This isn't directed at anyone in particular, but if one can follow what Ven. Ñanavira is trying to explain here it conveys a deep sense of what he means by phassa. The three negatives (not-this, the "that" of FS) are what is to the left and right of A (this), and the eye itself which is always the "here" within visual experience (Note that it is A that is the focus of attention.). The A of course is positive, the not-A's negative. All appear at the same level of immediacy.
I am sorry about the repellent mathematical appearance of the note (I used to be a mathematician in a small way), but I can assure you that no knowledge of mathematics is required to follow it. You simply start from a positive ('this') and a negative ('not-this') and see where it leads you, following the one rule of avoiding self-contradiction.
The first result is that three negatives, not one, are absolutely required (which, incidentally, is why space is necessarily three-dimensional -- i.e. if you can move from here to there, you must also be able to move in two other directions all mutually at right angles). This leads us at once to the next point -- the negative.
The great advantage of your having so intelligently displayed your ignorance is that you have at once put your finger on the vital spot. You say 'The negative cannot appear in immediate experience. It is at most an inference and is therefore forbidden(?)' The bracketed query, which I take to mean that you are doubtful whether the negative as inference can be accepted as a basic irreducible concept, is fully justified. You cannot start with inference (which is a logical category) for the very good reason that in order to infer you must have something to infer from, and what you infer from is thus automatically more primitive than the inference. Furthermore, you cannot infer 'not-A' from 'A', since inference is of necessity from like to like. (In its simplest form, inductive inference is by 'simple enumeration' -- 'if A has occurred so many times it will probably occur again'. And it is well known that deductive inference does not add anything to what is already given in the premises.) From 'A' you can only infer 'more A', but the original 'A' from which you infer 'more A' is not itself an inference.
So, too, if you infer 'not-A' there must be an original 'not-A' that is not itself an inference. This means that your statement that the negative cannot appear in immediate experience is a fundamental mistake.[a] If the negative appears at all (which of course it does) it must appear first in immediate experience. From the fact that you are at A you cannot infer that movement from A -- i.e. to not-A -- is possible: movement is an immediate experience, revealing immediately the existence of the negative. (And, incidentally, the fact that space is three-dimensional -- if movement in one dimension is possible, it is possible also in two other dimensions -- is also a matter of immediate experience. This shows that the discussion in FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE is not logical or inferential, but a pre-inferential description of the structure of experience. A logician will make neither head nor tail of it.)
Try a simple experiment. Fix your gaze on some given object, A, in your room. Then, without shifting your gaze from A, ask yourself if anything else in the room is at that time visible to you. You will find that you can also see a number of other objects surrounding A, but less distinctly. These other objects, though visible at the same time as A, form, as it were, the background to A, which occupies the foreground or centre of attention. These are objects that are peripherally visible, whereas A is centrally visible, or, if you prefer, A is present whereas the other objects are, in a manner of speaking, partly absent -- i.e. not present. But all these other objects, though they are not-A, are given in the same immediate experience as A. I do not think, if you carry out the experiment carefully, that you will conclude that all these peripherally -- non-centrally -- visible objects, which are negatives of the centrally visible A, are simply inferred from A. How can you possibly infer the bookshelf in the corner of the room from the pen lying on your desk? Letter 44
Last edited by pulga
on Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.