Schizophrenia and Eastern religions

A Buddhist Zen master who lives in Tokyo wishes to fly to Kyoto on a private plane. When he arrives at the airport, he is offered two planes: one that is faster but aeronautically questionable, and one that is slower but aeronautically sound. He is informed by the airport authorities that the faster plane violates some of the basic principles of aeronautical mechanics, and the slower plane does not.

The aeronautical or technological deficiencies of the faster plane represent underlying mistakes in physics. The Zen master, in his teaching, asks his disciples questions the right answers to which require them to embrace contradictions. To do so is the path to wisdom about reality, which has contradictions at its core. But the Zen master does t waver from upholding this teaching about reality while, at the same time, he chooses the slower, aeronautically sounder and safer plane because it accords with a technology and a physics that makes correct judgments about a physical world that abhors contradictions.

If there is scientific truth in technology and physics, then the unity of the truth should require the Zen master to acknowledge that his choice of the slower but safer plane means that he repudiates his Zen doctrine about the wisdom of embracing contradictions.

He does not do so and remains schizophrenic, with the truth of Zen doctrine and the truth of technology and physics in logic-tight compartments. On what grounds or for what reasons does he do this if not for the psychological comfort derived from keeping the incompatible “truths” in logic-tight compartments? Can it be that the Zen master has a different meaning for the word “truth” when he persists in regarding the Zen doctrine as true even though it would appear to be irreconcilable with the truth of technology and physics he has accepted in choosing the slower plane? Can it be that this persistence in retaining the Zen doctrine does not derive from its being “true” in the logical sense of truth, but rather in a sense of “true” that identifies it with being psychological “useful” or “therapeutic”?

In other words, Zen Buddhism as a religion is believed by this Zen master because of its psychological usefulness in producing in its believers a state of peace or harmony. In my judgment, this view of the matter doe snot reduce or remove the schizophrenia of Zen Buddhism.

Mortimer J. Adler, Truth in Religion, pp. 75-6

Review: Critical Thinking –2002 publication.

Critical Thinking --2002 publication.
Critical Thinking –2002 publication. by Kevin Possin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a good, fairly short introduction to logic. The author does a decent job of introducing the reader to the basics of the subject. I have only three complaints:

1. The author’s liberal positions on nearly everything shine through in the examples he uses and are an obnoxious distraction. He doesn’t even try to be impartial and irritates throughout.

2. The text was an e-text originally and then put into book form. No effort was made, apparently, to edit the text appropriately when this was done, and so throughout the text he references reading the text on your computer and references his book as an e-text. That’s just laziness.

3. The author’s consistent use of internet discussion board shorthand like “BTW” and smiley faces “:-)” is distracting, unnecessary, and unprofessional. It doesn’t make him seem cool and up-to-date; it makes him seem pathetic and out-of-touch.

While the text does a good job of introducing its topic, I would not recommend it for these reasons. There are others texts out there that do a similar or better quality job of introducing the reader to logic and yet do not have the annoying distractions this book has.

View all my reviews