the great vegetarian debate

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Nemo » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:36 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:When a systematic killing of humans occurs we call it genocide, when a systematic killing of animals occurs, we call it lunch.


Unicellular meat is hopefully the future. Or perhaps identifying the biological shortfalls that persons like myself have on a purely vegetarian diet and developing supplements. Nutritional science seems to be progressing in making foods more addictive with little attention to actual nutrition.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:03 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:
Jigme Tsultrim wrote:"Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hierarchy of mankind over the animals. "
It is not that which creates this alleged hierarchy, but history. Before the rise of man, the animals hunted and ate us as they saw fit.

Very true. I don't think it's an objection to the natural order of predator and prey. What's being addressed is the perverse subjugation and objectification of other beings as bio machines and so on... literally using them as a means to fulfill human interests. The anthropocentric falsehood he's addressing is simply the way that humanity's relationship to animals has evolved to be what it is today. Whether it's influences such as the church originally declaring that animals have no soul, which spilled over into scientific views, or otherwise. A prime example being the fact that in just the past five years, scientists have reformed their views to state that animals have consciousness, or that they have emotions etc. Which is ludicrous to think that many thought otherwise, the level of disconnect there is astonishing to say the least. I literally saw an article not even six months ago which said something to the order of; 'scientists declare that animals have consciousness'. Even the very titles 'animal' and 'human' sets humanity apart, Derrida has an excellent piece about this.



A while back I read Derrida's Beast and Sovereign, which may be the piece you're referring to. In any case, in that text (well, they were actually lectures) he was making a similar move. I find those kinds of arguments very unconvincing. It is very trendy to problematise the Aristotelian 'logocentrism' which has long pervaded western metaphysics and theology. i.e. that humans are privileged on account of their reason-speech. At the end of the day, I think the distinction holds. The day that zebras and turtles can organise themselves to build airports, raise taxes and debate philosophy on internet forums, is the day I change my view on the matter. I think it is compelling that 'animals' and 'humans' are distinct, on account of the ability that humans have developed to communicate and reason to the extent that they can build 'a shared world' or 'a civilisation'.

This doesn't deny that animals have consciousness, and in some cases, very sophisticated consciousness. Nor that they ought to have moral status, on account of the fact that they have sensation and feeling (an argument Singer makes). It simply preserves an obvious and necessary distinction. Derrida looks for binaries and seeks to deconstruct them. It is sometimes an interesting venture, but is also sometimes bordering on sophistry. In any case, neither the zebra nor the turtle are capable of following his logic, which seems to me to be the critical point.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:10 pm

The turtle is doing fine. It does not need logic. Only silly human need logic to bind and chain themselves.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:51 pm

tobes wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:
Jigme Tsultrim wrote:"Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hierarchy of mankind over the animals. "
It is not that which creates this alleged hierarchy, but history. Before the rise of man, the animals hunted and ate us as they saw fit.

Very true. I don't think it's an objection to the natural order of predator and prey. What's being addressed is the perverse subjugation and objectification of other beings as bio machines and so on... literally using them as a means to fulfill human interests. The anthropocentric falsehood he's addressing is simply the way that humanity's relationship to animals has evolved to be what it is today. Whether it's influences such as the church originally declaring that animals have no soul, which spilled over into scientific views, or otherwise. A prime example being the fact that in just the past five years, scientists have reformed their views to state that animals have consciousness, or that they have emotions etc. Which is ludicrous to think that many thought otherwise, the level of disconnect there is astonishing to say the least. I literally saw an article not even six months ago which said something to the order of; 'scientists declare that animals have consciousness'. Even the very titles 'animal' and 'human' sets humanity apart, Derrida has an excellent piece about this.



A while back I read Derrida's Beast and Sovereign, which may be the piece you're referring to. In any case, in that text (well, they were actually lectures) he was making a similar move. I find those kinds of arguments very unconvincing. It is very trendy to problematise the Aristotelian 'logocentrism' which has long pervaded western metaphysics and theology. i.e. that humans are privileged on account of their reason-speech. At the end of the day, I think the distinction holds. The day that zebras and turtles can organise themselves to build airports, raise taxes and debate philosophy on internet forums, is the day I change my view on the matter. I think it is compelling that 'animals' and 'humans' are distinct, on account of the ability that humans have developed to communicate and reason to the extent that they can build 'a shared world' or 'a civilisation'.

This doesn't deny that animals have consciousness, and in some cases, very sophisticated consciousness. Nor that they ought to have moral status, on account of the fact that they have sensation and feeling (an argument Singer makes). It simply preserves an obvious and necessary distinction. Derrida looks for binaries and seeks to deconstruct them. It is sometimes an interesting venture, but is also sometimes bordering on sophistry. In any case, neither the zebra nor the turtle are capable of following his logic, which seems to me to be the critical point.

:anjali:


The one I had in mind was The Animal That Therefore I Am:

Synopsis:
'The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Crisy conference entitled 'The Autobiographical Animal', the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session. The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction-dating from Descartes -between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single; the animal. Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses to the question in the work of each of them. The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of man's dominion over the beasts and trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or bêtises. The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of life to which he returned in much of his later work.'

And yes, granted humans have developed to communicate and reason to the extent that a 'shared world' and 'civilization' can be built; but I suppose the question would then have to be raised as to what constitutes being 'civilized'? Or what are the standards by which we are measuring and defining 'civility'? Civilization in and of itself seems to be an idea that has been anthropomorphized and is assumed to suggest (and match) what we as humans deem acceptable as a functional culture and socioeconomic structure. We even project this onto other "uncivilized" cultures within our own species, demonstrated succinctly via the threefold world categorization; first world to third world countries. However, does our 'technologically advanced' culture constitute 'civilization' any more than any other congregation, or organization of sentient beings on this planet, or elsewhere? Even in our technological advancements, we cannot seem to uphold the same standard of 'civility' in our relationships with each other as a species or in our relationship with our environment. Whereas animals and other indigenous populations of human beings have no such issue, who is more civilized in that context?

So there are various ways to looks at this, and I would have to argue that we as human beings, living in our technologically advanced societies, are far from civilized by any meaning of the word. We blindly worship our socioeconomic structures, and rape our environment of resources by any means necessary, and at any cost to support that structure (which in and of itself is failing, in all of its divine wisdom). In my opinion, the true civility is the ability to look into another sentient beings eyes, and see the same sentience staring back at me, no different than my own. Why on earth would I assume my own evolved reasoning and communicational apparatus makes me anything more than that other being? Neither the turtle or the zebra are able to follow such logic? What type of game is that? Holding another being to a standard outside of their innate ability which is founded upon the premise that our own abilities are the standard they should be able to meet (and shame on them for not being able to do so), how is that civilized? It is anything but.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:55 pm

Jigme Tsultrim wrote:"Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hierarchy of mankind over the animals. "
It is not that which creates this alleged hierarchy, but history. Before the rise of man, the animals hunted and ate us as they saw fit.


Seems to me that humans lack of moral evolution is what creates the oppressive hierarchy, not history. People who observe strict morals regarding animals, are not the least bit oppressive. If it was simply a function of history, then all humans would behave oppressively but they don't. What animals did or do hunt or don't hunt, did or do eat or don't eat, is irrelevant since common animals are incapable of developing a complex code of morality and ethics. There is a huge difference between "surviving" and "oppressing".
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:59 am

asunthatneversets wrote:The one I had in mind was The Animal That Therefore I Am:

Synopsis:
'The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Crisy conference entitled 'The Autobiographical Animal', the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session. The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction-dating from Descartes -between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single; the animal. Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses to the question in the work of each of them. The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of man's dominion over the beasts and trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or bêtises. The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of life to which he returned in much of his later work.'

And yes, granted humans have developed to communicate and reason to the extent that a 'shared world' and 'civilization' can be built; but I suppose the question would then have to be raised as to what constitutes being 'civilized'? Or what are the standards by which we are measuring and defining 'civility'? Civilization in and of itself seems to be an idea that has been anthropomorphized and is assumed to suggest (and match) what we as humans deem acceptable as a functional culture and socioeconomic structure. We even project this onto other "uncivilized" cultures within our own species, demonstrated succinctly via the threefold world categorization; first world to third world countries. However, does our 'technologically advanced' culture constitute 'civilization' any more than any other congregation, or organization of sentient beings on this planet, or elsewhere? Even in our technological advancements, we cannot seem to uphold the same standard of 'civility' in our relationships with each other as a species or in our relationship with our environment. Whereas animals and other indigenous populations of human beings have no such issue, who is more civilized in that context?

So there are various ways to looks at this, and I would have to argue that we as human beings, living in our technologically advanced societies, are far from civilized by any meaning of the word. We blindly worship our socioeconomic structures, and rape our environment of resources by any means necessary, and at any cost to support that structure (which in and of itself is failing, in all of its divine wisdom). In my opinion, the true civility is the ability to look into another sentient beings eyes, and see the same sentience staring back at me, no different than my own. Why on earth would I assume my own evolved reasoning and communicational apparatus makes me anything more than that other being? Neither the turtle or the zebra are able to follow such logic? What type of game is that? Holding another being to a standard outside of their innate ability which is founded upon the premise that our own abilities are the standard they should be able to meet (and shame on them for not being able to do so), how is that civilized? It is anything but.


Well I agree with a lot of your judgements about the 'uncivilized' character of human civilisation. I'm not really saying that airports, taxes and internet debates are good or bad; I'm just saying that because only humans are capable of constructing a shared world like this, preserving a conceptual distinction between human and animal is both necessary and unproblematic.

Or to phrase it negatively: in erasing that conceptual distinction, one erases that difference....and that difference is there, in reality.

I like your account of true civility. But I don't see how it gets outside of 'an innate ability which is founded upon the premise that out own abilities are standard.'

Surely the zebra and the turtle are not capable of looking at you, and seeing 'the same sentience staring back at them.' You are similarly imposing your human morality of sentient equivalence upon the situation. And I would argue that it comes very much from reasoning and conceptual investigation, even if, it allows you an open space of bare (compassionate) encounter.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:18 am

Being that this is a forum dedicated to the buddhadharma, the conclusion that the distinction 'is there in reality' is undoubtably going to implicate itself on numerous levels. Which is admittedly why a discussion of this nature is incredibly interesting.

For the record, I'm in no way calling for an abandoning of such distinctions, but am merely addressing the way we collectively relate to them, and the allegedly conclusive presuppositions they birth both consciously and subconsciously in relation to the perceived ecological hierarchies they necessarily imply.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:36 am

asunthatneversets wrote:Being that this is a forum dedicated to the buddhadharma, the conclusion that the distinction 'is there in reality' is undoubtably going to implicate itself on numerous levels. Which is admittedly why a discussion of this nature is incredibly interesting.

For the record, I'm in no way calling for an abandoning of such distinctions, but am merely addressing the way we collectively relate to them, and the allegedly conclusive presuppositions they birth both consciously and subconsciously in relation to the perceived ecological hierarchies they necessarily imply.


Sure, but the reality claims cut both ways - the thought that the human-animal distinction is problematic seems to depend upon a re-evaluation of 'what is in reality' with respect to animals (i.e. that they have consciousness, emotions etc).

I'm not sure how far we can get if we turn to the metaphysics of the buddhadharma to evade the question of 'what is there.' Maybe the relevant question is: how is it there? There's been no shortage of engaged Buddhists who see ecological implications from 'the reality' of emptiness-dependent co-arising. I personally think they have a problem deriving normative values from that position - that might well be our challenge.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:48 am

tobes wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Being that this is a forum dedicated to the buddhadharma, the conclusion that the distinction 'is there in reality' is undoubtably going to implicate itself on numerous levels. Which is admittedly why a discussion of this nature is incredibly interesting.

For the record, I'm in no way calling for an abandoning of such distinctions, but am merely addressing the way we collectively relate to them, and the allegedly conclusive presuppositions they birth both consciously and subconsciously in relation to the perceived ecological hierarchies they necessarily imply.


Sure, but the reality claims cut both ways - the thought that the human-animal distinction is problematic seems to depend upon a re-evaluation of 'what is in reality' with respect to animals (i.e. that they have consciousness, emotions etc).

I'm not sure how far we can get if we turn to the metaphysics of the buddhadharma to evade the question of 'what is there.' Maybe the relevant question is: how is it there? There's been no shortage of engaged Buddhists who see ecological implications from 'the reality' of emptiness-dependent co-arising. I personally think they have a problem deriving normative values from that position - that might well be our challenge.

:anjali:

One problem is that we seem to always struggle to find "normative" values. Ethical judgments are best made on a case by case basis by engaged, aware, and compassionate individuals. Perhaps it is endemic to those from "advanced" civilizations that we reject a dogmatic religion and then turn to Buddhism and immediately demand dogma.
The deeper implication of sunyata is that at any time the causes and conditions for one individual (including that self) are different and unique from all others.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:58 am

Jigme Tsultrim wrote:One problem is that we seem to always struggle to find "normative" values. Ethical judgments are best made on a case by case basis by engaged, aware, and compassionate individuals. Perhaps it is endemic to those from "advanced" civilizations that we reject a dogmatic religion and then turn to Buddhism and immediately demand dogma.
The deeper implication of sunyata is that at any time the causes and conditions for one individual (including that self) are different and unique from all others.


That's a very astute point. I agree that a lot of particular applied ethical issues are best resolved in that way.

Implications run the other way though - in the sense that at any time these different and unique individuals are all intertwined in some kind of dynamic interrelation. That would be the point that the Buddho-ecologists such as Joanna Macy would (I think rightly) make. Many of our most fundamental conditions are shared.

Rejecting any kind of normativity for an upaya individualism is always strong temptation for Buddhists, but I think it is the easy option, and not really sufficient for addressing the ethical and political problems we are facing. And it is we.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:33 pm

" Implications run the other way though - in the sense that at any time these different and unique individuals are all intertwined in some kind of dynamic interrelation. That would be the point that the Buddho-ecologists such as Joanna Macy would (I think rightly) make. Many of our most fundamental conditions are shared. "
I have no interest in the opinions of Buddho-ecologists more than any other responsible human being. The setting up of "experts" is another endemic fault of "advanced " cultures. Deferring ones own judgment to others in this way runs counter to the advice of the Buddha along the general lines of self responsibility.
I utterly reject on the basis of the non-evidence of any " dynamic interrelation " in which " Many of our most fundamental conditions are shared "
This sort of characterization demeans the human experience in the same way that saying "you people.." and following with any quasi factual statement would.
Unless the shared conditions you are talking about are so general as to lose any meaning, such as the need for air, there is simply too much diversity in the human condition in every sense to make such judgments. We differ widely in terms of: race, culture, political environment, age, family, economic conditions etc.
We seem to yearn for dogma, for leaders, anything to relieve us of our responsibilities. We long, in our self righteousness, to crawl up on our little pile and crow of our fine qualities to others and coerce them into following our lead.
It is all Samsara, it is all Sunyata.
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That is explained to be emptiness.
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way. " -Nagarjuna
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:29 pm

Also for the record; I never claimed my view was exempt from the reality claims cutting both ways. My point would be rendered null and void if I did.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:22 pm

Jigme Tsultrim wrote:I have no interest in the opinions of Buddho-ecologists more than any other responsible human being. The setting up of "experts" is another endemic fault of "advanced " cultures. Deferring ones own judgment to others in this way runs counter to the advice of the Buddha along the general lines of self responsibility.
I utterly reject on the basis of the non-evidence of any " dynamic interrelation " in which " Many of our most fundamental conditions are shared "
This sort of characterization demeans the human experience in the same way that saying "you people.." and following with any quasi factual statement would.
Unless the shared conditions you are talking about are so general as to lose any meaning, such as the need for air, there is simply too much diversity in the human condition in every sense to make such judgments. We differ widely in terms of: race, culture, political environment, age, family, economic conditions etc.


I'm not deferring to the authority of Buddho-ecologists - I'm simply agreeing that they have a point when they see that an implication of dependent co-arising is that humans exist in dependence upon each other and on particular ecological conditions. You utterly reject interrelation and shared conditions for a robust individualism based on difference......how precisely are you using Nagarjuna to justify that?

There are many conditions which we share, both what might be thought of as 'natural' and as 'structural'. Think through every material object in the room you are reading this in - every single one of them was made somewhere, by someone. It could not be in your room without a shared political economy and all its associated infrastructure. Everything you touch and use (outside of a forest) is expressive of these shared conditions. There's nothing general about it - if you can't make sense of that, you're not thinking clearly enough. Think about the computer you're using and the internet you're connected to. The language you're involved with. The food in your body which sustains you.

Can you really deny interrelation on all of these fronts?

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:34 am

tobes wrote:
Jigme Tsultrim wrote:I have no interest in the opinions of Buddho-ecologists more than any other responsible human being. The setting up of "experts" is another endemic fault of "advanced " cultures. Deferring ones own judgment to others in this way runs counter to the advice of the Buddha along the general lines of self responsibility.
I utterly reject on the basis of the non-evidence of any " dynamic interrelation " in which " Many of our most fundamental conditions are shared "
This sort of characterization demeans the human experience in the same way that saying "you people.." and following with any quasi factual statement would.
Unless the shared conditions you are talking about are so general as to lose any meaning, such as the need for air, there is simply too much diversity in the human condition in every sense to make such judgments. We differ widely in terms of: race, culture, political environment, age, family, economic conditions etc.


I'm not deferring to the authority of Buddho-ecologists - I'm simply agreeing that they have a point when they see that an implication of dependent co-arising is that humans exist in dependence upon each other and on particular ecological conditions. You utterly reject interrelation and shared conditions for a robust individualism based on difference......how precisely are you using Nagarjuna to justify that?

There are many conditions which we share, both what might be thought of as 'natural' and as 'structural'. Think through every material object in the room you are reading this in - every single one of them was made somewhere, by someone. It could not be in your room without a shared political economy and all its associated infrastructure. Everything you touch and use (outside of a forest) is expressive of these shared conditions. There's nothing general about it - if you can't make sense of that, you're not thinking clearly enough. Think about the computer you're using and the internet you're connected to. The language you're involved with. The food in your body which sustains you.

Can you really deny interrelation on all of these fronts?

:anjali:

I apologize for my writing style. I tend to jump ahead assuming what I see as obvious and self evident points and therefore fail to lay a proper foundation.
I would be the last to deny interdependence. What I've objected to is the erroneous application of that principle by degree.
Although someone in Ayuthaya may have made the main board for my pc, he/she doesn't get warm when I turn on my heater.
If I am living in a major city, employed, and a vegan, that is quite different from not eating meat or dairy while starving in a village in the Sudan because I have nothing to eat at all. This is a statement that causation is empty.
BTW I don't care for the term empty as a replacement for Sunyata as empty can be mistaken to imply nihilism.
You are quite wrong when you say that the very presence of a computer in my room proves shared political and economic conditions with the maker. It could well have been made in part by slave Tibetan labor in communist China, whereas I live in Thailand and am happily mostly retired. Again, there are no causes, as they imply essence. There are only conditions.
I do accept the sentience of non humans. Interestingly this discovery seems to have little import to them,
as opposed to whether the food dish is full or not. If I see a tiger in the jungle, I'm not rushing over and trying to get a few verses of Kumbaya going in duet, believe me. You don't have tigers where you live? My point exactly.
There are many conditions we share, for example our local star. We may not enjoy it at the same time, even though it's presence never changes, because we may be on different sides of our little blue sphere.
General principles are helpful in introducing ethics and creating a foundation for behavior. The daily living, and the application of ethics in situations remains the responsibility of the individual.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:38 am

Jigme Tsultrim wrote:I apologize for my writing style. I tend to jump ahead assuming what I see as obvious and self evident points and therefore fail to lay a proper foundation.
I would be the last to deny interdependence. What I've objected to is the erroneous application of that principle by degree.
Although someone in Ayuthaya may have made the main board for my pc, he/she doesn't get warm when I turn on my heater.
If I am living in a major city, employed, and a vegan, that is quite different from not eating meat or dairy while starving in a village in the Sudan because I have nothing to eat at all. This is a statement that causation is empty.
BTW I don't care for the term empty as a replacement for Sunyata as empty can be mistaken to imply nihilism.
You are quite wrong when you say that the very presence of a computer in my room proves shared political and economic conditions with the maker. It could well have been made in part by slave Tibetan labor in communist China, whereas I live in Thailand and am happily mostly retired. Again, there are no causes, as they imply essence. There are only conditions.
I do accept the sentience of non humans. Interestingly this discovery seems to have little import to them,
as opposed to whether the food dish is full or not. If I see a tiger in the jungle, I'm not rushing over and trying to get a few verses of Kumbaya going in duet, believe me. You don't have tigers where you live? My point exactly.
There are many conditions we share, for example our local star. We may not enjoy it at the same time, even though it's presence never changes, because we may be on different sides of our little blue sphere.
General principles are helpful in introducing ethics and creating a foundation for behavior. The daily living, and the application of ethics in situations remains the responsibility of the individual.


1. Note that I am not saying everyone has equal conditions. I am saying that we share conditions. In the case of political economy, we share the mutual condition of capitalism and nation-states which makes possible the forms of commodity exchange we're all involved with all of the time. You cannot really extract the labour of the factory worker at Apple from the commodity you type on - part of the (conventional) computer's emptiness is its dependence on those kinds of conditions. Moreover, the transition from raw material to object on your desk necessarily involves flows of capital, transport flows, juridical infrastructure (for example, trade agreements between China and Thailand) et al et al, all of which must be held to be the same condition of a capitalist political economy. Both the worker and the user are implicated in this same condition, even though they may experience radically unequal or different particulars in that chain. At the very least, on the most reductive, minimalist and orthodox economic view, you and the worker are involved in a transaction of price/wage.

2. I take your point about different eating ethics for different localised conditions. Of course there are many conditions that are localised, and I agree (and have already stated) that applied ethics ought to be responsive to that.

3. However, to remain only at 2 denies any kind of shared, collective or 'political' sphere, where collectively shared conditions require some kind of method to navigate collective shared problems. That is, there needs to be some kind of political method - which doesn't collapse into 'everyone ought to be compassionate and aware and be left to make their own decisions.' Note that that is itself a big normative venture (is compassion not a normative value?). But the broader problem with that method is that, simply, a lot of people aren't compassionate and aware, so there are collective problems such as violence that require some kind of collective solution. i.e. a juridical system, with normative judgements about right and wrong etc. As I said, it is always a temptation for contemporary Buddhists to adopt a kind of upaya-libertarianism, but I think that is a pure escape from reality, which is in part, political.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:33 am

" As I said, it is always a temptation for contemporary Buddhists to adopt a kind of upaya-libertarianism, but I think that is a pure escape from reality, which is in part, political. "
The image presented here is insultingly paternalistic and doesn't deserve further comment.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tobes » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:08 am

Jigme Tsultrim wrote:" As I said, it is always a temptation for contemporary Buddhists to adopt a kind of upaya-libertarianism, but I think that is a pure escape from reality, which is in part, political. "
The image presented here is insultingly paternalistic and doesn't deserve further comment.


I'm sorry, it's certainly not my intention to insult, nor be paternalistic. I am challenging the contextualist-individualism which you seem to be advocating - and that is indeed a fairly common contemporary view in Buddhist ethics/engaged Buddhism.

Have I misread you?

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jigme Tsultrim » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:03 pm

What western philosophy refers to as contextualism and individualism are the very essence of the Buddha's teachings IMO. This in no way contradicts the importance of developing Boddicitta.
Having a history which includes a period of activism, I have sympathy/admiration for those who band together to fight the good fight, as they see it.
Getting back to the point of this thread, it is entirely ok to be vegetarian. Having been one myself for a considerable period, I get it. My objection is to anyone who claims that this is a Buddhist view. It certainly can be practiced from a Buddhist perspective. The practice of it could be seen to be a step in one's personal development, but based on the scriptural references both pro and con have offered here as well as the teachings I have received I see no justification for viewing the practice as being doctrinal. I maintain my obligation to consider anything I do or abstain from doing taking into account the conditions I find present.
To say that anyone arrives at their views as a result of yielding to temptation may trivialize and demean the well considered choices they may have made in response to their conditions. Regardless of how cleverly it is couched, dogma is still dogma.
To say that any idea applies to all situations is to reject Sunyata. As Nagarjuna pointed out, even emptiness is empty. Nagarjuna rejected causes. To establish a cause is to establish an essence. One has every right to do so of course but to do so is rejected as error by Madhyamika
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Nagarjuna/Chinn.htm
A well written review of some the work of Nagarjuna
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:59 pm

:good:
In fact excellent.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:03 pm

Jigme Tsultrim wrote: My objection is to anyone who claims that this is a Buddhist view.


The Nirvana Sutra does not present a "Buddhist View"? The Brama Net Sutra does not present a "Buddhist View"? How could that be the case?

but based on the scriptural references both pro and con have offered here as well as the teachings I have received I see no justification for viewing the practice as being doctrinal.


How could it not be "doctrinal" when it's an actual monks vow? And what scriptural references profess the cons of vegetarianism? I've never heard of such a scripture.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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