The ontology of seeing (our way out of suffering)


We can see our way out of suffering? This is good news.

Apparently, seeing is more than it seems. This is because the seen is in fact a state of a seer. Seeing constitutes the seer. If seeing is a hybrid of sensation and conception, then seeing constitues the seer in two ways. First, the sensory state is determined externally. Second, by knowing the seen, the seeing also determines the epistemic state of the seer.

Seeing, or realizing, constitues the subject, so seeing can change you. This method of transformative realization is the method of Buddhism and the gnostic traditions of the West.

One more thing. Sometimes the thing seen, the object of realization, is the subject. Not the real subject, of course, but a model or schema of it. Since the only subject that can be known by the subject is this or that particular model clothed in language, the (known) subject is actually constituted entirely by the language used to describe it.

The closest practical application of this idea today is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The key assumption of CBT is that the meaning or story you make up about an actual event (whose only legitimate description is mathematical-physical) is surplus and unwarranted. Physical reality is compatible with a thousand fictions.

In the passage below, each of the five skandhas is disqualified from being self because if something were truly self, it would always be the result of our choice. Seeing that every aspect of doing is heteronomous is supposed to have the ontological effect of actually extinguishing the misery of concerned and enmeshed subjectivity.

Seeing and knowing is sufficient for bodhi

Buddha

Wherefore, monks, whatever is material shape, past, future or present, internal...thinking of all this material shape as ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ he should see it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom.
Whatever is feeling...
whatever is perception...
whatever are the habitual tendencies...
whatever is consciousness, past, future or present, internal...thinking of all this consciousness as ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ he should see it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom.
Seeing it thus, monks, the instructed disciple of the pure one turns away from material shape, he turns away from feeling, turns away from perception, turns away from the habitual tendencies, turns away from consciousness;

You become naturally (teleologically, volitionally, conatively) detached once you see the truth. Seeing means immediate presentation, what Kant called intuition. Thinking a thing is putting an intuition under a concept. But intuiting a thing is an encounter that overwhelms consciousness itself with presence that cannot, as PKD said, “be imagined away.” Buddhism is what a Church Father would call a gnostic heresy. What saves is a realized and had object, not a belief asserted from trust.

turning away he is detached;

Seeing has power over being.

by his detachment he is freed;

Seeing is not only effective, it is also a kind of subject. Seeing, we might say, is the enjoyer of nirvana.

in freedom there is the knowledge that he is freed and he comprehends:

 Being freed and additionally knowing this is also implies there being an enjoyer that is the subject of it all.

Destroyed is birth, brought to a close the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more being such or so.

Nirvana: accomplished!