[Buddha-l] Accuracy

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 16 04:04:35 MDT 2010

>> That's the irony -- the bloodthirsty masquerade as the righteous, and 
>> those
>> who recognize them for what they are eschewed as illiberal.
> Dan,

Erik replies:

> there are many ways to call something what it is, without sounding like
> an extremist. Unlike Wittgenstein thought language is not a projection
> of a state of affairs, but an interpretation. So if the speaker is not
> an extremist, she will not flip into an extremist position and will
> therefore not speak out in an extremist way.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here. You are saying since the speaker 
*is* reflecting the state of affairs underlying the speech (i.e., not being 
an extremist), she cannot be misconstrued to be something she's not.

Let's complicate the picture -- there is a speaker. There is the speaker's 
utterance(s). There is an audience (lit. means "hearers", "sraavakas), 
composed of a multiplicity of ears and minds who don't necessarily hear the 
same things in the same ways. There is that about which the speaker speaks 
(a state of affairs?). There are the personal and collective experiences of 
the audience, which may or may not overlap with each other, or with the 
speaker's experiences, and may or may not have had prior or current 
encounters with the same or similar states of affairs. There are the 
ambiguities that language usage brings to any communication between people. 
We could extend this list. Each of these is subject to multiple 

So someone who is not an extremist (in her own mind) might be *heard* as an 
extremist by some portion of the audience. Conversely, someone who *is* an 
extremist might NOT be heard as such by some portion of the audience.

Much of the current exchanges has revolved around who gets to legitimately 
pin which labels on whom. I say Ahmadinejad is an extremist whose 
hate-speech is not recognized as such by those who share his loathing 
(though they wouldn't be comfortable with that characterization). 
Conversely, while I am not an extremist, many on this list prefer to think 
of me as one. Obiously the inverse of both these statements has been 
asserted as well.

Due to the ambiguity of language -- and perhaps my lack of clarity -- the 
question was not directed at how to look at the people in the video, but 
whether one can bring up the subject of things like what Al Quds (or 
political Islam, etc.) really is (as opposed to how it is packaged for 
European consumption) without sounding like an extremist or someone in the 
Wilders/Tea Party camp. Note that among the numerous links that I supplied, 
one which pointed out strong actual historical links between Hitler and the 
Nazis and the Arabs (esp. Arafat's predecessor) -- which could be dismissed 
as the alarmist propoganda of Widers-ites -- and another link by people who 
themselves not only acknowledge but celebrate that history, taken together 
this dramatically reduces the issue of "interpretation" in this matter. The 
former site cannot be dismissed as distorting propogandists, since what they 
present as representing that ideology is identical to the self-declarations 
of those subscribing to that ideology. In other words, the description is 
*accurate.* All that remains for interpretation is whether to be concerned 
or celebratory about such ideology. (On could just pretend it's not 
important, or devote energy to mounting arguments designed to minimize it, 
but then one leaves that arena open to Wilders, et al.) And if concerned, 
what to do about it. (But at least we will have gone beyond the denial stage 
of labeling those who point out that such things are the case as extremists 
or worse.)

Not only are each of the items listed above in the complication paragraph 
subject to interpretation, the relations between each item is also subject 
to interpretation. If there are states of affairs anywhere in this (meaning, 
in this context, some basic data underlying the varying interpretations), 
then each item -- including the role of a state of affairs in being that 
about which a speaker speaks as opposed to being simply a state of 
affairs -- can be construed in terms of its proximity or distance from that 
state of affairs, i.e., more or less accurate.

One thing Richard is dead right about: I do love the word "accuracy."

Any activity that brings clarity about what is the case, brings one closer 
to seeing yatha-bhuta, things just as they are. Accuracy. That, for me, is 
what Buddhism is about.

> If
> we would get angry or upset about it, we wouldn't be mindful or have an
> empty mind, we also would forget all about compassion and wisdom and we
> would speak like an extremist. Why don't we try to stop these people and
> give them what they need? They just need sympathy and respect, and then
> also some good education.

In fact, many of them are highly educated. (Education seems to increase 
rather than decrease the likelihood of extremist behavior, contrary to the 
popular sociological myth: Aum Shin Rikyo, the 9/11 hijackers, Bin Laden. 
student movements... [pace Marx, the revolutions have come from the 
intellectual elites, not the peasants]; perhaps a subject for another day. 
Mythbusting is hard on this list.)

What do you think of Karl Popper? Did you know he is popular in certain 
quarters in Iran?



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