For anyone interested --


Tom, a former member of IPS, has posted an interesting -- and lengthy! -- blog on Integral Life.

 

Quantum Enlightenment 

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Hi Mary,

I hope that you're keeping up with all this, because there will be a PMS exam on the material here, next Thursday.

Aye, Tommyboy, what's the dilly-yo with this Quantum Love Entanglement Theory of yours?

I mean, c'mon, what's the bottom line, you know? Like in, what's inside them Quannum physics worldview for me and my homies at the end of the day? I mean, how can I quantum-entangle a ladies' heart, and , you know, shaggle the twist'o'her hips-don't-lie out of her slippery bikini twanger-toppers? ahahahahaha

 

you know

I like the way Pieterse puts it in this post:

 

God’s reality is coterminous with its instantiations,” i.e., “radically relational, which means it has no reality apart from its concretions in historical and social situations.”

10% extra credit if you can tell Christophe, who apparently has run out of pick-up lines, how to use this stuff to get laid.



kelamuni said:

Hi Mary,

I hope that you're keeping up with all this, because there will be a PMS exam on the material here, next Thursday.

10% extra credit if you can tell Christophe, who apparently has run out of pick-up lines, how to use this stuff to get laid.

Tell her it involves coterminous kennilingus?

hahaha.

happy lincoln, or washington, or whatever day it is.

 


Tom:  The problem with saying the idea of non-enacted is enacted is everything thereby becomes enactive, which is a contradiction.  Why?  Because saying "enactive" presumes the saying isn't itself enacted: it just describes way things are, which is a representational statement of is.  Thus the view called enactivity must go the extra step, to loop onto itself to say even the idea of enactivity is enacted.  This is to relativize an otherwise hidden absolute.


Hi, Tom, yes, that's clear to me -- I don't have any objections to that at all.  I have not held 'enaction' unconsciously (and representationally) as a hidden absolute: I view it as an informed and creative choice, which can and will be superseded in time.  There's a kind of 'boot-strapping' quality to this sensibility: the feeling of flowers blooming in the sky. 

 

 

I think it is this sort of insight -- the deconstruction and exploding of causality -- that has inspired Buddhist writers to use terms like 'phantoms' and 'bubbles' and 'magic.'


On the other hand, if we are formulating some description or telling some story about this understanding, I still feel wary about exempting one of our spiritual or philosophical terms or concepts -- say, unity, or a-causal wholeness, or khora -- from the stream of interpretation and history, designating it as 'the non-enacted,' as if this term alone points to the real thing-in-itself.


I believe you have said something like this yourself in an earlier post on this thread:  "If spiritual insights develop historically like scientific paradigms, the heat of a new spiritual realization is cooled by implying its own relative insignificance, or inevitability, in the sweep of history."


We may accept that there must be 'that' which is non-enacted, but any saying of it necessarily partakes of the causal/historical/situational stream.  I think it is worthwhile still to go ahead and 'say' it, to 'make space' for it in our discourse, as I believe we are attempting here, but this sort of qualification, in my mind, helps us also hold such saying lightly.


Back to this again? 


"The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."

This may cover some old ground, but it seems relevant to our discussion, so I will share it here.  It's from an essay by David Loy, The Deconstruction of Buddhism.  He may misrepresent Derrida in some ways -- I recall Theurj mentioning that before -- but he still covers some points that seem interesting and worth sharing and discussing IRT Tom's blog.


~*~


Nirvana

There is no specifiable difference whatsoever between nirvana and the everyday world; there is no specifiable difference whatever between the everyday world and nirvana.
    The ontic range of nirvana is the ontic range of the everyday world. There is not even the subtlest difference between the two.
    That which, taken as causal or dependent, is the process of being born and passing on, is, taken non-causally and beyond all dependence, declared to be nirvana.
    Ultimate serenity is the coming to rest of all ways of taking things, the repose of named things; no truth has been taught by a Buddha for anyone, anywhere. [MMK, XXV:19, 20, 9, 24]


    The climactic chapter of the MMK addresses the nature of nirvana in order to prove that there is no transcendental-signified: since nothing is self-existent, nirvana too is sunya. The everyday world, which is the process of things being born, changing, and passing away, is for that reason a world of suffering, samsara. Yet there is no specifiable difference between this world and nirvana. There is, however, a difference of perspective, or rather a difference in the way they are "taken", which has not yet been brought out fully in our discussions of pratitya-samutpada and Indra's Net. The irony of Nagarjuna's approach to pratitya-samutpada is that its use of causation refutes causation: having deconstructed the self-existence or being of things (including us) into their conditions and interdependence, causality itself then disappears, because without anything to cause/be effected, the world will not be experienced in terms of cause and effect. Once causality has been used to refute the apparent self-existence of objective things, the lack of things to relate-together refutes causality. If things originate (change, cease to exist, etc.), there are no self-existing things; but if there are no things, then there is nothing to originate and therefore no origination.


    It is because we see the world as a collection of discrete things that we superimpose causal relationships, to "glue" these things together. Therefore the victory of causality is Pyrrhic, for if there is only causality, there is no causality. This self-refutation has religious consequences: Cause-and-effect is essential to our project of attempting to secure ourselves "within" the world; its evaporation leaves behind it not chance (its dualistic opposite) but a sense of mystery, of being part of something that we can never grasp, since we are a manifestation of it. When there is no need to defend a fragile sense-of-self, such mystery is not threatening and rather than attempt to banish it one is able to yield to it.


    In Derridean terms, the important thing about causality is that it is the equivalent of textual differance in the world of things. If differance is the ineluctability of textual causal relationships, causality is the differance of the "objective" world. Nagarjuna's use of interdependence to refute the self-existence of things is equivalent to what Derrida does for textual meaning, as we have seen. But Nagarjuna's second and reverse move is one that Derrida doesn't make: the absence of any self-existing objects refutes causality/differance. The aporias of causality are well known; Nagarjuna's version points to the contradiction necessary for a cause-and-effect relationship: the effect can be neither the same as the cause nor different from it. If the effect is the same as the cause, nothing has been caused; if it is different, then any cause should be able to cause any effect. [18]


    Therefore pratitya-samutpada is not a doctrine of "dependent origination" but an account of "non- dependent non-origination." It describes, not the interaction of realities, but the sequence and juxtaposition of "appearances" -- or what could be called appearances if there were some non-appearance to be contrasted with. Origination, duration and cessation are "like an illusion, a dream, or an imaginary city in the sky." (MMK VII:34) What is perhaps the most famous of all Mahayana scriptures, the Diamond Sutra, concludes with the statement that "all phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble and a shadow, like dew and lightning." As soon as we abolish the "real" world, "appearance" becomes the only reality, and we discover

a world scattered in pieces, covered with explosions; a world freed from the ties of gravity (i.e., from relationship with a foundation); a world made of moving and light surfaces where the incessant shifting of masks is named laughter, dance, game. [19]

For both Nietzsche and Buddhism, our way of trying to solve a problem turns out to be what maintains the problem. We try to "peel away" the apparent world to get at the real one, but that dualism between them is our problematic delusion, which leaves, as the only remaining candidate for real world, the apparent one -- a world whose actual nature has not been noticed because we have been so concerned to transcend it. This allows us to see more clearly how "everydayness" and "commonsense" are not alternatives to metaphysical speculation but a disguised -- because automatized and unconscious -- version of it. As Berkeley pointed out, no one has ever experienced matter; from the other side, it is "commonsense" that is idealistic in postulating minds-inside-bodies; as Nagarjuna would emphasize, the refutation of either does not imply the truth of the other.


    One such "appearance" -- no more or less so than anything else -- is what is called "a Buddha." Derrida points to the "hyperessentiality," the being (or nonbeing -- an hypostatized sunyata can work as well) beyond Being whose trace lingers in most negative theologies, infecting them with a more subtle transcendental-signified. Nagarjuna is also sensitive to this issue. Like other negative theologies, Nagarjuna begins by dedicating the MMK to the Buddha, but then he devotes the most important chapter to proving that there can be no such thing as a Buddha, just as there is no other self-present transcendental-signified. The serenity (or "beatitude": sivah) we seek is the coming-to-rest of all ways of taking things, the repose of named things (sarvopalambhopasamaprapanc- opasamah). His commentator Candrakirti (7th C.) glosses this verse: "the very coming to rest, the non-functioning, of perceptions as signs of all named things, is itself nirvana... When verbal assertions cease, named things are in repose; and the ceasing to function of discursive thought is ultimate serenity." [20] Contrast this to Derrida's problematization of the difference between signifier and signified: "from the moment that one questions the possibility of such a transcendental signified, and that one realizes that every signified is in the position of a signifier, the distinction between signified and signifier becomes problematical at its root." [21] For Derrida, what is problematic is the relationship between name and concept; so it is not surprising that he concludes with an endless recirculation of concepts. But notice what is signifier and what is signified, for Candrakirti: the non-functioning of perceptions as signs for named things is nirvana. The problem is not merely that language acts as a filter, obscuring the nature of things. Rather, names are used to objectify perceptions into the "self-existing" things we perceive as books, tables, trees, you and me. In other words, the "objective" world of material things, which interact causally "in" space and time, is metaphysical through-and-through. It is this metaphysics that most needs to be deconstructed, according to Buddhism, because this is the metaphysics, disguising itself as commonsense reality, which makes me suffer -- especially insofar as I understand myself to be such a self-existing being "in" time that will nonetheless die. [Our fundamental duhkha may be expressed as this contradiction: on the one hand, we feel that we are or should be self-existent, a self-sufficient self-consciousness, on the other hand, we know that we were born, are growing old, and will die.] The important thing in Buddhism is that the coming-to-rest of our using names to take perceptions as self-existing objects actually deconstructs the "objective" everyday world. Since that world is as differential, as full of traces, as the textual discourse Derrida works on, the Buddhist response is to use those differences/deferrals to deconstruct that objectified world, including ourselves, since we sub-jects are the first to be ob-jectified. If there are only traces of traces, what happens if we stop trying to arrest those elusive traces into a self-presence? If we do not take perceptions as signs of named things, the most fundamental and problematic dualism of all -- that between my fragile sense of being and the nothingness that threatens it -- is conflated; if we do not need to fixate ourselves, we unfind ourselves "in" the dream-like world that the Diamond Sutra describes, and plunge into the horizontality of moving and light surfaces where there are no objects, only an incessant shifting of masks; where there is no security and also no need for security, because everything that can be lost has been, including oneself.


    In order for this to occur, however, another strategy is necessary: a discontinuous, irruptive one that does not constitute a discontinuous, irruptive one that does not constitute a different philosophical approach but a non-philosophical one because it lets-go of thoughts. I refer, of course, to the various meditative practices that are so important in Buddhism. Are such practices the "other" of philosophy, feared and ridiculed because they challenge the only ground philosophy knows? When we are not so quick to grasp at thoughts (truth as grasping the concepts that grasp Being), there is the possibility of another praxis besides conceptualization, a more unmediated way of approaching that issue. I do not see how, within language, it can be proven or disproven that we remain inscribed within the circulations of its signifiers. Derrida shows only that language cannot grant access to any self-present meaning; his methodology cannot settle the question whether our relationship to language and the so-called objective world is susceptible to a radical transformation. The other possibility is that what all philosophy seeks, insofar as it cannot escape its apocalyptic tone, may be accessible in a different fashion. The fact that other, non-conceptual forms of mental discipline and concentration have been so important, not only in Buddhism but in many other non-Western and Western traditions, suggests that we need to find out what they may contribute to these issues. [22]

Tom: Yo Christophe, you nailed it, homey.  That Englishman Newton, you see, his love is bitsy-love, just a tiny version of quantum love, which is realer and bigger.  You see, that older Englishman's version of love is externally related only: I-bit love you-bit.  Quantum love is I am you, internally related.

 

ahaha. well alright then. Newton was all particles, while Quannum is both wave and particle and beyond. got it.

but I have trouble translating this hellish mixture of Derrida-Bohr-Gaianese into a language that I can understand. In Lacanese, most of this stuff does make sense, the whole twoness-in-nothingness, the I-am-in-you-and-you-are-in-me program. Okay.

But I get a problem when you say history is just a concept. The last century proved the opposite, actually. Saying the Holocaust is just a concept implies an insult to millions of dead, Jews or Non-Jews alike. I am sure you don't mean to say any of that.

I guess that's the problem with the Quantum approach: it's all too easy to fall prey to spiritual materialism, to objectify the undescribable in seemingly 'scientific' terms, to presume a unity beyond any dialectical back-and-forth all too quickly.

I remain a skeptic unbeliever, like the doubtful Thomas of the scriptures.

...

An anectode:

When a friend, also a scientist, asked Bohr, why he had a horseshoe nailed above his entrance door, Bohr answered that it was said to be a lucky charm. The friend asked: “But listen, do you really believe in this?” Niels Bohr said, “Of course not. I’m not an idiot. I’m a scientist.” Then the friend asked him, “But why do you have it there?” You know what Niels Bohr answered? He said, “I don’t believe in it, but I have it there, horseshoe, because I was told that it works even if you don’t believe in it.”

Tom: I'm insufficiently familiar with Derrida

I am not buying. You're a Deconstructivist par excellence. Confess! :-P

Uh oh! Well, that's the breaks. I fail these exams monthly.


kelamuni said:

Hi Mary,

I hope that you're keeping up with all this, because there will be a PMS exam on the material here, next Thursday.

Tom:  Btw, I think the dualistic opposite to causality is not mystery, but freedom, or choice, as Bohr has said, or will, as Rank would say.


As I read Loy, I believe he was saying that the dualistic opposite to causality is chance, but was suggesting that when 'causality' is dissolved in the manner he was describing, what is 'left' is not its dualistic opposite (chance) but rather something else, which he called a 'sense of mystery.'  I see a possible link between his statement here and your observation: "I no longer know what any of these terms mean, or I no longer conceive that they apply in the meaning they once held because I no longer know what it means to know.  The old meaning of history and cause thereby dissolve in non-visualizability."


Tom:  Internally speaking, freedom is by definition non-causal.  To be unfree is to be subject to cause, to be caused.  To be free is to be the cause, one being no longer subject to.  One can see here the close link between freedom and causal efficacy.  The more free a person is, the greater power that person has to innovate; think, live and be outside the box; to be creative; to bring effect; etc.


I'm not sure about this (this quote and some related comments).  I want to back up a bit and approach it more slowly. 


One more quote:


An understanding that the observer is the observed is a huge meta-leap into non-causal.  It puts observer back into the causal driver's seat.


My concern here is that this move seems to put the non-relational (because non-subject-to), self-existing Cartesian ego right back in the driver's seat, and to miss the insights and contributions of (post-Cartesian) intersubjectivity.  One of the primary intersubjective insights is that there is no subject-in-itself, just as there is no object-in-itself.  I see you deconstructing objective things into networks of relationships, and I expect you can well comprehend how this might also impact the Newtonian/Cartesian nuclear subject, but I am not picking up on that in what you are saying here. 


On a systems view, as I understand it, the subject would not be 'outside' (or merely at the head) of causal chains.  A system is conceived, in part, as a field of complexly nested causal feedback loops, where "feedback is a process whereby an initial cause ripples through a chain of causation ultimately to reaffect itself."  The subject-as-cause in such a system would be subject-to its own output, in a way the subject likely could not predict.  But the notion of a 'nuclear subject' itself also dissolves in a systems view, such that the intersubjective 'constitution' of a 'subject' would extend likely beyond any possibility of its own knowing or self-understanding.


So ... can you say more about what you're suggesting here?  Or perhaps point out something I might be missing?


All the best,


Bruce

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