I wonder if it might be useful to distinguish the different types of propositions made about Causality through epistemology. We have -
- logical propositions that are deduced ie analytic a priori propositions
- scientific propositions that are induced from empirical evidence, ie synthetic a posteriori propositions
- metaphysical propositions, ie synthetic a priori propositions.
Given how a variety of synthetic a priori propositions are dismissed as unsafe in DN 1, I work on the assumption that these have no place in Buddhist causality (apologies to the Nanavirists!)
Going by the logic seen in DN 15 to define the 2nd Noble Truth (dependant origination) through the 3rd Noble Truth (the cessation series), the proposition “Feeling is a necessary condition for craving” is a formally and validly deduced proposition, ie it is an analytic a priori proposition.
What, on the other hand, about the statement “Feeling is a sufficient condition for craving”? Can it be deduced from any of other 3 Noble Truths?
For a start, I would like to comment on resorting to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the locative absolute used in This-That Conditionality. It is not altogether apparent why this locative absolute needs to be translated as “When this exists”, when Wijesekara offers that it can be be translated as “On condition that this exists”. Secondly, the hoti in the main clause can take on any number of temporal shades, including the past tense.
What then are the bases used to justify a reading of sufficiency to Dependant Origination? If we argue from the observation that birth must lead to death, that’s already using the method of Induction from observable phenomena. It’s a completely different type of inference from Deduction, where the truth of the conclusion is embedded in the meaning of the premiss.
I think it is possible to interpret Dependant Origination inductively to yield the “sufficient cause” model if we accept that such judgments being based on observation are not guaranteed necessary truth, ie as a synthetic a posteriori proposition, “Feeling is a sufficient cause of craving” does not have to be true all of the time.
Yes, and I know what’s coming next - does this mean that statements such as “Birth will lead to death” are only contingent? Not necessary, as there is something else in the Stream Entry pericopes that regulate this relationship which can furnish an analytic a priori basis for this statement to be unfalsifiable. Guess which one?