Thursday, 3 August 2017

Metaphysics And Morality

Playing for time, David Falkayn keeps talking about Buddhism:

"''s quite a semantic quibble whether the purer sects of Buddhism are religions, in the ordinary sense. Certainly they are agnostic with respect to gods or other hypothetical animistic elements in the reality-complex; their doctrine of karma does not require reincarnation as that term is generally used; and in fact, nirvana is not annihilation, but rather is a state that may be achieved in this life and consists of - '"
-Poul Anderson, Satan's World IN Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 329-598 AT p. 374.

However, there is a very different way to discuss Buddhism. See Spiritual Guidance.

"'You have caused much harm, through vicious selfishness and it turned on you.'
"'Yes,' she said softly.
"'You are fortunate it did so quickly; this is an opportunity. But do not fancy yourself uniquely guilty, a monster that is a wonder to the world; that too is vanity, and leads back to the same errors. You cannot undo the past by regret; nor can you avoid the painful consequences of your actions through fear. Both these things are equally impossible. Do not dwell on the past or deny it; do not fear the future.'"
-SM Stirling, The Tears Of The Sun (New York, 2012), Chapter Sixteen, p. 491.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I basically agree with what the Buddhist abbot said here to Martin Thurston ambitious, but badly shaken and remorseful widow. Altho, as a Christian, I would have made some mention of God.


S.M. Stirling said...

A lot of what the Buddha originally talked about (tho' not all, of course) amounted to admonitions to see and think clearly without fooling yourself. Which is, of course, enormously difficult!

I doubt the man was a naturalist-materialist himself; that wasn't really psychologically or philosophically "available" in the India of his day.

But he was refreshingly undogmatic and reluctant to speculate on things unrelated to direct human experience.

Most varieties of Buddhism emphatically -are- religions, of course; but they couldn't have survived unless they were. As an institution, a religion has to fulfill certain needs of its "customers".

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stitling,
There were materialist philosophers in ancient India. Buddhism is a Middle Way between Jain asceticism and materialist hedonism. Materialism seems to have influenced the Buddha's anatta, "no soul," teaching.

Paul Shackley said...

Sorry for mis-spelling name.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

What puzzled me about Buddhism was how a philosophy founded by a man with little or no interest in questions about God or the "gods" still took on so many of the "trappings" of a religion. Such as having abbots, monasteries, monks, nuns, even priests! You seem to think that happened largely as a means for Buddhism to survive, "branching" out to satisfy the needs of the "customers" of Buddhism. I can see that while still finding it odd that it happened to a philosophy founded by a near atheist/agnostic.