tobes wrote:The issue of controversy here seems to be something like: is it possible to establish a materialist view (in this case, about the nature of mind or consciousness) without making any discursive/conceptual imputations?
I don't think that is the controversy. To establish any view requires concepts. The issue is should we use Buddhists ones or the ones we are familiar with? If we use Buddhist ones we can get a bit stuck. Especially through the adoption of Buddhist cosmology. If we use materialist ones we can relax. We understand evolution and don't have to substitute a Buddhist concept. We understand that causality is not always personal. We understand that objects obey laws that weren't made by beings. We understand that there is a past and a future. There is space/time. Light from the sun takes millions of years to get to the surface of the sun and when it does it takes a mere 8 minutes to get to us on Earth. All of these things are readily accepted. That is a blessing. We don't need to change things around. We can let go of our concepts much sooner than those who take the mind to be the source of everything. Or who have the idea that the essence of mind is emptiness.
What Thigle has been saying is that non-fixation is a fact. Or needs to be a fact. It needs to be absolutely obvious. The sooner concepts are dropped regarding mind, then the sooner the factual status of non-fixation can come about. Milarepa sang that appearances were his texts. This is an extraordinarily important point. But if we hold to a Buddhist view regarding the primacy of mind, it is very hard to see appearances as texts. We are always adding to the appearances rather than just letting them be in their own nature whilst we are also in that nature.
The Mahamudra instruction regarding locating the mind (in this case mental consciousness) is not really weakened by saying that mental consciousness is in the brain. After all, the brain is pervaded with space as well as all of the 'stuff' of the universe and it obeys natural laws too. One might say that naturally the brain is not fixated. Not in a state of conceptual definitiveness - reality isn't in a state of conceptual definitiveness either. But even without applying concepts to reality, reality has it's characteristics - it is definite. You needn't do anything but still something happens. This 'happening', even without an agent doing something, is for some people a display of inherent ignorance. I couldn't disagree with this more. I think instead that this is what wisdom is.
But we'll know how this all pans out when we come to die. Regarding death, nature tells me that it is normal and somewhat necessary. Without my death there would be no room for other life. And that since billions of people have died, then it's a fact that I will also have to make way for life. That's in my future. Some may say that death doesn't happen - it's all in the mind. Yes that is true to an extent. There is no actual point of death. It seems to be a process. But I wonder if it doesn't help more to see the experience of death as absolutely natural and then without concepts relax into that. Or should we see death as something going on in the mind that we may have some control over? You see how a conceptual residue can remain with those who haven't accepted that death, like life, is entirely natural and valuable to itself. That death should be overcome.
Those who adopt Buddhist views of the pre-eminence of mind (and I have done this), are not able to let go of subtle concepts regarding mind. Since they cannot let go of these subtle concepts regarding mind, they are not able to progress. That is the long and short of it. If you understand consciousness is located in the brain then go with that. The sooner you are able to have a direct experience of reality not mediated through concepts then the better you'll be.
You're involved in a very strange kind of argument here. I take your point that Buddhists may hold on to a subtle conception of mind/consciousness if they pursue studies of Buddhist philosophy/cosmology without breaking through into a direct experience. No one is going to deny that.
However, it simply doesn't follow that breaking through into a direct experience is tantamount to a philosophical realism/materialism.
If we say that X is having a conceptual view of something (it could be 'the mind is emptiness' or 'consciousness is reducible to brain') and Y is the direct experience of reality free from concepts, everything you have written is immutably X. But you are trying to convince us that X is Y.
I don't have any issue with you running with a nuanced materialism, if that is the philosophical view that you have established for yourself as true. There are some compelling reasons to support that, albeit ones that I personally do not find convincing. The issue I have is that you are blind to the pre-Kantian suppositions that underpin your arguments. Both the Buddhist dialectical tradition and contemporary philosophy of science/metaphysics are very
alert to the way that we can only speak, reason, theorise, make claims etc about phenomena, in lieu of the cognitive frameworks we share. i.e. Everyone knows about imputation. To think that one is free from imputation whilst making imputations is far closer to what Jeeprs called the first stage, than the second, third.