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Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma

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Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/12/14 1:10 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/12/14 2:37 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/12/14 1:12 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/20/14 4:31 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/20/14 6:05 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/21/14 4:17 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/21/14 6:00 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/22/14 5:03 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Eva Nie 8/22/14 11:42 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/22/14 4:20 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/22/14 6:07 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/22/14 6:00 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/23/14 2:12 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/23/14 2:24 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/23/14 2:53 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/23/14 8:51 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/12/14 1:45 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/12/14 7:20 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma (D Z) Dhru Val 8/12/14 11:43 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/13/14 4:45 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/13/14 8:02 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma John Wilde 8/13/14 7:48 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/14/14 9:00 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma John Wilde 8/14/14 6:22 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma (D Z) Dhru Val 8/13/14 9:21 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma Dada Kind 8/13/14 11:59 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/19/14 5:59 PM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/20/14 9:51 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/23/14 5:54 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma . Jake . 8/23/14 9:10 AM
RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma sawfoot _ 8/23/14 3:17 PM
I believe that problems on this forum would be minimized if more users made an attempt to use clear language. 
"Say whatever you choose about the object, and whatever you might say is not it." Or, in other wordsː "Whatever you might say the object "is", well it is not." This negative statement is final, because it is negative

Alfred Korzybski
Not this, not this

Advaita expression

General semantics is a program begun in the 1920s that seeks to regulate the evaluative operations performed in the human brain. After partial launches under the names "human engineering" and "humanology,"[1] Polish-American originator Alfred Korzybski[2] (1879–1950) fully launched the program as "general semantics" in 1933 with the publication of Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics.
Korzybski's work maintained that human beings are limited in what they know by (1) the structure of their nervous systems, and (2) the structure of their languages. Human beings cannot experience the world directly, but only through their "abstractions" (nonverbal impressions or "gleanings" derived from the nervous system, and verbal indicators expressed and derived from language). Sometimes our perceptions and our languages actually mislead us as to the "facts" with which we must deal. Our understanding of what is happening sometimes lacks similarity of structure with what is actually happening.
He stressed training in awareness of abstracting, using techniques that he had derived from his study of mathematics and science. He called this awareness, this goal of his system, "consciousness of abstracting".
His system included modifying the way we consider the world, e.g., with an attitude of "I don't know; let's see," to better discover or reflect its realities as revealed by modern science. One of these techniques involved becoming inwardly and outwardly quiet, an experience that he termed, "silence on the objective levels".

Pragmatic Suggestions

1) Thoroughly internalize that "The map is not the territory"
Humans habitually confuse symbolic representations for the symbolized. 

Examples:
A geographical map can never fully describe the land it represents.
A meditation theory can never fully describe the experience it represents.
An intellectual understanding of meditation theory doesn't supplant or do justice to the experience that the theory represents.

2) Practice "Consciousness of abstracting"
All abstractions are symbolic representations of nervous sytem events. Humans have the capacity to indefinitely make abstractions of abstractions. Be aware of the use of abstractions, abstractions of abstractions, and so on. 

Illustration:
 
Korzybski called this diagram the Structural Differential; Kenneth Folk alludes to it here. I consider the diagram self-explanatory, but I'll add that from a high dharmic point-of-view it's useful to recognize that we only experience the Object Level, and that the subsequent levels happen within the Object Level. 

 
Optical illusions demonstrate a misleading representation of the Event-Process Level on the Object Level.

Example:
Anyone who's played the game Telephone understands the danger of abstraction within the first three Levels.

3) Reduce the use of the 'is' of identity
Reducing the use of the 'is' of identity tends to reduce abstraction and encourage phenomological, empirical, and verifiable language. 
Non-Aristotelianism: While Aristotle wrote that a true definition gives the essence of the thing defined (in Greek to ti ên einai, literally "the what it was to be"), general semantics denies the existence of such an 'essence'.[41] In this, general semantics purports to represent an evolution in human evaluative orientation. In general semantics, it is always possible to give a description of empirical facts, but such descriptions remain just that--descriptions—which necessarily leave out many aspects of the objective, microscopic, and submicroscopic events they describe. According to general semantics, language, natural or otherwise (including the language called 'mathematics') can be used to describe the taste of an orange, but one cannot give the taste of the orange using language alone.
Examples:
'That movie was bad' ----> 'I didn't like that movie'
'Your shirt is obviously purple' -----> 'Your shirt seems purple to me'
'The walls were melting' ----> 'I hit the A&P and then I saw the walls melt'
'___ is bad' ----> 'I don't like ___'

4) Define terms clearly or use quotes around ambiguous terms
Often meditators use different terms for the same phenomena and the same terms for different phenomena. If you use an abstract word, specifiy a definition or use quotes around the term.

5) Recast or encourage others to recast statements made on the DhO
Others can't experience your meditation for you. Posting in clear language with low levels of abstraction increases the likelihood someone can diagnose or help you, and decreases the likelihood you'll get in a baseless argument.

Examples:
Let's recast sentences with increased clarity.

Original:  'Daniel is an Arahat' or 'Daniel is not an Arahat' 
Recast 1: 'Daniel fits my definition of Arahatship' or 'Daniel does not fit my definition of Arahatship' 
Recast 2: 'Daniel fits my current definition of Arahatship' or 'Daniel does not fit my current definition of Arahatship'
Recast 3: 'Based on my current experience, Daniel fits my current definition of Arahatship' or 'Based on my current experience, Daniel does not fit my current definition of Arahatship'

Original: 'An angel told me to burn my neighbor's house down!'
Recast 1: 'It seemed like an angel told me to burn my neighbor's house down!'
Recast 2: 'I remember that it seemed like an angel told me to burn my neighbor's house down!'

Original: 'I've been meditating for 5 years.'
Recast 1: 'In the last 5 years, I've meditated.'
Recast 2: 'In the last 5 years, I've meditated 2 hours a week on average.'

Original: 'DhO is an echo-chamber'
Recast 1: 'It's my opinion that DhO is an echo-chamber.'
Recast 2: 'It's my opinion that some members of the DhO constitute an echo-chamber.'
Recast 3: 'It's my opinion that some members of the DhO constitute an echo-chamber. By echo-chamber, I mean ...'

Original: 'This forum ...'
Recast 1: 'People on this forum...'
Recast 2: 'Some people on this forum ...'
Recast 3: 'Based on my experience so far, some people on this forum ...'

Original: 'I reached nana ___'
Recast 1: 'I think I reached nana __'
Recast 2: 'I think I reached nana __, because ...'

Original: 'I had insight into ___ '
Recast 1: 'I think I had insight into ___'
Recast 2: 'I think I had insight into ___, because ...'

Original: 'Yes, I read MCTB'
Recast 1: 'I read MCTB __ times, I last read it  __ ago'
Recast 2: 'I read MCTB __ times, I last read it __ ago, I remember __ of it, and I understood __ of it'

Original: 'I exist as a separate entity'
Recast 1: 'It seems I exist as a separate entity'
Recast 2: 'Currently, it seems 'I' exist as a separate entity'


Clarification, like abstraction, can happen indefinitely. Use common sense to determine what degree of clarification is appropriate.

Currently it seems to me that our tendency to confuse symbol with symbolized is related to our tendency to fabricate the illusion of a separate self. If I recall correctly, Alan Watts took this position also.

I hope you found this useful. emoticon

Further reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_semantics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_prime
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Korzybski

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/12/14 2:37 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
1) It is my opinion that some people on this forum should Thoroughly internalize that "The map is not the territory"
It is my opinion that Humans habitually confuse symbolic representations for the symbolized. 

Examples:
It is my opinion that A geographical map can never fully describe the land it represents.
Based on my experiences so far, It is my opinion that A meditation theory can never fully describe the experience it represents.
Currently, It is my opinion that An intellectual understanding of meditation theory doesn't supplant or do justice to the experience that the theory represents.

2) Practice "Consciousness of abstracting"
It is my opinion that All abstractions are symbolic representations of nervous sytem events. It is my opinion that Humans have the capacity to indefinitely make abstractions of abstractions. It is my opinion that we should Be aware of the use of abstractions, abstractions of abstractions, and so on. 

etc...

Based on my experiences so far, and my current experience, currently, it is my experience, that it seems to me that, in my opinion, I agree with you, based on what an angel told me, 5 times last week, which I remember 23% of. By angel, I mean a man-servant of God who has wings. Based on my current definitions of angels.  

Smiley face.



RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/12/14 1:12 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Thank you for the incredible cleverness. I left out an important part.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/12/14 1:45 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Thanks for the OP. Very interesting to me.

To me it seems clear that seeing descriptions as such is a huge element of awakening, yet I also notice that there are those I consider way further down the path than I who don't seem to get some of these basic insights, not to mention all the advanced realizers who came up in very traditional cultural contexts who seem to happily go on reifying their descriptions (conflating map and territory) after all kinds of deep awakenings.

Perhaps there are two seperate things, awakening and 'consciousness of abstracting', and the latter is more relevant for some reason in this day and age; possibly because such insight becomes very relevant when much communication takes place across gulfs between different cultures, which characterizes modernity in some ways.

And maybe I conflate them because for me they have seemed so connected. Then again, there are a lot of really interesting figures in the history of contemplative traditions who were very iconoclastic and who really seem to have tried to play with language and other social constructs in ways that must have seemed, to their contemporaries, similar to Korzybski's insights.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/12/14 7:20 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Certainly  99% of Zen masters don't conflate symbols and the symbolized. And, I doubt there's an 'Arahat' that doesn't fully grok that 'the map is not the territory'.
I can't seem to shake the intuition that delusion (defined as the barriers to enlightenment) somehow relates to the language faculty, and, in particular, our glitch in the language faculty -- confusing our symbols with the symbolized.

Here's a theory of mine that seems plausible to me:
When we're toddlers and begin learning our name and first person pronouns, our brains section off a chunk of patterns and conflate it with the symbols 'David', 'I', 'me', etc. because of the aforementioned human-language-faculty-glitch.

I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts on my theory from anyone.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/12/14 11:43 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Certainly  99% of Zen masters don't conflate symbols and the symbolized. And, I doubt there's an 'Arahat' that doesn't fully grok that 'the map is not the territory'.
I can't seem to shake the intuition that delusion (defined as the barriers to enlightenment) somehow relates to the language faculty, and, in particular, our glitch in the language faculty -- confusing our symbols with the symbolized.

Here's a theory of mine that seems plausible to me:
When we're toddlers and begin learning our name and first person pronouns, our brains section off a chunk of patterns and conflate it with the symbols 'David', 'I', 'me', etc. because of the aforementioned human-language-faculty-glitch.

I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts on my theory from anyone.
Thoughts...

You are on to something. This pertains to the duality of extremes. Basically positing an 'essence' for each named object. This creates confusion between the map and the territory. (nama / rupa in Buddhist terms).

At the level of process, both conceptual (incl. lingusitic) and non-conceputal cognition are computational in nature. Computation works by positing extremes. If we don't discern things at a very subtle level we can have suffering due to grasping at objects of our own cognition.

The most subtle type of consciousness is not computational in nature. It is what makes computational cognition possible. It is why there is any sort of appearance. 

This sort of consiousness is not a substrate. I point it out because this is a common area of confusion. It is the very appearance of phenomenon itself. It is hard to discern becasue it is so basic. 

But we are digressing here...
___________________________________________________________

With regards to the original post. Language must posit extremes in order to function as a medium of communication.  

Watering down writing and using 'scare quotes' just makes things less readable and boring.  Recasting makes for a good mental practice. But an annoying a writing style.

This a casual forum post, so ofcourse it is all just my opinion.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/13/14 4:45 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
(D Z) Dhru Val:

Thoughts...

You are on to something. This pertains to the duality of extremes. Basically positing an 'essence' for each named object. This creates confusion between the map and the territory. (nama / rupa in Buddhist terms).
At the level of process, both conceptual (incl. lingusitic) and non-conceputal cognition are computational in nature. Computation works by positing extremes. If we don't discern things at a very subtle level we can have suffering due to grasping at objects of our own cognition.
I hope I'm interpreting your post correctly.

Computation often works by positing two extremes, but it doesn't require it. See here, here, here, here, and here. Sorry about all the links, but I believe this is an unusually important point. I doubt that most cognition is computational in a 2-valued sense. Though, I do agree that most people entrenched in 2-valued logic imagine that objects possess an 'essence'... very much like they imagine they themselves 'are' some kind of 'essence'.

Writing in complete E-Prime, with strict general semantic rigor is over the top. But, I think that most arguments and miscommunication on this board would evaporate if there were a little more clarity and 'consciousness of abstraction'. I also think many emotional difficulties can be relieved by simply recasting one's thinking; this idea is crucial to cognitive therapy. Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, wrote several books entirely in E-Prime!

I see value in being able to express our practice in the most precise, technical, clear, exact, matter-of-fact way possible or in the most metaphorical, symbolic, poetic way possible (there I go, positing two extremes). At least, I think one should clearly understand the spectrum between the two.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/13/14 8:02 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Yes, how I articulate it is that descriptions are on a spectrum of poetic-pragmatic. When we reify them, they become dogmatic. Descriptions are not just linguistic in the everyday sense: they include pre-verbal perceptual and affective processes. It appears to be default to reify preverbal descriptions and this appears to spill over in the proces of childhood development into verbal-conceptual descriptions.

When I examine the phenomenology of the difference between reifying descriptions (which creates metaphysical dogmas and emotional dramas) and not reifying them (which enacts an insight into the openness, open-endedness of experiencing) the basic root of the difference that I have been able to discern so far is a very  very subtle quality that for lack of better description I label 'belief'. Believing in the descriptions is beleiving in their identity with what they describe.

This is a subtle cognitive/affective errancy; perhaps akin to what dzogchen theory calls low-level-cognitive-intensity (marigpa). It's a basic cognitive intensity to the field of awareness that has dropped below a threshold, above which the difference between descriptions and what they describe is explicit, below which it is implicit.

This also helps me to make sense out of very different approaches to cultivation, and why it appeals to some folks to suspend the processes of description (nirvikalpa of various kinds) in order to taste freedom while for others or in other phases of practice merely seeing the difference explicitly is enough for liberation (in any given moment). Of course, the value of the latter approach is that it is immediately compatible with normal states of consciousness in everyday life while with the former approach it is quite possible to get into a place where bridging the insights of practice with everyday life can seem impossibly problematic (probably comes from, ironically, reifying the description 'there are descriptions and there is the described').

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/13/14 7:48 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Jake, if I'm properly understanding what you mean by reifying descriptions...

What I've noticed in myself -- and I suppose in others -- is that the tendency to reify descriptions correlates with an effort to exert leverage, to induce change, to create or define something, to be or become something different, to get something to clearly extrude from and stand in sharp definition from what would otherwise seem too loose, amorphous, undefined, unclear or ineffectual. Sometimes there's an upswing of energy and initiative that wants to channel itself in a specific direction, and seeks definite constraints and guidelines and tools.

The more I'm already clear, open, knowing and free, the more comfortable and happy I am to play with a plurality of descriptions, to hold them lightly, to know that there are many useful and/or beautiful ways to describe life and experience, and to use them consciously and creatively. On the other hand, the more I desire to be / do / understand something, or get something to happen, the more likely I am to use ideas as leverage, to exert force... and reifying descriptions seems to be part of that. The search for the "right" / best / most complete / most consistent description (or system) seems to be another expression of this.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/13/14 9:21 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
...:
I hope I'm interpreting your post correctly.

Computation often works by positing two extremes, but it doesn't require it. See here, here, here, here, and here. Sorry about all the links, but I believe this is an unusually important point. I doubt that most cognition is computational in a 2-valued sense. Though, I do agree that most people entrenched in 2-valued logic imagine that objects possess an 'essence'... very much like they imagine they themselves 'are' some kind of 'essence'.


I think there is some misunderstanding. Computation is maybe too technical a term...

2 is just the smallest possible number of permutations of a necessary for computational information or for communication (eg. bianary, morse code). Ofcourse we can have many, many permutations and logical operators to facilitate communication and computation (eg. human language, brains, stuff you linked etc).

How can we have non-dual computation, or communication ? 

By non-duality here I am not referring to the subject / object duality, but a more broad duality of existence / non-existence. (similar to buddhist madhyamaka philosophy).

A base 1 number system, for instance, would be useless. Computation and communication both require a dualstic reference point. 

We can't ultimately describe reality using language or via computation. A word, for eg. only has functional value, in relation to contex, grammar, usage, audience etc. Attempts to consider the meaning of a word on its own are silly. This is also true for other types of more subtle imputations (for eg. space, time, directionality).

This poses an interesting question: If phenomenon is ultimately free of dualistic extremes why we still percieve dualism ? (I have some ideas on that)

Obviously we need computation and communication in order to function, so we need to posit extremes and abstractions. The problem is we get caught up in various permutations of these abstractions. They seem to have a true essence or meaning independent of relativistic context. We then cling to them, and it become problematic.

Using language that sounds less dualistic doesn't solve the problem. It is also just an abstraction.

Discernment of how phenomenon is constructed does help us stop being attached to the abstrations.

If we seek to be free of abstractions. There can be a freedom to use a variety of concepts and words to get a point accross.

Just some ideas based on my personal attempts to make sense of things nothing authoritative.

----------------------------------------

More to the point...

An example of the shadow side minding ones language, is in some spiritual circles saying 'I' is frowned upon. Instead they will say something like 'this bodymind' or 'this being'. Often the thing devolves in to self-indulgent reveration and faux-humility.

In another spiritual discussion group in which I was a participant, there was someone that would repeated complain that the other participants were using the word "I" too much. This didn't contribute to useful discussion.

I think a good approach is one of conversation. If something is unclear it should be fair game to ask the OP to clarify it. This helps both parties become more skillful.

That said E-prime looks pretty interesting, I had never heard of it till now. But still too restrictive for my taste, and I think limiting expression limits communication. (might not be a bad thing in some cases)

I do agree with all of the below and, esp. like the last paragraph. 

Writing in complete E-Prime, with strict general semantic rigor is over the top. But, I think that most arguments and miscommunication on this board would evaporate if there were a little more clarity and 'consciousness of abstraction'. I also think many emotional difficulties can be relieved by simply recasting one's thinking; this idea is crucial to cognitive therapy. Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, wrote several books entirely in E-Prime!


I see value in being able to express our practice in the most precise, technical, clear, exact, matter-of-fact way possible or in the most metaphorical, symbolic, poetic way possible (there I go, positing two extremes). At least, I think one should clearly understand the spectrum between the two.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/13/14 11:59 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
How can we have non-dual computation, or communication ?
I was intending for my links to demonstrate that there can be non-dual (non-Aristotelian) computation, cognition, and communication. My links were all to the mathematics behind it, but to someone who's not very math-savvy I'll translate it simply like this: there are mathematically precise ways to handle ambiguity, uncertainty, 'non-duality' (more than two possibilities, in this sense), and non-determinism. In fact, fuzzy mathematics is being applied to Artifical Intelligence because it's believed to be better at modeling the human mind than mathematics based on classical logic.
Obviously we need computation and communication in order to function, so we need to posit extremes and abstractions. The problem is we get caught up in various permutations of these abstractions. They seem to have a true essence or meaning independent of relativistic context. We then cling to them, and it become problematic.

Using language that sounds less dualistic doesn't solve the problem. It is also just an abstraction.
'sounds less dualistic' is misleading; the act of recasting reveals implicit dualistic assumptions. I wouldn't say that it 'solves the problem', merely that it has the potential to reveal dualistic patterns, to yourself and others.

I've considered constantly using quotes around first person pronouns, but have mostly decided against it. It would get annoying, but would probably make a few people out there in Internetland think twice about what they really mean when they say 'I'. That first person pronouns don't refer to something that can be found is not a trivial point.

Crowley gave an exercise to his students where they would slash their wrists with a razor if, for the set period of time, they used a first person pronoun. Robert Anton Wilson said the exercise worked well for him (but he only bit his thumb, didn't slash his wrist). I'll have to defer on this one.

And, I feel the need to ask for clarification for a majority of posts on the DhO. Instead of annoying everyone I figure this thread will do

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/14/14 9:00 AM as a reply to John Wilde.
Hey John, I think we are talking about similar territory yes.

I would emphasize that what I am pointing to with this description of descriptions is a very general phenomenological fact which applies most in very mundane circumstances, and more 'philosophical' elaborations of it are real but in many ways less significant examples. When i walk into a room and sit down at a computer and come on DhO and read posts and respond to them, if all those things enumerated seem simply and plainly 'real' then I am reifying descriptions. [ETA: which is what I am actualy experiencing 99% of the time; even when noticing clearly the empty impermanent nature of reification, actually dropping it completely is something that only comes over me spontaneously for short moments here and there.]

So when  a computer 'is' literally a computer, a post is literally and simply and plainly a post, etc., that is what reification 'feels like' (to me). When reification of descriptions is suspended there is a tangible sense that each 'thing' that is labeled is open-ended, it inter-is with other things. This experience reminds me of indra's net. But for me anyhow it is generally not a big wow overwhelming kind of thing, just a plain simple how-it-is kind of thing.

But there is really something magical about experiencing itself, when that open-endedness of things is clear! Magical in at least two senses- one, just the magic of phenomena unlimited by labels and two the magic (or magick) of labeling itself, when that is explicit. Poetically, it's like any description can be a spell of binding or a spell of release. These labels shape our experience of what things are, what we are, what is happening. When that shaping is explicit there is a playful responsibility. When it is implicit we are at the mercy of our conditioning.

An interesting exercise I sometimes do is to imagine everything I'm saying internally and externally, and perceptual (pre-verbal) labels as well, as in scare quotes. This can produce an explicit sense of how our life, as we describe it inside ourselves and consensually, has an 'as if' or make-believe quality rather than an 'it is actually literally this way' quality.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/14/14 6:22 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:

I would emphasize that what I am pointing to with this description of descriptions is a very general phenomenological fact which applies most in very mundane circumstances, and more 'philosophical' elaborations of it are real but in many ways less significant examples. When i walk into a room and sit down at a computer and come on DhO and read posts and respond to them, if all those things enumerated seem simply and plainly 'real' then I am reifying descriptions. [ETA: which is what I am actualy experiencing 99% of the time; even when noticing clearly the empty impermanent nature of reification, actually dropping it completely is something that only comes over me spontaneously for short moments here and there.]

So when  a computer 'is' literally a computer, a post is literally and simply and plainly a post, etc., that is what reification 'feels like' (to me). When reification of descriptions is suspended there is a tangible sense that each 'thing' that is labeled is open-ended, it inter-is with other things. This experience reminds me of indra's net. But for me anyhow it is generally not a big wow overwhelming kind of thing, just a plain simple how-it-is kind of thing.


Ah, now I see what you mean by pre-verbal / pre-conceptual reification of descriptions. It's more fundamental than what I was thinking, although it's clearly related.

But there is really something magical about experiencing itself, when that open-endedness of things is clear! Magical in at least two senses- one, just the magic of phenomena unlimited by labels and two the magic (or magick) of labeling itself, when that is explicit. Poetically, it's like any description can be a spell of binding or a spell of release. These labels shape our experience of what things are, what we are, what is happening. When that shaping is explicit there is a playful responsibility. When it is implicit we are at the mercy of our conditioning.

Yeah, I really get that. In fact, years ago when I was trying to find a name for the 'primordial element' with fewest assumptions about its nature, I actually called it 'magic', because it conveyed the amazingness of what-is, and the fact that no concepts or descriptions can fully grasp it... and yet it's intelligible and responsive, and can be shaped and played with explicitly. I also very much relate to the difference between the "playful responsibility" when it's explicit, versus ignorant subjection to it when it isn't.

An interesting exercise I sometimes do is to imagine everything I'm saying internally and externally, and perceptual (pre-verbal) labels as well, as in scare quotes. This can produce an explicit sense of how our life, as we describe it inside ourselves and consensually, has an 'as if' or make-believe quality rather than an 'it is actually literally this way' quality.

Sounds like a great practice in itself!

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/19/14 5:59 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
To me it seems clear that seeing descriptions as such is a huge element of awakening, yet I also notice that there are those I consider way further down the path than I who don't seem to get some of these basic insights, not to mention all the advanced realizers who came up in very traditional cultural contexts who seem to happily go on reifying their descriptions (conflating map and territory) after all kinds of deep awakenings.

Perhaps there are two seperate things, awakening and 'consciousness of abstracting', and the latter is more relevant for some reason in this day and age; possibly because such insight becomes very relevant when much communication takes place across gulfs between different cultures, which characterizes modernity in some ways.

So my current filter on this is in terms of yanas - Sutrayana seems emptiness as the goal and Vajrayana sees emptiness as the starting point. And these "basic insights" are just about being aware of emptiness in their (conventional?) experience. Those "advanced "realisers" with their "deep awakenings" are looking for or experiencing emptiness at a phenomenological level - in particular, emptiness of the self.  
And more relevant or more apparent? Perhaps one consequence of modernity is that emptiness is more obvious or more highlighted, e.g. post-modernism etc..

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/20/14 4:31 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Thank you for the incredible cleverness. I left out an important part.
Droll, Sarcasm is not very clear speech, and can lead to miscommunication! I presume you don't really feel you left out an important part. 

Sorry for being oblique - I enjoyed your post and as I said (unclearly), I did agree, roughly speaking - but there was a point there rather just being clever for clever's sake. So when you don't follow your own admonitions is it because it is difficult and a pain in the ass, or is it because by putting yourself in the position of someone giving advice you feel you are beyond your dictums? You might not think that or realise that, but can you see the trap that "one" can fall into?
I see value in being able to express our practice in the most precise, technical, clear, exact, matter-of-fact way possible or in the most metaphorical, symbolic, poetic way possible (there I go, positing two extremes).
When you talk about expression of "our practice", what practice are you referring to? And should these discussions of how we should refer to our "practice" also be included in those modes of expression - i.e. what is the difference between talking about practice and talking about talking about practice?
"our glitch in the language faculty -- confusing our symbols with the symbolized."

I would say it isn't a glitch - it is a design feature (in my opinion etc...)!

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/20/14 9:51 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

And more relevant or more apparent? Perhaps one consequence of modernity is that emptiness is more obvious or more highlighted, e.g. post-modernism etc..
Hmm yes if I'm understanding you I tend to agree. As much as I get irritated with Ken Wilber's work, I think there is a basic insight there that is difficult to deny outright, which is that there is a difference between contemplative development (waking up) and general psychophysical development (growing up).

And that different cultures have normalized different baselines of 'growing up' (i.e., modernity tries to normalize a rational-materialistic mode; medieval european cultures tended to normalize an ethnocentric mode, or whatever).

And that perhaps at the higher reaches of 'growing up' there is a lot of overlap with 'waking up', which some studies of developmental psychology seem to reveal (although these same studies are pretty sympathetic to Wilber's point of view).

And certainly what I've read of Heidegger and Derrida (and even Neitzsche) suggests that post-modernity, in confronting some of the naive rationalism of modernity (and the way that naivete constantly falls into one sided views like materialism or solipsism), is definitely encountering insights into emptiness (I like how you put that: post-modernity as a consequence of modernity-- those thinkers would probably approve of that formulation). I mean, reading some of my favorite passages of Heidegger or Derrida they are just as evocative of emptiness to me if not moreso than many Tibetan or Indian passages.

And perhaps Nagarjuna's emphasizing of emptiness was a form of post-modernism itself, as there is a sense in which pre-mahayana Buddhism was very modernistic-- much more secular in many ways than other cultural forms which it grew out of, much more rational-analytical in its descriptions of experience and much more pragmatic than ritualistic in its soteriology. At least one way of reading the Mahayana dictyum 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form' is as a critique of earlier buddhism's reification of the skhandas ('form' being short for all five skhandas). In this telling, early buddhism stops reifying the overall self-construct that is applied to skhandas but does not develop 'consciousness of abstracting' that is thoroughly applied to all phenomena, just to phenomena of 'self/Self'.

Hmmm just a bunch of reflections ;)

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/20/14 6:05 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Only the first sentence was intended to be sarcastic. You really did remind me to include the bit about the potential to clarify endlessly, just like the potential to abstract endlessly.

And, I don't think I'm above my own 'dictums'. The OP says 'Pragmatic Suggestions' not 'Necessary Rules'. I don't intend for this thread to be a list of rules.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/21/14 4:17 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
Only the first sentence was intended to be sarcastic. You really did remind me to include the bit about the potential to clarify endlessly, just like the potential to abstract endlessly.

And, I don't think I'm above my own 'dictums'. The OP says 'Pragmatic Suggestions' not 'Necessary Rules'. I don't intend for this thread to be a list of rules.
Yeah, I was being a bit OTT with that word. 

So, reading them again, I realise I did filter them through my own perceptions. So most of what you are saying isn't really "dharma", and is applicable to really any discussion about anything - being clear is pretty good (when your goal is being clear). 

The key one for me 3. And I find it most interesting Dharma-wise, as it seems to be about emptiness - things aren't inherently a certain way:
Reduce the use of the 'is' of identity

Reducing the use of the 'is' of identity tends to reduce abstraction and encourage phenomological, empirical, and verifiable language. 


'That movie was bad' ----> 'I didn't like that movie'
But my framing would be - don't confuse your opinion with fact.

Doing this would probably half the amount of commenting on youtube, for example, no more of this:

that movie was shit
no it wasn't, it was good
it was shit
it was good dickweed
fuck you you are shit
your teh shitter

etc...

If you wanted to but-in to every argument brewing on a place like the DhO with "don't confuse your opinion with fact" I wouldn't get that annoyed, e.g. "the "powers" have been demonstrated..."

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/21/14 6:00 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Droll Dedekind:
Only the first sentence was intended to be sarcastic. You really did remind me to include the bit about the potential to clarify endlessly, just like the potential to abstract endlessly.

And, I don't think I'm above my own 'dictums'. The OP says 'Pragmatic Suggestions' not 'Necessary Rules'. I don't intend for this thread to be a list of rules.
Yeah, I was being a bit OTT with that word. 

So, reading them again, I realise I did filter them through my own perceptions. So most of what you are saying isn't really "dharma", and is applicable to really any discussion about anything - being clear is pretty good (when your goal is being clear). 

The key one for me 3. And I find it most interesting Dharma-wise, as it seems to be about emptiness - things aren't inherently a certain way:
Reduce the use of the 'is' of identity

Reducing the use of the 'is' of identity tends to reduce abstraction and encourage phenomological, empirical, and verifiable language. 


'That movie was bad' ----> 'I didn't like that movie'
But my framing would be - don't confuse your opinion with fact.

Doing this would probably half the amount of commenting on youtube, for example, no more of this:

that movie was shit
no it wasn't, it was good
it was shit
it was good dickweed
fuck you you are shit
your teh shitter

etc...

If you wanted to but-in to every argument brewing on a place like the DhO with "don't confuse your opinion with fact" I wouldn't get that annoyed, e.g. "the "powers" have been demonstrated..."
I would question that there exists an accepted definition for a 'fact'. I find it important to acknowledge that no knowledge can be separated from the human nervous system that does the knowing. Every 'fact' is another evaluation made by a nervous system.  Therefore, I would change your advice to "don't confuse evaluations for 'truth', 'facts', or 'objectivity'"

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/22/14 5:03 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind :

I would question that there exists an accepted definition for a 'fact'. I find it important to acknowledge that no knowledge can be separated from the human nervous system that does the knowing. Every 'fact' is another evaluation made by a nervous system.  Therefore, I would change your advice to "don't confuse evaluations for 'truth', 'facts', or 'objectivity'"[/quote]

Sure,that sounds like a good formulation of the advice. And definitions are tricky - I would question whether there is a definition for an "accepted definition" of anything. But I would point that your way of looking at it gives the appearance of a focus on subjectivity at the expense of intersubjectivity. "Knowledge" or "facts" rely on intersubjectivity, just as human minds do (see, for example, that interview with Evan Thompson where he argues for an extended conception of "mind") 

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/22/14 11:42 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Is there really such thing as a Fact?  Is there something we are sure is 100% exactly correct now and forever? Or are facts more a situation of currently there being a higher than the usual level of agreement between people?   The less arguing, the more it is considered a fact..
-Eva

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/22/14 4:20 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
If you can define 'intersubjectivity' I'll address it.

Briefly, exchange of 'facts' or 'knowledge', indeed any communication, still depends on each person's evaluations of symbols (what Korzybski called 'semantic reaction'). Individual evaluations are unavoidably based on internal maps: private definitions, filters, past experience, 'reality-tunnel', 'gloss', etc.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/22/14 6:07 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
If you can define 'intersubjectivity' I'll address it.

Briefly, exchange of 'facts' or 'knowledge', indeed any communication, still depends on each person's evaluations of symbols (what Korzybski called 'semantic reaction'). Individual evaluations are unavoidably based on internal maps: private definitions, filters, past experience, 'reality-tunnel', 'gloss', etc.
Eva Is there really such thing as a Fact?  Is there something we are sure is 100% exactly correct now and forever? Or are facts more a situation of currently there being a higher than the usual level of agreement between people?   The less arguing, the more it is considered a fact..
Well, no, but then would anyone define "fact" in the 100% way? 
Philosophers like to argue about what a fact is but it probably isn't that interesting. 

I am not sure why Droll is looking for a definition before he can address the comment -  you could always google it if you are looking for  intersubjectively!

What I am mainly trying to point out is that you/Droll are expressing a focus on subjectivity - but exchange of facts or knowledge, or any communication, depends on two people engaged in the exchange! And internal maps: private definitions, filters, past experience, 'reality-tunnel', 'gloss', etc. are unavoidably based on exchanges between individuals as part of culture, and "intersubjectivity". That your focus is apparently just on the internal seems like it might be interesting to explore. 

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/22/14 6:00 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I ask for a definition to make clear that 'intersubjectivity' is at a higher level of abstraction than 'subjectivity'. Your inability to recognize or acknowledge that the 'external' is always experienced and processed 'internally' may be worth exploration.

Lest I'm accused of solipsism: if I didn't think exchanging and comparing maps as clearly as possible was important I wouldn't have posted this thread.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 2:12 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
I ask for a definition to make clear that 'intersubjectivity' is at a higher level of abstraction than 'subjectivity'. Your inability to recognize or acknowledge that the 'external' is always experienced and processed 'internally' may be worth exploration.

Lest I'm accused of solipsism: if I didn't think exchanging and comparing maps as clearly as possible was important I wouldn't have posted this thread.
Hmm, I am not sure why would write that based on what I have written in this thread - and so the "inability" bombshell seems odd. It was more about focus and emphasis.

Asking for a definition didn't seem to me to make anything clear, and I am not clear about your explanation either. I had a read of your original post again but still very much confused. 

In terms of exploration, I might be projecting a bit as I tend more to your way of thinking about things, and need to be reminded that it can miss out something pretty vital. 

EDIT:
Sorry to belabour the point, just that I was thinking/over analysing about the "inability" bombshell. So note you don't use the "in my opinion" or "it seems to me" framing. You go for absolute rendition. So why is that? One reason appears to be as a rhetorical device, in which you follow up with your "patronisation-counter". As for other reasons, going back to following your own advice/dictums, I asked some questions earlier of you and you didn't respond - in your OP you seemed to be suggesting that the advice was really about talking about "our practice" - this is a pretty high level abstraction so I asked what you meant.
One reason I asked was whether when you don't follow the advice is it because you meant it mainly for expression of phenomenological reports of meditation, which you seemed to be saying in the OP. But you also mentioned arguments, which seemed to run somewhat counter to other parts of the OP. I mentioned the Pain In The Neck and "above it all" reasons earlier. And so what we are left with is "confusing evaluations for truth, facts or objectivity". A sub question might be why do you make the (incorrect?) evaluation in the first place, which might be less interesting. More interesting/relevant I think is this: we confuse our evaluations for truth because we are attached to form and to certainty. We have a low tolerance for uncertainty, and we are emotionally predisposed to certainty. While I found all the talk of "dangers" of abstraction odd, I think we can reconcile your point about abstraction with the uncertainty. We like symbols (high level abstractions) represent things - they don't represent with a probability - they represent a thing, a fact, a certainty.


RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
Answer
8/23/14 5:54 AM as a reply to . Jake ..
sawfoot _:
And more relevant or more apparent? Perhaps one consequence of modernity is that emptiness is more obvious or more highlighted, e.g. post-modernism etc..

Jake:
Hmm yes if I'm understanding you I tend to agree. As much as I get irritated with Ken Wilber's work, I think there is a basic insight there that is difficult to deny outright, which is that there is a difference between contemplative development (waking up) and general psychophysical development (growing up). 

And that different cultures have normalized different baselines of 'growing up' (i.e., modernity tries to normalize a rational-materialistic mode; medieval european cultures tended to normalize an ethnocentric mode, or whatever). 

And that perhaps at the higher reaches of 'growing up' there is a lot of overlap with 'waking up', which some studies of developmental psychology seem to reveal (although these same studies are pretty sympathetic to Wilber's point of view).

I don't really know the models or studies you are referring to, and I don't know what you mean by higher reaches of "growing up". My initial take on this just a way of assessing whether an individual has matched the norms of their society - so being rich, powerful, successful, popular, psychologically healthy in modern western life, for example. And on this basis, spiritual traditions could create a mismatch (e.g. rejecting materialist goals).

But then again, I think you are more referring to psychological models of self-development that the integralists love to theorise about.

I wouldn't deny it outright, but I find it useful to start off from the position that there isn't a difference by "waking up" and "growing up" - or at least, to consider them as sub-categories of a more encompassing category. And both entail various ideological assumptions which make both terms problematic, e.g. the term "waking up" and its framing serves various functions for those using it.

But, if waking up and growing up are part of a bigger container then you can see how there might be overlap. What are the higher reaches then? I suppose the contemplative might talk about increasing "wisdom". From the Sam Harris chapter that someone posted about in another thread:
Sam Harris:
The moment we admit the possibility of attaining contemplative insights—and of training one’s mind for that purpose—we must acknowledge that people naturally fall at different points on a continuum between ignorance and wisdom. Part of this range will be considered “normal,” but normal isn’t necessarily a happy place to be. Just as a person’s physical body and abilities can be refined—Olympic athletes are not normal—one’s mental life can deepen and expand on the basis of talent and training. This is nearly self-evident, but it remains a controversial point. No one hesitates to admit the role of talent and training in the context of physical and intellectual pursuits; I have never met another person who denied that some of us are stronger, more athletic, or more learned than others. But many people find it difficult to acknowledge that a continuum of moral and spiritual wisdom exists or that there might be better and worse ways to traverse it.

But I don't buy his argument - because I don't think you can divorce wisdom from ideology.
jake:
And certainly what I've read of Heidegger and Derrida (and even Neitzsche) suggests that post-modernity, in confronting some of the naive rationalism of modernity (and the way that naivete constantly falls into one sided views like materialism or solipsism), is definitely encountering insights into emptiness (I like how you put that: post-modernity as a consequence of modernity-- those thinkers would probably approve of that formulation). I mean, reading some of my favorite passages of Heidegger or Derrida they are just as evocative of emptiness to me if not moreso than many Tibetan or Indian passages. 

You might approve of:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emptiness-Joyful-Freedom-Greg-Goode/dp/1908664363

As it tries to mine the western philosophical tradition to get complementary perspectives on emptiness (and they do an admirable job in presenting some difficult philosophers). 
jake:
And perhaps Nagarjuna's emphasizing of emptiness was a form of post-modernism itself, as there is a sense in which pre-mahayana Buddhism was very modernistic-- much more secular in many ways than other cultural forms which it grew out of, much more rational-analytical in its descriptions of experience and much more pragmatic than ritualistic in its soteriology. At least one way of reading the Mahayana dictyum 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form' is as a critique of earlier buddhism's reification of the skhandas ('form' being short for all five skhandas). In this telling, early buddhism stops reifying the overall self-construct that is applied to skhandas but does not develop 'consciousness of abstracting' that is thoroughly applied to all phenomena, just to phenomena of 'self/Self'.

I see it (though what do I know) specifically more as a reaction and antidote to the commentarial tradition - where hyper-analytic tendencies in Indian thought got led astray away from core insights from the Buddha/pali cannon.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 8:51 AM as a reply to Dada Kind.
Droll Dedekind:
I ask for a definition to make clear that 'intersubjectivity' is at a higher level of abstraction than 'subjectivity'. Your inability to recognize or acknowledge that the 'external' is always experienced and processed 'internally' may be worth exploration.

Lest I'm accused of solipsism: if I didn't think exchanging and comparing maps as clearly as possible was important I wouldn't have posted this thread.

Actually I think a case could be made that subjectivity is more abstract than intersubjectivity. Obviously not, terminologically, but experientially. The kind of highly developed sense of interiority that we usually mean by 'subjectivity' is demonstrably dependant on much prior concrete experience of interacting with others.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 9:10 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Sawfoot:

"But I don't buy [Sam Harris'] argument - because I don't think you can divorce wisdom from ideology"

Lol sometimes your post-modernism throws me for a loop Saw! I think Sam makes an interesting point there actually, but so do you. We can't really divorce questions of morality from considerations of culture, at least in an ultimate way, can we? But neither do we want to reduce morality TO culture. Right? This makes for some serious tension in a world of many cultures.

R.e. Integralism yes as I think I said I am skeptical of Wilber and his friends. However having studied multiple different forms of developmental psychology (and through observation) I think we can't really doubt that there is more going on in development than merely socialization. There are clearly deep structures that unfold in near-universal order which are the same regardless of what culture we grow up in, and just as different societies emphasize certain functions over others, they also seem to have developmental centers-of-gravity. This in turn seems clearly linked to the dominant memetic ecology of given societies in that certain kinds of memes can only thrive in certain developmental habitats. Right?

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 2:24 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
'Inability' was over the top, sorry. I was going out and wrote that carelessly. I meant to say that it seems you haven't worked out the significance of the evaluational/'semantic reaction' orientation versus the 'factual'/'objectivity' orientation. To be fair, I don't feel that I've fully worked out the consequences either. Science and Sanity is a tough read; I've only read a fraction so far.

I disagree that 'our practice' is at a high level of abstraction. My meditation practice occurs at the lowest level of abstraction -- my direct experience. Of course, when I speak about my practice it's been filtered a few times. And, when I read about others' practice their direct experience has gone through more filters still.

I don't follow how arguments run counter to anything in the OP. I believe many arguments on this forum would be more fruitful if the participants strove for clarity. Case in point: I agree with the end of your post. Humans seem to be symbol-worshipping creatures. Most of us adopt a dogma then spend the rest of our lives retrofitting our experience to that narrow reality-tunnel. All the while we're certain that our evaluations are The One and Only Truth. Our preconceptions and dogma seem to take on a life of their own... they hypnotize us, you might say. https://i.imgur.com/ovza6TZ.png

@Jake
You're going to have to elaborate on that one. My only point is this: every intersubjective experience I've ever had was experienced subjectively by me and subjectively by all the parties involved.

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 2:53 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.
[quote=
Droll Dedekind]'Inability' was over the top, sorry. I was going out and wrote that carelessly. I meant to say that it seems you haven't worked out the significance of the evaluational/'semantic reaction' orientation versus the 'factual'/'objectivity' orientation. To be fair, I don't feel that I've fully worked out the consequences either. Science and Sanity is a tough read; I've only read a fraction so far.

no worries - though I don't follow what you mean by those orientations as I am not familar with his work (other than very cursory one)

I disagree that 'our practice' is at a high level of abstraction. My meditation practice occurs at the lowest level of abstraction -- my direct experience. Of course, when I speak about my practice it's been filtered a few times. And, when I read about others' practice their direct experience has gone through more filters still.

One agenda though for me is the question of whether practice is just about meditation - so I would say the practice of being a buddhist, for example, isn't just about meditation.But aside from that, I am still getting confused - because what is "direct" experience? All neural activity is an abstraction, and if you take a neural perspective then "direct" ceases to have a clear meaning. And what experience you have is incredibly filtered and abstract. 


I don't follow how arguments run counter to anything in the OP. I believe many arguments on this forum would be more fruitful if the participants strove for clarity. Case in point: I agree with the end of your post. Humans seem to be symbol-worshipping creatures. Most of us adopt a dogma then spend the rest of our lives retrofitting our experience to that narrow reality-tunnel. All the while we're certain that our evaluations are The One and Only Truth. Our preconceptions and dogma seem to take on a life of their own... they hypnotize us, you might say. https://i.imgur.com/ovza6TZ.png

Ok, yes, in theory we shouldn't be getting into arguments if all we are doing is reporting on our phenomenology - ostensibly this is what this place is meant to be about, though I am not sure that really is the case. 


@Jake
You're going to have to elaborate on that one. My only point is this: every intersubjective experience I've ever had was experienced subjectively by me and subjectively by all the parties involved.

I think he might be pointing to a lot of interesting research showing how subjectivity emerges in infant development. 
I couldn't really find a good example, but this might be the sort of thing:
http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1991-97339-006

RE: Language, Clarity, and Pragmatic Dharma
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8/23/14 3:17 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Sawfoot:

"But I don't buy [Sam Harris'] argument - because I don't think you can divorce wisdom from ideology"

Lol sometimes your post-modernism throws me for a loop Saw! I think Sam makes an interesting point there actually, but so do you. We can't really divorce questions of morality from considerations of culture, at least in an ultimate way, can we? But neither do we want to reduce morality TO culture. Right? This makes for some serious tension in a world of many cultures.

Well, Sam Harris has tried with his morality book. While I think its inherently flawed, its worthwhile having a go.

I agree he makes an interesting point...another response might be an aro one - wisdom and compassion as inseparable, and evaluating increased wisdom is evaluation of kindness...still, you could get all post-modern on this one too...

R.e. Integralism yes as I think I said I am skeptical of Wilber and his friends. However having studied multiple different forms of developmental psychology (and through observation) I think we can't really doubt that there is more going on in development than merely socialization. There are clearly deep structures that unfold in near-universal order which are the same regardless of what culture we grow up in, and just as different societies emphasize certain functions over others, they also seem to have developmental centers-of-gravity. This in turn seems clearly linked to the dominant memetic ecology of given societies in that certain kinds of memes can only thrive in certain developmental habitats. Right?

Right...I have a degree of faith that there are social scientists studying these things and saying sensible things - its just that my bull shit detector fires when the spiritualists/buddhists/intergralists etc.. latch onto them.