FW: FW: Religous Variation

Ed Farrell (ewf@INREACH.COM)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 20:06:18 PDT

Peter Junger writes:
"Edward W. Farrell" writes:

: I am not aware of the existence of a "theory of mind" with the
: same definition of, say, the theory of relativity. The unique
: problem with a theory of mind is regression, i.e., the subject
: of the theory is also its object. As a tool of science, then, such
: a theory would always be subject to buffeting by the very sorts
: of beliefs it is engaged in explaining. As difficult as this is,
: dealing with mind openly and straightforwardly is all the more
: essential in my view.

Is not the Buddha Dharma, at least in many of its traditional
manifestations, such a ``theory of mind'' (and a lot more besides)? And
is not much of the Buddhist practice directed towards freeing
ourselves from that ``buffeting'' by extinguishing our attachment to
those beliefs, and all other beliefs as well?

Farrell's project strikes my ears as being frightfully parochial.

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.
As I also noted in the last post, beliefs about the mind are one of the classic
areas of religious variation. 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. 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.

This is not a project, by the way.

Name: Ed Farrell
E-mail: ewf@inreach.com
Date: 07/31/96
Time: 20:06:18

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