Thursday, March 25, 2004

Buddhism/Zen Thursday

Yikes. The crunch is upon me. I just acquired another private tutoring gig (actually, it's my old gig with Min-sung, my 9-year-old: he didn't go to America as planned), which promises to fill up my evenings even more.

I'm nodding off as I type this, so apologies for the mistakes that slip through my periodically malfunctioning anti-errata radar. If I had the energy (not to mention the time), I'd put together a comprehensive response to Dr. Vallicella's reply. Then again, the more I think about our respective stated positions, the more I realize that neither of us (and neither of us is a Buddhist) has actually gone into any real depth about what the anatta (no-self) doctrine truly is, from the Pali Buddhist perspective.

One of the major questions is whether a notion like "relative permanence" makes any sense from the Pali Buddhist perspective. My contention is that it doesn't, but I haven't done enough research (and don't have the requisite facts at my mental fingertips) to make the argument properly. So I'm going to table this issue until I can do some meaningful research on it and do justice to the Pali Buddhist perspective.

One quick note: Dr. Vallicella seems to think I conflated Platonic formalism and Aristotelian formal cause. Having reread what I wrote, I don't think that's the case, because I very deliberately said "or," implying that I realized these were distinct.

A comprehensive response will be a long time in the making. I consider it a welcome research project and invite help from Buddhist readers, especially those versed in Theravada thought and metaphysics.

While U Wait, here's something to feed your scandal-hunger: today in class, I passed around my old Catholic University student ID for my SWU English conversation students to see (part of the lesson was about ID cards). Two girls in the back row of the 3PM class took out their cell phones, snapped close-up shots of my photo, proclaimed me/the photo "cute," then passed the ID along to the other students.

I turned the matter into a big joke, comparing the "cute" CUA ID with my very fat and thuggish-looking driver's license pic, but to be honest, while I was amused, I was also very disturbed by the picture-snapping. As I think this over, I'm not sure why I find the girls' actions disturbing. Since I post my own pic on my blog, and people can "steal" it at will and manipulate it however they want, it's not as though the girls gained access to something previously unavailable (i.e., my image), and I'm not worried about distorted or cruelly captioned pictures of me floating around online. I don't think the girls were being malicious at all (male vanity makes me wonder whether they're planning to show the pic around to friends-- "See? This is our cute English teacher!" --oooooh, you silly, silly girlies), but the incident still bothers me.

Maybe what bothers me is that the girls even thought to do something like that. This was the 3PM class, the last class of the day, and I'd gotten through all my other classes without anyone clicking a pic. Today's young folks are quick with their technology; I'm obviously going to have to announce a "no cell phone usage" rule in all my classes-- policy that's generally assumed at the college level (yes, even here in Korea).

I'm not comfortable with what happened. I should've demanded that they erase the pics, now that I think about it.

What would the Buddha do?


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