Absolutism and Philosophy

The Absolute Truth is that there is nothing absolute in the world, that everything is relative, conditioned and impermanent, and that there is no unchanging, everlasting, absolute substance like Self, Soul, or Ātman within or without. – Buddha.

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Absolutism:  any theory holding that values, principles, etc., are absolute and not relative, dependent, or changeable.

Philosophy:  the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

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My understanding is that

  1. Absolutes are unattainable. This means that nothing can be defined with absolute certainty. Any certainty that one holds is subject to re-examination in the face of inconsistency.

  2. Philosophy is an investigation of what is really there. It makes progress by thoroughly examining inconsistencies to the point of eliminating them.

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Nothing that exists is so sacrosanct that it is beyond re-examination.

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This stance may seem to be inconsistent with the principle of Confusion and Stable data promoted by L. Ron Hubbard, but it is not really so. According to Hubbard’s principle, mental confusions are held at bay by beliefs, and if those beliefs are destabilized then a person may be overwhelmed with confusion. This is apparently true.

However, it is always possible to replace a belief with a more consistent belief. But this may be regarded as addressing a conditioning with another conditioning. This seems to take place in the subject of Scientology.

An optimum course would be to remove the confusion altogether so a belief is no longer required. This seems to be the approach in Buddhism.

[NOTE: The above essay was inspired by an exchange with Geir Isene here: Comment-3712. The problem with Geir’s article ON WILL is its absolutist tendency to look at will and other things.]

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References:

Is there an absolute Will?

Considerations and Free Will

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Comments

  • Chris Thompson  On July 14, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Absolutes and personal certainty don’t seem to be an issue that I’ve observed. These don’t seem to be a problem to come up with. Possibly the search for an objective reality is the problem?

    • vinaire  On July 14, 2012 at 9:01 PM

      There is certainty of beliefs and fixed ideas. They are treated as absolutes. I am sure you have come across them.

      Have you ever come across somebody with certainty about God? Or, certainty about self?

      .

      • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 6:41 AM

        And the objective reality?

        Is the Grand Design simply the most Grand Illusion?

    • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 6:54 AM

      Objective reality is, of course, relative in this universe. There is another objective reality underlying what we see, and another one underlying that, and so on.

      Thinking that there is an absolute objective reality would be another absolutism.

      There is no absolute objective reality. This is how it is. Therefore, I would not call it a grand illusion. I would simply call it… IS-NESS.

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      • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 7:10 AM

        So subjective reality is maybe the top layer of objective reality?

        And considerations fall into place where?

        • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 7:51 AM

          I would not say that subjective reality is the top layer of objective reality. Subjective reality is more like what one feels and/or visualizes about things. It is how one has connected the dots to get an understanding. But it may also consist of premonitions, etc. Subjective reality can go very deep.

          Subjective reality is more of an abstraction of what one sees objectively. But that subjective reality may be made ‘objective’ through subjects like mathematics. More here…

          Subjective character of experience

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        • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 9:21 AM

          Object = what is out there.
          From this seems to come the idea of OBJECTIVE.

          Subject = what one thinks of what is out there.
          From this seems to come the idea of SUBJECTIVE.

          Pure objectivity is called NIRVANA in Buddhism. Here one is looking at even SELF objectively.

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        • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

          Now you are splitting them back up again and off we go again. I do not think there is a very good way to split these up, in other words, I do not think there is a sharp line to draw.

        • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

          There is no splitting up anywhere. It is simply looking at whatever is there from different angles.

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        • vinaire  On July 16, 2012 at 5:38 AM

          Considerations are everywhere. Considerations underlie both in the perception of “objective” and in the connecting of dots, which is the subjective part.

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  • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    A Scientologist would say, “Oh! These are the definitions of the words, and we must never question them.” Why are these definitions so sacrosanct? Because if we question them it will shake their stable data of Scientology?

    Didn’t Hubbard change many of those definitions? Didn’t he introduce many new words and definitions? Didn’t he then want those definitions to be the status quo?

    Why should there be no further investigation of the definitions underlying these words?

    A closed mind wants to keep the status quo that it has settled on. That mind is not an explorer no matter how much it pretends to be one. It doesn’t want to look at its own assumptions.

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  • Rafael Sánchez Núñez  On July 15, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Dear Vinay, your buddha quote above ( in the top ) is the best one I have read from him, where it came from ?. The text reference could lead to a golden mine 🙂

    • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      Rafael, I just found it by googling, because I knew it was there. My wife had it on the refrigerator for quite some time.

      Believe nothing

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      • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        Ahh. Finally, the woman behind the man… I only thought you were schizo when in reality the good stuff was coming from your wife’s refrigerator! hahaha

      • Rafael Sánchez Núñez  On July 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        Vinay, thanks. I just found this wiki link on the Kalama Sutta stating more or less the same:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta
        greetings to your beautiful wife, you are a lucky man.

      • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        My wife is very happy to hear these comments. She is telling me, “They are right. You are a lucky man.”

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        • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 1:57 PM

          🙂

        • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM

          She calls me some other things too. But she is fiercely protective.

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        • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 10:16 PM

          I am guessing “sweetheart” or other term of endearment?

        • Rafael Sánchez Núñez  On July 15, 2012 at 5:07 PM

          Vinay, yes, I know, I know. Don´t you think it is very interesting the consistent behaviour of a loving wife regardless of the country and culture ? 🙂

        • vinaire  On July 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM

          Yes. She thinks that she owns me. But I have my space. 🙂

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        • Chris Thompson  On July 15, 2012 at 10:29 PM

          Yes! The space that she gives you is for you to do with as she pleases!!! hahaha – just joking of course… We are lucky indeed to have mates who support and nurture us even though we are very crazy. Taking on ex-SO for a mate cannot be very easy for them! I think re-assimilation of ex-military dog would be easier task, easier to civilize.

        • vinaire  On July 16, 2012 at 5:01 AM

          You may be right!

  • vinaire  On July 24, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    The difference between Religion and Philosophy is that Religion tends to be absolutist.

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    • Chris Thompson  On July 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      I dunno if this is THE difference. There are a lot more differences than this. What would be similar between religion and philosophy? These two aren’t the same and neither are they two sides of a coin. They are related but no more than sister fields of study, are they?

    • vinaire  On July 25, 2012 at 5:25 AM

      I see religions putting limits on looking. They ultimately lead to a closed mind.

      I see philosophy entertaining no such limits.

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      • Chris Thompson  On July 25, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Right, the philosophy of not entertaining limits does not entertain limits but the philosophy of entertaining limits does.

        These sparkling generalities are creating categories which are not working for me.

        • vinaire  On July 25, 2012 at 11:10 AM

          All that I mean is there are no absolute limits as far as I know. Whereas, religions create limits through undefined absolute sounding terms, such as, God.

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  • freebeeing  On July 25, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Vinaire: “Objective reality is, of course, relative in this universe.” and
    “Object = what is out there.
    From this seems to come the idea of OBJECTIVE.”

    This is not consistent. When you say it is relative, then you have made it subjective. If you disagree then please explain what you mean by “relative”.

    • vinaire  On July 25, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      Freebeing, I suppose you are referring to the following comments:

      https://vinaire.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/absolutism-and-philosophy/#comment-3749
      https://vinaire.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/absolutism-and-philosophy/#comment-3756

      Both objective and subjective realities are relative. Relative simply means that these realities are not absolute, but are derived from something else. Examples would be, “The speed of a car is relative to the speed of earth.” “The speed of light is supposedly absolute, but it is relative to the character of physical space.” One’s perception is relative to the filters and genetic programming in play.”

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      • Chris Thompson  On July 25, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        Vinaire: “The speed of light is supposedly absolute, but it is relative to the character of physical space.”

        Chris: Now that is an eloquent way of saying that. Nice and short and perfect.

    • Chris Thompson  On July 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      I think we have been shown a blind alley with subjective v. objective… Useful at the macro, but at the root, not so much. Without experiencing a loss of havingness (hehe) I am thinking that at the root, things are very different from both what we have been taught and how things seem.

    • Chris Thompson  On July 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      @freebeing: The entire concept of subjective vs. objective doesn’t cover it and IS inconsistent. There is “absolutely” nothing absolute about objective reality and subjective reality is wide ranging and regarding orders of magnitude, may be a subjective flea on the back of an objective dog. Subjective impinges very slowly and tediously on objective if and when it does at all.

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