Monktastic wrote:It seems to me that concepts are simply empty displays of rigpa, just as any texture or color is. Whether we decide to reify them after that is our choice. The Buddha showed that we can get on "just fine" without doing that. Hence my suggestion to leave reason in its proper place, instead of using it as an arbiter of truth.
(Obviously I am not arguing against the use of concepts in a relative sense, just as I wouldn't argue against the use of emotions or other appearances. But in a deeper sense, it seems to me that reason is no more meaningful than emotion or color.
I think reason is a fine 'arbiter of truth'. Whilst I agree that Buddhism points at a realm beyond discursive reason, that has to be understood carefully. I think if we dismiss reason it is actually easy to fall prey to irrationality. This happens in religious cultures, when they become ritualized or used to 'create good fortune' or 'ensure propitious events in the future' and so on. Buddhism is not immune to that. In such matters, I would always appeal to reason.
So I tend to side with the scientific analysts when it comes to dealing with questions within the domain of science. I see that as an implication of 'the two truths'. The two truths doctrine recognizes that there are conventional or empirical truths and that within this realm scientific analysis and reason are appropriate. There is also a realm beyond conventional truth (which, incidentally, is not really understood at all in traditional Western philosophy,) which is the subject of the 'higher teaching' and the subject of wisdom, rather than knowledge in the form of scientia.
But 'mistaking the relative for the absolute' is one of the pitfalls of this worldview, and a very easy thing to do. So I think being dismissive of reason or science is a consequence of 'mistaking the relative for the absolute'. Within the context of relative or conventional truth, science rules. And indeed you can surpass reason but I don't think you can deny it (a very difficult point, I acknowledge.)
I do see that in our day and age science is treated as 'an aribiter of what is real' - and I think we both are criticizing that idea. Therefore you will read, for instance, that researchers who study topics such as past-life memories, or psychic phenomena, are regarded as pseudo-scientific because of what they study. There are certain kinds of explanations, theories and ideas that are regarded as respectable subjects for scientific analysis, and other types of explanations and theories that are not. So science will happily consider 'the multiverse' or 'the many worlds interpretation' but it will never consider 'other realms of being' because this is said to be a 'religious concept'.
I personally accept that there is a hierarchy of types of understanding (similar to Plato's). In a very simplified diagrammatic form it is like this (from Ken Wilber):
With Plato, I would put mathematical reasoning on approximately the same level as 'soul' or 'the subtle realm', as this is the realm of the pure ideas and forms.
PadmaVonSambha wrote:What the term "objectivity" refers to in science, is that an event can be experienced by two or more witnesses and the description of what is witnessed is the same, and furthermore, that various mitigating circumstances can be eliminated from that observation in order to determine the actual cause of that event, and the same event can be replicated using the same circumstances repeatedly.
Excellent point. This is why 'the criterion of objectivity' is held in such high regard in modern thinking. What is said to be 'objective' is understood to be 'really existent'. However as I pointed out above, physics itself has undermined this through such discoveries as the Uncertainty Principle, and also through the speculative nature of current cosmology. It seems the question of what is 'really there', which before Einstein seemed almost resolved, has become more mysterious than ever. Now many are are simply left clinging to the hope that science will deliver the answers, even if there are these many massive conundrums around the nature of matter/mind/life.