Nagarjuna and analytic philosophy ,

Ives Waldo

Philosophy East and West

Vol.28:3, July 1978.

Pp.287-298

Copyright by The University Press of Hawaii

 

 

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In addition to the negative or critical interpretation of Naagaarjuna's thought presented by the Praasaingikas, a positive, or descriptive, interpretation of Maadhyamika is found in Buddhist tradition. The latter interpretation is the less well known, because its chief logical adher- ents, the Svaatantrikas, lacked a logical apparatus enabling them to present their ideas explicitly and coherently. For this reason they were discredited by the Praasangika dialecticians. Even so, their ideas, alternatively expressed in figure and analogy, had considerable influence over a wide range of Buddhist schools, notably the Hwa Yen, Soto Zen, Kagyuu, and Nyingma.

I will argue that some sophisticated philosophical notions are embodied in the paradigms of these schools, involving self-referential relationships that even modern Western logic has learned to deal with only in recent years. The descriptive tradition's version of Naagaarjuna's "interdependent arising" will be explored in terms of the self-refern- tial logic whose development began with the work of G. Spencer Brown. It is hoped that this will elucidate the relationship of Naagaarjuna's work to some later trends of thought and practice within Buddhism. Moreover, formal statement of some of the problems discussed by Naagaarjuna makes the relevance of the issues involved more direct to modern analytic philosophy. In this light we shall compare Naagaarjuna's discussion of interdependent origination to Wittgenstein's notion of a "language game."

II

18. yah pratityasamutpaabdah Suunyataam pracaksmahe saa prajnaptir upaadaaya pratipat saiva madhymaa

19. apratitya samutpanno dharmah kascin na vidyate yasmaat taasmad asuunyo hi dharmah kascin na vidyate

18. We declare that whatever is relational origination is Suunyataa. It is a provisional name (that is, thought construction) for the mutuality (of being) and indeed, it is the middle path.

19. Any factor of experience which does not participate in relational origination does not exist. Therefore, any factor of experience not in the nature of Suunya cannot exist.(1)

These are notoriously difficult, nor has Buddhist tradition yielded any final conclusion about their significance.(2) The critical interprettation, which is the most widely accepted, holds Naagaarjuna to be saying that all relative concep-

Ives Waldo is affiliated with the Nalanda Translations Group.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The author would like to acknowledge the help of Charlotte Linde and Francisco Varela in discussing and revising the manuscript. The basic logical approach emerged from a series of discussions with Joseph Goguen at the 1975 Vajadhatu Seminary. Gregory Bateson's work has strongly influenced my philosophical approach to these matters. The teaching and vision of Trungpa Rinpoche inspired the overall direction of this work, as well as providing the setting of Naropa Institute from which it arose.

Philosophy East and West 28, no.3, July 1978. @ by The University Press of Hawau. All rights ressrved.

 

 

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tualization is critically unsatisfactory. To say something is Suunya is to say that ultimately it does not exist and that the very notion that it should exist is absurd, when rigorously examined. On this view, the above passages deny that there are any coherent existence statements at all, including the statements of the Muulamaadhyamakakaarikaas(MK). The MK is, like Wittgenstein's Tractnttrs,a work meant not to establish any positive thesis about its subject matter but to show the impossibility of doing so. The Praasangikas see Naagaarjuna's work as a justification of the negative a-theology of such Prajnapaaramitaa texts as the Heart Suutra. Terefore, since there is emptiness, there is no form: no feeling, no concept, no consciousness ...(3) and so forth until all the basic categories of experience are eliminated.

In "Naagaarjuna and Analytic Philosophy" (NAP) I argue that Naag- aarjuna does not establish that all existence statements are inco- herent, but only all statements involving the concept of svabhaava (a thing that conditions its own arising in significant experience).(4) This is suf- ficient to refute his opponents, chiefly Buddhists who accept that all notions of existence presuppose svabhaava But Naagaajuna says nothing to counter the reply of the ordinary language philosopher that ordinary existence statements are paradigms of what we mean by "true" and "coh- erent," so that, obviously, the notion of existence involved in them does not have the logic of svabhaava. This puts the critical Naagaarjuna in trouble. He claims that he is not a nihilist, on the ground that if there are no coherent propositions at all, there are no coherent statements of nihilism either. But if there are coherent ordinary language existence statements, Naagaarjuna's denial of this fact becomes coherent, nihil- istic, and false.

The positive tradition of Maadhyamika, beginning with the Svaatantrikas (those who state their own thesis), is characterized by the attempt to give a positive description of the world of interdependence presented by Naagaarjuna.(5) Where the Praasangikas emphasized ultimate truth, dhar- makaaya as the formless ground of illusory experience, the Svaatantrikas wanted to say something about the interdependent structure of relative existence. The Praasangikas countered that whatever this something was, the Svaatantrikas had not in fact succeeded in saying it. The latter accepted that all existence statements involved the notion of svabhdaava. This notion was demonstrably incoherent, so any idea of interdependent existence, or any other kind of existence, involving it was also criti- cally unacceptable. The positive tradition did not end with this defeat. Its followers simply began to maintain that even relative truth was not amenable to logical treatment. Convinced that they had something to say that was of the greatest importance to practice, the followers of this tradition turned to paradigms and figures--as Naagaarjuna had done before them. This tradition seems to have developed further in central Asia, for example in Khotan,(6) the schools involved being strongly influenced by the figurative language of the Avatamsaka Suutra. These tendencies culminated in China with the Hwa Yen

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school and in Tibet with the practice tradition of the Kagyu and Nyingma

schools, of which I shall say more later. In both cases dharmakaaya is emphasized less than the notion of dharmadhaatu, of the interdependence and interpenetration of all things--which the Avatamsaka Suutra compares to a hall of mirrors, each mirror reflects the others and all that is reflected in them.(7)

Naagarjuna's examples give ample basis for such a presentation of interdependence. The MK maps our language system as a complex network of coarising elements, each of which depends on the others, while at the same time conditioning them as what they are. Fire and kindling; cause and

effect; epistemic subject, act, and object; and thing and quality are a few examples cited. The whole of our language system is presented as a complex, closed network of this sort, whose logical structure cannot be conditioned by any foundation prior to and independent of the network itself.

Fire and kindling is an example of whatever Naagaajuna means by pratityasamutpaada. In a rough way we can say the relationship is one of co-conditionality. This approach, which I tried in NAP (p. 286), is not incorrect, but it does not get to the heart of the matter. Co-condition- ality of this sort is a bit odd. Fire and kindling, or the elements in any of Naagaajuna's examples, are such that neither element can exist unless the other does. The chain of their conditioning is such that it can have no first element. We have an endless chain, fire, kindling, fire ..: that appears to stretch into the past and future without end. It seems impossible that such a conditional chain could ever arise in existence, since the chain can function only if all its elements are already there. Moreover, it seems as correct to say that fire is cond- itioned by itself as that it is conditioned by kindling. This gives us a clue that pratityasamutpaada involves self-reference. But what rela- tionship is it exactly, and what are its implications? Insofar as ordinary language can tell us, the job has already been done by followers of the Hwa Yen and Tantric schools. The logical obscurity of the results, the Hall of Mirrors simile and the like, are legendary. Ordinary language is out of its depth here. Attempts to describe self-referential relation- ships in ordinary terms invariably yield vagaries or paradox. This leaves us no choice but to employ formalism, nor can we use the familiar logic developed by Bertrand Russell. Russell found self-reference as difficult a problem as did Naagaarjuna, and banished it ad hoc from his logic, as from his metaphysics, by means of the theory of types. Only in the last decade did G. Spencer Brown develop an alternative logical notation that included selfreferential forms without breakdown.(8) From these Joseph Goguen and Francisco Varela have developed a calculus that meets all tests of consistency, completeness, and so on,(9) without being paralyzed by results like Russell's paradox. They have also developed an apparatus of formulae, tree and net diagrams, and so on, to apply these forms in particular situations. One such application was suggested by Gregory Bateson, who has long held that epis-

 

 

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temological structures are organizationally closed. In dealing with reality the mind has no criteria but its own former states. Thus the logic of its decision making about what is real or not will be describable in Brownian terms.(10)

III

To present formally the recursive structures embodied in Naagaajuna's examples we shall need only the most basic of Brown's higher order forms. According to the principal interpretation of the calculus of distinctions, the sole "content" of the system, the mark ,indicates successful dis



tinction of a situation from its context. Absence of such a distinction is indicated by no mark. An arithmetic, interpreted as repetition or cancellation of distinction, respectively, arises by the rules ┐┐= and =


Introduction of variables over the resulting arithmetical forms develops an algebra that can represent equivalents to the forms of the standard propositional and predicate calculi.

At this point higher order or self-referential forms are introduced. Any such form may be interpreted as delineating an infinite unfolding of successive states in time, or as an endless recursive voyage through the pathways of a logical net, like Naagaajuna's picture of our conceptual system.(1l)

Let f be a situation arising interdependently in an epistemological system S. Then f may be interpreted as combining:

  1. The negation of f, everything in S other than f.
  2. The criteria of significance of fin S, as a whole.

3) The significance of f in S.

4) Temporal change in state from fat t to f at t+1 f indicates return to f at some t+n after having left it, and reidentification of f as the same locus of S that was previously occupied.

(A) f= f

is the simplest of Brown's self-referential forms. We may interpret it as stating the minimal requirement of significance for an element in a linguistic or epistemic system. We must be able to identify the element, pass to other elements that the first indicates as its significance, and then return from those elements, using them as criteria for the reidentification of f.

This form superficially resembles the tautology of the propositional calculus

P= -(-P)

But the import of the two is quite different. The latter equation indicates the equivalence of two forms that have the same referent for reasons of logical or linguistic necessity. This form reflects the epistemology of Bertrand Russell, who felt that identification of the elements of our linguistic system was simply a matter of ostensive reference. He did not consider the problems posed by time and reidentification at all. A Russellian logic is perfectly workable even after we have rejected the

empiricist theory of meaning that it was intended to model. But then it will seem to create a totally arbitrary dichotomy of fact

 

 

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and logic and to sidestep the issues of closure that Brown meets head on. We may see Brown's calculus as formally developing the consequences of the insight that we can no more use reference to identify an absolute, atomic fact (svabhaav individual) than we can use it to identify a point in Newton's absolute space.

Let us consider a purported atomic entity that can be

1. Identified for what it is prior to and independently of its relationship to other entities and situations.

2. Taken to be identical with and, therefore, guarantee, its own significance.

An entity f meeting condition 1 cannot be equated with any statements criterial to f. In Brown's terms this can be stated

f = f

This reduces arithmetically to

(B) f= f

(B) represents a state of oscillation where confusion of situation and context yields failure to distinguish.(12) In this state any proposition can be both proved and disproved. Every thing and property is confounded with every other. We may feel inclined to say that the linguistic system contains only one thing, or nothing coherent at all. These are just the characteristics Naagaarjuna ascribes to Suuyataa. We find these features too in Hwa Yen's adaptation of Maadhyamika logic, the Round Doctrine.(13)

The significance offis represented in Brownian terms by f . Thus, condition (2) also has the form of equation (B). We may take this argument as showing formally the critical shortcomings of svabhaava. If we take any of Naagaarjuna's examples such as fire/kindling, epistemic subject, act, object, and so on, f may be used to represent one of the elements named and f will represent the totality of the others.(14) We can con- sider fire and kindling as a subset in themselves. Fire might then be f and kindling f in equation A. The equation may be unpacked as an infinite alternation of conditions without a first member, or else as a self-derivation that reduces to an identity. That is, the svabhaava and para- bhaava points of view are what arises from attempts to solve equation A for f, as one would solve a ]ower order equation. Brownian logic shows us that the attempt for solution here, for isolation of prior or inde- independent elements within the structure, is misguided. The elements exist as such only in the context of the whole structure.

Equation A shows the form of any of Naagaarjuna's interdependence relationships. It is not a magic formula reducing the whole network of interdependence described in the MK to one equation. A network could be constructed that would do this job, but it would have to follow step by step after Naagaarjuna. We do not have a formal equivalent in meaning to every use of partityasamutpaada Naagaarjuna makes, nor one that captures all the multiplicity of connotations of that term in Buddhist tradition. Indeed, since the Brownian forms

 

 

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generate, overall, a coherent structure and the MK is a paradoxical one, no such logical rendering is likely to exhaust the suggestiveness of the latter. If all language presupposes svabhaava, as the Praasangikas maintain, equation B will describe the logic of ordinary language. The positive tradition wants to leave room for a coherent description of interdependence having the form of equation A as well. Examples of such forms exist in Buddhist tradition from Naagaarjuna onward. The present study does not introduce such considerations but attempts, for the first time, to make it logically coherent that they should be there.

We can now use Brown to show how interdependent arising is related to dharma suunyataa and laksana suunyataa (confer especially MKV), the relativity of the individual and of characteristics. Equation A iden- tifies an individual with an operation on the criterial significance of that individual, that is, with a predicate two steps higher on Russell's ladder of logical types. This is a revolutionary departure from Russell's conception. He saw the hierarchy of types as a treelike form rooted at the level of the atomic individual. Every entity, in theory, could be placed uniquely on some type level. Analysis would reduce all true indi- viduals down to the ground or fundamental level. The upper levels of the tree would then be seen to contain increasingly more abstract predicates describing these atomic individuals.(15)

In the positive logic of pratityasamutpaada the linear ladder of types becomes a closed net of distinctions defined in context. When we analyze a statement to the root, we find ourselves led back to the branches. For example, on reducing subject and action to phenomena, we find that phen- omena are themselves definable only in terms of active or behavioral situations, subjective perception of objects, and so on. If we think the tree must have a root somewhere, criterial justification appears as an

infinite regress.(16) The Brownian equivalent is the attempt to solve equation A by substituting on the right side of the equation for f. The result is an infinite array of marks

f = .

The net itself, and the individual elements constituting its nodes, may be seen as the limit of this regress or as a view of the regress from a meta-standpoint." But the relative status of an individual delineated in this way is transparent. No one would take such a thing for a phenomenal absolute. We can now interpret Naagaarjuna's statement that the wise do not cling either to being or nonbeing, as it applies to individuals and universals.'" The status of individuality or of predication is relative, first, to our linguistic system and, second, to our practical objectives in a given case of using that system. Since individuality is codefined with various predicative descriptions, we may formulate our propositions in the most convenient way. An artist may find it more convenient to speak at length of what looks "apple-y" than about apples.

 

 

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Philosophers often turn common predicates into substantives, like "redness." The subject-predicate sentence of ordinary language reflects the usage that is most often convenient. It brings together a great deal of descriptive territory in a substantive tag, then adds a little to that territorial network via further predication.

Iv

To show the practical working of the positive view of Maadhyamika in Buddhist tradition, I would like to consider an account by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche," of the practice of the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibet. The point of this exposition in a scholarly article is not sectarian but to trace the development of the positive tradition and to show the way its logic functions in use today.

Trungpa explains his school's notion of interdependent arising as having developed, insofar as the development was philosophical, through the Yogaacara-Svaatantrika tradition dating from S'aantaraksta and Kama- lasila in eighth-century Tibet, and from the dharmadhaatu tradition which draws on the Avaramsaka Suutra. Interdependence here has an application to relative as well as to ultimate truth. It describes not the mere fact of relativity but presents a view about the way experiences are connec-

ted. We find ourselves presented with a more or less arbitrary hodgepodge of remembered situations and routines of behavior which have no signi- ficance for us outside of their relationships to each other. This net of memory appears to each of us as if it were the whole universe. We say things make sense when we can pigeonhole them into the structures of the net. If this were the whole story, any question of knowing or relating to reality would be arbitrary. The organizational closure of the mind would entail interactional closure with the world as well. Claims of knowledge are not arbitrary because interdependence is con ditioned by suunyataa, which enters the picture as the breakdown of the system under the influence of time and change. Our structures appear to us as prima facie absolutes. But, in a development of the basic Buddhist notion of impermanence, change constantly reveals their relativity. New situations are never quite identical to those that went before. Gaps and discrepancies arise that constantly require a conscious stretching of our

notions and procedures by all kinds of analogies and strategems. The situation is like that of a judge, whose interpretation of the law stra- ddles the seeming dichotomy between legislation and execution of the law. We have to wake up and make decisions. This brings a certain transparency

to our delusion of passivity before absolute reality.

When we realize the inevitable slipping away of our structures, we gain some notion of total relativity. We see that the solidity of exper- ience is illusory. This gives rise to dharmakaaya, the experience of the ground or space of enlightened mind over against samsaaric confusion. The dialectic of Maadhyamika,

 

 

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as presented by the Prasahgikas and various paradoxical tactics of the Ch'an or Zen schools, are meant to bring out this sense of dharmakaaya in experience.

Even in Ch'an or Zen such an experience of dharmakaaya would not be considered fully matured. It is still relative to a rejection of the world, and to an attempt to take dharmakaaya as a territory in which one might dwell. In some Kagyu and Zen tests there is talk of a deeper experience of dharmakaaya which is no longer relative. But in others this distinction is clarified by reference to the notion of dharmadhaatu.

The deeper sense arises when it is realized that suuyataa is no more workable as a strategy or territory than any other ploy. In the end the knife of prajnna cuts through itsef--certainly a point Naagaarjuna wishes to underline.

Trungpa cites the Uttaratantra of Maitreya to explain his school's view of the progress from confusion to dharmakaaya to dharmadhaatu.

Discriminating nature is empty of its own temporary nature. Non-discriminating nature is empty of itself in supreme dharma.(20)

The first line deals with the dialectical insight of the critical view. The second arises with the realization that the dialectical reference point is as much a fixation on linguistic form as the naive dogmatic metaphysic it replaces.

Here suuyataa, as dharmadhaatu, manifests with a great deal of full- ness and color. The relativity of things is experienced as space, but as space filled with galaxies of different norms and styles interpenetrating

 

without hindrance and evolving through different forms.

We can now see the connection between the austere formulations of Naagaajuna and the extravagant fullness of language of the Hwa Yen Suutra in its description of dharmadhaatu.

When a bodhisattva attains the ten wisdoms, he can then perform the ten universal enterings... to bring all universes into one hair, and one hair into all the universes; to bring all sentent beings' bodies into one body, and one body into all sentient beings' bodies; to bring inconceivable aeons into one moment and one moment into inconceivable aeons; to make all thoughts into one thought, and one thought into all thoughts... to make the three times into one time, and one time into all the three times.(21)

The superficial style of this passage shows little connection with Naa- gaarjuna or with ordinary language. But our Brownian investigation shows that the same radical circularity in ordinary language structures is being described in both contexts. Naagaarjuna demonstrates that clinging to all- eged svabhaava elements in language yields to structures like equation B. The Hwa Yen shows the remarkable possibilities of experie- ntially accepting that things have the structure of equation A by abandoning the svabhaava idea. It should be noted that the Hwa Yen passage does not describe miraculous actions like flying through the air or leaving foot- prints in stone. Rather it describes a vision that is not discontinuous with our ordinary experience. Dharmadhaatu is not something

 

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remote from the ordinary but refers to the closure and to the confusion of change and multiplicity of everyday life. The limits and ground of this process can never be known in any final way, and just this yields the sense of spaciousness of dharmadhaatu. We can express the notion of dharmadhaatu much less extravagantly than the Hwa Yen school if we wish. Things are just symbols of themselves. They have no particular significance above that, so they have nothing that needs to be proved or accommodated in terms of each other.

The positive approach to interdependence has the advantage of bringing out the relationship of Suunyataa and compassion which is obscure from the negative point of view. If there really are no sentient beings, why take pains for them? The positive approach brings out this connection, which is one of the essential points of the Mahayaana Interdependence implies that we are constantly becoming what we are through interaction with our surroundings. There is no escape and no possibility of holding back. The futility of clinging to static goals and preconceptions has become apparent. This approach, which emerges directly from the phil- osophical framework under discussion, leads to an extremely open and accommodating approach to things. Since the practitioner tends to appr- oach each situation on its own merits there is a precise approach and a minimum of frustrated irritation. This compassionate intelligence is the basic sanity that is the essence of the paaramitaa practice of the bodhisattva. The Kagyuu tradition symbolizes this expansion of this point of view in which the practitioner learns the workability of suunyataa? as the "vajra dance." Reality is like a fascinating, but capricious, mistress whom we never quite control or understand. When we lose our fear of this conditions, our relationship becomes quite precise and accomm- odating

in the emptiness of apparent phenomena, which is the space of the great delight; in the depth which is the great wisdom; all motion unfolds as the vajra dance. All sound is its natural music.(22)

In the positive tradition such a transformation in consciousness is the point of the doctrine of pratityasamutpaada and its identity with suuyayaa Naagaarjuna's dialectic is taken as embodying in logical examples structures that are meant to pervade every aspect of experience and action.

V

A strong argument for formalizing Naagaarjuna's arguments in the MK is that we can then directly compare our understanding of his views with the problems of modern analytic thought. As an example, let us consider how a dialogue might be set up between the views of the MK and those of the later Wittgenstein. In NAP I suggested the two philosophers rejected rationalism and atomistic empiricism for similar reasons. There is a close a nalogy between Nagarjuna's rejection of self-conditioning entities and Wittgenstein's denial that any object can serve as its own criterion of

Significance in the private language argument.

 

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We can now extend our understanding of this common form by noting the similarity of Naagaajuna's positive treatment of pratitya-samutpaada and Wittgenstein's notion of a "language game." In the sense with which we are concerned, Wittgenstein uses "language game" to describe language in its total context of perceptual/behavioraI reactions. In this sense, language "is part of an activity or form of Iife."(23)

For Wittgenstein, a word or a perception of something has significance when logically connected into the criterial network of the language game.(24) The private language argument explores the possibility that there might be elements identified independently of and prior to this network, like Naagaajuna's svabhaarvas.(25) But this possibility is rejected. The rejection of atomic elements in the language system means that the elements must support each other mutually. This is exactly the sort of conceptual connection that Naagaarjuna calls interdependent arising. The various elements of our criterial network support each other relatively, but every justification of knowledge consists only of another element within our own epistemic system. There is no external or inde- pendent justification, because the speaker and the external environment are both constructs within the system. It is true that passages in the Philosophical Investigations, like paragraph 265, suggest that we ought to have some sort of certain and independent justification for our claims of knowledge. But we cannot take these passages seriously once we see that the private language argument rules out the possibility and coherence of any such justification. A self-justifying proposition is nowhere to be found. In practice the chain of reasons has come to an end when we have established sufficient relative criterial connections between loci in our conceptual system to "make sense" of our situation and to accomplish whatever practical task may be at hand.(26) The incoherence of svabhaava is like the impossibility of a word in a private language. The defining conditions, in both cases, have the logical form of Brown's equation B. Contrariwise, Wittgenstein's examples of the interdependence of phen- omena (such as pain) and behavior, or of subject, object, and phenomena, can be dealt with, like Naagaarjuna's fire kindling, in terms of Brown's equation A.(27) Pain is not identical to behavior, nor is it something comprehensible apart from the context of certain forms of behavior. Objects are not simply phenomena, nor are they something we can explain epistemologically without speaking of phenomena. We can see an order in Wittgenstein's obscure and difficult remarks once we see that the conn- ecting thread is a closed system structure. The Brownian approach not only points out a common frame of discourse between Maadhyamika and Wittge- nstein, but it enables us to point out and resolve some disag- reements. Naagaarjuna suggests ordinary language is incoherent, while Wittgenstein feels it is fundamentally in order as it is. Here Wittgenstein seems to be right. On the other hand Wittgenstein holds that philosophy is simply a descriptive study of conceptual relations that can make

 

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no fundamental changes in our lives, while Naagaarjuna does philosophy to produce a revolutionary change in his reader's approach to the world, Here Naagaarjuna's view seems to be closer to the truth. Philosophy may have a merely descriptive task when it comes to considering our conceptual system at any given point in time. But Buddhist tradition uses the relativity of pratityasamutpaada to show that our conceptual system is and must be constantly changing. It is quite possible then that a major transformation in point of view might come about from our coming to terms experientially with the fact of this change. It is also an open possibility that our philosophical ideas might cause us to direct the course of conceptual change in various different directions, thus affecting the content of our epistemic system. Suunyataa, in breaking up the notion of absolute elements of experience, also breaks up the notion of an absolute analytic synthetic distinction between truths of fact and logic. Our ways of ordering affect what we are willing to call fact. In this very article we have seen how the way things fit together has compelled us to adopt a Brownian logic.

Bateson has expressed some of the implications of the dharmadhaatu notion for Western thought by saying that it says that the individual and his knowledge are of a higher logical type than their momentary state or form at any given time.(28) The states are organizationally closed stru- ctures, but their process of evolution has no fixed structure or limit. Varela compares this structure to that of an'organism which has organ- izationally closed structure on a biological level.(29) This does not pro- hibit interaction with the environment on the chemical and ecological levels below and above the biological level on the ladder of types

Abandonment of certainty does not entail arbitrariness of all claim to knowledge. We must simply shift our perspective to see knowledge as an evolving lineage of forms of life, whose criteria and methods are always expanding in response to new situations. Kuhn, presenting such a picture of science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions notes that the process of change can be of two sorts.(30) Everyday science adds to our knowledge but does not change very much our total picture of what science and knowledge are. Revolutionary science restructures the whole context of science by supplying a new paradigm of procedure that explains a larger scope of cases and allows us to do more with them than was formerly possible. Buddhism wishes to produce analogous changes in people's minds. It seems then that an important task of philosophy in the present day is to come to a conclusion about whether it makes sense to speak of revolutionary changes being produced in people's outlook on the world through combination of intellectual and behavioral practice. Our investigation of Mgdhyamika and Brown yield the conclusion that this is a coherent possibility. This is just as well, since religious traditions have in fact been doing things of this sort for a long time.

 

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NOTES

I. Kenneth Inada, Naagaarjina A Translation of His Muuamaadhyamakaarikaa (Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1970), chap. 24; hereafter cited as MK.

2. Compare my discussion in "Naagaarjuna and Analytic Philosophy." Philosophy East and West 25 (no. 3), 1975; hereafter cited as NAP.

3. Trans Francesca Fremantle, Coruda 3 (Berkeley: Shambhala, 1973).

4. NAP, 284-285.

5. Compare discussion, NAP, 285-286.

6. Herbert Guenther, "Early Forms of Tibetan Buddhism," in Crystal Mirror 3 (San Francisco: Dharma, 1973).

7. This and other similes of Dharmadhaatu are discussed by Garma C. C. Chang in The Buddhist Teaching of Toality (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971).

8. Laws of Form (New York: Bantam, 1972).

9. Francisco Varela, "A Calculus for Self-Reference." international Journal of General Systems (no. 2): 5ff. Varela and Joseph Goguen, (1) "An Arithmetic of Closure," paper presented at the Third European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research, Vienna, Austria, April 24, 1976, forthcoming in Internarionol Journal of General Systems: (2) "The Algebra of Whole Systems." to be published in International Journal of General Systems.

10. Confer, Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Min (New York: Ballantine, 1972), part III, especially "The Logical Categories of Learming and Communication," pp. 279ff 11. Brown himself considers only paradoxical forms like (B) infra. temporally. But the interpretation becomes richer if all higher order forms are so considered;and thereby the whole calculus --for our investigation has shown that distinction itself is logically tied to self-reference.

12. It was the contradictory character of equation B that first led Brown to the idea of temporal Interpretation. He "solved" (B) by means of an imaginary value that indicated alternation of states in time, analogous to the temporal oscillation of switching circuits.

13. Chang, The Buddhist Teaching of Totality, pp. 128ff.

14. In any particular case, f can be spelled out, via Goguen and Varela's apparatus, with as much detail as is required. For structures of three or more elements the most comprehensible way is likely to be a net diagram of relational paths.

15. Bertrand Russell, Logic and Knowledge, R. C. Marsh, ed. (London: Georgee Allen and Unwin, 1964), pp. 193ff:

16. Varela, "A Calculus for Self-Reference:" p. 10.

17. Compare Varela, "A Calculus for Self-Reference," p. 10.

18. MK, XV-6.

19. Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, 1975 Hinayana Mahayanas Seminary Transcripts, (Boulder, Colorado: Vajradhatu, 1976). Trungpa is a scholar and meditation master who holds transmission in both the Kagyu and Nyingma schools.

20. Quoted in Trungpa, 1975, p. 163, trans. Trungpa.

21. Quotedin Garma C. C. Chang, The Buddhist Teaching of Totlity, p. 11,author's translation.

22. Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, don rgyud kyi grub thob rgya mtsho mngon du sgrub pa'i cho ga phyag rgya chen po, fol. 13a.

23. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, G.E.M. Anscombe, trans. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958), paragraph 7, 23.

24. Ibid., 580, 525, 534.

25. Ibid., 243ff. Cf. 325-326.

26. Ibid., 325-326.

27. See the private language material and also Wittgenstein, investigations, paragraph 304.

28. Compare Bateson, Steps to on Ecology of Mind.

29. Varela, p. 4. Confer also Varela, "Not One Not Two," Coevolution Quarterl