Why do some people try to discover the origin of the world?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wynn, May 5, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Why do some people try to discover the origin of the world?


    There is a lot of speculation and theories about how the world came to be, where it originates.


    The Buddha said:

    "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it. *


    It seems clear enough that all we can do about the origin of the world is to speculate, set up theories and such. We certainly cannot perform a proper controlled experiment.

    Yet many people insist on "showing when, where and how the world came to be."
    Why do they do that?
    Do you think the Buddha was wrong in condemning such speculation?


    Please discuss.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
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  3. jmpet Valued Senior Member

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    As a Buddhist, I feel it is a topic not worth discussing and it is vain for you to suggest so.
     
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  5. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    I think he was wrong about it necessarily causing "madness & vexation". Vexation, sure, but madness? Even if he wasn't talking about actual madness but rather a state of mind that loosely resembles it (during times of protracted and particularly intense inquiry into such matters for example), I don't think that it is a fruitless process. Even if we never find an ultimate answer, we do gain knowledge and perspective through our efforts towards finding one. In other words, we gain something, and since it can be argued (rather convincingly in my opinion) that all knowledge augments all other knowledge (that realizations and developed processes of thought born within one discipline are often either directly or indirectly useful in others), I think what we gain is valuable.

    EDIT: Even more important to me than the above is the renewed and enhanced appreciation for everything that exists, particularly existence itself, that comes as a result of seeking to learn more about who I am, what is here and why it is here.

    How about you Signal? Why do you conjecture about the "unconjecturable"?
     
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  8. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

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    The same reason you want to discover why some people try to discover the origin of the world.
     
  9. Rav Valued Senior Member

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  10. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    How things ultimately work has a bearing on how we can understand and employ the essence of existence and life in universal terms, but I will add that surely existence trumps essence in many respects in the specifics of our everyday lives; however, this is a science forum and so essence is naturally delved into more.

    When complete answers are not yet forthcoming in all their details, there can still be great progress in localizing the phenomenon, for example, consciousness has been localized to the brain and therefore we know that it is a brain process. And the same type of bounding and localization is found for the process of the inanimate to the animate of life, for we can view the chain of happenings before and after.

    The only other and probably the last frontier is Why Existence, for which their must be an exceedingly simple answer, given our observation of the simpler and simpler unto the more complex?

    For those who wanted or still want instant and/or comforting solutions there is always superstition available, this running rampant in some, and for that we know why as well.
     
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Buddha had no conception of modern science. Surely, such investigations are not appropriate when one is simply seeking enlightenment, although they are fine as a career.
     
  12. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    It's a major question isn't it? I can't imagine anyone not being curious.
     
  13. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    That is up to each individual to determine for themselves. It can also change during ones lifetime as well. No one has the actual reason as to "why we are here" because there's no one answer that will ever fit everyone, all the time. So I just do the best I can making my mistakes and bumbling through life picking up a friend or two along the way.

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  14. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Budda said that at a time when there was absolutely no concept of modern science.

    And as such, it's hardly the ONLY thing Budda was completely wrong about. :shrug:
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Almost everyone around me does it, so I assume there must be some good reason for it, which I am not privy to, though.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Surely people are curious.
    But that doesn't guarantee coming up with the right answer. :shrug:
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    How does speculating about the origin of the world etc. help in making an end to suffering?
     
  18. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Nobody said anything about finding the right answer... You just asked why people look for it.
     
  19. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I think Buddha meant the origin of everything, not just the planet. I think he meant the answer wouldn't necessarily help us in our daily lives, it's hard to relate to.
     
  20. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    It doesn't, really, not in the way that knowledge of oneself can. But this is not a situation where I feel I have to choose between philosophical inquiry/speculation and something else. Life is about balance. I also spend a healthy amount of time and energy on a diverse array of other things.
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Because like all the other primates, Homo sapiens is highly curious. It's how we got to where we are, with agriculture, metallurgy, industry and computers. It's why we no longer have to spend three hours a day chewing raw meat to get enough protein. Why we are no longer at the mercy of famine cycles to have enough to eat. Why we sleep in comfortable centrally-heated houses instead of on the cold ground. Why 99% of the human population are no longer doomed to back-breaking, 80-hours-per-week "careers" in the food production and distribution "industry." Why you get to ask these questions on a forum where people from every corner of the civilized world can read and answer them.
    But in the Buddha's day, the only thing people could do was speculate about it. They didn't have radio telescopes, spectrometers, the Theory of Relativity, and all the other science and technology we have today. They had no way of determining that the universe is thirteen billion years old and that it's expanding at three times the speed of light.

    Today, we are not speculating. We are doing research. Big difference!
    You need to go back and re-read your lecture notes from General Science 101A--if you didn't sleep through it. Controlled experiments are only one way of gathering evidence to prove a theory. Empirical observation and logical reasoning are also valid. When's the last time you read about a seismologist or a paleontologist conducting a controlled experiment?
    Because, apparently, they understand science a whole lot better than you do. I hope you're only about sixteen so you still have a chance to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. They're wide enough for a Buick to pass through--sideways.
    I think the Buddha was wrong to condemn speculation because speculation is the heart of some of our greatest culture. Without it there would have been no "Star Trek," or any speculative fiction, which includes both sci-fi and fantasy. But he would surely be the first to admit that he wasn't perfect so I won't hold it against him.

    What are the holy books of the Middle Eastern religions but speculation about the origin of the universe? Do you suppose he would have railed against them too?
    But he was a great advocate of scholarship. Modern Buddhist leaders embrace science and have no doubt that they are carrying on his philosophy. We're welcome to go anywhere the search for truth takes us.
    Why is a career in science not a path to enlightenment? I gotta hear this one! Bearing in mind what website you're on.

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  22. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Fraggle, science and reason are elements of the age of enlightenment in a European sense, but they are useless as far as Buddhist/ Zen enlightenment.
     
  23. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Just ask yourself why you engage in the types of discussions that you engage in on these forums. From what I can see they are typically very philosophical and/or religious in nature. Surely you must have some idea as to what your own motivations are?
     

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