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Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction Part One: Background 1. Considering Causality Like the Air We Breathe The Linear Unidirectional Causal Paradigm One-Way Causality in the West One-Way Causality in Indian Thought The Mutual Causal Paradigm in the West The Buddhist Vision of Mutual Causality The Reciprocal Hermeneutic of Buddhism and General Systems Theory Part Two: Perceptions of Mutual Causality 2. The Buddhist Teaching of Dependent Co-Arising The Central Role of the Causal Doctrine in the Dharma Linear Causality in Pre-Buddhist India Comparison with Western Linear Views Scriptural Presentations of Paticca Samuppada 3. Dependent Co-Arising as Mutual Causality From Substance to Relation No First Cause Syntax of Interdependence Reciprocity of Causal Factors Abhidharmist Interpretations Paticca Samuppada as Interdependence 4. General Systems Theory Science's Problems with the One-Way Causal Paradigm The Perception of Systems in the Life Sciences Cybernetics and the Concept of Feedback Systemic Invariances and Hierarchies Systems Theory in the Social Sciences The Cognitive System Systems and Value 5. Mutual Causality in General Systems Theory The Transformation of Causes within the System Feedback as Causal Loop Negative Feedback Processes Positive Feedback Processes Seeing Causes Part Three: Dimensions of Mutual Causality 6. Self as Process Everything Changes The Illusion of Separate Selfhood No Clear Lines of Demarcation The Lethal Mirage 7. The Co-Arising of Knower and Known Perception as Convergence of Factors Consciousness: Conditioned and Transitive Information Circuits Shaping the World through Projection Learning as Self Reorganization The Limits of Cognition Objectless Knowing Who is Knowing? 8. The Co-Arising of Body and Mind Linear Views "Like Two Sheaves of Reeds" Two Sides of a Coin The Internality of All Systems The Ubiquity and Particularity of Mind Beyond the Fear of Matter "Minding" 9. The Co-Arising of Doer and Deed Identity and Accountability The Question of Rebirth Kaya and Karma Structure and Function Past and Present The Dharma and Determinism The Determinacy of Choice The Cognitive System as Decision Center 10. The Co-Arising of Self and Society Participation and Particularity The Interdependence of Person and Community The Dharma of Social Systems 11. Mutual Morality Concern for Other Beings Tolerance and Iconoclasm Political Engagement Right Livelihood and Economic Sharing Ends and Means 12. The Dialectics of Personal and Social Transformation Free to Reconnect The Tree and the Flame Bibliography Index

About the Author

Joanna R. Macy is Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley. She is the author of Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age; Dharma and Development; Thinking Like a Mountain: Toward a Council of All Beings (with John Seed, Pat Fleming, and Arne Naess); and World as Lover, World as Self.


"This book deals with a very important and contemporary topic - breaking out of causal patterns of a reductive sort into more holistic non-reductive ways of thinking and explanation. It also brings together Western and Eastern ideas combining a particularly important aspect of Buddhist thought with new Western conceptions. It belongs to movements toward global integration." - Henry Le Roy Finch, Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York

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