I was more concerned with the lack of consistency and clarity in defining what consciousness actually is, but yes, I agree that this isn't a particularly strong passage. In particular, I think he is being over-confident in saying that the biological interpretation "cannot be right", particularly as the first two of his three arguments are based on the utility of viewpoints rather than their validity. A proposition can be true without having much utility for a particular person who understands it. Utility seems more dependent upon what one wills or wants to achieve, rather than how things stand in the world. However, given that he is talking about experience, I think he is entitled to downplay the biological view, in that it describes an objective world rather than the subjective loka he is concerned with. How we are conceived is very different from how we conceive the world! This is one of those areas where his debt to Sue Hamilton would have been better to have been acknowledged.Dinsdale wrote: ↑Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:47 amInteresting, and I agree with the idea that the khandas are a model of experience.
However I wasn't convinced by the rather weak arguments put forward in this section:
“If consciousness were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?” “No, Lord.”
“If the consciousness of a young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form grow up, develop and reach maturity?” “No, Lord.” (DN 15)
This passage has been use to justify a biological interpretation of a large segment of the twelve links for centuries, whereby name-and-form is equated with the person, or psychophysical organism, that acquires or sustains consciousness, much like the five khaṅdhas have generally been assumed to define the person during the same period. However, there are several reasons why the biological interpretation cannot be right: First, the biological interpretation is speculative and rather uninteresting in itself, and provides no material for practice or insight. Second, the biological interpretation displaces a much more viable interpretation that lays bare the role of cognition in creating the subject-object duality upon which craving depends, and that does provide material for practice and insight. Finally, the role in biological conception of consciousness makes consciousness into something substantial that can move through space and enter the mother’s womb in order to run and wander through the round of rebirths, which seems suspiciously similar to Sāti’s pernicious view discussed earlier.
Do you find all three of his arguments here equally weak?