Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

From: Scott R (
Date: Sat Apr 05 2003 - 05:08:26 BST

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    I think I will concede, at least to the extent of acknowledging that I am
    begging the question to the extent of having a broader definition of
    metaphysics than yours, which is not to say that I am inclined to narrow it.
    That is, I think my definition is a more useful one. My reason for calling
    Darwinism a metaphysical position, even if only held as a hypothesis "until
    something better comes along", is that I see it as only the latest case of
    the same sort of thing that is found in what Rorty includes under
    metaphysics, that it is a way of demystifying that which is necessarily (to
    our limited intellects) a mystery, namely the character of life and
    consciousness. (Of course, this depends on that "necessarily", but I've
    separately given my reasons for that, that business of transcending space
    and time.)

    Returning to the subject of the thread, I have some objections to the
    notion that mysticism is a case of an appearance/reality dinstinction like
    the sort made by traditional metaphysicians. The first, which I think DMB
    put forth, is that a mystic's Reality is empirical, not hypothetical. But,
    of course, one can accept this only if one believes the mystic, so there is
    no point in pursuing it.

    The second objection is one I mentioned earlier, that if the mystics are
    correct, then we are insane in the narrow sense of being out of touch with
    reality (aka God or Quality). The point here is that, whether or not one
    accepts what mystics say, the philosophy based on what they say has a
    different sort of a/r distinction than in other philosophy. That difference
    is that while a traditional metaphysics simply states that Reality is other
    than appearance, mystical philosophy says that, through the appropriate
    discipline (or God's grace or what have you) one moves into that Reality.

    Lastly, in mystical philosophy (at least the kind I like) the
    appearance/reality distinction is transcended, rather than, as Rorty would
    have it, dismissed. There is the Zen bit:

    Before studying Zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers.
    While studying Zen, mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers.
    After studying Zen, mountains are again mountains, and rivers are again
    rivers, but you are a foot off the ground.

    (Something like that, I hope I haven't butchered it too much).

    What I am getting at is that maya is not illusion in the usual sense, like a
    hallucination. It is more like becoming lucid while dreaming. One is still
    dreaming (appearances haven't changed), but now one knows that one is
    dreaming. So, on Awakening, one learns that all appearances are contingent,
    that all reality (small r) is appearance, that the Reality behind it all has
    no meaning except that it creates small r realities (and that "it" should be
    crossed out).

    To put it another way, the a/r distinction is too limited a concept to
    characterize mystical philosophy.

    - Scott

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Matt the Enraged Endorphin" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Friday, April 04, 2003 11:10 AM
    Subject: Re: MD Mysticism and the appearance/reality distinction

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