Re: Ideological Eunuchs?

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Tue, 21 Sep 1999 23:53:44 EDT

From: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 23:53:44 EDT
Subject: Re: Ideological Eunuchs?

In a message dated 9/22/1999 2:57:28 AM !!!First Boot!!!, writes:

> Subj: Re: Ideological Eunuchs?
> Date: 9/22/1999 2:57:28 AM !!!First Boot!!!
> From: (Chris Lees)
> Sender:
> Reply-to:
> To:
> Jake wrote :
> <snip>
> > Keep the faith, Brother!
> A slick reply, Jake,




> but you miss the point.
> You asked how / if it's possible to live without ideology.
> I gave you an answer. If you can't understand, that's your
> problem.
> 'Church', 'prayer', 'western theology', 'Christ', etc, are
> irrelevant to my point.
> Christianity is built upon faith, i.e. beliefs, in such things
> as an afterlife, virgin birth, resurrection, etc.
> Zen-mind, buddha-mind, no-mind, is not akin to faith or
> belief. It's more a physical, practical matter, a radical change
> in consciousness - like getting drunk, say,- and as with getting
> drunk, a person can do it, regardless of 'faith' or 'belief', and
> regardless of the memes which they happen to entertain.
> Zen is the 'meme-eating-meme', as S. Blackmore aptly
> describes it, the self-eating meme. I thought you were
> beginning to 'get it' at last, but alas, it seems not...
> Chris.

Now now, my little grasshopper! You take my joshing to be more pathological
than it may in fact be. In fact, I wonder if you think I meant our Christian
brothers and sisters some actual rhetorical slight by my comments. My
intentions toward them -- at least in this case --, as well as toward you is
entirely benign.

I am at this point, not even taking to task any particular Buddhist beliefs
or practices. We will leave them where they lie. I do think that there is
some ideology, however, afoot in this business which may or may not be
painted in incidentally cultural Buddhist colors. It deals with this
business about the "self" and whether the "having of a self" is a memetic
phenomenon aside from any beliefs about how and in what ways this self thingy
can be considered "real" or "illusory". It seems that this is the old
recurring argument to which we are actually adressing ourselves, not toward
whether Buddhist practices can provide the release that you claim. Maybe it
can, maybe it can't. Either way, I don't think that is the ideological
problem. I am pasting over from a discussion on the CoV list, which seems to
be less uptight, if occassionally more inflammatory than this list.
Something in response to your brother-in-arms in this ideological game.

In a message dated 9/21/99 5:27:30 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:

> OK, I understand that, but I see no reason whatsoever to believe it. In
> my view, the concept of the self emerges from interaction with others,
> and in particular, rationalisation of the experience of empathy. Why
> this special sort of feeling in the presence of some kinds of thing, and
> not others? Because they and we share something, we are "selves". This
> is just a reaction to straightforward, genetically inherited emotional
> tendencies.

Then the "having of a self" is not memetic. Therefore it makes no sense to
waste our time trying to understand why the "self meme" is so successful. . .

In a message dated 9/21/99 4:15:11 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

> Seems to me, what we'd best spend our time on, is trying to understand
> why the self *meme* is so successful. (And dump naive realism, about
> selves and everything else, once and for all.)

... . . the reason is . . . that it is not memetic. It is part of the memetic
fitness environment in the first place. It would be like examining many
organisms' varied evolved capacities to negotiate gravity, and wondering "why
is this gravity gene so successful?". The answer is that the question is
flawed. There is no such gene.

Selves are the narrative, or in this case memetic, center of gravity. They
are not themselves memes. Certainly there may be variations in the memes
ABOUT selves (perhaps the "self is an illusion" may be one of them) just as
there may be variations in the genes evolved to negotiate gravity. Perhaps
some organisms need not waste genetic information about negotiating gravity
directly (like a microbe or something), making gravity seem "illusory" to
them directly, but this still does not amount to a something like . . . let's
say a "no-gravity gene" such that we can start talking about the various
dominant and recessive manifestations of the "gravity gene", and thinking
about how we can genetically engineer a better "gravity gene." Or perhaps we
find gravity an annoyance to humans -- then lets just genetically engineer
the "gravity gene" out of the human genome. That way we can all be
blissfully gravity free!

O.K. I have had enough fun with this for today. I think you get the picture.


Now. I don't really think that this has so much to do with Buddhism
directly. I think that on these issues, I could even concede that Buddhists
may be capable of through their arcane practices to achieve some moments of
glorious respite from the tyranny of selfish gravity. But that doesn't make
the "having of a self" -- shall we say the general phenomenon of "selfish
gravity" whatever its ontological status -- any more of a memetic phenomenon.

Hmmm, I kinda like that, perhaps instead of calling it the "having of a self"
we can call it "selfish gravity". Maybe that would solve this confusion
without dragging the credentials of some particular individual's Buddhist
practices onto the carpet. Actually though, I sort of doubt it. Eventually,
I think such a semantic truce would wear thin, and somebody would feel
ideologically inspired -- perhaps even claiming that they weren't. But maybe
it would hold long enough . . .


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For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)