Religion?
#37

"The explanations we come up with for the observed behavior of another person, derive from taking the intentional stance: treating the person as a rational agent whose behavior is governed by beliefs, desires or other mental states that refer to objects, events, or states of the world."



That is just one way of looking at human actions. This is just how one culture (namely, the Western culture) experiences the world and human actions. Greeks and Indians, to bring up two examples, don't share that experience.

The concept of linking actions to beliefs first appeared within Christian theology. The Ancient Greeks certainly did not view human actions in this way. Most of these scientific experiments presuppose this theological concept: namely, that beliefs cause actions.


Within the framework of Indian culture, practices like puja and yagna are not viewed as embodiments of beliefs. That being said, if you ask some Indians, "Why do you do puja?", you'll get hundreds of different answers.

The point being that these traditions are not founded on any beliefs or doctrines. The question itself (Why practice a tradition?) is an ill-formulated question, because it presumes that one needs a 'reason' or 'belief' for doing a practice.

In more general terms, a practice does not require a separate ‘reason’ or ‘justification’ for its existence. In exactly the same way one does not require a reason to continue to live, one does not need a reason to continue a practice. The existence of a practice is its ‘justification’; the only ‘reason’ to practice a tradition is the fact that what is practiced is a tradition (following our forefathers). So, to the question, ‘why do Ganesha puja?’ the following is an answer: ‘because I have learnt to do this puja.’ ‘Why wear bindis?’: ‘we wear them because it is our practice.’ Nothing more is required. you'll notice that these answers don't turn the actions into expressions of beliefs.

Ofcourse this leads to the question: Does that mean that all practices are justified because they are ancestral practices? (For example, meting out inhuman treatment to fellow human beings) No, this claim does not follow logically: if there are good reasons why one should abandon or modify a practice, then one should do that. No Indian tradition has ever denied this.


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#38
(16-Jul-2012, 01:14 AM)arvind13 Wrote: That is just one way of looking at human actions. This is just how one culture (namely, the Western culture) experiences the world and human actions. Greeks and Indians, to bring up two examples, don't share that experience.

The assertion that science is just one more way of knowing about physical reality including animal behavior, or the slapping on of parochial labels like 'Indian' or 'Greek' to certain scientific claims, is the beginning of science denial that is central to both the post-modernist and revivalist projects.

(16-Jul-2012, 01:14 AM)arvind13 Wrote: Within the framework of Indian culture, practices like puja and yagna are not viewed as embodiments of beliefs. That being said, if you ask some Indians, "Why do you do puja?", you'll get hundreds of different answers.
....
The point being that these traditions are not founded on any beliefs or doctrines. The question itself (Why practice a tradition?) is an ill-formulated question, because it presumes that one needs a 'reason' or 'belief' for doing a practice.

Science-denial in revivalist circles is often also accompanied by history-denial, with disingenuous attempts to delink a worldview from the activities it encourages and perpetuates, like the implausible suggestion that beliefs are entirely coincidental to practices. There may well be hundreds of different answers to the question of why Pujas are performed, but we are not obliged to dignify and treat as authoritative any answer that ignores the historical context and the role of organized religious hierarchies in perpetuating the idea. Articles #10 and #13 in this series outlines instances of some of the most recognizable (and most detested) practices in Hinduism which did not emerge from a vacuum or acts of isolated villainy, but from a cauldron of beliefs kept simmering and stirred by doctrinaires and demagogues. Merely saying, "But we don't look at it that way!" and looking the other way from addressing some of the roots of unfair practices, is an approach that may suit apologists, but is a selective revisionist reading that cannot pass academic muster.




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#39
i didn't say "science is just one more way of knowing",

I said that the notion that actions are caused by beliefs is not scientific at all, but comes from Judeo-Christian theology.

Many of these scientific experiments already start with this presupposition that beliefs cause actions.

There are answers to "Why do such and such action?" that does not turn the action into expressions of beliefs (Why do you wear a bindi? because it is my practice, because my mother told me to).

Most of the 'explanations' that tie Asian/Indian traditions and customs to some belief or the other are ad-hoc and don't really explain anything. Because one can literally give any reason they want as to why they follow a tradition. This is because these traditions have little to do with beliefs. Beliefs are irrelevant when it comes to continuing a tradition.

A tradition is practiced because it is a tradition. At the same time, there is no obligation to follow them. One can stop doing them any time they want. This just doesn't apply to Indian traditions, but also to ancient Greek and Roman traditions. As I mentioned before, this doesn't mean any and every tradition is justified and acceptable. There are immoral practices that need to be either modified or stopped. The very fact that there is no obligation to follow these traditions makes them more amenable to change. Indeed, throughout history, many of these practices are constantly modified, with some practices dying out, new ones emerging etc

This is in stark contrast to the semitic religions. For these religions, the universe is an embodiment of God's plan and purpose and they worship their (Biblical) God in certain ways because this (Biblical) God has imposed on them the obligation to do so. Each of their practices have doctrinal foundation and beliefs behind them. Beliefs are the foundations of these religions. Christians/Jews/Muslims believe that Bible/Torah/Quran is the revelation of God's plan, the word of God. To believe in the word of this entity is to hope for salvation; not believing it is to be doomed to damnation.

It is from this theological framework that the emphasis on beliefs and linking practices to beliefs comes from.

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#40
arvind13,

Beliefs (or whatever you want to call them) cause harm. Such beliefs will be criticized. On one hand you say that you agree that some beliefs are harmful. On the other hand you object to criticizing such harmful beliefs just because you have convinced yourself that belief is a Judeo-Christian construct and then come up with some post-modernist nonsense of "who decides what is harmful" (Here's a hint and more here).

So, enough with the sophistry. Please provide examples from within these forums where non-harmful beliefs (or whatever you want to call them) have been criticized.
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#41
"you say that you agree that some beliefs are harmful"

I never said that, i said certain practices are harmful (i used the example of widow burning). I don't link these practices to beliefs.


The main gist of my argument is that you are viewing Indian traditions (not just Indian, but Asian traditions, Aborginal traditions) through the lens of Judeo-Christian theology.

These traditions are transformed into religious practices that are based on a set of doctrines or belief systems. As long as we do this, we cannot solve the problems that face Indian society, because we have a distorted understanding of the practices themselves.

If you recognize these practices for what they are, ancestral traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, then it becomes easier to tackle harmful practices, because one realizes that none of these traditions are obligatory (unlike religious practices and doctrines) and are amenable to change.



All of what i've been saying is elaborated in a book called "The Heathen in his blindness: Asia, the West, and the dynamic of religion", which scientifically examines the phenomenon of religion. It is available for free on the internet. Here is the link: http://www.cultuurwetenschap.be/files/pu...ndness.pdf.

Just take a glance. Even if you don't agree with the theories presented there, you will see that it is well-researched.
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#42
(16-Jul-2012, 07:40 AM)arvind13 Wrote: These traditions are transformed into religious practices that are based on a set of doctrines or belief systems. As long as we do this, we cannot solve the problems that face Indian society, because we have a distorted understanding of the practices themselves.

That's just plain BS. For example, to fight the caste system, one just needs to acknowledge the existence of it and then work towards empowering the people most affected by it. It doesn't matter if academic hair splitting deems caste as "belief" or "practice" or some post-modernist preacher erects the lens of "Judeo-Christian theology" to talk their way out of the fact that X (where X=[insert you word of choice - belief or practice or whatever]) causes harm (where harm isn't some nebulous subjective nonsense concocted out of blithe ignorance of a shared human biology and hence a shared morality).

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#43
(16-Jul-2012, 08:51 AM)Lije Wrote:
(16-Jul-2012, 07:40 AM)arvind13 Wrote: These traditions are transformed into religious practices that are based on a set of doctrines or belief systems. As long as we do this, we cannot solve the problems that face Indian society, because we have a distorted understanding of the practices themselves.

That's just plain BS. For example, to fight the caste system, one just needs to acknowledge the existence of it and then work towards empowering the people most affected by it. It doesn't matter if academic hair splitting deems caste as "belief" or "practice" or some post-modernist preacher erects the lens of "Judeo-Christian theology" to talk their way out of the fact that X (where X=[insert you word of choice - belief or practice or whatever]) causes harm (where harm isn't some nebulous subjective nonsense concocted out of blithe ignorance of a shared human biology and hence a shared morality).

This post addresses the 'caste system':

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheHeathen...ssage/2865


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#44
(16-Jul-2012, 09:40 AM)arvind13 Wrote: This post addresses the 'caste system':

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheHeathen...ssage/2865

Far from addressing caste issues, that post exposes the cluelessness that is typical of a person from an upper caste background. Maybe the high priests of post-modernism should listen to another Indian and the dalit voice. But wait, I know the high priests won't. Because they are busy constructing the false dichotomy of east vs west. Given that, the voice of other Indians aren't really Indian voices because the self-anointed high priests have decreed that those voices have been tainted with "Judeo-Christian theology" and hence they cannot know what the 'caste system' is.
[+] 1 user Likes Lije's post
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#45
A common theme that has popped up in this thread is the criticism that the research and the research team is "postmodern". Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the researcher has criticized the postmodernist approach of bringing everything down to perspectives, and one perspective is as good as another.

The goal of the research program is very simple: to scientifically study other cultures and understand them. Because in order to solve the problems of any society, it is crucial that one is knowledgeable about the culture of that society. That has what this program has done: to develop a scientific theory of both culture and religion. that's all. it's not about "east vs west". It doesn't make value judgements on either culture. It is scientific in the best possible sense of the term.

This is not about the word 'religion' or what it means ( though the dictionary definitions in use today were originally derived from Christian theology). It's about everything. The entire paradigm we use to understand Indian culture, its "religions", caste discrimination etc is flawed and unscientific. the same can be said of how we understand other Asian and African cultures.

We need to start from 'scratch' and develop a completely new paradigm/framework of understanding both Indian and Western culture if we are to have any hope of solving the problems of injustice, poverty, communal violence etc
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#46
(19-Jul-2012, 09:45 AM)arvind13 Wrote: We need to start from 'scratch' and develop a completely new paradigm/framework of understanding both Indian and Western culture if we are to have any hope of solving the problems of injustice, poverty, communal violence etc

Quoting the late Christopher Hitchens, "We already know the cure to poverty...it's quite simply, the empowerment of women".

We also know a way to prevent communal violence during tense situations: political will and timely calling in of security forces. Notice the difference in handling of the post-Babri riots by Jyoti Basu and the handling of post-Godhra riots by Narendra Modi.

What the solutions to poverty and communal violence need, is therefore not exactly the establishment of new schools of cultural studies by maverick academics.

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#47
arvind13,

Since you seem intent to avoid discussing specific examples and keep pushing your agenda, let me show the pointlessness of what you are trying to do. Can you tell us what paradigm could have produced an argument like this:

Quote:I have had friends, companions, relatives, men of the same blood as myself, who have taken life, committed thefts, or fornication, have uttered lying, slanderous, abusive gossipy speech, have been covetous, of malign thoughts, of evil opinions. They anon have fallen ill of mortal suffering and disease. When I had understood that they would not recover from that illness, I have gone to them and said: 'According to the views and opinion held, sirs, by certain wanderers and Brahmins, they who break the precepts of morality, when the body breaks up after death, are reborn into the Waste, the Woeful Way, the Fallen Place, the Pit. Now you, sirs, have broken those precepts. If what those reverend wanderers and Brahmins say is true, this, sirs, will be your fate. If these things should befall you, sirs, come to mob and tell me, saying. "There is another world, there is rebirth not of parents, there is fruit and result of deeds well‑done and ill‑done." You, sirs, are for me trustworthy and reliable, and what you say you have seen, will be even so, just as if I myself had seen it.' They have consented to do. this, saying,. ‘Very good,' but they have neither come themselves, nor dispatched a messenger. Now this . . . is evidence for me that there is neither another world, nor rebirth not by human parents, nor fruit or results of deeds well done and ill.



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#48
(19-Jul-2012, 10:43 AM)Lije Wrote: arvind13,

Since you seem intent to avoid discussing specific examples and keep pushing your agenda, let me show the pointlessness of what you are trying to do. Can you tell us what paradigm could have produced an argument like this:

Quote:I have had friends, companions, relatives, men of the same blood as myself, who have taken life, committed thefts, or fornication, have uttered lying, slanderous, abusive gossipy speech, have been covetous, of malign thoughts, of evil opinions. They anon have fallen ill of mortal suffering and disease. When I had understood that they would not recover from that illness, I have gone to them and said: 'According to the views and opinion held, sirs, by certain wanderers and Brahmins, they who break the precepts of morality, when the body breaks up after death, are reborn into the Waste, the Woeful Way, the Fallen Place, the Pit. Now you, sirs, have broken those precepts. If what those reverend wanderers and Brahmins say is true, this, sirs, will be your fate. If these things should befall you, sirs, come to mob and tell me, saying. "There is another world, there is rebirth not of parents, there is fruit and result of deeds well‑done and ill‑done." You, sirs, are for me trustworthy and reliable, and what you say you have seen, will be even so, just as if I myself had seen it.' They have consented to do. this, saying,. ‘Very good,' but they have neither come themselves, nor dispatched a messenger. Now this . . . is evidence for me that there is neither another world, nor rebirth not by human parents, nor fruit or results of deeds well done and ill.

Lije, what is the source of the quote? I'm curious to read the quote with a little more context.
Also is the TL;DR version: "You have sinned and now you will die. After you're dead, if I don't hear back from you about Hell, that means Hell doesn't exist?"
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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