Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

From: Scott R (
Date: Thu Apr 03 2003 - 03:45:06 BST

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    This isn't in response to anything in particular in this thread, but an
    observation I would like to make.

    It would seem that Matt, at least, holds that the appearance/reality
    distinction is a vice of non-materialist metaphysicians, while pragmatists
    like Rorty escape this. Yet Rorty spends a considerable amount of Philosophy
    and the Mirror of Nature trying to to show that the appearance of a
    non-spatial somewhat (our minds) is "really" no more than neural activity
    (the mind-brain identity hypothesis). Isn't this an a/r distinction?

    What appears to us does so in two distinct forms, what we call the mental
    and the physical. Since these two ways of appearing are radically different
    from each other, the only philosophy that does *not* make an a/r distinction
    is simple dualism, and in fact, most everybody, most all the time, acts as
    if dualism is true. While Rorty may not shout from the rooftops that "I am a
    materialist" he unquestionably rejects dualism. So why is he not guilty of
    making an a/r distinction?

    Now there is a difference between "acting as if dualism is true" which we
    all do most of the time, and saying "there are two realms of Reality, the
    mental and the physical". The pragmatist, I believe, would just say that
    that second statement serves no purpose. But since Rorty, by espousing
    Darwinism, has perforce to believe that the mental is emergent from the
    physical, he in effect is saying "there is one realm of Reality, the
    physical. The mental is only an appearance.".

    As to whether the mystic is making an a/r distinction, I think DMB makes a
    valid point that epistemology is only a concern of the non-mystic. The
    unawakened and the awakened both experience the same trees and rocks. But in
    some way the mystic Knows that he or she is one with the appearances, hence
    is not a "natural" dualist. So the unawakened philosopher engages in
    epistemology, and makes conjectures about Reality *because* he or she has
    thought about appearances, noticed the dualism, thinks about the
    implausibility of dualism (how do they interact), and so comes up with a/r
    distinctions. Pirsig's (and my) "solution" is to posit a non-dual origin
    which has multiple ways of manifesting, one of which is as dualist
    appearances. Rorty has a different solution. (See elsewhere why I think
    Rorty's solution doesn't work.)

    (Note: Since for some time now my posts that refer to Rorty have emphasized
    my disagreements, I think I should say again that I have found a lot of
    value in reading him. Post-modernism of Rorty's sort does a useful job of
    clearing away a lot of SOM limitations. But I think his secularism is the
    final SOM-ish vestige that also needs clearing away.)

    - Scott

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