The Instigator
GeoLaureate8
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points

Buddhism as Taught by the Buddha

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,331 times Debate No: 12117
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (50)
Votes (14)

 

GeoLaureate8

Pro

I would like to defend Sam Harris' statement that "the Buddhist tradition, taken as a whole, represents the richest source of contemplative wisdom that any civilization has produced." (http://www.shambhalasun.com...)

I will start off by simply explaining the Buddhist philosophy and then my opponent can offer refutations and following suit, I will respond to her contentions.

:::The Core of Buddhist Teachings:::

The source of Buddhist teachings are found in the Tipitaka (Pali Canon) and the Mahayana Sutras and the purpose of Buddhist practice is to attain Enlightenment. The following are the core Buddhist philosophical doctrines taught by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the Enlightened one.

====> T H E - T H R E E - M A R K S - O F - E X I S T E N C E<====

- Impermanence: All forms are in a constant state of flux; arising and decaying. Nothing lasts forever, but nothing ceases to exist. The appearance of a thing ceases, but ultimately it merely changes from one form to another. Buddhism teaches the Middle Way, avoiding the extremes of eternalism and nihilism.

- Dissatisfaction/Suffering: Life is suffering. There is happiness in life, but all good things eventually come to an end. You may be healthy, but will meet sickness; your loved ones will eventually die; etc. Nothing can bring lasting deep satisfaction.

- Non-Self: Sentient beings, have no self, no ego, and no eternal transmigrating soul. This comes from the precept of interconnectedness (or dependent co-arising). There is no separate isolated entity or individual because everything is interconnected. Any notions or perceptions as an ego-self are simply delusional.

====> T H E - F O U R - N O B L E - T R U T H S <====

The Four Noble Truths were constructed, almost in a syllogistic manner, to prescribe the cure for suffering.

1. Life is suffering and dissatisfactory.
2. The cause of suffering is desire, attachment, and delusional ignorance.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The way to cease suffering is the Eightfold Path.

====> T H E - E I G H T F O L D - P A T H <====

Discernment
1. Right View - Seeing reality as it is, not what you wish it to be.
2. Right Intention - Free from ill-will.

Ethics
3. Right Speech - Speak truthfully, honestly. Say what needs to be said.
4. Right Action - Acting in a non-harmful way.
5. Right Livelihood - Non-harmful livelihood. Work without hurting or exploiting others.

Concentration
6. Right Effort - Making an effort to improve.
7. Right Mindfulness - Mindful of the present moment. Clarity. Awareness to see things for what they are.
8. Right Concentration - Correct concentration and meditation. Non-absentmindedness.

====> D E P E N D E N T - C O - A R I S I N G <====

The interdependent nature of all conditioned phenomena. Everything is interconnected.

"Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else." - the Buddha

"When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that."
- the Buddha

====> L A W - O F - C A U S A L I T Y ( K A R M A ) <====

Events are not predetermined, nor are they random. Notions of direct causation are rejected. Buddhisms form of causation posits the arising of events under certain conditions which are inextricable.

This is also where the notion of karma comes from. Buddha described it as such:

"The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit."
- the Buddha

====> T H E - F I V E - A G G R E G A T E S <====

1. Form - Matter.
2. Sensation - Sensing an object.
3. Perception - Registers whether an object is recognized or not.
4. Volition - Mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, and compulsions.
5. Consciousness - Cognizance; that which discerns.

The Six Senses that make up an entity and allows entities to experience reality (the forms):

Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind comprehend visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and mental objects.

====> E M P T I N E S S <====

"All phenomena of existence are marked by emptiness; they neither arise nore perish; they are neither defiled nor pure, neither deficient nor complete." (Heart Sutra)

Emptiness includes the negation of the five aggregates, the six senses, and six sense objects. Ultimately, form (physical matter) is energy, its appearance is an illusion of the perceiver. The self and all phenomena are without independent existence or inherent, fixed characteristics. (Chung Tai Chan Monastery, Heart Sutra annotations)

====> P H I L O S O P H Y <====

::: Empiricism:::

Buddhism is a very empirical philosophy. Its epistemological basis is experiential as opposed to speculative.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." - the Buddha

:::Atheism:::

Buddhism is also an Atheistic philosophy. "In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator God (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected [by Buddha], along with other causes wrongly adduced to explain the origin of the world." (Nyanaponika Thera) Stephen Batchelor, author of "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" (which was praised by Christopher Hitchens) described Buddha as an "ironic Atheist" who, when the question of God was brought to him, found it amusing, he then dealt with it, and moved on because such a question was irrelevant to attaining "supreme wisdom."

He also rejected the notion of a Savior. "No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." - Buddha

:::Nondualism:::

Buddhism teaches non-dualism or dialectical monism. The doctrine that everything appears to be dualistic, but is ultimately one.

In the words of Buddha: "In seeing, there is just seeing. No seer and nothing seen. In hearing, there is just hearing. No hearer and nothing heard."

We constantly perceive and experience reality dualistically, but the ultimate reality is one, or rather, nondual.

:::Rebirth:::

The concept of rebirth is the Middle Way that avoids the extremes of the eternalism of a transmigrating soul and complete annihilationism.

"There is rebirth of character, but no transmigration of a self. Thy thought-forms reappear, but there is no ego-entity transferred. The stanza uttered by a teacher is reborn in the scholar who repeats the words." - Buddha

====> N I R V A N A <====

The ultimate goal in Buddhism. The extinguishing of all suffering; liberation; the unconditioned; releasing of awareness; "Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around." (Tipitaka)

This is the essence of the Buddhist teachings. I will now let my opponent proceed.

Sources:

http://www.buddhanet.net...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://online.sfsu.edu...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Danielle

Con

== Re: 3 MARKS OF EXISTENCE ==

1. Impermanence

This seems like another way to state that energy cannot be created or destroyed - only transformed - which is a law of physics that I obviously acknowledge.

2. Suffering

Undoubtedly people suffer; however, just because nothing can bring eternal satisfaction ignores the reality that while life is suffering, it is also non-suffering.

3. Non-Self

Pro states, "Any notions or perceptions as an ego-self are simply delusional." I disagree. Yes everything is interconnected, but that does not prove that there is no such thing as the self. Buddhists believe in the notion of not-self or "anatta." However, all that cognitive science has revealed is that the mind is an emergent phenomenon, which is difficult to explain or predict in terms of its parts. Few scientists would equate the property of emergence with nonexistence as anatta does [1].

== Re: 4 NOBLE TRUTHS ==

1. Life Is Suffering

The human condition is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. We experience both pleasure and pain. Neither is more relevant; life is suffering but life is also non-suffering. Life is full of mixed experiences: good, bad and neutral.

2. We Suffer Because of Desire

One could easily say that we experience pleasure because of desire. People are most happy when they are working to pursue a goal (or desire) [2].

3. The Cessation of Suffering is Attainable

Pro states that death proves suffering when he writes, "There is happiness in life, but all good things eventually come to an end. You may be healthy, but will meet sickness; your loved ones will eventually die; etc." However, death is unavoidable so suffering is unavoidable, meaning this truth is also negated. Moreover, if the only way to end suffering is to end desire, then that would include abandoning the desire to end suffering. This again is contradictory to the self-evident axiom of logic: the law of non-contradiction. One cannot desire non-desire and not desire anything at the same time. Finally on this point, without desire we would not be able to LIVE. Our desire to eat and sleep for example is vital to our survival. Other desires such as romantic attachment and sexual desires are also natural and necessary for procreation.

4. Following the 8-Fold Path Will End Suffering

The 8-fold path as I will explain is nothing but a set of ethics instructing one to live morally. There is no proof that following these rules will end suffering.

== Re: 8-FOLD PATH ==

The 8-fold path is basically a set of ethics that suggests one speak and act truthfully and genuinely, seek improvement, concentrate, acknowledge things for what they are, etc. None of these things can be proven to free one from desire; instead they just instruct on what is the proper way to treat other people and achieve happiness. A handful of other religions preach similar ethics.

== Re: KARMA ==

Pro states that events are neither predetermined nor random. I'm sure Pro understands that I do believe events are in fact predetermined, and the best arguments against this notion suggest that they are random... so either way, I negate this assessment, though I doubt Pro intends for this to turn into another debate about free will.

Regardless, I reject the notion of karma. Pro quoted Buddha as saying, "Those who do good will reap good results, and those who do evil will reap evil results." I am assuming that this quote applies to one's life here on earth and not a reincarnated life -- after all if it extends beyond one's life here, then we are delving into the world of postmortem mysticism which is no different (verifiable) than the monotheistic view of Heaven and Hell. I believe it is common knowledge that bad things happen to good people and vice versa. There is no way to prove that if one does good deeds then good will find its way back into their lives.

Karma is intangible. The only thing that makes it 'real' is one's choice to believe it. Man has an inherent desire for justice; we want to believe that good deeds will be rewarded and bad deeds will be punished. Because this is not so, we've even expanded the realm of justice to include life after death. This is convenient because it gives us no way to prove anything. There is no proof that karma exists, and Pro has already argued against it in his opening round by arguing against determinism. Determinism states that everything is a consequence of antecedent states of affairs. If karma suggests that doing good brings forth good, then it agrees that goodness (or badness) is a consequence of antecedent affairs, thus affirming determinism and presenting yet another illogical contradiction in my opponent's case.

== Re: 5 AGGREGATES ==

Pro writes, "The Six Senses that make up an entity and allows entities to experience reality: Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind." Actually, that is ONE entity. The eyes, ears, nose, etc. are all a part of the body. Additionally, the concept of 'mind' is only possible because it is physically sustained by the body (brain). Moreover, this contradicts Pro's later statement that Buddhists believe in non-dualism. Saying the mind is separate from the body is upholding dualism: yet another contradiction in his case.

== Re: PHILOSOPHY ==

[Empiricism]

Like determinism, the empiricism vs. rationalism argument will not (and should not) be settled in this debate. Whichever one is right or wrong has no bearing here, so let's move on.

[Atheism]

Buddha mentions that believing in God is unnecessary to achieving "supreme wisdom," though just because acknowledging God might be "unnecessary" doesn't mean that God does not exist. To believe in reincarnation is to espouse life after death, which of course one cannot prove. Moreover, Buddhists pay homage to Buddha through a prayer like series of 5 precepts [3]. Surely one can respect a non-divine figure; however, why is a ritual pertinent? Buddhists may reject the idea of 'God' but they believe in a lot of mystical things, and the original Buddhist texts aim to convert (much like religion). Additionally, many find the teachings of Buddha to be agnostic rather than atheist.

[Nondualism]

Pro notes that Buddha says, "In seeing, there is just seeing. No seer and nothing seen. In hearing, there is just hearing. No hearer and nothing heard." If there is no seer, than how can seeing occur? If to be seen one needs a seer (obvious), this statement cannot be true. In fact this entire statement is fallacious. To be seen requires existence, meaning there is in fact something to be seen. This is nothing but a completely non-sensical statement meant to sound profound but that actually does not make any sense at all.

[Rebith]

There is no proof of rebirth. Pro describes it as the Middle Way between annhilation and eternalism. A transfer of energy does not necessarily indicate rebirth, as birth implies life.

== NIRVANA ==

The ultimate goal of Buddhism is described as liberation from consciousness and awareness. In other words: death (or brain death).

== SKEPTICISM ==

Buddhism essentially argues that one must reject what makes life *life* such as desire and other ordinary experiences. Buddha himself abandoned his wife and child in search of enlightenment. Buddhists believe that the universe was created for our benefit or that there is some "enlightened state" to be attained, though scientifically there is evidence that our existence is accidental. In other words, enlightenment is just another made-up theory. Let us also not forget other wacky Buddhist traditions such as how Buddhist's choose their spiritual leader as a toddler (the Dalai Lama), and the fact that Buddha encouraged meditation though studies show meditation is largely ineffective [1].

/Characters :(

[1] http://slate.msn.com...
[2] http://www.geometricvisions.com...
[3] http://en.allexperts.com...
Debate Round No. 1
GeoLaureate8

Pro

==THREE MARKS OF EXISTENCE==

[Impermanence]

No disagreements.

[Dissatisfaction/Suffering]

My opponent got the impression that Buddhism teaches life is only suffering, but this is not the case.

Buddha acknowledges that there is also non-suffering and happiness.

"There is happiness in life,
happiness in friendship,
happiness of a family,
happiness in a healthy body and mind,
...but when one loses them, there is suffering."
-- Buddha (Dhammapada) [1]

It appears that this is another tenet, albeit upon further clarification, that my opponent has no disagreement with.

[Non-Self]

My opponent denies the tenet of non-self but has not given a good reason to. She brings up that the mind is an emergent phenomenon that is difficult to explain in terms of its parts. I don't see how this is relevant because no one defined the mind as "self" nor does this prove that a self exists.

The philosopher Alan Watts explained that we can peel away at ourselves like an onion, searching for a true self, only to find that there is nothing in the center. There is no core in us that can be called our true being.

Buddha provides sound reasoning to support non-self:

Buddha: "There is not a self residing in name and form, but the cooperation of the conformations produces what people call a man. Just as the word 'chariot' is but a mode of expression for axle, wheels, the chariot-body and other constituents in their proper combination, so a living being is the appearance of the groups ... as they are joined in a unit. There is no self in the carriage and there is no self in man. O bhikkhus, this doctrine is sure and an eternal truth, that there is no self outside of its parts. This self of ours which constitutes Name and Form is a combination of the groups ..., but there is no ego entity, no self in itself." [2]

==FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS==

1. Life is Suffering

This has been covered earlier.

2. We suffer because of desire, attachment, and ignorance.

This is nearly self-evident. We have desires. Some will be met, most will not. Even when some desires are met, one may still be unsatisfied. Usually, all suffering occurs because we desire for things to be what they are not. If we feel pain, we suffer because we desire not to feel pain. If we suffer from a lost family member, it's because we desire that they be alive (as well as being attached to that person).

3. The Cessation of Suffering is Attainable

My opponent states: "death is unavoidable so suffering is unavoidable, meaning this truth is also negated." This is not the purpose of the Four Noble Truths. It is not there to eliminate things that cause suffering. Those who follow the 4NT will learn how to deal with the reality of death and death of others without suffering. If you cease your desire for non-death and cease attachment to those who are impermanent, you will not suffer.

My opponent then uses semantic sophistry and says that one cannot desire to cease desiring. This is not contradictory, because once a person desires to follow the 4NT, they are already on the path to eliminate desires. My opponent states "one cannot desire non-desire and not desire anything at the same time." This is a strawman. No one says that one is in a state of non-desire when choosing to follow the 4NT. Obviously a person has desire before they follow the path that leads to the cessation of desire. Non-desire comes after eliminating desires.

My opponent must show that it is impossible to desire to follow the 4NT and that it is indeed contradictory.

Con then raises a point that we must desire to live, however, this is merely semantic confusion. Buddhism does not deny that one must fulfill their needs. What it means by desire is "unnecessary want." There's a difference between "want" and "need" and thus we don't face a problem. [4] In Pali and Sanskrit, the word for "greed" is actually what is meant by "desire" in English. [4]

4. The 8-Fold Path Will Cease Suffering

See below.

==8-FOLD PATH==

Con: "[The 8-Fold Path can't] be proven to free one from desire; instead they just instruct on what is the proper way to treat other people and achieve happiness."

My opponent is forgetting that only 3, 4, and 5 fall under the category of Ethics. The first two are Discernment, and the last three concern one's own Concentration. This fact alone refutes her contention. Further, "Right View is the forerunner of the entire path, the guide for all the other factors." [5]

Buddha explains: "A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion [Right View], does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering."

==KARMA==

Con misunderstands Karma and contends that there is no proof that if one does good deeds, then good things will happen to them. This is not the case. Buddha says that those who do good will reap good RESULTS. This does not necessitate that this pertains only to the deed-doer. If one does the good deed of giving money to a homeless man, the good result will be that the homeless man has money for food. If one does the bad deed of killing, the bad result will be that a man died. Furthermore, this can have a bad effect on the evil-doer because he may feel guilt or fear all his life for committing the atrocity. Karma does not mean that if you murder someone, you get murdered back. This is simply a misunderstanding of what Karma truly is.

Buddha: "Therefore, O bhikkhus, as there is no self, there is no transmigration of a self; but there are deeds and the continued effect of deeds. There is a rebirth of karma; ... this reappearance of the conformations is continuous and depends on the law of cause and effect." [2]

As described by Buddha, it is simply deeds and effects of deeds. There is nothing supernatural or mystical about it. It does not need to be proved if one accepts the law of causality as my opponent clearly does.

My opponent wrongly asserts that this affirms determinism because it posits the law of causality. However, I have already clarified this in the opening round by saying: "Notions of direct causation are rejected. Buddhisms form of causation posits the arising of events under certain conditions which are inextricable."

==5 AGGREGATES==

Con contends that the mind aspect of the 6 Senses contradicts the non-dualism tenet. This is false. It does not posit a dual divide between mind and matter. It simply asserts the relationship between nose and aroma, and likewise, the relationship between the brain and mind. Mind in this sense is still materialistic. It simply refers to thoughts, the electrical impulses and brain waves. Surely my opponent acknowledges thoughts as electrical impulses and brainwaves. There is no assertion of a supernatural divide between mind and matter.

==EMPTINESS==

No disagreements.

==PHILOSOPHY==

[Atheism/Rebirth/Afterlife]

Con strays from the resolution of the debate by using the irrational beliefs of offshoot Buddhist sects to attack what I posit, which is "Buddhism as taught by the Buddha." Buddha didn't teach reincarnation (he actually reprimanded a disciple for believing it [3]), he didn't teach anything mystical, and explicitly stated that he's not a god.

She also asserts that it teaches an afterlife, which is blatantly false.

Buddha: "Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the dream that their souls are separate and self-existent entities. ...This body will be dissolved and no amount of sacrifice will save it. ...Since, then, O bhikkhus, there is no self, there cannot be any afterlife of a self. Therefore abandon all thought of self." [6]

It seemed that she tried to contend that he's an Atheist, but I provided evidence in the first round that he "frequently mentioned and rejected [a creator God]" in early scripture. [7]

[Non-Dualism] [Skepticism]

Character limit. Will contend later.

==NIRVANA==

No disagreements.

Sources: See Comments.
Danielle

Con

== Re: Three Marks of Existence ==

Pro writes, "My opponent got the impression that Buddhism teaches life is only suffering, but this is not the case." This impression was implied by Pro as I responded directly to his quote from R1 specifically stating "Life is suffering." As I said, life is suffering but it is also non-suffering. Buddhists seem to focus specifically on the suffering aspect as I will detail further...

Regarding the self, Pro says mind =/= self. I disagree. The philosophical definition of self is the essential qualities that make a person distinct from all others; a unified being which is the source of consciousness. One's mind is the source for all of these qualities and conscious sense of awareness as it pertains to the sole individual. Even solipsism acknowledges the existence of a self. Only one's mind or concept of self is sure to exist. Pro's Alan Watts quote is irrelevant (AW is barely a credible source to begin with), and Buddha's comment about the chariot is also nonsensical. Just because a chariot is composed of various parts does not mean that the chariot does not exist. Similarly, one's concept of self exists because of the brain and our body's ability to sustain it. The self is connected with others and with its environment but it still exists. Pro hasn't proven that it doesn't -- he just provided 2 quotes from Buddhists saying that it doesn't.

== Re: The 4 Noble Truths ==

The first truth states that life is suffering, which again is true, but the focus on suffering without mention of non-suffering seems sort of manipulative through omission. Additionally, as I've stated earlier, Buddhists are seemingly obsessed with the concept of desire and relate it to being negative. The second truth states, "We suffer because of desire, attachment, and ignorance." Pro says that this is nearly self-evident and I somewhat agree. When our desires aren't met, we suffer... but we do not suffer BECAUSE of our desire. We suffer because our desires aren't met, not because the feeling of desire ITSELF is inherently negative. I've explained how desires can be imperative, vital and fulfilling. However, as you can see from Pro's rounds, Buddhists depict desire to seemingly be the root of all evil as they only mention the word in a negative light. It could just as easily be said that one can suffer from a LACK of desire. Yet that reality is not depicted or represented as one of the "four noble truths." The noble truths and the marks of existence make sure to take note that people suffer in life.

The third noble truth states that the cessation of suffering is attainable. As explained, if we suffer because of desire, and eliminating desire would eliminate suffering, then clearly Pro (and Buddha) advocate eliminating desire. This again ignores the reality that desire can be a positive thing. Buddha wants us to abandon the very thing that makes us human. Moreover the defense of this contention is inadequate. Pro writes, "Those who follow the 4NT will learn how to deal with the reality of death and death of others without suffering." So far the 4NT have explained that life is suffering (obvious), we suffer because of desire (obvious) and that cessation of suffering is attainable (is it?). Just saying that it's attainable isn't an explanation on how to attain it, so how exactly have the 4NT's helped at all, exactly?

The 4th NT states that following the 8-fold path will end suffering... but I've already explained how following the 8-fold path can do no such thing in the last round, considering it's just a set of ethics and doesn't guarantee that one will abandon desire, suffering, etc. Ergo Pro's assertion that 'following' the 4NT will teach you how to not suffer does not follow. How can you 'follow' a noble truth like "life is suffering" anyway? This is a whole bunch of bullspit. Pro also writes, "If you cease your desire for non-death, and cease attachment to those who are impermanent, you will not suffer." In other words, if you accept death and accept that others will die, you will not suffer. Once again this makes absolutely no sense. I accept that I will die and that my loved ones will die, but that does not necessarily mean that I won't be sad when they die. It also doesn't help get rid of all suffering: it just helps to cope with death.

Finally, I noted that one cannot cease to end desire and not desire anything at the same time. My opponent call this semantic sophistry which is disgraceful. What I am saying makes perfect sense; it is not fallacious - Pro's reasoning is fallacious. Desire is synonymous with want. If one wants to eliminate their wants, then they want SOMETHING meaning not *ALL* wants are eliminated. Their one want (to eliminate other wants) is still being fulfilled. Once again this is called the law of non-contradiction which my opponent is familiar with. Moreover, Pro saying "once a person desires to follow the 4NT, they are already on the path to eliminate desires" is humorous. How can one accepting that bad things happen eliminating desire?

The 4NTs: life is suffering, desire makes us suffer, we can stop suffering and we should follow the 8-fold path (and treat people with respect). I can agree to all of those things - but guess what - I still want a million dollars. Therefore just accepting the 4NTs just fails completely in terms of its ultimate goal. As I said in the last round, Buddhism is nothing but a bunch of catchy phrases that are meant to sound deep and profound but that do actually not make any sense.

== Re: 8-Fold Path ==

Pro writes, "Only 3, 4, and 5 fall under the category of Ethics. The first two are Discernment, and the last three concern one's own Concentration. This fact alone refutes her contention." Yes, the 2nd point is discernment; it notes having good intentions (free from ill-will). I'm sorry -- I must have confused good intentions with ethical behavior lol. As far as I'm concerned, that's an ethical position to take. Additionally 6, 7 and 8 state making an effort to improve and concentrate, etc. While that may not relate to ethics, per se, it regards personal development which I also discussed in the last round as being something which other religions espouse as well. Regardless, seeking personal development is not a sure way to eliminate desire. Pro quotes Buddha saying the world is an illusion; however, notice that he does not provide one shred of evidence that the world [reality] is an illusion. Buddha basically says a wise person acts as if the world is fake and therefore escapes suffering. Once again, there is NO PROOF of this being even remotely true. A wise person should not act as if the world is an illusion when it is in fact very real and tangible.

== Re: Karma ==

Pro clarifies that good deeds = good results. He says that if one does the bad deed of killing, for instance, something bad happens (the man dies). However suppose one killed a serial killer in self-defense. Was the action/result bad? Bad deeds can have good results and vice versa. Additionally, this ignores Buddha's word that planting a good seed will allow you to gather good fruit. Clearly the notion is that one doing good deeds garners good results for THEMSELVES (which we know is untrue/unproven). Pro also furthers his own contradiction when he says that Buddhists reject direct causation, but that "Buddhisms form of causation posits the arising of events under certain conditions which are inextricable." This is laughable to me as those 'certain conditions' only exist specifically as the result of other DIRECT CAUSES. The laws of nature and one's decisions are what determine current states and conditions. Pro's stance on what is karma is entirely hypocritical and self-defeating.

== Re: Character Limits ==

Pro and I have both run out of characters, so R3 will contain our final conclusions on non-dualism, the 5 aggregates and nirvana.
Debate Round No. 2
GeoLaureate8

Pro

==THREE MARKS OF EXISTENCE==

[Non-Self]

Con makes assertions that the mind is "self" and says the philosophical definition of self is the essential qualities that make a person distinct. However, none of her assertions or definitions of self provide a reason for the existence of a self. Basically, just unjustified claims.

On the other hand, I have confirmation from PhD neuroscientist, Sam Harris with a degree in philosophy, to back up this concept of non-self.

Sam Harris: "Our conventional sense of "self" is, in fact, nothing more than a cognitive illusion, and dispelling this illusion opens the mind to extraordinary experiences of happiness. This is not a proposition based on faith; it is an empirical observation." [1]

Con then tries to make a mockery of my argument by saying that I merely provided quotes saying a self doesn't exist. However, the quote from Buddha was actually an argument explaining why there is no self. She even tries to refute it, so obviously she acknowledges that the quote was an argument. However, she strawmanned the quote and said "Just because a chariot is composed of various parts does not mean that the chariot does not exist."

That's not what Buddha said. He said: "Just as the word 'chariot' is but a mode of expression for axle, wheels, the chariot-body and other constituents in their proper combination, so a living being is the appearance of the groups ... as they are joined in a unit. There is no self in the carriage and there is no self in man."

The point that needs to be understood is that any concept of a "self" is merely an arbitrary distinction. The word "chariot" is merely an arbitrary distinction between the parts that make it up, and the parts around it. Same with man. To identify yourself as a separate and distinct self is merely an arbitrary distinction.

"No independent 'I' is here, but many gathered mobile forces." - Buddha

Take for example, a sandy beach with a sand castle. The sand castle is merely a clump of sand in a vast beach of sand. But we arbitrarily name this clump of sand, "sand castle," and thus, the same can be said of man. Philosopher David Hume held that "the self is nothing but a bundle of interconnected perceptions linked by relations of similarity and causality and that our idea of the self is just the idea of such a bundle." [2]

==THE 4 NOBLE TRUTHS==

1. My opponent seems to have a gripe with the first noble truth because it puts too much emphasis that life is suffering. However, the purpose of the noble truths is to cease the suffering, so first, it has to acknowledge that there is suffering in life to get rid of it. I find the 4NT to be a method used to live life happily while avoiding suffering.

2. It appears she concedes this point by saying "Pro: 'We suffer because of desire, attachment, and ignorance.' Pro says that this is nearly self-evident and I somewhat agree." That being said, she had contentions that we don't suffer because of desire, but because the desires aren't met. However, the Buddhist attitude is a bit different in that it explains that our desire causes suffering because we desire for things to be what they are not. Reality is what it is, and when we desire for it to be something it's not, we suffer. She also didn't refute my contention that Buddhism acknowledges that we have needs to be met, but that doesn't validate desire.

3. Con contends that "Just saying that it's attainable isn't an explanation on how to attain it," however, the explanation on how to attain it resides in the 4th Noble Truth which is the 8-Fold Path.

4. Con says that you can't "follow a noble truth like 'life is suffering,'" yet she forgets that the 4th Noble Truth IS the 8-Fold Path which surely is something to follow. The first three truths are the inductive reasoning that leads to the path to cease suffering.

She continues to say "If one wants to eliminate their wants, then they want SOMETHING meaning not *ALL* wants are eliminated. Their one want (to eliminate other wants) is still being fulfilled." Notice that she denies it's semantics, yet she hinges her whole argument on the word "ALL." She can't accept that the desire to end desires is the one exception. And there is no contradiction because you have desires, including the desire to end desires, BEFORE you follow the path that ceases all desires!

Also, there seems to be a misunderstanding concerning the full list of cause of desires. Desire is NOT the only contributor to suffering. As noted in the first round, it is desire, attachment, and ignorance.

==8-FOLD PATH==

Con didn't take note of my assertion that Right View is the primary aspect of the 8-Fold Path. Buddhism is a psychological religion and tries to help people live without hindrances. All problems with humans are essentially psychological because the brain is what perceives physical pain and emotional stress. The 4NTs formula is a logically sure way to do it. If one is able to master the mind and learn to stop desiring for things to be what they are not, so stop being attached to what is impermanent, and believing illusions to be real, one will be able to escape the suffering. Though, no one says that it's easy to stop desiring for loved ones not to die, etc.

==KARMA==

Con says "Suppose one killed a serial killer in self-defense. Was the action/result bad? Bad deeds can have good results and vice versa."

In this case, killing a murderer in self-defense isn't a bad deed. In fact, if you look at it the other way around, the murderer is committing a bad deed and the bad result is that his victim killed him. Remember, not to get all caught up in this though. Buddha explicitly stated that there's deeds and effects of deeds. This is a rather reasonable claim, nothing extraordinary about it.

==PHILOSOPHY==

[Nondualism]

My opponent opposes Buddha's statement that there is no hearer and nothing heard, just hearing. However, it's simply a denial of the subject-object dualistic paradigm.

[Skepticism/Nirvana]

Con simply criticizes the idea that the Universe was created with us in mind because beings seek enlightenment, however, this notion is not a Buddhist precept. Seeking enlightenment is a sound Buddhist idea because it's just an attempt to understand reality around you.

(No disagreements on Nirvana.)

==CONCLUSION==

Notice that my opponent has dropped many arguments and left them unrefuted or notes an agreement. She also failed to contend the central Buddhist tenet of emptiness which is concerning the very nature of the Universe,

In conclusion, I have defended Buddhism and shown its philosophy to be true and can withstand philosophical attacks.

Sources:

[1] http://www.secularhumanism.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Danielle

Con

== Re: THREE AGGREGATES ==

[Non-Self]

Pro writes, "Con makes assertions that the mind is self, and says the philosophical definition of self is the essential qualities that make a person distinct." Yes. I used the philosophical definition of 'self' which I cited and sourced. Pro continues, "However, none of her assertions or definitions of self provide a reason for the existence of a self. Basically, just unjustified claims." Here you see Pro say that just because I don't explain WHY there is a self, that a self must not exist. This is obviously fallacious. Just because we cannot explain why something happens does not mean that there is not a reason; it just means that reason is unknown. There are many philosophies about the 'self' but I don't claim to know all the answers about why it exists. I just know that one does (for the reasons I've given throughout the debate).

Additionally, his appeal to authority is irrelevant regarding Harris' quote, and I still refute Buddha's notion of the non-self. Pro explains, "The word 'chariot' is merely an arbitrary distinction between the parts that make it up, and the parts around it. Same with man. To identify yourself as a separate and distinct self is merely an arbitrary distinction." Notice how Pro's conclusion does not follow his argument. First he says that the word chariot describes the parts that make it up, to which I agree with. He then says that the 'self' is made up of parts - to which I would also agree. He concludes that just as the chariot is not separate from the parts but rather composed of parts, that the same logic applies to the 'self.' Again, I agree. I never said that the self was separate from the parts that make it up; instead I merely said that THE SELF EXISTS.

As you recall (and see from the subject header), what Pro has been trying to argue is that the self does not exist. His conclusion again goes back to interconnectedness which I've accepted from the beginning. In my R1 argument, I said, "Yes everything is interconnected, but that does not prove that there is no such thing as the self." I've explained that the 'self' doesn't mean independent; it just means the individual consciousness of each being observing and living in the interconnectedness of the world which they live in and help make up (and are made from). The self exists because of individual consciousness; Pro never combated that. Additionally, claiming that there is no self because the parts that make up the self are essentially other things (made up of everything) is applying the Division Fallacy. Just because a cloud is made of water molecules does not make it identical to the water molecules that make it up. The Identity Theory has been long disposed of by philosophers, and is a weak argument based on bad reasoning.

== re: FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS ==

1. While I understand that acknowledging that suffering is relevant, what I have been arguing is that suffering is a part of being human just as pleasure is a part of being human. Pro has given us absolutely no reason to accept that ending suffering is the goal of life on earth. Christians, for instance, have other goals and philosophers and scientists have their own (i.e. understanding the universe). The 4NTs state that ending suffering (through eliminating desire) is of the utmost importance and focus of Buddhism. I disagree and have been saying that they are both necessary and inevitable.

2. Pro writes, "the Buddhist attitude explains that our desire causes suffering because we desire for things to be what they are not. Reality is what it is, and when we desire for it to be something it's not, we suffer." Again, having desires = having goals, and having goals is one of the most pleasurable things in life! I've cited and sourced this back in earlier rounds. Not to mention that having wants does not necessarily make one suffer. I want a million dollars but I am not suffering because of that want, and Pro never proves that desire and suffering are synonymous. Pro continues, "She also didn't refute my contention that Buddhism acknowledges that we have needs to be met, but that doesn't validate desire." Needs are nothing more than more imminent desires. Living has to be the goal in order to warrant something a "need" therefore his argument is negated.

3 and 4. Pro maintains that following the 8-fold path is the way to end suffering. I have argued against this and will continue to...

== re: 8 FOLD-PATH ==

Again, the 8FP is a set of ethics and way of living that supposedly contains the answer to eliminating desire (even though Pro concedes that people have needs, and needs are nothing more than desires with the goal of living). Pro says, "If one is able to master the mind and learn to stop desiring for things to be what they are not, stop being attached to what is impermanent, and believing illusions to be real, one will be able to escape the suffering." I will remind the audience of my 2 contentions. First, while in *theory* this might be a nice way to end desire, Pro never actually proves that all of these things are POSSIBLE for everyone or anyone.

We are psychological creatures; our biology and environment make up our state of mind. In order for this point to be legit, Pro would have had to prove that all people have the capability (psychological will) to follow the 4NTs which we know is biologically impossible due to things like mental illness, other problems (upbringing, etc.). Additionally, I said that not only are humans probably incapable of achieving this (from a scientific perspective) but philosophically speaking we should not accept that eliminating desire should even be our goal, or that this method is universal.

== re: KARMA ==

Pro says, "killing a murderer in self-defense isn't a bad deed." In other words, he concedes that the act of killing ITSELF wasn't bad, but rather the motives behind it were what determined its goodness or badness. So, if a deed itself cannot be good or bad - and only the intentions behind the deeds make something good or bad - then how can Buddha confirm that good deeds will = good results? For instance, if I see Pro choking and give him mouth to mouth and try to save him (good intentions), but in the process I accidentally suffocate and kill him (bad result), then this completely negates the entire argument.

I've disproven karma and Pro would just like to gloss over that very important aspect of Buddhism. He writes, "Remember, not to get all caught up in this though. Buddha explicitly stated that there's deeds and effects of deeds. This is a rather reasonable claim, nothing extraordinary about it." Yes, there are deeds and effects of deeds. However to state that the effect of deeds EFFECT FUTURE DEEDS (or results) as Buddhism does - and Pro admits - is to accept determinism and the law of causation, which in the last round Pro explicitly denied.

== re: PHILOSOPHY ==

[Non-Dualism]

In the last round Pro promised to respond to my argument against nondualism; however, all he said was "My opponent opposes Buddha's statement that there is no hearer and nothing heard, just hearing. However, it's simply a denial of the subject-object dualistic paradigm." That is hardly a rebuttal; I pointed out how the entire concept of that statement was fallacious. To be seen requires existence, meaning there is in fact something to be seen and one to do the seeing. Pro doesn't combat this at all. He also ignores that Buddhism seemingly preaches dualism and nondualism at the same time.

[Nirvana]

Pro agrees that nirvana simply = death; hardly a noble goal. That's what I said 2x and Pro agreed.

== re: CONCLUSION ==

Pro says that I ignored the tenet of emptiness, but I already argued it. If emptiness includes the negation of the five aggregates, and I argued against the 5 aggregates, then by extension I argued emptiness. In short, Buddhism sounds good in theory but is not logical.
Debate Round No. 3
50 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Udel 11 months ago
Udel
Pro says that we suffer because we desire, and Con says we suffer when our desires aren't MET and not because of the desire itself, which makes perfect sense, and Pro does not refute it. Con does fail to understand Pro's suffering arguments though, especially when it comes to death. Another thing is the debaters (mostly Pro) got caught up in semantics of the word "desire," when really it seemed Con was arguing that lacking desire is impossible, which she argued by stating it is contradictory to desire lack of desire, and also humans will always have needs. Pro states Buddhism says it's better to not have desire but that does not respond to Con's rebuttal. When Con gave the example of killing a serial killer not having a clear moral impact, Pro dodges this and says "don't get caught up" but really Con explained why Buddhism is insufficient at detailing morality and karma. Con wins the argument on proving a "self" doesn't exist even though we don't know why. Con wins the point that suffering might not be the purpose of humanity, like Christians don't think so.
Posted by bodhiBit 6 years ago
bodhiBit
Both sides make excellent points and I agree with both.. They just speak in different contexts..
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
LOL @below comment.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
RFD when I get my internet tonight or tomorrow.
Posted by Paris 6 years ago
Paris
The concept of self is fuzzy. Overall I agree "The self exists because of individual consciousness; Pro never combated that." In most of the rest of the debate Pro makes it seem like Buddhism is a religion he can defend but religion is religion is religion--based on spirituality and not factuality. I find little compatibility between science and religion and that's what I was looking for in this debate--to see how and where Pro could justify Buddhism. Justify basically means support what Buddha says, and the things Con argued against were karma (which I think she did fair enough) and the goals of Buddhism which just sound like feel good feel happy concepts of Christianity except minus the hateful laws lol.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
Reading - will post an RFD right after :)
Posted by obiben 6 years ago
obiben
I wanted to say something in regards to the law of non-contradiction mentioned by con.

"This again is contradictory to the self-evident axiom of logic: the law of non-contradiction. One cannot desire non-desire and not desire anything at the same time."

Not only do I believe this to be true(it is self-evident after all), but I also think it is an important part of Buddhist discovery. Ask any Buddhist teacher if you can end suffering while desiring to end suffering and they will tell you no. So I think pro got it wrong when he suggested this might be the one exception. There are no exceptions! What con is missing however is that Buddhism does not teach that you must desire the end of suffering to end suffering, rather it teaches you how to cultivate a state of mind where desire does not occur.

The Buddha did not say" O bhikkus you must desire to end desire." He just said "O Bhikkus you must end desire," there is a difference.

You may need to desire a touchdown in football in order to score one, but at the moment you score it, the desire to score it does not necessarily have to be there. Imagine the running back just before he gets to the end zone leaps into the air and is tackled so hard that he loses consciousness altogether. Despite the tackle, his momentum is great enough so that he still crosses the end zone line and scores the touchdown. At that moment, there is no desire, he is not even conscious! Just because the touchdown is no longer desired (it has been achieved) doesn't mean he didn't just score a touchdown.

Similarly just because you just achieved a state of no-desire, doesn't mean you have to be desiring that state at that moment in time. In fact, its imperative that you are not!

"No-desire" takes place in a moment of time, although you may have desired many things(including the desire to not desire) in previous moments of time, in a single moment it is possible to have no desire. This moment would be free of suffering.
Posted by Kefka 6 years ago
Kefka
I believe "The Middle-Way" philosophy Buddha emphasized is largely missing from your argument Geo. Though I agree with you mostly. I find myself torn between Agnosticism and Buddhism, however,I believe I can integrate both into my life...Buddhism is very existentialist. I love it.

Have you seen the PBS program "The Buddha," Geo? Brilliant.

Buddha's most likely response to a God-seeker:

GS - "Mang, be der sum dude up in da sky?"

Badass Buddha - "You only ask that question, because you suffer."
Posted by GeoLaureate8 6 years ago
GeoLaureate8
I don't think you addressed emptiness or fully understood what it entailed. It wasn't about the 5 Aggregates or the Six Sense Bases.

Perhaps I was misleading by even mentioning those in the emptiness segment. The point is that it basically negates all the tenets of Buddhisms own doctrines.

Basically, Buddhism lays out how the Universe works and asserts impermanence, things arise and decay, they're interconnected, there's the 5 Aggregates, the 6 Sense Bases, etc.; but it asserts that all existence is empty and it's all an illusion. So the tenets describe how reality works, but ultimately it asserts the nature of reality is illusory.
Posted by GeoLaureate8 6 years ago
GeoLaureate8
I think Enlightenment is the primary goal in Buddhism over the cessation of suffering. That's why Siddhartha was titled the "Awakened One" (thats what the word "Buddha" means).

The thing that drew me to Buddhism was its existential philosophy, psychology, epistemology, and phenomenology, not so much the 4 Noble Truths.

Thanks for the heads up, ill have to check that out.
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