Bundokji wrote: ↑Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:11 am
Sam Vara wrote: ↑Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:45 am
Well, let's test your gut feeling on the anvil of my self awareness! You state the tenets of that notoriously slippery and much misunderstood term, and I'll let you know if I would "go beyond" them.
1- Not every attempt to go beyond common sense explanation of a phenomena such as "evil" is a form of mental gymnastics or at least worthy of such description.
2- You described this particular exercise involving some mental gymnastics to explain some types of evil such as sexual abuse. Your justification that there is no actual threat to the abuser either perceived or actual seems to be based on a common sense interpretation of reality, or a belief that a common sense interpretation in this particular case is the best approach to the example of a sexual abuser. This inference is based on the following reply to me:
All volition is annihilating some feeling, but to call it an "external threat" is a bit too baroque for my taste.
And your reply to binocular:
Someone who understands English. The abuser is a threat to the abused.
So, if i understand you correctly, you are not against every single departure from common sense reality in investigating the truth, but you see this particular attempt as not the best approach to understand the problem of evil or evil action. Would you be willing to elaborate more?
Sure. some of the above is in line with what I have written and what I believe, but some of it is not.
The Buddha said that our unskilful behaviour is rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion. Your initial point:
Would it be plausible to interpret evil action as an attempt to purify consciousness through annihilating a perception of an external threat?
requires that in the case of the evil committed by a sexual abuser, we see this as the abuser trying to eliminate an external threat. It's possible to believe this - its a view
- if we introduce the assumption that a victim of abuse (a little child, say) is an actual threat to an adult abuser and the adult abuser correctly discerns this; or that the adult abuser erroneously sees the victim as some sort of threat when they are not; and that by carrying out the abuse, the abuser is in some sense (consciously or unconsciously) attempting to "purify their consciousness".
I find it easier to believe that the abuser is motivated by greed - he wants certain experiences. That fits what the Buddha said in terms of the three roots of the unskilful, and requires fewer unlikely assumptions. The assumptions are unlikely because the victims of sexual abuse are not objectively a threat to the abuser, in that were the abuser to refrain from the abuse, they would not be harmed; and that even if abusers claim that the vulnerable little child, or the non-performing of a sex act with them, was mistakenly viewed by them as a "threat", we would need a lot of evidence that many abusers had this type of explanation (in reality, they dont!) and could in any case more plausibly dismiss this as a form of self-pitying rationalisation.
This is not using Ockham's razor to pare explanations down to "common sense", and far less "naive realism". (These two terms are very different, although I have seen people mistakenly conflate them). It is using it to pare explanations down to what the Buddha taught. As I said upthread, I have sat through lengthy debates about whether - in Buddhist terminology - what we think of as hatred could always be collapsed into greed (i.e. trying to get rid of stuff is "really" a desire for new stuff) or that what we think of a greed could always be collapsed into hatred (i.e. wanting more stuff is really hating the situation we find ourselves in). Each is as plausible as the other.
How does it help to eliminate our own evil actions if we see them as annihilating a perception of a threat? If we can even formulate this to ourselves, then a moment's reflection would reveal that what we might consider a threat is in fact not. If one can (in a fictional sense, I hasten to add!) formulate one's sexual attraction to children as an attempt to purify consciousness by annihilating a perception of them as an external threat, then one can far more easily formulate it as misplaced desire. Less effort, fewer assumptions, fits the suttas.