Love is not a thing

Love isn’t a thing.
It’s not a
or-you-don’t thing.
It is what you do.
And it is what
someone does to you.

Go do love. Go love.
Go get loved. Be loved.
Then you will understand
what love is. Love is
not a thing.
Just love.

Philosophy kills poetry and art

Does anyone else feel that philosophy kills the creativity needed for poetry and art?


There are six pramāna (knowledge or valid cognition) in Indian philosophy.

Pratyakṣa (perception) is the sense data, essentially your intuition (Hume’s term) or experience. In Buddhism there are six senses – visual, aural, scent, pallet, tactile, and mind. Each have their corresponding “objects” – sight, sound, fragrance, taste, touch, and mind-object. Perception may correspond to sensation in psychology and not processed content.

Anumāna (inference) is similar to logic. One thing causes another by being inferred.

Upamāna (comparison and analogy) is to link two different unrelated situations or objects through similarity. This may include simile and metaphor.

Arthāpatti (postulation, derivation from circumstances) is implication by knowing the consequences of one action to another. Unlike anumāna it is long term and not immediate.

Anupalabdi (non-perception; negative cognitive proof) is the affirmation of the absence of the positive situation.

Śabda (reliance on past reliable testimony) is the reliance on past evidence given by others.

Buddhism, under Tibetan Buddhism system, recognizes that only perception (pratyakṣa) and inference (anumāna) as valid. All else are denied. This is interesting considering that the Buddhist sutras are taken to be sacred texts. On this count we must wonder how the rejection of śabda works here.

Svabhava – the doctrine of no intrinsic nature

There is no intrinsic nature (svabhava) to conditioned phenomena. All conditioned (samskara) and unconditioned (dharma) phenomena are without self (anatman) and are empty (shunyata). All conditioned phenomena are impermanent (anitya) and unsatisfactory (duhkha).

With this as base Buddhism teaches enlightenment (or release) (nirvana) that ends all rebirth (samsara, reincarnation).

Chicken soup for the non-soul

“So if there is no self, non-self, non-soul or no- soul what is it that gets reborn or reincarnated?”

This is question I often get from Westerners new to Buddhism. How can there be no soul? Who or what is doing these good and bad things?

The Buddha always starts with the idea of impermanence. All real things are impermanent. Real things do no stay the same. This much most people can understand and agree with. Then the Buddha moves on to the idea of unsatisfactoriness. All real things are unsatisfactory. This too most people can agree upon also. But then most people get tripped up by the last statement of the truth of reality. All real and unreal things have no inherent self. Real things are seen to have no coherent core, just as unreal things (ideas and concepts of the of the imagination) do not have any core.

What makes a rock a rock is not anything. There is no “rock-ness” of things. If there is a rock-ness then would that not entail a permanent “something”?

There is also another suggestion here with this formulation – that there is something permanent but without a self. Real things are impermanent and unsatisfactory. But Unreal things are “permanent” and “satisfactory” in some way even though they are without a self. But what can be permanent if it is unreal?

This kind of formulation is not dissimilar to that of God or soul. Since God and soul are permanent and satisfactory. This is the conundrum. So, does God and souls exist or not? According to Buddha they must be unreal but unreal things have no self. But real things have no self either.

The only way forward, I feel, is to deal with these issues separately. Understand the nature of real things before we deal with understanding what the nature of unreal things are.

*Remember that book? Sorry. Clickbait title.

Religion from a biological or anthropological point of view

It seems to me that everything we do is for one purpose and one purpose alone, and that is to survive. We eat, sleep, exercise, work, play, wear clothes, buy houses, read, write, speak, listen, study, teach, sing, have sex, defecate, pretty do everything as a way to survive.

We create institutions to survive. Health care, education, science, philosophy and religion are just some of the institutions we have as a way to survive as a group rather than as an individual.

Seen this way, religion is no different to the ballroom dancing club, tennis club, academic associations that we create in order to survive. Religion, God, souls, mind and self, therefore, are concepts to help us, and should be studied as a biological and anthropological necessities. It should be off-limits to scrutiny.

On nominalism

If we are to take nominalism as 1) the rejection of universals, or 2) the rejection of abstract objects (of the mind) then I am neither.

What I reject is that universals or abstract objects are things in the conventional sense, or even real objects (of the mind). This sentient/animate being conceptualises universals, abstract objects and concrete objects, that is, conceptualisation is a process of a thing, this thing, and not a thing-in-itself. A process is a “characteristic” of a thing.

The communicative symbol is the only “thing” in common between a universal or abstract object (of the mind) in mine and another person’s mind.

So deductive reasoning does have its uses

So I was pushing with it with the example I gave on deductive reasoning earlier. But there was a point to this – that it does have much to do with the type of subjects and predicates you choose. Here are some mixed examples from here with my commentary:

  • All numbers ending in 0 or 5 are divisible by 5. The number 35 ends with a 5, so it must be divisible by 5.

Here we have an abstract system which is completely based on artificial rules. But also will this work in, say, base-6? Why do we assume base-10?

  • All birds have feathers. All robins are birds. Therefore, robins have feathers.

Built into the definition of birds is feather. So we have a tautology.

  • It’s dangerous to drive on icy streets. The streets are icy now, so it would be dangerous to drive on the streets.

Judgment and a matter of degrees, the kind of tires you may have and who is driving or a combination of these.

  • All cats have a keen sense of smell. Fluffy is a cat, so Fluffy has a keen sense of smell.

A matter of degrees.

  • Cacti are plants, and all plants perform photosynthesis. Therefore, cacti perform photosynthesis.

Part of the definition of plant so a tautology again.

  • Red meat has iron in it, and beef is red meat. Therefore, beef has iron in it.

Tautology again.

  • Acute angles are less than 90 degrees. This angle is 40 degrees, so it must be an acute angle.

Self defining term.

  • All noble gases are stable. Helium is a noble gas, so helium is stable.


  • Elephants have cells in their bodies, and all cells have DNA. Therefore, elephants have DNA.

The major premise is reversed with the minor one.

  • All horses have manes. The Arabian is a horse; therefore, Arabians have manes.

This is an unusual case with naked foal syndrome but mutations may occur for better or worse. The question remains does a mane define a horse?

Admittedly, this is not the best page for examples. The point though is formal logic is highly restrictive in its use and content. It also says much about language as a medium for communicating truth, particularly when tautological definitions are used. Mathematics seems a better medium but then it is formed upon an abstract system not apply in reality. For this attempts have been made with set theory.

I do not mind enumerative and eliminative induction methods, and probability in the shape of abduction. It only needs to be stated from the outset. Rigour is possible with these if used carefully.

I have yet to touch upon apoha, Saussurean system of difference, fuzzy logic or even prototype theory as a methodologies, but I will.

Deductive reasoning is flawed, therefore we should move on.

Consider this common example for an argument of deductive reasoning.

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

We start with a major (general) premise, move to a minor (particular) premise, then draw a conclusion. Not so difficult. But let’s look at the major premise again.

All men are mortal.

I have met many men. Hundreds, perhaps thousands. But to be sure I have not met all men. Every time I go shopping I see someone I have yet to meet. So what am I basing this statement upon, if it is not based upon observations of the men I have met until now. Where do I find the universal truths? I may ask my wife, children, relatives, friends and co-workers too “have you met any man who isn’t mortal?” and usually (there is always one wisecrack who would claim “yes, I have!”) get a favourable answer (does hearsay count?), but I still have not confirmed that all men are indeed mortal.

What I really have done is enumerated (enumerative induction) all of my experiences with men and come to a probable conclusion that this statement ‘all men are mortal’ is a “truth”. What I really should be saying is that “all the men I have met (and heard about) are mortal”. It would not be truthful to make that major premise. It seems, then, all deductive reasoning is based on an assumption from an experience of high-probability without acknowledging itself to be doing so. There is no true deductive reasoning that can be true as such, only probable conclusions.

Now I am not saying probability are not good. I am saying exactly the opposite, that we only ever have most-probable-answers and likely-to-be-true statements to work with. I am saying, deductive reasoning is flawed, therefore, we should move on.

Words and actions

Yes, I have privileged access to my thoughts, words and actions.

But what access do I have of someone else’s thoughts, if it is not only their words and actions. Equally, no one has access to my thoughts except for my own words and actions.

The concepts in one’s head remains in there until it reveals itself in the form of matter as representation to me or as representation to them.