Thursday, July 03, 2014

open response to criticism

In a continuing struggle to bridge the gap between modern science and ancient Buddhism, based on this article (linked), I bring you yet another defence of an experience-based explanation of reality (spurred on by an email criticizing the above article):

The thrust of my argument (if I'm thinking of the right one) was that reality has a basis in experience. Orthodox quantum theory seems to support this, if Dr. Stapp is to be believed.

The only reason for bringing QM into the argument at all was as a means of helping materialists see the potential for a different paradigm for reality. Your arguments regarding the natural sciences are not valid to my thinking, since they don't really attempt to provide a basis for understanding reality in an ultimate sense (an exception is Biocentrism, a theory by Dr. Robert Lanza which basically says the same thing, that reality is based on the individual's experience). Biology and chemistry may work very well in explaining day to day occurrences, but they don't really provide a philosophical framework for understanding reality.

For example, you say the moon is there whether we look at it or not. From a point of view of Buddhism, the moon isn't ever there, whether you look at it or not, and that which you see as the moon can only be discussed from within a framework of experience. It is this claim that orthodox quantum theory seems to support.

As to QM only applying to a microscopic world, I think this is a red herring. QM raises some philosophical questions about reality that have not been successfully answered by material science, and simply saying that they only apply to the microscopic building blocks that make up the macroscopic world is disingenuous, to my thinking. Also, it is not entirely true any more (google "macroscopic quantum entanglement", for example).

But this is all a distraction from the main argument, that there is no reason to believe in death unless you are committed to philosophical materialism; we have no experience of death to go by; we don't really know what happens at that moment. What we can observe first-hand is the ever-present flux of experience that seems to go on ad infinitum according to strict principles of causality that can be understood and affected by direct observation.

Buddhism doesn't deny the significance of death, just the fact that it is categorically different as an experience. That's what I was trying to argue, and I think bringing up QM to support it simply as evidence of a phenomenological basis for reality is perfectly valid.