Buddhist Epistemology

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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby nilakantha » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:30 am

In the same vein, a quote from an interesting book I’m reading at the moment: MATERIALS FOR THE STUDY OF ĀRYADEVA, DHARMAPĀLA AND CANDRAKĪRTI
Once one understands the Buddhist position as found in CS (Four Hundred Verses of Aryadeva) and the Epistemologists, it is difficult to resist the impression that the Buddhist, especially as explained by Dharmakīrti, sets his standards almost impossibly high. It should be apparent that no one, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, can in practice inferentially or empirically test for himself all rationally analysable propositions on which he must make a decision. The result to which a Buddhist philosopher is led, therefore, is that his stringent standards force him into a type of skepticism about much of what we would wish to term "justified true belief or "knowledge", for inevitably the majority of our knowledge about matters which are not at all transcendent (such as e.g. geography, history, etc.) is not due to our own personal observations or inferences. (We do not, for example, observe or infer the rationally analysable truth that Columbus sailed with three ships to America: we read about it. Nonetheless, is it not reasonable to claim that we know this fact?) Interestingly enough, some later Buddhist philosophers seem to accept this skeptical consequence, saying that in non-transcendent matters, reliance on testimony, books or any other type of information apart from one's own direct perception and inference, does not yield real knowledge, but rather, "true presumption", to use the epistemic category elaborated upon in the Tibetan scholastic.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:30 pm

Ikkyu wrote:I've often wondered if the Buddhist epistemic approach is similar to the Jain one:

From Wikipedia:

"Although, historically, Jain authors have adopted different views on truth, the most prevalent is the system of anekantavada or "not-one-sidedness". This idea of truth is rooted in the notion that there is one truth, but only enlightened beings can perceive it in its entirety; unenlightened beings perceive only one side of the truth (ekanta). Anekantavada works around the limitations of a one-sided view of truth by proposing multiple vantage points (nayas) from which truth can be viewed (cf. Nayavāda). Recognizing that there are multiple possible truths about any particular thing, even mutually exclusive truths, Jain philosophers developed a system for synthesizing these various claims, known as syadvada. Within the system of syadvada, each truth is qualified to its particular view-point; that is "in a certain way", one claim or another or both may be true."

"According to Jain epistemology, reality is multifaceted (anekanta, or 'non-one-sided'), such that no finite set of statements can capture the entire truth about the objects they describe.

The Jain list of pramanas (valid sources of knowledge) includes sense perception, valid testimony, extra-sensory perception, telepathy, and kevala, the state of omniscience of a perfected soul. Inference, which most other Indian epistemologies include, is interestingly absent from this list. However, discussion of the pramanas seem to indicate that inference is implied in the pramana that provides the premises for inference. That is, inference from things learned by the senses is itself knowledge gained from the senses; inference from knowledge gained by testimony is itself knowledge gained by testimony, etc. Later Jain thinkers would add inference as a separate category, along with memory and tarka or logical reasoning.

Since reality is multi-faceted, none of the pramanas gives absolute or perfect knowledge. Consequently, all knowledge is only tentative and provisional. This is expressed in Jain philosophy in the doctrine of naya, or partial predication (also known as the doctrine of perspectives or viewpoints). This insight generates a sevenfold classification of predications, which can be schematized as follows:

Perhaps a is F (syat asti).
Perhaps a is not-F (syat nasti).
Perhaps a is both F and not-F (syat asti-nasti).
Perhaps a is indescribable (syat avaktavyam).
Perhaps a is indescribable and F (syat asti-avaktavyam).
Perhaps a is indescribable and not-F (syat nasti-avaktavyam).
Perhaps a is indescribable, and both F and not-F (syat asti-nasti-avaktavyam)."


A simpler way of putting this:

All phenomena, knowledge, beliefs and supposed truths can be categorized this way according to Jain philosophy:

Syād-asti — "in some ways it is"
Syād-nāsti — "in some ways it is not"
Syād-asti-nāsti — "in some ways it is and it is not"
Syād-asti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is and it is indescribable"
Syād-nāsti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is not and it is indescribable"
Syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable"
Syād-avaktavya — "in some ways it is indescribable"

[...]

I see similarities to the eschewing of definite truths that we find in the Diamond Sutra. Which I believe insinuated that things can be and not be at the same time... that paradoxes exist on all levels and that duality is an illusion. If this is the case, then everything is both real and unreal at the same time. All possibilities are both actualities and un-actualities at once. Right?

And yet it is insisted that to be a Buddhist one must believe in merit transfer, supernatural beings, karma, rebirth, hell realms and pure lands, siddhis/psychich powers, the dharma eye (divcaksus), pretas and all these other things. If none of these are real then what's the point in believing in them? If we can get away with maintaining Buddhism while getting rid of vestigial doctrines that are archaic and unproveable, then why not? Considering that this is the 21st century and all. I like Stephen Batchelor's approach, despite all the criticism it has earned him. He's just appropriating Buddhism to a modern, scientific and rational society instead of one that clings to superstition. You can still be a compassionate and wise individual even if you're an ardent skeptic, no? And you can still realize emptiness and non-self even if you don't believe in all those things mentioned above, no? Then what's the point in believing in them?

And doesn't the Kalama Sutta sort of invite us to cherry-pick from Buddhist doctrine anyway?
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:14 pm

Dear Ikkyu,

Don't you get bored of saying the same thing over and over and geting the same answers every time?

It's quite simple, if it don't sit right with you then just leave it. Continue practicing and it will all make complete sense for you when you finally realise it instead of trying to know it.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby viniketa » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:33 pm

Ikkyu wrote:You can still be a compassionate and wise individual even if you're an ardent skeptic, no?


Yes. Buddha was a more ardent skeptic than even the Jains.

Ikkyu wrote:And you can still realize emptiness and non-self even if you don't believe in all those things mentioned above, no?


Maybe, maybe not.

Ikkyu wrote:Then what's the point in believing in them?


No point whatsoever. Belief is never required. Experience is.

Ikkyu wrote:And doesn't the Kalama Sutta sort of invite us to cherry-pick from Buddhist doctrine anyway?


Not on the basis of whim or fancy. Re-read the sutta...

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: I thought Buddhism wasn't about threatening people with Hell

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:41 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:It is a mistake to say that because the extent of my ignorance is boundless,
therefore,
the chance that anything I can imagine as true is thus much more likely to be proven.
.
.
.


That wasn't what was said. What was said, in effect, was that it is quite obvious that even if nothing can really be truly known, as our senses may simply be artificial or unable to grasp the noumenal world, and that given this -- that nothing can be known on an ultimate level -- things still can be "known" for practical purposes. How do we "know" (or, more realistically, believe) things pratically, i.e. that I will go to work today, or that I know will buy a coffee? I observe the world around me and understand that, while it may be a false one, it seems much more substantial, obersevable, experiential, testable and open to evaluation and consensus than the reality purported in often conflicting or contradictory antiquated religious texts, i.e. sutras, tantras and suttas. Evidentialism. Rationalism. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I suggest you all take a look at Eleanore Stump's "Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions". While it doesn't really cover Eastern religions, it thoroughly tackles the use of empirical evidence in a metaphysical argument.

Buddhism, as I understand it, also has a "two truths doctrine".

No offense, Mr. VonSamba, but you generalized a lot of what I said.
Last edited by Ikkyu on Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:50 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Dear Ikkyu,

Don't you get bored of saying the same thing over and over and geting the same answers every time?

It's quite simple, if it don't sit right with you then just leave it. Continue practicing and it will all make complete sense for you when you finally realise it instead of trying to know it.
:namaste:


No. I'm consistently amused that people who claim not to cling to anger become just so vaguely annoyed and defensive when their ideologies are questioned. That keeps me going. I think it makes sense to "repeat oneself" in different ways until someone gives me a viable answer, or rather actually understands my question and responds in a way that really addresses what I'm saying. A couple people have done this, but I just don't feel that arguing that I'm a materialist is really a rebuttal of my argument. Granted, I haven't sifted through ALL the responses on this or other threads yet. It's a work in progress and takes me a while as, frankly, I'm otherwise pretty busy.

Like I said, I've gotten informed responses on one end, and then something to the effect of, "you're ignorant and in Samara man. That's why you don't see the mystical light of no-self and whoa and stuff anD totally sprchull stoff guyz," on the other.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:00 am

nilakantha wrote:In the same vein, a quote from an interesting book I’m reading at the moment: MATERIALS FOR THE STUDY OF ĀRYADEVA, DHARMAPĀLA AND CANDRAKĪRTI
Once one understands the Buddhist position as found in CS (Four Hundred Verses of Aryadeva) and the Epistemologists, it is difficult to resist the impression that the Buddhist, especially as explained by Dharmakīrti, sets his standards almost impossibly high. It should be apparent that no one, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, can in practice inferentially or empirically test for himself all rationally analysable propositions on which he must make a decision. The result to which a Buddhist philosopher is led, therefore, is that his stringent standards force him into a type of skepticism about much of what we would wish to term "justified true belief or "knowledge", for inevitably the majority of our knowledge about matters which are not at all transcendent (such as e.g. geography, history, etc.) is not due to our own personal observations or inferences. (We do not, for example, observe or infer the rationally analysable truth that Columbus sailed with three ships to America: we read about it. Nonetheless, is it not reasonable to claim that we know this fact?) Interestingly enough, some later Buddhist philosophers seem to accept this skeptical consequence, saying that in non-transcendent matters, reliance on testimony, books or any other type of information apart from one's own direct perception and inference, does not yield real knowledge, but rather, "true presumption", to use the epistemic category elaborated upon in the Tibetan scholastic.


You make a very good point. And this goes back to ultimate vs. consensus reality. However, bringing the two together is what makes religious claims difficult to prove. While we can't know with certainty that "Columbus sailed the ocean blue', eye witness accounts and historical records say that this is probably a historical fact. You may say that Buddhist miracles and doctrines also have such experiential and recordable evidence, but we have to take into account what we already know about the way the world functions vs. things that are not really commonplace throughout history. For instance, sometimes people sail on boats, as Columbus did. However, we don't see such commonplace evidence for the existence of, say, the "rainbow body" throughout the world. Why is it endemic to Tibet? Because they attained great realization? What about the mystical unions of the Christian and Jewish mystics, their visions, etc..? (cf. Teresa of Avila) Or the miracles of Fatima and Lourdes? What about Muslim miracles, such as Muhammad splitting the moon? These were purportedly observed by many. But these miracles existing conflict with Buddhist miracles, because the belief endemic to the idea that these miracles can actually occur is opposed to the beliefs held in Buddhism. (In this case, a supreme theistic creator God.) So which religion is right? See, if religions weren't divisive, and didn't regard their own doctrines as ultimate truth, then there would be more wiggle room for supernatural events to occur. But even still, there is no scientific explanation for these things.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:05 am

viniketa wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:You can still be a compassionate and wise individual even if you're an ardent skeptic, no?


Yes. Buddha was a more ardent skeptic than even the Jains.

Ikkyu wrote:And you can still realize emptiness and non-self even if you don't believe in all those things mentioned above, no?


Maybe, maybe not.

Ikkyu wrote:Then what's the point in believing in them?


No point whatsoever. Belief is never required. Experience is.

Ikkyu wrote:And doesn't the Kalama Sutta sort of invite us to cherry-pick from Buddhist doctrine anyway?


Not on the basis of whim or fancy. Re-read the sutta...

:namaste:


"Maybe, maybe not."

Why, or why not? I'm curious.

"No point whatsoever. Belief is never required. Experience is."

I like the Buddhist emphasis on the experiential, but whose experience is correct? The Muslim's, the Buddhist's, the Jain's or the Hindu's? Don't these conflict, as they purport that their respective experience come from a great spiritual power endemic to their own religions, which all state that theirs is the ultimate truth about reality, vis a vis the other guy's experiences can't be true?

"Not on the basis of whim or fancy. Re-read the sutta..."

You're right... based on OUR OWN REASONING. If I reason that enlightenment or [insert other Buddhist supernatural claims here] isn't/aren't real then, can I still attain it according to Buddha?
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:21 am

viniketa wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:I've often wondered if the Buddhist epistemic approach is similar to the Jain one...


Similar, not the same:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catu%E1%B9%A3ko%E1%B9%ADi

:namaste:


I like this quite a lot. Reading more on this, I ventured to an excerpt from Dan Lusthaus's book "Buddhist Phenomenology", in which the author states that, in effect, in Buddhism no view (well, "commonsese" vs. "ultimate" views, sticking to the two truths doctrine) is outside the realm of mental conditioning (compare "mental formation" as it is traslated from the Heart Sutra, if you will), and therefore all views, and I imagine thus beliefs, are guided by the passions, and are in that sense false.

This reminds me of William James's work "The Will to Believe", in which James defends Christianity by stating that no views are free of an emotional/mental construct and investment, and therfore are, us being unaware of this, guided by the passional, as opposed to the purely intellectual and reasoning.

I know I shouldn't quote Wikipedia too frequently, but they put it nicely as well: "James' central argument in "The Will to Believe" hinges on the idea that access to the evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true depends crucially upon first adopting those beliefs without evidence." This stands in stark contrast to [particularly Alston's] evidentialism, which suggests that we begin with evidence and then work our way up to an idea or truth, eventually.

As for catuṣkoṭi, the concept does come off as being very similar to the Jain concept of truths and beliefs and the negation of them as a way to better understand ultimate reality. The funny thing to me is that the concept is big in the Madhyamaka, which really influenced the Mahayana... the school which has such a diverse pantheon of Bodhisattvas to believe in. Aren't they non-existent in an ultimate sense? Can't we look at them, along with Buddhist cosmology and other Buddhist beliefs about karma, rebirth, enlightenment, merit, etc. as an analogy then? Just like we are? An abstraction from the truth? Why then does Buddhism hinge on a literal interpretation of many these beliefs?

What I'm saying is that I could believe in these supernatural claims if they were metaphor's rather than literal, but it's funny how Buddhism works... because me being so determined to look at things rationally is an emotional investment, and thus automatically a false view. Buddhism tears apart my assertion before I can even make it. This is why I love debating about this religion more than any other. It is so freakin' complicated and admittedly frustrating at times due to this. You ca't argue with Buddhists really... they have logical loopholes to work with... many more than, say, Christians, Jews and Muslims. But is working a doctrine to tear apart other views before they can even come to the forefront a real effort at understanding reality, or rather obscuring it further?
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:25 am

deepbluehum wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:Split from here:

viewtopic.php?f=77&t=8856



@ Huseng and undefineable:

I can't help but feel that I'm reliving the creationists' spouting off "transcendent truths" and how they go beyond science because "science is only concerned with the material". This anti-science rhetoric you've got smacks of the normal religious person's argument when they're backed into a corner of facing irrational beliefs. Yes, in some way it is certainly possible that Buddhist metaphysical theories are true because, yeah, not everything is necessarily a part of the material world. But here's how I'm thinking about it, and just to sum it all up I'll reiterate and condense:

1. We can believe anything without evidence if we already have an underlying notion that anything is in a sense possible because our senses don't fully determine all of reality. ("brain in the vat", Descartes' dream world, etc.) Yes, there are perhaps realities beyond our five senses but in any case wouldn't it be prudent to assume, just for practical purposes at least, that our senses and thus the empirical observations we make with are the most probably the most accurate ways of determining reality that we know of, and thus can't we trust them more than abstract concepts thrown at us from antiquated religious texts? We experience things with our senses. The only reason we know about Buddhism is because we HEARD about it or READ (as in seeing) it somewhere or from someone. We use our SENSES in order to contemplate Buddhism. Buddha used his MATERIAL body in order to convey his ideas. People LISTENED to him using their sense of HEARING. In short, our senses are quite obviously the best way of determining reality and the reality we determine through them is probably, based on the evidence, a material, physical world. That's how we know that meditation-consciousnesses or jhanas take place in the brain, in our neural framework. That's how we know that when we feel empowered or spiritually enlightened by the Dharma it is dopamine being released in our brain causing us to feel happy. Everything we know comes from and is a part of the material, as far as we can directly tell. That isn't to say there may not be a spiritual world beyond the material. There may very well be universes outside of the material one that function in ways we cannot comprehend with our normal state of mind, but how can we infer this with absolute proof? Quantum physics provides some insight into this but to get as detailed as the Buddhist texts do about metaphysical realities seems like sort of a stretch, no?

2. Evidentialism would suggest that instead of believing in bodhisattvas, karma, rebirth, etc. and then working out the evidence as to why these things are true, that a more logical approach would be to learn and gather evidence and come to a conclusion based on that evidence. A priori knowledge clearly doesn't include bodhisattvas, rebirth, etc. We learn these things.

I would actually be very interested in reading about the Buddhist approach to epistemology since there doesn't seem to be a lot written on the subject.


The Omniscient one has declared that all there is to know is the six senses and all those senses are just mind.


In the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha named ten specific sources which knowledge should not be immediately viewed as truthful without further investigation to avoid fallacies:

1. Oral history
2. Traditional
3 .News sources
4 .Scriptures or other official texts
5. Suppositional reasoning
6. Philosophical dogmatism
7. Common sense
8. One's own opinions
9. Experts
10. Authorities or one's own teacher
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby Ikkyu » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:26 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Feeling emotions would be another example of non-material perception. Though granted that some can also have bodily sensations associated with them.
:namaste:


Yes.
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Re: Buddhist Epistemology

Postby undefineable » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:33 pm

Ikkyu wrote:I observe the world around me and understand that, while it may be a false one, it seems much more substantial, obersevable, experiential, testable and open to evaluation and consensus than the reality purported in often conflicting or contradictory antiquated religious texts, i.e. sutras, tantras and suttas.

So much of what those texts seem to be driving at is that the world you describe is neither false nor substantial - Buddhism doesn't even accept that there can be 'another world' beyond logical cause-effect relations. 'Two truths' is about describing the same reality in different ways, and 'Relative' matches your first description, while 'Ultimate' relates to the fact that -as your scientific understanding should tell you- the physical world is not completely "observable, experiential, testable and open to evaluation and consensus" given the limits of the world's comprehensibility (although I take it you acknowledged this). Whether the world is substantial depends of course on whether fundamental particles exist, and I take it that you included 'experiential' strictly in the context of empiricism. {P.s. 'sutta' is an alternative Pali pronunciation of the Sanskrit 'sutra', making it harder -though by no means impossible- to mock ;) .}
Ikkyu wrote:in Buddhism no view (well, "commonsese" vs. "ultimate" views, sticking to the two truths doctrine) is outside the realm of mental conditioning (compare "mental formation" as it is traslated from the Heart Sutra, if you will), and therefore all views, and I imagine thus beliefs, are guided by the passions, and are in that sense false.

The trouble with the two truths doctrine is that it shows up the limits of all ways of understanding reality - Suppose the Higgs-Boson is found to exist? What, then, is it made of? If you say 'energy', what is energy? If you then say 'the capacity to do work', then isn't that just a circular tautology that signifies nothing? Even before we get that far, how is the material of the 'Higgs' configured in spacetime if it's supposed to be some kind of impermeable 'real-ness', and what function is served by this somehow un-patterned pattern? Do you see where I'm driving here? :toilet:
Ikkyu wrote:I like the Buddhist emphasis on the experiential, but whose experience is correct? The Muslim's, the Buddhist's, the Jain's or the Hindu's? Don't these conflict, as they purport that their respective experience come from a great spiritual power endemic to their own religions, which all state that theirs is the ultimate truth about reality, vis a vis the other guy's experiences can't be true?

Of course, technically no experience can be either 'correct' or 'incorrect', but as far as I understand, the difference with Buddhism is that not only is experience more central, but it is left as it is as 'a priori' evidence, rather than extraordinary claims and 'leaps of faith' being made about what it might signify beyond itself. That isn't to say that experience isn't deepened - Buddhists do 'believe', but only in the experience of those who've walked stretches of the Path they've yet to walk themselves. Hence your quote on both James and Alston:
"James' central argument in "The Will to Believe" hinges on the idea that access to the evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true depends crucially upon first adopting those beliefs without evidence." This stands in stark contrast to [particularly Alston's] evidentialism, which suggests that we begin with evidence and then work our way up to an idea or truth, eventually.

Ikkyu wrote:Evidentialism. Rationalism. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I suggest you all take a look at Eleanore Stump's "Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions". While it doesn't really cover Eastern religions, it thoroughly tackles the use of empirical evidence in a metaphysical argument.

'A priori' evidence may not win an argument, since the rules of 'argument' in the west have been set down by intellectual and scientific tradition, but the nature of such evidence is that it proves itself. On a good day, even non-meditators can win atleast one a prior argument ('There is consciousness'), as the counter-argument simply sounds too absurd to genuinely convince anyone. {P.p.s. Making single words into sentences makes you sound preachy and so is unlikely to impress non-Christians.}
Back to your fav topics:
Ikkyu wrote:Madhyamaka _ _ really influenced the Mahayana... the school which has such a diverse pantheon of Bodhisattvas to believe in. Aren't they non-existent in an ultimate sense? Can't we look at them, along with Buddhist cosmology and other Buddhist beliefs about karma, rebirth, enlightenment, merit, etc. as an analogy then? Just like we are? An abstraction from the truth? Why then does Buddhism hinge on a literal interpretation of many these beliefs?

You're confusing 'two truths' with metaphor - Literally speaking, a metaphor is completely untrue, whereas relative truth appears to most of us as matter-of-fact objects and events, which for most Buddhists includes the concepts you mentioned. I think Buddhist teachings sometimes describe the same thing from different angles in a way that can verge on the metaphorical -as well as creating many of the apparent contradictions you mentioned earlier (witness the yogacara v. madhyamaka debate)- but where all teachings appear to agree, maybe it's safe to take it at face value that the doctrine is meant to be taken literally to some extent. As to the 'skilful means' argument (in this case that Buddha taught rebirth so as not to upset anyone with the truth of annihilation), I can't see how the Three Seals that make teachings 'Buddhist' are compatible with a permanent nonexistence and freedom from the experience of both suffering and 'not-self' after death.

Rounding off now:
Ikkyu wrote:I'm consistently amused that people who claim not to cling to anger become just so vaguely annoyed and defensive when their ideologies are questioned. That keeps me going. I think it makes sense to "repeat oneself" in different ways until someone gives me a viable answer, or rather actually understands my question and responds in a way that really addresses what I'm saying. A couple people have done this, but I just don't feel that arguing that I'm a materialist is really a rebuttal of my argument. Granted, I haven't sifted through ALL the responses on this or other threads yet. It's a work in progress and takes me a while as, frankly, I'm otherwise pretty busy.

I think the word is exasperated, though I have to say I'm finding you less entertaining now you've admitted to simply repeating yourself rather than reading and responding to replies, as I was starting to think you were the vanguard of a new generation of web-bots or something :rolleye: Still, every few days you come back and try to convert everyone to New Atheism with fixed viewpoints which -with respect- you never needed to give much thought beyond the level of understanding needed to accept them as ideas (rather than just words), since they're so obviously 'the official line' in the west vis-a-vis 'the metaphysical'. You seem to be seeking scientific proof and assuming that forum members count themselves as scientists, and I'm going to step out of line here and say that it makes no sense to expect mental phenomena to present scientific proof of their existence, or to expect anyone here to play by scientific rules.
Ikkyu wrote:If I reason that enlightenment or [insert other Buddhist supernatural claims here] isn't/aren't real then, can I still attain it according to Buddha?

You'd be reversing the placebo effect _ _
Ikkyu wrote:But is working a doctrine to tear apart other views before they can even come to the forefront a real effort at understanding reality, or rather obscuring it further?

Conversely, is the assumption that a single, simple doctrine can give you the views with which to understand everything a real effort at understanding reality for an intelligent adult like yourself? If I apply your recommended distrust of suppositional reasoning to philosophical dogmatism materialism, where does that leave you?
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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