Research Paper: Buddhism vs. Quine

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[. . .] This concept of sunyata of dharamas or emptiness in everything has a major influence till to date on the character of thought of Buddhist; it has had a great impact on the model of Indian philosophies of epistemology, substance ontology, causation, concept of ethics, language and the theories of World salvation, and it has also helped in the development of even other Buddhist philosophies in Japan, China, Tibet and India. Important to note is that it's in consent Quine's relativism.

Quine's relativism

The term relativism as used by Quine refer to the belief that truth is not always and generally valid, but can be determined only in relation to other thinks that may include one's personal circumstances, culture, perspective, community, social class, theory or historical period. Quine laments that relativism is unacceptable and has ideas that make it seem absurd. Truth according to him is not relative; when Quine is quoted saying in his writing that when a sentence is true, it doesn't mean that the truth is relative to some theory, perspective or other factors as mentioned above, however (Kuhn 45-67)[footnoteRef:10] points out that Quine's own views concerning truth and the under determination of theories by data has some rather form of relativism in them. [10: Kuhn 45-67]

Relativism has been faulted for having a logical formulation, which makes it more of platform where differently situated individuals may be judged differently, and less than the falsehood that contradictory ideas might each be the truth, and in a sense relativism entails the actual existence of more than one perspective to which varying theories would be true to it. Quine's doctrines that include under determination of theories and immanence of truth both imply that these contradictory ideas as applied by relativism have not so far been proved to be true at all.

Quine's contradicts relativism from the fact that is bases truth in relation to some other things by saying that "there are various defensible ways of conceiving the world." In his under determination theories he uses some plausible form of relativism by claiming that scientifically theories must have certain virtues like scope, consistency, fruitfulness, simplicity, precision among others and these virtues are subject to determination by the behavior and attitude of scientist, which critics' argue that is basing truth of these theories with relation to some virtues a plausible form of relativism.

Another doctrine Quine used was that truth is "immanent," meaning that truth can only be ascribed from within a particular system; he goes on to say that; "it is confusing to acknowledge all the alternative ontology as true in their various ways, the entire envisaged world as real. It is confusion of the truth with evidential support. Truth is imminent and that there is none higher" in this statement he suggests that people should speak from within a theory, which again points to the truth as relative to theory ie. truth can be judged in relation to theory.

Quine's relativism is based on two doctrines; under determination of theories and immanence of truth and they all seem to offer remedies where relativism has been faulted without hindering the objectivity of science. The two doctrines suggest that relativism should first of all acknowledge the difference between truth and belief, secondly it should avoid falsehood that contradictory ideas or theories or views might each be true in their own sense as this has never been a proved fact. Thirdly relativism should be in accordance with basic belief of cognitive relativism that is all truth is relative, and should further de-link truth with realization. Lastly relativism should acknowledge that there are chances or possibility that several theories, which seems incompatible, may be at par with each other or equally warranted.

Crowley's idea of crossing the Abyss

Crowley used the word Abyss to refer to the void or great gulf that exist between the phenomenal universe's its noumenal source and manifestation. Crowley through this idea of crossing the Abyss has put forward across a doctrine that tries to bridge the gap in thought between the actual, unreal, real and the ideal. In this doctrine everything that is in existence lacks the spiritual reality thus they have no substantial meaning at all, and are just insane delusion.

In the Abyss, Crowley urges his audience to apply his experience also known as Shivadarshana, so as to examine problems or challenges that relate to philosophy without applying institution or magic, and that till the mind focuses itself on this challenge or issue at its own accord, after which phenomena that appear disconnected and meaningless, his Ego will then divide into a series of impression that have no relations with one another or with anything else," this prepares someone for a mystical experience. Later in his study he suggest two other methods by which someone can examine philosophical problems, one of them involves discussing openly about subject that could warrant a dreadful punishment, the second involves magic and is primarily based on the theory of Abyss.

Critics of Crowley, who include (Tupman 234)[footnoteRef:11], note that he referred to the process of transcendence in which an individual's personal awareness changes from being based on an individual perspective to an enlightened perspective also called transcendental, after crossing the Abyss. Crowley theory has been based on inexplicable metaphors and symbols, without any clear definition of the relationship between human levels and transcendental. [11: Tupman 234]

Abyss according to Crowley is a path that separates the divine levels from human levels, this path or gap is filled with terror and nullity and anything that goes in this gap is destroyed completely to a complete transformation. Moreover for a magician to obtain the divine level he must enter the path so that his human level can be destroyed completely and upon crossing the other side he becomes a Master in magic. Also while in the process of crossing over one must temporarily turn to be the demon of Abyss.

According to (Putnam 176-212)[footnoteRef:12] there is no such gap as Abyss that Crowley claims exist, he further goes on to say that the human and divine levels are always in any living person, and as such there is nothing to cross over to, ignorance in person could lead to lack of awareness of one's divine level but not the opposite where the divine level is exist separately from a person body. Thus attaining the transcendence level described by Crowley is just a matter of getting to know one's self, which is a natural act. [12: Putnam 176-212]

However, on a positive note Crowley's idea of crossing the Abyss could be relevant on the basic fact that for one to explore his divine levels he or she has to undergo some form of mediation or invocations so as to trigger their inner being to open up, which is true fact.

Conclusion

In trying to make a comparison between Vasubandhu's Indian Buddhist theory and Quine's relativism the research concludes that Quine'e relativism is based on the truth while Vasubandhu's theory is based on his own belief, mostly observed in his interpretation of why Buddha and Nagasena didn't answer Pudgalavadins' question. Secondly Quine's relativism is suggests that when something is true it doesn't mean that the truth in it is relative to some personal circumstances, Vasubandhu's theory has based its truth as to the reason why Buddha and Nagasena didn't answer to queries by Pudgalavadins relative to both of their perception or interpretation of the question.

In comparison to Crowley's idea of crossing the Abyss and the Vasubandhu's theory both seem to be in consent that the divine level or soul doesn't exist within the individual body as one. Vasubandhu made this claim, when refuting the school of Pudgalavadins question to Buddha as to whether an individual body and the individual are separate. Crowley on the other hand notes that an idea should cross the gap to find his divine level.

Nagarjuna's philosophy of the middle way is total divergent to Quine's relativism as it is purely based on ontological relativism for example he points out that anything dependently co-arisen if its verbally established can only be answered by a further dependent co-arisen, this means that the truth is relative to another dependent co-arisen and also on the issue of reincarnation of Atman the answer, which is the truth is dependent first of all on the acceptance of Atman. The Quine's relativism on the other hand suggest that relativism should be in accordance with basic belief of cognitive relativism that is all truth is relative, and should further de-link truth with realization.

Crowley ideas of crossing Abyss and Nagarjuna's philosophy of the middle way are in some ways consistent to each other. Nagarjuna philosophy is based on the concept of emptiness or the lack of existence in which people question assumptions like the separation between… [END OF PREVIEW]

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