“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.”
I acknowledge it
without speaking it
without hearing it
without touching it
without tasting it
without smelling it
without over-rationalizing it
without knowing it.
I can know of it.
I could only acknowledge it
apart from my senses.
It can only be when I am not.
It shows itself only when I am still.
The gods of the last thousand years
says, “I am that I am.”
But the truth has no words.
Tathata, which has been for eternity,
just ‘is’, was, and will be.
That which is true,
needs no further words to convince,
nor could it be possible to do so.
Although it seems to be the case that the objects in question do not exist, according to Peter Unger and his indirect Sorites argument, does that necessarily mean that life does not exist too? I do not believe so. I do not see how it follows that if objects as such do not exist then life does not exist as well. Maybe this is what he was hinting at with his later position of ontological relativity?
(More of my thoughts/notes on Peter Unger’s indirect Sorites argument of Decomposition can be found here:
Language is awful when trying to discover the identities and essences of the objects in question, and logical arguments like the one Unger argues for posit the nonexistence of them. But, is he equivocating nonexistence with emptiness? and we were to use the word ‘emptiness’, can we be careful enough to define ‘emptiness’, in this case, as empty of essence or absolute being? This makes things seem rather meaningless but without connotation. Things just are; “suchness” or tathatā. Thus, no “metaphysical miracle”, the kind that Unger was concerned about, is needed to posit that life can exist without absolute or essential forms. It would still be the case that something can exist but not as an pre understood entity, object, or person (as such). So it would be true to say that “I do not exist”; conventionally I do exist, but this is not an absolute truth. Something that I call “I” does exist but only in favorable contexts. I am a grouping of living matter that blurs it’s boundaries with nonliving matter. There is no fact of the matter as to where I begin and where I end. I am always engaged with my environment as my environment and I exchange atoms and molecules. At what point are these atoms mine? At what point are they not? The Buddhists use the term Śūnyatā, or ‘emptiness’ to describe the lack of essence or determininate being in things. The other way they talk about sunyata is that things are “dependently arisen.” Everything is in a state of change, but interconnected and interdependent with everything else. Everything is in a state of cause/effect. Thus, everything lacks any kind of absolute/permanent substance/being. Everything can only be understood conventionally and in specific contexts. Some contexts are more stable and favorable than others. Language would not be able to properly reference the referents as if their names held some understood a prior fact. All of this is a rejection of Plato’s metaphysic and epistemology. It turns his theory of forms upside down. Objects are more real than the forms themselves. All forms lack concrete boundaries; that is to say, all emerging ideas do not really exist in an abstract realm, since objects themselves do not exist independently from other objects with concrete boundaries. Our ideas of the forms do not emerge until the ontologically relative object comes into a relationship with experience (in this case with those who are sentient and rational).
Ultimately, I do not exist. Conventionally, I do exist. But to say that I exist does not posit some absolute reality within convention. It’s just another convention to understand myself, the other, and the relationship. In the end, it just seems odd to say words like ‘I’ and ‘myself’ because they presuppose specific and concrete boundaries of existence. Perhaps the reason for using such language can only be found with an understand of human evolution. Positing the ‘I’ is practical for the organism’s survival. The ‘I’ was best adapted for the organism’s survival. It adapted to it’s environment much easier than without the ‘I’. After the experience of the ‘I’, we built language and systematic forms of rationality behind our observations. Thomas Nagel once proposed that ‘I’ might just be an emerging phenomenon of awareness. Psychology and neuroscience might be able to shed more light on this supposition.
While it may be true that I do not exist, what can be said to exist in place of the ‘I’ can not be said or understood. If it has been said or understood, it exists as a human conception of the actual referent in question. The referent in question have no ultimate reference but only relational references to those who question it. Thus, things are empty but exist; but they do not exist with some absolute being, essence, or physical/metaphysical boundary. So it seems almost incorrect to use the word ‘exist’ because the word presupposes the referents as having ‘being’, essence, and physical/metaphysical boundaries. As Unger posits, things exist ontologically relative. This seems to make much of historical philosophy fruitless in the attempts to discover a kind of absolute reality; better later than never, I suppose. It might be said (assuming you agree with this post) that the Buddha was thousands of years ahead of his time. This is not to say that ideas like this were only present with the Buddha. They must have surely existed before he sat down under the Bodhi tree.
I had a dream that I saw you again. It was devastating because it felt like a loved one had resurrected from the dead. A second chance? My dream wasn’t clear on that. But it was a second time to experience myself with you again. I Didn’t know what to do with myself, but cry in my dream. And then your hand reached out and touched my hand. And I spent a good minute or so feeling, holding, and intertwining my hand with yours. And the sense-experience felt the same as if I had actually touched you in reality. I can still remember what your hand felt like.
how do I move on when you felt like home? I feel like I’ll die always hoping to return.
it wasn’t really a sudden revelation, no, i’ve been vegetarian/vegan since my teens. of course, aligning my principles with my practical life effectively is something that requires constant attention, prone to mistakes and hypocrisy. those are some contingent issues. but on a ‘philosophical’ level it makes sense to me because i subscribe to a respect-based view about moral treatment overall. i’m not a big fan of utilitarianism or welfare-centric ethics. i aspire to treat my fellow human beings based on respect, I don’t think any person fundamentally out-values the other, and it is not only human beings who can be recipients of moral consideration. nonhuman beings also deserve respect- treating them instrumentally violates that principle. there are certainly many differences between the human species and the multitude of nonhuman ones, but i am more interested in what binds, rather than separates, them.
I don’t think nonhuman animals are necessarily discounted from moral consideration just because they cannot participate in human systems of morality, since they can still be subject to the moral decisions of humans. we use all kinds of nonhuman animals for food, companions, entertainment, science, medicine, fashion, etc., it seems bizzarre to say consequences of their exploitation are not worth our concern because they ‘don’t know’ or ‘don’t feel’ or that ‘we are entitled to’ or some other assumption designed to result in the erasure of nonhuman entities. I think much of the objection to it is just skepticism about nonhuman sentience, behaviour, consciousness, and too much optimism about the rightfulness of our own choices and capacities in our general conduct. this, alongside the denial of responsibility, is convenient for us, even benefits us- but at the expense of nonhuman others. to be entrenched in practices that implicate and interfere with nonhuman animals, and yet simultaneously refuse to acknowledge we have been complicit-directly and indirectly- for the detriments caused to them, strikes me as wrong. I mean this is the simple summary of what I think but yeah…
I don’t think my view is a popular one, and it’s occasionally misconstrued by others, but I’m mostly neutral about that because how people live is their choice. I have friends who agree with some of these views, at least to some extent, and friends who don’t, and I don’t know many professors who are interested in the topic particularly.
The focus for me is not about making it personal or ‘judging’ but rather to be open about one aspect of my life which isn’t about me. The possbility that respect might not be limited to agents of the homo sapiens variety is a benign suggestion, with a fair amount of empirical backup that can vouch for their interests if one cares to peruse the scientific journals. at least, I don’t think many scholarly articles seriously decry the significance of nonhuman value. but it’s kind of sad that so often the point of wanting to extend compassion is taken as an offensive and radical view.