People with a background in western philosophy

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ctcrnitv
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People with a background in western philosophy

Post by ctcrnitv » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:41 pm

The other day I was reading this wiki article on direct and indirect realism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_an ... ct_realism, which supposedly comes from a branch of philosophy called Phenomenology.

The way I understood it was that a person can consider their sense bases to be an accurate representation of the world. So one could think of the eye base looking at a candle, assuming that the way it's perceived is ultimately the way it is, when it actually might not be.

It got even more interesting when I contemplated this applied to the mind-base, and the naive realism approach that I often take when it comes to my thoughts. It felt like I had come to an important realization for myself.

So my question is to more experienced practitioners who also have exposure to western philosophy. Have you found any value in particular western philosophical thought to understand Buddhism? I'm considering diving more deeply into western philosophy with the intention of understanding Buddhist teachings from another angle, but it could be a time sink with diminishing returns. I'd like to learn from any experiences!

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Circle5
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Circle5 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:49 pm

Not really. Western philosophy is mainly asking the wrong questions and looking from the wrong angle at the problem. For example there is a fire. A western philosopher might ask "does this fire exist ? does it not exist ? why does it exist ? etc." - while a buddhist would investigate how it technically works, how it is made out of fuel, oxigen, wood, etc.

Regarding your question in particular: Yes, there is no such thing as light, color, etc. Such things are actually electromagnetic waves and, after being gathered through the sense bases and processed by the mind, you have light, colors, etc. The information enters a machine and comes out as something else. Similar to how this website is actually made of a HTML, php, css code but look how beautifull it comes out after being processed by the chrome browser.

In my opinion this is nothing too special to discover and has little implications for the buddhist path.

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Polar Bear
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:56 pm

I have a BA in philosophy, so I'm a certified dilettante. While I don't think philosophy is necessary for studying the Buddha's teachings, I think it has certainly enriched my own studies, but generally in a very broad sense, such that the enrichment comes from studying philosophy as a whole and there aren't any particular philosophers that I think you should attempt to use as a key to decipher the Buddha's message or something.

That being said, even if only for intellectual entertainment, you should read this article on Personal Identity by Derek Parfit, it's similar to the Buddha's anatta teaching.

I wouldn't bother with Heidegger or Sartre if I were you. If you feel you have to read a phenomenologist, read Merleau-Ponty.

:anjali:
"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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Circle5
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Circle5 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:00 pm

I wouldn't bother with Heidegger or Sartre if I were you. If you feel you have to read a phenomenologist, read Merleau-Ponty.
:goodpost:
Especially since postmodernism is considered by Buddhism to be the only one, out of 64 philosophies, that is "a product of sheer stupidity". viewtopic.php?t=29724

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Kim OHara
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Kim OHara » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:43 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:00 pm
I wouldn't bother with Heidegger or Sartre if I were you. If you feel you have to read a phenomenologist, read Merleau-Ponty.
:goodpost:
Especially since postmodernism is considered by Buddhism to be the only one, out of 64 philosophies, that is "a product of sheer stupidity". viewtopic.php?t=29724
Noam Chomsky is not too keen on it, either - http://www.openculture.com/2018/02/noam ... tuals.html

:coffee:
Kim

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Kim OHara
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:00 am

polarbear101 wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:56 pm
I have a BA in philosophy, so I'm a certified dilettante. While I don't think philosophy is necessary for studying the Buddha's teachings, I think it has certainly enriched my own studies, but generally in a very broad sense, such that the enrichment comes from studying philosophy as a whole and there aren't any particular philosophers that I think you should attempt to use as a key to decipher the Buddha's message or something.

That being said, even if only for intellectual entertainment, you should read this article on Personal Identity by Derek Parfit, it's similar to the Buddha's anatta teaching.

I wouldn't bother with Heidegger or Sartre if I were you. If you feel you have to read a phenomenologist, read Merleau-Ponty.

:anjali:
I associate Sartre with Camus and the existentialists rather than the phenomenologists, but read a fair bit of all of them many years ago.
I gave up on them, in the end, because they were all so miserable that their work clearly wasn't any basis for a happy, productive life and I could see that others had found better solutions. They just had to be wrong in some fundamental way, and I didn't even need to work out just why and where they were wrong. I simply went off to explore Buddhism, Taoism and yoga, and never returned.
Anyway, this article sets out the connections between Sartre and others ...
... Camus’s tone, ideas, and style are reminiscent of Nietzsche. “God is dead” is of course their common starting point, as is the determination to confront unpleasant truths and write against received wisdom. At the same time Camus argues against the specific philosophical current with which Nietzsche is often linked as a precursor, and to which he himself is closest—existentialism. The Myth of Sisyphus is explicitly written against existentialists such as Shestov, Kierkegaard, Jaspers, and Heidegger, as well as against the phenomenology of Husserl. Camus shares their starting point, which he regards as the fact that they all somehow testify to the absurdity of the human condition. But he rejects what he sees as their ultimate escapism and irrationality, claiming that “they deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them. That forced hope is religious in all of them” (MS, 24). ...
:reading: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/camus/#CriExi for anyone who wants more.

:namaste:
Kim

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LG2V
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by LG2V » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:37 am

polarbear101 wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:56 pm
I have a BA in philosophy, so I'm a certified dilettante. While I don't think philosophy is necessary for studying the Buddha's teachings, I think it has certainly enriched my own studies, but generally in a very broad sense, such that the enrichment comes from studying philosophy as a whole and there aren't any particular philosophers that I think you should attempt to use as a key to decipher the Buddha's message or something.

That being said, even if only for intellectual entertainment, you should read this article on Personal Identity by Derek Parfit, it's similar to the Buddha's anatta teaching.

I wouldn't bother with Heidegger or Sartre if I were you. If you feel you have to read a phenomenologist, read Merleau-Ponty.

:anjali:
You have my respect. :anjali:


I love philosophy. It's nice to find analogies between Buddhist scriptures and Western philosophy. I usually compare Nietzsche and Kant most often, because of Nietzche's phenomenology and Kant's Categories (which remind me of cetasikas), and Noumena (which somewhat remind me of descriptions of Nibbana), among other things.

I think that these philosophers have drawbacks, though. Particularly Kant. Although I'm familiar with his ideas, I hold little respect for him and his philosophy.


With that being said, I think that just pursuing Buddhist philosophy alone is a great idea. Nina van Gorkom's abhidhamma explanations and Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika are some of the best brain food that literature has to offer.
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
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Polar Bear
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Polar Bear » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:58 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:00 am

I associate Sartre with Camus and the existentialists rather than the phenomenologists, but read a fair bit of all of them many years ago.
Well yes, Sartre is associated both with existentialism and phenomenology, but more famously existentialism. I studied his work Being and Nothingness at university, which covers both.

:anjali:
"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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Polar Bear
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Polar Bear » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:14 am

You may also want to look into what might be called neo-classicism in philosophy. Check out the book Philosophy as a way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucalt by Pierre Hadot. A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine is a great neo-stoic overview of how to understand and practice stoicism. Basically the idea is that the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers used philosophy to live wisely as opposed to using it merely as an academic undertaking and that we today should also use philosophy to live wisely, looking to the ancients for advice and exercises to practice.

:anjali:
"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."

pyluyten
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by pyluyten » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:19 am

Circle5 wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:49 pm
Not really. Western philosophy is mainly asking the wrong questions and looking from the wrong angle at the problem. For example there is a fire. A western philosopher might ask "does this fire exist ? does it not exist ? why does it exist ? etc." - while a buddhist would investigate how it technically works, how it is made out of fuel, oxigen, wood, etc.
yeah it is a known fact buddha discovered quantuum physics and conceived the first micro wave :rolleye: . the buddhist method is to change oneself, to investigate the dhammas from the inside. how is technically a fire is the domain of science, whether is western or eastern since japan or india for example are key leaders in research. :heart:

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Kim OHara
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:51 am

polarbear101 wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:14 am
You may also want to look into what might be called neo-classicism in philosophy. Check out the book Philosophy as a way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucalt by Pierre Hadot. A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine is a great neo-stoic overview of how to understand and practice stoicism. Basically the idea is that the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers used philosophy to live wisely as opposed to using it merely as an academic undertaking and that we today should also use philosophy to live wisely, looking to the ancients for advice and exercises to practice.

:anjali:
:thumbsup: to the bit I bolded. :smile:

A search for [ pyrrhonism site:dhammawheel.com ] will turn up several relevant threads on this area - some of which you will remember because you contributed to them, polarbear, but I'm mentioning them now for the benefit of the OP.

:reading:
Kim

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Circle5
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Re: People with a background in western philosophy

Post by Circle5 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:37 pm

pyluyten wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:19 am
Circle5 wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:49 pm
Not really. Western philosophy is mainly asking the wrong questions and looking from the wrong angle at the problem. For example there is a fire. A western philosopher might ask "does this fire exist ? does it not exist ? why does it exist ? etc." - while a buddhist would investigate how it technically works, how it is made out of fuel, oxigen, wood, etc.
yeah it is a known fact buddha discovered quantuum physics and conceived the first micro wave :rolleye: . the buddhist method is to change oneself, to investigate the dhammas from the inside. how is technically a fire is the domain of science, whether is western or eastern since japan or india for example are key leaders in research. :heart:
Buddha discovered how a being technically works. That is what "book of causation" (600pag), "book of aggregates" (another 600 pag) and most of "book of sense bases" (another 600 pag) is about. He discovered what conditionality goes on between the 5 aggregates, how they work and how they interact with each other, how there is no self, etc. This is called "the higher dhamma" and is different than "the lower dhamma" (talks about being a good person, etc.)

If you don't believe me, go browse this higher dhamma section to see weather it is indeed technical or not.

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