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Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/28/15 4:15 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Noah 11/28/15 7:01 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/28/15 9:00 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Chris Marti 11/28/15 9:12 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/28/15 10:37 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/28/15 9:28 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/29/15 9:31 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/29/15 2:42 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/30/15 6:32 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/30/15 8:28 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/30/15 8:36 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/30/15 11:28 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/30/15 12:13 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/30/15 2:47 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 11/30/15 2:56 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 11/30/15 3:45 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/1/15 1:29 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/1/15 11:01 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/1/15 11:20 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/1/15 1:17 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/1/15 3:15 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/1/15 4:58 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/2/15 2:28 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/2/15 7:04 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/2/15 8:20 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/2/15 10:07 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/2/15 11:06 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/2/15 7:39 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/3/15 9:44 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/3/15 7:04 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/4/15 6:56 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/4/15 1:29 PM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Mark 12/5/15 5:38 AM
RE: Alternatives to Spirituality Vince 12/6/15 2:15 PM
Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 4:15 AM
Would it be fair to say that all spirituality is achored in a belief of transcendance and/or immanence ? Is it fair to say that spirituality is also anchored in a belief of an attainable fundamental truth ?

What are the alternatives to those beliefs ? It seems materialism is one. Another might be a belief in science providing ultimate answers.

If one adopts a position of the unknowability of any fundamental truth is this an alternative to spirituality ? That seems to put the focus on the process of development rather than any notion of a destination. Maybe these are obvious conclusions within some spiritual tradition ?

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 7:01 AM as a reply to Mark.
If you get down to the essentials, I would say that materialism is one alternative to spirituality.  I would also say actualism is another, although it still involves an interest in consciousness, which would cause many conventional folks to lump the two together, no doubt.

There is the process one goes through to be happy and live their life, and then there is their belief about reality.  For instance, a conservative, bible-Christian in America might do basically nothing different, in process (meaning no spiritual or religious practice), than the rest of mainstream America.  However, this person has a strongly held belief about reality.  In contrast, a meditator might be an agnostic, or even an atheist, but follow a process that originated within the context of a belief structure about reality.  I would still consider this 'spirituality', even though this person does not believe in 'Spirit.'

What do you think is more important for classification purposes: a person's actions ('there's no god but I meditate to get enlightened') or their beliefs ('get right with god, boy, and you will be saved')?

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 9:00 AM as a reply to Noah.
I've not looked into actualism, from what I've seen it seems centered on the individual's experience without placing that experience in a larger context ? Or would it be fair to say the context is materialist e.g. optimal experience and best use of the environment in achieving that end.

I'm not sure about your separation of action and beliefs about reality. That is not to say that we act in accordance with how we imagine our beliefs. More that our actions express beliefs - sometimes those beliefs not being the ones we imagine ourselves having. A more concrete example might be a christian expousing their truth (i.e. taking action) but driven by beliefs in capitalism instead of christianity.

Your question "What do you think is more important for classification purposes: a person's actions ('there's no god but I meditate to get enlightened') or their beliefs ('get right with god, boy, and you will be saved')?" is presenting two beliefs - a belief there is a god and a belief there is no god and enlightenment, there are also perhaps two actions: meditating and preaching.

I would say there are always beliefs driving the act of meditating. I'd also say that action can create beliefs i.e. we become what we do. 

In an attempt to answer your question: someone's actions say more about their beliefs than the words they pronounce (verbally or mentally)

This discussion makes me think of a category called apatheist 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism which could be applicable to this thread.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 9:12 AM as a reply to Mark.
Would it be fair to say that all spirituality is achored in a belief of transcendance and/or immanence ? Is it fair to say that spirituality is also anchored in a belief of an attainable fundamental truth ?

Funny, Mark, I've been thinking about this lately and even made some comments about it yesterday morning here:

http://awakenetwork.org/forum/111-personal-practice-diaries-logs-comments-questions/6681-chris-comments?start=798

(You may need to open a free account to see the comments)

I suspect we do base spirituality on models of human nature but that those models present us with goals that are unattainable becuase they are idealized and because no model of human behavior can be complete or accurate. I also think not knowing and uncertainty are, indeed, an alternative.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 10:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris,

Small world!

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality
There is no single, widely-agreed definition of spirituality... Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions. Waaijman points out that "spirituality" is only one term of a range of words which denote the praxis of spirituality. Some other terms are "Hasidism, contemplation, kabbala, asceticism, mysticism, perfection, devotion and piety".


Modern spirituality is centered on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live." It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.

I guess if the word is undefined then my questions are not making much sense!

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/28/15 9:28 PM as a reply to Mark.
If one adopts a position of the unknowability of any fundamental truth is this an alternative to spirituality ? That seems to put the focus on the process of development rather than any notion of a destination. Maybe these are obvious conclusions within some spiritual tradition ?


I don't believe spirituality necessitates belief in one's ability to acquire fundamental truths. I consider myself to be a spiritual person AND I believe that having 100% epistemic certainty of pretty much anything is very unlikely.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/29/15 9:31 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:


I don't believe spirituality necessitates belief in one's ability to acquire fundamental truths. I consider myself to be a spiritual person AND I believe that having 100% epistemic certainty of pretty much anything is very unlikely.
There seem to be incompatible definitions of spirituality, maybe you are using your own defintion ? What does it mean to be a spiritual person ?

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/29/15 2:42 PM as a reply to Mark.
To me, being a spiritual person means embodying (or working towards embodying) qualities that are most commonly associated with heavenly or divine nature- love, light, compassion, etc.  It can also mean having belief in spirits, the spirit world, and other mystical concepts, which I also have- not 100% certainty, but I consider some of it very probable based on 15+ years of out-of-body experiences.  I don't think my idea of spiritual is all that idiosyncratic, being that I've spoken to countless other "spiritual" people over the years on internet forums and have several close friends with some very similar beliefs.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 6:32 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
To me, being a spiritual person means embodying (or working towards embodying) qualities that are most commonly associated with heavenly or divine nature- love, light, compassion, etc.  It can also mean having belief in spirits, the spirit world, and other mystical concepts, which I also have- not 100% certainty, but I consider some of it very probable based on 15+ years of out-of-body experiences.  I don't think my idea of spiritual is all that idiosyncratic, being that I've spoken to countless other "spiritual" people over the years on internet forums and have several close friends with some very similar beliefs.
I guess you mention 100% certainty in your posts because I mentioned "unknowability". Unknowability is not the same as doubt or uncertainty, if something is unknowable (in the sense I'm using the term) then any theory about it is nonsense. 

Your conception of spirituality seems to align with the wiki entry I quoted uptherad "It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality." I was not implying that spirituality requires 100% certainty. Belief typically implies uncertaintly or doubt, we tend to use words like knowledge when there is insignificant doubt e.g. you know 1+1=2 and you believe in a spirit world.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 8:28 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:
To me, being a spiritual person means embodying (or working towards embodying) qualities that are most commonly associated with heavenly or divine nature- love, light, compassion, etc.  It can also mean having belief in spirits, the spirit world, and other mystical concepts, which I also have- not 100% certainty, but I consider some of it very probable based on 15+ years of out-of-body experiences.  I don't think my idea of spiritual is all that idiosyncratic, being that I've spoken to countless other "spiritual" people over the years on internet forums and have several close friends with some very similar beliefs.
I guess you mention 100% certainty in your posts because I mentioned "unknowability". Unknowability is not the same as doubt or uncertainty, if something is unknowable (in the sense I'm using the term) then any theory about it is nonsense. 

Your conception of spirituality seems to align with the wiki entry I quoted uptherad "It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality." I was not implying that spirituality requires 100% certainty. Belief typically implies uncertaintly or doubt, we tend to use words like knowledge when there is insignificant doubt e.g. you know 1+1=2 and you believe in a spirit world.

The reason I don't have complete certainty of anything is actually because I believe nothing is knowable in an absolute sense, at least in this life, coming from the perspective of the human experience.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 8:36 AM as a reply to Vince.

The reason I don't have complete certainty of anything is actually because I believe nothing is knowable in an absolute sense, at least in this life, coming from the perspective of the human experience.


What is "an absolute sense" ? 

It points back at the "the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality" ?

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 11:28 AM as a reply to Mark.
It means that our knowledge is relative to the sysem through which we perceive and the system in which we exist, as well as all the rules and definitions which define that system, which may be quite different from the way things are outside of this vantage point.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 12:13 PM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
It means that our knowledge is relative to the sysem through which we perceive and the system in which we exist, as well as all the rules and definitions which define that system, which may be quite different from the way things are outside of this vantage point.

I guess the "vantage point" is again pointing at "the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality" ? Some sort of "place" which is inaccessible to us where things are not relative.

My idea of the unknowable does not claim this existence is a vantage point or that it is not a vantage point i.e. those become meaningless concepts. It claims that whatever is beyond our "relative system" is unknowable, even to know if there is something beyond our relative system is unknowable.

With a foundation of the unknowable then the knowable can only refer to the relative i.e. there is no "absolute knowledge" because the absolute is unknowable. Absolute becomes a meaningless concept, which also makes "relative system" a meaningless concept as it is relative to an unknowable. So we are left with "knowledge about the system" i.e. 1+1=2 and spirit world being a nonsense. That is not to say that spirits couldn't exist, if they do they are just part of this system that I don't yet have knowledge about.

I guess this unknowable concept denies spirituality while still taking many of the concepts and applying them, but without any safety nets.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 2:47 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I guess the "vantage point" is again pointing at "the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality" ? Some sort of "place" which is inaccessible to us where things are not relative.


Something like that, although things will always be relative to the system and rule-set in which one is operating in.

My idea of the unknowable does not claim this existence is a vantage point or that it is not a vantage point i.e. those become meaningless concepts. It claims that whatever is beyond our "relative system" is unknowable, even to know if there is something beyond our relative system is unknowable.


I think that regardless of whether or not there is another reality out there, these human perceptions are still our vantage point by the very definition of "vantage point," as they are the only way through which we experience this reality. I agree with the second statement about not knowing if something is beyond this system.

With a foundation of the unknowable then the knowable can only refer to the relative i.e. there is no "absolute knowledge" because the absolute is unknowable.


There is still the possibility of absolute knowledge.  If knowledge is "facts and information gained through experience or education," then one can have knowledge without actually knowing if this knowledge is 100% certain.    

So we are left with "knowledge about the system" i.e. 1+1=2 and spirit world being a nonsense. That is not to say that spirits couldn't exist, if they do they are just part of this system that I don't yet have knowledge about.


I think "nonsense" is too strong a word. I resonate more with the word "possibility."

I guess this unknowable concept denies spirituality while still taking many of the concepts and applying them, but without any safety nets.


I don't believe it "denies" anything except for the possibility of knowing what is truth. I resonate fully with the unknowable concept while being what most would consider a "spiritual" person.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 2:56 PM as a reply to Vince.


With a foundation of the unknowable then the knowable can only refer to the relative i.e. there is no "absolute knowledge" because the absolute is unknowable.


There is still the possibility of absolute knowledge.


Not how I would define absolute (unknowable).


So we are left with "knowledge about the system" i.e. 1+1=2 and spirit world being a nonsense. That is not to say that spirits couldn't exist, if they do they are just part of this system that I don't yet have knowledge about.

I think "nonsense" is too strong a word. I resonate more with the word "possibility."


I'm more in the boots and all unknowable camp emoticon


I guess this unknowable concept denies spirituality while still taking many of the concepts and applying them, but without any safety nets.


I don't believe it "denies" anything except for the possibility of knowing what is truth. I resonate fully with the unknowable concept while being what most would consider a "spiritual" person.

Different concepts behind the same word I think. Put another way it is a belief - belief in the "unknowability" of the absolute. Then actions are taken based on that. A belief in the "possibility it is knowable" leads to different actions I suspect.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
11/30/15 3:45 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Not how I would define absolute (unknowable).


Here's an interesting discussion of the topic:
http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/true-knowledge-is-absolute-but-human-knowledge-is-relative-24773.html


I'm more in the boots and all unknowable camp emoticon


But can't something be unknowable and still be possible? Where is the incompatibility coming from?


Different concepts behind the same word I think. Put another way it is a belief - belief in the "unknowability" of the absolute. Then actions are taken based on that. A belief in the "possibility it is knowable" leads to different actions I suspect.


Yes, these are very different beliefs, although I'm not sure why you brought up the second belief.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 1:29 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

But can't something be unknowable and still be possible? Where is the incompatibility coming from?


If it is unknowable then you can't know if it exists or not, it is also impossible to grasp what "it" is, so it is not possible. Any theory on what is unknowable is by definition nonsense.

In my definition of unknowable it is not just the idea that some knowledge is not obtainable (but would be understandable if we could attain it). It is unknowable because it can't be understood and also can't be obtained. Basically whatever can be imagined about the absolute is wrong - obviously this is a belief - I'm not claiming a proof.




Different concepts behind the same word I think. Put another way it is a belief - belief in the "unknowability" of the absolute. Then actions are taken based on that. A belief in the "possibility it is knowable" leads to different actions I suspect.

Yes, these are very different beliefs, although I'm not sure why you brought up the second belief.
You seem to have a belief that is closer to the second - I quoted your statement about "possibility it is knowable".

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 11:01 AM as a reply to Mark.

If it is unknowable then you can't know if it exists or not, it is also impossible to grasp what "it" is, so it is not possible. Any theory on what is unknowable is by definition nonsense.


I feel like you are adding the impossibility and nonsense aspects and making the idea rather idiosyncratic, which is fine, although I don't believe these are necessary inclusions to the concept.

I'll give you an example. Someone dies and has a "near death experience." They are brought back to life with the memory of the experience. It is possible that they had a genuine experience of a real spiritual reality during their NDE, but they have no real way of knowing for sure if the experience was real and not just a product of random firings in their brain causing hallucinations. The true nature of this experience is unknowable, although there remains the possibility that it is real.



Different concepts behind the same word I think. Put another way it is a belief - belief in the "unknowability" of the absolute. Then actions are taken based on that. A belief in the "possibility it is knowable" leads to different actions I suspect.

Yes, these are very different beliefs, although I'm not sure why you brought up the second belief.
You seem to have a belief that is closer to the second - I quoted your statement about "possibility it is knowable".


You must have misunderstood, as I resonate with the first idea, not the second. I said "I don't believe it (unknowability) "denies" anything except for the possibility of knowing what is truth." This means the only thing that the definition of "unknowable" denies is the possibility of knowing what is truth, in response to your claim that it denies spirituality.  In other words, there is no possibility of knowing with certainty what is truth.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 11:20 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I'll give you an example. Someone dies and has a "near death experience." They are brought back to life with the memory of the experience. It is possible that they had a genuine experience of a real spiritual reality during their NDE, but they have no real way of knowing for sure if the experience was real and not just a product of random firings in their brain causing hallucinations. The true nature of this experience is unknowable, although there remains the possibility that it is real.


The unknowable I'm referring to is in relation to the idea of an absolute. If they had an experience then it was not an experience of the absolute, this is closer to the point.





Different concepts behind the same word I think. Put another way it is a belief - belief in the "unknowability" of the absolute. Then actions are taken based on that. A belief in the "possibility it is knowable" leads to different actions I suspect.

Yes, these are very different beliefs, although I'm not sure why you brought up the second belief.
You seem to have a belief that is closer to the second - I quoted your statement about "possibility it is knowable".


You must have misunderstood, as I resonate with the first idea, not the second. I said "I don't believe it (unknowability) "denies" anything except for the possibility of knowing what is truth." This means the only thing that the definition of "unknowable" denies is the possibility of knowing what is truth, in response to your claim that it denies spirituality.  In other words, there is no possibility of knowing with certainty what is truth.

I think it denies spirituality that claims there is an absolute. I suspect your use of words like "truth" and "real" are subtle pointers to this belief of an absolute that could be knowable. It is atman in another guise but it is not obvious. 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 1:17 PM as a reply to Mark.

The unknowable I'm referring to is in relation to the idea of an absolute. If they had an experience then it was not an experience of the absolute, this is closer to the point.


I think that we can experience or gain glimpses of the absolute from a relative perspective. In the example I gave, the existence of the nonphysical reality that the NDE took place in could be an absolute truth if it was a genuine experience in a reality that actually exists. In other words, we can experience absolute truth or knowledge but lack the perspective to know whether it was a genuine experience or insight.


I think it denies spirituality that claims there is an absolute.


I think there's a difference between the existence of an absolute and the ability for humans to know this absolute with epistemic certainty. In this light, it would only deny the idea of truly knowing an absolute. Of course, to me, spirituality is more about the nature of one's thoughts, mind, actions, emotions, reactions/responses, etc than it is about believing in esoteric concepts.

I suspect your use of words like "truth" and "real" are subtle pointers to this belief of an absolute that could be knowable. It is atman in another guise but it is not obvious. 


I believe it could be knowable from a perspective/vantage point/state of being that I currently do not possess as an unenlightened human. The possibility cannot be denied.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 3:15 PM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

I believe it could be knowable from a perspective/vantage point/state of being that I currently do not possess as an unenlightened human. The possibility cannot be denied.
With my beliefs the possibility can and is denied with your beliefs the possibility cannot be denied. I'll agree to disagree emoticon 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/1/15 4:58 PM as a reply to Mark.
Haha alrighty.  It seems like you are claiming to have knowledge about something that you also claim is unknowable!  That is, to say something is impossible is to say that you have knowledge of it, otherwise you wouldn't be able to say it was impossible.  That makes sense to me at least.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/2/15 2:28 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
Haha alrighty.  It seems like you are claiming to have knowledge about something that you also claim is unknowable!  



The way I see it you are doing that. I'm claiming that we can't have any knowledge about it. You are claiming it might be possible, in which case it is no longer unknowable. I see more problems in your position, both positions are beliefs.


That is, to say something is impossible is to say that you have knowledge of it, otherwise you wouldn't be able to say it was impossible.  That makes sense to me at least.

From your point of view it might. From my point of view my belief is coherent with anatman, your belief is coherent with atman. I think the buddha was pointing to something radical with anatman and I think the unknowability and nonsense of an absolute is a coherent conclusion. Te buddha rejected the concept of atman but that is not something many people are willing to do - it can seem more comfortable to hedge one's bets. It seems each culture taking on buddhist concepts tries to sneek atman back in, in some way. 

The position "everything is possible" is, to me, an intellectual cop-out. I think that position may appear comforting but it is not a reflection of how people act in the world - including the people taking that position.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/2/15 7:04 AM as a reply to Mark.

The way I see it you are doing that. I'm claiming that we can't have any knowledge about it. You are claiming it might be possible, in which case it is no longer unknowable. I see more problems in your position, both positions are beliefs.


I believe I've already made a solid case for how something can be unknowable and yet still be possible. Perhaps revisit the NDE example. If you can explain how something that is possible cannot be unknowable, I'd be interested to hear. Keep in mind that the conceptual framework I'm working with says that something being unknowable is not the same as something being valid or able to be experienced- we simply can't know if it is truth due to the limitations of our perceptions and the countless factors that potentially contaminate and distort our experience.


That is, to say something is impossible is to say that you have knowledge of it, otherwise you wouldn't be able to say it was impossible.  That makes sense to me at least.
From your point of view it might. From my point of view my belief is coherent with anatman, your belief is coherent with atman. I think the buddha was pointing to something radical with anatman and I think the unknowability and nonsense of an absolute is a coherent conclusion. Te buddha rejected the concept of atman but that is not something many people are willing to do - it can seem more comfortable to hedge one's bets. It seems each culture taking on buddhist concepts tries to sneek atman back in, in some way. 

The position "everything is possible" is, to me, an intellectual cop-out. I think that position may appear comforting but it is not a reflection of how people act in the world - including the people taking that position.


Or perhaps it's the most intellectually honest position one can take, as by definition, if all things are unknowable, then this must logically be held as true, as one has no real knowledge to make any other claim. As I mentioned in another thread, it's also important to assign a likelihood to these possibilities- some may as well be as good as impossible, sure.

Regarding cop-outs, I think side-stepping the fact of making a definite claim about something that is also held as unknowable is a cop-out.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/2/15 8:20 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

Regarding cop-outs, I think side-stepping the fact of making a definite claim about something that is also held as unknowable is a cop-out.
The claim is that I have a belief, not that I have some way of convincing you to change your belief. You don't seem to see that you are also making definite claims. You are acting on beliefs and the actions are definite even if intellectually there is a story about liklihood. I am taking a definite position with my belief - I'm not side-stepping it. The claim that the unknowable is unknowable does not seem too shocking.

Your belief, as you stated, is common and I've been there too. What changed my mind was investigating dependent origination and anatman. At one point you thought I was describing something that is close to what you believe. I've pointed out that we have different beliefs. 

I do think there is value in exploring the subject but not in a debate - as we are proving. 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/2/15 10:07 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:

Regarding cop-outs, I think side-stepping the fact of making a definite claim about something that is also held as unknowable is a cop-out.
The claim is that I have a belief, not that I have some way of convincing you to change your belief. You don't seem to see that you are also making definite claims. You are acting on beliefs and the actions are definite even if intellectually there is a story about liklihood. I am taking a definite position with my belief - I'm not side-stepping it. The claim that the unknowable is unknowable does not seem too shocking.

Your belief, as you stated, is common and I've been there too. What changed my mind was investigating dependent origination and anatman. At one point you thought I was describing something that is close to what you believe. I've pointed out that we have different beliefs. 

I do think there is value in exploring the subject but not in a debate - as we are proving. 

Yeah, I just see this as us exploring and sharing our beliefs.  I realize I am making definite claims, but I don't believe there is a contradiction in my beliefs.  If everything is unknowable, then by definition we don't have the knowledge to say if something is impossible- logically all possibilities must exist.  The claim here corroborates with the initial theory.  I suppose this is my point.  I'm looking to see how your claims and beliefs tie together coherently, but we haven't gotten there yet, at least not in my understanding.  If you're not willing to demonstrate this, no biggie.

When someone poses an idea that seems interesting but doesn't align with my beliefs, I like to get a better understanding of that idea.  Many times I've learned a lot and even sometimes reshaped my own beliefs due to conversations like this.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
Answer
12/2/15 11:06 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

Yeah, I just see this as us exploring and sharing our beliefs.  I realize I am making definite claims, but I don't believe there is a contradiction in my beliefs.


Most people think they do not have contradictory beliefs. But many of those beliefs contradict. From your view it is coherent, from my view it is not. If you evaluate my claims from your view then they will appear incoherent.



 If everything is unknowable, then by definition we don't have the knowledge to say if something is impossible- logically all possibilities must exist.


I'm not sure where you made the leap to "everything is unknowable". We were discussing the concept of absolute and I claimed the absolute is unknowable. If something is unknowable then I can make one claim - that it is unknowable i.e. any possibility you can imagine about it is wrong. That does not mean that the unknowable thing "might" be something you can imagine/experience, by definition it is not that.



 The claim here corroborates with the initial theory.  I suppose this is my point.  I'm looking to see how your claims and beliefs tie together coherently, but we haven't gotten there yet, at least not in my understanding.  If you're not willing to demonstrate this, no biggie.


It is not that I'm not willing, I've been trying for quite some time. You can see upthread I'm rephrasing it multiple ways. I don't think the issue is that I'm not explaining it, it is that you'd need to drop your view and adopt a different view to see it. That is probably not possible in a debate like this - I mentioned it was working through concepts of dependent origination and anatman than change my views on this. 



When someone poses an idea that seems interesting but doesn't align with my beliefs, I like to get a better understanding of that idea.  Many times I've learned a lot and even sometimes reshaped my own beliefs due to conversations like this.

This might be unwelcome advice but asking questions is more effective than defending your point of view. Your view will normally be easy to defend - that is the nature of views. For example you claimed a conventional view on this topic but where did that view come from ?

Rather than try to have me prove your view wrong why not try to prove my view right, you can always go back to your original view if that turns out to be impossible. 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/2/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Mark.
Haha I get what you're saying now. It was this statement that allowed the idea to penetrate my feeble mind:
If something is unknowable then I can make one claim - that it is unknowable i.e. any possibility you can imagine about it is wrong.


It seems the issue was that we have different definitions of "unknowable." If I understand correctly, your definition is that it cannot be understood. I guess you know my definition is that it cannot be known in the sense of having certainty about something, like the difference between knowing something for a fact and believing something without actually knowing. I was under the impression that you were using the same definition I was. Sorry for the confusion.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/3/15 9:44 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:

It seems the issue was that we have different definitions of "unknowable." If I understand correctly, your definition is that it cannot be understood. I guess you know my definition is that it cannot be known in the sense of having certainty about something, like the difference between knowing something for a fact and believing something without actually knowing. I was under the impression that you were using the same definition I was. Sorry for the confusion.

Well done spotting that. That the human mind's limitations supports this position I think. For example quantum mechanics points to all sorts of weirdness e.g. multiverses. Another example might be that if understanding something required maintaining many facts in working memory then it is out of reach of a human brain (typically limited to a handful of facts). Consider trying to teach a snail about mathematics, this is unknowable for the snail. We may be like the snail compared to what is biologically possible, evolution seems to support that, homosapien is a very recent step. Just give it a few million years.

As far as I understand our experience is by it's very nature relative so I think that also puts the absolute in the unknowable.

Would you agree that your definition of the unknowable is assuming that it is possible "in theory" to understand everything ? 



 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/3/15 7:04 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

Would you agree that your definition of the unknowable is assuming that it is possible "in theory" to understand everything ? 


I don't think an ultimate level of understanding is necessary to know an absolute truth, so no, I wouldn't agree with that, at least I don't think it's possible from a human perspective, although I agree with you about the limitations of our understanding. For example, in the NDE example, assuming the limited-human reference point was maintained, perhaps Jesus approached the person and imparted the knowledge: "There is a God who created the physical universe and all universes in existence." I suppose this would be absolute knowledge from a relative understanding.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/4/15 6:56 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
Jesus approached the person and imparted the knowledge: "There is a God who created the physical universe and all universes in existence." I suppose this would be absolute knowledge from a relative understanding.

I think there needs to be understanding for there to be knowledge. For example if Jesus taught a parroquet to repeat the same phrase I would not say the bird has knowledge. Words like "god", "all universes", "physical universe" can't be clearly defined. If you see the issues in these types of positions then you can find the assumptions that lead there. Most people have a anthropocentric view, I doubt it is possible to grow up without taking that on at some stage.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/4/15 1:29 PM as a reply to Mark.
Yeah, there needs to be understanding, but perhaps just a basic level of understanding is sufficient to hold the concept as "knowledge."  For example, I have the knowledge that gravity exists and what this means in a basic sense, yet I don't actually know the true nature of this force and all of the finer details and deeper aspects that give rise to its existence and govern its laws. 

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/5/15 5:38 AM as a reply to Vince.
Vince:
Yeah, there needs to be understanding, but perhaps just a basic level of understanding is sufficient to hold the concept as "knowledge."  For example, I have the knowledge that gravity exists and what this means in a basic sense, yet I don't actually know the true nature of this force and all of the finer details and deeper aspects that give rise to its existence and govern its laws. 

I'll rephrase my question, would you agree that your definition of the unknowable is assuming that it is possible to understand everything to a "basic level" ? I think of the snail grasping the theory of relativity to a basic level.

I'm convinced this is not the best way to have the discussion. If I try to dismantle your view then you'll naturally resist. I think you are capable of doing it yourself if you desire that. I've hopefully raised some useful questions. If it wasn't useful then apologies for that. If it was useful then good luck with the investigation! If you have questions about the view I tried to present, when adopting that view, then I'm all ears.

RE: Alternatives to Spirituality
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12/6/15 2:15 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Vince:
Yeah, there needs to be understanding, but perhaps just a basic level of understanding is sufficient to hold the concept as "knowledge."  For example, I have the knowledge that gravity exists and what this means in a basic sense, yet I don't actually know the true nature of this force and all of the finer details and deeper aspects that give rise to its existence and govern its laws. 

I'll rephrase my question, would you agree that your definition of the unknowable is assuming that it is possible to understand everything to a "basic level" ? I think of the snail grasping the theory of relativity to a basic level.

I'm convinced this is not the best way to have the discussion. If I try to dismantle your view then you'll naturally resist. I think you are capable of doing it yourself if you desire that. I've hopefully raised some useful questions. If it wasn't useful then apologies for that. If it was useful then good luck with the investigation! If you have questions about the view I tried to present, when adopting that view, then I'm all ears.


The answer to your question is: absolutely not.  My feeling is that humans probably lack the ability to grasp the vast majority of concepts that exist regarding the true nature of things. Still I think we might have the capability to understand perhaps enough of a few concepts out there that are true and independent of our current system of reality, at least enough to be able to claim some level of knowledge about them. Key words might and perhaps.

I see your questions less like an attempt at dismantling my view and more like you trying to understand my view.  Perhaps it's just an assumption that I haven't already "dismantled" or investigated my view. This certainly isn't my first time discussing such topics!

This is a late edit:  I do acknowledge the possiblity of your view being true and the view I have been expressing being false.  I just don't believe there is sufficient evidence to hold your view as truth.  I believe the lack of evidence on either side warrants leaving them open as possibilities.