Coldmountain, this discussion here I think answers your concerns too so I'm basically answering you here...
Acchantika wrote:I feel this is really underestimating the power of Buddhist phenomenology. What might be Buddhism's most appealing factor to the Western intellectual mindset is that its primary system of inquiry is a very advanced form of phenomenology, so advanced that it overtakes anything similar ever produced in the West by millenia. It is also independently verifiable in a way that other beliefs are not - a highly intelligent person stranded on an island with no access to human knowledge may, in theory, arrive at the conventional meaning of dependent origination, even karma and rebirth and so on, by logic alone. You can't really make this claim of other systems. Truth, being absolute, must be able to be universally realised and derived, assuming necessary mental capacity, or it can never be trusted as truth. I think the Buddha realised and taught this - who, we remember, didn't have any of the anecdotal evidence we have now. Would he really try to encourage us solely by appealing to future experience? I don't think he did.
You are conflating logic and scientific falsifiability. Logic always stands on a series of assumptions, whereas true falsifiability stands on a theory (which is not assumed to be true). You are also conflating where you have independently verifiable and falsifiable. These two terms are opposites. In a system of falsifiablity, there is no verification. This discussion is going off the reservation.
If we rely on anecdotal evidence, we are only reinforcing our previous beliefs - that's why it isn't accepted generally as scientific, even though its based in scientific thinking. If we attribute truth value to claims of NDE's, or yogic recollection (even our own) it is only ever because we assign the source credibility that we don't assign to other, competing anecdotes. That credibility is based on other assumptions, which sooner or later are found to be unfounded in any rigourous way. This is why it is a flimsy argument, the same every belief system uses, and not necessary. Right view mean nothing without right understanding.
The point you are making is one I was assuming. My point was that various systems of testing are not possible with regard to rebirth. The Abhidharma explains rebirth in terms of direct perception of someone who has perceived the intermediate state and either lived to tell about it or was reborn and remembered it.
We cannot yet falsify rebirth completely, so it is disingenuous to call it an empirical hypothesis. However, fortunately and possibly more importantly we can falsify nonrebirth and nonkarma. That is, it is impossible, for example, for energy to do anything other than continue. The conservation of energy is a "law" in physics. So literal non-causation and non-rebirth, at least of physical things, is impossible. We haven't quite proved the progression of a mental continuum, of course, but this is much more powerful an argument than one that appeals to anecdotal evidence, which science doesn't consider valid, and appeal to future experience, which philosophy considers a fallacy.
You are conflating a physical phenomenon, the conservation of energy with the subjective experience of the fruition of karma. The fruition of karma is defined as satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Again, this is according to sutras and abhidharma.
In a very meaningful way, dharma is the systematization of the subjective, by way of nonattachment to the perception of the objective.
It is bizarre to me that so many Buddhists are critical of "Western science". I have no idea why. Everything we see in modern science is exactly what we would expect if the core tenets of Buddhism are correct. Empiricism and materalism/"New Atheism"/physicalism etc. are not mutally exclusive.
The criticism of science arrives because external conditions have a limit as their their power to achieve happiness, when that power is innate within, according to the middle way, requiring the basics of food, clothing and shelter to preserve health sufficiently to follow the path. Science wants to accumulate continuously more improvements to conditions and knowledge to serve the purpose of greed.
Also science is a matter of pure skepticism, which is doubt as a religion. Doubt is one of the five hindrances. One needs faith, five faculties of liberation, as part of the rupaskandha of liberation, meaning, before the condition of liberation is possible, the condition of religious conviction must arise.
But I admit the prevails of science have improved many things that can improve conditions of the body and environment which are good for health. But wisdom must be applied.
True, and this is the biggest problem for this approach, the risk of becoming an armchair-Buddhist. The best philosophers are scientists, meaning skepticism is the proper attitude for experiment. But we should remember there is nothing to fear from skepticism or science, either way. They are on our side. The good thing about truth is that its invincible. Hooray!
Science only disproves things and leaves truth dangling in mid air. Strictly speaking in science, there is no truth, only theories which have yet to be disproven. Whereas, a Buddha knows, x is thus, x is true, x leads to liberation, y is not so, y is false, y leads to bondage. Science lacks wisdom. I realize it is the latest fad of human existence, but in the end the Earth will survive and science will not. How good could it possibly be? Life on Earth can far surpass even any concept of a heavenly realm. Try conceiving of the most wonderful state of existence and dharma will far surpass it, and there is nothing one needs to create to make it so. It already is.