Bertrand Russell and rebirth

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binocular
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by binocular » Mon May 20, 2013 11:32 am

kmath wrote:2. If you believe in rebirth for a reason not listed above, what is the reason?
I'll offer another reason. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a suitable online resource, so I'll refer to a similar reasoning proposed for the existence of God. So, to rephrase an argument provided at SEP (see Arguments IX and X for the original form):

It would be demoralizing not to believe there is a moral order to the universe.
Demoralization is morally undesirable.
There is a moral advantage in believing that there is a moral order in the universe.
The doctrine of karma and rebirth provides the best theory of the workings of moral order.
Therefore there is a moral advantage in accepting the doctrine of karma and rebirth.


and

Morality demands that we ought to aspire to become as good as we can be.
If there is no source of moral order in the world, then the project of becoming as good as we can be is fraught with difficulties.
These difficulties would be taken away if we were assured of the truth of the doctrine of karma and rebirth.
Therefore we have a moral reason for getting ourselves in a state whereby we can come to believe in the truth of the doctrine of karma and rebirth.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Sam Vara » Mon May 20, 2013 11:43 am

binocular wrote:Samvega all on its own is not useful. There needs to be pasada in order for samvega to be useful. Plenty of people have some measure of samvega; pasada does not appear to be so common.
Indeed, but pasada is less likely to be generated by the experience you describe, so I didn't specify it.

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Alex123
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 20, 2013 11:51 am

binocular wrote:It would be demoralizing not to believe there is a moral order to the universe.
Demoralization is morally undesirable.
There is a moral advantage in believing that there is a moral order in the universe.
The doctrine of karma and rebirth provides the best theory of the workings of moral order.
Therefore there is a moral advantage in accepting the doctrine of karma and rebirth.
Just because something makes one feel better, that by itself doesn't make it right.

It seems to me that concepts of God, soul, eternal life, kamma, etc was thought up to deal with difficulties and mortality of oneself and loved ones.

World doesn't have to follow our wishes. World is what it is.
Last edited by Alex123 on Mon May 20, 2013 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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daverupa
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by daverupa » Mon May 20, 2013 11:51 am

binocular wrote:It would be demoralizing not to believe there is a moral order to the universe.
This claim is unsupported.
Morality demands that we ought to aspire to become as good as we can be.
This phrasing obscures the various moralities which are on offer in the world, and then takes a preferred result as the only possible result, which is disingenuous.

:zzz:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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kmath
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by kmath » Mon May 20, 2013 3:45 pm

reflection wrote:As said, "normal" perceptions aren't necessarily the truth. In meditation many of our perceptions change. Things we once thought were like this, turn out to be like that. Mostly, the sense of identity. Things we thought were "us" turn out to be not so, not self. And with a still and sharpened mind we can see these things we normally don't see. Of course, it can also happen people think they see something in meditation that actually was not that.

Then again, Russell didn't actually say that normal perceptions are true ones, only that they are more trustworthy than "abnormal" perceptions.

The point is that testimony of others is unreliable when it comes to mystical experience. Sure, if you recall your own past lives, then of course you'd believe in rebirth. But when it comes to the recollections of others, we must suspend judgement. That's his point.

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kmath
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by kmath » Mon May 20, 2013 3:57 pm

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:It would be demoralizing not to believe there is a moral order to the universe.
Demoralization is morally undesirable.
There is a moral advantage in believing that there is a moral order in the universe.
The doctrine of karma and rebirth provides the best theory of the workings of moral order.
Therefore there is a moral advantage in accepting the doctrine of karma and rebirth.
Just because something makes one feel better, that by itself doesn't make it right.
Thanks for your response binocular, but I agree with Alex.

Does anyone else have a reason to believe in rebirth?

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FatDaddy
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by FatDaddy » Mon May 20, 2013 5:44 pm

[/quote] Does anyone else have a reason to believe in rebirth?[/quote]

I don't have any reason to "believe" in rebirth but I have reasons to live as if it were true. It is a three dimensional model of cause and effect. Every physical, verbal and mental action has an effect in this life and/or beyond this life. I think arguing about literal truth or falshood of rebirth may miss the point. It is not scientific but it is extremely useful to me.
Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.
— Sn 1.8

binocular
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by binocular » Mon May 20, 2013 7:18 pm

Alex123 wrote:Just because something makes one feel better, that by itself doesn't make it right.
Nobody argued it does.

Just try to do things that continue to not make you feel better.
But I guess you already know how that goes and where that leads.

It seems to me that concepts of God, soul, eternal life, kamma, etc was thought up to deal with difficulties and mortality of oneself and loved ones.

World doesn't have to follow our wishes. World is what it is.
And you already know full well what the world is?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by binocular » Mon May 20, 2013 7:21 pm

daverupa wrote:
binocular wrote:It would be demoralizing not to believe there is a moral order to the universe.
This claim is unsupported.
Well, try living like there is no moral order in the universe.
Even the strictest moral relativist forgets about his moral relativism when his own arse is on the line.

Morality demands that we ought to aspire to become as good as we can be.
This phrasing obscures the various moralities which are on offer in the world, and then takes a preferred result as the only possible result, which is disingenuous.
You're obscuring that humans are moral beings. And while particular moralities differ from one culture to another, even from one individual to another, we all have one thing in common: we aspire to become as good as we can, even as our notions of "good" may differ. The principle of desiring to become good is the same for all.

:zzz:
:strawman:
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by binocular » Mon May 20, 2013 7:23 pm

kmath wrote:The point is that testimony of others is unreliable when it comes to mystical experience. Sure, if you recall your own past lives, then of course you'd believe in rebirth. But when it comes to the recollections of others, we must suspend judgement. That's his point.
If that's his point, then it's an extremely naive point.
Even preschoolers know not to simply believe everything the other kids tell them.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Alex123
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Alex123 » Mon May 20, 2013 7:47 pm

binocular wrote:And you already know full well what the world is?
Through all the pain that I've experienced and stories of other people, I can assure you that it is not all honey. Imperfect situations happen. Body doesn't "ask my permission" to get sick, hurt or die. Sometimes even if one does everything right, something bad happens and totally ruins everything. What I see is that clever, shrewd, manipulative, lying and egotistical people get ahead and trample the ethical and honest ones. It is a faith that "God/Kamma will sort everything out". The world is built upon eat or be eaten. To live we have to eat, if not other animals, then fruits, vegetables, greens, plants, food which doesn't magically appear... The cheap products that we like to buy are jobs that are outsourced from rich nations to poor nations where it is produced by abused third world kids, or people living in poverty...

That is what I've implied by "World doesn't have to follow our wishes. World is what it is."
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

binocular
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by binocular » Tue May 21, 2013 8:59 am

So per you then, the solution is to settle for bestiality?
How good is that working for you?

I agree - in this world, it's usually the ruthless, the aggressive, the cheaters who get ahead.
The fact of the matter is that some people have no qualms about killing, lying and stealing; and some do. I don't know why this is so.

Alex123 wrote:It is a faith that "God/Kamma will sort everything out".
Thanissaro Bhikkhu sometimes mentions the dichotomy between truths of the observer and truths of the will.
Truths of the observer are truths that hold regardless of the observer - such as truths about stars and atoms.

Truths of the will are truths that depend on the person in order to be true; if the person doesn't take the according action, nothing happens. Most things in our lives that are relevant to us, are truths of the will: relationships, careers, projects, our daily hygiene etc. Whether those things happen or not, and the way they happen, depends crucially on our actions, our will.

This is not to say that belief in God or belief in karma will make God or karma exist. But if we don't believe in the power of our action, we will act as if our actions don't matter, and so possibly won't see the results we desire.

If we act as if karma doesn't exist, we will be sure to see that it doesn't exist.
If we act as if karma doest exist, we will be sure to see that it does exist.
Some things are self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating like that.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 21, 2013 9:34 am

kmath wrote: Does anyone else have a reason to believe in rebirth?
As I've mentioned before I spend a lot of time observing nature, and I've noticed that a lot of natural processes are cyclical - so for me the possibility of a "round of rebirth" doesn't seem far-fetched.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Alex123
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Alex123 » Tue May 21, 2013 11:03 am

binocular wrote:So per you then, the solution is to settle for bestiality?.
The best option for those who can, is to be a monk under Ajahn Brahm for example, and bliss out in jhāna every day...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Polar Bear
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Re: Bertrand Russell and rebirth

Post by Polar Bear » Tue May 21, 2013 11:20 am

Bertrand Russell: "I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong."

Another funny Russell quote, or so says the internet: "Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so."

Anyway, Alex, you seem to have some large qualms with certain facets of buddhist doctrine, but the whole of the contemplative human experience does not lie within buddhism. If I could recommend to you a wonderful book called Philosophy As A Way of Life I think you may rather enjoy it.

http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Way-Li ... 0631180338

:sage:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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