In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

In the Buddha-dhamma of the Sutta Pitaka, noumena are to be regarded...

As sankhata-dhammas
4
29%
As asankhata-dhammas
2
14%
As dhammas, generally (neither sankhata, nor asankhata)
1
7%
As dhammas, but only in the broad sense of being "things"
2
14%
As not being dhammas at all
2
14%
... Um, I don't know yet... let's discuss!
3
21%
 
Total votes: 14

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In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:39 am

Greetings,

In the Buddha-dhamma, how should noumena be regarded?

For those unfamiliar with the term "noumena"...

- Wikipedia: Noumenon
- The theory of phenomena and noumena
- Noumenon vs Phenomenon - What's the difference?
The final result of Kant's philosophy, expressed in the concisest terms, was the proposition, so humiliating to human cognition, but, at the same time, so fertile in consequences, that we can know only phenomena'', or the outward appearances of things, but not the ''noumenon", or the thing in itself.
The poll allows for re-voting, so please choose the poll option that aligns most closely to your current understanding, and feel free to re-vote, if your opinion changes throughout the topic.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by chownah » Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:11 am

Noumena seems to me to be clearly out of range.....they do not apply.
But......every word, every thought, every idea is a mental object. We write words about, we have thoughts about, we develop ideas about things that are out of range. These words, thoughts, and ideas are dhammas....I guess they are sankhata dhammas since I guess that nibanna is the only asankhata dhamma. I'm guessing that sankhata means fabricated or something similar. We fabricate these words, thoughts, and ideas from experience based on the six sense media.......they are all conjecture....we can conjecture about whether they are this or that and all the action involved in that conjecture is dhammas I guess.....but what kind of meaning can be put on conjecture about something which can not be known?...about something that it is impossible to know? Noumena by definition is not knowable.

chownah

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:49 am

Greetings Chownah,

I agree with what you have said. Because "noumena by definition is not knowable", I had initially regarded them as "not a dhamma", since I understood a "dhamma" to be a phenomenon, and "noumena" cannot be "phenomena".

Yet... venerable Dhammanando drew our attention to this sutta, which tells us that dhatus are indeed dhammas. Then there are suttas like this, which suggest that dhatus may be materiality, which if so, would make them noumena. Hence the uncertainty around the boundaries of the Pali term "dhamma", and hence the poll.

I wonder, did you happen to vote in the poll, and if so, which response best aligned with what you have said here?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:23 am

Hmm. This noumea and "unknowability" seems to me to be a particular philosophical theory. If we are talking about external objects/phenomena (phenomena in the general sense, such as light, wind, etc) then those are certainly partially knowable otherwise they are irrelevant. They impinge on our body and hence affect our mind. (Reading this forum affects our minds, for example.) However, the knowledge may not be particularly accurate so in that sense they are not accurately knowable.

Mike

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by Otto » Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:43 am

I would identify the noumenon with Nibbana.

I would say that when I realize the concept of 'thing-in-itself' with reference to a phenomenon I am just realizing that the objects which are objects-for-a-subject are not objects-without-a-subject. Objects-for-a-subject are phenomena. The noumenon is, in my view, not plural; its is one object-not-for-a-subject. All objects in samsaric experience, whether compounds or dhammas, are phenomena; they are for the samsaric subject.

Kant points out that the concept of causality applies to relations between phenomena, therefore the application of the causality concept to the relationship between the noumenon and phenomena makes the noumenon phenomenal. This is how Kant argues against metaphysical proofs for God qua first cause. So, this is identical with the Buddhist view that Nibbana is acausal while subsisting beyond phenomena.

I am a monist about the noumenon; I'm not prepared to argue for this though. Someone might say that the application of the concept of unity to the noumenon makes the noumenon phenomenal to the understanding; but, I say it's sufficient to negate the concept of plurality to arrive at the monist view of the noumenon and say that the mysterious oneness of the noumenon doesn't involve predication of logical unity to the noumenon, but only the negation of logical plurality.

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by Otto » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:03 am

Regarding one of the links in the original post, it is true that theoretical objects are always approximations to the noumenon. When I think abstractly about phenomena, I am trying to negate the sentient subject. Like Kant in arguing against the rationalists, who thought that theory does simply bring us to the noumenon, I believe that theorizing always makes the noumenal phenomenal; but theory also helps us to understand phenomena more objectively; theorizing is the human subject's power to negate his subjectivity only by negating his sentience. The true noumenon requires a full negation of the samsaric subject; theoretical reasoning can't accomplish this.

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by DooDoot » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:04 am

chownah wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:11 am
Noumena seems to me to be clearly out of range.....they do not apply.... Noumena by definition is not knowable.
For the puthujjana, the Buddha-Dhamma appears to be a 'noumena', according to the above idea.
chownah wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:11 am
These words, thoughts, and ideas are dhammas....I guess they are sankhata dhammas since I guess that nibanna is the only asankhata dhamma. I'm guessing that sankhata means fabricated or something similar. We fabricate these words, thoughts, and ideas from experience based on the six sense media.......they are all conjecture....
This sounds like solipsism. This said, what about "experience based on the six sense media"? Is this also "fabricated", according to the idea of "fabricated" described above? Is 'bare awareness' fabricated? Is the asankhata dhamma knowable or experienceable, according to your view?
Otto wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:43 am
I would identify the noumenon with Nibbana.
A famous Thai scholar monk named Buddhadasa used to say Nibbana was the noumenon (although I did not understand what this monk was trying to teach, here).
Otto wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 3:43 am
Kant points out that the concept of causality applies to relations between phenomena, therefore the application of the causality concept to the relationship between the noumenon and phenomena makes the noumenon phenomenal. This is how Kant argues against metaphysical proofs for God qua first cause. So, this is identical with the Buddhist view that Nibbana is acausal while subsisting beyond phenomena.
The Pali suttas appear to say Nibbana is a sense object (ayatana) known by the (undefiled) mind. Does this conform to what you wrote above? Thanks

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by Otto » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:21 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:04 am

The Pali suttas appear to say Nibbana is a sense object (ayatana) known by the (undefiled) mind. Does this conform to what you wrote above? Thanks
I'm only speaking from a mundane point of view. The knowledge (indeed, bodily encounter) with Nibbana is supra-mundane and other-worldy even while the living 'subject' is not yet in parinibbana.

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by DooDoot » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:28 am

Otto wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:21 am
I'm only speaking from a mundane point of view. The knowledge (indeed, bodily encounter) with Nibbana is supra-mundane and other-worldy even while the living 'subject' is not yet in parinibbana.
The suttas refer to two types of Nibbana, namely: (i) experienced while living & (ii) the final ending of experience & the aggregates.
Bhikkhus, there are these two Nibbana-elements. What are the two? The Nibbana-element with residue left and the Nibbana-element with no residue left.

What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with residue left (saupadisesa)? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate, and delusion in him that is called the Nibbana-element with residue left.

"Now what, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with no residue left (anupadisesa)? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant... completely released through final knowledge. For him, here in this very life, all that is experienced, not being delighted in, will be extinguished. That, bhikkhus, is called the Nibbana-element with no residue left.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... ml#iti-044

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by DooDoot » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:39 am
- Wikipedia: Noumenon
So far, I don't have any issues with the ideas below (although I may not understand them fully):
In metaphysics, the noumenon (/ˈnuːmənɒn/, also UK: /ˈnaʊmənɒn/, from Greek: [εν]νοούμενον) is a posited object or event that exists independently of human sense and/or perception.[1][2] The term noumenon is generally used when contrasted with, or in relation to, the term phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by or is an object of the senses. Modern philosophy has generally been skeptical of the possibility of knowledge independent of the senses, and Immanuel Kant gave this point of view its canonical expression: that the noumenal world may exist, but it is completely unknowable through human sensation. In Kantian philosophy, the unknowable noumenon is often linked to the unknowable "thing-in-itself" (in Kant's German, Ding an sich), although how to characterize the nature of the relationship is a question yet open to some controversy.
For example, much of modern science is work-in-progress, which means so much is not only not fully known but also potentially knowable. For example, the causes & cures for cancer may be exist in nature but are not yet known to human knowledge.

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by pulga » Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:49 am

Yet... venerable Dhammanando drew our attention to this sutta, which tells us that dhatus are indeed dhammas.
It seems to me that "ime dhammā" in the text Ven. Dhammanando provided could be understood as "these teachings", rather than "these phenomena".

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by Cittasanto » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:52 am

Bearing in mind the topic which brought this one about I view them as sankata-dhammas and dhammas as things in a broad sense.
we do understand these things in a particular way even if that way is not exactly accurate, and they are drscribed in a particular way in the suttas hence they are sankata-dhammas. yet as these concevings are of something that thing will have an origination... so are dhammas in a broad sense of things.

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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by chownah » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:21 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Mon Dec 25, 2017 2:49 am
Greetings Chownah,

I agree with what you have said. Because "noumena by definition is not knowable", I had initially regarded them as "not a dhamma", since I understood a "dhamma" to be a phenomenon, and "noumena" cannot be "phenomena".

Yet... venerable Dhammanando drew our attention to this sutta, which tells us that dhatus are indeed dhammas. Then there are suttas like this, which suggest that dhatus may be materiality, which if so, would make them noumena. Hence the uncertainty around the boundaries of the Pali term "dhamma", and hence the poll.

I wonder, did you happen to vote in the poll, and if so, which response best aligned with what you have said here?

Metta,
Paul. :)
I did not vote (I never vote). I think if I was forced to vote I would say "not dammas at all" but how can a statement be made about something that is unknown and unknowable? It could be this or that, take your pick. I think a more appropriate question is whether the buddha had a definition for dhamma (he had many definitions it seems) which incuded the noumena. I doubt that he did in that it seems to me that all the concepts related to the term "dhamma" have to do with what is experiential and since noumena doesn't then it wouldn't be included....anywhere. (This is my view now....it could change)

So this begs the question of the dhatus. My view is that dhatus are properties which can be known so they are dhammas....and they are not noumena. In fact my view is that EVERYTHING the buddha refers to is not noumena. I could say for instance that the eye and the eye object and eye consciousness and perceptions which arise from the eye and the feelings etc. are all equally being referred to as elements of what some people call the internal model. I don't use the term "internal model" in that I have two problems with it...1. internal to what? and 2. model of what? Both of these smack of identity view (subject/object).
My view for instance is that DO is not a model....it is a description which delineates ideas which people may find helpful in finding right view and helpful in developing strategies to progress on the path. I don't think there is one correct interpretation of DO. I think that everyone who gives serious thought to DO is using it properly....how they understand it will depend on what their experience has been. Everyone is on a different path so everyone needs a different teaching and the buddha provides this by NOT being overly explicit....instead of providing just a three dimensional view he provides an umpteen dozen dimensional view which allows a wide variety of people to pick the three dimensions which they can understand or resonate with and whichever three they choose it will be helpful for them. I'm being kind of wordy here and I'm just sort of thinking up the words as I go along so there may be inconsistencies but I guess for me the bottom line is that some people need to think of noumena as being dhammas even if that is in some way "wrong".....and some people need to think that noumena are not dhammas even if that is in some way "wrong". The only real mistake a person can make (if they are giving serious thought to the Dhamma) is to be ridigly fixed and motionless in their beliefs.
chownah

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by pulga » Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:32 pm

The Ven. Ariyavamsa has written on this subject in his essay Phassa:
cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati phasso. phassapaccayā vedanā.

In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling....

The opening quotation is quite clearly a teaching of profound importance and we find it in many places throughout the suttapiṭaka. In order to make sense of it, what must be understood is that the ‘forms’ which I see in this visual experience, and the ‘eye’ which manifests, are not ‘the eye and forms’ which the Buddha is talking about here. What he is actually referring to are the elements (dhātuyo) dependent upon which this experience of ‘I am seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking’ arises. The eye and forms (together with the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects and the mind and mental images) are the rūpa ‘below’ this experience which is that because of which there is this experience. Since the eye and forms are that because of which ‘I see things’, I cannot possibly see them. The same applies to the other sense bases, which collectively make up the all.

sabbaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi. taṃ suṇātha… kiñca, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ? cakkhuñceva rūpā ca, sotañceva saddā ca, ghānañceva gandhā ca, jivhā ceva rasā ca, kāyo ceva phoṭṭhabbā ca, mano ceva dhammā ca—idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ. yo, bhikkhave, evaṃ vadeyya—‘ahametaṃ sabbaṃ paccakkhāya aññaṃ sabbaṃ paññapessāmī’ti, tassa vācāvatthukamevassa. puṭṭho ca na sampāyeyya. uttariñca vighātaṃ āpajjeyya. taṃ kissa hetu? yathā taṃ, bhikkhave, avisayasmin”ti.

Bhikkkus, I will teach you the all. Listen to that…. And what is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all. If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he was questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain. SN 35: 23
I would say that while the being of matter is dependent on consciousness, matter itself is independent of its appearance. This accounts for the element of surprise that can occur at any moment, i.e. matter isn't always as it appears.

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Re: In the Buddha-dhamma, how should "noumena" be regarded?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:10 pm

Greetings chownah,

That's a very reasonable take on the situation, and I appreciate you taking the time to share it.

Thank you.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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