Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Wed Apr 02 2003 - 05:16:03 BST

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    Sam said:
    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 just want to know how to unpack the 'higher quality' that ... you would
    agree is a part of the shift.

    The reference point for the theory is history. The lights by which we
    determine which model is of higher quality is our own lights, the lights of
    the investigative community. For instance, one of the things historians of
    science try and pin down is why the Ancient Greeks didn't fall in with
    Aristarchus when he proposed an heliocentric model. The answer they come
    up with is that, by Greek lights, it just didn't have the explanatory power
    that Aristotle's geocentric model did. The lights the Greeks were using
    were the imbedded background assumptions against which theories take on
    meaning. As those background assumptions began to change, as the
    investigative communities lights began to change from Greek lights to
    European Enlightenment lights, the explanatory power of each model began to
    shift, the meaning of each theory began to take on new contours. So, when
    Wittgenstein says, "What a Copernicus or a Darwin really achieved was not
    the discovery of a true theory but of a fertile new point of view," I say
    that it might not even be the case that they offered a _new_ point of view,
    it may simply be that they offered a point of view that was previously
    infertile, but is now (to mix my metaphors) ripe for the picking.

    As for unpacking "higher quality," I won't do it outside of what I just
    said. The reason why is because I take the point of doing epistemology to
    be unpacking what "higher quality" is _no matter whose lights you are
    using_. MoQian epistemology would be offering a general theory of "higher
    quality." The MoQ, fortunately, is inherently antagonistic to such an
    effort because DQ, i.e. "higher quality," is undefined. I take this to be
    one of the good parts of Pirsig's Lila writings. We can't actually say
    before hand what "higher quality" is, we only know it when we see it, and
    we see it with our current lights, our current static patterns.


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