Re: MD On Faith

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Mon Oct 25 2004 - 12:24:18 BST

  • Next message: Chris Vlaar: "Re: MD On Faith+understanding (Rorty/Bhaskar)"

    Hi DMB,

    > dmb says:
    > You don't think its misleading to talk about mysticism as an experience, but
    > the traditon that sees it as an experience is a SOMish distortion? This
    > contradiction could be removed by changing (ii) to "I DO think", but then
    > you wouldn't be able to deny the charge that you've "basically dismissed the
    > mystical experience as unnecessary", which you described as a "self-serving
    > falsehood". (I guess Sam is a graduate of the I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue
    > school of debate.)

    The 'self-serving falsehood' was your assertion that I dismissed Christian mysticism. The assertion
    is false because I don't, and it's self-serving because it enables your claim to be a Christian
    mystic. My point is that you don't have the first clue about what Christian mysticism actually is,
    you're just using it as a rhetorical ploy. At least, that's the impression I have.

    > I should remind you that I already explicitly told (off-line)
    > you that William James has nothing to do with my point of view on mysticism.
    > As you know already from the "systemic about the sophists" thread,
    > philosophical mysticism goes back to Plato and even the pre-Socratic
    > philosophers, so your vague and unexplained assertion that such a view is "a
    > SOM distortion" makes no sense.

    That's because you lack knowledge of the subject. You can claim that William James is irrelevant for
    as long as you like, but for as long as your position remains identical in all substantive aspects
    with what he invented I will continue to consider you as walking in his footsteps. If you want me to
    stop why don't you do some reading about him and come back to me listing where you disagree?

    > Have you ever had a mystical experience, Sam? Do you know what you're
    > talking about in any first-hand way?

    We've gone through this before: yes, but that doesn't make me an authority on it. It's the fact that
    I've spent a long time studying it at post-grad level that gives me some degree of qualification
    (and even that is dubious, in a way). Either my arguments stand up in their own right or they don't.
    To say 'I've had an experience therefore I'm right' or 'I've got letters after my name therefore I'm
    right', those are both philosophically vacuous. Are you wishing to employ either of them yourself?

    > dmb says:
    > Right. I wasn't describing my point of view. I was claiming to be a Saint.
    > That's plausable - in the twilight zone. But seriously, I think its obvious
    > to any honest reader that I was NOT claiming to be an acknowledged teacher
    > of the faith, but in fact the opposite because, like Pirsig, I think faith
    > is crap. Thus my emphasis on experience and evidence.

    So what meaning can be given to your claim to be a Christian mystic? You haven't read the Christian
    mystics (at least, you've never given that impression) and you're totally unfamiliar with modern
    theology, your language is very dismissive of Christian thinking in general... so what makes you a
    *Christian* mystic? That you think you've extracted the kernel of its teaching from it's mythology,
    incorporated it into your own perspective, and 'graduated' beyond it?

    > dmb says:
    > Astonished? Well, obviously that's because your idea of a "Christian mystic"
    > has little to do with what I was saying.

    Couldn't agree more.

    > The esoteric core of all the
    > world's religions contain this same non-theistic mysticism and it is
    > depicted in their myths.

    What was the expression you used to me a while back? "I don't know where to begin unpicking the
    fallacies..." etc. Do you have any clue what you're talking about? Can you point to one Christian
    thinker (before, say, 1600, just to make sure we exclude any SOM/James related influence) who
    supports your assertion that Christianity (as one of the world religions) contains a non-theistic
    mysticism? This is your 'perennial philosophy' point. Perhaps we could go back to that before too
    long, it underlies your point of view, and my disagreement with it (ie Christianity's
    differentiation from it) underlies mine.

    > Since I am an english speaking Westerner, it only
    > makes sense that I would turn to the christian mythology first. That how I
    > read the christian myths. Its and interpretation shared by philosophical
    > mystics. You may recall that I presented that view to you, Sam, and you
    > dismissed it. Anyway, I'm a christian mystic only because adopting a
    > mythology from outside my culture feels like a bit of a put-on to me, an
    > affectation. Of course I wasn't saying that I'd been cannonized by the
    > church or otherwise talking about grandiose personal achievements. We're
    > talking about "faith" in the MOQ and I'm sorry if that doesn't work for you
    > Sam, but Pirsig is clear on this. There is no way your brand of religion can
    > be justifed in the MOQ.

    As I recall what I dismissed was the idea that accepting the Christian story 'as mythology' made you
    a Christian. It might be the truth (ie it may be true that Christianity is a mythology that is past
    its sell-by-date), but I think it's a logical mistake to say 'I'm a Christian' and also say 'I don't
    believe Jesus was the Word made flesh' etc. (You can substitute various other standard expressions
    of faith there if it makes it easier to understand). In other words, if you're post-Christian, why
    worry about admitting it? I can't understand why you want to claim to be Christian when you reject
    all the things that make up being a Christian. But then, I often feel obtuse when I'm discussing
    things with you.

    I agree - as I said before - that Pirsig's conception of the MoQ is incompatible with Christianity.
    That's why I think it needs to be amended ;-)


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Oct 25 2004 - 13:36:23 BST