The "Materialist View"

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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby jeeprs » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:25 am

Undefineable wrote:Surely, though, 'soft' materialists at least (epiphenomenalists etc.) can write off awareness as irrelevant to a reality of which it is too insignificant to form part, given that it has yet to be shown capable of causing any of the kind of empirical events that it appears to directly result from.


The basic error of materialism is to invest the so-called "objective realm" with a reality that it imagines exists independently of the act of cognition and apperception by which it assimilated into the mind. Indeed the single claim which most materialists and realists of any type must always make, is that of the so-called 'mind-independence' of reality - that the yardstick of 'what is real' is 'what actually exists in the absence of any viewpoint'.

However as phenomenology has demonstrated, mind has a foundational role in the nature of reality. This doesn't mean that in the absence of mind, or when you loose consciousness, that nothing exists. That is only 'imagined non-existence'. The foundational role of mind is that phenomenal reality exists from a point-of-view. The point-of-view is what unites and relates all the otherwise completely unrelated fragments and aspects of 'reality' into a whole - what 'makes manifest' or 'realizes' the reality. Otherwise, where is one aspect of reality in relation to another? How does anything within it, or the scene itself, have duration? The perception of the spatial relations and awareness of temporal duration, which are essential to the fabric of reality, are brought to the picture by the mind.

(This is also the basis for 'the Matrix' idea, although the Matrix has about the same relationship with the insight from which it is derived, as Star Wars does with actual dynastic histories.)

The problem with this simply is that most of those who call themselves 'materialists' won't understand this point, and they mistake 'not understanding it' for 'refuting it'.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby steveb1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:51 am

shel wrote:
steveb1 wrote:I would further hazard the guess that a yogin with (say) forty years of contemplative experience under his/her belt would first react with a surprise which would not necessarily lead to panic, and would shortly resolve into a kind of "business as usual" state.


You must realize that any human mind would rapidly degenerate in this situation. And a mind born into this situation could not develop at all.
===

As I stated before, this is exactly what I don't realize or recognize. A contemplative deeply enmeshed in the Self or Whatever might not be disturbed by the experience at all; in fact, such a person might feel "Home at last". I cannot imagine a Tibeten adept or Ramana Maharshi panicking at loss of sensory input.

As far as "a mind born into this situation" goes, Mahayana mentions primordial beings that were never attached to brain-body systems, and thus were never "born into" a situation of sensory saturation. When the Buddha passed into Mahaparinirvana, he was beyond sensory stimulation, while at the same time being at the zenith of consciousness. Amida Buddha lost his sensory perceptions/experiences aeons ago, yet he is wholly conscious and fully active in dispensing Other Power.

not everything in the mind, not everything the mind does, is - or is related to - sense data, such as numerical patterns, logical progressions, contemplation of truth, goodness, beauty, self-knowledge, etc.

Obviously, all these things you mention, and anything else you can imagine, would have no use without the physical world.

===

It's not obvious at all. Pure number, contemplation of truth, logical progressions are non-material, self-explanatory systems that can pertain to materiality, but do not need to do so. And as I have also mentioned, our subjectivity is nonmaterial, the qualia are not material constructs, the brain is an objective thing while the individual is a subjective personal being.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:59 pm

jeeprs wrote:The basic error of materialism is to invest the so-called "objective realm" with a reality that it imagines exists independently of the act of cognition and apperception by which it assimilated into the mind. Indeed the single claim which most materialists and realists of any type must always make, is that of the so-called 'mind-independence' of reality - that the yardstick of 'what is real' is 'what actually exists in the absence of any viewpoint'.

However as phenomenology has demonstrated, mind has a foundational role in the nature of reality. This doesn't mean that in the absence of mind, or when you loose consciousness, that nothing exists. That is only 'imagined non-existence'. The foundational role of mind is that phenomenal reality exists from a point-of-view. The point-of-view is what unites and relates all the otherwise completely unrelated fragments and aspects of 'reality' into a whole - what 'makes manifest' or 'realizes' the reality. Otherwise, where is one aspect of reality in relation to another? How does anything within it, or the scene itself, have duration? The perception of the spatial relations and awareness of temporal duration, which are essential to the fabric of reality, are brought to the picture by the mind.


This is a good expression of how polarized your views are, in my opinion. Interdependent co-arising seems more sensible to me, where mind/body arise dependently together.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:13 pm

undefineable wrote:
shel wrote:The effect of cutting off all sense input [from the physical world] to the human brain would be rapid degeneration.

shel wrote:You must realize that any human mind would rapidly degenerate in this situation. And a mind born into this situation could not develop at all.

Evidence?? What about the 'walled-in' hermits (sorry, no ref.) who -as Buddhists- practice the self-reflective potential of mind {Hoping that's in the right ballpark :thinking: } Since the scenario you described is my ultimate fear (and I'm sure I'm not alone), I'm suspicious of the idea that unconsciousness (or anything else) would quickly rescue anyone from the full horror of it.


No one said it would be quick, or even particularly horrifying for that matter. I tried an hour in a sensory deprivation tank once and it was rather pleasant and enjoyable. With complete and endless sensory deprivation it seems the mind would just slowly fade away.

What evidence? If nothing else, look at what happens in the brain when there is partial sensory deprivation, as when losing one of the senses like vision or touch. The neural cells associated with the lost sense are not kept intact by the body, they atrophy or are repurposed. The same is true of other organs like mussel or bone. When unused they naturally atrophy.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:22 pm

steveb1 wrote:Pure number, contemplation of truth, logical progressions are non-material, self-explanatory systems that can pertain to materiality, but do not need to do so. And as I have also mentioned, our subjectivity is nonmaterial, the qualia are not material constructs, the brain is an objective thing while the individual is a subjective personal being.


Going back to the mirror metaphor for a moment, is the reflection in a mirror "non-material"? What is the essential difference between a reflection and what it reflects?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby steveb1 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:11 am

shel wrote, "Going back to the mirror metaphor for a moment, is the reflection in a mirror "non-material"? What is the essential difference between a reflection and what it reflects?"

Actually, I wasn't following that part of the thread - I was conscious that it was there but I skimmed over it.

To hazard another guess, though, I'd guess that the difference between a reflection and what it reflects is that the originating object has identities, natures, complexities - a kind of self-nature - whereas the reflection shares no identity-factors with the object, except as it duplicates the outer surface of the object, in whatever lighting and angle the object happens to be in relation to the mirror's location.

A rock placed before a mirror has its own "rockness" - weight, mineral/metallic composition, and (probably) a million-or-billion-year history of existence as a rock. The mirror image of the rock has no "rockness", except for duplicating the rock's colors, shapes and other surface-reflective features. The mirror image has no weight, mineral composition ... and certainly no geologic history whatsoever. And when the rock is removed from in front of the mirror, it continues to exist as a rock, with its "rockness" unmodified. But the mirror no longer reflects the rock's image: the mirror's temporary surface-reflective duplication of the rock completely disappears when the rock is removed, while the rock continues on with the continuum of its existence, uninterrupted by its period of time in front of the mirror.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:35 am

steveb1 wrote:the mirror's temporary surface-reflective duplication of the rock completely disappears when the rock is removed


Yes, the mirror is completely dependent on something to reflect. You cracked it, maybe. :cheers:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:50 am

steveb1 wrote:shel wrote, "Going back to the mirror metaphor for a moment, is the reflection in a mirror "non-material"? What is the essential difference between a reflection and what it reflects?"

Actually, I wasn't following that part of the thread - I was conscious that it was there but I skimmed over it.

To hazard another guess, though, I'd guess that the difference between a reflection and what it reflects is that the originating object has identities, natures, complexities - a kind of self-nature - whereas the reflection shares no identity-factors with the object, except as it duplicates the outer surface of the object, in whatever lighting and angle the object happens to be in relation to the mirror's location.

A rock placed before a mirror has its own "rockness" - weight, mineral/metallic composition, and (probably) a million-or-billion-year history of existence as a rock. The mirror image of the rock has no "rockness", except for duplicating the rock's colors, shapes and other surface-reflective features. The mirror image has no weight, mineral composition ... and certainly no geologic history whatsoever. And when the rock is removed from in front of the mirror, it continues to exist as a rock, with its "rockness" unmodified. But the mirror no longer reflects the rock's image: the mirror's temporary surface-reflective duplication of the rock completely disappears when the rock is removed, while the rock continues on with the continuum of its existence, uninterrupted by its period of time in front of the mirror.


The mirror metaphor is getting lost.
maybe better to throw the rock at the mirror.

The point is that, for example. we see a rock,
but regardless of how solid that rock is, relatively,
the issue is how we solidify it in the mind.

As pointed out here,
The mirror image has no weight, mineral composition.
Likewise with awareness.
If you remove the rock and keep awareness,
or leave the rock there and remove any awareness of it,
the causes of mind arising as a manifestation of awareness & rock is no longer there,
and if the cause is not there, the mind is not there.
Thus, mind is not material.
.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:38 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The mirror metaphor is getting lost.
maybe better to throw the rock at the mirror.

The point is that, for example. we see a rock,
but regardless of how solid that rock is, relatively,
the issue is how we solidify it in the mind.

It doesn't matter how solidly in mind the rock is, it would never be in mind to begin with if the rock had never existed, the notion of a rock would be useless without the world, and without the world (complete and lasting sense deprivation) the notion of a rock would soon fade away. This all shows the complete co-dependence of mind/matter, which is not at all inconsistent with Buddhist thought.

As pointed out here,
The mirror image has no weight, mineral composition.
Likewise with awareness.
If you remove the rock and keep awareness,
or leave the rock there and remove any awareness of it,
the causes of mind arising as a manifestation of awareness & rock is no longer there,
and if the cause is not there, the mind is not there.
Thus, mind is not material.

Using our metaphor to decipher this, you seem to be saying that if we remove a rock (material), or a mirror (material), the cause for a reflection (not-material?) in the mirror is not there. Thus, a reflection is not material.

I don't follow your logic, but in any case I'm not very interested in the distinction between what matter is and what it's not, as I mentioned earlier.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:31 am

shel wrote:This all shows the complete co-dependence of mind/matter, which is not at all inconsistent with Buddhist thought.

Not disputing that.

shel wrote: you seem to be saying that if we remove a rock (material), or a mirror (material), the cause for a reflection (not-material?) in the mirror is not there. Thus, a reflection is not material.


You do not understand my point.
With the term 'awareness' I am referring to what is described variously as unborn mind, your original face before your parents were born, mind's true nature, mind resting in its natural state and so forth, meaning buddhist realization.

That awareness is not dependent on any material object, and any material object is not dependent on that awareness.

The metaphor uses the mirror as an analogy to that awareness. But it is only an analogy.
Awareness is not a material thing. It has no shape or form or weight or color.
The mirror is used here as an analogy because what it refers to is the potential.
Just as a mirror has the potential to reflect something,
awareness manifests as mind, or cognition, when introduced into a subject/object relationship.
If you put a mirror in a dark room, it ceases to be a mirror
but it still possesses the potential to be a mirror, once light is introduced.
Likewise, mind arises, as you say, in co-dependence.

So "thus, mind is not material" means that mind is not exclusively the awareness,
nor is it exclusively the object of awareness.
Awareness and the object of awareness are the co-dependent components of mind.

This is what the materialist view overlooks.
This is why, essentially, the materialist sees the rock,
sees the rock's reflection in the mirror,
and then looks back at the rock, or back at the mirror,
and tries to answer where, from inside the rock, or the mirror, the reflection comes from.
and it doesn't come from the rock
and it doesn't come from the mirror.
the reflection only arises when the latent potential for reflection is realized,
and that only happens when the two meet.

Mind only arises when, for example
the potential of seeing meets with something that has the potential of being seen, or
the potential of hearing meets with something that has the potential of being heard, and so on.
When something has the potential to be heard,
this means that it causes waves of vibrations in air molecules.
But it doesn't produce sound.
Sound only arises (as mind) when awareness meets with the effects of vibrating air molecules.
So, a sonic boom might shatter a mirror
but a mirror doesn't hear it.
the ear doesn't hear it,
and the brain doesn't hear it.
They only process the incoming data.
Awareness hears it, because that is what awareness is. It is aware.
What we call "hearing" is the arising of mind.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:55 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote:This all shows the complete co-dependence of mind/matter, which is not at all inconsistent with Buddhist thought.

Not disputing that.

shel wrote: you seem to be saying that if we remove a rock (material), or a mirror (material), the cause for a reflection (not-material?) in the mirror is not there. Thus, a reflection is not material.


You do not understand my point.
With the term 'awareness' I am referring to what is described variously as unborn mind, your original face before your parents were born, mind's true nature, mind resting in its natural state and so forth, meaning buddhist realization.

That awareness is not dependent on any material object, and any material object is not dependent on that awareness.


Have you ever read the Heart Sutra? Do you interpret 'emptiness is form, form is emptiness' to mean that emptiness is not dependent of form and vice versa?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:36 pm

shel wrote:Have you ever read the Heart Sutra? Do you interpret 'emptiness is form, form is emptiness' to mean that emptiness is not dependent of form and vice versa?


Yes, I am very familiar with it.

No, Emptiness is not dependent on form, and vice versa.

Emptiness is form, and vice versa.

Have you ever heard of this guy called Dalai Lama?
:jumping:
He has written a very good commentary, Essence of the Heart Sutra:
http://www.amazon.com/Essence-Heart-Sut ... 0861712846

The Heart Sutra explains that the five aggregates are empty of intrinsic existence.
Further, that we call eyes, ear, and so on do not have any inherent nature of their own.
The eye doesn't see, the ear doesn't hear.
Awareness of what we call sensory data manifests as mind,
and as mind, what is experienced is sight and hearing, objects and sounds.

If a tree falls in the forest, it doesn't make sound.
It causes things to happen which, under the right circumstances,
meaning, if there is awareness,
can be experienced as sound.
.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:18 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Emptiness is not dependent on form, and vice versa.

Emptiness is form, and vice versa.

So... what do you believe?

To clarify, if emptiness is not dependent on form, that means it is independent of form. A strange duality. :thinking:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:17 am

shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Emptiness is not dependent on form, and vice versa.
Emptiness is form, and vice versa.

So... what do you believe?

To clarify, if emptiness is not dependent on form, that means it is independent of form. A strange duality. :thinking:


No, it means that emptiness is not one thing and form is something else,
which they would be if they depended on each other.

What do I believe about what?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:56 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Emptiness is not dependent on form, and vice versa.
Emptiness is form, and vice versa.

So... what do you believe?

To clarify, if emptiness is not dependent on form, that means it is independent of form. A strange duality. :thinking:


No, it means that emptiness is not one thing and form is something else,
which they would be if they depended on each other.


You are making the duality by saying that emptiness in not dependent on form.

Anyway, I think we've been lost in the trees long enough and it's time to go back to the Forrest view. If you want to think of awareness as non-matieral or as emptiness, and you want to think of mind as being non-material, it doesn't matter. Awareness, emptiness, mind, etc, would be meaningless and would not exist without the 'physical'. Does emptiness or "Big Mind™" exist without minds? You can answer that question if you'd like. You might as well, because there's no way to dispute that our minds are completely dependent on and limited by the physical world.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby jeeprs » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:17 am

Shel wrote: there's no way to dispute that our minds are completely dependent on and limited by the physical world.


There's no way to debate it with you, because it appears your mind is already made up.

One could mention a range of emprical studies on such things as: past-life memories, near-death experiences, and so on. One could also explore the role and meaning of re-birth in Buddhist religion and philosophy. But I have the feeling that none of this would serve any purpose.

Anyway, I appreciated having the chance to discuss the topic.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:48 am

jeeprs wrote:
Shel wrote: there's no way to dispute that our minds are completely dependent on and limited by the physical world.


There's no way to debate it with you, because it appears your mind is already made up.

One could mention a range of emprical studies on such things as: past-life memories, near-death experiences, and so on. One could also explore the role and meaning of re-birth in Buddhist religion and philosophy. But I have the feeling that none of this would serve any purpose.

Anyway, I appreciated having the chance to discuss the topic.

How is any of that not dependent on and limited by the physical? For instance, how can you have a near death or out-of-body experience without a body? :shrug:
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby jeeprs » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:56 am

What currently known physical medium accounts for the migration of information between different lives? Is there anything known to the physical sciences - chemistry, physics, and the like - which you can point to?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:06 am

shel wrote: there's no way to dispute that our minds are completely dependent on and limited by the physical world.


You are missing the whole point of what mind refers to,
and you are confusing mind with the causes of mind.

What you are asserting is that physical matter, which has no basis for awareness,
and no cause for the generation of awareness,
suddenly or gradually produces awareness.
In other words, physical matter cognitively witnesses its own existence.

I think that's called animism.

Again, I post this recipe for a zombie snack (human brain):
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%

At what point does this stuff start thinking?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:11 am

jeeprs wrote:What currently known physical medium accounts for the migration of information between different lives? Is there anything known to the physical sciences - chemistry, physics, and the like - which you can point to?


I have no idea, and I don't know what exactly this has to do with the minds being dependent on and limited by the physical world.
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