Soul theories and the Dhamma

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

Post by binocular » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:04 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
cappuccino wrote:If you say there is no soul, you go beyond what Buddha said.
So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul??

davidbrainerd
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:54 pm

binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
cappuccino wrote:If you say there is no soul, you go beyond what Buddha said.
So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul??
Logically, yes, according to universal logic. But in the special logic Buddhism created for itself after Buddha wasn't around anymore, no. But in universal logic this other logic is called special pleading.

For instance, a common argument against the self is the lame "I can't find a self, I can't see a self" argument. So they say there is no self. They're corrected by somone orthodox: we can't say there is, can't say there is not. As if that improves anything.

In any case, The reason you can't find or see the self is because you are the self. Its like when you're looking for your glasses and somone says "they're on your face." You couldn't see them due to proximity and transparency. There is no need to look for the self since I am the self; there is only the need to understand what is not the self in contradistinction to the self, hence "form is not the self", etc. Buddha doesn't need to affirm a self because we know we exist. He only needs to correct the misunderstanding that the body is the self. And yet he does affirm a self "the self is the only refuge of the self" (Dhammapada ch 12 "the self").

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:53 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul??
Logically, yes, according to universal logic. But in the special logic Buddhism created for itself after Buddha wasn't around anymore, no. But in universal logic this other logic is called special pleading.

For instance, a common argument against the self is the lame "I can't find a self, I can't see a self" argument. So they say there is no self. They're corrected by somone orthodox: we can't say there is, can't say there is not. As if that improves anything.

In any case, The reason you can't find or see the self is because you are the self. Its like when you're looking for your glasses and somone says "they're on your face." You couldn't see them due to proximity and transparency. There is no need to look for the self since I am the self; there is only the need to understand what is not the self in contradistinction to the self, hence "form is not the self", etc. Buddha doesn't need to affirm a self because we know we exist. He only needs to correct the misunderstanding that the body is the self. And yet he does affirm a self "the self is the only refuge of the self" (Dhammapada ch 12 "the self").
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.
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

alan
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by alan » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:24 am

Most important thing about DN1 is the call out of things that are true, and can be proven, and those that are not.

binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:07 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
binocular wrote:If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul??
Logically, yes, according to universal logic.
He that is not with us is against us?
No, this is not universal logic.
You're doing the same things as your opponents who say there is no soul.
But in the special logic Buddhism created for itself after Buddha wasn't around anymore, no. But in universal logic this other logic is called special pleading.
No, this isn't special pleading.

To say "If you don't say there is no soul, this means you're saying there is a soul" is like saying "If you don't say you don't believe in God, this means you believe in God" or "If you don't express opposition for Trump, this means you are for Trump."
That kind of reasoning is a fallacious application of the law of excluded middle as the other party considers themselves to be the one to dictate the meanings of all the terms for all people involved. It's the way religious fundamentalists think to justify oppression of those that don't instantly agree with them.

An example from Kierkegaard: He argued that the claim put forward by Christianity that Jesus is our Lord and Savior is one we cannot remain undecided about. But is that true? Just because some moralizing religious busybody makes a claim and claims we have to decide about it does not automatically mean we have to decide about it or that it will even be possible for us to decide about it (for example, we might not have the knowledge that is necessary for meaningfully deciding about it).

William James, in his "Will to believe" worked out a heuristic for how people can decide about things, and he extracted three criteria that are crucial for making a decision:
/.../Let us give the name of hypothesis to anything that may be proposed to our belief; and just as the electricians speak of live and dead wires, let us speak of any hypothesis as either live or dead. A live hypothesis is one which appeals as a real possibility to him to whom it is proposed. If I ask you to believe in the Mahdi, the notion makes no electric connection with your nature,—it refuses to scintillate with any credibility at all. As an hypothesis it is completely dead. To an Arab, however (even if he be not one of the Mahdi’s followers), the hypothesis is among the mind’s possibilities: it is alive. This shows that deadness and liveness in an hypothesis are not intrinsic properties, but relations to the individual thinker. They are measured by his willingness to act. The maximum of liveness in an hypothesis means willingness to act irrevocably. Practically, that means belief; but there is some believing tendency wherever there is willingness to act at all.

Next, let us call the decision between two hypotheses an option. Options may be of several kinds They may be—1, living or dead; 2, forced or avoidable; 3, momentous or trivial; and for our purposes we may call an option a genuine option when it is of the forced, living, and momentous kind.

1. A living option is one in which both hypotheses are live ones. If I say to you:" Be a theosophist or be a Mohammedan,"it is probably a dead option, because for you neither hypothesis is likely to be alive. But if I say:" Be an agnostic or be a Christian," it is otherwise: trained as you are, each hypothesis makes some appeal, however small, to your belief.

2. Next, if I say to you: "Choose between going out with your umbrella or without it,"I do not offer you a genuine option, for it is not forced. You can easily avoid it by not going out at all. Similarly, if I say," Either love me or hate me," "Either call my theory true or call it false," your option is avoidable. You may remain indifferent to me, neither loving nor hating, and you may decline to offer any judgment as to my theory. But if I say," Either accept this truth or go without it," I put on you a forced option, for there is no standing place outside of the alternative. Every dilemma based on a complete logical disjunction, with no possibility of not choosing, is an option of this forced kind.

3. Finally, if I were Dr. Nansen and proposed to you to join my North Pole expedition, your option would be momentous; for this would probably be your only similar opportunity, and your choice now would either exclude you from the North Pole sort of immortality altogether or put at least the chance of it into your hands. He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he tried and failed. Per contra, the option is trivial when the opportunity is not unique, when the stake is insignificant, or when the decision is reversible if it later prove unwise. Such trivial options abound in the scientific life. A chemist finds an hypothesis live enough to spend a year in its verification: he believes in it to that extent. But if his experiments prove inconclusive either way, he is quit for his loss of time, no vital harm being done.

http://users.clas.ufl.edu/jzeman/wjames ... elieve.htm
A person can genuinely decide only about propositions that they experience as forced, living, and momentous. Which proposition will be experienced as forced, living, and momentous varies from person to person. A third party cannot dictate what another person can or will consider forced, living, and momentous.
For instance, a common argument against the self is the lame "I can't find a self, I can't see a self" argument. So they say there is no self.
That is a fallacious conclusion.
They're corrected by somone orthodox: we can't say there is, can't say there is not. As if that improves anything.
No, that doesn't improve anything.
In any case, The reason you can't find or see the self is because you are the self. Its like when you're looking for your glasses and somone says "they're on your face." You couldn't see them due to proximity and transparency. There is no need to look for the self since I am the self; there is only the need to understand what is not the self in contradistinction to the self, hence "form is not the self", etc.
Of course, which is why when the matter is talked about with the pronoun "self", the discussion is redundant.
But there are other terms in this discussion (such as "soul" or "higher self") which are much more complicated, whose meaning is not clear and different people mean different things by those terms. Once those terms are used, it's likely that problematic equivocations take place which make meaningful discussion impossible until those terms are clarified.
Buddha doesn't need to affirm a self because we know we exist. He only needs to correct the misunderstanding that the body is the self. And yet he does affirm a self "the self is the only refuge of the self" (Dhammapada ch 12 "the self").
Sure.

Dinsdale
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:40 am

Spiny Norman wrote:So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
Anyone?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:59 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
Anyone?
What is your point?
Absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

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mikenz66
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:19 am

binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
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

binocular
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:38 am

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.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:51 am

binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:So in which suttas does the Buddha teach that there is a soul?
Anyone?
What is your point?
Absence of evidence is evidence of absence?
Continually answering questions with questions is not constructive.

I am asking in which suttas the Buddha teaches that there is a soul.

Anyone?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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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.

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.

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?

Sylvester
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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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