Tom Pepper on Dependent Origination

From Buddha Event Forum http://buddhaevent.boards.net/thread/8/second-iteration-faithful-buddhist

I am sorry to report that Tom Pepper’s latest revival of The Faithful Buddhist has apparently ended. Tom indicated in comments posted there August 28 that the demise of the site was imminent.

When Tom resumed posting in January 2015 he projected a series of 11 installments. Four were posted. The completed posts were:

The Metaphysics of Dependent Origination: an attempt at a systematic presentation of full-strength anatman, January 12, 2015

Dependent Origination, All The Way Down, January 25, 2015

Of Rabbits and Churches: Stratification and Metaphysics, February 15, 2015

Mirrors, Maps and Slime Mold: How to Think About Epistemology, March 14, 2015

The first of these served as an introduction to the planned series of ten posts. Tom provided the following description of the series:

1) Everything is dependently originated; we must accept a “full-strength” version of anatman.

2) Everything is NOT dependently originated in the same way; knowing what causes and conditions produce what effects is the goal of wisdom, but we must see this goal as in turn the starting point from which we begin our work.

3) There is such a thing as human knowledge, but knowledge is a kind of action in the world, not a mirror of the world.

4) There is an intransitive dimension which arises out of causes and conditions not of our making; the social construction of the practices in which we produce knowledge of this intransitive dimension do not create it or even change it.

5) This intransitive world is only known intentionally (never “objectively”), but this does not mean that our knowledge of it is false.

6) We humans produce social formations to facilitate our actions in the world; many kinds of social formations are possible, none is required by any law of God or nature, but not all are equally good—some may serve their purpose better than others.

7) The conatus of Humans is to increase our capacity to interact with the world.

8) We can, and should, produce knowledge about our social formations to serve our conatus and to reduce suffering.

9) Much of human thought has worked to collapse the distinction between the intransitive dimension of reality and the transitive realm of human social formations; this serves to foreclose the transformation of human social formations, maintaining the position of those in power but preventing the reduction of human suffering.

10) The goal of Buddhist practice should be to sort out what is of the intransitive realm and what is caused by human social formations. We can produce knowledge in both realms, but the method of producing knowledge is different, and depends on the specific kinds of knowledge-as-action being produced. Our goal must not be to accept the world, but to remove constraints to our acting within it.

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