Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

From: Elizaphanian (
Date: Tue Apr 01 2003 - 12:09:33 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "MD Bon Mots"

    Hi Matt,

    > Matt:
    > 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.
    > would descibe it socio-historically. The shift from Ptolemaic to
    > Copernican astronomy is a community's shift from one set of explanations
    > 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.

    I'm a big fan of Kuhn too (that's why I chose that example). Yet what I'm
    wanting to pin you down on is how you characterise 'some explanations deal
    with our causal impressions better than others'. In other words, you still
    have a reference point for the theory, whether you call that Reality or not.
    I don't have a fixed idea of what the correct answer is here, by the way,
    I'm just wanting to pursue the line of thought. I'm not wanting to convict
    you of holding to a 'reference theory of truth', I just want to know how to
    unpack the 'higher quality' that (I guess) you would agree is a part of the

    > 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
    > 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,
    > 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.

    I agree with that - I don't see why it is a disagreement with my point. You
    could reinterpret my point as saying that DQ is a metaphor that can never be
    literalised, whereas most metaphors and analogies can. That's a fairly basic
    point about theological language, as it happens - all language about God is
    metaphorical and resists literalisation. I like the idea of DQ as something
    incoherent against our background assumptions.


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