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Dark Energy, Dark Matter - Enigmas for Physicists and Cosmologists
Posted: 20 November 2007 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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mckenzievmd - 20 November 2007 02:40 PM

Man’s reach must ever exceed his grasp, else what’s a Heaven for?”

Nice.  And, else what’s left to reach for?

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Posted: 21 November 2007 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 20 November 2007 01:08 PM

I do see value in meditation as a means of relaxing the mind and body, focusing one’s thoughts, etc.  How, do you reckon, does it allow us to know things?  I don’t see it.

Theravada Buddhism places great importance on the practise of deep meditation not merely for relaxing the body and mind but to achieve the enlightenment of nirvana. What is nirvana?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana

The Buddha in the Dhammapada says of Nirvāṇa that it is “the highest happiness”. This is not the sense-based happiness of everyday life, nor the concept of happiness as interpreted by Western culture, but rather an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment or bodhi.

It carries further connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. The realizing of Nirvāṇa is compared to the ending of avidyā (ignorance) which perpetuates the will (cetana) into effecting the incarnation of mind into biological or other form passing on forever through life after life (samsara). Samsara is caused principally by craving and ignorance (see dependent origination). Nirvāṇa, then, is not a place nor a state, it is an absolute truth to be realized, and a person can do so without dying.

“There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

The awaken mind has the power to know reality in all its manifestations, including presumably, dark energy and dark matter.

Dialetheism is the view that there are true contradictions:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/

A dialetheia is a true contradiction, a statement, A, such that both it and its negation, are true.

The inspiration for the name was a passage in Wittgenstein’s Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, where he describes the liar sentence (‘this sentence is not true’) as a Janus-headed figure facing both truth and falsity (1978, IV.59). Hence a di-aletheia is a two(-way) truth.

Dialetheism appears to be a much more common and recurrent view in Eastern Philosophy than in the West. In ancient Indian logic/metaphysics, there were standardly four possibilities to be considered on any statement at issue: that it is true (only), false (only), neither true nor false, or both. Buddhist logicians sometimes added a fifth possibility: none of these.

I think it fair to say that since Aristotle’s defence of the LNC, consistency has been something of a shibboleth in Western philosophy. The thought that consistency is a sine qua non for central notions such as validity, truth, meaningfulness, rationality, is deeply ingrained into its psyche. One thing that has come out of the modern investigations into dialetheism appears to be how superficial such a thought is. If consistency is, indeed, a necessary condition for any of these notions it would seem to be for reasons much deeper than anyone has yet succeeded in articulating. And if it is not, then the way is open for the exploration of all kinds of avenues and questions in philosophy and the sciences that have traditionally been closed off.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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kkwan - 21 November 2007 10:05 AM

The awaken mind has the power to know reality in all its manifestations, including presumably, dark energy and dark matter.

This is not the position of any Buddhist I have ever known. In Theravada Buddhism, reaching Nirvana (“extinguishing”) is the end of all grasping desires, and in particular the desire for rebirth. The metaphysical claim is that it ends the cycle of rebirth through reincarnation, so that the enlightened person does not reincarnate. (This is the state of “Parinirvana” or final Nirvana). Of course, such a claim at the very least assumes that reincarnation occurs, and it does not. One can, of course, believe that an awakened state of mind occurs that simply ends one’s mental suffering by extinguishing the pain from unrequited desire.

The claim you appear to be proposing is that achieving Nirvana gives one omniscience. This sort of claim may well occur in some of the more esoteric Buddhist texts, but insofar as it does it is clearly hyperbolic and absurd.

As for dialethism ... there may be nonstandard logics on which a contradiction does not imply everything (so-called “paraconsistent” logics), but no serious person I know would embrace them. (And at any rate they must work to limit the scope of the contradiction). Anyone who is willing to countenance a contradiction—by which I mean a true contradiction and not a mere apparent contradiction—is simply someone who is a willing hypocrite, and as such someone not to be taken seriously.

The first and most important rational imperative is not to contradict oneself.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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kkwan - 21 November 2007 10:05 AM

Theravada Buddhism places great importance on the practise of deep meditation not merely for relaxing the body and mind but to achieve the enlightenment of nirvana.

I have always found this idea of nirvana to be incoherent and highly undesirable, to say the least.  At least in the way that such mystics define it, it is little more than escapism and fantasy.  Life is not suffering.  One should not oppress indulgence in the pleasures of this world, to the degree that indulgence is social and environmentally responsible.  There is nothing “higher” that awaits any of us.  This is as good as it gets.

“Acceptance” is also an integral part of buddhism.  If we look at it in a more “down to earth” context as many Zen buddhists do, the metaphor of nirvana has a more practical value.  Namely, establishing a state of inner peace and tranquility that is desirable within this life.  Also I think that, in a more realistic context, the virtues of the “noble eight fold path” are worthwhile for the sake of oneself and others in this world.

However, these sorts of things become very hokey-pokey when monastaries start claiming to posses such things the buddha’s toenails as relics for meditation upon.

The Buddha in the Dhammapada says of Nirvāṇa that it is “the highest happiness”. This is not the sense-based happiness of everyday life, nor the concept of happiness as interpreted by Western culture, but rather an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment or bodhi.

Yes.  So some people say.  Christians also say that heaven is the highest attainment for humanity.  These both strike me as very “anti-life’ approaches.

It carries further connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. The realizing of Nirvāṇa is compared to the ending of avidyā (ignorance) which perpetuates the will (cetana) into effecting the incarnation of mind into biological or other form passing on forever through life after life (samsara). Samsara is caused principally by craving and ignorance (see dependent origination). Nirvāṇa, then, is not a place nor a state, it is an absolute truth to be realized, and a person can do so without dying.

Rubbish.  Where’s the evidence?

“There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

Uh, what?  There are more than four elements, and what sort of dimension are you talking about?  Does the flying spaghetti monster live there?

The awaken mind has the power to know reality in all its manifestations, including presumably, dark energy and dark matter.

“Presumably.”  Yes quite presumably.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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dougsmith - 21 November 2007 12:12 PM
kkwan - 21 November 2007 10:05 AM

The awaken mind has the power to know reality in all its manifestations, including presumably, dark energy and dark matter.

This is not the position of any Buddhist I have ever known. In Theravada Buddhism, reaching Nirvana (“extinguishing”) is the end of all grasping desires, and in particular the desire for rebirth. The metaphysical claim is that it ends the cycle of rebirth through reincarnation, so that the enlightened person does not reincarnate. (This is the state of “Parinirvana” or final Nirvana). Of course, such a claim at the very least assumes that reincarnation occurs, and it does not. One can, of course, believe that an awakened state of mind occurs that simply ends one’s mental suffering by extinguishing the pain from unrequited desire.

The claim you appear to be proposing is that achieving Nirvana gives one omniscience. This sort of claim may well occur in some of the more esoteric Buddhist texts, but insofar as it does it is clearly hyperbolic and absurd.

As for dialethism ... there may be nonstandard logics on which a contradiction does not imply everything (so-called “paraconsistent” logics), but no serious person I know would embrace them. (And at any rate they must work to limit the scope of the contradiction). Anyone who is willing to countenance a contradiction—by which I mean a true contradiction and not a mere apparent contradiction—is simply someone who is a willing hypocrite, and as such someone not to be taken seriously.

The first and most important rational imperative is not to contradict oneself.

This is the wiki on Buddhist cosmology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology

Buddhist cosmology is the description of the shape and evolution of the universe according to the canonical Buddhist scriptures and commentaries.

The self-consistent Buddhist cosmology which is presented in commentaries and works of Abhidharma in both Theravāda and Mahāyāna traditions, is the end-product of an analysis and reconciliation of cosmological comments found in the Buddhist sūtra and vinaya traditions.

The picture of the world presented in Buddhist cosmological descriptions cannot be taken as a literal description of the shape of the universe. It is inconsistent, and cannot be made consistent, with astronomical data that were already known in ancient India. However, it is not intended to be a description of how ordinary humans perceive their world; rather, it is the universe as seen through the divyacakṣus (Pāli: dibbacakkhu), the “divine eye” by which a Buddha or an arhat who has cultivated this faculty can perceive all of the other worlds and the beings arising (being born) and passing away (dying) within them, and can tell from what state they have been reborn and into what state they will be reborn. The cosmology has also been interpreted in a symbolical or allegorical sense (see Ten spiritual realms).

Buddhist cosmology can be divided into two related kinds: spatial cosmology, which describes the arrangement of the various worlds within the universe, and temporal cosmology, which describes how those worlds come into existence, and how they pass away.

Spatial cosmology can also be divided into two branches. The vertical (or cakravāḍa) cosmology describes the arrangement of worlds in a vertical pattern, some being higher and some lower. By contrast, the horizontal (sahasra) cosmology describes the grouping of these vertical worlds into sets of thousands, millions or billions.

  * Naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatana or Nevasaññānāsaññāyatana (Tib: ‘du.shes.med ‘du.shes.med.min) “Sphere of neither perception nor non-perception”. In this sphere the formless beings have gone beyond a mere negation of perception and have attained a liminal state where they do not engage in “perception” (saṃjñā, recognition of particulars by their marks) but are not wholly unconscious. This was the sphere reached by Udraka Rāmaputra (Pāli: Uddaka Rāmaputta), the second of the Buddha’s two teachers, who considered it equivalent to enlightenment.

  * Ākiṃcanyāyatana or Ākiñcaññāyatana (Tib: ci.yang.med) “Sphere of Nothingness” (literally “lacking anything”). In this sphere formless beings dwell contemplating upon the thought that “there is no thing”. This is considered a form of perception, though a very subtle one. This was the sphere reached by Ārāḍa Kālāma (Pāli: Āḷāra Kālāma), the first of the Buddha’s two teachers; he considered it to be equivalent to enlightenment.

  * Vijñānānantyāyatana or Viññāṇānañcāyatana or more commonly the contracted form Viññāṇañcāyatana (Tib: rnam.shes mtha’.yas) “Sphere of Infinite Consciousness”. In this sphere formless beings dwell meditating on their consciousness (vijñāna) as infinitely pervasive.

  * Ākāśānantyāyatana or Ākāsānañcāyatana (Tib: nam.mkha’ mtha’.yas) “Sphere of Infinite Space”. In this sphere formless beings dwell meditating upon space or extension (ākāśa) as infinitely pervasive.

As for dialethism, consider the strange phenomena of superposition:

http://searchsmb.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid44_gci341263,00.html

Superposition is a principle of quantum theory that describes a challenging concept about the nature and behavior of matter and forces at the atomic level. The principle of superposition claims that while we do not know what the state of any object is, it is actually in all possible states simultaneously, as long as we don’t look to check. It is the measurement itself that causes the object to be limited to a single possibility.

Superposition is well illustrated by Thomas Young’s double-slit experiment, developed in the early nineteenth century to prove that light consisted of waves. In fact, the noted physicist Richard Feynman claimed that the essentials of quantum mechanics could be grasped by an exploration of the implications of Young’s experiment.

We would expect that if the beam of light particles or photons is slowed enough to ensure that individual photons are hitting the plate, there could be no interference and the pattern of light would be two lines of light, aligned with the slits. In fact, however, the resulting pattern still indicates interference, which means that, somehow, the single particles are interfering with themselves. This seems impossible: we expect that a single photon will go through one slit or the other, and will end up in one of two possible light line areas. But that is not what happens. As Feynman concluded, each photon not only goes through both slits, but simultaneously takes every possible trajectory en route to the target, not just in theory, but in fact.

In order to see how this might possibly occur, experiments have focused on tracking the paths of individual photons. What happens in this case is that the measurement in some way disrupts the photons’ trajectories (in accordance with the uncertainty principle), and somehow, the results of the experiment become what would be predicted by classical physics: two bright lines on the photographic plate, aligned with the slits in the barrier. Cease the attempt to measure, however, and the pattern will again become multiple lines in varying degrees of lightness and darkness. Each photon moves simultaneously in a superposition of possible trajectories, and, furthermore, measurement of the trajectory causes the superposition of states to collapse to a single position.

How does the “rational imperative of non contradiction” interpret this enigma of nature?

Dialethism offers the way to explain the enigma and therefore cannot be dimissed as hypocritical non rational thinking, not to be taken seriously.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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kkwan, please do stop quoting such lengthy passages from other websites. It is tedious and borders on copyright infringement.

And I am quite familiar with quantum superposition. Dialethic logic has nothing to do with quantum mechanics, however. It does not “explain” anything. Quantum mechanics uses perfectly standard mathematical and logical operations.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 21 November 2007 02:45 PM
kkwan - 21 November 2007 10:05 AM

Theravada Buddhism places great importance on the practise of deep meditation not merely for relaxing the body and mind but to achieve the enlightenment of nirvana.

I have always found this idea of nirvana to be incoherent and highly undesirable, to say the least.  At least in the way that such mystics define it, it is little more than escapism and fantasy.  Life is not suffering.  One should not oppress indulgence in the pleasures of this world, to the degree that indulgence is social and environmentally responsible.  There is nothing “higher” that awaits any of us.  This is as good as it gets.

“Acceptance” is also an integral part of buddhism.  If we look at it in a more “down to earth” context as many Zen buddhists do, the metaphor of nirvana has a more practical value.  Namely, establishing a state of inner peace and tranquility that is desirable within this life.  Also I think that, in a more realistic context, the virtues of the “noble eight fold path” are worthwhile for the sake of oneself and others in this world.

However, these sorts of things become very hokey-pokey when monastaries start claiming to posses such things the buddha’s toenails as relics for meditation upon.

The Buddha in the Dhammapada says of Nirvāṇa that it is “the highest happiness”. This is not the sense-based happiness of everyday life, nor the concept of happiness as interpreted by Western culture, but rather an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment or bodhi.

Yes.  So some people say.  Christians also say that heaven is the highest attainment for humanity.  These both strike me as very “anti-life’ approaches.

It carries further connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. The realizing of Nirvāṇa is compared to the ending of avidyā (ignorance) which perpetuates the will (cetana) into effecting the incarnation of mind into biological or other form passing on forever through life after life (samsara). Samsara is caused principally by craving and ignorance (see dependent origination). Nirvāṇa, then, is not a place nor a state, it is an absolute truth to be realized, and a person can do so without dying.

Rubbish.  Where’s the evidence?

“There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

Uh, what?  There are more than four elements, and what sort of dimension are you talking about?  Does the flying spaghetti monster live there?

The awaken mind has the power to know reality in all its manifestations, including presumably, dark energy and dark matter.

“Presumably.”  Yes quite presumably.

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

The Four Noble Truths

1. Life means suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

The way to end suffering is through the practise of the eightfold path.

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html

The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right View          
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech  
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort    
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

We find the state of nirvana meaningless because we have not achieved enlightenment.

Here is the wiki on Buddhist philosophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_philosophy

Some have asserted that Buddhism as a whole is a practical philosophy rather than a religion. It is “practical” in that it has a specific method of application known as the Noble Eightfold Path (from which notions of divinity are entirely absent) of a particular set of philosophical principles (the Four Noble Truths). Proponents of such a view may argue that (a) Buddhism is non-theistic (i.e., it has no special use for the existence or non-existence of a god or gods (see non-theism)) or atheistic and (b) religions necessarily involve some form of theism. Others might contest either part of such an argument. Other arguments for Buddhism “as” philosophy may claim that Buddhism does not have doctrines in the same sense as other religions; the Buddha himself taught that a person should accept a teaching only if one’s own experience verifies it, and if that teaching is “praised by the wise”, as related in the Kalama Sutta of the Pali Canon.

A third perspective might take the position that Buddhism can be practiced either as a religion or as a philosophy. A similar distinction is often made with reference to Taoism.

It should also be noted that in the South and East Asian cultures in which Buddhism achieved most of its development, the distinction between philosophy and religion is somewhat unclear and possibly quite spurious, so this may be a semantic problem arising in the West alone.

Comparison with other philosophies

  * Baruch Spinoza, though he argued for the existence of a permanent reality, asserts that all phenomenal existence is transitory. In his opinion sorrow is conquered “by finding an object of knowledge which is not transient, not ephemeral, but is immutable, permanent, everlasting.” Buddhism teaches that such a quest is bound to fail.
 
  * David Hume, after a relentless analysis of the mind, concluded that consciousness consists of fleeting mental states. Hume’s Bundle theory is a very similar concept to anatta.
 
  * Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy was very similar to Buddhism.
 
  * Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “word games” map closely to the warning of intellectual speculation as a red herring to understanding, such as the Parable of the Poison Arrow.
 
  * Friedrich Nietzsche, although himself dismissive of Buddhism as yet another nihilism, developed his philosophy of accepting life-as-it-exists and self-cultivation as extremely similar to Buddhism as better understood in the West
 
  * Heidegger’s ideas on Being and nothingness have been held by some to be similar to Buddhism today.

Incidentally, a “fifth element”, quintessence, has been seriously proposed to account for dark energy in the universe! :grin:

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Posted: 23 November 2007 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I should add that Birkhoff and von Neumann constructed a form of logic (non-dialethic, BTW) for quantum mechanics. You can see the Wiki page on it HERE, and a philosophical dictionary entry HERE. A couple of famous philosophers toyed with it for awhile, notably Hilary Putnam and WVO Quine (In his paper “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”). But it was largely abandoned in philosophy because it found few takers among the scientists themselves. It remains little more than a curiosity.

That said, if these sorts of nonstandard logics interest you, I suggest taking a good logic course. I’d also suggest avoiding the more sensationalist websites and books about them; there is an awful lot of half-baked mystery mongering about.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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dougsmith - 23 November 2007 07:49 AM

kkwan, please do stop quoting such lengthy passages from other websites. It is tedious and borders on copyright infringement.

And I am quite familiar with quantum superposition. Dialethic logic has nothing to do with quantum mechanics, however. It does not “explain” anything. Quantum mechanics uses perfectly standard mathematical and logical operations.

Precisely, because of that, it presents us with the enigmas of superposition and entanglement.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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kkwan - 23 November 2007 08:16 AM

The Four Noble Truths

1. Life means suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

The way to end suffering is through the practise of the eightfold path.

I am quite aware of the “four noble truths” and have never cared much for the first two of them.  They are so anti-life.  Albeit, materialistic obsession can be And I would argue that they have led many people, over the centuries, toward and not away from great suffering.

kkwan - 23 November 2007 08:16 AM

The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right View          
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech  
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort    
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

I said that I see all of these as good virtues.  I should add that I see them as good in and of themselves and not just for the sake of supporting the four noble truths.

kkwan - 23 November 2007 08:16 AM

We find the state of nirvana meaningless because we have not achieved enlightenment.

I am seriously skeptical that anyone ever has.  I find the ideal of the eupraxsophy far more realistically attainable.  And far more desirable.

I agree that there are considerable contributions to humanism that can be found throughout buddhist scripture, and I most certainly would not discount the Pali canon.  I think there is great wisdom to be found in it.

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Posted: 23 November 2007 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Erasmusinfinity,

The first 2 noble truths does propose a pessimistic outlook of life, but the latter 2 noble truths offer hope of a solution. The unruly mind and its illusion of self are regarded as the cause of suffering and unhappiness.

The eightfold path leads to the development of wisdom, mental development and ethical conduct which are necessary for a wholesome humanistic outlook. In that sense, Buddhism is a practical humanistic philosophy.

Regarding nirvana, I do not claim any personal experience of achieving enlightenment. My Buddhist friends find me too rational and uncommitted! On my part, I consider some of their beliefs regarding saving the world rather naive.

Thanks for the link to eupraxsophy. Facinating.

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Posted: 24 November 2007 09:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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kkwan - 23 November 2007 10:14 AM

The eightfold path leads to the development of wisdom, mental development and ethical conduct which are necessary for a wholesome humanistic outlook. In that sense, Buddhism is a practical humanistic philosophy.

I agree without a doubt.  There have been some odd interpretations of the eight fold path too, but are also brilliant interpretations as well.  It would be difficult to challenge the gist of its merits.  There are so many buddhist writings.  More than anyone could read in a lifetime.

Thanks for the link to eupraxsophy. Facinating.

There are some remarkable parallels here to certain buddhist ideas, aren’t there?

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Posted: 25 November 2007 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 24 November 2007 09:43 PM

There are some remarkable parallels here to certain buddhist ideas, aren’t there?

Yes, and there is also influence of the Greek value of Arete:

http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/ARETE.HTM

The most articulated value in Greek culture is areté. Translated as “virtue,” the word actually means something closer to “being the best you can be,” or “reaching your highest human potential.”

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Posted: 25 November 2007 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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kkwan - 25 November 2007 01:54 AM

Yes, and there is also influence of the Greek value of Arete:

http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/ARETE.HTM

Indeed!

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Posted: 25 November 2007 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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It is good to reflect that many of our current ideas of humanism were proposed more than 2000 years ago by the wise from diverse cultures.

We seemed to have wandered off into the realms of philosophy and humanism. However, dark energy and dark matter raises questions not only for scientists, but also for philosophers and all of us because there is so much more in the universe than what was thought. Our worldview has to change to accomodate these findings and it will be grander.

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