Re: A more

Chris Lees (
Wed, 07 Apr 1999 10:50:23 +0100

Date: Wed, 07 Apr 1999 10:50:23 +0100
From: Chris Lees <>
Subject: Re: A more

Thanks for the response Joe.

> Hokay, reread it. Happy now? I have taught both comparative religion and philosophy at the
> college level, and I can assure you that I am neither naive nor under the spell of an illusion nor
> deluded about these things. Karma can be dogma sometimes.

You have not yet assured me. I remain unconvinced.
'Karma can be dogma' is a meaningless slogan, though pleasingly poetic.

> >'Either there is a self, or there is not' is naive.
> >
> >Suzuki, Dogen, and Hui-Neng take the same view as the existentialists ?
> >I think you are mistaken, both in that, and in your opinion re
> >"dynamically recursive becoming", whatever that is when it's at home.
> >
> You think wrongly. My study "Existential Phenomenology and Zen Buddhism" draws the parallels
> quite clearly.
> Where "dynamically recursive becoming" is at home is in a description of self/soma/world/other
> consciousness which combines the insights of Aron Gurwitsch's, Maurice Merleau-Ponty's, Don
> Ihde's and Richard M. Zaner's phenomenologies, Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutics, Jean Piaget's
> genetic epistemology, contemporary cognitive science (Dennett, Fodor, Pinker, Damasio and
> others), and the disciplines of semiotics and memetics.

Fascinating stuff. But parallels can be drawn between any two bodies of human literary
endeavour. I have read pieces by most of the authors that you mention here.
I maintain that the statement 'either there is a self or not' is indeed naive in this context.
It does not go anywhere. It's like saying 'either there is a sun that is shining
or not', a crude, simple either/or statement which cannot begin to approach the infinite
variety and subtleties of the weather. If you are trying to grasp something as nebulous
and puzzling as the ground of one's own existence, to begin from a dogmatic stance,eg.
' either I am or I am not ' is not particularly illuminating is it ?

My suggestion might be more along the lines ' there is a something, we have no idea
what it is, so let's simply observe its nature and see what may be learned'.
As I see it, that platform is roughly compatible with the Buddha's injunction not to
accept anything that he said, just because it was he who said it, but to test out his
teachings for oneself, and also compatible with elementary scientific method, and also
compatible with phenomenology as derived from Husserl et al. Would you agree ?

I have followed a slightly different zen school to that which S. Blackmore, but I think
that her notion of zen as a 'meme-eating meme' is tremendous. By that route we have
a modern theoretical and practical schema from which to advance. If you allow the
meme-eating meme to devour your memes, then what remains ? Is there a self or not ?
>From my perspective, with typical zen obscurity, I must declare that there is a self
and there is not a self. Both are equally true statements. Both are equally illusions.


This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)