[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Political constructionsof selfvspoliticalconstructionsof identity



Hello again,

First of all, let’s note that the word “Buddha” denotes neither the historical figure known by that sobriquet, nor any mythological person in much of Buddhist thought, Dogen’s included. For some, it is just an advanced, emancipated state of mind that experiences reality directly, for example, what we go through when the performance of an actor or musician completely carries us away (as opposed to the state of mind of a critical connoisseur who compares the performance of this actor in her memory with someone else’s, or thinks about what the director wanted to achieve with this or that). For Dogen’s notion of Buddha, however, the closest Western equivalent would probably be “authentic being/becoming” or something like that. What he constantly stresses is that authentic reality is not hidden between what we have around us, but it is that very same reality. It is only through our particular ity that we can access it. Larry is quite correct in opposing this view to the Western isms that want to organize this reality hierarchically and counterpose the universal to the particular.

Chris has also quite correctly pointed out that, as regards the US elections, the question is not what the candidates actually are, but what the electors perceive them to be. I am already looking forward to an analysis of this process by Jeffrey Alexander or his disciples. What is communicated and perceived can never be the ity of what is, because both communication and perception, each from a slightly different angle, presuppose a selection of salient features from among all there is. So there is really no use to construe the opposition in terms of who is actually what - but who chooses to highlight what. From this point of view, Trump’s blatant anti-intellectualism combined with a cult of force and winning do make up an ideologically consistent position, even if he contradicts himself at every step. 

Now to Annalisa - you say there “has to” be a center, a “me” (or just a substratum) behind all change. I do not agree, but could you situate this center anywhere? In “The Questions of Milinda” the king Menandros (from a Greek line of rulers stemming from Alexander the Great) asks the monk Nagasena why he does not think there is a self-identical “me”. Nagasena returns the question by asking if the king arrived at their meeting by foot or on a chariot. - On a chariot, obviously. Nagasena then asks the king to point to where “the chariot” is located - it is none of the details that make it up, such as wheels etc, and neither could one call the heap of all these constituents thrown together “a chariot”. So what emerges as a “chariot” is nothing but the way how these things relate to each other, how they are organized. We can replace any detail with another one (sometimes even have to) - but if we put a wheel in the place of the axle, there is no chariot. In the same way, Nagasena says, it is impossible to point to a “me”, which is nothing but the relation between physical and mental constituents. By the way, this is supported by recent neuroscience, which says that the place of “me” cannot be located in any section of the brain, but emerges in the simultaneous activation of certain sections, not necessarily the same ones. In other words, it is a pattern of brain activity, not an entity in itself. What later Buddhist thinkers added is that we can close in on the ity from the outside, as it were, through negations. We can never exhaustively say what Trump is or will be, but we can quite definitely say he never has been nor will he ever become f ex a black construction worker or a single mother of five. This, of course, is neither an argument against him nor in his favour. 

With best wishes,

Rein


> On 01 Aug 2016, at 18:06, Lplarry <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Annalisa,
> Your questions to Rein seems to gather around the notion of (grasp/ity) in contrast to (graspable essence) or having a central center from which one perceives *things*. 
> 
> My question to Rein explores the notion of *having* a center from which one perceives  Buddha/nature or more precisely Buddha/ity.
> My way of understanding where the center *exists* is everywhere in Buddha/ity. There is no *one* center from which the world is graspable but every *particular* entity is centered in its own way – as centered idio/syncratically.  This throws into relief the notion of structuring constructions.
> 
> Umberto Eco wrote a book on the metaphor of *tree* and *labyrinth* tracing the way Western (modes) of thought and meaning implicate the tree metaphor (roots, branches) as hierarchical *systems* of categories and classes and taxonomies
> Something subsuming something else *under* it. The metaphor of under/standing through tree metaphors that grasp essence or nature as moving higher and lower in layers or levels or structures of classification.
> This is all a *particular* (mode) of thought.
> 
> Rein exploring Buddha *nature* and *essence* indicates that these two notions are misunderstandings of Buddha existence which focuses attention on *ity* phenomena arising from *centers* that exist with every particular entity. Ity phenomena is idio/syncretic *dependent arising* which radically negates all notions of *independently arising* phenomena *in itself*.
> I may be misreading what Rein is gesturing toward, but it is my attempt to follow Rein through Dogen.
> 
> The difference between modern/ism and modern/ity.  There is no essential graspable modern/ism but modern/ity exists and is  a particular (mode) of attention and focus interpreted through the *middle way* of Buddha ity.
> 
> Rein, if I have garbled your message then I hope my misunderstanding can lead to clearer understanding in your response.
> (ity) and (ism) are radically different approaches to phenomena arising. 
> Your example of wood burning that  does not *change* to ashes is a particular challenge for Western notions of *change* that have the mode of evoking *trees* that generate types, kinds, categories, classes, taxonomy, with *higher* and *lower* super and sub *structures* that are *constructed*
> 
> The focus on particularity is not  independently arising phenomena but particular/ity has an idio/syncratic  *way* (mode) of becoming other than it is now. 
> Centers exist with each dependently arising phenomena coming into existence but if no particular event arises then no center arises. 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Sent from my Windows 10 phone
> 
> From: Annalisa Aguilar
> Sent: July 31, 2016 2:21 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Political constructions of selfvspoliticalconstructionsof identity
> 
> Hi Rein,
> 
> 
> Thanks for the discussion. :)
> 
> 
> Yes, but from what can change be measured? How do *you* detect change of any kind? There must be something static in order for change to be detected. I'm not arguing at all that there is no change or that everything is static. Even in Einstein's Theory of Relativity an stationary observer is required to detect change.
> 
> 
> As far as "ity," it is an interesting concept, but if I am understanding you, it seems to possess something of an ethical challenge for my sensibility because it means that lying or psychopathology are acceptable states of being, unless you are using this theory of "ity" to explain how it is that a person can vacillate between one moral point of reference and another without any self-awareness, one mood to another.
> 
> 
> Even though the weather patterns change, there are levels of predictability. Why be able to predict at all?
> 
> 
> How can any pattern of change be detected at all if there is nothing stationary?
> 
> 
> Also, why is it that there isn't constant mayhem and destruction, everywhere, all the time, forever and for all time; past, present, and future?
> 
> 
> Regardless of what Aristotle said, something must be stationary to account for change and that stationary point is you. In what you describe, there is nothing holding it all together to measure by except you. Without an orientation point, it dissolves into moral relativity and ethical morass, and seems nihilistic. If that is the cosmology you see as obtaining, then how is there any determination of values at all?
> 
> 
> Even if Trump is vacillating here and there between this and that form of ridicule, his body is relatively constant, his body doesn't suddenly shape shift into Liza Minelli and start singing broadway musicals, then into a pink flamingo eating crayfish and then back to The Donald we all know and love. :)
> 
> 
> Or how about this? Why is there only one Donald and not 5? Sort of borg-like hovering around the podium waving his hands in that way he does but like a slide carousel of display?
> 
> 
> How did Dogen detect the change, that is, when what was the firewood, underwent transition through time, turned into ashes, which was firewood no more? And why didn't the firewood turn into a potato chip, a cellphone, or an Apollo space capsule instead?
> 
> 
> What is your definition of change? If you don't mind sharing. :)
> 
> 
> Kind regards,
> 
> 
> Annalisa
>