Subject: Re: FW: FW: Religous Variation

Peter D. Junger (junger@PDJ2-RA.F-REMOTE.CWRU.EDU)
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 13:17:11 -0400

Ed Farrell writes:

: I know that "theory" is a term that's sometimes used loosely, sometimes
: with a strictness that is frightfully parochial, and (to be honest)
: I was really, in my previous posts, using the term too loosely for this
: scientific forum, but not so loosely as to include religous doctrine.
: I explained this in the paragraph following the one you quoted. I'll
: repeat it:
: ----
: The world religions devote a great deal of "theoretical"
: (doctrinal, really, but as it often reexamined it takes on a
: texture of the theoretical) and practical attention to mind that
: has been carefully examined by such lights as Nietzsche, Weber,
: Jung, William James, Sir John Woodroffe, Albert Schweitzer, and
: Alfred Whitehead. Your "cognitive, emotional, or spiritual
: experience[s]" are dealt with in particular detail by some of
: these men in an effort to understand manifestations of mind
: not simply within the context of their native religions, but in a
: more general way. When I speak of "theory of mind," however, I
: am not so concerned with the strictly personal manifestations of
: mind as with the relationship between metaphysical belief and
: such phenomena as modern science and technology, hindu caste,
: monarchy, civil and canon law, and monasticism. Certainly there
: are some fruitful correlations left to explore here.

Perhaps the problem is that I have no expertise in this field--whatever
this field is--, and thus do not understand what is meant by the term
``doctrinal'' that is used to exclude ``philosophers''--I use the scare
quotes because we, or at least I, am speaking of cultures in which that
which corresponds to philosophy is not just a footnote to Plato--like
Naagaarjuna, Asanga, and Vasubandu--none of whom have I read more than a
paragraph or two--and, I suppose--because of the way my mind classifies
things--, Plato and Bishop Berkeley and Whitehead from the group of
those who are candidates for having a theory of mind that could deal
with the heap of things--the ``phenomena''--that Farrell wants such a
theory to explain. (To the extent that I can intuit the categories
that are produced by Farrell's mind, which is slight, I would conclude
that he would also exclude any phenomenologists as candidates, though
why he would do so, if he would, quite passes beyond my

But whatever the term ``doctrine'' means, it is quite clear that it is
a frightfully parochial--I mean it frightens me in the way that it
excludes the purlieus where my mind hangs out (and just think what it
must do to Daniel Foss)--term as it is used here. It certainly keeps
us native informants out of the conversation.

But perhaps I should not have taken exception to a non-existent theory
and instead should have been afraid of the catalogue of phenomena that
that theory, if it existed, would explain: ``the relationship between
metaphysical belief and such phenomena as modern science and technology,
hindu caste, monarchy, civil and canon law, and monasticism''.

One thing that strikes me is how the list includes ``civil and canon
law'' but not the ``common law'', which is the one thing that your
informant--c'est moi-je--knows something about. (I assure you that
there is nothing that will explain the relation between the common law
and anything else except something like the law of dependent
origination: ``if this arises that arises; if this ceases that
ceases''.) Another thing is that our interlocutor--I use
``interlocutor'' as the term to describe the person who goes around
not listening to us informants--just assumes that there is only one
``relationship''--how does a relationship differ from a relation?
(And please, no jokes about your in-laws.)--between a rather diverse
set of phenomena and ``metaphysical belief'', whatever that is. (Of
course, it is quite possible that there is only one relationship
between ``metaphysical belief'', on the one hand, and all those
``phemomena'', on the other: the relationship of ``not having any

But what really strikes me and fills me with supernatural dread--that
is, the dread of categories that I cannot conceive of being natural
kinds--is the inexplicable heap of phenomena that our interlocutor
confronts us with. I get the feeling that any theory of anything
(including mind) that could deal with that list could also deal with the
list--which I suspect is isomorphic with our interlocutor's list--of
animals that appears in a certain Chinese (although probably not
Buddhist) encyclopaedia:

(a)those that belong to the Emperor,
(b) embalmed ones,
(c) those that are trained,
(d) suckling pigs,
(e) mermaids,
(f) fabulous ones,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) those that are included in this classification,
(i) those that tremble as if they were mad,
(j) innumerable ones,
(k) those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush,
(l) others,
(m) those that have just broken a flower vase,
(n) those that resemble flies from a distance.

Thus I fear that there is, and can be, no meeting of the minds (as we
common--or vulgar--lawyers say) between our interlocutor and your

: You will find treatises on mind not only in
: Buddhism, but in Hinduism and in Christianity also. If you are really
: interested, I will be happy to post lists of selected primary sources
: for each of these religions, as well as selected commentaries, both
: eastern and western.

Please do.

: These lists
: are of a more-or-less general nature, so I would ask any experts out
: there such as Peter Junger to not use them as an occasion to display
: their wisdom by demonstrating my ignorance, but to simply add to them or
: subtract as occasion warrants, without posturing, hysterics, or cat-calls.

I ain't an expert. I'm a specimen.

Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH