Buddhism & 'Scientism'

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Buddhism & 'Scientism'

Postby plwk » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:40 am

Read all about it here

I found it entertaining. What thinkest thou :?:
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Re: Buddhism & 'Scientism'

Postby Jikan » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:50 pm

Donald Lopez has a provocative book on this topic: Buddhism and Science
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Re: Buddhism & 'Scientism'

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:22 pm

plwk wrote:Read all about it here

I found it entertaining. What thinkest thou :?:

An interesting article, plwk. I have extracted a few quotes that I think convey the gist of what the author is saying (or are at least the bits that I agree with).

One point should be strongly emphasized without further delay: Scientism is not exactly the same as Science. Scientism is just one possible interpretation of empirical Science. It is an interpretation which asserts that Science really explains Ultimate Reality. In the Philosophy of Science this is known as Scientific Realism.

Not only Buddhist philosophy, but also some Philosophy of Science agrees that Scientism is only one of a potentially infinite number of equally consistent or “valid” interpretations of Reality, none of which is completely adequate (due to the limitations of formal symbolic systems, etc.). Therefore firmly believing in or locking onto Scientism or any other system excludes all others and severely limits the scope of one’s point of view.

Furthermore, it may be more useful from a spiritual perspective to say, as something to work with, not merely that there are an infinite number of interpretations of this version of Reality, but an infinite number of versions or levels of Reality; and firmly believing in this level keeps us stuck at this level.

It is human nature that we want everything to “make sense,” that we want to have an acceptable explanation for things. (A desire to explain the world — What determines the weather, fertility, health, and good hunting? What is thunder? What are the stars? Where do we come from? — was one of the first reasons of earlier religions like classical Paganism, and is also one of the first reasons of Scientism.) Yet beliefs and belief systems are necessarily limited and limiting, and thus anything we inflexibly believe in becomes a mental prison for us. Enlightenment or Nirvana is liberation from mental prisons, and thus it is a liberation from symbolic belief systems, even from “sense.” Enlightened beings presumably still make use of perceptual interpretations of the world, but if so they use them as convenient tools or makeshifts, without attachment, and thus they are not imprisoned by them. As the Buddha reportedly told a wandering ascetic named Aggivessana, with regard to the enlightened use of words, “A monk whose mind is thus liberated, Aggivessana, agrees with nobody and disagrees with nobody; whatever is said in the world, he makes use of that without adhering to it.”

Some critically-thinking Westerners may also be wondering why, if beliefs are mental prisons, they should believe me, or even Buddhism, instead of Scientism, which would plainly be a case of replacing one prison cell with another — “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.” At a practical level it is pretty clear that we have little choice but to believe something, at least until we become Enlightened, so it is good to believe something that leads to its own transcendence and does not “lock us into” a system. At the ultimate level one should not believe priests of Scientism, me, or anyone else. If you believe what I say without knowing it for yourself, deeply and experientially, then all you are doing is taking my word for it, and you still do not know anything, and have landed yourself in a new prison cell besides. Please just receive what I say as a hypothesis, as something to consider. For example, please consider that unless there has long been a worldwide conspiracy involving saints, sages, parapsychologists, and countless people who are seemingly honest otherwise, magical events, events which are inexplicable to Science, can happen; and committing ourselves to Materialism, Scientific or otherwise, can rob us of miracles, of sacredness, of divinity, maybe even of Liberation itself.
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