Buddhism and Intellectualism

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
manas
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by manas » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:08 pm

danieLion wrote:Is Buddhism anti-intellectual, under-intellectual, or just intellectual enough?
This question can only have a subjective answer, but for myself right now it's 'just enough'. This can change, however, depending on my state of mind. Sometimes I might feel as though it picks life and our experience to bits and analyzes everthing too much, and my mind chafes a bit as if under a yoke, thinking "(many) other people just live, they don't reflect so much about life, they know almost nothing of the Dhamma, and yet they seem to be generally happier than I am! Maybe I analyze experience too much, and am missing out on just 'living'... At other times, however, my mind can get irritated that the Blessed One would not go into more details regarding what he knew of the the Universe, it's origins etc, but would not teach such things because it would not be for our benefit. Then, my intellect wants more answers than just 'it's not important knowledge, don't ponder it'! So really, it's subjective, and the mind with craving will never really be satisfied anyway, it will always find something to complain about (or is that just in my case? :) )

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:09 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:...many "buddhists" are materialists who just repaint their western intellectual materialism a nice buddhist saffron color and then carry on with business as usual. In that case intellectualism is a problem and buddhism is just ideological cruft.
There are several good reasons why materialism is a poor if not entirely invalid world view besides the typical Buddhist critiques. For instance it was likely started by the Ancient Greek pre-Socratic ontological monists like Thales (It's all water!), Anaximander (It's all one, but we don't know what it is.), Heraclitus (It's all fire!) and Parmenides (Existence is a tautology.). Even modern atomic theory, which has been seriously challenged by quantum mechanics and quantum physics (a la Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger), has it's origins in the Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosophers Leucippus and his pupil Democritus. Ontological monism was also perpetuated by Aristotle's elementalism, Neo-Platonisms and philosophical rationalists like Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegel, and Haeckel. Most recently, you will find a materialistic-monism in Francis Crick's molecular reductionism and his neuroscience colleague Patricia Churchland's eliminative materialism and physical reducitionism, a.k.a. physicalism.

The principal reason materialism is untenable, then, is because all of the above, while associated with some scientific discoveries, has not not been supported by ongoing experimental and empirical investigations into either microcosmic or macrocosmic realms. Part of the problem is the misunderstanding of some scientists about the purpose(s) of science (Einstein and Bohr debated this to point of almost despising each other). Paul K. Feyerabend (and to a lesser extent, Thomas Kuhn and Vladmir Lakatos) have outlined the reasons why methodological uniformity is not a valid basis for science and highlighted the problems scientists encounter when they bring assumptions to their experiments and analyses that someday science will arrive at Objective or Ultimate Truth.

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:19 pm

danieLion wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
danieLion wrote:Is Buddhism anti-intellectual, under-intellectual, or just intellectual enough?
I personally see Buddhism being intellectual enough.
But there is almost a snobbery among some who discount what someone says based on the perception as too how much they meditate, and I am sure there is a vice versa equality in snobbery with those who are eloquent & detailed in the was they can express a topic for those who are not.
Some Buddhists, including some here at Dahmmawheel, come off to me as very anti-intellectual and at times even demonstrate some kind of ingrained provincialism. I don't think intellectualism is a wonderful thing, per se, and I've been labeled an intellectual all my life. Maybe I am, maybe I ain't. Like Thanissaro says, when you define yourself, you limit yourself. And like Albert Ellis and David D. Burns, following Korzybkski's "is of identity verb conjugation" thesis, point out, your do not equal your verbal identifications. Yet we find some Buddhists wanting to very much define themselves by partitioning themselves off into camps or clubs, all of which claim the most authentic or closest to "original" Buddhism. This only perpetuates clinging to views of self.
all these verbs are muscles we use, some are more developed than others. but maybe it is a case of not liking what they feel they lack and see another with; a learnt reaction; or a behaviour based on a preference toward what they see as practice Vs. non-practice? or maybe it is all or none of these?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by manas » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:22 pm

Mr Man wrote:...
My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
That's my experience also. In terms of my knowledge of the Buddha-Dhamma: amongst the folk in my local community I'm like a sage, but here, I'm like the village idiot :P

Yep...I thought I knew quite a bit about the Buddha Dhamma...and then, I found Dhamma Wheel. It's good, though, both for humility, and for making me realize that I really ought to study more; then some of the stuff I read here would not go 'whoosh' over my head.

:anjali:
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by LonesomeYogurt » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:28 pm

tiltbillings wrote:And you know this how?
Probably because he's encountered more than about three Western Buddhists; if you haven't heard such views expressed, then you either live in the most dedicated Buddhist community on Earth or in a hermitage.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:46 pm

danieLion wrote:Some Buddhists, including some here at Dahmmawheel, come off to me as very anti-intellectual and at times even demonstrate some kind of ingrained provincialism.
Mr Man wrote:I think that is, genrally speaking, a misconception or a non-constructive view.

I wasn't speaking generally, but particularly. What particularly do you find misconceived and non-constructive about it?
danieLion wrote:Yet we find some Buddhists wanting to very much define themselves by partitioning themselves off into camps or clubs.
Mr Man wrote:Isn't this what you are doing?

No! I guess you only read the first half of my post you're quoting? What club or camp do you imagine I want to raise a flag for?
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
Discussing dhamma intellectually is a very different thing form intellectualism as applied to the dhamma. The former involves the application of scientific iteration and critical thinking to discourse; the latter involves imposing pre-determined yet unverified assumptions onto dialogue.

I can see how some individuals would be intimidated by some of the more intellectual individuals here, but even the most shy minds can use the challenge as a tool for growth. Intelligence can be increased, and even the "dumbest" person has the potentioal to become "smart." We naturally avoid things we don't understand, but this is not always healthy or the wisest course of action. Of course, one probably should not go into dark tunnels, especially if one has not been there before when they are illuminated or does not carry with one a way to illuminate the passage. The choice is ultimately personal: do you want to test the veracity of your beliefs, or do you want to stay in the cozy warmth of the light, which is really no true comfort, for even sunny days can exist is the sub zeros.

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:48 pm

manas wrote: Yep...I thought I knew quite a bit about the Buddha Dhamma...and then, I found Dhamma Wheel. It's good, though, both for humility, and for making me realize that I really ought to study more; then some of the stuff I read here would not go 'whoosh' over my head.

:anjali:
:thumbsup:

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:49 pm

Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
why do you find it like that at times?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:53 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
why do you find it like that at times?
That can often be seen, despite the sniping, in the exchanges between Sylvester and Ñāṇa, and with some others who have a considerable command of textual knowledge and such.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by danieLion » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:54 pm

manas wrote:
danieLion wrote:Is Buddhism anti-intellectual, under-intellectual, or just intellectual enough?
...Then, my intellect wants more answers than just 'it's not important knowledge, don't ponder it'! So really, it's subjective, and the mind with craving will never really be satisfied anyway, it will always find something to complain about (or is that just in my case?
I'm not sure what you mean by "subjective" but I think one can at least approximate which knowledges to grow and which knowledges to ignore using appropriate attention (yoniso manasikara) (which is similar to Socrates' lifelong goal to pursue wisdom where wisdom is defined as the capacity for sound judgment).

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3362
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:06 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
why do you find it like that at times?
Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:10 pm

Mr Man wrote: Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.
It is not necessarily a bad thing, though the arcana of some discussions can be bewildering.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
Cittasanto
Posts: 6625
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin
Contact:

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:22 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Mr Man wrote:My experience of Dhammawheel is that sometimes the level of intellectualism is very high, almost to the point of being intimidating.
why do you find it like that at times?
Cittasanto, sorry but I'm not going to answer your question directly but I would add that I agree with sentiment of manas that I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.
Quite liked his comment.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3362
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:26 pm

Cittasanto wrote: Quite liked his comment.
Yes

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3362
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Buddhism and Intellectualism

Post by Mr Man » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:40 pm

danieLion wrote:
danieLion wrote:Some Buddhists, including some here at Dahmmawheel, come off to me as very anti-intellectual and at times even demonstrate some kind of ingrained provincialism.
Mr Man wrote:I think that is, genrally speaking, a misconception or a non-constructive view.

I wasn't speaking generally, but particularly. What particularly do you find misconceived and non-constructive about it?
Hi danielLion.
I think it is misconceived because I don't really think it is possible to negate ones own intellectuality It is just that different peoples intellectuality manifests or goes or has been developed in different directions. I think it is non-constructive as per the Sutta quoted by David N. Snyder
danieLion wrote:
danieLion wrote:Yet we find some Buddhists wanting to very much define themselves by partitioning themselves off into camps or clubs.
Mr Man wrote:Isn't this what you are doing?

No! I guess you only read the first half of my post you're quoting? What club or camp do you imagine I want to raise a flag for?

I read the whole post and I wasn't assigning you to a particular camp.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 49 guests