Hello, I'm new here, and to Buddhist philosophy, and I was hoping to get some insight into a question I had about permanence. I've been reading Santaraksita's Compendium on Reality, and have finished the Chapter on the Doctrine of Perpetual Flux. Briefly (and hopefully accurately) his argument that nothing can possibly be permanent is thus:
1. If a thing exists, then it must possess the capacity to cause.
This much I get; try to think of an example of something that exists yet cannot cause anything. I certainly can't. Even the lightest atom has the capacity to cause every other atom in the universe to be gravitationally drawn to it.
2. If an existent thing is permanent, then it cannot have the capacity to cause and not cause.
If a thing can cause at one moment, and not cause at another moment, then it relinquishes its permanence. The idea, which I admit is rather alien to me and yet seems very reasonable, is that if Thing X changes in any way (for example going from causing -> not causing or vice versa), it becomes Thing Y, which of course means Thing X is not permanent, as it does not exist anymore: Thing Y does in its place.
3. Hence an existent permanent thing must be permanently causing.
This is an absurdity, though: if it is causing permanently, then effects must be occurring permanently too, that means, simultaneously with their cause. Little is clearer than the fact that a cause and its effect cannot occur simultaneously, but only successively. If we imagine a seed as the cause of the tree, and the tree as the effect of the seed, we can understand the absurdity of the seed and the tree that it becomes existing simultaneously. Since the only way a permanent thing can exist is through an absurdity, we can infer that no permanent thing exists.
My objection to this argument is with recognition, take of blue for example: how can my recognition of blue occur if I or it are not the same as we were the first time I cognized blue? I see the color blue for the first time, and I cognize it, and I see it again a million times later, and I recognize it each time (I cognize it a second, third, etc. time). If I am not the person who cognized blue that first time, how is it that I can recognize it? If the color blue is not the same color as it was when it was first cognized, how can it be recognized? It does not seem at all reasonable that when I see the color blue I am both cognizing it, and it is being cognized for the first and only time.
Is anybody familiar with these questions? Santaraksita discussed the distinction between recognition and remembrance, and between being the same and being similar, but I could use outside thoughts as well. I have a feeling there is a clearer answer somewhere; Buddhists certainly haven't been twiddling their thumbs on the subject of impermanence these past few millennia I'm sure!