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Things you can control

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Comments

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    I'm not sure of course but by my thinking, the experiment could also show that we make choices before we are aware of it. That wouldn't say volition is illusion but that the brain works faster than our perceptions.

    So we choose before we choose? From the causal deterministic POV, that's not far from the truth. The decisions are made before we're aware of them because they're made due a complex, causal process, i.e., they're not made by some chooser in our heads. Also, if decisions are made before we're consciously aware of them, then what is making them if not our conscious self? The best answer to that I've seen is given by causal determinism. And seeing as how all the laws of nature we've observed, discovered, or theorized are deterministic, this would seem to be consistent with that. It seems as if above, you agree that volition is conditioned and not necessarily directed by our conscious mind, so if that's the case, where is there any real control?

    Now if a bus was coming at me and I didn't see it until the last second, could an accurate prediction show which direction I'd jump if there was nothing else around?

    The experiment in question seems to suggest yes, if you were hooked up to the appropriate machines to view your brain activity.

    I was implying that the conventional self -once seen as illusory- can be a tool that uses itself instead of being tossed aside.

    Yes, I agree. I addressed that here.

    We are in agreement here except I put more stock in the ability of the illusion. There is no doer in the ultimate sense but there is in the conventional sense. I think what we take as a doer is a process and so there would only be doing but a personalised doing. It's all just bits of information being shared in a progressive way.

    Yes, I think we agree here.

    Yes but this is the extreme view of the absolute. The Middle Way is ĺiving in the conditional world while knowing the absolute. The conditional world seems to serve a purpose and I still think it makes sense that intent conditions volition to sometimes be unpredictable.

    So you say. What purpose and why?

    I am always the odd one out it seems but the foam analogy always screws with me. Buddha says that someone looking at a glob of foam would see it as empty, void, without substance. What I see is a temporary glob with no true shape filled with tiny bubbles that arise and fall.

    The water bubble that forms on the river and pops? It' simply a function of water.

    Sure, these things are empty but so is everything. If it weren't for emptiness, I would never have experienced joy. Yes, I have to experience pain as well but it is worth it.

    The Annata Lakkhana Sutta bothers me too for the same reason as well as makes me grateful and ashamed at the same time.

    It bothers me a bit because he implies that changing is bad. Changing hurts but it also takes away hurt. It makes me grateful because we live in a more prosperous time where there is hope for sickness and disease. It makes me feel shame because as a whole, we keep each other down in a time where we know better.

    I don't think he's saying that change is inherently bad per se, but that due to our biological imperatives and mental conditioning we cling to what's inconstant, identify with it, and this gives rise to suffering. And much of this is due to the illusion of self and control we find ourselves in, which is why the teachings on not-self and inconstancy are so often stressed and repeated.

    What do you think of the Mangala Sutta?

    I think it's spoken mostly from the conventional POV. That said, I see seeds of conditionality and what I'm trying to convey. For example, "To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing." If the conditions weren't right, we couldn't practice. In fact, we probably wouldn't have the desire to. Living in a suitable place means one that's stable enough to practice. Add to that the blessing (luck, in essence) of having done meritorious actions (which were themselves conditioned by any number of factors) that puts on onto the path. Without them, would we, or could we, choose to practice and put forth the amount of effort needed to achieve the goal? I don't think so.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    It's so weird how it seems like we are saying the same thing at times. The last paragraph is where I find the meaning but I don't think volition is an illusion for a lack of a controller and that's a big difference I guess.

    It is. I think I need to let this conversation digest for a while and figure out what it is we're really disagreeing about. I had the same issue with person. Neither one of us could put our finger on quite what was missing from our exchanges and why we quite disagreeing about what we seemed to be in agreement about. :lol:

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason

    What purpose and why? That I would like to know. What makes most sense to me and what I'd like to believe is that we are explorers and as Carl Sagan would say a way for the cosmos to know itself (if indeed luminous mind or whatever we want to call it is a kind of primordial awareness) but that means taking on a belief and I am not too keen on that.

    It almost seems to me like there's a kind of universal instinct at work, gathering Intel.

    It could be aware of itself only through us being aware of it.

    But this is just a thicket of views.

    Mainly, the illusion of separation and conditionality means that we are literally all in this thing together. Compassion for each other is logical and every conventional self has a different way of looking at the world.

    If two heads are better than one for figuring something out , we've hit the jackpot.

    JasonColinA
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2019

    Seems to me you guys are both eating from the same bowl of spaghetti and you're gonna both catch the same strand .... (And I'm not about to theorise which one of you is 'Lady'....)

    DavidKundo
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    I'm not sure of course but by my thinking, the experiment could also show that we make choices before we are aware of it. That wouldn't say volition is illusion but that the brain works faster than our perceptions.


    So we choose before we choose? From the causal deterministic POV, that's not far from the truth. The decisions are made before we're aware of them because they're made due a complex, causal process, i.e., they're not made by some chooser in our heads. Also, if decisions are made before we're consciously aware of them, then what is making them if not our conscious self? The best answer to that I've seen is given by causal determinism. And seeing as how all the laws of nature we've observed, discovered, or theorized are deterministic, this would seem to be consistent with that. It seems as if above, you agree that volition is conditioned and not necessarily directed by our conscious mind, so if that's the case, where is there any real control?

    Now if a bus was coming at me and I didn't see it until the last second, could an accurate prediction show which direction I'd jump if there was nothing else around?

    The experiment in question seems to suggest yes, if you were hooked up to the appropriate machines to view your brain activity.

    I was just thinking about our conversation here and it dawned on me that I don't think that's true because after being hooked up to the machine they could predict seven seconds before the choice is made.

    I would have to know seven seconds in advance that the truck was coming at me for this specific experiment to work.

    It doesn't account for frustraters or split second decisions forced upon the subject and so is ironically, too much of a controlled environment.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    I'm not sure of course but by my thinking, the experiment could also show that we make choices before we are aware of it. That wouldn't say volition is illusion but that the brain works faster than our perceptions.


    So we choose before we choose? From the causal deterministic POV, that's not far from the truth. The decisions are made before we're aware of them because they're made due a complex, causal process, i.e., they're not made by some chooser in our heads. Also, if decisions are made before we're consciously aware of them, then what is making them if not our conscious self? The best answer to that I've seen is given by causal determinism. And seeing as how all the laws of nature we've observed, discovered, or theorized are deterministic, this would seem to be consistent with that. It seems as if above, you agree that volition is conditioned and not necessarily directed by our conscious mind, so if that's the case, where is there any real control?

    Now if a bus was coming at me and I didn't see it until the last second, could an accurate prediction show which direction I'd jump if there was nothing else around?

    The experiment in question seems to suggest yes, if you were hooked up to the appropriate machines to view your brain activity.

    I was just thinking about our conversation here and it dawned on me that I don't think that's true because after being hooked up to the machine they could predict seven seconds before the choice is made.

    I would have to know seven seconds in advance that the truck was coming at me for this specific experiment to work.

    It doesn't account for frustraters or split second decisions forced upon the subject and so is ironically, too much of a controlled environment.

    Yes, I've often wondered this too. What about split second decisions, also how much is the lead time a function of the actual way decisions are made in the brain on a moment to moment level and how much has to do with the simplicity of the experiment in allowing our subconscious mind to easily plan way ahead of time what it will do?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Isn't there a difference between the Survival Instinct and a decision...?

    lobsterpersonKundo
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @federica said:
    Isn't there a difference between the Survival Instinct and a decision...?

    I'm not so sure because some people will freeze like a deer in headlights, panic and won't be able to decide.

    Also there are people that suffer from aboulomania which is a pathological disorder where they cannot make a decision so it just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense that the rest of us only think we have that ability.

    Couldn't there be a set of conditions that when reached allows us to shape events in unpredictable ways?

    What I am trying to say is if the illusion can come about through causes and conditions, why can't the actual ability?

    That we are an illusion doesn't work logically as a reason to suggest volition is illusion. Because separation is illusion doesn't mean I don't exist, it means I don't exist except in relation to everything else. So then maybe volition doesn't exist except in relation to everything else and limited to what is practical (or handy).

    When arguing this point in other religious circles I ask the question What if our being able to shape the future with our decisions is the predestined plan?

    Some think that every decision we make creates an alternate timeline.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    I was just thinking about our conversation here and it dawned on me that I don't think that's true because after being hooked up to the machine they could predict seven seconds before the choice is made.

    I would have to know seven seconds in advance that the truck was coming at me for this specific experiment to work.

    It doesn't account for frustraters or split second decisions forced upon the subject and so is ironically, too much of a controlled environment.

    Well, the brain makes decisions up to 7-10 seconds before one is aware of them. So theoretically, the gap could still be detected within shorter time periods, especially with more sensitive technology. I'm sure it'd be just as possible to predict since the decision to jump left or right, or being frozen in fear, are all going to be conditioned responses.

    I've actually thought a bit about this today and I think we all general agree that 1) conditioned phenomena abide by the laws of nature/physics causally determined and 2) volition is a conditioned phenomenon involved in action and decision making.

    I think this faculty of our mind works by the same causal laws and process as conditioned phenomena in general. Being a part of the same world and logic, I don't see why it wouldn't be. Moreover, it seems to operate by making decisions based upon biological programming, inputs it's given through the senses, and by applying past experiences. I think we also all agree that our choices are in many ways determined by a myriad of conditions, many of which are unknown to us (and some completely unknown).

    What's at issue is, does that ultimately mean things are so deterministic that they're essentially predetermined (such as from the POV of Laplace's demon) and can be 100% predicted if one knew all the laws of nature and the position snd momentum of every atom, or is there some level of undetermined choice available for conscious beings? I'd hazard to guess that you both would say no to the former and yes to the latter.

    I, on the other hand, am not si sure. I want to say yes to the latter, both because of how things subjectively seem to me and because of how it paints a more optimistic view of the world and our ability to change. Serious thought about it, however, leaves me thinking that the former is the more logically consistent answer. Decisions are ultimately answers that come from calculations we don't consciously make or have control over in any way that's independent of their causes and conditions.

    In fact, I have a hard time imagining a choice that isn't determined, that's uncertain until the moment it's made, knowing what I know about the laws of nature and the logically implications of conditionality. To use a simple example, if I choose to eat pizza instead of pasta or a rice dish, I like to think it was an open choice I made. The reality, however, could very well be that it was determined by a myriad of factors, such as past memories of each food, the smells and how they registered in my brain, and maybe something that gave me a more positive feeling about pizza that the other two, like a commercial I overheard earlier.

    I feel as if I made the choice to eat pizza, whereas the reality may be that my choice was determined before I even made it and it just subjectively appears that I made a random, conscious decision because I'm unaware of the underlying causal processes conditioning it.

    It seems more and more to me like we're 'moist machines' a la Dennett or conscious puppets unaware of the strings conditioning the arising of consciousness, the arising and direction of volition, etc. In essence, we perceive phenomena such as consciousness and volition as being free because their conditioned nature is obscured by self-identity view. Instead of us simply being aware of seeing, for example, seeing consciousness arising from the contact between the sense base and an object, we have the perception of a seer.

    Similarly, instead of us simply being aware of ideating or volition, we have the perception of a thinker, a chooser, a doer. We feel as if we're the authors of those ideas, decisions, and actions. But maybe, if we're able to get rid of that feeling, that perception, we can glimpse behind the curtain of so to speak and still hear and see and think, except it's not as an 'I,' but as an expansive awareness of consciousness and its contents and the conditionality underlying our first person perspective.

    Change is possible because conditions determine them, but we're ultimately not in control of that process anymore than we are the laws of nature itself. Same with volition. It's possible precisely because conditions determine their arising and ceasing, but we're ultimately not in control of that process anymore than we are the laws of nature itself.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Couldn't there be a set of conditions that when reached allows us to shape events in unpredictable ways?

    I'm not sure there could be, because it'd mean conditionality somehow shaping something unconditioned or with the capability of violating the deterministic laws of nature. It also reminds me of the paradox, can God make a stone so heavy even God can't move it?

    What I am trying to say is if the illusion can come about through causes and cnditions, why can't the actual ability?

    That we are an illusion doesn't work logically as a reason to suggest volition is illusion. Because separation is illusion doesn't mean I don't exist, it means I don't exist except in relation to everything else. So then maybe volition doesn't exist except in relation to everything else and limited to what is practical (or handy).

    It's not that we are an illusion or rhat volition is an illusion, it's that our sense of self tied to that is an illusion, as is the perception of control. It's al ultimately conditioned phenomena, subject to the same narural laws as everything else in the universe.

    Some think that every decision we make creates an alternate timeline.

    That's one interpretation of quantum mechanics. I'm not sure it's the correct one, however.

    David
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @federica said:
    Isn't there a difference between the Survival Instinct and a decision...?

    Yes. Body memory. As an example martial artists turn conscious movement training into very fast 'decisions' bypassing the slower conscious reasoning procedure.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_memory

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I'm not sure how this is relevant, and indeed, whether it is at all... But I found it, and made a conscious decision (I think...!) that it might be of interest...?

    https://qz.com/506229/neuroscience-backs-up-the-buddhist-belief-that-the-self-isnt-constant-but-ever-changing/

    lobsterDavidKundo
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @federica said:
    I'm not sure how this is relevant, and indeed, whether it is at all... But I found it, and made a conscious decision (I think...!) that it might be of interest...?

    https://qz.com/506229/neuroscience-backs-up-the-buddhist-belief-that-the-self-isnt-constant-but-ever-changing/

    Yes, I think it's relevant, and I'd agree that our experience of a sense of self is real, but that the self we experience as author and controller of thoughts and actions is ultimately an illusion. I think accords with both what the Buddha taught and what neuroscience is discovering in re: conditionality. We believe we're in control when in reality, "Mental formations [along with form, feeling, perception, and consciousness] are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'"

    This doesn't negate the beneficialness of conditions, however,. As I said earlier in the discussion, because conditionality exists, we can condition more skillful actions and even an end to suffering. That doesn't mean we're 'free' in this process to make decisions and have control over thing in an ultimate way. For one, there is no 'us' to decide. There are the workings of causes and conditions deciding x and not y. There's the illusion of control in that process due to the way consciousness interacts with the six sense bases, giving rise to a feeling of 'me' and 'mine' in relation to our experience of pleasure and pain. But the 'I,' like our feeling of control, is ultimately an illusion. When you peel back the layers, there's nothing there. That doesn't mean the illusion is not always without use or benefit, however.

    Even though we may not have the agency and control we're lead to believe we have, the very idea of free will, for example, can act as a condition that conditions our actions in positive ways (which maybe includes the illusion's evolutionary value in terms of promoting altruistic acts that help to increase survival/propagation of genes in a social species) while a diminished belief can lead to the opposite (e.g., see this article and this article). Nevertheless, a great deal of our suffering is also tied to our self-identity view and the craving and clinging that can arise, and the eightfold path is essentially a set of conditions that can help us reduce and possible remove a lot of that suffering. I think most people would agree they realize that when we're talking on the level of subjective first person experience, we use a certain vocabulary and can use terms like self, control, choice. But when talking about it on the level of atoms and processes and conditionality and the third person perspective, we must use a different vocabulary when talking about the same thing.

    To help put all this into context, I listened to these three podcasts recently, and while I disagree with Harris about many things, I find myself agreeing with his outlook and arguments re: free will and determinism is these discussions: https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:
    https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

    Yeah, that second one specifically was the one I was thinking of where the other compatibalists and Sam were basically saying the same thing but still disagreeing.

    Maybe there's something about the exact nature of the self, that doesn't exist, that could be at the heart of it. From my point of view the I that is being negated isn't an essence inside that adds pixie dust or super fine hidden variables into the mix, the I is the illusion, rather than the choice. What that means, I think, is that all of the mix of conditions and formations are in fact still actually us, in a meaningful and functional sense.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

    Yeah, that second one specifically was the one I was thinking of where the other compatibalists and Sam were basically saying the same thing but still disagreeing.

    Maybe there's something about the exact nature of the self that doesn't exist that could be at the heart of it. From my point of view the I that is being negated isn't an essence inside that adds pixie dust or super fine hidden variables into the mix, the I is the illusion, rather than the choice. What that means, I think, is that all of the mix of conditions and formations are in fact still actually us, in a real and functional sense.

    Maybe. I think it makes more sense to view phenomena as conditional process than things doing stuff, so there's the choosing but no independent chooser. The choosing itself, as an action, and the feeling of a chooser behind and controlling the choosing are causally determined processes within a casually determined universe. As I said earlier, in the conventional sense [the level of first person experience], we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. who acts and is the possessor of said actions. But from the ultimate POV [the level of atoms and processes and conditionality], can there truly be said to be a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no, which makes me reluctantly agree with this passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

    Yeah, that second one specifically was the one I was thinking of where the other compatibalists and Sam were basically saying the same thing but still disagreeing.

    Maybe there's something about the exact nature of the self that doesn't exist that could be at the heart of it. From my point of view the I that is being negated isn't an essence inside that adds pixie dust or super fine hidden variables into the mix, the I is the illusion, rather than the choice. What that means, I think, is that all of the mix of conditions and formations are in fact still actually us, in a real and functional sense.

    Maybe. I think it makes more sense to view phenomena as conditional process than things doing stuff, so there's the choosing but no independent chooser. The choosing itself, as an action, and the feeling of a chooser behind and controlling the choosing are causally determined processes within a casually determined universe. As I said earlier, in the conventional sense [the level of first person experience], we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. who acts and is the possessor of said actions. But from the ultimate POV [the level of atoms and processes and conditionality], can there truly be said to be a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no, which makes me reluctantly agree with this passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

    Alright, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying in that the conventional self is the personal experience. What I think I'm saying is more or less the exact opposite, that the conventional self is the sum of all the causes and conditions. And that the experiential sense of self that comes along with them is the illusion. I think that interpretation also fits perfectly with your above passage. So I'm having a hard time sorting out what I think I understand vs what I think you understand with my level of knowledge of Buddhism.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:
    Alright, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying in that the conventional self is the personal experience. What I think I'm saying is more or less the exact opposite, that the conventional self is the sum of all the causes and conditions. And that the experiential sense of self that comes along with them is the illusion. I think that interpretation also fits perfectly with your above passage. So I'm having a hard time sorting out what I think I understand vs what I think you understand with my level of knowledge of Buddhism.

    Not exactly. When I'm talking about things in the conventional sense, I'm talking about them from my first person experience, which includes my sense of self and my experience of myself as an individual. That self can be said to be the result of certain causes and conditions, both material and psychological, that in Buddhism corresponds to the six sense bases (which the Buddha says corresponds to old kamma, past actions and conditioning). Tied into that is self-identification view, the conceit 'I am,' the self-identification that designates a being, which is conditioned by the presence of clinging in the mind with regard to the five-clinging aggregates. It's from this point of view we can talk about persons and choices and the owners of actions.

    From what's often called the ultimate viewpoint, however, things are described in terms of conditionality, of inconstancy, of arising and ceasing, of sense bases, aggregates, and not-self rather than persons and choices. Things arise and cease according to causes and conditions. Things are better understood as causally determined events rather than things, and we can't ultimately say 'let it be thus, let it not be thus.' And this causes some conflict in that we tend to see our sense of self as a static thing, something which is the author of our thoughts and choices. It's as if our sense of self desires permanence, but its very nature is causally determined and in turn causes it to change every second. It's always in flux, ever-changing from moment to moment in response to various internal and external stimuli. And the more one digs into their experience or the science of it, the less solid it seems, and the more the elements of conditionality take centre stage.

    One way I like to look at it is, the conventional viewpoint explains things through subject, verb and object whereas the ultimate viewpoint explains things through verb alone. In essence, phenomena are being viewed from the perspective of causally determined activities and processes. This, I think, is incredibly difficult to see, but perhaps what happens from the standpoint of awakening is that once self-identity view is removed, the duality of subject and object is also removed, thereby revealing the level of mere conditional phenomena, i.e., dependent co-arising in action. And this insight helps us confront the illusion or appearance of a self in order to dispel its power. What's left is an expansive awareness of consciousness and its contents and the conditionality underlying our first person perspective that we can switch to, giving us relief from craving and suffering.

    Just as suffering has it's causes and conditions, so too the end of suffering has its causes and conditions.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    I think what's ultimately being debated here is one of the most interesting questions in neuroscience, do we intend and then make/condition the synapses in our brain to fire, or do the synapses fire in our brain and cause/condition us to intend?

    We feel as if we intend and then act through the body. Science, however, is increasingly coming to the conclusion that our intentions and acts are causally determined by the laws of nature and that we create our sense of selves and first person narratives around our conscious experience of that. So, conventionally, we can speak of a self-doer, and it makes sense to. Even the Buddha would speak of persons and self-doers. There is a meaning and purpose and logic to it, as @David has pointed out.

    But from the ultimate POV, or from the third person description of science, we can no longer speak of a self-doer, of control, etc. We must instead switch to a vocabulary of conditionality, of causal conditioning, of events conditioning the arising of other events and of their ceasing to condition events, much like the Abhidhammic literature does.

    In the former context, we can colloquially speak of choice and intention and control. But in the latter, such terms cease to have any coherent meaning as hard as it may be for us to accept and process that.

    Kundo
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

    Yeah, that second one specifically was the one I was thinking of where the other compatibalists and Sam were basically saying the same thing but still disagreeing.

    Maybe there's something about the exact nature of the self that doesn't exist that could be at the heart of it. From my point of view the I that is being negated isn't an essence inside that adds pixie dust or super fine hidden variables into the mix, the I is the illusion, rather than the choice. What that means, I think, is that all of the mix of conditions and formations are in fact still actually us, in a real and functional sense.

    Maybe. I think it makes more sense to view phenomena as conditional process than things doing stuff, so there's the choosing but no independent chooser. The choosing itself, as an action, and the feeling of a chooser behind and controlling the choosing are causally determined processes within a casually determined universe. As I said earlier, in the conventional sense [the level of first person experience], we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. who acts and is the possessor of said actions. But from the ultimate POV [the level of atoms and processes and conditionality], can there truly be said to be a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no, which makes me reluctantly agree with this passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

    Alright, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying in that the conventional self is the personal experience. What I think I'm saying is more or less the exact opposite, that the conventional self is the sum of all the causes and conditions. And that the experiential sense of self that comes along with them is the illusion. I think that interpretation also fits perfectly with your above passage. So I'm having a hard time sorting out what I think I understand vs what I think you understand with my level of knowledge of Buddhism.

    For myself it helps to remember we are all doing the best we can and if any of us are actually proven wrong, it won't wake us any less Buddhist.

    Now it's my turn to take a rest and digest this stuff. It really is nice to get it all from a different perspective. Thanks again, guys.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/free-will-revisited/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/115-sam-harris-lawrence-krauss-matt-dillahunty-1/, https://samharris.org/podcasts/124-search-reality/. I think they're able to make some of the points I'm trying to make here better than I can. They're are fairly interesting and touch upon a lot of what we've been discussing here. Have a listen, if you're so conditioned.

    Yeah, that second one specifically was the one I was thinking of where the other compatibalists and Sam were basically saying the same thing but still disagreeing.

    Maybe there's something about the exact nature of the self that doesn't exist that could be at the heart of it. From my point of view the I that is being negated isn't an essence inside that adds pixie dust or super fine hidden variables into the mix, the I is the illusion, rather than the choice. What that means, I think, is that all of the mix of conditions and formations are in fact still actually us, in a real and functional sense.

    Maybe. I think it makes more sense to view phenomena as conditional process than things doing stuff, so there's the choosing but no independent chooser. The choosing itself, as an action, and the feeling of a chooser behind and controlling the choosing are causally determined processes within a casually determined universe. As I said earlier, in the conventional sense [the level of first person experience], we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. who acts and is the possessor of said actions. But from the ultimate POV [the level of atoms and processes and conditionality], can there truly be said to be a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no, which makes me reluctantly agree with this passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

    Alright, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying in that the conventional self is the personal experience. What I think I'm saying is more or less the exact opposite, that the conventional self is the sum of all the causes and conditions. And that the experiential sense of self that comes along with them is the illusion. I think that interpretation also fits perfectly with your above passage. So I'm having a hard time sorting out what I think I understand vs what I think you understand with my level of knowledge of Buddhism.

    For myself it helps to remember we are all doing the best we can and if any of us are actually proven wrong, it won't wake us any less Buddhist.

    Now it's my turn to take a rest and digest this stuff. It really is nice to get it all from a different perspective. Thanks again, guys.

    Of course. I don't think I'm 100% right, or think anyone else here is 100% wrong, or even less of a Buddhist than I. I just have a certain POV that I'm convinced at the moment is closer to the truth than others, and I'm doing my best to express that POV and defend that conviction. I still respect and value everyone's contributions even if you don't ultimately agree with me. And it ultimately doesn't matter if I'm right, because we still practice as intentional beings looking to confront and overcome suffering, not dancing atoms.

    person
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Jason said: ... because we still practice as intentional beings looking to confront and overcome suffering.

    ..."You in your small corner,
    And I in mine".

    Jesus Bids Us Shine.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    I came across this rap today on free will by Baba Brinkman and thought it was pretty great. A brief lead in starts at about 25:00 https://www.startalkradio.net/show/startalk-at-bam-science-is-everywhere-part-1/

  • I think the question of control is an imponderable. Control is greatly similar to knowledge in my opinion. Just like it is written in regards to the Buddha's knowledge and brahmaviharas, they are immeasurable or appamanna.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @namarupa said:
    I think the question of control is an imponderable. Control is greatly similar to knowledge in my opinion. Just like it is written in regards to the Buddha's knowledge and brahmaviharas, they are immeasurable or appamanna.

    I don't really think there are imponderables. To ponder is just to wonder about. There are inconjecturables though as to conjecture is to come to a conclusion while lacking all possible facts.

    As long as we don't make beliefs out of this stuff I think we are fine.

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    Is there volition or free will, considering the conditional nature of so much?

    Not explicitly an Imponderable or Indeterminate question, but it might be helpful to some to know, there ARE some questions or views which the Buddha considered a swamp for those not arhants: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acinteyya

    :) My adice: Have a little compassion for your life and choose where you press forward with your efforts.

    AN 2 has (it seems to me) some relevant teachings on this topic https://suttacentral.net/an2.11-20/en/sujato

    personnamarupa
  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    As it happens, just ran across this sutta AN 6.38
    https://suttacentral.net/an6.38/en/sujato

    "Then a certain brahmin went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha: “Master Gotama, this is my doctrine and view: One does not act of one’s own volition, nor does one act of another’s volition.” “Well, brahmin, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone holding such a doctrine or view. How on earth can someone who comes and goes on his own say that one does not act of one’s own volition, nor does one act of another’s volition?"

    The sutta continues with the Buddha's refutation. However... what that brahmin believed was his, and he is not posting. :) Perhaps though the sutta will be interesting anyway.

    personDavidnamarupa
  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited January 2019

    Though the idea is such that the questioning one's control really akins to also questioning one's purpose and origin. Such as...If I am not in control then what is my purpose and what is started all this.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    I think that raises and interesting paradox in the sense of Buddhism being about "knowledge and vision of things as they are" and the idea that ignorance of certain things is beneficial. Science, on the other hand, takes the position that the more knowledge we have about things as they are is always preferable to willful ignorance of any aspect of that. Beyond that, I think these questions are important. Not only to have a better understanding of how we work, but in terms of what implications that knowledge leads to, such as from a medical POV, ethical POV, etc.

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    @Jason "Science, on the other hand, takes the position that the more knowledge we have about things as they are is always preferable to willful ignorance of any aspect of that. "

    Double blind studies. The Uncertainty Principle. And in general, the principle of considering data without regard to source (except as to techniques, to avoid manipulation. ) :) Science is no longer oblivious to POV issues. Sometimes, to avoid these, segregation of knowledge or efforts seem necessary. Thoughts?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @ERose said:
    @Jason "Science, on the other hand, takes the position that the more knowledge we have about things as they are is always preferable to willful ignorance of any aspect of that. "

    Double blind studies. The Uncertainty Principle. And in general, the principle of considering data without regard to source (except as to techniques, to avoid manipulation. ) :) Science is no longer oblivious to POV issues. Sometimes, to avoid these, segregation of knowledge or efforts seem necessary. Thoughts?

    Those examples aren't analogous to what I'm saying. Science will never say, Don't question this aspect of reality because then we might question things about our purpose, origin, etc. The whole purpose of the discipline is to discover what we don't know and constantly question everything that we think we do know.

    Just given the sheer volume and complexity of available knowledge, it's understandable some will specialize in certain areas; and there are of course going to be cases where the lack of knowledge proves useful, such as studies where people aren't told what they're given. But science will never say that we shouldn't ask the questions; it'll ask, How can we test for what we think the answers will be?

    namarupa
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Sorry to bring up this topic but I was just reflecting and realized that when we are mindful enough to find ourselves in an old thought pattern, it is possible to stop that train and reroute it.

    When we do this we are self conditioning. We condition ourselves away from our old patterns affecting any decisions we make going forward.

    We may be conditioned to condition ourselves accordingly but there must be awareness plus a conscious decision to drop old thought patterns in their tracks like that.

    personlobster
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