I dislike referring to the work of Howard Gardner; but, for better or worse, his idea of multiple intelligences seems to have settled into the memestream. Just this morning, I heard a sportscaster refer to LeBron James as “a genius.” Just as I was muttering “huh?” under my breath, the sportscaster rattled off a list of James’s athletic abilities. He meant, of course, that James was a genius at basketball. Gardner holds that such locutions are wholly justified. We may, he says, speak of intelligence as manifesting within specific domains; namely: spatial, linguistic, musical, interpersonal, logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and kinesthetic.
So, if counting cards at a blackjack table is any indication, Rain Man was a logical-mathematical genius. But when it came to interpersonal relations, he was a fucking idiot. I am an intelligent decoder of obscure ancient Sanskrit texts. But ask me to explain my financial matters, and you will be subject to the incoherent burble of a sorry-ass moron. Why not, then, ask whether we may speak of “multiple stupidities“? I am not ashamed to say that, in many areas of my life, I am stupid. How about you?
In the following essay, Matthias Steingass argues that x-buddhists exhibit a specific form of stupidity. I will let you read for yourself what he says about that. I would like to take a moment and put his argument in the terms of this blog’s project. Very briefly, the issue concerns what we may call “the principle of sufficient buddhism.” This is, obviously, the idea that when it comes to “the crucial matters of life and death,” x-buddhism is sufficient in itself. Whether we are concerned with the nature of consciousness or with the tone of our language, x-buddhism’s got it covered. Some of you may be thinking, “well, the Salvador Dalai Lama conducts dialogues with scientists all the time.” Yes, he does, indeed. But if you be a gambling man or woman, I suggest you put your cheese on x-buddhism’s remaining just as it is, thank you very much. For x-buddhism is sufficient in and of itself. It don’t need no science telling it what up.
Might we see this insistence on sufficiency as a sign of x-buddhism’s stupidity? Read the rest of this entry »