But we are still waiting to learn if the soul you are advocating can act, hear, think, etc. You are doing a lot of avoiding of that question.
You tell me. Are you like a rock, lifeless, or do you act, hear, think, etc?
It is not a matter of abstracting. It is a matter of experience, and you neatly make my point. These things, soul and a god (an omniscient, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts within history) cannot be known in their essence. They are naught more than intellectual and emotional structures that are imposed upon reality. They are not necessary.
Knowing their essence, and knowing they exist are two different things. Do you think we can have any knowledge of ineffable things through things which are to be put into words? Does this statement seem to you to be worthless: Nibbana is the foremost ease?
Since the first object of our human knowledge is material things,
Probably not. Likely the first thing known is: “I am hungry.” It may not be understood via those words, but unquestionably the “I” is central in that.
My statement is in contrast to the statement that we know immaterial things directly.
And the intellectual soul is naught more than a conceptual construct. What does it actually refer to?
I return then to the concept/paradox of ineffability.
"Apophatic mysticism, put roughly, claims that nothing can be said of objects or states of affairs which the mystic experiences. These are absolutely indescribable, or 'ineffable.' Kataphatic mysticism does make claims about what the mystic experiences."
1. Avoid speech altogether and remain silent about what is revealed in experience.
2. Distinguish first-order from second-order attributions, where “ineffability” both is a second-order term and refers solely to first-order terms. To say, then, that something is “ineffable” would be to assert that it could not be described by any first-order terms, “ineffability” not being one of them.
3. Say, for example, that “X is ineffable” is really a statement about the term ‘X,’ saying about it that it fails to refer to any describable entity.
4a. Negate ongoingly whatever is said about X, ad infinitum, in what Michael Sells has called an infinite “unsaying” or taking back of what has been said. An example of unsaying can be found in the endless negations in some Madyamika and Zen Buddhist meditative consciousness. Since the truth about reality – as it is – lies outside of our conceptualizations of it, we cannot say that truth, only experience it. Hence, when we say, “Reality is not reality,” that is, that reality as it is differs from what we take it to be conceptually, we must also say that “Reality is not - not reality.” Otherwise we will have been caught in conceptualizing about reality (saying about it that it is not what our conceptualizations say it is). We must then immediately negate the latter saying by saying that reality is neither not-reality nor not not-reality. And so on.
4b. A second, theistic, example of this approach is in the negative theology of (Pseudo) Dionysius (c.500) for whom God was “a most incomprehensible absolute mystery,” about which we can only say what it is not. Such continuing negation points beyond discourse to experience.
5. William Alston's observation that mystics professing the utter unknowability of God have had much to say about their experiences and about God. Alston maintains, therefore, that when mystics talk about ‘indescribability’ they refer to the difficulty of describing in literal terms, rather than by metaphor, analogy, and symbols. This is not a peculiar mark of mysticism, demurs Alston, since quite common in science, philosophy, and religion. Alston's position, however, may not square well with the explicitly “unsaying” trends in mysticism.
6. Richard Gale and Ninian Smart have argued that ‘ineffability’ is (merely) an honorific title marking the value and intensity of an experience for a mystic. Similarly, Wayne Proudfoot argues that mystics could not know that what they experienced could not be expressed in any possible language, because they do not know every possible language. He concludes that the ineffability - claim only prescribes that no language system shall be applicable to it, and is not a descriptive claim. The word ‘ineffable’ serves to create and maintain a sense of mystery. These positions beg the question against the possibility of there being mystical experience so different in kind from what humans otherwise know that it cannot be expressed by ordinary human language. Against Proudfoot it may be said that: because mystics could not know that a mystical object was indescribable in any possible language, it does not follow they would not, in their enthusiasm, make a claim beyond their knowledge. In any case, mystics might reasonably believe that since languages known to them cannot describe what they experienced, in all likelihood no other human language could describe it either. Some philosophers think that a stress on ineffability signifies an attempt to consign mysticism to the “irrational,” thus excluding it from more sensible human pursuits. Grace Jantzen has advanced a critique of the emphasis on ineffability as an attempt to remove mystical experiences from the realm of rational discourse, placing them instead into the realm of the emotions. Others have staunchly defended the “rationality” of mysticism against charges of irrationalism. The issue of ineffability is thus tied into questions of the epistemic value of mystical experiences.
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And let me add:
contemplans wrote:whereas sense of self or soul, even if based on weak delusion, can at least give us a basis to start to observe some form of virtue.
The Buddha does not agree with this:
- Bhikkhus, you may well cling to that doctrine of self that would not arouse sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair in one who clings to it. But do you see any such doctrine of self, bhikkhus?” “No, venerable sir.” MN i 137
I didn't say it was an end, but it is a means to start observing some form of virtue. I would reckon that it is a stronger foundation than the opposite view. People who actually hold that there is no self at all must run through hoops to figure out what the point of even starting the path is. At least a sense of self can start off by saying, I wish myself well.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
'Analogical thinking' seems to me to be dangerously close to wishful thinking. I'd love to hear how they can be distinguished.
Not reasoning but wishing.
I can make things appear out of nothing.
I can become someone else.
Things spontaneously come to be.
If I just positively think about something, it will happen.
If I do nothing, I will become awakened.
or, for Christians, if I just believe in Jesus, I'm saved.
Analogical thinking (including dissimilarity):
Reasoning from effect to causes. (Inductive reasoning.)
I am not like a rock. I eat, I grow, and I procreate. Therefore, there must be something more to me than a mere gathering of elements.
Healthy can be used to refer to medicine and human, but medicine produces health in the human body. One is health giving, and the other health receiving.
In the realm of the immaterial, every positive perfection of created being has its transcendental analogue in the first cause (i.e., God).
We can look portrait of a beautiful woman, or the living original, and say of both literally that she is beautiful. The portrait is not her, but the likeness (analogy) is sufficient to justify the literal statement, even though the two are not exactly the same. So the collection of colored paint arranged on a canvas is analogously beautiful to the living woman who is the "perfect" object.
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(see Analogy as a method in theodicy)
Take care, both of you.