The "Materialist View"

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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby Alex123 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:05 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Alex123 wrote: We cannot know anything about dis-embodied consciousness, but we can observe physical objects that do not have consciousness (ex: table).

With certain types of microscopes we can observe sperm swimming to an egg, white blood cells moving as part of the immune system, and other types of, if you will, 'purposeful' interactions between things we refer to as "living". None of these possess what we would generally refer to as "consciousness" or any sort of cognitive ability whatsoever.


What are you trying to say with the above? Maybe other living beings are like that. The fact remains is that we need to observe physical things to be able to infer that the other creature has awareness or consciousness.



PadmaVonSamba wrote:This does not mean, however, that all things which respond to each other do so as the result of any sort of awareness.

For example, magnets attract, acid reacts with water, there is some gravitational pull between the Earth and the Moon, and so on. So, mere physical interaction between objects does not imply awareness.


Great. What if dualism is wrong and any kind of "intelligent action" or "awareness" is purely emergent property of a very complex physical processes? We can observe them, but we cannot observe someone's awareness.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby Alex123 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:16 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote: I don't think there is any argument that a brain is needed for cognition, but rather whether physical brain activity alone is sufficient.


Even if brain alone is not sufficient for cognition, but as long as brain is REQUIRED for cognition, then when the brain ceases - so does the mind. How can rebirth occur then?



PadmaVonSamba wrote:anything you might call even a moment of thought cannot be shown to have a beginning or an end,


I don't get this. There is definite begining and the end. For example I've thought about this sentence at 11:12am and finished writing it it at 11:14.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Consider that if the physical brain alone were sufficient for cognition, there would be no cause for any sense of a "self' that is doing the thinking.


Sense of Self, egoism, etc, is required trait for survival of the organism so that it could pass its genes for future generations.

If creatures didn't have "sense of self" and "egoism" then they would not survive, they would not pass their genes, and we would not be here to discuss this.


From scientific POV, as I understand it, there is no Soul, Self, Homunculus.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby futerko » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:29 pm

Alex123 wrote:Great. What if dualism is wrong and any kind of "intelligent action" or "awareness" is purely emergent property of a very complex physical processes?
What if all properties are emergent from complex processes, and what you are calling "physical" is just an emergent property mistaken for something solid?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby LastLegend » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:20 pm

Alex123 wrote:If creatures didn't have "sense of self" and "egoism" then they would not survive, they would not pass their genes, and we would not be here to discuss this.


Why is survival importance for a chunk of matter?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:40 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Alex123 wrote:If creatures didn't have "sense of self" and "egoism" then they would not survive, they would not pass their genes, and we would not be here to discuss this.


Why is survival importance for a chunk of matter?


Well, look at creatures like jellyfish. A highly successful species in terms of survive-to-pass-on-genes. Jellyfish have no central nervous system or brain at all. In fact they have no proper organs. Yet they do all the basic things that we do, like eat, pooh, swim around and have sex. They do more swimming than we do of course. Anyway, it seems absurd to think that a creature which doesn't even have a brain would have a sense of self, or that such a creature would know a concept like 'survival' and feel that it was important.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby LastLegend » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:46 pm

shel wrote:
Well, look at creatures like jellyfish. A highly successful species in terms of survive-to-pass-on-genes. Jellyfish have no central nervous system or brain at all. In fact they have no proper organs. Yet they do all the basic things that we do, like eat, pooh, swim around and have sex. They do more swimming than we do of course. Anyway, in seems unlikely that survival could be of conscious importance to a creature that doesn't even have a brain.


Why passing on genes for when you can be well off as a chunk of rock?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:50 pm

LastLegend wrote:
shel wrote:
Well, look at creatures like jellyfish. A highly successful species in terms of survive-to-pass-on-genes. Jellyfish have no central nervous system or brain at all. In fact they have no proper organs. Yet they do all the basic things that we do, like eat, pooh, swim around and have sex. They do more swimming than we do of course. Anyway, in seems unlikely that survival could be of conscious importance to a creature that doesn't even have a brain.


Why passing on genes for when you can be well off as a chunk of rock?


You believe chunks of rock are well off? If so, why are they well off?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby LastLegend » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:57 pm

shel wrote:
LastLegend wrote:
shel wrote:
Well, look at creatures like jellyfish. A highly successful species in terms of survive-to-pass-on-genes. Jellyfish have no central nervous system or brain at all. In fact they have no proper organs. Yet they do all the basic things that we do, like eat, pooh, swim around and have sex. They do more swimming than we do of course. Anyway, in seems unlikely that survival could be of conscious importance to a creature that doesn't even have a brain.


Why passing on genes for when you can be well off as a chunk of rock?


You believe chunks of rock are well off? If so, why are they well off?


More well off than us I suppose, it does not need to eat, drink, or have sex.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:27 pm

Let's face it, rocks should be doing those things but they're just lazy.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:37 pm

Alex123 wrote: Even if brain alone is not sufficient for cognition, but as long as brain is REQUIRED for cognition, then when the brain ceases - so does the mind. How can rebirth occur then?


mind ceases, but not the awareness component of mind.
what is meant by "rebirth" needs some clarification.
It is not a continuation of mind. It is a re-emergence of awareness.
In the example of a tulku ("reincarnated lama") for example
it is not a matter of mind being somehow pulled out of one body and into another,
It is a matter of awareness (rather what is referred to as primordial awareness, I think)
which is referred to as self-arisen
because it is self referential, self evident,
persisting as the bodies come and go
not much different from a sense of continuity that you have that feels like you are the same person today as you were yesterday, or that you were when you were 6 years old.
Awareness doesn't come or go. It's these meaty things we call bodies that keep showing up and leaving.
One doesn't need to find the cause of awareness because the simple fact of awareness cannot be refuted.
If anyone suggests that there is no such thing as awareness,
it would be ridiculous because then that suggestion would not even exist.
If somebody says there is no such thing as awareness
then they cannot verify that they even said it.
If they say that awareness is caused by physical matter
they cannot prove it because physical matter cannot be shown to be aware of its own awareness.

But awareness shouldn't be confused with mind or with thought.
In this meaning it is not the same as sensory awareness, which in fact relies on sensation.


Alex123 wrote: I don't get this. There is definite begining and the end. For example I've thought about this sentence at 11:12am and finished writing it it at 11:14.

No, you cannot find a definite point where 11:12 begins. Sure, You can see a crude reference to the keeping of time by looking at a digital clock and when the LED numbers show 11:12 you can say "see, there it is" but ultimately, no. Any second can be divided infinitely. Further, you cannot determine that a thought has arisen purely on its own without a predecessor. Even if you say "okay, I'm going to make my mind a blank and then when the buzzer goes off, I am going to write down the first thing that pops into my head" all that stuff is a precursor leading up to that "first thing".

As a sideline to this, the minutes and hours you mention are merely a device made up. A way of chopping up what after all might as well be one very long single moment. Outside of the mind, minutes and hours do not really occur. Before there was a planet Earth, nothing was light years away from anything, because there were no light years.


Alex123 wrote: Sense of Self, egoism, etc, is required trait for survival of the organism so that it could pass its genes for future generations.
Well, I believe in evolution. So, I am not sure that early micro organisms, from which we have evolved had what we would call Sense of Self, egoism, etc, but as I have suggested, basic awareness arising as mind when coming into contact with phenomena.

At least, this is what Buddhists texts discuss, as subject and object, 12 links of dependent origination, and so on. Awareness responds to events and that response itself is the arising of mind. Attachment to the notion of an actual self - and - other scenario results in the arising of deluded mind, because ultimately no 'self' can be located, and 'other" is empty of any "real' or finite essence. Awareness arising without delusion is Bodhi.

So, I don't think that on this point there is too much disagreement. It is precisely this sense of self and ego that perpetuates what is called samsara Of course, in evolution there is also the matter of process of elimination. Those that don't have the right stuff for survival don't survive. hence, no day-glo polka dot zebras.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:47 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Sense of Self, egoism, etc, is required trait for survival of the organism so that it could pass its genes for future generations.
Well, I believe in evolution. So, I am not sure that early micro organisms, from which we have evolved had what we would call Sense of Self, egoism, etc, but as I have suggested, basic awareness arising as mind when coming into contact with phenomena. At least, this is what Buddhists texts discuss, as subject and object, 12 links of dependent origination, and so on. Awareness responding to events and that response itself is mind. Attachment to the notion of an actual self - and - other scenario results in the arising of deluded mind, because ultimately no 'self' can be located, and 'other" is empty of any "real' or finite essence. Awareness arising without delusion is Bodhi.

Bodhi (traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment and literally means awakened) is knowledge of the causal mechanism by which beings incarnate into material form and experience suffering...
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:52 pm

shel wrote: Bodhi (traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment and literally means awakened) is knowledge of the causal mechanism by which beings incarnate into material form and experience suffering...


Well, that is an interesting definition.
Strictly speaking, a buddhist definition would not include
beings incarnating into material form
for a variety of reasons.
But I can see where someone would come up with that.

Simply having an intellectual understanding of the causal mechanism of samsara , of course,
is not the same thing as what we would call "attaining enlightenment" in the Buddhist sense.
knowledge of how samsara arises doesn't make one a buddha.

However, one can say that the perfect understanding of the causal mechanism of samsara is
one aspect of awareness arising without delusion.

I don't mean to come off sounding didactic, or mincing words,
or seeming to slip out of one definition of things into another
but Budhhist analytics can get very specific. It is reductionist.
It is the anal part of analysis.
And the reason for this is because concepts often get distorted in translation
and words which kinda mean this are used to translate words that kinda mean that.
So, if one refers to "beings" or "incarnate" or "material form"
these are all very loaded words,
perhaps much more so than in traditional western usage.
This has to do with the relative reality and ultimate reality of things.
A little house made of Legos, relatively, is a thing
but ultimately, no house, just Legos.
but even further on, not even Legos.

So, when discussing awareness, mind, and so forth,
not confusing relative and ultimate is important.
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Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:03 pm

You wrote of sentient beings (micro organisms) having awareness without delusion, and then wrote that awareness arising without delusion is Bodhi. That seems to mean that such beings don't suffer in the Buddhist sense, and also that all we actually need is a lobotomy to know enlightenment. But I'm sure you can find a way to explain this apparent meaning, or you could just resort to calling me a troll again. The latter would probably be easiest.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:19 pm

shel wrote:You wrote of sentient beings (micro organisms) having awareness without delusion, and then wrote that awareness arising without delusion is Bodhi. That seems to mean that such beings don't suffer in the Buddhist sense, and also that all we actually need is a lobotomy to know enlightenment. But I'm sure you can find a way to explain this apparent meaning, or you could just resort to calling me a troll again. The latter would probably be easiest.


No,I am eager to discuss this with you, but it seemed to me as though you were jumping around, and that what you were asking me was something I had already gone into.
I also said that awareness is a term one has to use loosely. That means that you have to be clear about what that word refers to, and that it can mean different things in different contexts. I said that it doesn't (or doesn't have to) refer to sensory awareness per se. It doesn't necessarily mean cognitive awareness.

Yes, you can be "aware" of things that you are not thinking about, that you don't even "know" you are aware of, such as equilibrium (balance) but as soon as your sense of balance changes even slightly, mind arises. You could say that you are aware of being aware of it. This would put two meanings of "aware" together in the same statement.

Micro organisms do not have a level of suffering that one has with ears and eyes and a high level of cognition.
But suffering, dukkha in the Buddhist sense, if you really want to get down to it,
refers to preference.
this doesn't mean that preferring one thing over another automatically makes one miserable.
it doesn't mean that preference is a bad thing. It just means that
for example, a micro organism capable of propelling itself might propel itself towards a source of warmth.
It isn't going to have some drawn out intellectual fit of angst if it doesn't, it might just die, or maybe not.
But it has a basic reason for doing this, and that reason is awareness, arising with temperate conditions, an awareness of that warmth. From this, a very tiny, rudimentary expression of what one might call "desire". Will this microthing be unhappy if it doesn't get warm? Probably not in any sense of unhappiness as we would call it. But this is the essential basis of suffering, of a kind of dissatisfaction with being at point A and a desire to move to point B because point A is colder and point B is warmer. That is "suffering" in the Buddhist sense of the word.

A lobotomy will not bring enlightenment.
It might result in the physical causes of mind to cease functioning.
Let me know!!!
:rolling: Just kidding.
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Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:32 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:A lobotomy will not bring enlightenment.
It might result in the physical causes of mind to cease functioning.


Awareness without preferences. That's actually achieved in a coma, at least what you seem to call awareness. But now I'm sure that I've misunderstood what your understanding of 'awareness' is. Isn't that right? I'm too retarded, ignorant, or too much of a 'materialist' to ever understand what you're talking about?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:40 am

shel wrote: Awareness without preferences. That's actually achieved in a coma, at least what you seem to call awareness. But now I'm sure that I've misunderstood what your understanding of 'awareness' is. Isn't that right? I'm too retarded, ignorant, or too much of a 'materialist' to ever understand what you're talking about?


Well, look into it.
Buddhist teachings, I mean.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:27 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: Awareness without preferences. That's actually achieved in a coma, at least what you seem to call awareness. But now I'm sure that I've misunderstood what your understanding of 'awareness' is. Isn't that right? I'm too retarded, ignorant, or too much of a 'materialist' to ever understand what you're talking about?


Well, look into it.
Buddhist teachings, I mean.
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I'm obviously talking about you, PadmaVonSamba, or is it that you regard yourself as Buddhist teaching?
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:56 am

shel wrote: I'm obviously talking about you, PadmaVonSamba, or is it that you regard yourself as Buddhist teaching?

Obviously my input does not answer your questions. So, go study the teachings for yourself.
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby shel » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:24 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: I'm obviously talking about you, PadmaVonSamba, or is it that you regard yourself as Buddhist teaching?

Obviously my input does not answer your questions. So, go study the teachings for yourself.
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I'm not asking about Buddhist teaching...
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Re: The "Materialist View"

Postby undefineable » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:19 am

Alex123 wrote:
undefineable wrote:You're not understanding what I meant at all - What determines that it is YOUR awareness that experiences your particular circumstances

The brain.

No. I'm asking why YOUR awareness experiences YOUR brain and not a different brain. The question would be even less comprehensible if we were all identical, but if you imagine each of our minds -solipsistically- as a self-contained reality and the physical universe as an over-arching Reality (as you already see it) that brings all our self-contained realities together, then you may get it :guns:
Alex123 wrote:
undefineable wrote:So if skills effectively appear out of nothing (from the point of view of rebirth), would there not be 'carry-over' of skills?

Some behavior can be passed through genes.

Why THAT set of genes with THAT re-born awareness? Assuming anatta, there need be, of course, no carry-over, but there may be consequences.
Alex123 wrote:If its activity ceases, so is any kind of conscious awareness of "I", "Alex", etc.

Yes, presumably, but this probably has yet to be demonstrated, let alone proven. However, even a dabbler's interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead suggests that 'I-awareness' does indeed cease at death - before sparking off another 'conscious awareness(/delusion) of I'.
Alex123 wrote:alzheimer's brain is malfunctioning, while baby's brain is developing into, hopefully, fully functional brain.

'Functioning' and 'malfunctioning' are relative terms measuring adaptation to environment that have no meaning in describing whatever is going on right here and right now - before we even start on 'ultimate meaning' or what-have-you. Opposing 'able to function in the past' with 'gearing up to function in the future' is clearly even more circumstantial an argument - Occasional maladroitness (of the self-complex to its environment) could be classed alongside ordinary sickness as a fundamental condition of samsara rather than an exceptional case, and Padma sometimes says (I think :? ) that sensing such relative negativity -with aversion- as bad rather than neutral, is the result of past negative karma, all the more so if one's own mind is subject to such a condition (boohoo, lol).
Alex123 wrote:If as empirical experiments show, mind is TOTALLY dependent on the brain... Then when brain goes... So does the mind

The conclusion doesn't follow (as explained many times on this forum using different analogies from scientific knowledge).

I wish it did, and I wonder how many would secretly be swayed -by such unexpected feelings on the part of the 'non-materialist' party- into seeing that they've put a lot of emotional store into 'settling the matter' prematurely. Even if awareness is permanently annihilated at death, could science ever prove it?
Alex123 wrote:As for logical sophisms, a clever person can prove anything. I want concrete evidence

'Touche' - for both sides :tongue: - although I'd hardly describe myself as 'clever' :shock:

The arguments I mentioned are likely to convince more people than, say, a Theologian's, as they present annihilation as absurd, but clearly haven't convinced everyone.

However, when you say:
Alex123 wrote:We cannot know anything about dis-embodied consciousness, but we can observe physical objects that do not have consciousness
and
Alex123 wrote:we cannot observe someone's awareness

you're forgetting about your own mind. Having given this some attention, Buddhist philosophers -such as there may be- have grounds to call out a 'category error' when you compare awareness to fire (fire being seen as a narrower category than awareness) and so on.
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