RE: virus: Science, Zen and Wittgenstein

David McFadzean (
Tue, 16 Jan 1996 13:00:15 -0700

At 07:35 PM 15/01/96 PST, wrote:

>Basically, I have omitted quoting any of the rest of your message, because

>I'm afraid that any of the questions you ask with regard to Zen Buddhism just

>don't apply. You have to realize that questions of reality for a Buddhist

>are very different than they are for anyone in the West.

I think you are being too quick to dismiss my criticisms.

>To a Buddhist or a Hindu, the objective reality that you want to "map" is in

>fact a subjective reality created by minds. How and what the details of this

OK, so we all agree there is a subjective reality (the one we as individuals
experience) and an objective reality (the real underlying reality). The
Zen proponents believe that my idea of objective reality (the one that
science maps) is also an illusion, and that there is another, more real,
objective reality, right?

>are topics that have led to the founding of the many sub-sects of Buddhism,

>such as Zen. All Buddhists, however, see their duty to be that of rejecting

>the reality presented to us by our senses, so that we can attain awareness of

>the more fundamental reality. This is the process of attaining

>"enlightenment", and necessarily encompasses loss of identity, a "return" to

>the "godhead", or whatever you want to call it.

The zen guys (is there a better term for proponents of Zen?) claim that
my objective reality is an illusion, and I might suggest that their
objective reality is an illusion. Can we both be right? If not, then
by what criteria can you decide between the two different systems of
thought? Can metaphysics apply to both or is Zen somehow beyond metaphysics
and, if so, is a meta-metaphysics possible?

>None of the above is really a very good explaination of the complex subtlety

>of a philosophy that has been developing for thousands of years, based as it

>is on the Rig-Veda viewpoint of Hinduism, from which Buddhism emerged 2,500

>years ago, or which Zen is an offshoot of the Japanese version. All,

>however, share the view that what you are trying to do with CoV is pointless,

>as it is based on an acceptance of objective, sensual reality as truth.

Not necessarily. Even enlightened individuals still eat and teach so
they must have some interest in this reality (whatever that might be).
And the CoV is fundamentally adaptive; if it turns out that the Buddhists
are right and we are wrong, then we will assimilate their view.

>To go farther would take a book, and has, many times. The short version is

>that all those "mystical" Zen questions are simply aimed at helping the mind

>doubt the validity of the information it receives from the senses, so that it

>can be prepared for an acceptance of higher reality. All this is in a sense

>mystical and based on faith, but also based on rigorous discipline of the

>mind, and so is a brand of rationalism.

Rigorous disciplines of the mind are not necessarily rational. Rationality
implies accepting the rules of logic as criteria for truth and knowledge.

>Please don't treat non-Christian, non-Western religions the same as you do

>the European traditions. They are profoundly different, and deserve that

>that difference be respected.

I do respect the differences. I don't think that puts Eastern religions
above analysis and criticism.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects