RE: MD Is the MoQ still in the Kantosphere?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Mon Dec 27 2004 - 00:46:40 GMT

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    Sam Norton said:
    My basic point is that the structure of the MoQ, specifically the
    'pre-intellectual cutting edge of
    reality', seems to correspond exactly with Schleiermacher, as presented by
    Jantzen. Thus, "immediate
    consciousness points to the stage before subject and object are
    differentiated. There is,
    Schleiermacher suggests, a primal stage of consciousness in any experience,
    a stage before the
    objective content is discriminated from the subjective participation. This
    consciousness cannot be
    consciousness of anything, it cannot have any specificity, because by the
    time the object of
    consciousness has been specified one has already moved away from the primal
    undifferentiated state."

    dmb says:
    I think you should have used this quote in your first post on the topic. Now
    I see what you're talking about and it looks exactly like Pirsig's
    description, same terms and everything.

    Sam continued:
    This just struck me as worth pursuing. Consider the following theses:
    a) Schleiermacher created the contemporary understanding of mysticism as
    something flowing from felt
    personal experience;
    b) Schleiermacher described that felt personal experience as preceding the
    separation between
    subject and object;
    c) Schleiermacher's motivation for this was to extricate religious
    epistemology (how we know) from
    Kant, so that the religious realm is not discarded.

    dmb says:
    1) The claim that he created the contemporary understanding is dubious. At
    best, he was among the first Modern figures to describe a mystical
    experience in terms of subjects and objects, in terms of the Modern
    metaphysical assumptions. That is entirely possible. But I think its a huge
    mistake to conclude that the mystical experience itself is a Modern
    invention. The descriptions have changed to accomodate the Modern mind and
    they are still changing in our postmodern era. But I think the quote from
    Plotinus's THE ONE makes it clear that the same experience can be well
    described by ancient philosophers too. Also, as I understand it, he differs
    from Pirsig and most others in asserting that mysticism flows "from felt
    personal experiences". That's far too vague and could include just about any
    kind of experience. I think the mystical experience is more accurately
    described as that undifferentiated consciousness, or immediate awareness of
    no-thing-ness or in Pirsigian terms, direct awareness of Dynamic Quality. It
    is that same pre-intellectual consciousness described in the Jantzen quote
    above. "Personal" strikes me as exactly the WRONG word for it. And someone
    with a very limited vocabulary might be forgiven if they were to describe
    the experience as a feeling, as something felt, but it is quite distinct
    from sensuality, emotions, sensations or any of the other things we normally
    think of as feelings. Unless overwhelming awe and fascinated terror count as
    "felt experience", I don't think that part is right either.

    2) If this was all I had to go on, I'd be tempted to say that, for
    schleiermacher at least, "felt personal experience" and undifferentiated
    consciousness were the same thing. But I happen to know that he was very
    much interested in sentiments and emotions, was an anti-intellectual
    romantic and was a theologian. It strikes me as likely that "felt personal
    experience" is deliberately vague so that any kind of powerful feeling can
    be taken as evidence of God or other such sloppiness.

    3)I don't think that is an honest or honorable motive. Its seems to me that
    he developed an epistemolgy to suit his beliefs, which is backwards.

    Sam said:
    It seems to me that the above theses are true - although we can argue all of
    them, as we no doubt
    will - but most importantly, if you substitute Pirsig for Schleiermacher,
    value for religion, and DQ
    for felt personal experience, then you have something remarkably close to
    the MoQ. That's what I
    mean by saying that the MoQ and Schleiermacher's ideas share a conceptual
    shape, and that's what I
    think is so interesting - is Pirsig simply recapitulating Schleiermacher? As
    I said in the essay,
    I'm not in a position (yet) to answer the question, but the evidence I've
    read so far seems
    tremendously suggestive.

    dmb says:
    Substitute value for religion and Dynamic Quality for felt personal
    experience? I think that's nearly as wise as putting square pegs in round
    holes. But the Jantzen quote is very interesting. Is Pirsig just repeating
    the German theologian? I doubt it. I think its just not that much of a trick
    to express ancient descriptions in modern terms. Or in putting Eastern
    descriptions in Western terms. Its very much like doing a translation. If
    you know what the other language and understand what the author is saying,
    its not too hard to convert it. As a matter of fact, I think we can see the
    very same idea in Plotinus that we see in the Jantzen quote. He isn't
    talking about it terms of subjects and objects or undiffentiated
    conscousness, but we still see him describe "the One" as "formless" as
    "prior to" and "different from" the "things which come from it". Different
    terms, same idea...


    P.S. Here's that Plotinus exerpt. Its from a work called THE ONE...

    "There must be something prior to all, simple, and different from the things
    which are posterior to it, self-existent, unmingled with the things which
    come from it, and yet able in another way to be present with the others,
    being really one, not something else first then secondarily one, of which it
    is false even that it is one; but of this One no descripton nor scientific
    knowledge is possible. Indeed it must be said to be beyond 'being'; for if
    it were not simple, without any composition and synthesis, and really one,
    it would not be a first principle. And it is wholly self-sufficient by
    virtue of its being simple and prior to all things. What is not simple
    demands those simple elements which are within it, that it may be composed
    of them. Such a One must be unique, for if there were another such both
    together would constitute a larger unit. For we hold that they are not two
    bodies nor is the Primary One a body. For no body is simple, and a body is
    subject to generation; it is not an ultimate principle. The ultimate
    principle is unoriginated, and being incorpreal and really one it is able to
    stand first.

    Since substances which have an origin are of some form, and since it is not
    any particular form but all, without exception, the first principle must be
    formless. And being formless is is not a substance; for substance must be
    particular; and a particualr is determinate. But this can not be regarded as
    particular, for it would not be a principle, but merely that particular
    thing which you may have called it. If then all things are included among
    what are generated, which of them will you say is the first principle? Only
    what is none of them could be said to stand above the rest. But these
    constitute existng things and Being in general. The First Principle then is
    beyond Being. To say that it is beyond Being does not assert it to be any
    definite thing. It does not define it. Nor does it give it a name. It
    applies to it only the appellaton 'not-this'. In doing so it nowhere sets
    limits to it. It would be absurd to seek to delimit such a boundless nature.
    He who wishes to do this prevents himself from getting upon its track in any
    wise, even little by little. But just as he who wishes to see the
    Intelligible must abandon all imagery of the perceptible in order to
    contemplate what is beyond the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate
    what is beyond the Intelligible will attain the contemplation of it by
    letting go everything intelligible, though this means learning THAT it is,
    abandoning the search for WHAT it is. To tell what it is would involve a
    reference to what it is not, for there is no quality in what has no
    particular character. But we are in painful doubt as to what we should say
    of it; so we speak of the ineffable and give it a name, meaning to endow it
    with some significance to ourselves so far as we can. Perhaps this name 'The
    One' implies merely opposition to plurality. ...But if The One were given
    positive content, a name and significantion, it would be less appropriately
    designated than when one does not give any name. It may be said that
    description of it is carried this far in order that he who seeks it
    beginning with that which indicates the simplicity of all things may end by
    negating even this, on the ground that it was taken simply as the most
    adequate and the nearest description possible for him who used it, but not
    even this is adequate to the revelation of that nature, because it is
    inaudible, not to be understood through hearing, and if by and sense at all
    by vision alone. But if the eye that sees seeks to behold a form it will not
    descry even this."

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