Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rosch's shentong

I think I'll bring some posts over about Rosch from another thread starting in this post. She co-authored The Embodied Mind with Varela and Thompson. She's a good example of the shentong view.

This is also interesting, from footnote 5:

"Here we come to a watershed in Tibetan Buddhist teachings and, in fact, in Buddhist teachings in general. Three of the four major Tibetan lineages (Kagyu, Sakya, and Nyingma) adhere to the shentong (other empty) interpretation of emptiness in which all things are empty of other than wisdom. Put another way, things are empty of self nature but filled with wisdom (filled with the essence). Put in a yet more advanced way, all that things really are is wisdom essence. Historically shentong is traced from the Buddha nature (Tathagatagarbha) schools of Mahayana Buddhism. The fourth Tibetan lineage, the Gelugpa, adheres to the rangtong (self empty) interpretation in which things are simply empty of self nature, a reversion to an earlier Mahayana position. There has been a good deal of conflict in Tibet over this point. Many of the parallels with Sufism that I am exploring in this chapter depend upon the shentong view because it is a view that says there is a way of knowing beyond the limits of the mind. (See Gyamtso, 1986, and Hookham, 1991 for a detailed account of this distinction.)"

I have no qualms with Rosch’s descriptions on nonconceptuality or the rest, except for what she herself points out in “beginner’s mind” as the “innate primordial wisdom in the world as it is.” Which of course she identifies with the shentong view, and with which there “has been a good deal of conflict in Tibet over this point” between the rantong view. The latter view also seems to agree with all of the other points she makes, as does the L&J view, except that L&J might also disagree on this one point as would their pragmatic forbears like Mead. (James though would likely be on the shentong side.) As I said, same old argument over this sticky point.

Rosch openly admits what her tradition espouses: in the terms of this thread, the identity with essence. There is one thing exempt from emptiness, Tathagatagarbha, awareness of and identity in (Buddha) essence. She also admits that this shentong view in not accepted by the rangton, the “earlier” Mahayana view. I have used experts before to show that this earlier view was indeed Nagarjuna's, and that the shentong was an addition of Yogacara ideas. It's the same difference with how Rosch and Lakoff use the same cognitive research, but again with this core disagreement. Recall Lakoff from PF: 

“We cannot, as some meditative traditions suggest, 'get beyond' our categories and have purely uncategorized and nonconceptual experience. Neural beings cannot do that” (18).

Now I've also made arguments that we can allow the nonconceptual and the absolute, but it depends on how we define them. Yes, define, like with the polydoxers doing so in a non-essential and non-identifying way. And they tend to do so with an emphasis on the “compliments” as not completely different nor completely the same, both absolute and relative informing each other. So while there is no “purely” nonconceptual there is also no “purely” conceptual, for it requires the implication of that groundless ground (khora) like we've seen in Derrida. Whereas the more metaphysical notion is where they are extreme and completely different poles of different and pure kinds altogether, contradictions, with one being enlightenment and the other illusion though in some kind of relation nevertheless, generally nested hierarchies with said synthesis.

How about just "bio-social"?  Or... ?

'Embodied' is a good term because it refers to all types of bodies, from the bio to the social to the cultural and the hermeneutic. It's one reason L&J call it embodied realism, since there is a 'real' but it requires a body of some kind (but not any particular kind). In kennilingus the body is not at the lowest end of the spectrum but co-arises with an inside (of some kind but not any particular kind) at every level. The word 'suobject' (or intersobject) is all of that, and more (or less), no explanation required.

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