Re: MD Is the MoQ still in the Kantosphere?

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Mon Dec 20 2004 - 21:59:28 GMT

  • Next message: Phaedrus Wolff: "Re: MD Is the MoQ still in the Kantosphere?"

    Hi DMB,

    Further to my earlier post, some detailed points.

    > Sam believes that:
    > 1. Mysticism cannot be understood apart from a particular tradition, of
    > whatever sort (Christian,
    > Buddhist, Hindu, philosophical etc); in other words, mysticism is not first
    > and foremost about an
    > 'experience';
    > dmb says:
    > No, no, no. This is the point you really need to get, Sam. The kind of
    > mysticism you're talking about is not the only kind and it is the OTHER KIND
    > the MOQ supports. The esoteric mysticims, the philosophical mysticism that
    > Pirsig is talking about is opposed to the kind of within-a-tradition
    > mysticims you claim is the ONLY kind. This is exactly what has caused so
    > much confusion on the topic.

    Yes there is confusion here, but I've addressed it in my other post. You see me as advocating bakhti
    vs jnani, whereas I think I'm defending (bakhti+jnani= praxis) against SOM. I don't know how we're
    going to establish which is correct.

    > Sam believes that:
    > 2. Different mysticisms do not possess a 'common core' underlying surface
    > differences; there is no
    > 'common essence', there are only 'family resemblances';
    > dmb says:
    > Here you are rejecting the perennial philosophy, but you don't seem to have
    > any reason or basis for rejecting it. Sorry, but I can only suspect that you
    > put Christianity above all other religions and so can not bear the idea that
    > other religions are depicting the same spiritual reality equally well, or
    > even better. Sorry, but without any further explanations or anything, I'm
    > forced to conclude that this stance is nothing more than sectarian bias, the
    > religious equivelant of nationalism or whatever.

    Actually, my main grounds for rejecting essentialism are secular and philosophical, deriving from
    Wittgenstein. See paragraphs 65 - 76 of the Philosophical Investigations. This is one of the most
    important areas where I think you are stuck in SOM thinking, and yes, it's one of the most important
    planks in my rejection of your argument. I have repeatedly asked you to justify why you think there
    is such a 'common core', but you haven't given much of one so far, other than call me names and tell
    me that I'm a dogmatic Christian. But lots of atheists and non-Christians understand and accept this
    point - Matt Kundert for one - so I think this is just a blind spot in your philosophical make up.
    Perhaps as a) this is so important, and b) I think it's so simple, we could appeal to MSH as our
    referee, because I think you consistently avoid engaging with the issue. I'd be happy to spell out
    this point in more detail if necessary (in a separate thread, so we can concentrate on it).

    > Sam believes that:
    > 3. More explicitly, 'philosophical mysticism' I see as a Platonic or
    > neo-Platonic strand of
    > intellectual enquiry and 'ascent'; I would put Pirsig's characterisation of
    > the MoQ in this
    > tradition;
    > dmb says:
    > I have no idea what you mean.

    LOL. How can you be happily quoting Plotinus at me when you don't understand references to
    neo-Platonism and 'ascent'?

    "First of all let us remind ourselves what Platonic mysticism looks like. Man, it says, lives in a
    transient world of sensible phenomena and of conjecture, or opinion, based on it. But his soul
    belongs to a higher, truer world which is eternal and immutable. To regain its kinship with that
    world the soul must purify itself from this world; it must seek to die to this world, to live now
    the life it hopes it may lead after death. This purification has two sides: moral and intellectual.
    Moral purification will restore to the soul transcendence over teh body; the body will cease to
    disturb its endeavours after contemplation. Intellectual purification, or dialectic, trains the soul
    in abstract thought; it weans the soul from dependence on the world of sense and accustoms it to the
    more auster, but also more real because more eternal, world of the Forms or Ideas. When the soul has
    sufficiently purified itself it may - suddenly and without warning - attain contemplation, *theoria*
    , of the highest of the forms, the Beautiful or the Good, for which it has longed. In this
    gratuitous act of theoria the whole world of ultimate reality is seen as a single whole, and the
    meaning even of sensible reality becomes clear. This sudden ultimate act of theoria is experienced
    as ecstasy: the soul seems to transcend itself, to be rapt out of itself. At the same time, this
    ecstasy is a sort of *home-coming*. The soul becomes what it truly is in its deepest self; its
    kinship with ultimate reality becomes something experienced. In Plotinus we find all this with two
    refinements: the ascent of the soul is seen more as a withdrawal into itself than as ascent; and
    secondly, the nature of ultimate reality - the One - is beyond the Forms instead of only equivocally
    so as in Plato's Idea of the Good, and is more clearly defined. This final ecstasy for Plotinus
    really transcends theoria; it is contact or presence or ecstasy, inexpressible and ineffable."

    This is the tradition of 'philosophical mysticism', part of the soil from which Christian mysticism
    grew, but conceptually separate from it, and which I think Pirsig stands in the stream of. All good
    stuff - but quite distinct from the Jamesian form of mysticism, the concern with essentialism, and
    the search for a particular type of experience, so far as I understand it.

    That'll do for now.


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