Soul theories and the Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:13 am

binocular wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I can't think of the fancy name for this particular fallacy you are applying.
There is no fallacy on my part.
The Buddha didn't mention Flying Spaghetti monsters either...
So?

"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four?
There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that].
There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms].
There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question.
There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And yet most people seem to operate from the conviction that all questions must be thought of and answered in a categorical manner.
In suttas like that the Buddha was talking about the pointlessness of certain questions, which did not help in realising the Dhamma. So, even if he didn't categorically DENY a soul (or a flying spaghetti monster) that fact that he didn't talk about it suggests that the concept of a soul is unimportant and irrelevant to Dhamma.

:anjali:
Mike

Sylvester
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:40 am

mikenz66 wrote:
binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: Anyone?
What is your point?
Absence of evidence is evidence of absence?
I can't think of the fancy name for this particular fallacy you are applying.
The Buddha didn't mention Flying Spaghetti monsters either...

:anjali:
Mike

Hmm, is he saying -

"If there is evidence, then the soul exists.
Therefore, if there is no evidence, then the soul does not exist."

It's the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

The Buddha posited the non-existence of the Self much more vigorously in MN 22.

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binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:44 am

mikenz66 wrote:In suttas like that the Buddha was talking about the pointlessness of certain questions, which did not help in realising the Dhamma. So, even if he didn't categorically DENY a soul (or a flying spaghetti monster) that fact that he didn't talk about it suggests that the concept of a soul is unimportant and irrelevant to Dhamma.
It's not irrelevant inasmuch as in discussing the anatta issue people really show their colors -- how prone they are to ridiculing others, to appealing to authority, to appealing to use of (institutional) force, to using bad logic.

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binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:49 am

Sylvester wrote:Hmm, is he saying -
"If there is evidence, then the soul exists.
Therefore, if there is no evidence, then the soul does not exist."
It's the fallacy of denying the antecedent.
The Buddha posited the non-existence of the Self much more vigorously in MN 22.
An example of reasoning:
"The glass is either half-full or half-empty. You must answer this question, and you can only answer it with either Yes or No. Even if you don't utter any answer, we will assume that silence means Yes and we will take that you answered Yes."

-- To you, does that look like sound reasoning?

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:57 am

Huh?

Reasoning = argument = premises + conclusion (hopefully coupled with a logical operator for the conclusion to be derived logically from the premises).

Your example comes nowhere near to being an argument.

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binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:12 am

Sylvester wrote:Huh?
Reasoning = argument = premises + conclusion (hopefully coupled with a logical operator for the conclusion to be derived logically from the premises).
Your example comes nowhere near to being an argument.
It's an example of thinking, that's for sure.
And yes, there's plenty of people who think this is sound reasoning. Many Christians think this way; to them, such thinking is logical. Just go to CAF and have no particular opinion about Jesus. Several people will come in claiming that you disbelieve in Jesus.

Some people in the no-self camp think this same way: "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul."

It's the same kind of thinking that produces "He that is not with me is against me" or "Absence of evidence is always evidence of absence."

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:20 am

binocular wrote: Some people in the no-self camp think this same way: "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul."
Well, the targets of this "reasoning" do expose themselves eventually. Ven T's famous not-self strategy is supposed to point the way to the post-mortem consciousness of the arahant that does not "land", zooming around happily ever after.

Thankfully, I just go with MN 22 and MA 62's message of "there is no Self".

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Aloka
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Aloka » Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:13 am

Sylvester wrote: ....the post-mortem consciousness of the arahant that does not "land", zooming around happily ever after.
Hilarious!


.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:52 am

binocular wrote:It's not irrelevant inasmuch as in discussing the anatta issue people really show their colors -- how prone they are to ridiculing others, to appealing to authority, to appealing to use of (institutional) force, to using bad logic.
I find your comment about "appeal to authority" puzzling here. Do you include requesting sutta support for ideas in this?

And what do you mean by the "use of ( institutional ) force"?

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:41 pm

Sylvester wrote:
binocular wrote: Some people in the no-self camp think this same way: "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul."
Well, the targets of this "reasoning" do expose themselves eventually. Ven T's famous not-self strategy is supposed to point the way to the post-mortem consciousness of the arahant that does not "land", zooming around happily ever after.

Thankfully, I just go with MN 22 and MA 62's message of "there is no Self".
The same MN 22 that says letting go of the aggregates is "for your longterm welfare and happiness"? Not in this life it isn't, especially when you're already old and don't have much of this life left. That's clearly pointing to nibbana as a place. Its getting hilarious to me how desparately you guys flip statements 180 degrees. "Form is not the self, neither is the self inside form" becomes "there is no self beyond form," the exact opposite of what its saying. And letting go of the aggregates being "for your longterm welfare and happiness" changes to being "for your eternal obliteration." How can anyone reason with such people?

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:26 pm

binocular wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Hmm, is he saying -
"If there is evidence, then the soul exists.
Therefore, if there is no evidence, then the soul does not exist."
It's the fallacy of denying the antecedent.
The Buddha posited the non-existence of the Self much more vigorously in MN 22.
An example of reasoning:
"The glass is either half-full or half-empty. You must answer this question, and you can only answer it with either Yes or No. Even if you don't utter any answer, we will assume that silence means Yes and we will take that you answered Yes."

-- To you, does that look like sound reasoning?
Empty and full are relative. For instance, just because its empty of water doesn't make it empty of air. A glass is never truly empty, just empty of what you wanted it to be full of. But existence isn't like that: it either exists or doesn't.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:19 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
binocular wrote: Some people in the no-self camp think this same way: "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul."
Well, the targets of this "reasoning" do expose themselves eventually. Ven T's famous not-self strategy is supposed to point the way to the post-mortem consciousness of the arahant that does not "land", zooming around happily ever after.

Thankfully, I just go with MN 22 and MA 62's message of "there is no Self".
The same MN 22 that says letting go of the aggregates is "for your longterm welfare and happiness"? Not in this life it isn't, especially when you're already old and don't have much of this life left. That's clearly pointing to nibbana as a place.
Produce the formal proof please. Declaring it does not prove anything. If you wish to assert a conclusion, you need to show why your argument -

Premise - Letting go of the aggregates is for your long-term welfare and benefit.
Conclusion - Therefore, nibbana is a place.

is even valid. Another synthetic a priori perhaps?

SamKR
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:37 am

Sylvester wrote:
binocular wrote: Some people in the no-self camp think this same way: "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul."
Well, the targets of this "reasoning" do expose themselves eventually. Ven T's famous not-self strategy is supposed to point the way to the post-mortem consciousness of the arahant that does not "land", zooming around happily ever after.

Thankfully, I just go with MN 22 and MA 62's message of "there is no Self".
I am curious, how do you conclude that these suttas' have the message "there is no Self"?
(Just to be clear, I am not at all implying "there is Self".)

:anjali:

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:53 am

Why must it be my cross to bear, by repeating my same old tired refrain, over and over again? :cry:

In MN 22, these are the 2 parts -
Venerable sir, can there be agitation about what is non-existent (asati) internally?”

“There can be, bhikkhu,” the Blessed One said. “Here, bhikkhu, someone has the view: ‘That which is the self is the world; after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity.’ He hears the Tathāgata or a disciple of the Tathāgata teaching the Dhamma for the elimination of all standpoints, decisions, obsessions, adherences, and underlying tendencies, for the stilling of all formations, for the relinquishing of all attachments, for the destruction of craving, for dispassion, for cessation, for Nibbāna. He thinks thus: ‘So I shall be annihilated! So I shall perish! So I shall be no more!’ Then he sorrows, grieves, and laments, he weeps beating his breast and becomes distraught. That is how there is agitation about what is non-existent internally.”
and
Bhikkhus, there being a self, would there be for me what belongs to a self?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Or, there being what belongs to a self, would there be for me a self?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, since a self and what belongs to a self are not apprehended as true and established, then this standpoint for views, namely, ‘That which is the self is the world; after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity’—would it not be an utterly and completely foolish teaching?”

“What else could it be, venerable sir, but an utterly and completely foolish teaching?”
For the second, I've cited Peter Harvey's lovely analysis of this syllogism according to the Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. It's somewhere in that recent thread on anatta.

As for MA 62, see http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ra#p390127

SamKR
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by SamKR » Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:26 am

Thanks, Sylvester.

davidbrainerd
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:56 am

Sylvester wrote:Produce the formal proof please. Declaring it does not prove anything. If you wish to assert a conclusion, you need to show why your argument -

Premise - Letting go of the aggregates is for your long-term welfare and benefit.
Conclusion - Therefore, nibbana is a place.

is even valid. Another synthetic a priori perhaps?
Say one of the monks being spoken to in MN 22 is a 129 year old who becomes an arhant after hearing this. When is he going to experience this "long term welfare and happiness"?

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robertk
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by robertk » Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:10 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Produce the formal proof please. Declaring it does not prove anything. If you wish to assert a conclusion, you need to show why your argument -

Premise - Letting go of the aggregates is for your long-term welfare and benefit.
Conclusion - Therefore, nibbana is a place.

is even valid. Another synthetic a priori perhaps?
Say one of the monks being spoken to in MN 22 is a 129 year old who becomes an arhant after hearing this. When is he going to experience this "long term welfare and happiness"?
Because at his khandha parinibbana all dukkha ceases forever. You can't get better than that.
"pubbe c’aham bhikkhave etarahi ca dukkhan c’eva pannapemi, dukkhassa ca nirodham"
:anjali:

Sylvester
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Sylvester » Sun Sep 11, 2016 7:56 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Produce the formal proof please. Declaring it does not prove anything. If you wish to assert a conclusion, you need to show why your argument -

Premise - Letting go of the aggregates is for your long-term welfare and benefit.
Conclusion - Therefore, nibbana is a place.

is even valid. Another synthetic a priori perhaps?
Say one of the monks being spoken to in MN 22 is a 129 year old who becomes an arhant after hearing this. When is he going to experience this "long term welfare and happiness"?
And you thereby assume from what appears to be a common Indian idiom (dīgharattaṃ hitāya sukhāya) that is applied to everything from the next life, to married life, to monastic success, (spoken both by monastics and non-monastics) that the adverb dīgharatta (long time) needs to be interpreted literally, instead of just being a figure of speech? If you are going to be such a literalist, why not pay attention to the literal rendering of ratta as "one night"?

I'm still waiting for the proof that your argument is valid.

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binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:45 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Continually answering questions with questions is not constructive.
I am asking in which suttas the Buddha teaches that there is a soul.
Anyone?
Continually ascribing to people stances they don't hold and then demanding them to defend those stances, and holding it against them when they refuse to -- that is not constructive.

Sylvester wrote:Why must it be my cross to bear, by repeating my same old tired refrain, over and over again? :cry:
Because from them it does not follow what you claim follows.

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binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:54 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
binocular wrote:An example of reasoning:
"The glass is either half-full or half-empty. You must answer this question, and you can only answer it with either Yes or No. Even if you don't utter any answer, we will assume that silence means Yes and we will take that you answered Yes."
-- To you, does that look like sound reasoning?
Empty and full are relative. For instance, just because its empty of water doesn't make it empty of air. A glass is never truly empty, just empty of what you wanted it to be full of. But existence isn't like that: it either exists or doesn't.
I'm talking about undue inferences that people sometimes make and the way they try to dictate all the terms of the interaction.

Most people seem to think like this:
Either p or not-p.

But they don't stop to wonder whether p is meaningful to begin with.

As Coëmgenu put succintly earlier in the thread:
Coëmgenu wrote:I think the idea of a soul itself is what is being called into question, before the idea of it being able to exist or not exist is even a valid inquiry concerning it. There is something innately wrong with all (conventional?) ideas of selfness/'self-views', according to the teachings, and that is something I think everyone can agree on, regardless of possible reconstructionist or traditionalist leanings.
Absolutely.

It's similar as with discussion about God: First people tend to try to figure out whether God exists or not, and only afterwards do they try to figure what God is or might be like.
But this is backwards.

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