Tal Cohen's Bookshelf: A Collection of Personal Opinions about Books

Alain Bernay writes:
No I
Interesting to see DH rediscovering the no-self that has been exposed for at leasr 2500 years out of India.

When will the West stop believing in the cartesian duality of body and soul?
[367] Posted on Monday, 09 March 2009 at 7:21 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]

Bethany writes in reply to Alain Bernay:
No I
I'm with Alain here. There's a lot of stuff here that is tied up effectively and conclusively in Buddhism. And I'm sure DH wouldn't deny this, since the Zen influence has always been right to the fore in his work.

The point about going on about the SOUL has been missed by a lot of these commentators who say that for heaven's sake it's just a few pounds of BRAIN and so what's the fuss about? The crux of it is that we *behave* as if we are completely convinced we had a precious, unique, personal soul or essence to carry around, honour and protect. In (Mahayana, Tibetan) Buddhist terms, we have 'self-grasping'. If you genuinely thought you 'were' just a lump of squishy brain and some stuff to carry it in, you'd behave differently from a normal person - either oddly, robotically, or selflessly, depending on your nuance of the situation. But we all 'protect our patch', 'fight our cause', 'look out for no. 1' and so on, as if we *were* something - the brain-identified among us usually at least as much as anyone.

The strong contribution of Buddhism is to challenge us to live our beliefs, or at least become thoroughly aware of them and bring them closer together with our actions. This subjective impact - the only outcome that brings any benefit to humanity - is sadly completely missing from most of hard science... and I think Hofstadter bridges that gap a little (ie the gap which might be construed as between the objective sense of brain and the subjective sense of soul or essence) and THAT is his contribution.
[374] Posted on Wednesday, 08 April 2009 at 8:50 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]

mb writes in reply to Bethany:
No I
completely agree with everything you said. great comment
[383] Posted on Monday, 11 May 2009 at 9:33 GMT [Reply to this] [Permalink]

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