Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Tue Apr 01 2003 - 01:31:52 BST

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    Sam said:
    Let me come at this from a slightly different angle. I imagine that we would
    agree that our understandings can improve - that some understandings of the
    world are of higher quality than others. Let us take the difference between
    Copernican and Ptolemaic astronomy as the paradigm example. When the
    conceptual leap from the earlier to the later conceptions was made, there
    was an increase in quality of worldview.

    The question is - how best to characterise this shift? Can we do it without
    making reference to a concept of reality (or Reality) at all? What is the
    status of the 'new' - that is, how are we to describe it epistemologically.

    As you might guess, I follow Kuhn's description of the paradigm
    shift. That is to say, I wouldn't describe it epistemologically at all. I
    would descibe it socio-historically. The shift from Ptolemaic to
    Copernican astronomy is a community's shift from one set of explanations to
    another. They don't make any reference to how reality really is at
    all. They simply note some explanations deal with our causal impressions
    better than others.

    One thing I think I disagree on now is when Sam says, "I think that it is
    important that Pirsig leaves DQ indefinable. Another way of putting that is
    to say that it cannot be talked about. As soon as we start to talk about
    something, it is no longer dynamic." At one time I think I subscribed to
    that line, but now I think that DQ, though still undefined, can be a
    metaphor, following Davidson as an indecipherable sound or marking. So, DQ
    would be something that's incoherent against our "background against which
    you judge true and false." Making it a static pattern means literalizing
    the metaphor, incorporating it into our vocabularies.


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