2009.12.11 19:00 - The Limits of Empiricism

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    The Guardian for this meeting was genesis Zhangsun. The comments are by genesis Zhangsun.

    Calvino Rabeni: :)
    genesis Zhangsun: Hi again
    Calvino Rabeni: Hi, Gen. How goes it?
    genesis Zhangsun: it goes :)
    genesis Zhangsun: you?
    Calvino Rabeni: Cold and dark here - I enjoyed a bit of hibernation.
    genesis Zhangsun: you took a nap?
    Calvino Rabeni: Good translation - not quite asleep. It felt good to stay in the house though.
    Calvino Rabeni: I read a few articles - by Pema, etc. and some of the logs.
    genesis Zhangsun: which articles?
    Calvino Rabeni: Exploring Actuality was the last one.
    genesis Zhangsun: was that the title of it?
    Calvino Rabeni: I went to the Pheno workshop today - trying to puzzle out my relationship to it.
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, I can give you the link if you like to the article
    genesis Zhangsun: how is the pheno workshop going?
    genesis Zhangsun: sure
    genesis Zhangsun: a link would be appreciated :)
    Calvino Rabeni: I just started with it - it seems they are at the very beginning or so of an instruction sequence
    genesis Zhangsun: could you be more specific?
    genesis Zhangsun: what sorts of concepts are being discussed?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, they are working up to describing the epoche technique
    Calvino Rabeni: Are you familiar with pheno - I am not really
    Calvino Rabeni: http://www.ids.ias.edu/~piet/publ/Tu...tucsonIII.html
    genesis Zhangsun: I have read a little
    genesis Zhangsun: of Husserl and Heidegger
    genesis Zhangsun: and currently I am reading lectures of a professor of philosophy and mathematics who was at MIT Gion Carlo Rota
    genesis Zhangsun: he specialized in pheno
    Calvino Rabeni: are you near MIT?
    genesis Zhangsun: so what has been said about epocje?
    genesis Zhangsun: no it was given to me by someone who was at MIT
    Calvino Rabeni: We're not quite there yet - this stage is kind of hygenic.
    Calvino Rabeni: You have to wash your mind of having concepts, in order to start with things in pheno
    genesis Zhangsun: in what way :)
    genesis Zhangsun: ah okay
    Calvino Rabeni: You look around for a chair, and then pretend you don't really know what it is.
    Calvino Rabeni: :)
    genesis Zhangsun: lol and in your opinion how succesful has the cleansing been?
    Calvino Rabeni: I consider it an impossibility from the start
    Calvino Rabeni: However it is worth a try
    Calvino Rabeni: I think it is a kind of idealistic thing
    Calvino Rabeni: Kind of romantic in an intellectual kind of way
    Calvino Rabeni: LIke, being a child again -
    Calvino Rabeni: It has the feeling of an origin myth
    Calvino Rabeni: like the Garden of Eden
    genesis Zhangsun: do you see any connection between this "cleansing" approach and meditation practice?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    genesis Zhangsun: how?
    Calvino Rabeni: A lot of meditation has an idea of "bare awareness" in it.
    Calvino Rabeni: And as a step towards it advise to cultivate the ability to take a stance of observation of thoughts and impressions
    genesis Zhangsun: and have you yourself experienced this type of "bare awareness"
    Calvino Rabeni: THe funny thing to me, is pheno acts - from what I can see - as if there were an empiricism about it - a kind of scientific detachment
    Calvino Rabeni: And my opinion is premature, the instructor may have answers but is holding them back at this stage of the class
    Calvino Rabeni: What do you think the Heidegger position would be?
    genesis Zhangsun: who is the instructor?
    Calvino Rabeni: (or, maybe, back to basics in the discussion?)
    genesis Zhangsun: sorry?
    genesis Zhangsun: back to basics about phenomenology?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes rather than dragging in Heidegger
    Calvino Rabeni: Most of the talk was by Yo Haiku
    genesis Zhangsun: either way is okay with me :)
    genesis Zhangsun: Hey Alice
    Calvino Rabeni: That article I cited was interesting - comparing science, phenomenology, and dzog chen
    Calvino Rabeni: My question appeared to be premature, in the class today
    Calvino Rabeni: Ah, there you are, Alice, Hi.
    genesis Zhangsun: do you have a link to the article?
    genesis Zhangsun: I don't remember reading it
    Alice Draegonne: lol,yeah,how are you calvino
    genesis Zhangsun: could you sum it up for us?
    Calvino Rabeni: I will copy the link from earlier in the log, hold in.
    Calvino Rabeni: alvino Rabeni: http://www.ids.ias.edu/~piet/publ/Tu...tucsonIII.html
    Calvino Rabeni: http://www.ids.ias.edu/~piet/publ/TucsonIII/fig5.jpg
    Calvino Rabeni: That is the diagram that sums up the idea of the article.
    Calvino Rabeni: What is your view of pheno compared to meditation methods?
    genesis Zhangsun: its a good question- there seem to be some similarities like nondualistic ways of approaching reality
    genesis Zhangsun: but pheno unlike meditation/contemplation traditions doesn't go beyond one
    genesis Zhangsun: and projectualizations
    genesis Zhangsun: sorry cont. one's projects
    genesis Zhangsun: out of order
    genesis Zhangsun: where as buddhism and other traditions seem to be suggest that there is something pre-given beyond projectualization
    Calvino Rabeni: Not sure what the word means, projectualization
    genesis Zhangsun: its the word that I have become familiar with to describe what we usually do when we see the chair
    genesis Zhangsun: usually we are projected our image of the chair on to the chair
    genesis Zhangsun: never really seeing the chair
    genesis Zhangsun: pheno seems to suggest that some greater perception, more complete perception is possible
    genesis Zhangsun: via epoche
    genesis Zhangsun: but it doesn't suggest the existence of things beyond what can be perceived
    genesis Zhangsun: it is just my impression about pheno but it could be very incomplete, I am no expert
    Calvino Rabeni: It has a feeling of, hmm, i don't means this in a negative way - but fundamentalism
    genesis Zhangsun: what does? pheno?
    Calvino Rabeni: Maybe this is just the beginning phase of its course of study
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    genesis Zhangsun: that is not my impression
    Calvino Rabeni: Or maybe, a kind of austerity
    Calvino Rabeni: In other words, we have many ways to know things - but it appears to say they are off-limits - taking a position of purity in some way
    Calvino Rabeni: just an initial impression - I hope I'm mistaken in it
    genesis Zhangsun: what have they said if "off limits"
    Calvino Rabeni: The idea of observing phenomena seems inherently dualistic
    genesis Zhangsun: *is
    Calvino Rabeni: That there is nothing beyond appearance - as a discipline of epistemology, turned into an ontological stance perhaps?
    genesis Zhangsun: well in some ways perhaps that is the reason that it is possible to bridge pheno and buddhism
    Calvino Rabeni: My other impression - also I am happy to have disproved
    Calvino Rabeni: is that pheno comes from a time in history where people hoped to pull many things
    Calvino Rabeni: like philosophy and even spirituality, into the framework of science
    Calvino Rabeni: and make it into an observational discipline.
    Calvino Rabeni: In other words, to make phenomena an object of study and observation
    Calvino Rabeni: It seems like an unnecessarily limited stance, ontologically
    Calvino Rabeni: and I am trying to figure out why it is adopted as a method of epistemology
    genesis Zhangsun: I don't much about the history around the time of phenomenology
    Calvino Rabeni: (I mean, practice of knowlege)
    genesis Zhangsun: could you set the stage a bit more for me
    genesis Zhangsun: so it was around turn of the century or so
    Calvino Rabeni: Around the 1890s or so, science appeared to be supreme
    Calvino Rabeni: Some even thought most problems of reality were nearly solved
    genesis Zhangsun: it still holds that status I would say
    Calvino Rabeni: this was before quantum came along.
    Calvino Rabeni: It had a stronger position at that time than now
    genesis Zhangsun: yes perhaps but I think most of the public is still within a Cartesian mechanistic understanding of the world
    Calvino Rabeni: So spiritualists and philosophers tried to integrate their interests, or bring it into the fold, of empiricism
    genesis Zhangsun: most people don't have a clue about quantum physics
    Calvino Rabeni: Partly to gain greater acceptance
    Calvino Rabeni: partly perhaps, they believed also in empiricism.
    genesis Zhangsun: I see phenomenology as a reaction against the Cartesian mechanistic world view
    genesis Zhangsun: it is a critique of reductionism
    genesis Zhangsun: Husserl was concerned about the way in which science was pursuing materialist reductionism
    genesis Zhangsun: leaving little room for philosophy, theology
    Calvino Rabeni: Sure, it is easy to see it as a critique of materialism
    Calvino Rabeni: but not a critique of empiricism, because it appears to still aspire to that
    Calvino Rabeni: and its intrinsic subject/object split
    genesis Zhangsun: and you think empiricism is too narrow?
    genesis Zhangsun: it leaves no room for...
    Calvino Rabeni: which kind of casts doubt on whether pheno really strays very far from cartesianism
    Calvino Rabeni: If you separate subject from object - even if the object is "phenomena" - you still have a detached, separate subject
    genesis Zhangsun: ah I see so because it is limited to experience of the senses it leaves no room a reality beyond the senses
    Calvino Rabeni: and I think a lot of the critique of cartesianism was about that
    genesis Zhangsun: yes I think we are in agreement about that
    Calvino Rabeni: Also as I think you point out, there are a lot of presuppositions built into the pheno stance, perhaps unconsciously
    Calvino Rabeni: although advance pheno pratitioners may have a way to handle it
    genesis Zhangsun: oh on the point about object and subject I don't think it assumes a detached seperate self necessarily but it is the only way in which to speak about experience
    genesis Zhangsun: the limit of words
    Calvino Rabeni: the stance of observation...
    Calvino Rabeni: But words can be finessed
    Calvino Rabeni: Can't really blame it on the words :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Perhaps my point is one of how it is framed, for teaching.
    genesis Zhangsun: well all language uses object-subject- interaction
    Calvino Rabeni: No big deal
    Calvino Rabeni: Speaking beyond that is what communication is all about
    Calvino Rabeni: I think only intellectuals get hypnotized by focusing narrowly on the words
    genesis Zhangsun: I can agree with that
    Calvino Rabeni: Just kidding - I know they are powerful :)
    Calvino Rabeni: I think if pheno sees beyond that, it could be expressed in language differently
    genesis Zhangsun: perhaps this is why meditation is really about practice not about describing reality merely through words
    Calvino Rabeni: In fact, I had a teacher who did this
    genesis Zhangsun: yes there are some "realized" people out there
    genesis Zhangsun: not necessarily "enlightened" but certainly "realized"
    genesis Zhangsun: I think Rota- the lectures I am reading on pheno
    genesis Zhangsun: I read his words and I see someone who is speaking beyond words
    genesis Zhangsun: and knows it
    genesis Zhangsun: and is attempting to describe exactly how he is doing it
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, the good communicators are speaking way past the words
    Calvino Rabeni: They could say "cream puff" and it would mean the right thing
    genesis Zhangsun: yes but few people can actually describe how they do it
    Calvino Rabeni: That is really true, the precision is there also
    genesis Zhangsun: interesting conversation Calvino
    genesis Zhangsun: I have to get going
    genesis Zhangsun: perhaps we can pick up here?
    genesis Zhangsun: some time
    Calvino Rabeni: :) yes, continue any time.
    genesis Zhangsun: Heidegger understood I think this idea of going beyond language- he wrote a book I very much enjoyed on the subject- On the Way to Language
    genesis Zhangsun: well take care :)
    Calvino Rabeni: To be continued then...
    genesis Zhangsun: bye!
    Calvino Rabeni: Bye for now, Genesis :)
    genesis Zhangsun: :)
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