Early Atheists

holoow

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,868
Vilnius, Lithuania
Chinese philosopher Yang Zhu who lived in V-IV BC. 'According to the laws of nature, there is no immortality...,according to the laws of nature, there is no eternal life.'
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,904
Blachernai
Of some interest on pre-modern atheism might be the Tondrakians, although the atheism seems to be restricted one of their late breakaway sects, and unfortunately most of what we know about them is from hostile sources.
 
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heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,510
i doubt that Apeiron was really without divine attributes.

Xenophanes writes that this God "sees all over, thinks all over, hears all over. He remains always in the same place, without moving; nor is it fitting that he should come and go, first to one place then to another. But without toil he sets all things in motion by the thought of his mind."

The apeiron of Anaximander and the air of Anaximenes pointed, Xenophanes claimed, to a force greater than either concept which could be behind, or simply be, both: God. Apeiron directs movement of all things.


apeiron is the infinite and boundless, a philosophical and theological ( ! ) claim.


Also some deists do not believe that God is person but rather that it is a principle, but they should be distinguished from atheism.
That's just a materialist centric definition of atheism. As for defining apeiron as a non-personal version of God simply because its an underlining cause, you might as well substitute God with natural laws and call a physicist a theist.
Similar to apeiron, the contemporary Laozi's concept of Dao comes before the concept of a personnel god, as stated in his book. While Dao is the underlying source, unlike God, it doesn't create out of intention, but because it doesn't do anything and let things take course by themselves. The later Buddhist concept of Tatha goes even further in denouncing a first cause. It states that things lack objective, self existence, and only exist because of dependent arising and conditions. Outside of that there is no essential substance to anything, but when one realizes the emptiness of self existence of phenomenons, the state of emptiness itself is real and for the lack of a better word, this unconditioned existence is called the Tatha (suchness). Mahayana Buddhism denies matter and God together as first causes and many early Zen monks were largely atheists, or at least apathetic to gods.
 
Sep 2019
404
Slovenia
I do not think if someone believes in non physical laws or super natural laws which are like governing morals and afterlife that this can be really called atheism. It is closer to deism with non personal god.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,510
I do not think if someone believes in non physical laws or super natural laws which are like governing morals and afterlife that this can be really called atheism. It is closer to deism with non personal god.
This again, is a very materialist centric view of athiesm. Deism and a believe in afterlife isn't directly related. You do not need gods to propose that consciousness exist because the later is a priori; you experience it, therefore it exist. A believe that a consciousness can continue when your physical body perish (or a previous life) is hence a rather down to earth believe and speculation based on projection of your experience onto the past and future, no different from scientific theories such as the big bang or the multiverse (the question of the beginning); believing in either without conclusive prove does not make you thiest, or even religious. Therefore there are many schools of athiesm in India where matter and mind are separate substances.


In Mahayana Buddhism, external reality (including matter, space, and even time) is denounced altogether as lacking independent existence from the mind (which is just a construct as well) so asking a person to prove consciousness exist after physical destruction is a flawed premise, because the person asking the question has to prove that matter can exist independently from the mind first (note physical world affecting the mind and them causing it are different things).

Believe in the mind as the only thing that is real does not mean a believe in a soul or a spirit. Soul and mind are two different things in Buddhism. Soul (or spirit) is a conceived unchanging metaphysical entity which is constructed and one has to search for (and cannot find in meditation). The Soul is hence not a self evident thing (just like gods) and denounced. Mind is merely your experience; which is by default real because it is the basis of any conversation or speculation about ontological matters. In Buddhism, each split thought is not the same as the next thought, hence there is no one single soul in an individual, just a chain of mental causation, and hence after dying, actions you created will continue this mental domino into a "next life".

Early Zen Buddhism avoids talking about the supernatural. Like Confucianism, it doesn't dwell on metaphysical or ontological things and doesn't engage in talks about the afterlife. Gods and external reality are both denounced as a first cause because both are conditioned and relational concepts (like everything), while the mind is a priori, death itself is considered a delusion. This is not materialistic athiesm, but it is athiesm or at least non-theism.
 
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Sep 2019
404
Slovenia
Well as i can see this you are talking about supposed not physical laws which are like governing, mind, morals and next life, claiming even that such laws are the only real reality or that they are governing or influencing so called illusion of real world. Such supposed laws have kind of divine attributes. Even in the case if we take just our mind as such a cause such quite divine attibutes are then going to the mind. But ok... So now why i say this is more like deism and less as atheism. Because in deism non-personal and non-material principles can be behind the reallity and these principles can have more or less of divine attibutes, but atheism is more the negation that divine like things exist.

However their is also something else we know that consciousness can change its states and that this has effects also on body. Quite surprising effects sometimes, but observable. So this ineed can be argument against consciousness being just collateral product or just picture similair to computer one for example, because pictures are not rearranging hardware. But that is another story...
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,510
Well as i can see this you are talking about supposed not physical laws which are like governing, mind, morals and next life, claiming even that such laws are the only real reality or that they are governing or influencing so called illusion of real world. Such supposed laws have kind of divine attributes.
Buddhism does NOT propose any laws as the only governing reality. It does the exact opposite and denounces permanent dharmas (existing phenomenons) of all kinds, including a governing law.
It is materialists which, like theists who propose that the world is governed by a law, except they merely change divine with nature. Note that this does not mean Buddhism is about random anarchy. Even random anarchy is a conditioned construct which is impermanent. When the conditions are right, things are predictable and determined, when the conditions change, things become random, and under other conditions, free will appears. Physical laws might be able to predict for what we can observe in countless lifetimes, but its not permanent. The important focus is on conditioned arising and impermanence.

Even in the case if we take just our mind as such a cause such quite divine attibutes are then going to the mind. But ok... So now why i say this is more like deism and less as atheism. Because in deism non-personal and non-material principles can be behind the reallity and these principles can have more or less of divine attibutes, but atheism is more the negation that divine like things exist.
As I've already said, the mind is NOT a first cause in Buddhism. It's not even one single substantial thing. There is no single mind causing things, but a chain of cause, affect, and conditioned experiences. Do not view this through western notions of idealism. The mind is just a construct that we cling to so we don't fall into the other extreme: nihilistic views, which is also a delusion; the mind exist by the very fact that we have experiences (think of mind as just a collection of experiences and another word for totality; its not a single entity, but its not pluralistic either because of mutual dependency). The mind doesn't create, things rise through conditioned arising and gets annihilated because the conditions which caused them changed; ultimately, the phenomenal world we experience are tainted by concepts.
However their is also something else we know that consciousness can change its states and that this has effects also on body. Quite surprising effects sometimes, but observable. So this ineed can be argument against consciousness being just collateral product or just picture similair to computer one for example, because pictures are not rearranging hardware. But that is another story...
Buddhism never denied that consciousness can change through conditions (in which case the body is one such condition); in fact Buddhism's central tenet is that experiences are impermanent, but it doesn't change based on any self operating principle (any laws, gods, matter, or self), it changes based on conditions (or rather, things only appear to change because of clinging on to forms, but because these forms or concepts you cling to are all conditioned and relational in nature and lacks objective self existence, we have the delusion that things are getting annihilated and being created).
What Mahayana Buddhists differ from materialists is that the external reality cannot exist independently from perception, because without a subject, the objects of observation cannot exist as an independent thing. The concept of a cup for example, is dependent on what is not a cup to exist. It only exist as a relation, not a self entity; and hence lacks objectivity; which in turn means it lacks real external existence independent from the mind. It does NOT mean that a cup or physical things do not exist, it just means their existence is subjective and not independent.
 
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Sep 2019
404
Slovenia
Ok but is it true that non materialistic principles are able to have an effect on natural world, no matter if it is considered real or not real in this particular case? If something which exists is depending on observer and his mind to exist that is the case. If so that is divine attribute as i see it, but more in the sense of deism than theism.
 
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