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Re: "Outraging" Hume

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  • ss
    ... difficult for me to imagen how her people could experience the world without any structure. I believe that any one needs some kind of structure to be able
    Message 1 of 22 , Dec 1, 2003
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      --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, de josse
      <dejosse2003@y...> wrote:
      >>> India for example may not have religion, but it seems very
      difficult for me to imagen how her people could experience the world
      without any structure. I believe that any one needs some kind of
      structure to be able to experience things. I think this basic
      structure is built in peoples very early childhood, wether one is
      born in Asia or in Europe. If we would not have any structure to
      help us perceive important information, focus our attention, link
      new information with older knowledge, ... we might not be able to
      experience anything. Would we still fall in love if nobody had ever
      invented this expression?

      Dear dejosse:
      First, I completely understand what you mean when you talk about the
      difficulty in conceiving of unstructured experiences of the world
      being a means of acquiring knowledge of it. It is very difficult to
      do so within our Western culture (which after is built on
      the `theory' – perhaps we should say `pre-theory' – of Christian
      theology). However, given the ease with which we accept (Xtian)
      theology as a (pre-theoretical) basis for knowledge about the world,
      I do not see why unstructured experience, however inconceivable it
      may seem, should be any more problematic on the face of it than the
      present state of affairs.

      Furthermore, it seems to me that the Indians suggest exactly that
      the quest for knowledge *should* begin with experiencing the world
      without structure. In a previous post early on in this debate, we
      had discussed a bit about how some Indian (or Asian) traditions seem
      to emphasize that the universe must lose its intelligibility for the
      seeker for him to be ready for the transmission of knowledge. (I
      could also cite my own rather meager experiences in this regard when
      I used to meditate regularly.)

      It is also interesting to note that quantum leaps of knowledge in
      Western science have occurred when the extant structures underlying
      the old theories were challenged and brought down. Galileo must have
      had to forget Copernicus' theories, Einstein must completely
      obliterate any reference to Newtonian physics, Harvey must forget
      about the ether and so on. Advances in knowledge, even in our own
      structured sciences depend upon demolishing *a* structure, even if
      only to construct a new one. (We could probably put Heathen in the
      same iconoclastic category, as far as the social sciences are
      concerned).

      It seems to me that in our dialog, the issue of structure intersects
      with two categories seperately: knowledge (science being one form of
      it) and experience.
      I agree it is difficult to imagine knowledge without some sort of
      structure around it.
      However it is not at all obvious to me why we cannot experience the
      world without structure. You said: "I believe that any one needs
      some kind of structure to be able to experience things." Why must
      this be so? For example a baby who experiences his father's face for
      the first time coos, or smiles or cries. Surely the baby has no
      means to structure this experience. And yet, there is some kind of
      reaction, which would lead one to infer the baby experienced
      *something*.

      You brought up `falling in love' as an example of an experience for
      which structure is necessary. While I do not wish to contest your
      claim per se, I think we must be wary of *assuming* that this is the
      case: that falling in love is an experience that derives somehow
      from structure.

      I would ask you to consider whether there really is such a
      structured experience as `falling in love' at all, and if there is
      how it goes to our human experience of the world. We have all seen
      people who `fell in love', sometimes simultaneously feel anger or
      even hatred towards the same person they supposedly love, only to
      feel affection when they calm down again. How can we say this
      experience has structure at all, when it is so ephemeral, so
      transitory?

      Of course, something *does* happen… people meet, have some kind of
      an experience that they make sense of as `falling in love' and stay
      together for the rest of their lives. But parakeets mate for life,
      too. One may be able to say there is such a thing as `falling in
      love' if one were to experience it, but how can I be sure that the
      experience I have is there only because I structured it in a certain
      way? Knowing that a parakeet can meet another parakeet, court and
      hook up for the rest of its life the same way I could suggests at
      the very least that my experience is no more structured than the
      parakeets.

      I agree with you in one sense that the problem (if one's aim is to
      seek unstructured experience) is not just religion. A nonreligious
      person who seeks unstructured experience of the world must still let
      go of whatever structure he holds on to. But religion might be the
      problem in another sense. It might be religion that convinces us
      that structure is a prerequisite for us to experience the world
      around us.

      >> "There is something else that troubles me. The very
      word 'distortions' only makes sense if one believes in finding
      a 'truth'. I don't know if, in social sciences, we will ever be able
      to find a truth without distortions."

      --Again, it is possible that this is true, not only in the social
      sciences, but in general. However, it is clear that many people
      (including, I assume, a majority of this board) are engaged in the
      search of knowledge of human societies. Surely, their effort is
      predicated on the assumption that undistorted knowledge is, at the
      very least, *possible*. As long as we suppose undistorted knowledge
      about human societies and their cultures to be *possible*, we must
      concern ourselves with the problem of distortions in our quest to
      understand other cultures. (On the other hand, if undistorted
      knowledge is completely impossible, we are all just wasting our time
      anyway, right?)

      >>"I think the very object of social sciences, our social world and
      behaviour of people, is a strange mix of natural (to all humans) and
      cultural elements. As long as people are cultural beings (with
      culture defined as what people and groups construct to become their
      world), a part of their reality will be a cultural construction.
      This structure generates social behaviour, ways of thinking,
      problems and possibilities. It seems difficult to search for social
      facts loose from the way culture is structuring this. Social
      behaviour is for a great part determined by 'distortioned'
      cultures."
      --I was not able to understand this point fully. Perhaps you can
      expand on it?
      I am not sure we can say that culture `distorts' social behavior.
      It could be said that Culture `shapes' social behavior. Social
      scientists can either get a clear understanding of that culture and
      that behavior or a distorted understanding of that culture and that
      behavior, (whether the culture and behavior is their own or someone
      else's). So, to speak to Arun's question, the notion that hijackers
      who fly planes into buildings do so because their religion tells
      them to destroy nonbelievers is either a clear understanding (in
      other words, knowledge) or a distorted understanding of their
      religion and their behavior. It seems to me that this notion is a
      verifiable hypothesis of the behavior in question.

      >>"Maybe one should not try to eliminate the cultural influences out
      of social studies. It might be suficient when scientists are
      consious abouth the fact that they are always studying cultural
      behaviour also, not merely social behaviour. The descriptions they
      give can't be valuable for all humankind because they present
      no 'universal truth', but it might be usefull to understand how some
      peoples cultural construction has an influence on their social
      world. Only after comparing results, after having studied different
      groups all over the world by scientists out of different cultural
      backgrounds, one might be able to draw conclusions abouth what is
      typically human."
      --I am not necessarily suggesting that one should try to eliminate
      cultural influences out of social studies. However, what we have
      read in the Heathen so far makes a compelling case that:
      1) the Xtian religion influences (if you like `structures) the
      social sciences and indeed the intellectual milieu of our era.
      2) the social sciences as they exist today do not produce knowledge
      about other cultures (like the Indian one).
      Point 1) in itself is not a problem at all. After all, none of us
      would give up the knowledge we have gleaned from the natural
      sciences, which are rooted in the same intellectual milieu.
      Point 2) is very much a problem, at least to those who seek
      knowledge about those other cultures. I do not see how problem 2)
      can be solved by involving scientists from different cultural
      backgrounds (in the hope that we average out some common `typically
      human' denominator). If the very questions we ask about other
      societies are in themselves structured by the Western religious
      culture, they may cease to be intelligible to a non-Westerner. For
      the questions we pose in today's social sciences to become
      intelligible to this nonwestern scientist, he would have to learn to
      become Western - (ie to adopt the Western (religious) structure). In
      other words, to the extent that the nonWesterner is able to
      contribute to the social sciences, he is no longer culturally
      different.

      In your prior post, you said: "I compare the situation Social
      Sciences are in today, to someone who is lacking
      a discussion partner to exchange thoughts." But you went on to note
      that something seemed problematic to you "because I have no idea of
      where to look for 'Indian intuition'. Even some Indian intellectuals
      confess to have a hard time finding out what this might be."
      --The point I am trying to make is this. While I completely resonate
      with the notion that there is some kind of intellectual void in the
      Social Sciences today, I do not know how it would be possible to
      broaden the discussion as you suggest. If Western social scientists
      started such a discussion, the only voices to answer back that would
      make any sense would be also Western. In effect, the discussion
      would inevitably be an echo chamber.
      To break out of the chamber, it seems to me, it is essential to
      dissolve the existing structure, forget about Humes in the same way
      that Galileo had to forget about Copernicus or Einstein about
      Newton. Even more fundamentally, it seems to me that the methodology
      of the social sciences of today must be questioned.

      Regards,
      Satya
    • Balagangadhara
      Dear de josse, ... without structure when it is structure which makes experiences possible in the first place. ... Even if an experience comes structured, the
      Message 2 of 22 , Dec 9, 2003
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        Dear de josse,


        You say:

        > I don't see how it could be possible to look for experiences
        without structure when it is structure which makes experiences
        possible in the first place.
        >

        Even if an experience comes structured, the question is: could we
        think of experiences that are not religiously structured? If we can,
        that is sufficient. Religion structures experience one way; other
        things could structure experience differently. In that sense, the
        issue is not between structured and unstructured experiences, but
        about the what and the how of the structuring.

        You further say:

        > There is something else that troubles me. The very
        word 'distortions' only makes sense if one believes in finding
        a 'truth'. I don't know if, in social sciences, we will ever be
        able to find a truth without distortions. I think the very object of
        social sciences, our social world and behaviour of people, is a
        strange mix of natural (to all humans) and cultural elements. As
        long as people are cultural beings (with culture defined as what
        people and groups construct to become their world), a part of their
        reality will be a cultural construction. This structure generates
        social behaviour, ways of thinking, problems and possibilities. It
        seems difficult to search for social facts loose from the way
        culture is structuring this. Social behaviour is for a great part
        determined by 'distortioned' cultures.
        >

        (a) There are several things you run together here. Semantically, of
        course, you do not need the notion if 'truth' to speak
        of 'distortions'. If we begin with the idea that we might not be
        able to access truth, comparison beween two views can tell us which
        is more 'acceptable' (and thus defined as 'less distorted').

        (b) I do not quite understand why the cultural reality is less of a
        reality because it is culturally constucted. (Only because it
        is 'less of a reality' could we speak of 'distortion'.) A building,
        a book, a relationship etc. are cultural constucts; in what way are
        they less real than the mountains on the moon?

        (c) Are you saying that cultures 'distort' our descriptions of the
        world, or that some cultures are 'distorted', when compared to some
        other cultures? It is not very clear to me.

        (d) Nor is it clear to me what kind of a difference you are trying
        to draw between cultural and social facts. Perhaps, you could
        clarify these two issues in your next post.

        Finally, you say:

        > Maybe one should not try to eliminate the cultural influences out
        of social studies. It might be suficient when scientists are
        consious abouth the fact that they are always studying cultural
        behaviour also, not merely social behaviour. The descriptions they
        give can't be valuable for all humankind because they present
        no 'universal truth', but it might be usefull to understand how some
        peoples cultural construction has an influence on their social
        world. Only after comparing results, after having studied different
        groups all over the world by scientists out of different cultural
        backgrounds, one might be able to draw conclusions abouth what is
        typically human.
        >

        Again, it is a bit unclear to me. Why should one try to eliminate
        cultural 'influences' out of social studies? Besides, if 'the
        cultural' influences 'the social' the same way in all cultures, we
        can make a 'universal' claim about this, surely. If it does not, how
        could we know that there is a differential influencing of one by the
        other?

        I get the feeling that you are trying to point something out. But it
        is not clear to me what it is. Perhaps, you could begin by
        clarifying the questions.

        Friendly greetings

        Balu
      • vnr
        What is the difference between human experience and that of non-human animals. Do they structure experience? ... __________________________________ Do you
        Message 3 of 22 , Dec 9, 2003
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          What is the difference between human experience and
          that of non-human animals. Do they structure
          experience?




          --- Balagangadhara <balu@...> wrote:
          > Dear de josse,
          >
          >
          > You say:
          >
          > > I don't see how it could be possible to look for
          > experiences
          > without structure when it is structure which makes
          > experiences
          > possible in the first place.
          > >
          >
          > Even if an experience comes structured, the question
          > is: could we
          > think of experiences that are not religiously
          > structured? If we can,
          > that is sufficient. Religion structures experience
          > one way; other
          > things could structure experience differently. In
          > that sense, the
          > issue is not between structured and unstructured
          > experiences, but
          > about the what and the how of the structuring.
          >



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        • jochem van den Boogert
          What is the relevancy of this quetsion? Are you trying to figure out if non-human animals have unstructured experiences? What if that were so? And what if
          Message 4 of 22 , Dec 10, 2003
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            What is the relevancy of this quetsion? Are you trying
            to figure out if "non-human animals" have unstructured
            experiences?
            What if that were so? And what if that were not so?

            Jochem


            --- vnr <vnr1995@...> wrote:
            > What is the difference between human experience and
            > that of non-human animals. Do they structure
            > experience?
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > --- Balagangadhara <balu@...> wrote:
            > > Dear de josse,
            > >
            > >
            > > You say:
            > >
            > > > I don't see how it could be possible to look for
            > > experiences
            > > without structure when it is structure which makes
            > > experiences
            > > possible in the first place.
            > > >
            > >
            > > Even if an experience comes structured, the
            > question
            > > is: could we
            > > think of experiences that are not religiously
            > > structured? If we can,
            > > that is sufficient. Religion structures experience
            > > one way; other
            > > things could structure experience differently. In
            > > that sense, the
            > > issue is not between structured and unstructured
            > > experiences, but
            > > about the what and the how of the structuring.
            > >
            >
            >
            >
            > __________________________________
            > Do you Yahoo!?
            > New Yahoo! Photos - easier uploading and sharing.
            > http://photos.yahoo.com/
            >


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          • vnr
            Animals do structure experience, for they recognize marked and unmarked environment. In what ways their structuring differ from the way humans structure
            Message 5 of 22 , Dec 10, 2003
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              Animals do structure experience, for they recognize
              marked and unmarked environment. In what ways their
              structuring differ from the way humans structure
              experience.



              --- jochem van den Boogert <j_vdboogert@...>
              wrote:
              > What is the relevancy of this quetsion? Are you
              > trying
              > to figure out if "non-human animals" have
              > unstructured
              > experiences?
              > What if that were so? And what if that were not so?
              >
              > Jochem
              >
              >
              > --- vnr <vnr1995@...> wrote:
              > > What is the difference between human experience
              > and
              > > that of non-human animals. Do they structure
              > > experience?




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            • gktk_us
              I believe this is a pretty interesting/important question keeping mind the influence Darwin has over the educated masses...and how vehemently he is opposed
              Message 6 of 22 , Dec 10, 2003
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                I believe this is a pretty interesting/important question keeping
                mind the influence "Darwin" has over the educated masses...and how
                vehemently he is opposed by some "others".

                Anyway, the point is; so far as "structured experience" goes, where
                does one draw a line?

                If "animals" do, then do the protozoans do? Do the virus do? If yes
                (probably so), then: does moving from "structured" to "non-
                structured" experience describe a "evolutionary" stage in
                a) human
                b)culture?

                Regards,

                --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, jochem van den
                Boogert <j_vdboogert@y...> wrote:
                > What is the relevancy of this quetsion? Are you trying
                > to figure out if "non-human animals" have unstructured
                > experiences?
                > What if that were so? And what if that were not so?
                >
                > Jochem
                >
                >
                > --- vnr <vnr1995@y...> wrote:
                > > What is the difference between human experience and
                > > that of non-human animals. Do they structure
                > > experience?
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > --- Balagangadhara <balu@r...> wrote:
                > > > Dear de josse,
                > > >
                > > >
                > > > You say:
                > > >
                > > > > I don't see how it could be possible to look for
                > > > experiences
                > > > without structure when it is structure which makes
                > > > experiences
                > > > possible in the first place.
                > > > >
                > > >
                > > > Even if an experience comes structured, the
                > > question
                > > > is: could we
                > > > think of experiences that are not religiously
                > > > structured? If we can,
                > > > that is sufficient. Religion structures experience
                > > > one way; other
                > > > things could structure experience differently. In
                > > > that sense, the
                > > > issue is not between structured and unstructured
                > > > experiences, but
                > > > about the what and the how of the structuring.
                > > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > __________________________________
                > > Do you Yahoo!?
                > > New Yahoo! Photos - easier uploading and sharing.
                > > http://photos.yahoo.com/
                > >
                >
                >
                > __________________________________
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              • vnr
                I am not able to see any unstructured experience, unless the animal is 3 hours old or so. As Balu pointed out earlier, it is more about the what and the how of
                Message 7 of 22 , Dec 10, 2003
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                  I am not able to see any unstructured experience,
                  unless the animal is 3 hours old or so.

                  As Balu pointed out earlier, it is more about the what
                  and the how of structuring.



                  --- gktk_us <tkgk9@...> wrote:
                  > I believe this is a pretty interesting/important
                  > question keeping
                  > mind the influence "Darwin" has over the educated
                  > masses...and how
                  > vehemently he is opposed by some "others".
                  >
                  > Anyway, the point is; so far as "structured
                  > experience" goes, where
                  > does one draw a line?
                  >
                  > If "animals" do, then do the protozoans do? Do the
                  > virus do? If yes
                  > (probably so), then: does moving from "structured"
                  > to "non-
                  > structured" experience describe a "evolutionary"
                  > stage in
                  > a) human
                  > b)culture?
                  >
                  > Regards,
                  >
                  > --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com,
                  > jochem van den
                  > Boogert <j_vdboogert@y...> wrote:
                  > > What is the relevancy of this quetsion? Are you
                  > trying
                  > > to figure out if "non-human animals" have
                  > unstructured
                  > > experiences?
                  > > What if that were so? And what if that were not
                  > so?



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                • gktk_us
                  ... According to hindu-tradition(s), a gnani s experience is unstructured, although a casual observer usually detects structure in it. ... I think dharma
                  Message 8 of 22 , Dec 11, 2003
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                    --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr <vnr1995@y...>
                    wrote:
                    > I am not able to see any unstructured experience,
                    > unless the animal is 3 hours old or so.

                    According to hindu-tradition(s), a gnani's experience is
                    unstructured, although a casual observer usually detects "structure"
                    in it.

                    > As Balu pointed out earlier, it is more about the what
                    > and the how of structuring.


                    I think dharma prompts one to break the "structured" approach (as
                    Satya had pointed out earlier). Hence my question:


                    > > If "animals" do, then do the protozoans do? Do the
                    > > virus do? If yes
                    > > (probably so), then: does moving from "structured"
                    > > to "non-
                    > > structured" experience describe a "evolutionary"
                    > > stage in
                    > > a) human
                    > > b)culture?


                    Yes, I had read Balu's note. I do not think it is "only" about what
                    and how of structuring. As per the "so called Hinduism"
                    the "structure" itself (built upon experience?) is to be questioned.

                    Anyway,....may be I am digressing too much.

                    Regards,
                  • vnr
                    ... accessing truth of the structured experience is different from unstructured. Indian traditions are referring to the former.
                    Message 9 of 22 , Dec 11, 2003
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                      --- gktk_us <tkgk9@...> wrote:
                      > --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr
                      > <vnr1995@y...>
                      > wrote:
                      > > I am not able to see any unstructured experience,
                      > > unless the animal is 3 hours old or so.
                      >
                      > According to hindu-tradition(s), a gnani's
                      > experience is
                      > unstructured, although a casual observer usually
                      > detects "structure"
                      > in it.

                      accessing truth of the structured experience is
                      different from unstructured. Indian traditions are
                      referring to the former.






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                    • Balagangadhara
                      The biggest issue is: what is experience? All the Indian traditions have been busy with answering this question. But both posing this question and answering it
                      Message 10 of 22 , Dec 11, 2003
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                        The biggest issue is: what is experience? All the Indian traditions
                        have been busy with answering this question. But both posing this
                        question and answering it are themselves experiential, as far as the
                        Indian traditions are concerned. For instance, according to the so-
                        called Buddhist traditions, the structures-in-experience are not
                        given in the experience itself: the impermanence and transience of
                        experience has to do with the realization that the description of the
                        experience provides a sense of permanence because all descriptions of
                        experience 'create' structures. Here, it has to do with structures
                        like 'self', specific emotions, and such like. But that does not mean
                        that the Buddhist tradition says that our 'experience' of a tree, or
                        a stone or a car, etc. is illusory. That is, they do not say that
                        the 'experience' of the external world is an illusion.

                        Accessing the truth of experience that in such an experience, there
                        is no structure to be experienced (if I may put it in a simplistic
                        way) does indeed constitute enlightenment, according to the Indian
                        traditions.

                        But this entire issue, despite its absolute importance, is not the
                        one I am addressing myself to in 'The Heathen...' (In a paper I
                        recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue
                        of 'experience' in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian
                        traditions, especially when we speak of enlightenment.) I hope to
                        begin looking at this issue in one of my projected books. We need to
                        have clarified many notions before we approach the notion of
                        experience, especially if we want to talk intelligibly about the
                        Indian traditions. Otherwise, we will repeat the foolish claims of
                        generations of Indologists and specialists in the study of
                        Indian 'religions' that, for example, the advaitic tradition claims
                        that the world is an illusion, i.e., the advaitins are made to say
                        such foolish things as: 'there is no difference between my experience
                        of having an arm chopped off and drinking water when one is thirsty',
                        and such like. (How does one distinguish between the 'illusion' of
                        having an arm chopped off, and the 'illusion' of drinking water when
                        thirsty? What differentiates one illusion from another? Are there
                        different 'kinds' of illusion?)

                        To understand the claim in 'The Heathen...' about structuring
                        experience, we should not problematise the notion of 'experience'. We
                        need to keep this notion steady and vague, the way we do it when we
                        do other sciences, and when we are not studying experience itself.

                        Friendly greetings

                        Balu
                      • vnr
                        There is a genuine problem in these discussions. The majority thinks that the west and hindus experience the same phenomenon; and that the difference lies in
                        Message 11 of 22 , Apr 19, 2005
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                          There is a genuine problem in these discussions. The
                          majority thinks that the west and hindus experience
                          the same phenomenon; and that the difference lies in
                          the descriptions given by the both groups. If this is
                          the case, there are no 'cultural differences'




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                        • kannan7s
                          Let s recap: (a) The West experiences Hinduism as a unitary phenomenon. Books have been written about this Hinduism. (b) It is being contested whether
                          Message 12 of 22 , Apr 19, 2005
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                            Let's recap:

                            (a) The West experiences 'Hinduism' as a unitary phenomenon. Books
                            have been written about this 'Hinduism.'

                            (b) It is being contested whether 'Hindus' experience 'Hinduism' as a
                            phenomenon.

                            (c) Those who think 'Hindus' do experience 'Hinduism' as an entity
                            that hangs together (as, say, Indic Traditions) suggest
                            that 'Hinduism' may be a phenomenon though not 'religion' (like
                            Christianity/Islam/Judaism).

                            (d) There are those who say 'Hinduism' simply does not exist and
                            was 'constructed' by the West using 'hipkapi' construction techniques
                            or some equivalent.

                            I suppose vnr's comment below applies to the group (c) because (c)
                            agrees with the West that 'Hinduism' is a unitary phenomenon, just
                            not 'religion'. But I don't see how 'Hinduism' being a phenomenon
                            described differently by 'Hindus' and the West precludes the
                            existence of 'cultural differences.'

                            Kannan

                            --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr <vnr1995@y...>
                            wrote:
                            > There is a genuine problem in these discussions. The
                            > majority thinks that the west and hindus experience
                            > the same phenomenon; and that the difference lies in
                            > the descriptions given by the both groups. If this is
                            > the case, there are no 'cultural differences'
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
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                          • vnr
                            ... When the most bemoans the fact that hinduism is not adequately described, what it does entail: it is a scientific debate between competing
                            Message 13 of 22 , Apr 19, 2005
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                              --- kannan7s <kannan7s@...> wrote:
                              > (c) Those who think 'Hindus' do experience
                              > 'Hinduism' as an entity
                              > that hangs together (as, say, Indic Traditions)
                              > suggest
                              > that 'Hinduism' may be a phenomenon though not
                              > 'religion' (like
                              > Christianity/Islam/Judaism).

                              > I suppose vnr's comment below applies to the group
                              > (c) because (c)
                              > agrees with the West that 'Hinduism' is a unitary
                              > phenomenon, just
                              > not 'religion'. But I don't see how 'Hinduism'
                              > being a phenomenon
                              > described differently by 'Hindus' and the West
                              > precludes the
                              > existence of 'cultural differences.'

                              When the most bemoans the fact that 'hinduism' is not
                              adequately described, what it does entail: it is a
                              'scientific' debate between 'competing' descriptions,
                              one of which is the description given by the West,
                              even though the most need not have explicit
                              description; but it is sufficient to say that the
                              description given by the west does not fit the way
                              they wanna see.

                              If, given the phenomenon is the same, this is a match
                              of descriptions, the game ends up with the distinction
                              like 'scientific' vs. 'unscientific' descriptions.
                              Hence, no cultural differences. Culture differences
                              exist when and only when people from *different*
                              culture experience the *social world* differently. If
                              the west and the India experience the social world in
                              the *same* way, then there are no cultural diffences,
                              but there could exist multiple descriptions of the
                              same phenomena, one of these descriptions being the
                              best. Hence, the charge of social scientists hold:
                              that Indians are not appreciating the 'scientific'
                              description given of various phenomena in India and by
                              the social sciences.



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                            • macgupta123
                              ... Can t speak for the majority, but I think that the West experiences a something (Hinduism) as a religion. They experience specific Indian things (not the
                              Message 14 of 22 , Apr 19, 2005
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                                --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr <vnr1995@y...> wrote:
                                > There is a genuine problem in these discussions. The
                                > majority thinks that the west and hindus experience
                                > the same phenomenon; and that the difference lies in
                                > the descriptions given by the both groups. If this is
                                > the case, there are no 'cultural differences'

                                Can't speak for the majority, but I think that the West experiences
                                a something (Hinduism) as a religion. They experience specific
                                Indian things (not the cuisine, not kho-kho or kabaddi, not Indian
                                music) as religion We understand this to be so because, firstly,
                                the Western world is impelled to seek and find religion in other
                                cultures, and secondly, because there are plausible correspondences
                                that can be set up.

                                However, that very same something (HInduism) Hindus experience
                                in a different manner. Hindus do not commonly realize how different
                                it is because they are typically the Blind Heathens with little understanding
                                of Christianity. Hindus believe Christians experience Christianity the
                                way Hindus experience Hinduism.

                                Then Balu comes along and upsets the apple-cart.

                                Hindus and Westerners have a different experience and description of
                                the same phenomenon. That is where the cultural difference lies.

                                -Arun
                              • vnr
                                As Balu showed in the earlier post(s), it is not the *same* phenomenon. Lets take the phenomenon of stone falling from the tower and multiple descriptions
                                Message 15 of 22 , Apr 20, 2005
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                                  As Balu showed in the earlier post(s), it is not the
                                  *same* phenomenon. Lets take the phenomenon of stone
                                  falling from the tower and multiple descriptions
                                  thereof: (a) stone falls due to gravitational
                                  attraction; (b) it falls due to its love with earth.

                                  Of course, we can't write off the differences between
                                  these two descriptions as 'cultural differeneces'; and
                                  we know, the former description is cognitively
                                  superior to that of the latter, and hence one is
                                  better than the other.

                                  Our experience of the world is structured by *our*
                                  'intuitive' or 'metaphysical' world models(cf: Balu's
                                  1985 paper); these models distribute cognitive weights
                                  to various problems. That is why some questions,
                                  questions like 'historicity', are more important to
                                  one culture than to the other culture.



                                  --- macgupta123 <macgupta123@...> wrote:
                                  > Hindus and Westerners have a different experience
                                  > and description of
                                  > the same phenomenon. That is where the cultural
                                  > difference lies.


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                                • macgupta123
                                  ... I am not convinced that it is not the same phenomenon. The phenomenon is the stone falling to the ground, which remains invariant. The description is
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Apr 20, 2005
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                                    vnr <vnr1995@y...> wrote:

                                    > As Balu showed in the earlier post(s), it is not the
                                    > *same* phenomenon.

                                    I am not convinced that it is not the same phenomenon.
                                    The phenomenon is the stone falling to the ground, which
                                    remains invariant. The description is "striving to its
                                    natural place" (Aristotle) or "Universal Law of Gravitation"
                                    (Newton) or "following an extremal path in curved space-time"
                                    (Einstein).

                                    Likewise, the phenomenon is all the things surrounding a
                                    people's pursuit of dharma and moksha. One description is
                                    religion. We seek a better description.

                                    -Arun
                                  • vnr
                                    Question: Has whatever there exists in Indian traditions appeared the same to Indians and to the west? You say, yes; whereas I say, no. Of course, I am not
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Apr 20, 2005
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                                      Question: Has whatever there exists in Indian
                                      traditions appeared the same to Indians and to the
                                      west?

                                      You say, yes; whereas I say, no. Of course, I am not
                                      talking about isolated facts.


                                      --- macgupta123 <macgupta123@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > vnr <vnr1995@y...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > > As Balu showed in the earlier post(s), it is not
                                      > the
                                      > > *same* phenomenon.
                                      >
                                      > I am not convinced that it is not the same
                                      > phenomenon.
                                      > The phenomenon is the stone falling to the ground,
                                      > which
                                      > remains invariant. The description is "striving to
                                      > its
                                      > natural place" (Aristotle) or "Universal Law of
                                      > Gravitation"
                                      > (Newton) or "following an extremal path in curved
                                      > space-time"
                                      > (Einstein).
                                      >
                                      > Likewise, the phenomenon is all the things
                                      > surrounding a
                                      > people's pursuit of dharma and moksha. One
                                      > description is
                                      > religion. We seek a better description.
                                      >
                                      > -Arun


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                                    • indigenous1985
                                      (In a paper I recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue of experience in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian traditions,
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Nov 11, 2013
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                                         (In a paper I 
                                        recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue 
                                        of 'experience' in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian 

                                        traditions, especially when we speak of enlightenment.)  


                                        Hey vnr,


                                        Do you know what paper is being referred to above?  Would love to read it.



                                        ---In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, <balu@...> wrote:

                                        The biggest issue is: what is experience? All the Indian traditions
                                        have been busy with answering this question. But both posing this
                                        question and answering it are themselves experiential, as far as the
                                        Indian traditions are concerned. For instance, according to the so-
                                        called Buddhist traditions, the structures-in-experience are not
                                        given in the experience itself: the impermanence and transience of
                                        experience has to do with the realization that the description of the
                                        experience provides a sense of permanence because all descriptions of
                                        experience 'create' structures. Here, it has to do with structures
                                        like 'self', specific emotions, and such like. But that does not mean
                                        that the Buddhist tradition says that our 'experience' of a tree, or
                                        a stone or a car, etc. is illusory. That is, they do not say that
                                        the 'experience' of the external world is an illusion.

                                        Accessing the truth of experience that in such an experience, there
                                        is no structure to be experienced (if I may put it in a simplistic
                                        way) does indeed constitute enlightenment, according to the Indian
                                        traditions.

                                        But this entire issue, despite its absolute importance, is not the
                                        one I am addressing myself to in 'The Heathen...' (In a paper I
                                        recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue
                                        of 'experience' in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian
                                        traditions, especially when we speak of enlightenment.) I hope to
                                        begin looking at this issue in one of my projected books. We need to
                                        have clarified many notions before we approach the notion of
                                        experience, especially if we want to talk intelligibly about the
                                        Indian traditions. Otherwise, we will repeat the foolish claims of
                                        generations of Indologists and specialists in the study of
                                        Indian 'religions' that, for example, the advaitic tradition claims
                                        that the world is an illusion, i.e., the advaitins are made to say
                                        such foolish things as: 'there is no difference between my experience
                                        of having an arm chopped off and drinking water when one is thirsty',
                                        and such like. (How does one distinguish between the 'illusion' of
                                        having an arm chopped off, and the 'illusion' of drinking water when
                                        thirsty? What differentiates one illusion from another? Are there
                                        different 'kinds' of illusion?)

                                        To understand the claim in 'The Heathen...' about structuring
                                        experience, we should not problematise the notion of 'experience'. We
                                        need to keep this notion steady and vague, the way we do it when we
                                        do other sciences, and when we are not studying experience itself.

                                        Friendly greetings

                                        Balu
                                      • vnr1995
                                        It is How to speak for Indian traditions: an agenda for the future: http://www.academia.edu/4214100/How_to_Speak_for_the_Indian_Traditions
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Nov 11, 2013
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                                          It is "How to speak for Indian traditions: an agenda for the future:




                                          On Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 4:24 PM, <indigenous1985@...> wrote:
                                           

                                           (In a paper I 
                                          recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue 
                                          of 'experience' in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian 

                                          traditions, especially when we speak of enlightenment.)  


                                          Hey vnr,


                                          Do you know what paper is being referred to above?  Would love to read it.



                                          ---In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, <balu@...> wrote:

                                          The biggest issue is: what is experience? All the Indian traditions
                                          have been busy with answering this question. But both posing this
                                          question and answering it are themselves experiential, as far as the
                                          Indian traditions are concerned. For instance, according to the so-
                                          called Buddhist traditions, the structures-in-experience are not
                                          given in the experience itself: the impermanence and transience of
                                          experience has to do with the realization that the description of the
                                          experience provides a sense of permanence because all descriptions of
                                          experience 'create' structures. Here, it has to do with structures
                                          like 'self', specific emotions, and such like. But that does not mean
                                          that the Buddhist tradition says that our 'experience' of a tree, or
                                          a stone or a car, etc. is illusory. That is, they do not say that
                                          the 'experience' of the external world is an illusion.

                                          Accessing the truth of experience that in such an experience, there
                                          is no structure to be experienced (if I may put it in a simplistic
                                          way) does indeed constitute enlightenment, according to the Indian
                                          traditions.

                                          But this entire issue, despite its absolute importance, is not the
                                          one I am addressing myself to in 'The Heathen...' (In a paper I
                                          recently presented in the US, I start investigating the issue
                                          of 'experience' in the sense in which we speak of it in the Indian
                                          traditions, especially when we speak of enlightenment.) I hope to
                                          begin looking at this issue in one of my projected books. We need to
                                          have clarified many notions before we approach the notion of
                                          experience, especially if we want to talk intelligibly about the
                                          Indian traditions. Otherwise, we will repeat the foolish claims of
                                          generations of Indologists and specialists in the study of
                                          Indian 'religions' that, for example, the advaitic tradition claims
                                          that the world is an illusion, i.e., the advaitins are made to say
                                          such foolish things as: 'there is no difference between my experience
                                          of having an arm chopped off and drinking water when one is thirsty',
                                          and such like. (How does one distinguish between the 'illusion' of
                                          having an arm chopped off, and the 'illusion' of drinking water when
                                          thirsty? What differentiates one illusion from another? Are there
                                          different 'kinds' of illusion?)

                                          To understand the claim in 'The Heathen...' about structuring
                                          experience, we should not problematise the notion of 'experience'. We
                                          need to keep this notion steady and vague, the way we do it when we
                                          do other sciences, and when we are not studying experience itself.

                                          Friendly greetings

                                          Balu


                                        • macgupta123
                                          Dear dejosse, The idea encountered in India - Sarva dharma sama bhava (all dharmas are equal) - that says Islam and Christianity are dharmas and all lead
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Nov 13, 2013
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                                            Dear dejosse,


                                            The idea encountered in India - "Sarva dharma sama bhava" (all dharmas are equal) - that says Islam and Christianity are "dharmas" and all lead to the same goal is a theoretical construct of Indian ideas, not  reality.


                                            Likewise, the Islamic (Qadiani) idea that the avataars Krishna and Rama are actually the prophets mentioned but not named in the Islamic scriptures is a construct of their idea system, not  reality.


                                            Likewise, the Western idea that Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism exist and are religions is an artifact of their system of thought, not reality.


                                            These in fact may be ways  these systems of thought are constrained to describe reality, and the keen social scientist may be able to infer important properties of these systems from these constraints.  

                                            Even a multi-cultural, culturally-neutral social science may have constraints in what it can describe.

                                            It is distortion in thinking if the appearance of the world through any of these systems of thought is mistaken for anything more than a partial description of reality. 

                                            That is how I see it.

                                            Best wishes,
                                            -Arun



                                            ---In theheatheninhisblindness@yahoogroups.com, <dejosse2003@...> wrote:

                                            Dear Satya (and everyone: please react!),

                                            With great interest I have been following the discussion between Katrien and you. I agree that religion structure(s/d) experiences of cultures and produces distortions as a consequence. However, I have trouble understanding your alternative.

                                            You seem to be looking for knowledge free from distortions by freeing the quest for knowledge from any structure. Science which evolves out of a culture without religion (as for example India) would be unlikely to be driven by structure.

                                            It do not think the problem here is religion. The fact that something structured our thinking and therefore created a science full of distortions, is. I know few people of my age and older who would present themselves as being religious. Still, their thinking is greatly influenced by the christian way of looking at the world. For example, questions as 'Why do people hold on to religion?' look intelligable to them. Even if they are not religious, they will continue to produce 'distortioned' views abouth the world, as the generations before them did.

                                            India for example may not have religion, but it seems very difficult for me to imagen how her people could experience the world without any structure. I believe that any one needs some kind of structure to be able to experience things. I think this basic structure is built in peoples very early childhood, wether one is born in Asia or in Europe. If we would not have any structure to help us perceive important information, focus our attention, link new information with older knowledge, ... we might not be able to experience anything. Would we still fall in love if nobody had ever invented this expression?

                                            I don't see how it could be possible to look for experiences without structure when it is structure which makes experiences possible in the first place. I presume we need structure, not only for having experiences, but also to make sense out of the data we collect this way. Without structure, factual information may never become knowledge because it 'doesn't mean anything'.

                                            There is something else that troubles me. The very word 'distortions' only makes sense if one believes in finding a 'truth'. I don't know if, in social sciences, we will ever be able to find a truth without distortions. I think the very object of social sciences, our social world and behaviour of people, is a strange mix of natural (to all humans) and cultural elements. As long as people are cultural beings (with culture defined as what people and groups construct to become their world), a part of their reality will be a cultural construction. This structure generates social behaviour, ways of thinking, problems and possibilities. It seems difficult to search for social facts loose from the way culture is structuring this. Social behaviour is for a great part determined by 'distortioned' cultures.

                                            Maybe one should not try to eliminate the cultural influences out of social studies. It might be suficient when scientists are consious abouth the fact that they are always studying cultural behaviour also, not merely social behaviour. The descriptions they give can't be valuable for all humankind because they present no 'universal truth', but it might be usefull to understand how some peoples cultural construction has an influence on their social world. Only after comparing results, after having studied different groups all over the world by scientists out of different cultural backgrounds, one might be able to draw conclusions abouth what is typically human.

                                            I do not know to which horrible conclusions my thinking may lead, but I am struggling with these questions. Anyone who can enlighten my vision, please do.

                                            Kind Regards,

                                            dejosse




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