Solipsism

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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Bundokji
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Bundokji » Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:18 am

Circle5 wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:24 am
The arrising of the dhamma eye is about seeing conditionality, patticasamupata, etc. - it's the arising of the scientist eye, the eye that sees cause and effect and understands how things work.
It is more than that, and unless you continue to avoid the paradoxes in the "lokiya" teachings, and try to rationalize them, using arguments about computers, nueroplacticity, quantum physics, babies and animals...etc things that you have read somewhere, not based on looking at your experience and how your mind functions, i don't see how we can proceed. To be honest, you come across as someone who is interested in providing answers more than investigating the truth. For example, if you give priority to the knowledge based on your experience (meditation), you would not claim that babies and animals have no concept of the self, you would simply claim that you don't know. Or simply by looking by them, you would see that they have instincts implies "self preservation" or "craving for existence" so a sense of self must exist on them. The looking at the mirror to measure if someone has "self view" is a poor one, invented by psychologists, and you are here parroting what you have read.

It is OK to refer to what we know from different sources in a discussion, but to over use them, or present them as "facts", especially in a topic discussing solipsism (which gives priority to personal experience) have weakened your arguments in my opinion.

Back to the Dhamma eye, which is linked to the seeing or understanding the supramundane "lokuttara" teachings. By definition, it is derived from "loka" which means the world (which we have been discussing) and "uttara" which means beyond, so it is a knowledge beyond/surpasses the world, this is why i described as "mystical". The scientist eye which you mentioned is what many intelligent yet ordinary people possess, nothing really special.

I know the point where you are trying to get, the point that I have indeed forgot to address is about the relationship between this and solipsism. It is one of the classic arguments for solipsism that was indeed not addressed yet.

Well, let's take the same example with the computer and use it here too. So there is the knowledge of a virus being present when the antivirus is installed, but there is no knowledge of that virus being there when it is not installed. Is the virus still there ? Will the virus still cause damage even if there is no knowledge of it ? Of course it will, cause it's existence is independent of weather knowledge about it exists or not.
I am not sure about your love for computers, and what makes you feel that the human experience has any similarity with computers. All i can do is to point out the mindset you are using trying to disprove solipsism: by implying that existence is independent of whether knowledge about it exists or not, and this can only be done by fabricating scenarios based on thinking, not experience. From a "first hand" experience point of view, i cannot know if viruses have independent existence, all i can know is how things unfold as i experience them. So, the notion "viruses existence is independent" is merely another idea appear and disappear in my experience, this is what i can be sure of, everything else can be doubted.

If you want to refute/disprove any idea or philosophy, you will have to understand it or even to temporarily adopt it as a mindset. Only then, you will be able to come up with strong arguments.
And it is the same for humans. Thorough using the same logic as the above, we can disprove solipsism. For example if everybody believes the world is flat, does that make the world really be flat ? If one of these flat-earthers would sail a ship, would that ship behave like on a flat earth or like on a round one ? Their perception aggregate is one thing, the form aggregate is another thing. Regardless of their perception, the form aggregate will behave independent of their perception. The world laws will work the same regardless of their perception.
Again, from a first hand knowledge point of view, all of the above is second hand, it does not prove that there is real existence outside of me.
What solipsism does is claiming form comes from perception and claiming there is only a one-way conditionality going on between perception and form. It is similar to materialism which claims the same thing only in reverse, it claims form gives rise to perception and that the only conditionality going on is a one way conditionality, from form to perception and not the other way around.
This is not what solipsism claims. It claims that the only thing i can be sure of is my own experience, every thing else can be doubted.
Things are simply not like this. Neuroplasticity disproves the kind of conditionality materialism claims exists. The fact that if you lose half your brain the perceptions that will arise will be different disproves the kind of conditionality solipsism claims exists. Solipsism simply got wrong the kind of conditionality that exists between the 5 aggregates.
Solipsism does not discuss/not concerned with conditionality. You are simply asserting things in order to refute them, but never addressing the real issue head on.

This is exactly why i asked perkele to provide a definition of solipsism, and i also provided one. Both definitions, if you refer to them, does not mention that my consciousness causes things to appear, but things that appears in my consciousness is all what i can be sure of. I saw this mess was coming, hence i insisted to define the term from the outset before proceeding.
“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard

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Bundokji
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Bundokji » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:31 am

Circle5 wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:07 am
And to make sure solipsism is dead and burried, there is also this last classical argument for it that needs to be adressed. The one you spoke about here:
:roll:
Well first, there is no you knowing that, there is just knowledge arising. Same as in the example with animals or babies, there is just bare knowledge that arises.
You are stuck with your Buddhist view, which is preventing you from addressing issues. Knowledge implies self, time and space. So, by saying "there is just knowledge arising and there no one knowing that" implies that knowledge and self are two separate things, when in fact, they are not.

Knowledge implies a self because we cannot know something that is not a self (what is it then that we are knowing?), knowing implies time because it has to include comparison/matching between two things, the object of knowledge and that which knows it, and it implies space because the known begets a knower.

Self view is "intrinsic" to worldly knowledge. My challenge for you is simple: do you know of anything, that has a meaning, and at the same time, not a self/a thing? if you do, present it to us on this thread. And when you do, refer to the thing in itself to show us that it is not self, not to other ideas about it (such as computers, cars, kids, animals ...etc which are all the product of thinking and second hand knowledge). can you do that?
And now let's look at this knowledge. Out of what is it made ? Like any knowledge, it's made out of 1) information + 2) ability to process.

This information you are getting comes through the 6 senses. The 6th sense in Buddhism is "mind" - it is the very ability to process and make sense of information.
Another second hand distinction, but can be useful. So, there are data, and information. Information are processed data, made into a full knowledge. Instead of getting into technical details, let us refer to our day to day life. If you see someone/something for the first time, you simply perceive it, but you don't know it, because to know it, you have to have seen before. But even if you don't know it, you still perceive it as a thing/a self. Then knowledge gets confirmed when its compared with what is already known. If you have seen this person/thing before, then you claim: i know it/him. If you have not seen it before, then you claim: i don't know him/it. But note that even when you claim that you don't know him/it, you refer to it as a thing, then you declare the lack of knowledge, and this point is very important. It shows the impossibility of knowledge without self.
What this classical argument is claiming is that only bare information coming from the 5 sense is reliable and the ability to process that information is unreliable and therefore "I can never be sure of it". This is wrong because even that bare information coming from the 5 senses is useless without ability to process it. A mentally retarded person will not make too much sense of that information. Even that knowledge is based on information + ability to process, not on information alone as the classical argument is implying.

Therefore there is no difference in terms of value between what the classical argument claims is "things that can be known for sure" and "things that can't be known for sure" since both are based on information + ability to process. It is therefore an invalid attack against logic/ability to process. It is a false dichotomy.
One of the strong arguments of those who believe in solipsism is our inability to differentiate between dreams and reality. Eastern philosophies/teachings utilized it:
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, a veritable butterfly, enjoying itself to the full of its bent, and not knowing it was Chuang Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and came to myself, the veritable Chuang Chou. Now I do not know whether it was then I dreamt I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. Between me and the butterfly there must be a difference. This is an instance of transformation.
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zhuangzi

The issue of reliability is linked to persistence. The more a phenomena repeats itself, the more our knowledge about it reliable. In the realm of human experience, the "I" that experiences and knows is the most persistent hence solipsism has a strong argument. It does not make it correct from a Buddhist point of view, but for the sake of Buddhist practice, it starts from where solipsism ended.
“It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Circle5
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Circle5 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:00 am

Or simply by looking by them, you would see that they have instincts implies "self preservation" or "craving for existence" so a sense of self must exist on them. The looking at the mirror to measure if someone has "self view" is a poor one, invented by psychologists, and you are here parroting what you have read.
Simply by looking at plants, you would be forced to conclude the same. They are designed in such a way to preserve themselves. Cars too are designed in such a way to preserve themselves. They have ABS, ESP, etc. Some expensive cars even have those systems designed to take a turn in case of an accident. Would you concluded that because they have self-preservation mechanisms, plants and cars must have a self ? This logic would not be correct.
I am not sure about your love for computers, and what makes you feel that the human experience has any similarity with computers. All i can do is to point out the mindset you are using trying to disprove solipsism: by implying that existence is independent of whether knowledge about it exists or not, and this can only be done by fabricating scenarios based on thinking, not experience. From a "first hand" experience point of view, i cannot know if viruses have independent existence, all i can know is how things unfold as i experience them. So, the notion "viruses existence is independent" is merely another idea appear and disappear in my experience, this is what i can be sure of, everything else can be doubted.
You did not understand my argument. I was not speaking about weather there is knowledge arising in a human about a virus existing. I was speaking about knowledge arising IN A COMPUTER about a virus existing. For example there are 2 computers, one with an anti-virus installed one without one. There is no human watching these computers, only 10 years from that point a human will check them. In one computer, there is no anti-virus existing and no knowledge will arise within that computer about the virus. In the other computer, knowledge about the presence of the virus will arise. That arising of knowledge will cause the computer to behave in a different way, that knowledge will condition the computer to behave differently.

Do you understand it now ? Will the virus still cause damage or not in computer nr 1 ?
Again, from a first hand knowledge point of view, all of the above is second hand, it does not prove that there is real existence outside of me.
Neither was it meant to show that. It was meant to show that perception is one thing, form is another thing. They are not one and the same.
Solipsism does not discuss/not concerned with conditionality. You are simply asserting things in order to refute them, but never addressing the real issue head on.

This is exactly why i asked perkele to provide a definition of solipsism, and i also provided one. Both definitions, if you refer to them, does not mention that my consciousness causes things to appear, but things that appears in my consciousness is all what i can be sure of. I saw this mess was coming, hence i insisted to define the term from the outset before proceeding.
This is not what solipsism claims. It claims that the only thing i can be sure of is my own experience, every thing else can be doubted.
What I was trying to say is that every phylosophy implies a certain conditionality going on between the 5 aggregates. And we can check to see if the buddhist opinion about how the 5 aggregates work, or the materialist model, or the solipsist model etc. is correct. Solipsism implies that form is a creation of perception, that there is a one-way conditionality going on between perception and form. (the reverse of materialism). Like in the example with the blind man and the elephant, it claims only the perception of the elephant exists and not the elephant. It claims this perception of the elephant is causing delusion to arise, delusion that makes one think there exists an elephant that gave rise to this perception of an elephant that exists. And that the perception of an elephant is the only thing one can truly be sure to exist.

Now I am asking you: through what do you have the so called "direct access" to the perception of the elephant that is what you call "a thing that you can be sure to exist" ??? Though information + logic/ability to process. It is through these 2 elements that you base this "sure to exist" conclusion on. I repeat, you base this "can be sure to exist" conclusion on information + logic/ability to process.

So you can not come up and say that the elephant existing, a conclusion also based on information + logic/ability to process is different in any way than the first one.

What you are trying to do is claim the conclusion about the perception of the elephant requires no use of logic, while the elephant existing does. But you have a big problem.What if the person is mentally retarded and has no use of logic ? What would happen in that case ?

Circle5
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Re: Solipsism

Post by Circle5 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:47 am

. Knowledge implies self, time and space. So, by saying "there is just knowledge arising and there no one knowing that" implies that knowledge and self are two separate things, when in fact, they are not.

Knowledge implies a self because we cannot know something that is not a self (what is it then that we are knowing?), knowing implies time because it has to include comparison/matching between two things, the object of knowledge and that which knows it, and it implies space because the known begets a knower.
You claim there can exist no knowledge without a self. I ask you to check again my example with 2 computers and a human checking them in 10 years (from above post). Is there knowledge about the virus arising or not in the second computer ? (in the period when there is no human checking it)
Self view is "intrinsic" to worldly knowledge. My challenge for you is simple: do you know of anything, that has a meaning, and at the same time, not a self/a thing? if you do, present it to us on this thread. And when you do, refer to the thing in itself to show us that it is not self, not to other ideas about it (such as computers, cars, kids, animals ...etc which are all the product of thinking and second hand knowledge). can you do that?
I do not understand what you are trying to say here at all
Another second hand distinction, but can be useful. So, there are data, and information. Information are processed data, made into a full knowledge. Instead of getting into technical details, let us refer to our day to day life. If you see someone/something for the first time, you simply perceive it, but you don't know it, because to know it, you have to have seen before. But even if you don't know it, you still perceive it as a thing/a self. Then knowledge gets confirmed when its compared with what is already known. If you have seen this person/thing before, then you claim: i know it/him. If you have not seen it before, then you claim: i don't know him/it. But note that even when you claim that you don't know him/it, you refer to it as a thing, then you declare the lack of knowledge, and this point is very important. It shows the impossibility of knowledge without self.
With all my respect, you have said a lot of smart things and waged a very high level debate, it has been quite some time since I found myself in such a hard debate, but this point over here is stupid. Why is it stupid ? Because of not doing the very thing you have asked me to do, and that is to try to see things from the perspective of the philosophy you are debating against. It is therefore using circular-logic. It is saying "there is a self" and going into a circle to prove that there is a self.

Look at things from this angle, from the angle without a self existing: The information and processing of information happening inside a human is identical to a computer. There is just information + ability to process happening, just like in a computer. That anti-virus program is comparing things too, using algorightms too, etc. etc. That is how any kind of information processing happens. The comparing 1 thing with another 1 thing from the past is part of the "processing information" part. Many computer programs compare new information with information from the past to arise at conclusions.

Your argument here is to say "it is me comparing this new information with information from the past" => "conclusion: there is a me" - this is why, with all my respects, I consider this argument to be a brain-fart in an otherwise intelligent discussion
One of the strong arguments of those who believe in solipsism is our inability to differentiate between dreams and reality. Eastern philosophies/teachings utilized it:
It is a strong argument indeed, but only for one already a solipsist. Why ? Because it is a subtle circular-argument, hard to spot and correct if one already inclines towards solipsism and accepts some of it's tenents.

From a solipsist point of view, there is only perception that really exists. The person is already looking at this from leaning towards this angle, same as one would be looking at a gray car standing in a shadow that looks black from that angle. From this solipsist angle, both are perceptions and there is no different information arising in that moment of the dream to make it somehow different than when awake, no information to hint that it's actually a dream.

But from a non-solipsist point of view, there is other information existing in the whole picture. There are more pieces of truth existing out there, not just the one described above. There is also the piece of truth that changes in form in real life, such as losing a limb, will remain like that for a longer period of time. (to the end of ones life) The same thing happening in a dream might feel the same, but it will only last for a short time, until one wakes up. There will be the same perceptions arising both in ream and reality, the thing is, the change in form happening in reality will remain like that for a longer period of time, like a longer dream.

I am not claiming there is anything solid about form. It is just as solid (or lack of solid) as consciousness or perception. The thing is, both form or consciousness respect certain rules and conditionalities. This "material world" is as solid as a virtual world or a dream would be, the thing is both virtual world an dreams respect certain rules and conditionalities, even though rules governing dreams might be different than rules governing the real world. (such as not dying but actually waking up into the "bigger" virtual world with other rules when ur supposed to die in a dream). So the thing is, I am not saying real world is different than a dream in terms of being "more solid" - I am just saying that it behaves according to different rules, that we can all observe. And the way these rules and conditionalities that govern it behave made us call it "real world" and create the perception of solidity in the first place.

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