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10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

(1) is the universe eternal

(2) is the universe not eternal

(3) is the universe finite

(4) is the universe infinite

(5) are body and soul identical

(6) are body and soul distinct

(7) does the thus-gone exist after death

(8) do they cease to exist

(9) will they both exist and not exist

(10) will they neither cease to exist nor continue existing

that so many people are trying to answer this rather suggests the joke may have been too 'high concept'. especially when the last four questions are specifically about the buddha. like did you just skip past 'the thus-gone' (tathāgata, a title of buddhas) or are you trying to one-up the pāli canon here

the joke is that i have listed the 10 questions which, according to the majjhima nikāya, gautama buddha refused to answer one way or the other, thus parodying the format of 'productivity mindset' listicles by juxtaposing their language with buddhist scripture and highlighting their inanity by choosing questions which are paradigmatically unanswerable

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld smh what is this small talk

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld universe is spacetime so if it ceases to exist the scale to observe does so as well, making the question kind of meaningless?

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@a_lizard the joke is that these are the 10 questions the buddha refused to answer

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@a_lizard anyway 'universe is spacetime' could be challenged in a number of ways but for establishing that the universe is not eternal it would suffice to show that the volume of time available to us is finite, that it doesn't go arbitrarily far back

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@a_lizard proving that the universe is eternal, on the other hand, would seem to be impossible: going to the past, we can't differentiate between 'the universe existed n + 1 units of time in the past', where 'n' is the greatest time depth we've investigated and 'the universe has always existed'; and going to the future, from the universe having existed in all previous moments it doesn't follow it won't cease to exist in the next

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@a_lizard the point of posing these questions to the buddha is that if a question can be answered at all, the buddha, being omniscient, would be able to answer it. that śakyamūni refused to do so indicates either the questions can't be answered (they're malformed in some way, perhaps in the sense you indicated) or that it would not have been compassionate for him to answer them (in the sūtra where the questions are put to him he points out he promised a path to the cessation of desire, not a path to knowing if the universe is finite or not)

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld some excluded middle business going on here, yeah?

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@parenthetical classical indian logic has four truth-values: true, false, both, and neither. it's somewhat similar to belnap's 4-valued system where one value represents a truth-value glut and another a truth-value gap

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld isnt at least one of 7-10 still superfluous then?

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@parenthetical it's a mode of examining a question known as the catuṣkoṭi where each of the four possible answers to a question are examined in turn. all are mutually exclusive and together they're exhaustive (if the question is well-formed; nāgārjuna notably employs this to show many questions can't be answered at all)

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@parenthetical one way to look at it is that the positive answer to a question might be impossible to prove but if we can disprove the other three, then it must be true, and so on for all of them

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld that makes good logic and poetics both, i suppose

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld are these ten taken to be a „Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen." kind of territory or does debate continue despite knowing that conclusive knowledge is impossible

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@parenthetical the two main interpretations here are (1) the buddha did know the answer and would have been capable of giving it, but it would not have been skillful (ie not conductive to his disciplines' enlightenment) of him to do so; or (2) the questions are meaningless and should not be asked

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@parenthetical the latter would be the madhyamaka interpretation. nāgārjuna employs the catuṣkoṭi in just that fashion to show a range of questions and the presuppositions they make to be, as it were, nonsense. this can in my opinion as a philosopher be very fruitfully read in terms of wittgensteins wovon man nicht, and vice versa

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld that does sound pretty dope.

based on your reply to binchicken, it kind of seems like different approaches could apply to different questions? i.e. the last four questions contain category mistakes but the first six are simply in some other sense the wrong questions to ask the buddha.

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld yes, no, yes, yes, no, no, yes, no, no, yes.

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@binchicken the first six can be debated but the last four, which deal specifically with the status of the buddha and the arhat-s after parinirvāṇa, definitely do not hold, alone or in any combination, according to any school of buddhism. the thus-gone, the tathā-gata (which could also be read as tatha-agata, 'the one not thus gone'), has, in fact, gone beyond all going and coming. saying they either exist or have ceased to exist after parinirvāṇa would be tantamount to saying they have not attained it

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld so, that's not a passing grade, is it. strewth, i am going to have to retake this unit AGAIN!

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld i should've enrolled in professor thicc's lecture

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld

*extremely techbro voice*
yes no yes no yes no no yes no no
you see,,, philosophy was solved years ago,,

re: 10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld okay awful jokes aside. but, so (4)/(5) I've been thinking about in the context of philosophy of mathematics for a while

usually the argument for finitism is that if you have some infinite set -- like the countably infinite set of natural numbers -- you actually have a *specification* for that set, some way of building it

and then attempting to resolve that specification does not terminate. but what is non-termination if not, well, infinity?

and this applies for numbers too. the perspective of finitism applies there to basically state that sets and numbers and all these mathematical objects are not something we have a priori: that resolution of a given specification may or may not terminate, and that to be non-terminating is to be unreal

generalizing this outside of mathematics,
the universe is presumably in a state of non-termination -- so... hm.

re: 10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld i guess you could liken the "resolution" of the universe to the resolution of an infinite set. the universe does not expand into anything, it does not require space to exist outside of it, and you can consider it to be basically inductively building upon itself

re: 10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld do feel free to tell me if you want me to shut up

re: 10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@hazel @esvrld Is this question even meaningful if we don't know how much change can occur before we agree that entity X has terminated and a new entity Y is now in existence? If the universe collapses to an infinitely small point and cycles through multiple Big Bangs, has it terminated and restarted each time?

10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld So you smoke a lot of weed, don't you?

re: 10 Questions to Spark Stimulating Conversations 

@esvrld

I'm an esoteric many-worlds simulist and my sincere answers are as follows:

1: yes
2: yes
3: yes
4: yes
5: yes
6: yes
7: yes
8: no
9: yes
10: yes

Okay thanks have a good one

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