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.