Monday, September 15, 2008

At this point Shankara begins to sound more like Kant

Integral Post-metaphysical Spirituality > Open Forum Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 5, 6:58 PM:

On self-reflexivity: I believe we have discussed this elsewhere. It came up, I believe, when we were talking about whether or not it is possible to be “lucid” in the state of deep sleep. I expressed my doubts and brought up Shankara's position, which is that there can be no knowledge at all in the causal state, since there is no object of consciousness in such a state. Indeed, this is how the causal state is defined: as the absence of any object, any “other,” any second: not two. This is Shankara's conception of non-dualism. This idea goes back to the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad whose teaching is: the eye that sees cannot see itself. So… if there is to be lucidity, there must be reflexivity, self-consciousness. And this implies an object. Here, the object is “itself” i.e., the reflexive cognition: I am aware. Descartes “cogito.” This touches upon another critique I suggested in another thread, namely, that there is nothing at special about “lucidity.” In fact, it , as I suggest, is merely the intrusion of waking self-consciousness into the dream state. (And this critique is not based on some a priori dismissal of such state on my own part. It is to a significant degree based upon my own search for a truly discrete state of consciousness. )

As an historical sidebar, the Chandogya Upanishad actually criticizes the Brhad Up on this account. What is the use, it argues, of having a causal state in which one is not self-aware? How, in other words, can there be moksha if one is not aware that one is released? (Good point, dude!) This is the primary reason why the “fourth” state is revealed in the Mandukya Up.

I also suggested that the Tibetan teaching of “taking the mirror mind into the state of deep sleep” was in fact merely an extension of an apriori doctrine, viz., the Yogachara doctrine of self-reflexivity. At this point, we get into the important question of whether or not some of these “teachings” are really just apriori idealizations, or whether they are in fact based on actual “experiences.” What I'm suggesting is the former, that it is sometimes the case that the “teachings” are stuff that looks good on paper, or coming out of the mouth of a Great Guroo, when they are, in fact, mere abstractions. That was the point behind the extensive analysis of the “always already” in the End of Enlightenment thread. In other words, the “always already” is really just the extension of a certain kind of thinking about being, what I call the “logic of being.” (At the same time, I think that this logic does jibe with a part of our brain, in the meaning centres, that says, “This shit's happened before. I know this shit already.”

Plato's amnesis. Buddhist smriti/memory. Kashmiri Shaiva “re-cognition. Strong shit; but also available on nitrous.) And it is not just Vedanta: In both Vedanta and Buddhism, there is kind of “conditional” logic concerning nirvana: ”IF there is to be release, here is what we need….” And then we are off to the races with various teachings about how to “get enlightened,” not much of which is based on actual experience, as the mystical empiricists suggest, but a lot of which are in fact based upon apriori speculation upon what is required.

What was I talking about initially? Oh yes, reflexivity…

We need to be careful when we talk about “self-luminosity” in regards to Mahayana and Advaita. The two ideas (sva-samvedana: Yogachara; sva-prakasha: Advaita) are completely different. In Advaita “self-luminous” refers to the idea that the Self needs no other light than itself. “Self-luminous” means that the Self stands by itself, as the Absolute Subject (Shankara) or the Absolute Object (Mandana).

In Mahayana, “self-luminous” refers to apperception, to the reflexivityof consciousness. In Mahayana there is no transcendental Self. Cosciousness (vijnana), which here is completely different from consciousness (cit) in Advaita, refers to mundane wordly consciousness… or cognition, to be precise. In Yogachara, it is part of the nature of consciousness (vijnana) to be self-reflexive. Shankara denies this, and he quotes Dharmakirti (as does everyone else) when he refers to the Mahayana doctrine. Shankara say this it impossible for consciousness to be self-aware, just as it is impossible for a tumbler to stand on his own shoulders. There is, to be sure, apperception. But this does not belong to the true Self. It is mere “aham-kara,” the mere reflection or “shadow” of the light of the true self in buddhi.

At this point Shankara begins to sound more like Kant. The Self, the nature of which is consciousness, is the transcendental condition of all experience. It would be impossible for the transcendental condition or cause of experience to itself be an experience, as this would imply that that experience has some other cause or basis. But for the Yogacharas, there is no problem here. Mundane experience is its own cause, or to be more precise, it has its “cause” in a colocation or network of mutually determined causes, which is the Mahayana's redefinition of pratitya-samutpada.

And in fact, Dharmakriti, who was perhaps the most brilliant philosophcial mind that classical India produced, picks up the pieces and runs with the argument:

“How is it that consciousness can produce its own object, ” asks the detractor. “”What the hey are you talking about when you say 'all is mind'?”

“Why should there be a problem with consciousness produciing its own object?” replies Dharmakirti. It does anyway. This is shown in the self-reflexive nature of cognition. In every cognition, we are always aware of ourselves, of what we cognize, and of the fact we are cognizing.” What a clever boy, that Dharmakirti.

By the way, Dreyfus is the man. He is precisely what we have needed for some time: someone who can think, and who can read Tibetan, and who has the time and patience and interest to cull the Tibetan commentaries for illuminating insights as to what Dharmakirti was on about.over and out, space cadet kela permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 5, 7:17 PM:
Jim, I apologize for all the grammatical errors in the above. It was basically written stream of consciousness and then posted with little to no editing. kela :-) permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 12, 9:29 AM:
“…the lifeworld…[has a] quasi-transcendental nature. The lifeworld itself cannot be the proper theme of communicative utterances, for as a totality it provides the space in or ground upon which utterances occur, even those that name it explicitly…it remains indeterminate…even for theory, which hence cannot adopt a transcendental approach to the lifeworld's structures themselves”

This is very interesting. I have often thought along these same lines. We can, of course, substitute “intersubjectivity” for “the lifeworld.”Here is the implication:In this case, subjectivity and intersubjectivity are not equal, not at par with each other. Intersubjectivity is the condition of the possibility of subjectivity. They are not “two opposing sides” that must be “balanced” in in some game of 4-square AQAL. To suggest that they are is to miss the point of post-Wittgensteinian and post-Heideggerian thought, and to use the concept of intersubjectivity in this manner distorts the meaning of the relationship between intersubjectivity and subjectivity. The idea that they are “not two” and “equal,” that “both must be taken into account” is as an abstraction based on pre-conceived notions, such as the idea that non-duality means “balance” and “harmony.” This kind of move constitutes an attempt to reassert the philosophy of the subject. permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 12, 11:37 AM:
Hi Balder,At the same time (and here I am in dialogue with myself), I think that the idea of intersubjectivity as some kind of quasi-transcendental “condition” is problematic. My sense is that both Wittgensteinian and Heideggerian thought imply something like this – a kind of inheritance from Kant. I have successfully argued this interpretation of them in the past. Philosophers like K.O. Apel use such ideas to bridge Anglo-American and Continental thought. But, as I say, such notions are also problematic. For one, their postulation constitute a kind of foundationalism of sorts, and certainly speaking about “conditions” in this manner implies the old-fashioned metaphysics. There is a quote from the later Heidegger in which he says that in his later thinking he was “fleeing from the transcendental horizon” that he thought characterized his earlier thinking. As to whether Derridean thinking implies “transcendental conditions” of this sort, well, interpreters are split. One debate in the nineties was between those who said yes (Christopher Norris) and those who said no (Richard Rorty). Rudolph Gasche seems to be saying that though Derrida uses transcendental arguments, this does imply that he is suggesting trancendental grounds. Indeed, the entire movement is toward the “deconstruction” of such grounds. I think we find a similar tension in Prasangika thought.To bring my other comments of today into the mix, the myth of the given seems to be inextricably bound with the notion of self-certainty. And to be sure there is an element of self-certainty involved in the Prasangika notion of pratyatma-vedya – a concept lifted from the Lankavatara Sutra, a work with several (“nonBuddhistic”) “representationalist” assumptions running through it, such as the idea of the finger pointing at the moon, and so on. permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 12, 12:01 PM:
Here is an abstract reflecting some of the issues that I'm on about. permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 12, 1:54 PM:
The idea of a darshana is itself poly-valent. Shankara plays precisely with this very ambiguity. When it suits him, “darshana” refers to final “realization”; at other times it refers to the teaching (upadesha) of advaita, and at other times it refers to his own system, to his interpretation of Vedanta.The tension between a “soteriological teaching” and a “philosophical system” is at the heart of Huntington's writings on Chandrakirti, which is perhaps why he refers to Rorty's disitnction between systematic and edifying philosophy as much as he does. He seems interested in a kind of defense, or perhaps a “most generous reading,” of Chandrakirti.It is true that the Indian tradition tends to speak of positions as static reified timeless stances: the uttara paksha and purva paksha is the usual dialogue form. This makes the doxgraphic format somewhat artificial. permalink

Re: Myth of the given kelamuni said Sep 12, 2:06 PM:
Similarly, we should not take the critique of subjectivity as some kind of suggestion that there is “no such thing” as subjectivity. The problem of dreaming has traditionally been a bit of a problem for those who argue from intersubjectivity. One way of dealing with dreams is to dismiss them as non-experiences. But the reality of lucid dreaming renders this argument absurd. Subjectivity is particularly important where personal meaning is concerned. My own sense is that, at this point, it becomes necessary to consider which kind of language is most appropriate. The “inner life” seems to need its own “language.” It is perhaps here that metaphor, myth, and conceptions of “soul” become relevant. permalink 10:46 AM

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