Here are two definitions of world given in Flew and Priest’s Dictionary of Philosophy:
The totality of what exists
The totality of what exists outside the human mind
Definition #2 suggests that the world and mind are separate, therefore the mind is not part of the world. It also suggests that the world is somehow created by the mind, and it depends on the mind to exist.
Two problems arise from this. One is that what is the quality of this mind that does not match the qualities of the world? Secondly, how does one person’s world match to another person’s world? Furthermore, if the first mind is the creator of the world then it must be creator of the second person’s mind as well. Or else, the mind is not your mind but the mind of someone else’s (God as Berkeley suggests).
Somehow I suspect that definition #2 is the definition for idealism, mind-only monism, rationality, and logic based philosophies.
1. Buddhist thought can be said to begin with the formulation of the three marks of existence. These are:
All conditioned things are impermanent
All conditioned things are unsatisfactory
All conditioned and unconditioned things are without self
Conditioned things here means the ordinary concrete (physical) objects of reality, and unconditioned things means abstract objects (thoughts, concepts and ideas). The physical reality is impermanent and unsatisfactory. The true nature of the physical reality as well as the abstract reality is without self (without identity or non-self). The suggestion here is that abstract objects are permanent and satisfactory.
Table of the formulation of the three marks of existence.
To state this plainly, concrete objects are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without self, and abstract objects are permanent, satisfactory and without self.
Concrete objects reside in the reality. Abstract objects reside not in the reality but “somewhere else”. I suggest this “place” is the mind. But by the above definition the mind must be permanent. If this is the case, then the mind is abstract or unconditioned, which is paradoxical or illogical.
One must now define what a mind is.
2. A standard definition in philosophy of an abstract object is that 1) it has no spatio-temporal location, 2) it has no effects on the concrete spatio-temporal objects and locations, 3) it is imperceptible by the sense, and 4) yet, it is thinkable. This last item I think is important – it is thinkable.
Abstract objects only reside in the thinking mind. If it is not located, has no affects, and is not perceived by the sense, then whether it exists in the same way as concrete objects do or not has no consequences upon the physical reality.
The new paradox is there are objects that think affecting the reality.
The only logical conclusion therefore is instead of dealing with abstract objects, one is better off dealing with the objects that think of abstract objects. This is where Buddhism is practical and functional in its outlook.
Instead of dealing with a mind, one should deal with the object that thinks, deal with the object that does mind things.
I prefer Buddhist thought over the term Buddhist philosophy. Philosophy is the study of the nature and meaning of existence, truth, good and evil, etc. It suggests a passive approach to the topic, not necessarily leading to action. Thought is a way of thinking that is typical of a particular group, period of history, etc. It suggests that decisions have already been made about the nature and meaning of reality and one is acting upon these decisions.
The Buddha saw that reality was suffering or unsatisfactory in nature (dhukha), that the root cause of unsatisfactoriness is thirst or craving, that unsatisfactoriness can be overcome by eliminating craving, and that there is a systematic way to do (the eightfold path). There was nothing magical about what can be achieved. Buddhism is a straightforward way to a satisfying life.
Early Greek philosophers and philosophies were similar to Buddhism in nature, emphasising living in accordance to the understanding. It was only later that philosophy tended towards an ideal and armchair-like approach, having less to do with how one lived and more about just correct thinking.
All human activities are expressions of our understanding of reality.
This being the case, we must look, without exception, at all human activities, whether it is religion, philosophy, science, literature, art, music, economics, politics, marriage, nationhood, or some other activity, in order to understand what our understandings are.
Perhaps I am similar to the eliminative materialists. For one, I do not think there is anything more than material. the mind (and other similar “objects”) can be reduced to the physical, or at least an explanation through the physical.
But I do not reject the need to talk of the mind as though it is an object. We have no other way to discuss it. what is necessary is to see the problem then talk about the problem. The problem here seems to be that we reify non-things then proceed to forget that it is still a non-thing. The language perpetuates the mistake by the act of reification.
Positivism, associated with Comte, holds that sense phenomena is the highest or the only form of knowledge.
I assume that sense phenomena here means that of the five traditional senses of sight, sound, scent, taste and touch.
But I will argue, as Buddhism claims, that mind is also a sense faculty. Like the other senses the mind has its own “objects”. Buddhism calls then mind-objects. Concepts and ideas can be considered the same as mind-objects.
The extended definition does not conflict with Comte’s – and in general, Western philosophy –more limited one. This broadening in my opinion helps makes more sense of how we understand these entities in relation to real physical reality objects.
Looking at another thinker I see an external object. And yet I see an internal in the external. My mind is therefore someone else’s external as well. A further example of problem of internal/external duality.
In other words, internal and external are relative terms with an impossible basis. My internal is someone else’s external.