I love looking at the moon. I love watching it slowly change from a full moon to a new moon. I love half and crescent moons also. But they are all the same moon in different light.
By observing the moon and watching it change I can confirm that it is indeed a sphere. By looking at the shadows I can point to the direction of the sun, and infer its location relative to us.
But why should the moon be spherical? The more we look out there the more we realise that the other planets are spherical as well. So maybe the planet we live on is as well.
That thought probably prompted man to sail away from the coasts and literally venture out into open waters. The evidence increasingly pointed to the world as being round, or at least not being flat.
This also prompted us to think about how and why things do not fall off a round-edged world into whatever is beyond the horizon. Perhaps everything is falling into the centre – gravity. Eureka! All problems solved.
The fact is we have observed, with our own eyes, the planets and planetary satellites out there, and they are not flat but round. Things don’t fall off the planets because they are round. And the Earth is not special. It is not flat. And we, human beings, are not special. The world neither figuratively nor literally revolve around us, just as the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. It is only ignorance and arrogance that makes us think the planet and us are special. And sometimes people are kept ignorant for reasons of maintaining this power and control over them. This is not unlike the flat-earthers’ narrative that the Sun revolves around the flat Earth, all the while telling you that you are their Sun.
The value of a thing is its contrast to all other things.
Valuable artworks are perhaps a good example of this. What makes the art of Da Vinci valuable is not only its craftsmanship but also its rarity. If I remember correctly less than two dozen works are in existence. For these two reasons his works fetch a premium.
But also how much work is required to produce something will affect the value as well. Something which can be manufactured quickly will mean many are available. So the ubiquity of it brings the value down. And demand too will be dictated by the perceived value of something will also change its value.
Value is a complex and changing thing.
Modernist movements believed their own movement could replace all others, that there was no question of their perfection, and no question of their progress.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, believed they owed their existence to Modernism, that perfection was impossible, and they were no better than or worse than the Modernism that came before them.
While Modernism believed it was internally consistent and readily self-definable, Postmodernism saw itself as play and a system of difference.
Not many people know it but Michel Foucault had (at least) a public and private face. I will not elaborate. But perhaps it is only important to remember that we are protean in nature. Everyday we play many roles. Most are chosen. Some are not. Many, you may see. Others are unnoticed, camouflaged or outright hidden from you.
“The world is in a state of flux,” said Heraclitus. His contemporary Parmenides said the exact opposite – “everything is unitary and static”.
While it is easy to show that something that looks stable is in fact changing it is hard to show that it is not. One can say that both are illusions, only that one eventually does show itself to be the case (kinesis). Over time a an object in rest gradually changes its form. What Parmenides was arguing for was that this was all an illusion and that really everything is the same. In other words, he was a kind of rationalist.
In some ways Christians are rationalists, that sense empirical data is imperfect and should be ignored.
Priority and preference is given to the thinking mind rather than to the physical reality. Rationalists will argue that all that is necessary is the mind and its reason.
But if that is the case why have we not evolved to be rid of sensory faculties. Clearly, the senses do matter, and it is to sense the changes in the environment, not its staticity. Stasis is a controlled look at all things. There is something abstract about stasis, it’s removal of movement of reality, like a photographic still or a painting of a scene.
From a diachronic point of view, any concept must come into existence, that is, it must not have existed at some point in the passage of time.
The argument for God and existence of God supposes and privileges eternity and presence. Theism, then, supposes permanence. This must necessarily extend to atheism. Thus the idea of atheism must have been there from the beginning.
The theists have therefore pulled wool over your eyes when they argue in this way. The only way out is to argue for finitude, absence and impermanence.
We are always living in some kind of “now”. Our view of the world is forever locked into a “present” or illusionary presence. And in this way we habitually prefer the “synchrony of X” over its diachrony. What can only happen in any interpretation of “the history of X” is forever a reading with now in mind when now never was there in the past. Retrospection is never free from this now, forever placing itself into the past when it was not there. That is why in retrospect everything seems obvious.
To be pure historians of Buddhism we must place ourselves in the past without the baggage called “knowledge” into that time and place. The further back in time we go the less accurate the representation becomes. For example, Chinese Buddhism of the 4th century knows nothing of its advance into Japan the next centuries. It is not, “it had not reached Japan yet”, but rather, “did it know it was going anywhere to begin with”. I doubt Buddhism in the 1st century BCE knew it was entering China either. Buddhism simply had no plans. These are projections onto history after rather than before or during the fact. The interpretation of history continually changes as a time pushes forward, added to by more and more retrospection. The more we think the more the past changes.