for your posts. Keep 'em coming. My sanity might depend on it...

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Circle5 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:26 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
SH goes one further and talks about the nonsense involved in an entity realising that it doesn't actually exist, and has never done so.
The Buddhist idea is not that there is a self that realizes it doesn't exist, and that itself never existed.

The idea is that there never was a self to begin with. It was just an organism, a conglomeration of aggregates, similar to a computer. There is a specific information existing at one point in a computer, and through the use of the ability to process of the computer, it will arise at a conclusion based on it. For example a computer without an anti-virus will arive at the conclusion that there is no virus in it, one with an antivirus, thanks to the extra information present in it, will arise at a different conclusion.

Similarly, the human organism might have information in it that makes him arive at he conclusion that there is a self, and it will make him interpret things in a specific way. When an additional information is inserted into it (the dhamma), after being processed by it, a different conclusion will arise, the conclusion that there is no self. Also, many more things regarding this organism and how this organism operates will change fundamentally, making it destined for a certain direction. Based on the algorithms present in this organism, based on the information that is now insterted, it will work in a different way and be directed towards another goal, be directed in another direction. Due to the way it is built and the new information present in it, it will operate differently than before and understand many other things differently.

This is much different than a self existing, and that self finding out that it doesn't exist anymore or that it never existed. That would of course be something of imense stupidity and non-sense. But that is just a misunderstanding of the dhamma, a gross one. It shows the western philosopher in question has not bothered to investigate the dhamma or to think too much about it on the coach. Probably he has read half a wikipedia article and gave it 15 minutes of thinking.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:27 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:26 pm

The Buddhist idea is not that there is a self that realizes it doesn't exist, and that itself never existed.
Maybe so, but a little more care on your part would have shown you that this is not what anyone was saying. Can you see the difference between a "self" (in your quote) and an "entity" (in my quote)?
It shows the western philosopher in question has not bothered to investigate the dhamma or to think too much about it on the coach. Probably he has read half a wikipedia article and gave it 15 minutes of thinking.
You are talking about Dr. Susan Hamilton, a reader in Indian Religions at King's College, London. It says that in the text that you read, doesn't it! She (not a he!) is not any kind of "western philosopher". She has published books and many scholarly articles about Indian Religions and early Indian philosophy, specialising in early Buddhism. She is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and was Honorary Secretary of the Pali Text Society. It's amazing how far one can get with half a wikipedia article and 15 minutes of thinking, but I'm glad to see that someone as wise as you has put him...sorry, I mean her, in her place by means of superior learning.

As ever, thanks for your contribution, Circle5. You've no idea how much I appreciate it!

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Circle5 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:09 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:27 pm
Circle5 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:26 pm

The Buddhist idea is not that there is a self that realizes it doesn't exist, and that itself never existed.
Maybe so, but a little more care on your part would have shown you that this is not what anyone was saying. Can you see the difference between a "self" (in your quote) and an "entity" (in my quote)?
If she did not mean entity in the sense of a self (which she probably did), but just in the sense of a conglomeration of aggregates, same as a chariot or an airplane, then that's equally stupid, and shows an equally incredible lack of understanding of buddhism. When in the world have you ever seen the idea of the aggregates not existing, the organism, the being made out of 5 aggregates not existing ? :jawdrop:

It is hard to tell which one of these 2 ideas shows a bigger lack of understanding of buddhism.
She is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and was Honorary Secretary of the Pali Text Society. It's amazing how far one can get with half a wikipedia article and 15 minutes of thinking,
Probably got there on diversity quota. Actions speak louder than titles. When you express ideas like:

- "there is a self that exists, and this existing self finds out that it doesn't exist and that it never existed" or
- "there is a selfless being made out of 5 aggregates, similar to a chariot or an airplane, than finds out that this conglomeration of aggregates never existed"

And you claim these are buddhist ideas found in EBTs, tell me what can one conclude of her ?

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:17 am

Circle5 wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:09 am
...
As ever, your comments are treasured, Circle5.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Circle5 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:25 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:17 am
Circle5 wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:09 am
...
As ever, your comments are treasured, Circle5.
And your post, as evasive as ever. And of course respecting the TOSS about playing the man not the ball.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:31 am

Circle5 wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:25 am

And your post, as evasive as ever. And of course respecting the TOSS about playing the man not the ball.
I readily admit that some of my posts may evade your understanding. But I can't be held entirely responsible for that.

Who has played the man? I've referred to your comments, and your contribution, not to you.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Circle5 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:10 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:31 am
Circle5 wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:25 am

And your post, as evasive as ever. And of course respecting the TOSS about playing the man not the ball.
I readily admit that some of my posts may evade your understanding. But I can't be held entirely responsible for that.

Who has played the man? I've referred to your comments, and your contribution, not to you.
Try to play the ideas discussed next time. Labeling them as wrong, making comments about the post and avoiding to address them is playing the man, not the ball. And, as you said it yourself, these ideas are not exactly mainstream buddhism, they're more like the 0.01%:
So you send me stuff about transcendental unities which is heretical here, for some reason they make me a moderator, and only then do you finish me off with a conversion to Mahayana! Get thee behind me, Mara... :jumping:
This may be NananandaWheel, but still many people here are normal buddhist from other groups. You should not be surprised when finding people contradicting your ideas sometimes. You should not feel like there is something super strange going on when that happens, and be quick to consider people not agreeing with your ideas as having a problem with you or something, then try making fun of them and answer in tendentious ways. This is called projecting. If you see a person discussing an idea, then consider discussing the idea too, rather than answering in tendentious way, feeling like all he really wanted to do is to personally attack you or something. Remember these ideas expressed are anything but popular within the buddhist world, as you yourself said. It's only normal to have people on this forum not agree with them.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Saengnapha » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:00 am

aflatun wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:24 pm
Circle5 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:02 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:03 am
Taking a position:Wrong View
Not taking a position:Wrong View

No position can be held as all are impermanent and conceptualized. If we don't move past this point, we repeat, repeat, repeat........
Also, check nr 14:

14. The one who evades all questions thinking that answering them would be “attachment” to something.

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title= ... wrong_view
I'm not a moderator, but I'd love it if the both of you kept your evangelizing out of this thread. This thread is about a Neo Kantian critique of Humean "no self" and as we've discussed scriptural authority is out of bounds here.
Sorry.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by aflatun » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:54 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:00 am
Sorry.
Thank you, its much appreciated, and I mean that.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Sam Vara
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:27 am

Circle5 wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:10 am

Try to play the ideas discussed next time. Labeling them as wrong, making comments about the post and avoiding to address them is playing the man, not the ball.
I have responded to your ideas, both here and on the thread which this gave rise to. They show little or no understanding of the topic, but when I point this out, all I get is reiteration and stock irrelevancies, such as analogies about computers or bushmen. If I labelled such ideas as right, you might be happier, but I would be breaking a precept. That's a point about the ideas, not you, so the ball is played and not the man.
This may be NananandaWheel, but still many people here are normal buddhist from other groups.
Indeed? I've seen discussions about his ideas, but personally know nothing about him. I couldn't give the crudest summary of his main ideas.
You should not feel like there is something super strange going on when that happens, and be quick to consider people not agreeing with your ideas as having a problem with you or something, then try making fun of them and answer in tendentious ways. This is called projecting.
I don't feel that there is anything strange going on. There are some comments in response to my post which show a lack of understanding; that's not strange. Please try to avoid the psychoanalysing, though, or we'll have to talk about ToS again...
If you see a person discussing an idea, then consider discussing the idea too, rather than answering in tendentious way, feeling like all he really wanted to do is to personally attack you or something.
That's precisely what I have done. When other posters (Aflatun is a good example, and Polarbear 101) discuss the ideas presented, I have responded in kind. But your answers haven't really discussed the idea. I've tried to explain this - at some length in the other thread - but the critical element in your posts far outstrips any evidence of understanding.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by binocular » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:47 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:34 am
Your approach may very well contain fallacious thinking, but then again, so might Bill Vallicella's; let's not jump to conclusions. To take your points in order:
/.../
My point is that there is a context to these discussions about selfhood, and I think that this context is more relevant than people usually give it credit. It's this context that is emphasized in the suttas: for one, in the sense of focusing on and knowing one's intentions when talking about a topic, and for two, evaluating the person one is talking to about a particular topic.
Western philosophy may hold the power of the argument to be supreme, but from the suttas, I get the impression that they don't.
1) Maybe the story about a correspondent is spurious. Either way, BV has visited this issue on several occasions, including in a published academic paper. He might have been re-hashing earlier work for the sake of the correspondent, or inventing the correspondence in order to present his ideas again. I personally think that the quality of his work is more important than the stories surrounding it.
Sounds like Mahayanist "skillful means" ...
If people in mental aylums or drunk people are not worth listening to, it is merely because they are incapable of insight or valid argumentation. And even then we need to be careful; one of my tutors at University told the story of how he was struggling over an essay on Plato in Manchester Public Library when he got into a conversation with a drunk, dirty tramp who put him right about the theory of forms. The second point here is confusing.
In general, people seem to have a heuristic like this: A person who looks drunk or deranged isn't making any sense. It's because the person looks drunk or deranged that we tend to conclude they're not making any sense; not because we would first listen to them and after careful consideration decide that they're not making any sense. (And we possibly treat that person as if they're not making any sense to begin with, interpreting everything they say as the ramblings of a drunk or deranged. Being mistreated that way and still appearing sane is hard enough for a sober, sane person who is trying to resist a manipulator, what to speak of doing that when drunk or otherwise under the weather.) It's a heuristic that works and seems true enough much of the time. Of course since this is not a particularly pc heuristic, few people admit to using it.
These seem to be two different issues. The topic of selfhood may or may not be a kind of objective matter; it depends on how we define "objective" and "selfhood". Some materialists would have no difficulties in hypothesising selfhood as a matter of molecular configuration, and there would be no difficulty debating this with them. But it seems to have little to do with the personal qualities of those undertaking the discussion, except - again - whether those personal qualities include the ability to understand valid and sound argumentation.
And in the meantime, as they say, our molars rot. Anyway, my issue with these discussions about anatta is that the people discussing these things seem to step out of their own lives, as if for the time of the discussion, they cease to be subject to aging, illness, and death.
But, by all means, carry on!
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by auto » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:30 pm

Point 4. The unity of consciousness

For what we have in the reasoning process is not merely a succession of conscious states, but also a consciousness of their succession in one and the same conscious subject.

When you are consciously reasoning, there is no interruptions. You can focus on a specific parts of that consciousness without losing awareness. Then that still has a self identity but not habitual.

But when you are walking around thinking your own thoughts and then stumbling on a rock. Then that is forced focus on a specific part of that consciousness. That is habitual, self identity is lower fetter.

MN 64 will help.
------
Self can be stabilized and focused upon.
When you sit, then the forces in body try to interrupt you, that force when liberated is the self. At some point the focus from forehead goes to the bottom, butthole area. Then the mind/self will be free, it moves and flies. It rises upwards and tries to get out of the mouth, touching the palate of the mouth with a tongue there gathers a force, moving sensation, it can be led down without swallowing;swallowing without interuption. Also there liberates somethign to the forehead..

btw if we let the excrement out, basically everyday, numerous souls go out that way. They come food and we eat it again, some will go into clouds but with rain will be back on ground. With food, also seeing, breathing etc we ingest selves.
Best example is semen, lots of little selves, but only one gets birth as human, that is how rare actually human birth is.
Last edited by auto on Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by aflatun » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:24 pm

Thanks for this Sam, more later! I was intrigued to learn that BV was a student of J.N. Findlay, the great 20th century Neoplatonist.

A former professor of mine, another Roman Catholic philosopher, recounted a story in which an anonymous student was growing increasingly frustrated with the Plotinian account of the One in Findlay's lectures on Plotinus, when he blurted out:

"Well professor, what the hell does the One do!?"

Professor Findlay replied: "The One ones."
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
aflatun wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:27 pm

I am with you for the most part! I think its true that most of the arguments put forward to remove the subject quite neatly destroy the object as well. Humean style phenomenalists seem quite willing to bear the fall out of being logically consistent here, and that is to their merit. But this all comes back to "what cannot be found in the present moment, does not exist" and reminds me of Bradley's long and compelling tract against solipsism in Appearance and Reality.
Ah, Bradley! You'll have to forgive me, as I haven't read a word of him, other than Nanavira's ironic juxtapositioning of his account of The Absolute with the Buddha's statements about nibbana. It looks very daunting. I remember David Reynolds (Pannobhasa) blogging that he was finding A&R very heavy going while living in a cave in Burma, and it might have led to his current disquietude! :shock:
but I would ask: can we retain the personal unity of experience-the togetherness, directionality, and for-ness of experience- without rendering it a subject? We might also ask, in the other direction, if we can retain the togetherness, directionality, and what-appears-ness of the experience without rendering it as an object?
I actually think that I'm OK with subjects ( :jawdrop: - stand by to repel boarders!) providing they are merely that personal unity by which we are identified, and nothing more. You are partly responsible for this, as you sent me the Sue Hamilton articles which augmented the Gombrich I had been reading! Whereas RG focuses on the necessity of an enduring something by means of which the Buddha's ethical theory can be made to stand up, SH goes one further and talks about the nonsense involved in an entity realising that it doesn't actually exist, and has never done so. I believe she talks about lunatic asylums at one point... As for objects as well as subjects, SH sidesteps the whole issue by referring to the Buddha's (humanistic) focus upon experience rather than ontology, and thus his refusal to answer certain questions - and the "middle way" - is simply a misunderstood tactic to stop amateur philosophers being waylaid. This then makes anatta nothing more than a reiteration of the fact that the self, and every aspect of it, is dependently originated. I would rather have this as a problem than the reverse: which is that it would certainly be impossible for any being to know that things were dependently originated if there was not an enduring thing (and it doesn't have to be a substance!) as the precondition for understanding causality and dependency. As such, the subject (as unity of experience) can never be an object, except through being conceptualised. What we talk about is as objective as trees and emotions, and subject to the same exigencies. We just have to be careful (as per MN 1) not to talk as if the objects were "coming out of" the subject, etc.
Are you saying you see those who would posit khandas-as-essences as succumbing to a form of eternalism? (I think this is true, by the way)


Yes. Essences are eternal. Five big indestructible objects rolling on through time, and happening to produce by their own efforts (one of which is sankhara/intention, of course) a person like me. It might be the case, but the Buddha's pronouncements seem more geared towards us seeing them as personal processes. This is what Hamilton goes on about in most of her articles: when everything else in the teachings is "how", it's difficult to see them as being a "what". And although there are probably hundreds of boiler-plate accounts of what the khandas are, they are invariably about differentiating them one from another, rather than pointing to them or defining them sui generis. Whether it is easier to see them as continuing and constituent parts of experience, or as conditions which give rise to our experience, is currently above my pay grade.
I just wanted to add something, possibly off topic. There is a difference between how the chariot is understood in Theravada vs. Mahayana (Madhyamaka). For the former, the unity is (supposedly) refuted but the parts are "ultimately real." For the latter the unity is refuted but the parts are refuted for the same reason, ad infinitum in both directions, i.e. no ultimate is found, wholes and parts are interdependent and neither can be established: the chariot appears, but cannot be found; its components appear, but cannot be found; their parts appear, but cannot be found...the rabbit hole never ends
That's very interesting. I prefer the latter, if only for the points on dependent origination mentioned above. So you send me stuff about transcendental unities which is heretical here, for some reason they make me a moderator, and only then do you finish me off with a conversion to Mahayana! Get thee behind me, Mara... :jumping:

As ever, many thanks for your posts. Keep 'em coming. My sanity might depend on it...
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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aflatun
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by aflatun » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:43 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
aflatun wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:27 pm

I am with you for the most part! I think its true that most of the arguments put forward to remove the subject quite neatly destroy the object as well. Humean style phenomenalists seem quite willing to bear the fall out of being logically consistent here, and that is to their merit. But this all comes back to "what cannot be found in the present moment, does not exist" and reminds me of Bradley's long and compelling tract against solipsism in Appearance and Reality.
Ah, Bradley! You'll have to forgive me, as I haven't read a word of him, other than Nanavira's ironic juxtapositioning of his account of The Absolute with the Buddha's statements about nibbana. It looks very daunting. I remember David Reynolds (Pannobhasa) blogging that he was finding A&R very heavy going while living in a cave in Burma, and it might have led to his current disquietude! :shock:
Sorry about that, I thought we had touched on him once before! I'm familiar with the juxtaposition you are referring to, and it's hilarious irony. Nanavira can be found boxing with him here and here, its kind of fun...a nod of approval...a correction...a nod of approval...an uppercut :tongue: etc.

I thought of him for two reasons:

1) He is a non Buddhist who rejects 'self' as appearance (i.e. not Reality) in a somewhat Humean way, but in my opinion with a bit more finesse in that he's not denying the Ego as such, but denying its separability from its content:
F. H. Bradley wrote:Now that subject and object have contents and are actual psychical groups appears to me evident. I am aware that too often writers speak of the Ego as of something not essentially qualified by this or that psychical matter. And I do not deny that in a certain use that language might be defended. But if we consider, as we are considering here, what we are to understand by that object and subject in relation, which at a given time we find existing in a soul, the case is quite altered. The Ego that pretends to be anything either before or beyond its concrete psychical filling, is a gross fiction and mere monster, and for no purpose admissible. And the question surely may be settled by observation. Take any case of perception, or whatever you please, where this relation of object to subject is found as a fact. There, I presume, no one will deny that the object, at all events, is a concrete phenomenon. It has a character which exists as, or in, a mental fact. And, if we turn from this to the subject, is there any more cause for doubt? Surely in every case that contains a mass of feeling, if not also of other psychical existence. When I see, or perceive, or understand, I (my term of the relation) am palpably, and perhaps even painfully, concrete. And when I will or desire, it surely is ridiculous to take the self as not qualified by particular psychical fact. Evidently any self which we can find is some concrete form of unity of psychical existence. And whoever wishes to introduce it as something (now or at any time) apart or beyond, clearly does not rest his case upon observation. He is importing into the facts a metaphysical chimera, which, in no sense existing, can do no work; and which, even if it existed, would be worse than useless.
Appearance and Reality pg. 89-90


And in doing so comes to a conclusion that is similar to Ven. Nanavira: What we take to be "self" is simply the background of our "felt mass" of experience that is not being directly attended to at any given moment, and, self and not self are dynamic, in that anything that is not self may become self or vice-a-versa. As David Reynolds sums it up after quoting from Bradley:
David Reynolds wrote:So we arrive at the weird conclusion that what we feel to be our self, all we are experientially, is the semiconscious background of whatever we're attending to! And that subconscious background is constantly changing; although enough of it stays the same that we feel like the same me from one moment to the next. That strikes me as delightfully weird.
From David Reynolds' Blog

2) In his writings against solipsism he brings up-and criticizes- the idea that we cannot go beyond the "given"
F. H. Bradley wrote:The argument in favour of Solipsism, put most simply, is as follows. “ I cannot transcend experience, and experience must be my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond my self exists for what is experience is its states.”
Appearance and Reality pg. 248

and he does this in a most interesting way, in light of our conversation: the "self" that the solipsist seeks to pin reality to is as much of a "beyond the given" as is "an external world" or "other selves."
F. H. Bradley wrote:Direct experience is unable to transcend the mere “this.” But even in what that gives we are, even so far, not supplied with the self upon which Solipsism is founded. We have always instead either too much or too little. For the distinction and separation of subject and object is not original at all, and is, in that sense, not a datum. And hence the self cannot, without qualification, be said to be given (ibid.). I will but mention this point, and will go on to another. Whatever we may think generally of our original mode of feeling, we have now verifiably some states in which there is no reference to a subject at all (ibid.). And if such feelings are the mere adjectives of a subject-reality, that character must be inferred, and is certainly not given. But it is not necessary to take our stand on this disputable ground. Let us admit that the distinction of object and subject is directly presented—and we have still hardly made a step in the direction of Solipsism. For the subject and the object will now appear in correlation; they will be either two aspects of one fact, or (if you prefer it) two things with a relation between them. And it hardly follows straight from this that only one of these two things is real, and that all the rest of the given total is merely its attribute. That is the result of reflection and of inference, a process which first sets up one half of the fact as absolute, and then turns the other half into an adjective of this fragment. And whether the half is object or is subject, and whether we are led to Materialism, or to what is called sometimes “Idealism,” the process essentially is the same. It equally consists, in each case, in a vicious inference. And the result is emphatically not something which experience presents. I will, in conclusion, perhaps needlessly, remark on another point. We found (Chapter ix.) that there prevailed great confusion as to the boundaries of self and not-self. There seemed to be features not exclusively assignable to either. And, if this is so, surely that is one more reason for rejecting an experience such as Solipsism would suppose. If the self is given as a reality, with all else as its adjectives, we can hardly then account for the supervening uncertainty about its limits, and explain our constant hesitation between too little and too much.

What we have seen so far is briefly this. We have no direct experience of reality as my self with its states. If we are to arrive at that conclusion, we must do so indirectly and through a process of inference. Experience gives the “this-mine.” It gives neither the “mine” as an adjective of the “this,” nor the “this” as dependent on and belonging to the “mine.” Even if it did so for the moment, that would still not be enough as a support for Solipsism. But experience supplies the character required, not even as existing within one presentation, and, if not thus, then much less so as existing beyond. And the position, in which we now stand, may be stated as follows. If Solipsism is to be proved, it must transcend direct experience. Let us then ask, (a) first, if transcendence of this kind is possible, and, (b) next, if it is able to give assistance to Solipsism. The conclusion, which we shall reach, may be stated at once. It is both possible and necessary to transcend what is given. But this same transcendence at once carries us into the universe at large. Our private self is not a resting-place which logic can justify.
Appearance and Reality pg. 249-250

Trying to bring this back to our discussion (sorry for this monstrosity of a rabbit trail!): It seems a bit sloppy to me to argue that we must reject "self" because we can't transcend what is "given," and not reject a whole host of other things. And so agreeing with BV, it is logically defensible to posit a self as a transcendental condition of experience much as we posit a world at large as such a transcendental condition.
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
I actually think that I'm OK with subjects ( :jawdrop: - stand by to repel boarders!) providing they are merely that personal unity by which we are identified, and nothing more.
:jawdrop: I think I'm with you here. What I am wary of, however, is making this "subject" a condition of perception, consciousness, etc and I think you are too. I believe the Buddha taught the opposite, that consciousness, perception, etc are the transcendental conditions that make "I am" and that personal unity possible, not the other way around.
DN15 wrote:“Ānanda, the one who says ‘Feeling is not my self; my self is without experience of feeling’—he should be asked: ‘Friend, where there is nothing at all that is felt, could the idea “I am” occur there?’.”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“Therefore, Ānanda, because of this it is not acceptable to consider: ‘Feeling is not my self; my self is without experience of feeling.’

“Ānanda, the one who says ‘Feeling is not my self, but my self is not without experience of feeling. My self feels; for my self is subject to feeling’—he should be asked: ‘Friend, if feeling were to cease absolutely and utterly without remainder, then, in the complete absence of feeling, with the cessation of feeling, could (the idea) “I am this” occur there?’.”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“Therefore, Ānanda, because of this it is not acceptable to consider: ‘Feeling is not my self, but my self is not without experience of feeling. My self feels; for my self is subject to feeling.’
DN15

But I don't think BV would like this! This "transcendental argument" from the Buddha is different from the Humean search for the self among foreground phenomena. He seems to be saying that feeling-or we could say, contact and sense bases...or all five aggregates shifting to another model-are the transcendental conditions of "my self" appearing. Do you think we can 'best' BV via this line of argument? If there is no consciousness, perception, feeling, etc how can there be "I am?" If "I am" depends on consciousness, perception, feeling etc, how can it be transcendental to them? How can something simultaneously appear on the basis of conditions and be a condition for itself and those conditions?
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
You are partly responsible for this, as you sent me the Sue Hamilton articles which augmented the Gombrich I had been reading! Whereas RG focuses on the necessity of an enduring something by means of which the Buddha's ethical theory can be made to stand up, SH goes one further and talks about the nonsense involved in an entity realising that it doesn't actually exist, and has never done so. I believe she talks about lunatic asylums at one point... As for objects as well as subjects, SH sidesteps the whole issue by referring to the Buddha's (humanistic) focus upon experience rather than ontology, and thus his refusal to answer certain questions - and the "middle way" - is simply a misunderstood tactic to stop amateur philosophers being waylaid. This then makes anatta nothing more than a reiteration of the fact that the self, and every aspect of it, is dependently originated. I would rather have this as a problem than the reverse: which is that it would certainly be impossible for any being to know that things were dependently originated if there was not an enduring thing (and it doesn't have to be a substance!) as the precondition for understanding causality and dependency. As such, the subject (as unity of experience) can never be an object, except through being conceptualised. What we talk about is as objective as trees and emotions, and subject to the same exigencies. We just have to be careful (as per MN 1) not to talk as if the objects were "coming out of" the subject, etc.


:goodpost:
aflatun wrote:Are you saying you see those who would posit khandas-as-essences as succumbing to a form of eternalism? (I think this is true, by the way)

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
Yes. Essences are eternal. Five big indestructible objects rolling on through time, and happening to produce by their own efforts (one of which is sankhara/intention, of course) a person like me. It might be the case, but the Buddha's pronouncements seem more geared towards us seeing them as personal processes. This is what Hamilton goes on about in most of her articles: when everything else in the teachings is "how", it's difficult to see them as being a "what". And although there are probably hundreds of boiler-plate accounts of what the khandas are, they are invariably about differentiating them one from another, rather than pointing to them or defining them sui generis. Whether it is easier to see them as continuing and constituent parts of experience, or as conditions which give rise to our experience, is currently above my pay grade.


Well said :thumbsup:

Sorry for this mess of a post, its been a long week. You keep them coming too!
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:25 pm
That's very interesting. I prefer the latter, if only for the points on dependent origination mentioned above. So you send me stuff about transcendental unities which is heretical here, for some reason they make me a moderator, and only then do you finish me off with a conversion to Mahayana! Get thee behind me, Mara... :jumping:


:embarassed: :rofl:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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