Re: MD Static and dynamic aspects of mysticism and religious experience

From: Ian Glendinning (
Date: Sat Dec 11 2004 - 00:09:27 GMT

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    I support your line of argument.
    Dictionaries come after the fact.
    They are no fundamental basis for meaning, just as-received heresay to date.

    I've many times in the past been pilloried for statements like.
    When I use the word "X" I mean (understand) this particular sense of X.
    I've even played King Cnut along the lines of
    "I don't care what the dictionary says, I know that X means ..."

    Isn't communication a wonderful thing.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Wim Nusselder" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Friday, December 10, 2004 7:43 AM
    Subject: Re: MD Static and dynamic aspects of mysticism and religious

    > Dear Sam,
    > You wrote 7 Dec 2004 10:24:05 -0000:
    > 'Why do you accept a dictionary definition as the final answer? On this
    > point I think the definitions in dictionaries are likely to be wrong, ie,
    > the understanding they give cannot be separated from the wider
    > culture in which they play a part (SOM), and so they are compromised. The
    > understanding of theology I hold onto is a) that of the Church Fathers and
    > b) that of the academic community that has formed me. I'm sure your
    > understanding is perfectly consistent etc, I just don't think it's the
    > possible one.'
    > I'm sorry. I should not just have written: 'Fine, but it doesn't seem to
    > square with the definitions of theology I find in dictionaries.'
    > I meant: 'O.k. If we undestand theology in that way, we indeed agree. The
    > fruits of other people's journeys with/into God can indeed illuminate
    > path. (Sidenote: This definition doesn't seem to square with the
    > of theology I find in dictionaries. That's not a real problem between us,
    > we can and do take the time to sort out apparent disagreement. Youi can
    > always assume that in communication though, even on this list. It may be
    > advisable, therefore, to explain yourself a bit more if you use a term in
    > another sense than it is used normally -as shown in dictionaries- if it is
    > not already defined differently by Pirsig.)'
    > By the way: does the academic community (of theologians) you refer to
    > to describe its key terms in dictionariies? Could you quote a typical
    > definition that supports your understanding of theology? Are they less
    > compromised by Subject-Object thinking than the wider philosophical
    > To what extent do you agree with me that canonization of those fruits of
    > other people's journeys with/into God, telling others 'this will/can
    > illuminate your path', can be a problem, by shifting the balance between
    > and sq in people's lives towards sq? Do you agree that such canonization
    > creates static patterns of value and stunts mysticism and 'experiencing
    > music for yourself'?
    > We do need static patterns of value, of course, but do you agree that
    > religion and theology (understood in your way) should beware of
    > to the extent that it wants to play a role in the forward movement of
    > evolution?
    > You asked:
    > 'if more people choose to go from Anglicanism to Quakerism than the
    > then Quakerism must be higher Quality. Is that really your argument? ...
    > Perhaps it is vitally important to you that Quakerism be demonstrably
    > than Anglicanism (or, traditional Christianity more generally)?'
    > No, it is not vitally important (for my ego or something). Usually I do
    > phrase things like 'the highest Quality option available to me at this
    > time', even qualifying it with 'SEEMINGLY available ...', keeping open the
    > possibility that I err even in experiencing Quality for myself.
    > The argument does seem relevant though in the context of a discussion of a
    > Methaphysics of Quality. It is a test of Pirsig's claim that a MoQ can
    > a 'scientific' ethics, that can grade all patterns of value in an
    > evolutionary hierarchy, even if only in hindsight. If competition is
    > essential in biological evolution, why not at the higher levels?
    > I don't buy your: 'Surely these things are unknowable and unprovable this
    > side of heaven, so they're not that productive a topic to pursue?'
    > In my theological undestanding both heaven and hell are right here and
    > nowhere else. It's up to us to make our life and that of others into one
    > the other.
    > Do you know the metaphorical explanation of heaven and hell as a long
    > laden with food at which everyone is sitting unable to bend their arms and
    > thus unable to bring the food to one's mouth?
    > In hell people go hungry because of that, which is even more painful
    > of all that food laid out before them. In heaven they serve each other...
    > When I was teaching economics for a while, I tought my pupils that real
    > can be even worse than hell: people throttling those opposite them forcing
    > the other to feed them...
    > Economics is the way in which we organize that people get what they
    > need/want and ... that some get more and others less. Hell is not being
    > poor, but being poorer (in the widest sense of the word) than others for
    > good reason. Heaven is not being wealthy, healthy, happy and in control of
    > one's world, but being wealthy, healthy, happy and in control of our world
    > together. (I wouldn't mind calling myself a muslim, i.e. someone devoted
    > the divine, but to me the main defect of a heaven in which -supposedly
    > muslim await 70 houris, is that it leaves out 69 other male muslims and
    > fails to describe what heaven is like for female muslims.)
    > We CAN know 'this side of heaven' that "The humble, meek, merciful, just,
    > pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has
    > taken off the mask, they will know one another, though the divers liveries
    > they wear here makes them strangers." (William Penn, 1693). We can even
    > to know each other and the Quality that connects us this side of the
    > realizing that the 'divers liveries' DO matter also, in a world in which
    > Quality is BOTH split AND recognizably the same (a contridictory identity)
    > in static patterns and in change for the good. Some 'liveries' ARE better
    > than others, even if they clothe kindred souls. What's wrong with clashing
    > (s)words about Anglicanism or Quakerism being better as long as we are
    > of our underlying agreement?
    > With friendly greetings,
    > Wim
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